Thirteen Tales From Another World
The Tale of a Routine Visit
“Greetings! And welcome to another year of Thirteen Tales!” Dr. Callyco gave a laugh, but there was no lightning strike or ominous weather to accompany his usual introduction. Instead, it was quite sunny, the ocean was in the distance and there were a field of flowers. “As you can see, I’m not in my castle this year… That’s because this year is all about visiting random worlds! Isn’t that right Dr. Cutie Pup?”
“Hmm oh yes…” Dr. Cutie Pup came from the beach holding two coconut cups filled with juice and bendy straws. “Definitely completely random.”
“Yup. Complete chaos that put us here.” Dr. Callyco nodded. “Because we would never, ever do anything to shirk our duties and take a vacation.”
“Speaking of which.” Dr. Cutie Pup handed Dr. Callyco one of the drinks. “The limbo tournament is starting in five minutes so you might want to…”
“Right! I need to hurry and introduce tonight’s tale! I’m short on time! For reasons!” Dr. Callyco took a long sip from his drink before continuing. “Tonight, we have Lockely, a fox who might be a bit genre savvy about these kinds of things. But what happens if the genre is Lockely savvy?”
“That doesn’t make sense.” Dr. Cutie Pup stared at the cat blankly. “And what’s it got to do with tonight’s tale?”
“EVERYTHING!” Dr. Callyco shouted. “I assure you its meaning is quite deep and profound and will become obvious to any educated mind who reads the story. Now, I have to run, so I leave you with our first tale.”
Thirteen Tales From Another World
The Tale of a Routine Visit
Lockely found himself sitting in a large waiting room. The orange fox with black speckles had on a pair of shorts, his t-shirt and of course his glasses. He looked around the room. It could have been the lobby of any kind of major business. But he didn’t see any signs or clues as to what business that might tell him where he was. For all intents and purposes he might have thought this just a normal place. Except, small winged beings flew around a room, there was a manticore in the corner filling out paperwork on a clipboard and up at the counter was what appeared to be some kind of radiant being. Lockely would not tell if they were male, female or something else, but they glowed with a certain eloquence, had gold, not blonde but actual golden hair and a pair of heavenly wings.
“Am I dead?” Lockely asked. He thought back about what had happened to him before he woke up here.
The day had started simple enough. Get up, get dressed, and go get his routine coffee before work. The line was longer than normal today. They were running some kind of special. As a result, by the time Lockely had his cup of coffee in hand he was in danger of being late to work. He had been springing back to his car when it happened.
There was a kid, some otter, who was playing hopscotch in the middle of the road. And a bus coming down that road that showed no signs of stopping.
“You’ve got to be kidding me… KID! Watch out!” Either the kid didn’t hear him or had learned to ignore strangers. And so, Lockely was forced to drop his cup of perfectly brewed coffee, something that should be a crime, and dash into the street to grab the kid before the bus hit him. He slammed into the kid, knocking him out of the street. But the bus was approaching.
And then abruptly turned left before reaching the road Lockely was now sprawled out on drove away.
“Oh… That’s… A relief…” Lockely felt himself shaking a bit having just brushed with death.
“Mister what are you doing?” The kid asked.
“The bus looked like it was going to hit you!” Lockely protested. “I was saving you! Or I thought I was. But, maybe it would be a bit safer for you if you didn’t play in the street from now on, ok?”
Lockely sighed. He now had two choices. Go and order a new coffee and guarantee he would be late for work. Or go to work without his morning coffee.
Obviously, he had to have his priorities straight. Of course he was getting the coffee. It’s not like he’d be any use getting work done without it. He started back towards the coffee shop and turned to see to his relief that the kid was no longer playing in the street. Maybe he hadn’t saved a life. But, the kid might play things a bit safer now after the incident.
And had he been walking where he was going instead of looking at the kid he would have seen the open manhole before he stepped over it and fell in.
And then suddenly was in this waiting room.
He didn’t feel dead. He didn’t remember anything past falling into the manhole. He didn’t think he had landed in the sewer. He didn’t smell like sewage, something he was quite grateful for. So… What had happened? Had the fall killed him, and this was some kind of afterlife or… what?”
“Alright, Lockely…” The heavenly being at the desk called his name. “A personal agent has accessed your information and is now ready to begin judgement. Please follow them through the door.”
“HI!” A very excited voice shouted startling Lockely. There was suddenly something… He wasn’t sure what in his face. It was small and had wings, so Lockely thought it some kind of faerie. But it also had silver fur covering its entire body, ears as long as a rabbit’s but pointed, a muzzle shape Lockely couldn’t quite identify and small claws on their fingers and toes. “I’m the Advisor. Pleased to meet you. Follow me.” It flapped to a corner of the room where a door opened. Not sure what else to do, Lockely followed it.
