Icicle sprinted uphill, tripping on a few jagged stones on the way, barely keeping his balance. As soon as he passed the eastern gate, the nearby Wild Dogs stormed after him. Apparently they were one of the aggresive type of monsters, attacking without aggroing them.
However, to Icicle they were but a child’s play. Thirty additional true damage from his jewelry and 35 bonus magic damage every 5 seconds from the earrings made him a force to be reckoned with. He didn’t mind the Wild Dogs attacking him, it was akin to playing fetch, only that one party had the sword. Because of the level difference there was no loot. This system was likely implemented to prevent players from farming gear endlessly.
Icicle’s experience gain was negligible. Thus, he decided to summon Blackie to get let him get some levels. Since he’s forced into having him, then he might as well make the fanatical dog useful.
“Ancestor, ancestor! Look how powerful I am, those little critters are running away!” Blackie wagged its tail playfully, chasing after its former allies, the Wild Dogs.
Icicle smiled helplessly. He didn’t have time to waste, otherwise he would walk slowly and enjoy the scene of Blackie chasing after his kind, contesting the kills with the beginner players. Those struggling players cast envious gazes at Icicle.
“If you do well, I’ll reward you with that smoked fish I bought.” Icicle enticed Blackie to kill even more Wild Dogs so he can earn his level up. It was hard to determine how much experience Blackie needed as the tooltip didn’t state anything.
As Icicle moved further into the forest, he spotted low level wolves, wild boars and half meter orange-brown ants with shiny, metallic exoskeleton. Blackie was having trouble against higher leveled monsters so Icicle helped him out whenever it was convenient. The rest of the monsters were disregarded, terrified by the [Soundless Fear].
Ten minutes have passed, Icicle made it into the small hunter village. It was stockaded with sharpened logs, its wooden gates were over 4m high, reinforced by iron. Entering the crude and simple village of Hunters, Icicle asked around and was quickly able to locate one of the main figures of the village – Jasik.
Jasik was a tall black-haired man with a silver longbow strapped on his back. He wore a couple of knives on his large leather belt.
“Hello sir, I heard you’re selling wolf furs?” Icicle asked through his panting, drinking some of the lemonade he bought earlier.
“Indeed, you’ve found the right person adventurer, how many do you need?” Jasik relaxed his crossed arms, appearing extremely honest and attentive.
“Damn, all of those NPCs are hard to deal with!” Icicle thought, quickly thinking of a way to not sell himself short.
A pop up appeared before Icicle and he saw that the price of the furs was set at 4 copper coins a piece. There were 10000 furs available. Icicle had to lower the price if he wanted to make a great profit!
“Listen sir, I’m trying to become a Merchant and it’s really hard to start one’s business. With the recent wolf infestation gone, the price of furs will plummet quickly. I need to buy a lot of the hot commodity right now if I am to make a profit in the Glacia Kingdom…”
Jasik recognized the meaning of those words. The dashing young man in front of him wanted a discount! What’s more, he clearly struck a blow below the belt, highlighting the soon to be plummeting price of the furs.
“That’s not enough young man, who knows if your friends don’t make coats out of those items? What if the number of furs doesn’t actually increase but become a rare commodity?” Jasik argued. He didn’t want to lose out too much on the deal.
“Sir, with all due respect, since you’re a Hunter, you must be experienced in the ways of the bow. You can always ask a few beginners like me to collect furs for you. As a reward you can give them some tips and tricks.” Icicle drilled the Hunter futher, trapping him in his net like an Arachne.
“I didn’t think of that!” Jasik exclaimed, quickly covering his mouth with his scarred hand. “Ekhm, what discount are we talking about?”
“What do you say about 3 copper coins per wolf fur?” Icicle flashed a bright smile, appearing like an honest to the bone youth in a dire need of help.
“Alright young man, you’re new to this world so let this old man help you out.” Jasik already counted all of the free transactions he can make off the adventurers, making him want to jump with glee! Considering the possibility of the plummeting price of his quite numerous commodity, he exclaimed “Three coppers per fur it is!”
