Frank walked over to the hallway on the right, picked up a hammer tucked into a recess on the wall, and then struck a gong in that same recess. Then he started walking over to me, “OK, another attendant will be here shortly. We can go set up your account. When you return, there’s a bank lobby entrance on the north side of the church. I’ll show you when we’re finished; you can even leave that way if you don’t want to leave through the shops.”
It wasn’t a very long walk, and we came to an open space that didn’t look that different from banks in my time. There were teller windows, and people queued up in line. Desks aligned along one wall had church acolytes helping customers – they were easy to tell from the robes they all wore that were styled and colored the same. Six prominent armed and armored figures guarded a hallway near the teller windows. Frank led us towards them.
“These fine gentlemen guard the passage to the lockbox rooms where a customer can access their box. You must be accompanied by an acolyte to reserve or retrieve a lockbox – that’s what those people at the desks are doing, giving their box number to an acolyte who will then arrange for delivery of their boxes to a deposit room. When the room is ready, they will accompany the customer to the room and verify that the correct boxes are in the room. Then they will step outside the room while the customer does their business. Once the customer has completed their transaction, they will enter the room with the customer and make sure that all boxes are closed and locked and that the customer has their key. They will wait with the customer until the vault guards and the floor manager comes and takes the boxes back to the vault. Once the guards and manager leave, the acolyte will escort the customer back to the lobby. I’m telling you this because we are only going to go through part of that process since you are a new customer. First, let’s get you a key and let you deposit your coins.”
Frank walks me up to a queue with only two people in front of me. The teller windows have a sign that says, “Deposits Only” above them and a bored-looking human standing behind the window. As we’re waiting, he changes subjects.
“I know that you may be excited to ‘play’ this game, but I want to give you some advice. Treat this as real life in every way. As far as you are concerned, this is reality. You will always be digital, even when interacting with the physical world. They say that ‘Perception is Reality’ and everything you perceive is from this virtual world and body. I say this because I’ve seen many others become disenfranchised because they always treated it as a game, and then they can’t stop. Usually, you can stop playing a game if you want, but you can’t stop playing this game; it’s your life. Essentially, if you stop, you die.”
I thought about that for a few minutes as the queue processed. “You know Frank, I think that’s great advice. My reality might have magic, monsters, and more now, but it’s still where I live, work and play.”
“You come by anytime you want to chat. I love talking! Now, let’s get you sorted out here.
Jack, this is Jeb, and he’s opening his account and getting a deposit box. Would you please give him an account key?”
Jack looks at me and smiles, “Welcome to the Church of Money!” He grabs a six-inch rod out of a tray and slides it through the opening to me. This little rod is your account key for this Church of Money, and it will only work here. Insert the rod into the hole to either side of the tray and a screen will show up in your vision.”
I do, and see:
Jack continues, “Pressing the deposit button will take coins from your inventory and deposit them into your account. ‘Exchange’ will allow you to exchange foreign or unusual currencies for local ones. Withdrawal will take money from your account and add it directly to your inventory. Easy-Peasy stuff!”
“Yes, it’s straightforward.” And I deposit 175 silver into my account. I take my key and add it to my inventory. I see a little notification icon appear at the top right of my vision. I select it, and it opens to my Inventory screen, which now shows a new tab named ‘Keys’. This tab is a list of names, and the only item on it is ‘COM Branch #1537 Acct #####4425’.
Frank says, “OK, if you are ready?”
“Please, on to the next part. Thank you, Jack!”
“You’re welcome,” says Jack!
Frank then leads me towards the wall where the guards are. There are some doorways underneath a sign that says, “New Boxes,” and we enter one of the rooms.
This 10×10′ room has a door directly opposite the one we entered and a wheel, resembling a ship’s wheel or a submarine hatch door wheel, on the left wall. This room has a table with a one-foot square box with an open lid. After approaching closer, I can see that the box is empty.
Frank closes the door we entered from, moves to the left wall, and turns the wheel clockwise. As he turns the wheel, a series of rods cover the door we entered from and uncover the door on the opposite wall. He also says, “The wheel changes which door is locked, and once I have unlocked the inner door, I will pass through and close it so that you will be alone. You can then place anything you want in the box. In the future, if you need a different sized box, you will have to request it, and of course, there’s a fee. This bank’s largest box is 5’x5’x5,’ and the dimensions are always in 1′ increments. Not all size increments are always available. No boxes are dimensional storage, like your inventory, so your box must be large enough to contain anything you want to store. I assumed and should have asked if a 1x1x1 box was sufficient.”
“Yes, this will be fine for now.”
“Great. After placing what you want in the box, close the lid and use your bank key in the hole on the lid. You will hear it click, and the red crystal will glow, indicating that it’s locked. Your key will grant access to your account and boxes to anyone possessing it. Consider carefully before handing it out. When you are ready, knock on the interior door, and open it. You are knocking so the guards won’t be startled by a sudden door opening. Sometimes, that’s a ‘very bad thing.'” Frank winked at me and then left the room, closing the door behind him.
I had been thinking about what, if anything, I was going to put in the box. I didn’t have many things, and it seemed pointless to put money in the box since I didn’t have much, and anybody with my key could get that too. I decided that I would season the box for my next visit. Taking out my wooden spoon, I said the incantation, “Spice Rack, Cloves,” and then dumped the cloves into the box. Locked it, knocked on the door, and opened it.”
Frank smiled and said, “Finished?”
“Yep. As you know, I don’t have much to play with yet.”
“That will change soon enough.” Frank reached into a recess, much like what was at the altar room, grabbed the hammer, and rang the small gong. While waiting, he entered the room and ensured I had locked the box, then came and stood by me. We didn’t have to wait long before a man in an acolyte robe pushing a package cart and two guards came into view.
“Hello, Joeseph, this is Jeb”
“Good day to you, Jeb. If you allow me, I’ll take your box to the vault.”
“That would be fine. I’m curious, how will you identify my box when I want to retrieve it?”
“Ah, that’s why I have this magic rod. When I tap your box like this, all six sides will show your full account number, allowing us to sort and store it for easy retrieval.”
“Cool. Maybe someday I could see how the rest of the system works. I always enjoyed designing systems.”
“I’ve never heard of us giving tours; you’ll probably have to become an acolyte. What do you think, Frank?”
“I think you are right. I’ve never heard of somebody who wasn’t a clergy member getting access to see the vault. I’m sure that’s security related. You understand, right Jeb?”
“I do; I dealt with plenty of security in my first life.” Frank and Joeseph looked at me with funny expressions on their faces. “I died, so this is my second life.”
They looked at each other, and then Frank looked at me. “I haven’t ever heard anybody acknowledge it like that. Well then, back into the room, and we’ll let Joseph and his crew take your box.”
“Thanks!” I said, and Joseph replied, “Your welcome; it’s our job and pleasure to serve.”
We entered the room, closed the door, and Frank turned the wheel the other way to unlock the lobby door. As he turned the wheel, he asked, “Well, what will you do now?”
l”I need to find a place to sleep, get something to eat, and start looking for weapon training, some basic world knowledge book or class, and maybe a job.”
“Well, I would recommend the ‘Weather Vane Inn’ for a place to stay and decent food. It’s a place where many adventurers, mercenaries, and guards frequent, so you should also be able to get some advice and a feel for the town. You can always come back here; we buy and sell information too!”
Laughing, “Of course you do. If there isn’t something that the Church of Money has a hand in…that might be rude, and you have been too nice for that.”
Laughing back at me, “It might be rude, but it’s probably true too. You didn’t hear that from me, though.”
“Thanks, Frank. How do I find ‘The Weather Vane’?”