I found the blacksmith shop in complete disarray. The tools were scattered all over the place, the furnace needed a cleaning, no wood was stockpiled, and the floor needed swept. I started putting tools away before I started to clean the furnace out. The blacksmith I work for said it was important to keep even heat distribution so I thought it was important to do it. The job was gather wood which wasn’t hard as the forest was close by.
I took the lumber axe out with me to fell a couple of trees. Finding a few good dead trees I chopped them down. Next I split them into manageable piece that I then used to fill the shed full of wood as well as the immediate stockpile in the shop. Last, but certainly not least came the job off sweeping out the shop. By the time I finished everything it was late afternoon so I decided to take the rest of the day to do maintenance on my sword.
Due to the fighting yesterday it had taken quite of abuse so I put it on the grindstone. I took my time giving the sword a good sharpening, and a polish. My level continued to increase every minute I sat grinding on my sword. When it was at peak condition I decided to work on some of the equipment the villagers had left for the previous blacksmith to repair. The equipment included hoes, shovels, pitchforks, a plow, and a hand shovel.
“Well…I am hoping reforging these will go together smoothly. The blacksmith didn’t teach me how to fix farming equipment.”, I said.
The next few hours were spent getting used to reforging farm equipment. Sadly, my skill only helped make the items I make/reforged better not give me the knowledge to make the item. It was a big learning curve, but applying myself to it I successfully remade the equipment. Since I didn’t know whose stuff it was I left it in the outbound barrel that had other equipment in it. Around that time the village elder came around to fetch me.
“Oh so this is where you went too.”, he said looking at my handy work, “You already finished!!”
“Something wrong with that?”, I asked.
“The old blacksmith took weeks to do one order, and you finished his back log in a few hours.”, he said, “The craftsmanship on these items is amazing.”
“Thanks, so what did you need from me?”, I asked.
“Oh yes! I came to fetch you for dinner, and to show you to your living arrangements. We can’t have you sleeping in our main building. One of the families has opted to let you stay with them till we can get your permanent living quarters arranged.”, Sebitas said.
I thanked him before following after him to get something to eat. I ate dinner with him, and his family I asked where I would be staying moving forward. He and his wife stopped eating with a cramped expression. My curiosity got the better of me, and I ended up asking why they had that look on their faces.
“Well…you see the only house that has a spare room is the fox tribe woman with the five children.”, Sebitas said with a forced laugh.
I dropped my spoon on the table as my face started twitching.
“You know I think I can make a bed in the blacksmith shop.”, I said.
“Sadly, while you may use the shop during the day the former blacksmith’s family lives above the shop. They would like their privacy in the evenings so Sara house is the only one with a space for you.”, his wife said.
I sighed because I really didn’t want to sleep in the woods. With the decision made for me I agreed so they quickly took me over. The widow was extremely hospitable given the circumstances which was nice. Children being like children peeked their heads around the corner to see me including the girl from earlier today. I thanked her for opening her home to me as the Village Elder quickly disappeared from sight.
“Damn that old man!”, I thought.
“Please follow me to the guest room.”, she said with a warm smile.
She led me to the basement where the small guest room was located. The downstairs was very well cleaned so I didn’t mind. Being that I was in a different when I plopped onto the bed I realized there was no bounce back.
“I hope this isn’t going to ruin my back…”, I thought devising a way to make a real mattress.
“I hope this is suitable for you.”, she said.
“You have been more than gracious with me so once again, thank you.”, I said.
She smiled bowing slightly before returning upstairs for the evening. I closed the bedroom door, and changed into the pajamas they provided me. They were a bit baggy as they had no clothes that fit me well. After washing my face in the small basin I quickly fell into my bed as I passed out from exhaustion. I didn’t come around till the sun started to rise the next day.
“Gosh…even in another world mornings suck!”, I said in a grumpy mood, “I don’t even get days off anymore…”
I washed my face again after changing the basin water. Putting on my gear again I left the home to eat my breakfast before I left on patrol again. Since I had patrolled the forest east of town pretty well yesterday I decided to head north this time. Leaving town I calmly went on a stroll trying to find anything that may pose a threat to the families back in town. When noon was creeping up on me I decided to return back to the village. I hadn’t come across anything dangerous so I notched the forest north of home as safe for the week. As I walked into town several villagers ran up to me thanking me for something.
“Your farming tools are doing better, that’s great.”, I said with a smile.
Apparently while I was away the villagers went to see what I had worked on at the shop. Those who had been waiting for repairs to their refurbished gear, and proceeded to test it. The tools, according to them, were even better than when they were new. I felt proud that people thought so highly of me, and thanked them myself. When I got back to the shop the results of my work came crashing down on me.
Since I had done such a wonderful job on the last repairs everyone, and their brother brought broken metal items for repairs. I counted at least eighty-seven different items ranging from a few cracks to really needing to be replaced. These repairs took me all day, but I managed after making moulds for all the tools I had to repair. I cleaned them all up, and left them in the outgoing box.
The work I did didn’t earn me money as the town was basically broke. I didn’t mind though because I got warm meals, and a place to sleep. After my meal for the night I returned to my room to wash off using the wash bowl. As I did so I felt a pair of little eyes watching me through the keyhole.
“Observation Skill Learned!”, the HUD displayed.
“Okay…that is a bit ridiculous. Is the world saying I haven’t been observing anything this whole time!?!”, I thought.
I looked over to the door, and looked at the keyhole.
“Spying on people isn’t very nice. If you have something to say please come in.”, I said calmly since it was only a child.
The door slowly opened revealing the fox girl from the other day. She was holding her stuffed animal as peek in.
