The Empire of Sleepless clan

Updated and corrected version

Abstract:

A huge World full of adventures, ancient mysteries and monsters, which thirst for your death. The world in which everyone can achieve the performance of their most cherished desires and become anyone - a lucky in business seller, a wise hermit, a brave warrior or the fighting magician, who is a subject to destructive elements. But do not expect that your way to a dream come true will be easy and cloudless. The path to the top is very long, if you do really reach it.

Chapter I.

Ready for everything to stay! Unexpected end of a gaming session.

From the bright flash before my eyes, I involuntary blinked, and when I newly opened the eyelids I beheld the slowly whirling rainbow swirl. I was evilly exhaling and closed my eyes again, without having to wait, when the sickening rush of dizziness will roll up to the throat. I have too slow channel, and the equipment is rather out of date. So I have to endure the long few minutes, until the server will identify me check the data from the medical sensors and impose the matrix.

Having waited for another minute I opened my eyes and was relieved to find that I nuzzled to the unsightly wall made of usual gray brick. Finally. I rolled my shoulders, clenched and opened the fingers several times and shook my head.

Everything is all right.

With a light melodic ringing the almost gauzy inscription appeared before my eyes, with each instant poured with white colour and becoming more contrast:

Welcome!

The World of Valdira greets you!

There are already over seven million of us …

Frowned with annoyance, I closed have already drawn the mouth greeting, stepped away from the brick wall and looked around. A small - three by three meters - barn, on the opposite wall a normal plank door with a copper knob could be seen. A low stone ceiling, and there are no slightest signs of windows. The walls are absolutely bare. There are no paintings, fine prints or any other near to the heart little things. The same situation was with the furniture - nothing.

In the far corner away from the door was a pile of junk, for decency carelessly covered with a tattered raincoat. There were the most necessary things – a poor storage of quite good potions to restore the mana and life power, a few specific elixirs for a temporary strengthening of some characteristics, and a small set of backup equipment and armors. Some amount of gold and silver coins laid in the City bank, whose the nearest branch was on the opposite side of the city square. That's all. Nothing else I was needed for a comfortable game and in the private room I have appeared very rarely - when log out or into the game.

Besides, in recent times my bank account in the game was only increasing, so there were absolutely no causes to lament about a scanty decor and a small amount of junk in my Private Room. My personal tiny pigeonhole from where I once got the first base into the boundless world of Valdira. That was long time ago ... and it will be over soon.

I have the lowest grade of the game account: "Wooden". It was also contemptuously called "the chuck" and their owners were called "Pinocchio." Sufficed me, but all good things shall come to the end. And in order to it never end, you need to throw a bone on time. When in the game account eventually evaporate the last cent, the scarlet inscription will flare before your eyes "Your account is BLOCKED", and without any delay I will be thrown into the real world.

I could not recharge my account. I have no money. Because of the sudden bankruptcy of the company where I've worked, and the subsequent dismissal of all employees, including me, I was left penniless. Yeap ... that's a doubly shame. Think at the same time I stayed both without a job and my favourite hobby. Such a double whammy came on my most vulnerable places. They have to pay me some money, which includes my fortnightly salary and the benefits package, but I will get it not soon - the company is bankrupt. What about the Chief, he has vanished without leaving a trace in an unknown direction, and according to rumors, took with him all the cash balances. He is probably sitting now on a comfortable sun lounger on the ocean shore and enjoying the taste of a tropical cocktail... asshole!

Sighing deeply, I was thinking for a moment, intensely alluring with a gimlet gaze to the door, behind which began the world of incredible adventures, doomed passions and mortal dangers. It pulled me there just impetuously.

But I kept my impulse and the first thing activated the Control Interface. Barely moving with my forefinger I quickly shuffled a few menus, found the option required and printed the Timer on the "screen" hanging before my eyes, which is impassively counting down the number of hours and minutes of the playing time I have yet.

The figures have not inspired me:

12:17:46

12:17:45

12:17:44

After thinking a little I've colored the ever changing figures in bright red, so they will catch the eye constantly and fixed them in the upper left corner, so as to squinting my eyes, I could see the amount of remaining time all the time.

Something blinked and before my eyes popped up a warning sign:

Herewith informing you that not hidden interface details prevent a genuine dipping into the magical World of Valdira.