“Thank you! I’ll buy all of your stock!” Icicle shook the man’s hand as his expression brightened, revealing endless gratitude. His eyes twinkled like the stars, even a lone tear swirled up in one of them. He didn’t look one bit like a swindler who just extorted the poor NPC…
“W-Whole stock?” Jasik stammered.
“I don’t have much time before my competitors sniff out the occassion and depart before me. Please senior, I have to depart quickly!” he urged.
With one touch of Icicle’s hand the whole mountain of wolf furs disappeared, accomodating itself in his inventory. “Thank you, senior!” Icicle bowed and threw three gold coins to the Hunter, sprinting away.
Jasik gripped the three gold coins tightly. This was a huge profit! He quickly gathered all of his hunter friends, throwing a big feast to commemorate the occasion. As the Hunters talked, Jasik shared his experience with the adventurer. All of the Hunters quickly agreed to make their new Archer recruits gather wolf furs for them…
Icicle dashed back with Blackie in tow, rewarding him with one of the recently purchased smoked fish for gaining a level. Blackie’s HP increased to 90, gaining ten points just like a player would. Icicle wasn’t too thrilled about it since he wanted to use Blackie for tanking if need be. To his dismay, Blackie seemed like an aggresive, assassin-like pet, which wasn’t bad, just not what Icicle currently needed.
Killing off a few creatures on the way back, Icicle monitored the time. He had to get to the harbor before the 30 minute time limit is up, otherwise all of his efforts will go down the drain.
Icicle told Blackie not to show off. Having a familiar was already drawing too much attention.
Arriving at the gate, Icicle used [Soundless Fear] to scare away the horde of Wild Dogs, letting Blackie take care of them soon after. He was helpless as the dog constantly called out “Ancestor, ancestor” reporting each kill with glee.
“Here you go, 3000 pieces of wolf furs. This was all we could get at the price range you told us about.” Faura traded the furs, barely noticing that Icicle put 1 gold coin and an item in before he pressed the okay button.
“T-This… t-thank you.” she stammered.
FieryRed at the side looked discontent, all the errands running made her dissatisfied. “Hmph, such a shameless guy, he just took the furs and ran off like mad. What did you get, sis?” she asked playfully.
“L-Look at it yourself.” Faura shared the window in the party chat.
FieryRed blinked twice, making sure that what she sees is not an illusion. Seeing the numbers on the staff, she decided not to complain anymore. It actually cost them only half an hour to gain such an item.
Icicle drank from his canteen, running down the cliff at neck-breaking pace. He seemed to reach the pier in few leaps. His level of determination to close the deal was comparable to a dehydrated man’s on a desert, who happened to lay his eyes on a boundless oasis. He had to get it done!
Icicle spotted Bingus loading his ship and loudly exclaimed. “I’m back old man!”
Bingus didn’t turn. It’s not that he didn’t hear the evil voice of a young adventurer, he didn’t want to hear it. He didn’t want to turn either. All he wanted to do was to board the ship and sail away, washing his shame away amongst the rumbling sea waves.
“Look at those goodies, I brought you 13000 wolf furs!” Icicle rubbed his hands in delight.
“You really made it, huh?” Bingus craned his head, his old eyes revealing endless despair. If he considered the cost of transport, his earnings of the deal amounted to nothing. His only hope was to donate those furs to the royal family and pray that they are satisfied with his gift.
Handing over 14 gold coins and 60 silver, Bingus sighed, heading over to the ready to depart ship when Icicle’s voice stopped him.
“Hey old man Bingus, I need a favor.”
“What more could you want? Do you have more furs? Rare ones?” Bingus’s eyes lit up, rare furs were much more useful to him. Even if the price was exaggerated he would buy them.
“I do, but they’re not for sale. Listen, I have a great deal to discuss.” Icicle extinguished Bingus’s hopes as soon as they were kindled.
“Oh really, let’s hear it.” Bingus walked closer, pretending to listen attentively.
