A note from karami92

Author's Corner: Thank you to Ryan Trueman for joining the Patreon!

After finding a nearby inn, I spent the rest of the night performing the extremely repetitive task of creating firebolt scrolls. Once I had made ten, I received another Scribe Ticket, adding it to the one I already had in my inventory. But for the most part, I was happy with a different benefit that I received.

Inscription has reached level 2! Due to your repeated diligence in creating the same recipe, you have received additional proficiency with the Firebolt Scroll recipe.

I received that message after crafting my tenth scroll. Maybe it was because I did them so close together, or maybe it only needed ten in total for such a low level scroll. Either way, I wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth, and began to draw out my next scroll, wanting to see what exactly additional proficiency meant.

What I found was that the pattern had slightly changed. All of the lines were still in exactly the same place, but they were… different. They varied in brightness from a deep, dark blue to almost blindingly bright. Maybe the order that the lines are drawn in is important to the quality of the scroll?

Left with no other hints, I began from the brightest lines, as they were the most eye-catching. As I finished the line, it faded back behind the scroll, and the next brightest began to glow even more, as if signalling me. Figuring that meant that I was on the right track, I continued on this path, until I had finished my eleventh scroll.

Immediately after letting the ink dry, I gathered both this scroll and the one that I had finished prior, making my way to the general store. Since Hela had left much earlier on to begin looking for a new skill, I was left alone to wait in the line. That’s right… a line.

I started to notice after selling my third scroll that people had found the general store, and started filing in to purchase common items such as daggers, maps, or new clothes. There were a few familiar faces that seemed to notice me coming in repeatedly to sell the same item, so it’s likely that they knew I had begun crafting. However, none of them had approached me, so I didn’t bother with them.

When I reached the front of the line, I presented my items once again to the shopkeeper. I heard a small sigh from the person behind me when I pulled two scrolls from my inventory, waiting for the shopkeeper to appraise them.

“Two firebolt scrolls.” She nodding, unfurling each one before examining them, rolling them back up and stashing them away. “One low quality, and one medium quality. The total value is twenty copper.” Having said that, she placed two finger-length large, oval coins on the counter. “Will you be making the same order as before?”

I was surprised to hear that my profit had increased so much due to the jump in proficiency. “Yes, please… one of each again.” She took away one of the large coins, instead replacing it with four smaller coins. After that, she placed a single sheet of parchment on the counter, along with another red vial of ink.

Putting the money and items in my inventory, I made my way back out of the store, only to notice one of the familiar faces quietly drifting away.

Incoming message from Jessex, Nuado! The fairy’s voice echoed in the kitsune’s ear just as she was swiping her rapier to clean the blood off of it. Her brows knit together as she called out to her team. “Got a message, form a line!”

After they left the library, they had naturally moved out to the hunting grounds just outside of town. And, of course, that meant that they had become involved with the giant brawl. Nuado kept twenty of her own people at her side to form a hunting team, allowing the rest to explore the city and train their own skills.

At her call, her team rushed over, forming a living barrier between their leader and any players that would try to take advantage of the situation. With their numbers, it was no surprise that they had intimidated the masses. Some even attacked them purely out of spite, thinking that they meant to monopolize the hunting area.

However, that thought had never even occurred to Nuado, who calmly took the message. What is it, Jess?

The voice that responded to her was that of a halfling, light and young-sounding, but with a certain weariness that you don’t often find in young humans. The voice of a woman with the body of a young girl. You remember that man we saw in the library? Back when we first entered?

Nuado’s eyes went wide with alarm, though she didn’t let that slip into her voice, thankful that her defenders had their backs to her. Yes… what about him?

He’s a scribe. I’ve been keeping an eye on the general store to practice my appraisal skill on anyone that passes by. Far as I can tell, writing firebolt scrolls is the only thing that he’s done since the game launched. And just now, he managed to sell a higher quality scroll. Either he got really lucky, or his skill has grown.

Is there a rest stop between now and the point? Nuado couldn’t keep some of the agitation out of her tone, knowing who Jessex was really talking about. Sorry... the fighting out here’s hectic. I didn’t mean to snap like that.

It’s fine. I wanted to report about this because I noticed some other people keeping their eye on him as well. Assuming that they didn’t change their look, it should be Eye of War.

Well, that name certainly rung a bell for Nuado. Eye of War was the name of a player that they had encountered in multiple games in the past, and was part of a guild known as the Beholden. One of their lieutenants, he acted primarily as their ‘talent scout’. Nuado was familiar with how they operated, how they would often act as tyrants.

Those who joined Beholden were granted many benefits, yes, all to keep them loyal to its leader. However, anyone who didn’t join would be accused of having directly stolen from them, or defamed some other way in the game until they either quit or had no power left to speak of. It wasn’t really a surprise that they would be on the lookout for dedicated crafters, especially crafters of magic items.

Jess, approach the scribe. Tell him… tell him that ‘Hikikomori Fox’ sent you. He’ll trust you. She didn’t want to outright reveal her true connection with him, so instead she gave a fake name that she knew he’d be able to recognize. A name that nobody else in the world would be able to make sense of.