With a snort I closed the warning and could not refrain from a bitter snicker. Yeah, it prevents, I do not argue. Here only to be dishonored there is no desire before other players, if I miss the moment and during the conversation I would be suddenly "kicked" of the game. So I shall scrape through somehow and without the "genuine dipping." I will not be able to get out with a sudden power outage or a failure of connection with the server. A cocoon has its own, capacious enough power supply, which is more than enough to complete even the most protracted battle, end the conversation or reach a safe location. And then you can calmly press down "Exit". And the lost of connection … is an extremely isolated case. The game cocoons are connected to the main server through the special network, unrelated to the Internet global network or the local providers. And they fail incredibly rare.

Usually I'm a taciturn person and prefer the action to the live communication with the players. And why should we gab once again? We can talk in "real life." Primarily, Valdira attracted me by adventures, fights with the monsters and studies of unexplored territories. No wonder that I chose the Ranger-arrow class.

But now I'm namely going to talk. I will not set foot beyond the city gates. Today I need to do everything, what I can, in order to scrape together money for one more week of subscription fee for my "wooden" account. And for this it is required to talk – with the sellers, the warriors, who seek the quality weapons, armor or jewelry. In general, it is necessary to try to sell for "real" dibs all that junk that gathering dust in the corner of my room. If I could not crank it up at once, I will set things on the game auction, but the minimum period of twenty-four hours there, i.e. a day and night. I will have to exit the game and monitor the course of trading with the usual monitor.

One week. That's how long I can afford myself to skive. Let's say a sort of a small vacation before searching for another job. And why not? I live alone. A fridge in my one-room flat is jammed to the rafters with the cheap, but hearty meal, the Internet is paid, as well as the rent for another month. And now all I wanted was to make myself a tiny holiday. The real dipping into the game with minimal exits to the real life and the endless stream of events and adventures.

You can, for example, pay a visit to the Black Range and hunt for the evil orcs, fortunately my level allows it. Or to go on a long journey to the coast of the southern sea and to admire the unique sunset, when two suns simultaneously sink in the depths of the sea. The lucky ones, who saw this spectacle, say that this is the real miracle of the world. If you do not spend money on transfer scrolls, then the road will take no more than five days, on the way you can take easy tasks from local people … just a real gamer's dream …

In general, I will have something to do this week. If I get scrape together money to pay for the account.

I looked my tiny room at critically, and at first time I regretted that at the time I invested no penny into the Private room development. Now I would be able to sell all the furniture to some novice player at half price. But in my relatively "money" times in the game I preferred to spend gold for the purchase of reinforcing elixirs, the best armor and weapons. In addition I had a "pure" class, a seigniorial class, more suitable for the players of the nouveau riche. I never bothered to learn any craft. But the NPS offered me to transfer my skills – I could become a woodcutter or, let's say, a mine-digger …

Well, it doesn't tempt me at all to wave with a pickaxe tediously in the mine in hope to stumble upon a gold nugget or the cabochon. And I did not want to wave with a woodcutter's ax too … and what have I got in the end?… Who knew that the game will tighten me so much and will turn from the usual fun into just about the most important activity of my life …

Truly said, you can get only the starter skills from the NPC or, as we call them friendly, "Local people" and even if you have them the gold will not flow like water, not even close. Just say a pickaxe will break down rarely, the percentage of the rare metals finding will increase by a tiny fraction of percent,… that's about it. To achieve more, you must nurture skills day and night. You must wave with an ax or a pickaxe from dawn to dusk. No, I do not argue, of course, there are the fans of this business. So-called "Socials." They prefer to be engaged in crafts, trade, and all such. They need neither bread nor spectacles, and, but they will sell their soul to the devil for the rich vein of precious metals, a couple of bales of elven silk or the Mithril pickaxe with inlay.

An idea shot across my mind to make a long distance call to my parent and ask them to help their prodigal son with finance... but it shot across and gone in one second. They will not help. Only the mother will be alarmed and the father will start ringing every hour, requiring me to return immediately to the fold, where he will quickly arrange his own blood (me) to the decent work. How there was it spoken?... My dad has the most stringent rules. No way ... I would better somehow.

I made one wide step and found myself on the opposite side of the room and, having armed with a backpack, began putting in it everything indiscriminately. Why indiscriminately? So not to start crying with grief, seeing as how the such difficulty found bow of the Grey Arrow with a very good characteristics goes in the bag, the accompanies it quiver that can restore the broken arrows and other things by itself, with each was associated its own history. Speak plainly, I was having a greed attack.