“Do you know of any cook or blacksmith I can use?” Icicle whispered, putting a great deal of importance on his every word.
“What? That’s what you wanted to ask me! Why would I even help you?” Bingus replied in outrage. What a ridiculous youth! He wanted to shame him even further!
“Listen, listen. Those people at the Bazzar laughed at you, right? But if they were swindled by me, then they wouldn’t be able to! If that alone doesn’t convince you, I’ll give you the location of a person who sells furs for dirt cheap, 3 coppers a piece!” Icicle flashed his bright, innocent smile. No one would think he’s someone who actually plays dirty.
Bingus turned pensive. He indeed wanted to get back at those Bazzar merchants. His reputation suffered, but if others’ were to suffer as well, he could recover! What’s more, Icicle offered him a very juicy piece of information. He might as well “help” this youth out.
“Alright, I’ll aid you this once. But you have to tell me about the man first.” Bingus said with a serious expression, trying to maintain the vestiges of his dignity.
“Sure, I fully trust you, old man.” Icicle signaled Blackie telepathically to board the ship and execute his plan if the old man dared to deceive him. “The man’s name is Jasik, he’s a one of the Hunters in a small village south-west from here. If you exit the eastern gate of Vilen Town and travel north you’ll get there.”
“Alright, here are the two people you can trust. Tell them you come from me.” Bingus took out a parchment of paper and scribbled two names along with some barely readable message.
Thanking Bingus, Icicle moved on into other pressing issues.
“Now that I’m done with the business, I should get my experience fixed.” Icicle looked for the options menu and found the “report bug” menu. He typed in “My experience thresholds are too high. Can you guys fix it?” shamelessly omitting his history with Nix.
Feeling relieved of the burden, leaving his case in the “capable” hands of the developers, Icicle marched into the Bazzar, asking around for the two names listed on the yellow parchment.
According to his intelligence gathering, Icicle found out that the listed blacksmith wasn’t really reputable. In fact, he was one of the most notorious people on the Bazzar, shunned by many.
Icicle asked Blackie to come back. This kind of Blacksmith was actually one that he needed. If there were too many eyes focused on his new set then he would be targeted. He wasn’t scared of the Player Killers but avoiding them was saving time.
Ganish sat on a tree stump in the corner of the Bazzar, hammering a steel sword on his worn, little rusted anvil. He flexed his muscular body, the veins on his arms bulged as the anvil let out clear “clank clang” sounds. Icicle approached cautiously, peering at the blacksmith’s work.
“Do you need anything?” a gruff voice welcomed him.
“Indeed, you were recommended to me by Bingus. I hope you can make something for me.” Icicle was curt with words.
“Bingus? Haha, I don’t know what you did to piss that old man off enough for him to recommend me! Everyone here knows I’m just a drunkard.” Ganish played hard to get, dismissing Icicle preemptively.
“All the more reason to get you to work. Lone souls tend to seek spiritualization. How’s your craft? I doubt it has diminished and I have something challenging to make.” Icicle shoved in the recipe book into Ganish’s big hands.
“It had better been worth my time, kid.” Ganish took a look at the book and his eyes gradually widened. “This recipe.. where did you get it from?”
“Does it matter? It wasn’t stolen if that’s what you’re worried about. I need those claws done, so I’m looking for someone capable. Are you up for the task?” Icicle didn’t bother extorting Ganish because it was clear as day the man didn’t care about riches. He sat in the corner, hammering at his anvil, free of the material gain curse. All people like him needed was a goal they can work towards. This piece of equipment was something that fit the description.
“Sigh, I really cannot let go of this book now that I have my hands on it. Have you spoken to a Tailor yet? You’ll need to have a whole lot more done.” Ganish glanced at Icicle with curiosity, his eyes rekindling the long lost shine. Such a recipe was truly a rare commodity. Adventurers who have just came to this world shouldn’t be in a possession of such an item.