They went down the hall, and then through another door and found a small cozy room filled with wooden furniture. There were also closets lining every wall but the side they had come in from.
“Take a seat.” The Advisor said. “We’ll go over things and decide where you’re going now.”
“So… Is this some kind of purgatory or…”
“What?” The Advisor laughed. “Why the heck would it be that? Pretty sure you have to die to go someplace like purgatory.”
“Then… I’m alive?” Lockely blinked. That was a relief. But it also meant he had no idea of what was going on. “Then… Where am I?”
“At the Adventurer’s Guild of course!” The Advisor bounced up and down happily in the air. “You like so many other citizens of the great Kingdom of Principium are taking your first steps to becoming one of the many adventurers are economy relies on! Regardless of if you choose to stick to doing small task, or challenge the Inverse Tower, travel alone, or join a party or guild we’re here to get you setup.”
“What?” Lockely nearly fell back in his chair. Clearly, this was a joke. It had to be. Suddenly he was in an isekai anime? He would have assumed he hit his head when he fell and was dreaming, but he didn’’t think his dreams would be this cliched. “I have… Several questions…”
“Well, as the Advisor I’m here to answer them ask away.” The Advisor never lost their cheerful tone.
“To start with is your name actually the Advisor?” Lockely gave the small being a questionable look.
“Oh no! Of course not!” The Advisor giggled. “But if you get a faerie’s name you can control them. Just as I can control you with your name Lockely.” The Advisor seemed to take delight in seeing Lockely recoil. He clearly understood the implications there. “But don’t worry, part of working here is I’m bound not to use any names I learn at work. But, you are not bound by the rules, so for my own protection I go by a description of what I do rather than a name.”
“Ok…” Lockely gave a slight sigh of relief. “Where… Exactly are we?” He then quickly decided to elaborate on his question. “I mean you said the Adventurer’s Guild, and the Kingdom of Principium… But where is any of that?”
“Well that’s a bit of a story… the Kingdom of Principium is a city state made up of several towns that slowly merged into one large city over the years. It’s often referred to as the city of beginnings. It’s called a Kingdom, but is actually ruled by the royal council. Each of them usually retire and pick the person to take up their spot. We do have a royal family, but they’re largely ceremonial. They do pick a councilor if one dies before naming a successor. But mostly, they’re concerned with raising the money to pay adventurers to save the kidnapped princess about once a month.”
“That’s… What? Ok…” Lockely was trying to process it and trying very hard to pretend that he was keeping a level head. “She gets kidnapped monthly?”
“And taken to the Inverse Tower that goes down deep into the underworld.” The Advisor nodded. “It’s the home of demons. Luckily, to rescue her you never have to make it farther than the fifth floor. We have an agreement with the Demon Lord. We don’t try to stop the abducting, he leaves her with a lower-level general adventurers can defeat, and she lives in luxury while in the tower. It’s a lot easier and causes a lot less deaths on both sides.”
“Ok so that’s certainly something to take in.” Lockely interrupted. “Just… I was trying to… Well… Okay, this might sound crazy but I’m-“
“From another world?” The Advisor asked.
“Yes…” Lockely could not hold back the sound of surprise in his voice.
“We know! We get about twenty of you a week. That’s why the Adventurer’s Guild has agents like me now to get you going since you know have the experience someone growing up in this world does.”
“So… Did I die and reincarnate…” Lockely started.
“Nah you just fell through an interdimensional portal.” The Advisor shrugged. “Portals happen sometimes. We’ve worked some magic to redirect all portals entering from other universes to reroute to the Adventurer’s Guild. So, you landed safely in a chair in the waiting room.”
“So, I didn’t land in the sewer.” Lockely gave a small sigh of relief. There were a great many things to be concerned about right now. But at least not having any sewage in his fur was not one of them.
“Indeed!” The Advisor nodded. “Anyway, you passed out after you landed. Pretty common, the trip between universes can be both physically and mentally draining.”
“Wait…” Lockely paused. “If I just fell through a portal, and this isn’t some kind of reincarnation thing… How do you know my name? And what is this thing about judgement?”
“Oh, that’s simple.” The Advisor grinned. “This happens so often we learned most of you have wallets or something else with some manner of identification on it. I believe what you had was called a Driver’s License. As for Judgement, it’s exactly what it sounds like. I’m going to judge you.” The Advisor paused. “Ok, that was meant to sound less ominous. What I mean is I use my magic to learn everything I can about your physical and mental attributes, personality and then help recommend one of the many Adventuring Classes you would be suited for.”
