Deal Me In, Poker Bear!: Darwin

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Darwin admired himself in the mirror as he did a sort of mini spin in the black iron armor he was trying on. I look awesome. This is just like how the jousting knights from the medieval times used to look. Sure it has a huge penalty to speed, 60%, but it’s so cool looking! I’m like a dark knight in one of those medieval fantasy stories. Now all I need is a cool flaming sword or maybe an ice sword! I could be the Frost king of the North! Darwin hadn’t felt this happy since he first came to Tiqpa. Going through the hundreds of outfits that he could possibly wear felt great, but each one had a problem that stopped him from committing to any set–the stat penalties.

“I just can’t buy it. Let’s look around for something else,” Darwin said, causing Kass to almost throw the dress she was holding at him.

It wasn’t that he didn’t like the look, it was that the average Human warrior received 6 stat points per level. The one extra bonus point was one of the benefits to picking the Human race. That meant that they could put 4 points in Power and 2 points into Vitality all the while ignoring Speed. They not only didn’t need the boost to Speed, but the better sets of heavy armor had increasingly higher percentage Speed reductions. This meant that if he took the route of heavy armor he would lose his racial advantage of gaining 3 Power, 3 Speed, and 2 Vitality and be left short 1 point against other Humans–a fact he couldn’t ignore given the insane advantages that some of the other races had early on.

“There aren’t any shops left! What was it you said this morning? ‘Don’t needlessly waste time shopping when we have quests to do.’”

“Young man, there is another option. Do you mind if we lend you an outfit and hold on to your robe and slippers for a while?” The old shopkeeper who had been watching Darwin try to find gear that suited him must have decided that it was about time to help the young man out. “In fact, why don’t you try this on until we’re done making this robe better,” he said handing him green street clothes.”

“Ok, that works. Thank you, sir. Your kindness is appreciated,” Darwin thanked the man and went into the backroom where he changed into the street clothes he had been given. They were simple clothes, but the style wasn’t too bad. The shirt was like a t-shirt with a button on the collar and the pants could best be described as white suit pants. When he came out, Kass gave him a happy smile of relief. Did he look okay in the outfit, or was she just happy to see him out of the bathrobe?

“Don’t thank me yet. This will cost you 400 Gold. Come back when you have finished shopping, and I’ll have this robe battle ready,” he said, grabbing the bathrobe before Darwin could argue about the price. 400? 400 Gold Pieces? All 8 dresses that Kass bought earlier put together weren’t even 300 Gold.

“Isn’t that a bit mu–”

“Nope. It’s not. The good man is helping you out, so don’t be stingy and let’s get going.”

“Fine, fine,” Darwin said, handing the man 400 Gold Coins and leaving with Kass. They had been shopping for what felt like days, and he was sure that Kass was starting to get a bit antsy at having to watch him move indecisively from one outfit to another. The irony was that, before he had started trying on gear himself, he had the exact same feeling watching her go through forty-odd dresses–especially when every dress had looked like the same white dress she was already wearing. She insisted they were different and that one was ‘cuter’ than the other, but Darwin couldn’t tell the difference. I know every snowflake is actually different, but they all look the same to me.

After finishing their little shopping expedition, Darwin was pretty happy with his loot. Kass was obviously very happy with her’s because she had the type of smile he had only seen on girls playing with kittens and puppies. She had not only gotten a new, slightly-longer dress that Darwin thought looked the same as the first one, but she had gotten a few rings, earrings, a new staff and no less than three pairs of boots. Apparently each pair of boots added a special effect when going across specific terrain, but Darwin saw no real reason to have a special pair of shoes for crossing the desert.

Darwin didn’t see any new weapons that he had liked, probably due to the iron shortages, but he actually had fun talking with the shopkeepers and helping Kass pick out a beautiful new dark wood staff. It had a bright, rich blue sapphire as big as a clenched fist on the top and six streams of eight tiny sapphires no bigger than a fingernail coming down off it. It even came with +15 to Spirit and +10 to Concentration. The only problem was that it was 250 Gold, 150 more than she had wanted to spend. Darwin had managed to assure her it was worth the investment–an act that made the shopkeeper, a new friend of his, very happy.