“I didn’t, I wanted to check in with the Blacksmith first. But I do have someone in mind. So, how much do you want for making these babies?” This was the moment of truth for Icicle.
“10 gold coins plus the materials.” Ganish didn’t bother lowering the prices and spoke bluntly. He could do it for free but then it wouldn’t reflect on his excellent workmanship.
“Hmm, I can see you not having access to many materials since your reputation went down. How about this, I’ll give you all of this as payment.” As soon as Icicle’s words faded a mountain of wolf claws emerged, 4000 in total.
“Hoh? You really have some great stock piled up. Fine, this is worth more than 10 gold coins. I needed more materials to practice on before attempting to make those weapons anyways. I won’t deceive you it’s a really challenging recipe! But, since you were so sincere, I’ll do my best to make you the greatest pair of weapons this world has seen!” Ganish’s sullen face brightened up. He quickly stored the pile of wolf claws into the corner, serving as his temporary storage room.
“When can I expect them to be done?”
“Two days. No more, no less.” Ganish curtly replied.
“Alright. Can you repair this sword before I go?” Icicle took off his novice sword and handed it over to Ganish. He didn’t give any of the set back to Adian yet and sure as hell won’t until his own set gets done.
“Sure, it won’t be a probem. Wait a minute.” Ganish hammered on it for some time under constant watch of Icicle. The small chips on the sword were gone, the steel regained its former shine, even the handle was like new.
“It’s on the house.” Ganish smiled and gave the sword back.
“Thank you.” Icicle turned and left.
“You’re pretty brave trusting me so blindly, kiddo. Aren’t you going to leave someone behind to watch me?” Ganish asked as he saw Icicle’s back, leaving him with a precious pages of the ancient book.
“There’s been one beside you the whole time. Come on Blackie, let’s go.” Blackie unstealthed next to the blacksmith and trotted after Icicle.
Ganish’s pupils constricted when he saw the black hound. A wide smile plastered itself on his hardened face. “What an amusing youngster.” he muttered, getting back to work.
Icicle lingered a bit in the Bazzar and then travelled to the artisan area, located west of the northern gate, to find the cook on the list – Wurtox. As he crossed the hubbub of artisans, he took note of the location of the Tailor Marisse and the Alchemist’s shop. Afterwards, he strolled into the food store, where according to the residents and few players met on the way cook Wurtox prepared delicious meals.
Ding ding ding!
The sound of the bell resounded as the door to the kitchen-like store opened. Icicle saw a multitude of goods, from cakes to roasted meat to fruits in chocolate and hundreds of sandwiches on display. All sorts of fragrances assaulted his nostrils, making him drool. Only when he took all of that in did he notice a tall, black-haired middle-aged man with curly bangs on the side of his face sharpening his knives behind the counter.
“Welcome customer.” the man said amiably. “Take your time choosing your favorite delicacy. If you need anything feel free to hail me.” Wurtox experienced a lot in his life, so Icicle’s reaction wasn’t something new. If anything, it added to his pride as a well-versed cook.
“Are you Wurtox, sir?” Icicle asked with hands behind his back, his expression still a little dazzled by all the fragrant food in the store. To his side a few female employees took care of the other adventurers’ and NPCs’ purchases.
“Indeed, do you need something? You look like someone who wants to order a unique dish.” Wurtox glanced Icicle over from head to toe. The person in front of him radiated a unique feeling, carrying a hint of dangerousness. Those kind of personage often craved new experiences.
“Do you perhaps know a merchant called Bingus?” Icicle probed, learning from his experience with Ganish.
“Hmph, so you’re here to return his debt? Where’s the purse?” Wurtox’s brows furrowed, he was constantly delayed by the cunning merchant. He wanted to finally have this annoying experience behind him.
Icicle laughed out loud, clutching his stomach. “What are you laughing about? Did that old prick send you here to make fun of me?” Wurtox’s disposition changed, as a trace of unique killing aura permeated the room, one of the experienced chef who’s skillful in using the knives.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” Icicle suppressed his laughter, taking deep breaths. “It’s just that I extorted that old bag of bones earlier. Then I asked him for some reference and he listed you sir and blacksmith Ganish. I knew he’ll try to cook something up so I had my familiar prepare a surprise for him.”