A set of hollowly ringing potions set off into the bag the last. There was nothing left in the room, but dust. I would collect it too and did not disdain, but they will not buy it …

I humped the backpack on my shoulder that even didn't become heavier– it's a magic, what do you think – I walked to the door, mechanically glancing at the inexorably ticking timer.

12:09:11

12:09:10

I need to hurry up.

The door clicked softly, closing tightly, and I moved on with the absolutely inaudible step. A silent gait of real pathfinder. It is in real life I stomped like a real elephant, but here in Valdira I was a noiseless ghost and perfect scout. The coolest players with the similar character class and the pumped over skills can dance in squatting position on the broken glass and no splinter will clank.

I did worry about the unlocked door – no one except me can open it. Another player can get into my private room only with my permission. And what the sense is to worry about the absolutely empty room?

I flew off the stairs to the first floor and found myself in a spacious hall with the oak paneled walls, there were the wide open doors leading into the street in the far side of it.

The walls in the hall are decorated with pictures and tapestries, depicting the scenes of hunting and fighting battles with monsters. All the scenes are completely copied from actual events and reflect the achievements and feats, committed by players, about that the highly polished copper plates under each picture read as. Polished, by the way, manually by "local" workers, who see diligently after the cleanliness and order. The achievements there were different and not necessarily of arms.

"Sir Lancelot alone is fighting with a red dragon!"- in the picture the incredibly broad-shoulder warrior in metallic armors with a sword over his head rushes fearlessly to the scaly spiked creature, which spewed flames. It remains only to find out how this battle is over. I, incidentally, can also attack the red dragon alone – the stupidity will be enough with a reserve. But what end did such battle have? Breakfast for the dragon?

"Tricky Twain concludes the first one hundred thousandth deal in the history of Valdira!"- a cheeky blimp is smiling slyly standing behind a counter cluttered with gold.. The player who has chosen the path of merchant for himself. That's who just do not have to worry about the monthly fee,… but that is very boring, right?! Although ... to each his own, as they say. Maybe it's his avocation.

"Creation of the first Clan in the world of Valdira!" - ten players of different classes are standing around on a small castle square and putting their hands before them, pronounce an oath of allegiance. By the way this is the clan of Architects, one of the most powerful in the game.

"Quiet Kraken kills the leader of orcs army with a single arrow!" the arrow - lowered onto one knee is clinging to the monstrously huge crossbow and is preparing to pull the bowstring. Yeah, before this picture, I spent a long time drooling from envy to more successful player, who got into the historical annals of Valdira. Although, with such here crossbow stuffed with the reinforcing runes I would also flunked the orc with a single shot from any distance … well, I think, I could flunked … but I did not like crossbows, preferring to use bows. And the nickname is not too hot! What's a "quiet" Kraken?! Your fantasy limps, Bro, limps!

What else is there?

Oh, and this is very, very "old" picture it hangs here very long time.

"Ichthyander Galeziysky reaches the bottom of Kvantonsky landslip"- at the almost black background of ocean water you can see vaguely the strained swimmer figure of hanging upside down and touching a stone bottom with the fingertips. If my memory serves me, the depth of the Kvantonsky landslipis more than seventeen thousand meters. In real life you can't dive to such depth. Only in Valdira and only if you play for an underwater race. Otherwise, it will crush you into a pancake. By the way, according to rumors, Ichthyander reached the bottom, but failed to return back – the record holder was gobbled on his way back. The deep-sea monsters have gigantic size and are always hungry. Hmm …

The pictures are everywhere. Starting from the chest level and up to the ceiling. The first clannish built castle, the first player, who earned a fortune in a million gold coins – and again, the achievement was obtained by the player Tricky Twain. What the quirky huckster …

I looked at the pictures at a glance and hurried to the door, nodded a girl behind the semicircular desk in passing, in reply to her "Good morning". She is not a player – the NPC controlled by the artificial intelligence with the ability to self-learning. It's a game shtick, which gives Valdira even more authenticity and charm.

- Let you get lucky today, Mr. Crashshot! – the girl added me in a trace with hardly appreciable notes of sadness in her voice. She said impeccably polite with a light sadness in her voice.

She is boring here, poor. She has a quick word with no one. The players always hurry about their business somewhere, and only occasionally the girl has an opportunity to have a word with someone.

