7: Lesson Learned


“Now, boyo…How ‘bout you drop that rock, and maybe I’ll see about letting you leave here, with all yer’ arms and legs.” said the Shopkeep.

He sneered leaning over me, while giving a far from subtle nod to his guards, to let them know that they should bar the door.

I looked at the man that I’d been told could help me offload wasteland scavenge in return for CCD. Greed and meanness making his eyes bright. A wide smile on his face, because all he saw was the huge lump of mithril on the table, already discounting the urchin who’d brought it in to sell.

I kind of thought that I’d avoided making the same mistake I’d made the first time I’d transmuted some magical metal for resale.

I guess I was wrong.

In any case, my archive was blaring warning signs, confirming that yes, that feeling of danger, I was feeling was indeed, the shopkeeper and his men’s killing intent.

Cruel as it was, at this point of things, letting me go was no longer an option. Even if I’d immediately just let them take the stone, they apparently couldn’t risk having anyone know that they had that large an amount of high yield, high purity mithril in their possession.

Beasts died for food, and men died for wealth. Even if the kingdom didn’t come knocking at their door to try to confiscate it, there were other factions, groups and personalities who might come sniffing around if word of their windfall was spread about.

(Top tier mithril is too precious for trading….Lesson learned.)

I heard the bar clunk into place as a door was sealed shut. I heard window blinds clatter close. I heard the sounds of blades being drawn.

Then “I” muttered a few magic words to make sure that the people outside didn’t hear the sounds of the screams.

A few minutes later I would I appear at the bank of river.

Staring down at the murky water I’d meet the eye of a glum boy who looked like he’d just dived head first into a vat of pizza sauce.

His hair, skin and clothes soaked with red spatter.

I have to say, that in the passing weeks, I’ve felt a little less antagonistic towards my future-self. Part of it was knowing from the common sense that going to war with myself was fairly pointless. After all even if I won, I could only lose.

Part of it was the fact that his note had been more or less accurate. I was exactly as strong, and as capable as I’d been before…at least as far as my abilities went.

I didn’t have [TPO] anymore, but I could still be anywhere I needed to be with just a single step.

I didn’t have all those passive traits anymore, but the combination of the mandates and whatever being a [humanoid existence] meant, seemed to be doing a fairly competent job of making up for what was missing.

For instance after waiting an hour to make sure whatever it was that decided my “wanted level” in the city I’d just left had gone done, I returned. Walking the streets, even nodding towards a few of the town police force without any sense of unease. I still seemed to have all the odd little perks and privileges that I’d had before.

Which was good, because my lack of a complete handle of the common sense of this place, and all the stupid little mistakes I’d been making as of late, would have gotten me on either the executioner’s block, or the slaver’s stand, otherwise.

One good thing about random people trying to rob and or kill me, was that it removed any moral compunctions I might have had about robbing and killing them.

Maybe this was a failing, or maybe this was just me adopting the mindset of the age, but as soon I’d killed the shopkeeper’s last guard, I’d made sure to loot everything that wasn’t nailed down and tore free a couple things that were.

Now finally after several false starts in the past three weeks, I could do as I’d set out to do.

Sure of the air of anonymity that hung over me, I felt confident enough to go back to the marketplace, that I’d just fled barely a few hours ago.

I headed into a clothes shop, ignoring the nasty look that the Shopkeep and her clerks gave me, as I went through the aisle.  I was aware of how I looked, dust covered, dressed raggedly in oversized clothing.

Still there was a certain amount of confidence that came from having money and the knowledge that you were in store serving as a proper customer.

The Shopkeep could glare all she wanted, but so long as she didn’t get in my way or try stop me I didn’t need to care. And if she did want to make it a thing, then there were other clothes sellers in this marketplace and other people to take my hard stolen dollars.

In the end I bought a set of five outfits. Actually, what I really bought was five sets of the “same” outfits. Dark blue, canvas trousers. An off-white, button shirt, and a tie, because a gentleman always wears a tie.

This was supplemented by some t-shirt for when I was at home…wherever home ended up being. Underwear, socks and a belt.

With the last things I chose from the store being a coat that was a bit big for me but not too big. A pair of boots and a pair of shoes.

I wasn’t really the creative sort, but I was good at modding. With my magical and alchemical know-how I’d be able to turn all my purchases into functional gear.

To my surprise when I went to the counter to pay the old shop smiled at me. I smiled back, but couldn’t help feeling slightly skeptical, as I always did when people suddenly changed their minds about something, or acted opposite my expectations.

All the clothes went into my inventory and my next stop was an inn. I asked a few people on the street for the name of a good one and then verified that goodness with the archive. Sifting through two that were actually only so-so and louse ridden and one that was actually a trap set up by human traffickers, before finding a place known as the Jack and Nory.  

A small little tavern and inn that just happened to be at the mouth of the city’s red light district which was extra convenient for me, because I’d yet to fill this month’s quota to avoid being overtaken.

One step took me to the door of the inn, the street were crowded enough that no one noticed the sudden appearance of a single undersized boy in their midst. Though, my abilities would have hopefully kept most from noticing even if the streets had been empty.

I entered the inn, surprised to find that it was exactly as good as the lady who’d recommended it had said.

The walls were covered in a pleasant pastel wallpapering. The floors were cleanly swept hardwood.

The music that came from the radio was a soft-rock, in the style of old earth’s American Nineteen fifties.

The noise level was loud but the good kind of loud. Born from bunch of people having soft conversations at the same time, rather than a handful of people making a lot of noise all on their own.

While I was aware that this might have just been the consequence of it still being just a little past noon, I was starting to find myself feeling more sure about staying here.

“Welcome to the Jack and Nory, Can I get you anything, dear?” said the hostess. Coming over to where I was, as I was heading towards her counter.

“Er…Yeah. I’d like to get a room please, and uh…a bath…and a meal.” said I.

She just barely blinked, still keeping an even and professional smile as she looked at me.

“Sure, thing. That’ll be cash up front though.” said the hostess.

“Right. How much?” said I.

“A room is thirty. A meal is ten for the standard. A bath would be five. So it’s forty-five dollars, hon.”

I nodded. Deciding that the price was reasonable as my archive found them to be relatively competitive with what other inns in town were charging. Not that I’d have tried haggle even if they weren’t.

“Um…okay, in that I’d like all that for um…uh…three nights, I think.” said I.

“Sure thing, in that case it’ll be one thirty-five.” said the hostess.

I nodded again and then I paid her. She gave me a receipt and key and then I went up to my room to wait for the inns one bathing room to be free.

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