Hikiko… okay, I had the fairy record the name. You know this guy, Nua? There was surprise in her voice, which was normal. All of Life’s Dream knew who Nuado really was. However, since she gave the false name, it seemed like she only knew him from another game.

It’s a long story. I’ll tell you later. She promised, inwardly adding ‘after I make one up’ at the end.

“Hey, wait up!” I heard a light voice calling out behind me. The streets were a bit crowded now due to more and more players logging in, so I was at first convinced that the voice was meant for someone else. At least until I felt a pair of small hands grabbing my arm to stop me.

Turning around, I saw a blonde halfling that barely came up to my waist, panting for breath as she looked up at me. A bit behind us, there was a demon that glanced away and took a detour as soon as I noticed him, the same face I had seen stalk away from the store. Though, my attention was quickly drawn back down to the halfling girl. “Haah… haah… finally caught up with you.”

“Sorry, can I help you?” I asked, stepping off to the side to make sure that I didn’t obstruct traffic.

“N-no… but I think I can help you.” She said mysteriously, before her brows knit in focus. “Hi… Hikikomori Fox sent me. She said that you’d know the name.”

I couldn’t help but blink in surprise. It had been so long since I heard that word that I almost forgot what it meant. However, once I pieced it together, I let out a light chuckle. “Yeah, I know her.” There was only one fox I knew that could be described as a hikikomori. Hell, there was only one fox I knew that would even know that word.

“Oh, good.” The halfling let out a relieved sigh. “Anyways, I came here to give you a warning. Someone has their eye on you, and they’re not the kind of people you want to be associated with…”

“You mean the demon from the shop?” As I asked that, I decided that it was best that we get back to moving, rather than making ourselves a stationary target.

“Yeah! Big guy, horns oddly curving inwards until they spiral? He sets the same look in every game, or as close to it as the game allows.” The halfling girl nodded her head repeatedly to confirm my suspicion.

“Looks like he’s trying to find out where I’m working.” I muttered as we walked, causing the girl’s eyes to widen. “I don’t think this game offers advanced security for inn rooms. And if the rooms have any practical purpose other than a quiet spot to rest, it would be easy for them to break in.”

“They do. If you don’t log out in a designated safe zone such as an inn room, or some kind of personal property, people with certain skills can steal from your inventory. Your character model disappears, but if they have the right detection skills, and the Pickpocket skill, they can rob you blind while you’re logged out.”

Okay, that made me stop in my tracks. “And how do you know that? The game’s not even been out a full night.”

She looked up at me with a wry grin. “It’s in the library. A lot of the game mechanics are recorded in books, if you look for the ones with no listed authors. Nuado… sorry, Miss Fox sent a message off to a known gaming broadcaster to spread the word, so hopefully people realize the danger before it becomes an issue.”

“Unfortunately, there are only limited rooms in the inns. Less than half of the players will be able to secure their ‘safe zone’. They’ll have to take the risk, or journey out to try to find another city.”

When I said that, the halfling gave a quiet groan. “Yeah… we reserved our rooms for the next three days when we heard that. But, what do you plan to do about the guy? No offense, but a crafter typically isn’t strong enough to take on an entire guild by himself.”

“You clearly haven’t been reading the right stories.” I mused with a small smile. “But… if Nuado is willing, I think that I could set up a business relationship with your group. You are all part of a guild yourself, aren’t you?”

“Yup! We’re the Life’s Dream guild, because playing games like this is what we dream of all our lives. But… I don’t have the authority to set up any kind of deal. If you can tell me what you want, I’ll pass the message onto her, and she can get in touch with you to discuss the terms?”

I nodded my head, satisfied with that much. “It’s quite simple. If your guild can pay to get me a workshop where I won’t be disturbed, I’ll sell my scrolls to you for the same cost as the vendors pay. I’m sure you noticed, but they tend to buy low and sell high.”

“Uhm… I can pass the message along. But I wouldn’t be too sure. We’d have to see what one of these scrolls could do to see if it was worth it. They’re too expensive to buy from the merchant right now without knowing.” She shook her head with a difficult expression.

“Oh? How much do you tend to make from killing a single mob?”

“About two or three copper? But it’s a mad dash to see who picks it up, since the items aren’t transferred directly to your inventory. Our group’s been pretty lucky because of how many people we have, but a single firebolt scroll can’t be worth killing four enemies, right?”

I had to admit that she had a point there. Maybe the scrolls were meant to take on slightly higher level enemies? Or maybe there was more to it? “What about talismans? They’re smaller, and less powerful, so they are likely to be considerably cheaper as well.”

She perked up when she heard about the talismans. “Yes! I saw someone throwing a lightning talisman earlier when I was at the hunting ground, and it was able to take out a rat in one shot!”

Lightning? Maybe that’s what I’ll get next. “I can’t do lightning yet, but I can do fire. It wouldn’t be a problem to sell those to the guild, once I get some experience crafting them. As long as I’m not operating at a loss, I wouldn’t have any complaints.”

“Alright! I’ll pass the message along! Uhm… could you give me your name, so I can have her contact you directly?” When she asked that, I nodded, giving her my ingame name and looking forward to when Udona got in touch. Given her personality, I could easily see her wanting to support my dream of mastering chakra in the game.


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