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“Milord, lunch service is open,” Gendun called out from behind the door.
And right on the dot, I heard a bell tolling twelve times. I shook my head. I had lost track of time while planning out my next moves. It was a bad habit of mine which contributed to my poor time management skills.
I amended my mental to-do list. The FIRST thing I needed to buy was a pocket watch. I certainly didn’t want to be at the mercy of the bell tolls to tell time. I may be stuck inside a medieval game, but I refuse to adopt the medieval mindset of using the church bell to account for the passage of time by the hour. After all, I was still a modern man with modern sensibilities.
I looked at the storage chest placed in between the wall and the left side of the bed. There was a key left in the lock. I opened the chest and saw a simple box with no compartments. I briefly considered putting some of my precious platinum coins inside the chest but ultimately, I decided not to take the risk. Kalistra’s warning against my naivety rang in my mind. How could I be certain that the staffers didn’t carry spare keys to open these storage chests? All it took was one dishonest tavern worker, or a thief proficient in picking locks for that matter, to lose my fortune. No, it was far safer to leave the coins on my person. That being said, I needed to check and see if this gaming world offered any banking services. I added looking for a bank to my ever growing mental to-do list.
The more immediate problem, though, was where could I put these coins on my person? I wasn’t going to leave them in my tights, as the presence of the coins would be obvious whenever they are pressed against my waist. My tunic, unfortunately, didn’t have any zipper pockets either. So the only possibility left was my shoes. I sat down on my bed and took off my left shoe. I carefully examined the bottom of the footwear to ensure that there were no holes in it. Then I placed half of my platinum coins in the shoe and then I wore the shoe. The coins pressed against the bottom of my left foot and I felt some discomfort. I just had to suck it up and learn to walk slowly. With a substantial portion of my precious platinum coins safely inside my shoe, I decided to head down to the common room to grab lunch.
After locking the door to my room, I turned around and saw another guest opening the door directly across from my room. It was a man of slender build with a dark olive hood covering his face. My wave in greeting at my neighbor was ignored as the man slammed his door shut.
As I walked down the staircase, I pondered why the man was so rude. I almost stumbled on the stairs when the idea hit me. That person was probably an elf and the reason for his rudeness became obvious. In the game of Merlin, the elves had an uneasy truce with the humans on the continent of Britannia; the elves lived in the forests beyond the western border of Merlin. Elven traders often visited the border towns, like Tregome, to sell fur, leather, and herbs in order to buy iron goods from the smithies as well as precious stones and metals from other merchants.
Making a mental note to avoid antagonizing the unfriendly elf, I quickly walked down the stairs. As I reached toward the end of the steps, I heard loud and boisterous conversations. I looked up and saw that the place was packed with patrons. I took a look around the common room and managed to find one seat available on a bench near the bar. I quickly walked through the crowd and claimed the open seat.
When I sat down, however, the people at the table immediately stopped their private conversations and stared at me. Some patrons offered friendly looks while others offered less friendly ones. A dirty looking ruffian, whose name on the caption read, “Ebenthal,” spoke up. He sat to my immediate left. “This seat is taken, friend,” he said in an icy tone of voice.
“My apologies, sir,” I replied and quickly got back up. I had no interest in fighting over a lousy seat. Also, my writer's intuition told me that Ebenthal was an unsavory character whom I should avoid.
“Knock it off!” another voice said. It belonged to a pretty female human with fiery red hair sitting across the table from my seat. Her caption read, “Name: Rijana, Level: ?, Disposition: Friendly.” The lady, who was dressed in a dark gray robe, offered me a bright, dazzling smile and said, “The seat is open, sir. Please set down.” She appeared to be a spellcaster.
Ebenthal, whose disposition I didn’t even need to read the caption to know, scowled and turned away from me as I sat back down.
“Are you new in town?” another female said. The voice came from an elf maiden with smooth, rich golden skin, curly blonde hair, and sky blue eyes sitting next to Rijana. The elf wore light elven chain mail armor. She was probably a Fighter. The floating caption read, “Name: Bjoukia, Level: ?, Disposition: Curious.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied while trying hard to avoid staring at her luscious lips.
Bjoukia giggled. “You made it sound like I’m older than you,” she teased.
“Considering that you’re an elf and he’s a human, you probably are,” said an elf male sitting to my right. The elf had similar skin, hair, and eye color; his caption read, “Name: Bjoukin, Level: ?, Disposition: Friendly.” Unlike her, he was dressed in green leather armor and he carried a quiver full of armors on his back; Bjoukin was probably a Ranger.