“A surprise? What did you do?” Wurtox loosened up and asked with interest. The misery of Bingus would definitely better his mood.
“I’ve seen that sunken pirate ship in the distance. I have to say that the rats are really similar to cockroaches. They’ll always find a way to survive. I’ve had my familiar here catch a few and plant them on the ship. Come on Blackie, show yourself.” Icicle’s grin was wide, like a person’s who accomplished something big.
Blackie unstealthed, showing himself in the shop, wagging its tail happily. It received another smoked fish for his well done job. Every smell in Wurtox’s shop made him drool with excitement but he didn’t dare to interrupt ancestor’s negotiations.
“Hahaha!” Wurtox exploded with laughter. “You actually pulled one over Bingus! And not even once but twice! This feat deserves a reward! I’ll give you a discount on whatever you want to buy in my humble shop!” as he said that, Wurtox threw a piece of meat to Blackie, watching in amusement as the creature devoured the delicacy.
Icicle fell silent, he didn’t want to voice out his request near all the other players. They might actually think it’s a quest and bother him later.
“Come young one, we’ll talk somewhere else.” Wurtox called over some more staff from the back and decided to take a break. He invited Icicle to his office. As Icicle walked through the long corridor, he saw some players making food. They were practicing, making their dishes diligently.
“Now then, what matter did you want to discuss?” Wurtox asked as he placed down two cups of fragrant tea on the wooden table.
“As you probably know, there was a big event today, the wolf infestation was routed, making the area around the town safe again.”
“Indeed, the prices of furs and other wolf related items will plummet shortly. Could it be that you have some wolf meat to process?” Wurtox quickly deduced. Many other adventurers came to sell meat to him earlier.
“I do have quite a bit, but I don’t really want to sell it. I want to exchange it.” Icicle kept it short. Wurtox and Ganish were both experts. There was no need to sweettalk them since they knew their craft well. Extorting Bingus could only be done once, now that it came out the rest will naturally be more careful.
“Exchange it? What for?” the cook’s interest was piqued.
“I’ve checked the prices of bread and it’s dirt cheap at the moment. I thought of making a lot of sandwiches and selling them to the adventurers. Since the ingredients are cheap, I’m sure many would buy them.” Icicle indirectly made the offer.
“I see. There’s indeed a large interest in homemade products. They’re delicious after all. So, you want to use my reputation to spread the commodity?”
“There’s really nothing that I can hide from you, huh?” Icicle took a sip of the fragrant tea, helpless against the teasing expression of Wurtox.
“If you’re hoping for extra rewards then I have to disappoint you. I have looked for wolf meat earlier, but it was already taken care of by other adventurers. You are late.” Wurtox put on a helpless smile, enjoying the advantageous position over the man who beat Bingus.
“I’m not hoping for anything special. I can pay for the bread and give you 40% of my stock of meat for the sandwiches. Your input will be the condiments that go with them and the preparation. What do you say?” Icicle played his role to the dot.
“Sixty percent? You sure are ambitious young man.” Wurtox sipped his tea, glaring at Icicle with stern gaze. “If it’s over 1000 samples I can agree to 50%.”
“Deal.” Icicle took out the wolf meat and one gold coin, placing it on the wooden table. “This should cover the bread expenses. There’s 3000 pieces of wolf meat if you’re wondering.”
“Oh? That’s quite a lot.” Wurtox examined the items, clearly impressed by their quality. After all most of the meat came from Adian who hunted the elite wolves with ease.
“I have something else to discuss, an extra so to speak.” Icicle continued after giving the cook a breather.
“What is it?” Wurtox’s gaze softened as he imagined all the dishes he could make with the meat. Sandwiches no longer satisfied him, he had to make something extranordinary!