Though, she is not so bored here– with a corner of my eye I caught a cheap necklace of blue beads on her neck. The "Local people" of ordinary rank do not wear the jeweler ornaments – so it is conceived specifically. But any player can give the NPC a ring, a necklace or a chain. If there is a necklace, it means that this undoubtedly beautiful girl created by the hands of a talented designer has an admirer among the players, who visits her occasionally. And not only for chats.

The game status speaks for itself – solid "18 +", "Dipping" is strictly prohibited for teenagers and children. If you wish, you can even get married, buy a house with a garden and enjoy all the pleasures of a quiet family life. Or tempestuous family scandals – everyone here chooses the Miss Right or Mister Right to his own personal taste. Many players do it. It's a real pleasure, when you return from the feats of arms, right on the doorstep of a cozy family abode the beautiful wife meets you with a sincere joy.

The trade area met me with a deafening din. There was always a crowd of several hundred players, half of whom were merchants, willing to upsell the stuff found on open spaces of Valdira or created with their own hands. The rest wanted to buy that stuff but as more cheaper. Each side was trading with frenzy and extremely loud. When I came here for the first time, I couldn't isolate the separate words from the general noise. Now everything was much easier. Now I got into it: to the wildly loud trading calls and to the waving crowd, also to the snooping around pickers and stealers.

- Buy the ring with semiprecious stones! They bring the tangible plus on your mana! Only two pieces left! From the tenth level!

- Shirts! Linen shirts! Just one silver coin for a couple of gorgeous shirts!

- Shells of giant crabs! Both a whole and pounded into a powder! The best purchase for the alchemists!

- Hot meal! Hot meal!

- Selling all goods and chattels from myself! For the twentieth level! Ask the price!

- Everything for illuminating! Fireflies! Magic head lamps! Luminous necklaces and lap belts! Only two parking poles with a simplified activation left! One is charged with the daylight, another one is with usual light! Favourable prices! We will reach agreement with you!

The poles are the stationary illuminators, the most similar to … to the poles. Hence the name. How else can you call a bright luminous thingy of cylindrical shape and a height of five feet? That's why the players gave it such name. Briefly and clearly – for anyone is devoted to the game jargon of Valdira. Daylight is the sunlight. It protects perfectly against those creatures, which fear the daylight and illuminates well. The fireflies are also from the category of luminaires. It seems that this player has specialized in manufacturing and selling of lighting equipment.

- Mend armor and weapons for free! Absolutely free! I do not warrant for the results!

- Wooden charmed water cans! High volume! Buy and you will not regret!

- Skins! Hare skins are very cheap! There are also the hare eyes if anyone needs! Seventeen pieces!

- Selling eight silvered buttons! Tailors swoop, buy, count goods! Lovely things!

The customers preferred to walk in silence, glancing around with sham indifference and rummaging in the proposed goods for a long time. The spontaneous market sprang up here not by chance – there was a fountain with pure water near here, where it was not forbidden to drink and fill the jars, the hotel towered close to this place, and at twenty paces away there was an auction where any player for a small percentage could sell his rare goods. I went there, not paying attention to the gathered people and admiring sighs of the beginners enviously followed me with eyes.

The translucent veil hung in the air in front of the auction, and in order to get inside, you had to go through it, which I did. One step forward, and the veil thickened for a moment, watchfully studying me and then dissipated, giving me the permission to move. It was the magical curtain not allowing the players of less than 15 level to trade at the auction and instantly returning the kids back to the square with a light slap in the back and whisper quiet "Just grow up".

I decided not to go up the wide granite steps and go inside the building, turning sharply to the left, where at least ten to fifteen players of a wide variety of classes and races stuck next to the wall.

Exactly these babbling guys of all colors and shades were my goal. Unofficial "black" auction. Here I can realize much less money, but I'll do it immediately. If you want to get rid the goods quickly and not for gold, but for real money, then it's your way.

The chapmen strike me by their diversity. Elves, dwarves, humans, drows, half-orcs and even ahilots, whom I did not expect to see here. However, there was only one ahilot and, given the fact that he was gill-breathing, he felt himself surprisingly fine. It could not be non-perfect with such an aquarium! The huge bubble of seawater seeming very fragile and inside of which the player-ahilot flabbily splashed about, swayed from side to side right on the paving blocks of the square. Yeah, underwater creatures are not frequent visitors in this city, that is maybe located not right in the hot desert, but at the very edge of it.

