The dinner with Ennolf and Nuoda was rather nice. Ennolf made a finely roasted steak with potatoes for each of us. And, as before, he even enchanted the food. Enchanted food was rather rare, since the enchanting process typically worsened the flavor of the food itself. However, with Ennolf, I could confidently say that that was not the case. I could understand why Nuoda said that he was working as a chef in the cities that they passed.
During my talk with the two of them, they further explained their goals to me, making sure that I knew what I was agreeing to. Once they set up the guild, they would find a chance to invite me to join it while they worked on getting themselves leveled up. With their main target being to give a refuge to failures, they weren’t expecting all that many players to join them at first, and were planning to become the main fighting force of their guild.
To make the money that they needed, they wanted to stay in each village for one full day, and every major city for three. This would give them the time to find somewhere for Ennolf to cook, and allow his reputation to begin to spread among the NPCs. Since it cost one gold coin to register a guild, they wanted to try to save up that much money by the time they reached Athua.
As for me…? All I asked was that after they made it to Athua, to see if they could find a healing skill book for me, either from the skill store there or the dungeon. Naturally, I would pay the appropriate price to receive the book, but that would help me out a lot. They agreed without any hesitation, especially after Nuoda explained to Ennolf the consequences of my enchantment.
I was slightly concerned that they would just try to send the book to me for free. However, even if they did that, I would send them the money it was worth.
After I left their inn room, I made my way to my next destination, the Appraisal Store. Upon entering, I saw a sign on the counter saying ‘Not Accepting Anymore Appraisals’, which made me briefly blink in surprise, before realizing what must have happened. The store’s clerk must have run out of excess experience, so she could no longer afford to appraise any items brought in.
I thought that the store would simply close when this happened, but that did not seem to be the case. Instead, the store remained open so that players could come in and buy items from the shop’s inventory.
“Hello again!” The woman behind the counter greeted me, seeming to recognize me from before. “If you’ve come to sell anything else today, I’m sorry but I’m not able to do so right now.”
I nodded my head, not minding that. “Out of curiosity, how do you normally gather your experience?”
She tilted her head slightly, before smiling. “Every morning, a few guards escort me out of the city. I just have to hit a few monsters with a crossbow while they’re fighting, and I’ll have enough experience to last me most of the day, as long as nobody comes in with items of high level.”
Right, that made sense. Being an appraiser was an important function in the city, so they would have to have their own method to make sure that the appraiser was able to operate. “Well, I’m not here to sell, or really buy something. Rather, I was interested in offering help.”
The woman hesitated, before seeming to remember something. “That’s right! You have the appraisal skill as well. Do you have Mass Appraisal?” She asked curiously, to which I shook my head.
“I don’t have Mass Appraisal. In fact, I wasn’t even aware of it until you showed it earlier.” The woman smiled at my honesty, before explaining.
“Mass Appraisal is a new skill that can be gained if you channel appraisal over multiple items. The experience efficiency is better when you are identifying multiple of the same item. If you’d like, I can give you a simple quest to acquire the skill?” My eyes lit up at her offer, and I nodded my head.
She walked into the back of the store, coming out with a large pile of black leather. Notably, the appraisal sticker had been removed from them, and she set the pile on the counter. “Then, for your quest, you need to identify this entire stack of items at once.”
As she said that, a quest window appeared in the corner of my vision. It alerted me that the appraisal results would not appear unless I identified the entire stack at the same time. If I did so, it would award me with the Mass Appraisal skill.
The store’s clerk had already told me that this was the method of acquiring the skill, so most likely it would just normally take multiple of such stacks. Still, if it was just channeling the Appraise skill, that was something that I could easily do.
Reaching out, I began to channel, outlining a cube around the stack. I didn’t use any fancy chants, but only marked the area in which I wanted to appraise everything. By doing it this way, I could save myself from having to come up with some long chant, while hopefully still obtaining the results that I wanted.
Once the cube had been fully drawn, I fully cast the Appraise skill, and white light filled the drawn cube. One hundred notifications appeared in front of me, all at once, causing me to stagger back with wide eyes.
The woman didn’t say anything, simply waiting patiently for me to sort out the results. “There are… ninety-eight pieces of Shade Spawn Leather… and two pieces of Shade Queen Leather?” I asked, and she nodded her head in approval.
New Skill Acquired!
Mass Appraisal (5☆): Appraise a large amount of objects at once, sorting them by type, price, and quality.
Mana Burden: 0. Level: 1(0%)
Recognizing that her quest had been completed, the woman smiled broadly. “Congratulations. As for the matter of helping me in the store… I don’t really mind. However, we would need to discuss your pay.”
