I’m walking back to the road where the bus carts are, and I realize I don’t need to. I could teleport back to the guild. Then I want to smack myself in the forehead at that stupidity. Then I smack myself in the forehead, saying, “I could have had a V8!” A cold can of spicy V8 juice appears in my hand, and I smile. After shaking it for a few moments, I extend my claw just a little and push it into the opening at the top, causing it to pop open. A voice startles me out of my musings.

“Hey, stranger! What was that cantrip? I’ve never seen it before.” A man in a dark grey, pinstripe business suit is standing in front of me. 

“It’s from a very old commercial for a blend of vegetable juices. The drink is called a ‘V8’ since it has eight different vegetables.”

The man shakes his head, “Vegetable juice? I’ve only ever heard of that given to hospitalized patients on a liquid diet. Is it any good?”

“Sure is! Do you like a little spice?”

“Oh, yes! Several restaurants make spicy Asian food in this part of town. It’s why I come here,” he replied.

“Well, here, try one.” I, again, lightly smack myself in the forehead and sing out, “I could have had a V8!” A can of spicy V8 appears in my hand, and I hand it to him.

“Why, thank you! My name is Sam, Sam Yosemite,” he says as he starts shaking the can.”

I snicker, “That has to be on purpose.”

“Oh, so you’re a fan of the old Buggs Bunny cartoons? I always liked the one with the ‘Nose in the Book’ treatment.” Sam stopped shaking his can and then looked at it. A puzzled look came over his face, and then he smiled. “I see; it’s a simple mechanical mechanism.” He then popped open his can. 

I looked at him for a moment, wondering. “You don’t have drinks in aluminum cans?”

He started. He looked at me and then at the can. “That explains it; you’re an experimental. I’m sorry, I can’t talk about that with you. Thank you for the novel drink, and congratulations on your revival.” He then quickly walked away.

I wanted to call out to him, but seeing the look of concern and sadness on his face stopped me. I find myself again wondering what the hell is going on.  

ARC, what do I do with the can? Will it vanish like candy wrappers?

[This cantrip costs you ten mana. For others, it will cost twenty. The can is now a resource you can keep and use like any other.]

Hmm. I stick it in my inventory and continue my walk. Guess I’m going into the recycling business, at least in a small way.

ARC what is the value of this can?

[From a mining standpoint, a single successful strike yielding ore will contain about 25 times the amount of aluminum in that can. An average miner might have about 20 successful strikes a day, somewhere between 25-33% of their strikes, for about ten mana each. The strikes would leave a variety of resources; nearly all will have a reasonably low value. Mining is generally considered a labor’s job, with a chance for a bonus. The bonus comes when one has a ‘Lucky Strike’ for a highly valuable result. Others will work on finding nodes and establishing new mines. A node will have a ‘base’ ore that is produced and a set of ‘Lucky Strikes’ associated with that ore.]

Interesting. But, this cantrip isn’t a sustainable way to acquire resources. Nirvana has intentionally made it impracticable. It’s a small bonus, and most wouldn’t use the cantrip because of the cost associated with the can. I’m sure the mana cost would be normal if I used a tankard or glass.

Seeing a wagon bus coming down the street, I break into a jog to get to the corner in time. Pay my two copper and settle into a seat. This time the bus is fairly empty. I turn to the attendant after we start moving. “So, is this normal? I was on one earlier that was nearly overflowing.”

“It’s a little light. But it usually is around lunchtime,” she replies. She doesn’t appear to be interested in small talk, so I leave her be. As I watch the cityscape go by, I muddle through a few things in my head.  

The people have adopted a role-playing component, but it’s a little broken. So many people here are just passing the time. It’s not the land of milk and honey – it’s a continuation of a dreary rat race in a fantasy landscape. Why are they doing this? I can understand why the ones playing adventurer are doing that – that’s simple escapism. But why would you join Nirvana only to look forward to hundreds of years of living as a laborer or a craftsman? Where’s the motivation? Fear of death? They had to face that when they digitized. I’m missing something so big that the players have barriers to talking…

A man holding a corndog touched me to get my attention and said, “Pardon me, Would you have any Grey Poupon?” A small jar of Grey Poupon mustard appears in his other hand. He smiled at me and said, “My name is Greyson, and I apologize for disturbing you. The cantrip only works if you have someone looking at you in a conversation. Can I offer you a corndog?”

I started chuckling, “That’s fantastic! I haven’t thought about that commercial in a very long time. I probably would have used the Spice Island cantrip instead – and YES! I’ll have a corndog!”

He smiled too, handed me the corndog he was holding, and said, “Then you’ll love this!” Then he started singing, “Corndogs, corndogs, they are so good to me. Corndogs, corndogs, they are so good to me. They’re good when they’re hot, good when they’re cold, good when they’re fresh, good when they’re old. Corndogs, Corndogs, they are so good to me.” He then had three corndogs in his hand by the sticks.

“That’s awesome! I’ve never heard a song about corndogs.”  

Greyson handed two of the corndogs to the stewardess and turned to me, offering the jar of Grey Poupon. “Well, my great-great Grandfather was Ryan Shupe, and he played and sang with a band named ‘RubberBand’. The Corn Dog song was something we all sang when we were kids, and we taught it to our kids. It’s one of those silly songs that’s fun. I was pretty surprised that it worked as a cantrip here in Nirvana, and I’ve been using it to hand out corn dogs for a long time now. A lady taught me the ‘Grey Poupon’ cantrip about a hundred years ago, and whenever I hand out corndogs, I use that so everybody can get some mustard for their dog.” Pulling his corndog off the stick, he placed the corndog stick in the jar of mustard and offered it to me. I used the stick to put some mustard on mine and then held the jar so he could put some mustard on his. I then passed the jar on.

“I would love to learn the whole song. Would you teach it to me if I teach you a cantrip or two to go with your corndog lunch?”

Greyson said, “I’d be happy to teach it to you, regardless of any trade! Here’s how it goes…”

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