“I saw some pretty tasty looking sandwiches earlier on your display. I’m sure you can do something with this.” Icicle placed one of the acorns he received from the Red Devil on the table. It wasn’t the mysterious one, but since it came from Red Devil’s Grove it had to have some immense value.
Wurtox looked at the item, somewhat petrified. He struggled to move his hands over to touch it, so Icicle shoved it into his hands.
“T-This… How did you…?” the cook stammered, taking one of the knives out and cutting the acorn in half. Brown liquid spilt from within, emitting a frangrant, sweet aroma.
“So you know what it is. Now then, how much can you offer?” Icicle continued sipping the tea.
Wurtox swallowed his saliva and looked at Icicle seriously. He finally realized why Bingus was taken advantage of! This man played dirty! He used silver bullets during his negotiations with the merchants, striking their vitals! The acorn in front of the cook was of the top quality, closely resembling the nuts used in peanut butter!
“How many do you have…?” Knowing what Icicle did didn’t help the cook. Wurtox had a sweet tooth. This was known far and wide. Bazzar merchants told Icicle this bit of information for a couple silver. According to them Wurtox was often exploited by nobles bringing him unknown recipes or delicious cakes. Unknown to most, peanut butter was one on the top of Wurtox’s list. He just couldn’t find the right ingredients to make it the way he wanted.
“Just three pieces, it’s hard to get them. I’m sure you know where they’re from.” Icicle spread his arms in a helpless gesture.
“I can give you as much as 1 silver per piece. Just because I love peanut butter.” Wurtox drooled over the acorn.
“Hmm, that’s a nice offer, but it’s too little.” Icicle flatly refused.
“Too little?” the cook looked on expresionlessly, how could it be too little?! This wouldn’t get more than 20 coppers a piece elsewhere!
“Five gold coins and 30% of the sandwiches made and I’ll be willing to hand over 500 pieces.” Icicle made his offer.
“T-Thirty percent?” Wurtox looked at the acorn, sniffing the sweet aroma, his eyes turning bloodshot. He wanted this, but now it was taken away from him. “Twenty percent!” he screamed absentmindedly.
“Deal.” Icicle’s immediate reply made Wurtox sober up.
“Damn it I shouldn’t have agreed to give you more than 10%. You’re good. Where did you learn to plant these ideas in people?” Wurtox helplessly took out 5 gold coins. Since the deal was made he couldn’t go back on his word.
“When will you be done?” Icicle disregarded the question, taking the shiny coins away.
“You can pick it all up in two days time!” Wurtox said confidently, massaging his belly with anticipation.
Icicle said his goodbyes and exited the shop. His second to last NPC to visit was the Tailor Marisse Adian recommended to him. Strolling through the busy streets of Vilen Town, Icicle munched on some wild boar meat. The fragrant smells of food from Wurtox’s shop still lingered in his nose, making him hungry.
“This workshop sure looks fancy.” Icicle commented on the place where Tailor Marisse resided. It was actually a wooden house in the middle of the artisan area. If he didn’t ask the other artisans around Icicle wouldn’t figure out that Tailor Marisse takes her orders in home.
Icicle knocked on the door and heard a clear “Enter.” from inside. He walked in, seeing a middle-aged lady showing the ropes to new adventurers.
“What do you need?” Marisse asked, turning her head to the newcomer. She looked to be around 40, yet her face already has some wrinkles. Marisse’s brown hair was disheveled, implying a lot of work or worry.
“I came with something special. Can you make it?” Icicle handed over the book for Marisse to see.
The tailor turned the pages and her expression remained calm. She closed the book and gave it back, flatly refusing. “I’m sorry, I cannot make it at the moment.”
Icicle’s face turned sour. This was the NPC he had placed his hopes on! Was there something that prevented Marisse from making the set? From her expression and the way she analyzed the contents he judged that she’s capable.
Just as Icicle was wondering where the problem might lay, a series of dry coughs resounded from the room next door.
“Could this be related? And if so, is it a quest?” Icicle wondered.