“I see. Wait you went through my things?” Lockely wasn’t sure what to feel right now. “This really happens that often?”
“At least twenty a week.” The Advisor nodded. “But, during certain seasons we can easily get a hundred a day. Apparently, many worlds have these things called ‘video games’ that for some reason the launch of certain major games causes an overwhelming large number of people to be dumped into our world.”
“Ok.” Lockely didn’t want to say more right now. He didn’t feel like he had any choice but to just go along with it. He supposed, if he was going to be transported to a magical world it was better to go to one where they were ready for you and helpful.
“Anyway, I finished Judgement awhile ago. The Advisor continued. “Physical stats you’re around average. Mental, you’re a bit above average. And spiritual slightly below.”
“… What do each of these stats include?” Lockely was trying to decide if he should be insulted about his spirit being below average.
“Physical stats are things like your Strength, Agility, Endurance.” The Advisor was happy to explain. “Mental covers your Intelligence, Cunning and Charisma. And Spiritual Stats cover your Faith, Piety and Luck.”
“Alright that makes sense…” Lockely nodded.
“Anyway, with your stats, you can basically go into any class that you want. But, you’ll likely struggle to gain strength if you pick a divine based class such as Priest, Cleric or White Mage. You’d be best suited for Arcane Magic classes, but could easily advance in a physical class, or perhaps looking at something that uses a bit of physical ability and magic like Elemental Blade.”
“Ok… So what are all my choices for classes?” Lockely asked.
“Very well. I’ll go in alphabetic order. If at any point you want me to stop and explain what one class does in more detail let me know.” The Advisor took a deep breath. “Classes include Aggressor, Alchemist, Archer, Armored Mage, Assassin, Astrologer, Bard, Barbarian, Battle Mage, Battle Priest, Beast Tamer, Bishop, Black Mage, Blade Dancer, Blade Master, Blue Mage, Brute-“
“Okay, that’s enough you can stop.” Lockely wasn’t sure how many classes there were. But he had a feeling if he found out he’d be here all day. “What’s Alchemist do?” Of the many names that the Advisor had rattled off that one had stuck out.
“An Alchemist is a magic based class that can be an offensive or support class. They are capable of brewing healing potions and potions with fantastic or transformative effects, poisons of all kind, and bombs. As they advance Alchemist can learn to combine potions or poisons with bombs to create something similar to an area of effect spell. Alchemist primary benefit from intelligence. Agility will help you aim better, and Endurance is never unhelpful since it keeps you alive.”
“That sounds… Fine. I can work with potions.” Lockely gave a slow nod.
“Good then… Now, let’s get you all setup. There are thirty steps to go through before you’re officially an Alchemist. Alternatively, if you don’t want to go through all the steps yourself we have premade builds to choose from.”
“What are the premade builds?” Lockely couldn’t imagine how a character creation… Well class selection process could have so many steps.
“For Alchemist, the premade options are Self Mutation Melee DPS, Bomb Expert, DPS, Hulking Monstrosity Tank, Potion Master Support, or Potion Bomber Hybrid DPS/Support.”
“I guess… the Potion Bomber sounds fine?” Lockely asked. “I’ll be able to make healing potions and defend myself?”
“Indeed! The premade build will allow you to learn every potion formula in existence. After you gain enough experience, you can then turn any potion into a bomb, even healing potions.” The Advisor grinned happily. “Now then, if you are ready, I will assign you your class and recommended build.”
“Alright… Sure, let’s do this.” Lockely nodded.
“Okay then…” The Advisor snapped their fingers. Suddenly, a bright circle of light appeared on the ground around Lockely. It slowly rose to cover him, he felt strange, like something was being poured into him. Suddenly, his mind understood the nature of magic and the steps needed to create potions. He knew where to find the ingredients and how to augment his potions and bombs by adding rare ingredients. All the knowledge of alchemy was being uncovered to him. Well, novice alchemy at least. He supposed everyone had to start at level one.
The magic circle rose until it went past his head, and suddenly Lockely was a lot closer to the ground and his clothes were hanging off him loosely.
“What!?” Lockely asked. “Why am I so short!?”
“I believe you’ll find that you are of average size for your race.” The Advisor explained. “The Raccoon Clan have higher growth rates of on Agility and Intelligence, your two most important stats.”
“Raccoon!?” Lockely looked over his body. He was still orange and still had black speckles, but he had to be a good foot and a half shorter, and now his tail was striped orange and black, his ears shorter, and though he couldn’t see it there was a black mask of fur over his eyes. “Why didn’t you warn me before changing me?”