I remember that I was very surprised when I learned that in the world of Valdira there is a purely "underwater" race of the players. And that under the marine strata there are very real underwater cities, villages, caves and, of course, monsters. But despite my egregious curiosity I did not want to be an ahilot, though they do have a considerable amount of available classes. It's not mine. Besides, I prefer to stand firmly on my feet, and not be on a hook during the bigger part of the game process. It's almost the realm of weightlessness.

Before I could open my mouth, a tall half-orc stepped toward me, nodded at my backpack and growled gutturally:

- Have you something? Do you sell?

- Yes, I do – I said, taking the backpack off the shoulder without fear – But I will not sell it cheap! Count goods! Almost rare!

The half-orc snorted contemptuously and it's known why – the fanged warrior was packed not too shabby. Softly glowing Silver Breastplate is dotted with fanciful patterns of runes, the same shoulderplates, bracers and leg guards. Full set what gives you more bonuses to the characteristics! Under the armor you can see a black silk shirt, hands are covered with plate gloves, but I am sure that no one finger has not remained without the magic ring and a pair of protective amulets is hanging around his neck. I'm even not talking about all-metal boots. The breath of powerful magic literally comes from his shape, with which each piece of clothing was impregnated. Not everyone can blot out such dude … but I could try, if the fight happens on the highly rugged terrain …

After making sure that he made a worthy impression the buyer grumbled lazy:

- Gold or real?

- Real bucks! – I blurted out hastily, opening the backpack – I don't need gold.

And swore myself mentally at the same second, having noticed how the eyes of half-orc flashed happily, due he realized how desperately I need money. Boob! I do not know how to play an imaginary indifference.

Snatching the backpack out of my hand with a careless movement, the warrior began busily digging in it, rarely vaguely grunting and tutting with his canine. The study of accumulated with such difficulty treasures did not take a lot of time and almost instantly, I heard the answer:

- Fifty for all together with a backpack. Maximum I will give five more. This is in dollars.

- Are you crazy … - I forlornly squeezed out of myself –At the auction I will get for everything three times more. Let's rise at least to hundred. All the stuff is in perfect condition, even repair is not required.

- You will not get it – the half-orc shook his black locks of dishevelled hair– Definitely. You will receive maximum from the auction seventy-five or eighty bucks. Not more. Think, you have here just a bare base, no runes, no rarities, no set items. All your stuff will go straight to the growing recruits, who will break it gladly with their little crooked hands.

- To whom?

- Who cares! –the warrior growled already with annoyance – In general, there is nothing particularly valuable. Except only the bow and a pair of throwing dagger represent something sensible. The rest I took to the heap and simply because the "powerleveling" is whole. Overall, I can throw you right now fifty-five bucks, just give me the account number. If you do not believe me, ask the others, I do not care.

After thinking for a while I just waved sadly, accepting the proposed price. The half-orc has no sense to lie me. In the backpack really there was nothing unique. Just quality shemot and weapons.

- Here we go – orc growled, showing an impressive set of canines in the grin – By the way… that bow that dangles behind your back … I will take without the aid of sight for twenty. If you give me your belt together with weapons – plus ten. What do you think?

- My bow? – I gasped, glancing on the protruding over the shoulder weapon – Are you talking about … belt is okay …

- It's up for you. My business is to offer.

- Ah, dash you! – I muttered, lifting decidedly the crossbelt with the bow and passing it to the dealer – Take it!

- What's wrong, not enough money for "a weekly dose?" - slightly quizzically narrowed his eyes the warrior, while taking away my weapon and shoving it into the backpack.

- You got it! – I said grimly, tearing the belt off the waist (it adds a lot of dexterity and plus gives five percent bonus to the secrecy). It's a dream of a belt. And now I have to let it go … for a poor ten bucks. And what should I do? Leave a belt myself and proudly quit the game?

- Tell me your account number. Or a number of your electronic wallet. At your choice.

- Wallet number – I replied, and said him the number by rote.

- Ok, wait – the Half-orc mumbled and closed his green-gray eyelids, turned in upon himself.

After a few minutes a glance of dark amber eyes stared at me again:

- Done. You have the whole sum now. If something else good appears, just knock in private. I'm here almost round the clock. Nickname: Grey Boar. Are you remembered?

- Remembered – I nodded and then asked – Hey, how could you transfer money? You did not even leave the game …

- Why? Ah… it seems you are of the glorious clan of Pinocchio. You have a "wooden" acc, right?

- And?

- This is it. The selected account decides everything. Okay, good luck. If need be, come to me.

