Following the explorers upstairs, I find myself drifting into introspection mode… 

I can create enough wealth to buy anything I want. With that, I have everything I need to survive in the city and to live extravagantly if I want to. I could set myself up as a local power, but that would tie me down, and I am sure that if I really want to find out what is going on, there’s going to be some travel involved.

I don’t have the skills to fight off monsters, so I can’t travel or explore safely alone. But I can hire passage on a ship or in a caravan. If I need to go into the wilds, I can hire bodyguards or adventurers to accompany me. Doing that will mean some of what I am looking for or learning will be exposed or have to be shared. 

Mason interrupts my thoughts, “Jeb, this is your room,” and she indicates a door with a crescent moon engraved on it.

“Thanks, Mason. Gang, I’ll be out in the morning, have a good night.” I ignore their replies, knowing that they are pleasantries, and return to my musing.

Soon I’ll be able to scry and teleport, which can make getting to other cities and places easier, but it won’t help with defending myself unless I am fleeing. But that reminds me that I am not who I used to be, and there are big changes coming. I will be able to use magic in defense and offense. I will also have bones, tendons, and skin like steel, so I don’t need armor, and I will be much harder to kill, as long as I stay here long enough for the Idler to work – or if I use a safer option to travel while the Idler works…yes, there’s no reason I have to sit here while it’s working. That’s a waste of time, especially since I will have magic to heal myself should I be injured, and if I should die, I can always teleport to where it happened and continue my journey. 

That was some good reinforcement of changing things that will certainly impact my abilities. I need to come up with some ways to help integrate these new abilities into my consideration. Practice will be one way, but I do need some combat training to start building habits and explore options. I don’t know that I need weapons training, perhaps just martial arts and the chance to integrate magic into it. I’m sure there will be a lot more of that happening as spellcasting classes start popping up – wait, there are already some people doing this in the sects. I guess that’s a full circle. I need to take advantage of what they already know. Wait, maybe I don’t need a sect; I really need a sensei or a traveling master. No, they don’t have to travel – I can teleport! I need to find a trusted dojo or a sensei who will do private lessons. I can stay in the city to start and come back for lessons over time.

ARC, is there a bulletin board, classified ads, or something of that ilk for Horn Point?

[Nirvana residents use the Net to facilitate those needs.]

Great, I am searching for a dojo or sensei that will provide private lessons and is trusted to keep secrets. I don’t need criminal connections or anything like that. Just combat instruction from beginner to advanced, and if there are any with spells or chi skills that’s even better. Hold the results for now, we can review them later.

Wait…ARC, does ‘Net’ refer to the internet or something else?

[I am prohibited from clarifying further and must simply state that “Nirvana residents use the NET to facilitate those needs.”]

That’s very interesting – and a distraction. Hmm…

Should I set up a base of operations here then? It’s tempting. The changes will spread out from here, for now at least, so I may stand out less. I can arrange for a safe teleport destination here. Provide for a message drop and a public identity. Shore up the explorers and Auntie when needed.  

ARC, do you have access to maps of Nirvana?  

[Some, primarily populated areas and common travel routes.]

Can you search for real estate listings and cross-reference available maps for Horn Point? I want something small, 1-2 bedrooms near the explorer’s association.

[There are fourteen listings within three miles of the Explorer’s Association hall, ranging between 15 and 32 gold, that meet your criteria.]

“What?! That can’t be right – ARC did you make a mistake? A 2 bedroom house costs between 15 and 30 gold?

[For this area, 15 to 32 gold.]

I get up and go to the door. Opening it, I look to see if anybody is still in the parlor. All three of them are sitting there, looking at me. Mason says, “You were a little loud. It looks like you have a question.”

Nodding. “I do, in fact, several, and I promise that they shouldn’t cause injury or make Nirvana show up. First, how much does the average citizen earn in a year?

Gilden responds, “Labors can earn between 2-4 gold a year. Craftsmen do better at between 3-5 gold. There are exceptions.”

“So paying a silver to attend your meeting…”

“It’s a pretty significant investment. Most people’s rent, or mortgage, is a silver coin, sometimes two a month,” answered Grumpy.

“So when you offered me a gold to stay after the meeting, that wasn’t chump change.”

“No. It costs one gold per DY to host your brain with Nirvana. That’s about a third of what we commoners make a year, on average,” replied Grumpy. “Did you change your mind?”

Waving him off with my hand, “No. No, I just didn’t understand the value of what you were offering or the cost of some of these spells. It’s no wonder that Nirvana is going to demand that you have the material components. It will restrict the casting and drive the economy.”

Mason asked, “Did you think that there were loot drops from monsters like in video games you played, and everybody ran around with gold in their pockets?”

“Actually, I did, and I thought 200 silver was a token amount the system gave me at character generation because I was going to be finding gold with every monster I defeated. I’m sorry if I offended you. I wasn’t trying to, and please remember that this is only my second day here.”

Mason looked at her companions and then turned to me, “Jeb, we aren’t offended – we’re terrified. Nirvana has been like this, stable if not always pleasant and fun, for more than 1,000 years – according to Grumpy. Today you have brought a religion sponsored by Nirvana, a dozen new magic systems, and unlocked historical archives, to name the greatest changes.”  

Gilden added, “People, both monsters and legends, that have been coasting along are going to sit up and take notice. They will wreak havoc to be sure that their power structure is at best undisturbed and more commonly expanded.” 

And Grumpy finished with, “There will be wars fought over what people think is in these books, regardless of what they actually contain, much less the ability to control who has access.”

“Maybe I should stay out here for this conversation. I have not gotten to this point in my brief period of introspection. I was still considering what I wanted to do in preparation for learning what is driving Nirvana and what is taking place in the physical world.”

Grumpy smiles sadly at me. “Go on back to your room, sort yourself out. We have much more to discuss between ourselves before we are going to be ready to share with you. The morning will be soon enough for us to put our heads together.”

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