“You requested the recommended build. The Raccoon Clan is the optimal choice.” The Advisor explained. “Foxes aren’t a bad choice, but their stats that grow faster are Agility and Cunning. You need Intelligence to make more complex potions. Hints, raccoon.” The Advisor smiled. “And with that! Let me congratulate you! You are now a Rank 1 Alchemist! How do you feel, ready to go out into the world and adventure?”
“Not really…” Lockely muttered. “I feel like I’m just going to trip over my own shirt and fall on my face.”
“Nothing to worry about there, we’ve got you covered.” The Advisor grinned. All three closet doors opened. One wall was covered with a variety of different outits and armors, another was covered by weapons, and the third accessories. “We’ve found the clothes people bring from other worlds aren’t really… Tough enough. In fact, they’re no more help than being naked.” They paused. “Except some classes do get bonuses when not wearing clothing so I guess they’re worse than being naked. But, the Adventurer’s Guild gives every adventurer there own starter kit. Take a look, find yourself some clothes, armor, a weapon and a couple accessories.”
“Oh… Thank you…” As things continued to happen it took Lockely longer to process them. But at least the clothes issue was solved.
“As an Alchemist you can wear Light Armor and wield basic one-handed weapons and simple ranged weapons.” The Advisor explained. “For your starter kit you may take one outfit, one set of armor, one weapon, and two accessories.”
“Right…” Lockely decided to get to clothes first. He wanted something that fit. After a few minutes, he managed to get himself a pair of dark covered trousers, a gray tunic, and a dark blue cloak to help keep himself warm. There wasn’t any footwear that would fit his raccoon paws, but this wasn’t any different from than normal. As for armor, a basic set of leather armor would do. “Um… I’m going to change clothes could you… Turn around?”
“Don’t tell me you’re embarrassed in front of me!” The Advisor let out a giggling fit. “I mean I don’t even wear clothes! But fine! You’re not the first who is so shy… But you might want to get over that…”
“And why is that?” Lockely asked while quickly removing his ill-fitting clothes and started putting the new outfit on.
“Because your clothes aren’t going to exactly change with you if you use any transformation potions to boost your abilities…” The Advisor paused. “Or get hit by an enemy’s Polymorph Spell. A lot of alchemist eventually give up armor, instead choosing to use a potion that creates a protective field since it gets expensive replacing it all the time.”
“Thanks for the advance warning.” Lockely grumbled a bit. Any video games or tabletop RPGs he had played clothes always melded into someone when they changed shape. He supposed he shouldn’t be surprised by this revelation given that his old clothes no longer fit. Still with an outfit done it was time to do weapons.
“We have all kinds of weapons available.” The Advisor beamed. “Feel free to give any a test swing. There is an enchantment in this room that will cause any and all weapon attacks to miss living creatures so you don’t have to worry about hurting yourself or me.” She paused. “But due still be careful. The furniture is not a living creature and can be destroyed.”
“Right…” Lockely considered. “I’m mostly going to use alchemical bombs to attack with from what I understand?” A lot of knowledge had been imprinted on him all at once. He was still sifting through all of it. As he considered fighting, he was pretty sure a low level easy to make potion would allow him to throw bombs a further distance. So, ranged combat was mostly taken care of. He probably should have something to defend himself with if someone got up close. He tried grabbing a longsword. It felt heavy and he nearly dropped it when he tried to swing it.
“For the Raccoon Tribe Strength is their slowest growing stat.” The Advisor piped in. “You’ll probably want to go with something lighter.”
“Right…” Lockely looked around for a bit then grabbed a dagger. Now the strongest thing in the world, but at least it’d give him something to defend himself up close. Hopefully he’d never need it.
“Alright just the accessories left!” The Advisor chimed in happily. “I highly recommend grabbing a Belt of Need. You can hang up to thirty items from it including your dagger, potions and bombs. But once hung the items are stored in a pocket dimension. Whenever you reach for your belt to grab something the item you want automatically comes to your hand.”
“That does sound useful.” Lockely paused and thought for a moment. “Does a sack of potion reagents count as one item for storing on the belt, or each reagent count separate or…”
“If it’s stored in a sack, you can store the entire sack as a single item.” The Advisor gestured to one of the belts hanging off the wall. “Just be warned that means you’d pull out the entire sack not one item when you try. Of course, that can be very useful for when your gathering potion ingredients and carrying your wallet.”
“Right… So taking the belt…” Lockely grabbed the one the Advisor had picked out and quickly put it on. Then he tried to hang his dagger on it. It disappeared as soon as he did. Testing it, he reached for his dagger and it reappeared. Satisfied that it worked he put the dagger away again.