Grey Boar nodded a farewell and leisurely went away, carelessly waving my backpack. Well, I was left without weapons and equipment inventory, but on my account have appeared eighty-five bucks. Unless this Half-orc trader have confused nothing and not decided to do out of me.

Going beyond the veil of magic, I sat down on the sun-warmed bench next to the fountain that shoots a dozen of water jets and hurried out of the game. Slight flicker, flash and the rainbow swirl is flashing before my eyes again. And then the darkness is coming.

I ripped off my helmet, threw back a translucent cover of the cocoon and, without getting up, pulled to myself the computer monitor mounted on a movable arm. The Internet was on and it didn't take a lot of time for me to go to my electronic payment system.

The Boar did not lie. A translation of eighty-five dollars and one cent flat came on my account. One cent! Homebrew humorist! It's too funny for words! From tender mercies added. Taking into account the already existing on the account seventeen bucks, I became the proud owner of two hundred dollars – I proudly ignored one cent.

The subscription fee for the cheapest level of "wooden" account cost exactly sixty five bucks. Not a cheap pleasure. In principle, I have achieved my goal – right now I can prepay for one more week. Whole seven days of unalloyed happiness in the world of Valdira. Damn ... I could not to sell my favorite bow, I got a little excited then. But… at that moment a sneaky thought crept into my head – if I find another twenty-three dollars, I can pay for two whole gaming weeks. Two weeks! The food in the refrigerator should be enough … it's a tempting idea. I do not want to lend money, but I do not need much. But where can I find the missing amount?

The relatives fall away uniquely. The same situation with the neighbors. And my relationship with them is far from being cloudless, except for the housemate from the ground floor Basil, he is a workaholic with golden hands and a former weightlifter. The truth is it was before his wife left him and he started drinking regularly, and his golden hands turned into the trembling pincers of alcoholic … He would rather ask me money in debt himself, barely caught sight of my face. Fail…

Let's see…

After using my loaf another couple of minutes, I forced myself to get up from the elastic bed of cocoon and get to the side table put to the single bed, where I kept a shoebox, stuffed with odd pieces of paper, well thumbed business cards and other similar rubbish. I dumped all the contents on the not made bed, rummaged through a pile of paper and finally fished a torn piece of paper with the askew written numbers of a mobile phone with a short name Gosha.

Gosh lives in the elite 20 floors skyscraper opposite, always has money and what is the most important – he is also a player of Valdira. Not just a player – an experienced "gamer" of extra class. His impossibly pumped character with very expensive cloths was cooler than mine three times much. Moreover, Ghosh was not the last person in a top battle Clan that has its own castle, lands and even villages. This man should understand me. We are the same age – both are twenty-four years old and we even together drank a couple of times. Although, we are not friends – too different range of interests and his social status is much higher.

I pulled up a phone and quickly dialed the number, praying that Gosha is at home. In suppose, he should be - evening time, he is married.

In three dial tones I heard a click and in the handset sounded the displeased voice of Gosha:

- Yes?

Bingo!

- Gosh, hello! Еhis is Ros. Well, Rostislav.

- Ah! Hi, Ros. Look, I'm a little busy right now, could you call me later, please? I was already about to "dive".

- Yeah, I'm quickly, Gosh! – I blurted out hastily – Listen… here is such deal … could you lend me a few bucks? I need only twenty-eight dollars. Well, or twenty-seven dollars and ninety-nine cents.

- Come again? Twenty-seven dollars and ninety-nine cents? – Gosha chuckled– You amaze me, Bro!. And why so much?

- Not enough for a two-week fee– I admitted – The Company, where I worked is that… go down in flames. The Chef went away in an unknown direction, forgetting to pay the bills. So I'm unemployed now.

- No problem. Would you like in cash or by electron?

- On card will be even better – I said happily – Thanks, Gosha! I will give it back in a month!

- No hurry – the interlocutor said dignified – ok, I will send it now. Tell me the number of your purse. I am just sitting at the computer.

The second time over 30 minutes I quickly pronounced the wallet number and paused, and I was simultaneously listening to the rustling in the handset also to the standing behind computer. Now I will hear the joyful ringing, notifying me about the arrival of twenty-eight dollars. After another couple of minutes I will send the whole amount to my account, and then Hello my favorite game!

I could not wait the computer ringing, and in the handset I heard the voice of Gosha again, only this time I could hear a certain thoughtfulness in it.