Honestly, as fine as I was getting paid, that was fine with me. She went on to explain. “I can’t offer you much, since I have my own costs to do business. However, I can let you keep the money from pure appraisals that you perform. As for items being sold to the store, I can let you keep two percent of their total value, calculated at the end of the day.”
This didn’t seem like much, but two percent of the value for every item brought in while I was working the counter would add up fast. Though, before I could agree to the conditions, she looked at me seriously. “Do you have enough experience left over to run the store?” She questioned.
I blinked briefly, before chuckling. “I helped to kill the Shade Queen last night, and tore through an overgrown dungeon on my way here. If I don’t have enough experience to work the counter for a few days, I would have to question what types of monsters they’re having you kill every morning.”
I naturally couldn’t tell her that I was only level one, and so all of my experience was free to be used for appraisals, but that wasn’t something that she particularly needed to know. “I understand.” She said with a relieved smile. “What times are you planning to work?”
“I want to head out before dark to work with the city’s guards. I’m only planning to stay in town until the Shade Queen’s assault ends, earning money by helping them fight it at night. During the day, I can spend eight hours before dusk.”
The woman thought that over, before nodding in satisfaction. “That will leave me only a few hours to work in the morning, and I can spend the rest of the time overseeing the shipment of goods to other stores. Or just take a vacation.” She smiled as she added the last part.
“In that case, can you explain briefly how the store works for me?” I asked, rubbing the back of my head. I had never been a businessman, either before or after becoming a chosen. Thus, I had no knowledge of how shops functioned beyond what one would experience by visiting them.
The woman gave a light laugh at my question. “It’s quite simple. The shop’s inventory is in the back. Each shelf holds thirty items, which can stack up to one hundred per item. For smaller items sold in bulk like herbs, we have boxes that can hold up to stacks of one thousand, but only a single item.”
“Whenever you appraise an item, you can print the appraisal results with this device here.” She gestured for me to come around the counter, pointing at a silver item hidden below the lip of the counter. “The print can then be applied to the item as a sticker. Oh, for bundled items like these leathers, you would put a cord around the entire bundle, and put the sticker on that.”
“Whenever you make a purchase or sale, the money transferred is automatically withdrawn or added to the store’s finances, with a log of the transaction. Finally, the prices per item as a pure appraisal are listed on the chart behind the counter. Aside from that, just be sure to let me know if you have any specific questions.”
I looked at the chart, nodding my head. One copper for an herb, one silver per kilogram of ore or other raw material, one silver per crafted item. If items are sold in bulks of ten or more, the cost per item is reduced by half. That made sense, since otherwise the cheaper herbs would have no value being sold at all.
“In that case, is it alright if I start work tomorrow?” I asked, receiving a nod in response. Dusk was fast approaching, and I still needed to meet with the guard captain to discuss working with them against the Shade Queen.
Once I arrived at the western gate, I explained my request and was led to meet an old, scarred figure. When he heard that I wished to help against the Shade Queen on a nightly basis, he gave an almost sinister chuckle. My pay for doing so wouldn’t be as good as the first night, when I volunteered with no promise of reward, but he still offered to pay me thirty silver every time I gave substantial help in fighting it, as well as promise to let me loot my own body in the event that I died again.
After I was done negotiating for my own pay, I mentioned Ella, who had a similar request. The guard captain didn’t seem to be aware of her, so he didn’t make any promises. Rather, he said that he would judge her according to her performance that night.
Thirty silver a day is still a lot… If I hold out until the end of the Shade Queen’s raids, completely upgrading my armor is not just a fantasy. I was quite satisfied with my shield and sword for the moment, but knew that my armor could use a bit of work. Especially my breastplate, which was still the same one that I looted off of the low-level warrior. Of course, there was no way that I was going to be swapping out my gloves until I learned a healing skill of my own.
As I walked out of the guard tower, I saw the familiar figure of Ella walking over, though she did not seem nearly as she had earlier in the day. Neither did she seem as arrogant as when she got ‘in character’ using her skills. “Hello.” She said with a polite smile, greeting me. “I’m Ella, the chosen of the player you met earlier.”
“Nice to meet you.” I responded, shaking her hand. “I’ve already talked to the guard captain, and he’s agreed to evaluate your performance tonight to determine your pay. Is there any risk of your player logging in during the fight?”
Ella thought about that briefly, before giving a firm refusal. “Typically, she only logs in for two to three hours in the afternoon. On weekends, she can play up to six hours, but rarely ever gets on after dark or in the early morning.”
“Good to know.” Given that it had been nearly a week, the activity of the players would have been learned by their chosen, letting them get into the habit of expecting when they would log on. Especially those like Ella that had a regular schedule.