When they came back to the armor merchant, they found the vendor ecstatic to see them. “Darwin! You won’t believe what I’ve made! It’s perfect! Come on! Come on! You have to try it out!” he said, almost tripping as he rushed to the door to greet Darwin.

“Okay, okay, I’m coming. So where is it?”

“It’s in the changing room. I had to contact the tailor, the enchanter, the apothecary and the jeweler to get this perfect, but you’re going to love it. I’ve never put together a finer piece of armor, or one as strange for that matter.”

In the changing room, his bathrobe and slippers were hung up for him to wear. The bathrobe had gone from forest green to snow white and the back now had a black and gold drawing of a spoon. He picked it up and examined it further. Enchanted Bathrobe of Valcrest, adds +15 to Power, Speed and Vitality. Reduces incoming Damage from all sources by 10%. +35 Damage when wielding spoons. +10 Damage versus French Onion Soup. Is this game trying to make me dual-wield spoons? 35 Damage is a lot, but it needs to be way higher to tempt me . . . The slippers were unchanged. He had been made to walk around barefoot for nothing.

As he was putting it on, he noticed little cloth button latches in the interior of the bathrobe that would hold it securely closed on him. Kass must have complained to him when I wasn’t watching about the robe flying open that one time. Looking at himself in the mirror, he couldn’t tell if he looked ridiculous or amazing. He put on his snug slippers and decided he needed to deck out in all his new equipment and check his stats. Unbelievably, he hadn’t checked them since the tutorial. Normally, like any good gamer, he would have been checking his progress obsessively each and every time he made even the slightest change. He had been so caught up with everything that was going on and trying to unravel mysteries, however, he hadn’t taken the time.

He put on the new rings he had gotten–the Captain’s Ring that Elmont had given him and the Ring of Power he had purchased–and brought up his character menu.

Name: Darwin

Job Class: Novice

Power: 117 + 35
Speed: 117 + 25
Vitality: 83 + 25
Spirit: 49 + 0
Concentration: 78
Phys Damage Res: 43%
Elemental Damage Res: 41%
Increased Speed: 28.4%
Maximum Hit Points: 1370

Not too shabby at all. The items add almost a 30% bonus to my primary attributes. They help make up for the fact that, without armor to reduce damage taken, I might die in one hit from someone who sank a lot of points into Power.

“Cool. You changed it to white,” she said, looking at the merchant for a reason.

“Of course I changed it white! I figured a young couple like you would like to match,” he said, drawing a blush out of Kass that made her face redder than a chili pepper.

“What . . . What makes you think we are a couple? Who would ever want to date this weirdo?”

“Oh, I didn’t know you didn’t like him. I’m sorry. My mistake. Anyways, how do you like the bathrobe, Darwin?” The merchant gave Darwin a sympathetic look.

Darwin, who stood dumbfounded by the exchange, finally replied, “Oh, yeah, it’s great. You did amazing work. I don’t think I will ever be able to repay you.”

“Nonsense, that’s what the coins are for. Now, I believe Elmont told you about our silver ore mine issue . . .”

“Right, right. I’ll go take care of that now. Have a good one,” Darwin said, walking out the door without waiting for Kass.

“Hey! I was still tal– Don’t leave without me!”

“Oh? But I’m just some weirdo.”

“Good. So you know.” Kass smiled at him, and she somehow made it appear as if she were sticking out her tongue too.

“Eh . . .”

“Fine. You’re not some undatable weirdo . . . It’s just that I wouldn’t date you.”

“Who says I would date you either? This is a video game, after all. Who dates someone they met in a video game? Anyways, we’ve got to get you to Level 30, and we have to get this town a silver ore mine.”

“Alright. I wonder if I’ll get a Class promotion at 30,” Kass said, the mood finally feeling light again.

I’ve been wondering that too. When and what will be my Class promotion?

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