“You get one more item, choose carefully.” The Advisor offered no suggestions this time. Instead, they just seemed to be watching with delight waiting to see what Lockely would pick.
And that was a bit of a problem. Lockely knew everything he needed to know to be an alchemist now. But that didn’t mean he knew what every magic item did just by looking at it. After looking around for a bit he grabbed a white scarf, mostly because he liked how it looked.
“Not a bad choice for you.” The Advisor nodded with approval. “That’s a Lucky Scarf. It slightly boost your luck stat growth as you advance. And trust me, your luck stat is terrible. Not the worst I’ve seen, but well, as it is now you might-“
“Just walk into an open hole and fall into a sewer?” Lockely suggested.
“Yes! That! Things like that will happen!” The Advisor nodded.
“Right, taking the scarf.” Lockely put it on and all the closest slammed short.
“Okay, we have one last gift as part of your Adventuring Starter Kit.” The Advisor snapped her fingers and suddenly Lockely was wearing a backpack. “You’ll find it has a sleeping roll, one week’s worth of rations, several empty bottles and alchemy tools and potion ingredients. All in all, the entire thing plus the bag is roughly 500 gold worth of items. But today, you get them for free.”
“So… You just give stuff to every new person shows up for free?” Lockely asked. “How do afford that?”
“Well, for starters the Adventurer’s Guild runs the Quest Board. People need help with something, we get the word out there and we take 20% of the pay.” The Advisor wagged a finger. “Don’t worry to much about that. When we post a job on the board we post the payment you will receive after we’ve already taken our share. In addition, when you’re an experienced adventurer, if you want to take on more advanced quest, you know saving the world, or at least the kingdom level stuff, you can come back here to move into an Advanced Adventuring class. The test costs approximately 500 gold to take, if you pass you basically get to move into a stronger and more specialized version of your class.”
“I see… I’m not sure if I want to do that…” Lockely was just getting his bearings. He wasn’t quite ready to go fight demon overlords or save the world or whatever it came up.
“Something to keep in mind.” The Advisor shrugged. “Because there are other benefits. After passing the test, you are granted guild membership. The fee we take from your quests decreases to 5%. You get access to the Expert Quest Board, far more challenging but higher paying quest, and get invited to special Adventurer’s Guild events where you might be able to obtain rare items unavailable anywhere else.”
“Got it…” Lockely paused. “Uh… Where do I live now?”
“Not our concern.” The Advisor replied. “Look don’t mean to sound cold, but giving out free gear is one thing. Giving out free land and houses is another. We’d go bankrupt. But, even the lowest level quest should be enough to get you enough gold for a night at the local inn and a good meal. The inn is also a good place to meet other adventurers to form a party or find a guild.”
“Uh huh.” Lockely muttered. He was wondering what the odds of being able to a job that didn’t put him in danger. Probably not impossible. But not likely to happen fast enough to pay for a place to sleep tonight.
“Anyway, my next appointment is here so gonna have to move you along.” The Advisor spoke and the door opened up. Instead of going into the hall, it now went outside into a square of a large city. Lockely felt himself pulled towards the door and out it as it slammed shut behind him. He turned around to look at where he had come.
It was a larger building with a sign reading ‘Adventurer’s Guild’ across the top of it. Also, the set of doors he had come out of were a set of double doors, but he had clearly exited through a single door.
“Faerie magic.” Lockely muttered to himself. He had a feeling that faeries were something of a problem here. Still, as he looked around he saw a large billboard outside the building. That must be the Quest Borad.
After approaching it, Lockely found there were plenty of quests for killing monsters. Sometimes, killing multiple of a weak monster to help keep their population under control. Other times killing a really big monster that was causing problems. Then there were other things that were basically just fetch quests.
One of them stuck out in particular to him. It mentioned an apothecary needing several flowers from a meadow outside the city as their petals were essential in many healing potions. The pay was 50 gold, which Lockely assumed wasn’t a lot, but if the Advisor was speaking the truth would get be enough to have a place to stay for the night. And, as an alchemist he could pick a few extra flowers for himself. It should be an easy walk in the park.
As soon as Lockely thought that he regretted it. He also remembered what the Advisor said about his luck stat. Sure, the scarf would help but he doubted this invisible arbitrary stat had grown in the past five minutes. He had some potion ingredients. He decided to make a few potions and bombs, and then go flower picking. That seemed like the smarter way to handle it.
Perhaps, he might make this whole adventuring thing work. Maybe he’d even consider taking the advanced exam down the line. Maybe. He’d see how low-level quest worked out for him first.