I currently stood in line, in a place called the hunter’s association. Normally they were pretty much like a dmv back in the old world, but this place was just a secondary depot. Which meant that it was less of proper establishment and more of gathering spot for shady looking dudes with guns and spiky pieces of metal strapped to their backs.
Some genius went and opened a bar. So it was now a place where violent strangers met drunk strangers, to either fight, hook up, and maybe if they had some time to kill, look for work.
I was just wondering how semi-governmental office could run like this, when the know-it-all within my head informed me that this wasn’t the town’s main depot. Rather than a proper secondary depot this was practically something like a tertiary depot. A dive joint that was actually more bar than depot at this point since the owner realized that “that” was what was making him more money.
I was also reminded that I’d chosen this place. Choosing it because it was the exact kind of place, a stranger from nowhere could come and handle his business without getting looked at for too long or with anything close to too much scrutiny.
After properly chastising myself. I wondered what I’d been griping about. Sure this place was a bit funky, both in smell and in atmosphere, but it was exactly what I needed right now. Heck, since I had the time to spare I could probably come around for a drink later, to see if post-apocalyptic beer tasted compared to pre-apocalyptic beer.
Or at least that was what I’d been thinking, then I happened to look at the corner of the room and spotted a still form leaning against the wall. Blood and piss pooling around him. I’d found at least two thirds of the reason for this place’s funky smell.
(Maybe nix that beer, yeah?)
My turn in line came slowly, but it did come. I stood before a humankin, an old catwoman. From the looks of her, her ancestors must have been generation one humankin, because she was more cat than woman. An anthropomorphic cat, with what was more or less a cat’s head. Though I could see that from the neck down, she had probably once been comely by human standards.
“Welcome to hunter’s association. How can you today?” said the clerk. Sounding board and all but yawning as she spoke.
“Um… I uh…” I startled. Tripping over my own damn tongue. Stuttering as if I hadn’t been expecting to have to talk to someone while I’d been standing in line this whole damn time.
Fortunately, her apathy towards her position and me, made the good clerk both patient and non judgemental.
Eventually I pulled myself together enough to properly get out the words I needed to get out.
“…. I’d like to register as a hunter, please?” I said. My voice, doing me the great favor of cracking like I was the awkward fifteen year old I’d once been, rather than the awkward, grown-ass, man that I currently was.
“Do you have papers?” she said. After blinking twice and actually yawning, not even bothering to stifle it.
“N-, no. Sorry.” I said. Panicking for a bit, thinking my well laid scheme had just fallen apart.
Then she blinked again.
“Would you like us to make you some papers, sir.” said the clerk.
“That’ll be two hundred fifty CCD, sir.” said the clerk.
“Um, CCD?” I blinked. Frowning. The archive supplied the answer. Common currency dollars weren’t actual. Dollars. They were thin plates of magically charged mithril, that were used by the major the players both on and off the continent.
The clerk just gave me a flat stare. I got another stare from the other end of the room. That one was from the manager who was about a few seconds away from telling on the bully boys he had working as guards to escort me out and maybe give me a working over for wasting everyone’s time.
Fortunately, I was actually not as stupid as I or everyone else I’d ever met generally were lead to believe. I’d come here with a plan.
“Uh, sorry, I don’t have any CCD on me but I’ve got some lump mithril that I wouldn’t mind trading in.”
She stared at me and then she nodded.
I reached into a hole a handy-dandy the time space continuum. and brought out a stone that I’d found on the road. One that I’d used my abilities as an “Immortal Alchemist” to transmute into pure, high grade mithril.
The clerked scrutinized it, frowning at the lump of magically charged metal. She mumbled the words for an appraisal spell. Then as the spell fed her, the details of what she was looking at I watched as he entire attitude changed.
Wide-eyed for the first time since the start of our exchange she looked at me as if trying to get my measure.
“One moment, sir.”
She left the counter and was gone for about fifteen minutes, leaving the lump of mithril on the counter. She came fifteen minutes later, with the bearded, bald, one-eyed, old man who was a senior executive for the North Brodick’s branches of the Hunter association.
“Well, young man. I must say that this is quite the windfall you have here.” said the man. Not even bothering to introduce himself. Likely because I was either was supposed to recognize him as one of the town’s famous elites, or because I was below introducing himself to.
“…..Um…yeah?” said I.
“Would you like to come to the back offices, so we can speak in private?” said the old man. More or less already leading me there as he turned on his heel and had the clerk and manager of the depot make me fall. Shepherding me.
I found myself led to a lounge led to lounge that was better decorated than the rest of the depot, and better smelling, though not by much.
“Please, by all means. Have a seat.” said the old man.
“…Thanks.” said I.
“Ahem….so….its not everyday that someone brings in a lump of high magical material as big as their head. And I hear that you’re apparently a mage as well.”
I didn’t say anything. I was mostly just befuddled, wondering how I could be both, hyper intelligent thanks to the forced leveling, borderline all-knowing, and still be an idiot.
It had just occurred to me, that showing off what I could do, and choosing to transmute a stone that was larger than my head, had probably not been the best moves I could make. Even if I didn’t want to hide my inventory, I still could have brought out a smaller piece of mithril, or transmuted it, to a lower, less magically enriched grade.
The old man, just stared at me. I never missing a chance to look slightly daft, just started a back. This staring match lasted a good minute, till the door of the lounge opened and one of the younger clerks came in with a tray of teas.
I couldn’t fathom where they’d found either the tea or teacups in a place like this, but I still drank it. Drinking but not tasting.
“In any case. I heard that you wished to register with our fine association.”
“….Right. Er…yes.” said I. Finally managing to say something.
“That’s quite the surprise. You know, if you took that lump of mithril to any of North Brodicks family, or if you’d went to our neighbors in the much larger South Islington, you could have gotten quite the fortune, and probably gotten a position working for a main family or perhaps even been invited by a sect.” said the old man.
“…I’m aware.” said I.
I really “was” aware. The archive had even told me which families were more likely to actually pay me, rather than trying to cheat me or murder me for the treasure. If I sold the mithril successfully I’d get more than I’d get for selling it to the hunters and be able to live in the lap of luxury for months.
I’d chosen forgo that option because the archive had also showed that my freedom would have been more restrained that way. Either I’d be ousted after all the money they gave me was spent, or I’d spend years working my way up from whatever upper lower rung position they put me in.
Plus there was the concerning issue of the ninety-six percent probability that I’d be pulled into something troublesome once I’d become part of a family.
“Mhm… I see. I see.” said the man. Eyes narrowed, a slight smile appearing behind his beard. He nodded to himself as if seeing something.
“Very well, then. Well, we can have that wrapped up in a jiffy.”
“Um, thank you, Sir Geoff.” said I.