“What are those scars on your back from?”, she asked.
“Oh…you know how humans aren’t very nice here?”, I asked.
She nodded her head quickly.
“In my world there are only humans no other races exist.”, I said clenching my fist, “So instead of picking on other races they pick on humans who are different…like me.”
“You look normal though.”, she pointed out.
“That may be, but looks only go so far. I have issues with being around large groups of other people.”, I said, “Due to this I always missed social events so I could feel comfortable. Well it backed fired in high school, and I got beat up a lot by people. The scars are from some of the beatings I got because I was different.”
She looked at me with a confused look.
“You didn’t seem to mind being the center of attention today though.”, she said.
“I wanted to explode when everyone rushed me.”, I said.
“Oh…are they not allowed too?”, she asked.
“A bit of warning would have been nice.”, I said.
She nodded taking a mental note of it. I put my shirt on, and sat on the bed.
“I think you should be getting off to bed.”, I said.
She nodded again as she left the room. As she walked up the stairs I hear her say something.
“He seems so empty inside…”, she said to herself.
She wasn’t the first person to say that to me. My family back in my world said it all the time. I understood where they were coming from as I too thought the same. It had been a long time since I had expression my feelings since normally they got me into fights. The only ones I expressed nowadays was anger, sadness, and a little bit of love. I fell asleep thinking about all those things.
The next day I got up about the same time, and went through the same routine as the day before. Once it was complete I headed west out of the village to find monsters. An hour in, and I had already encountered monsters. I found a rarely used road, and on it I found a trading caravan under attack from goblins.
“Firebolt!”, I said shooting a fireball condensed into a the size of a bullet.
I had gotten the drop on the goblins so it was extremely easy to kill them. After securing the area I checked on the merchants and traders. Everyone was alive, and accounted for which was a relief.
“What is a human doing out here!?”, they said realizing what I was.
“I am the guard for the village. That is where you are going, right?”, I asked.
They nodded in relief hearing I wasn’t a threat. I hitched a ride with them back to the village. Riding into town the villagers ran up to greet the merchants that apparently only came twice a year. While the groups discussed various things I returned to my blacksmith shop to find no new items in my repair box. Since everything was caught up I decided to ask the Elder if they had books I could read to learn about the world.
“Well…sadly we don’t have any books in town at all. The children are taught reading, and writing from their parents writing.”, he said, “The only place that would have books is in town which is three days away.”
“Oh…”, I said.
With that plan shot down I decided to relax by the pond I found just outside of town. While I was relaxing I decided to try some fishing. As the hook touched the water the HUD said I unlocked fishing.
“This is stupid…”, I said laying back into the grass.
Looking up into the wide open blue sky I started to fall asleep in the shade. I managed to get thirty minutes of sleep in before being awoken by something on my line. With excitement I yanked back on the reel, and managed to pull in a large catfish roughly twenty pounds in weight. As I was about to put the fish in my basket the water started moving. Something felt off to me, but I kept my cool in case it was a monster.
Instead of it being a foe a woman completely made out of water appeared standing on the bank. She looked at me like she was trying to determine something.
“Why have you taken a fish from its home human?”, she asked politely.
“The village I am staying in is currently having a food shortage even though they won’t admit it.”, I said bowing my head, “Since I was relaxing her I thought I would try my hand at fishing while I rested. I was fortunate enough to land a big fish, and was hoping to share it with the villagers. To be honest, I wanted to catch at least three of this size.”
She looked me in the eyes as if trying to see my soul. After a few moments she nodded with satisfaction, and presented me with two more fish.
“You are an honest person.”, she said with a warm smile, “Your honesty has shown me I can trust you with an important task.”
“This task being?”, I asked.
“Humanity has become arrogant in that they see themselves, for the most part, better than the other races. I know of the village in which you are staying. You have seen first hand the devastation that they have endured, and heard it for yourself have you not?”, she stated.
Lowering my eyes I nodded.
“A child was the first to tell me just how cruel the humans of this world are to others.”, I said rubbing my arm.
“Then you realize now their situation that they find themselves in now. Whether you realize it or not their survival rests in your hands.”, she said narrowing her eyes, “Cruel humans are entering the forest to the north of here. Their goal is to enslave all the nonhumans they find on their path through the forest.”
I looked at her in shock.
“Why haven’t you told them?!”, I said, “They need to leave immediately into town!”
“They have nowhere to go.”, she said, “The town may only take the elf, but no one else. To them they are less than peasants, and will be stoned if they show up.”
I started clenching my fists in anger.
“They couldn’t possibly do that to children!! Even they must have some…”, I started to say before realizing something.
In my short time traveling I hadn’t ever seen a single nonhuman aside from Dwarves and Elves. The fact there were other races meant that there had to be a reason they weren’t out on the streets. That’s when the realization hit me that those souls were hiding themselves to keep their families safe.
“The only way they can have a place in society is to whore themselves out to humans. They endure many hardships just to maintain a normalish life.”, she said, “That can all change if you stand up for them. You have the power to rise up, and give them their freedom if you so choose.”
“Why me though?”, I said, “There are several other Heroes in this world.”
“You are the Keeper, and it is your job to set the world on the right path as your ancestors have.”, she said.
The woman started slide back into the water as I asked her one last question.
“How do you know all of this about me?”, I questioned.
“It is very simple young one. My Lady is the one who choose you to be this worlds Keeper.”, she said, “I am her humble servant the Herald of Change.”
The woman disappeared into the water leaving me alone with the three fish. I had no time to stand around dumbstruck I had to warn the village at once to help get things ready.