- Listen, Ros ...how things are going with your time now?

- What do you mean?

- I mean, have you got the free time now? For about an hour?

- Yes, I have – I said in surprise – I'm an unemployed. I just wanted to "dip" too.

- You still have time – Gosha assured me– Then come to me. At the entrance you should say that you are at the invitation to Gosha and the security will see you out. Only at a pace, ok? Be back in a flash.

- Okee-dokee … Gosha, what's up there with my dollars? If there is no free money, maybe you borrow me the ten, ok?

- Ros, don't talk rubbish! Come to me I said! We need to talk! Are you coming?

- I'm coming! I will be there in five minutes –the short beeps rang out in the handset.

I scratched my head, and then moved toward the door, grabbing a light sports jacket from the built-in the wall wardrobe along the path. It will fit to my crumpled sweat pants and a before white T-shirt.

I wonder what about has Gosha suddenly decided to talk with me?

Damn, my timer is ticking … I need to hurry up.

Chapter 2

An offer that you can never refuse.

The security was not obviously impressed with my appearance, but neither of the two stalwarts sitting in the lobby said aloud nothing about it. I was listened impassively, and then they brought me quite civil to the desired door, gave me from hand to hand to Gosha came out the flat.

Since our last meeting, which was about two months ago, Gosh, it seems, has become even more massive. The forearm protruded under the full T-shirt of last size, and what about the bumps of shoulders I even don't to say anything. How can he manage everything? Job, wife, weights room, and in addition an active life in Valdira … If I were him, I would have dropped something of the above list a long time ago. Though I did so – I have no work and it is not expected yet, and what about the sport … It would be great to remember what this mysterious word means.

- Howdie – grunted Gosh to the security guard, grabbed my shoulder and pushed me into his flat … although it is probably better to call these mansion as the luxury apartments. He lives high, I concluded, glancing around the luxurious surroundings of the hall.

The door shut with a snap, and I was followed on, farther and further inside the flat that is seemingly not going to end. We stopped only a small corner room, which is clearly served as a study.

Here was standing a powerful even to look computer, the game cocoon of Valdira towered near, from it to the wall retreated a thick bunch of wires as thick as my wrist, and all the players tenderly called it as "the umbilical cord". That's right, they have roughly the same purpose. Inside that "umbilical cord" is a grid connected power supply, an outlet to the battery on case, if the electricity down in the house and, of course, the network cable for the direct connection to the game server of Valdira plus something else. The real umbilical cord. The player is a baby or an embryo, the cocoon with a soft bed supersedes the mother's womb, and Valdir acts successfully as a mother.

I was shoved in a leather armchair, the faceted glass filled to the brim with a pure whiskey was stuffed in my hand and all that Gosha had time to make for two measly minutes. I think I began to understand, how he manages to keep up and combine everything. If he comes to visit me, we'd still be in the entrance hall.

- Come on – Gosha clinked his glass to mine and dropped into an armchair opposite – To us!

- Yeah … - I nodded, putting the glass to my lips – To us.

- And now to the purpose. So, you are now unemployed.

- Right. The company is a total bankrupt.

- Very good.

- What is good? – I did not understand the causeless joy of Gosha – What is the reason to be happy?

- The fact that you have now a lot of free time, which you can spend efficiently and at the same time you can earn a beer. Well, and to pay the rent.

- Gosh, are you offering me a job? – I raised the eyebrows – I'm …

- I do not care who you are by vocation! – cut me off the stalwart – Yes, you could say that – I have a job for you. And such job, you have not even dreamed about. I want you to "dive" in Valdira and not getting out from there as long as possible. What do you think?

- I didn't understand…

- What did you not understand? –Gosh obviously was losing his patience and beginning to doubt in my ability to think clearly.

- I already play as often as I can. What to pay for?

- Now, you'll play by my rules – Gosh grinned satisfied and made another sip of straight whisky.

Maybe he is drunk? You wouldn't say by his look …

- If you agree, of course –added Gosha – So, what thought up?

- Gosh! Hold on with your "what thought up, what thought up"!– I could not resist such pressure and in turn have a pull at the glass. And the alcohol went to my head – Explain me clearly, what do you want. Can you hear yourself at all? What a lot of rubbish!

- Hrmph … - agreed the interlocutor after a little while –You are right here. Okay, in short, I will explain you in details on items, and you sit and listen. Ok?

I nodded mutely and Gosha continued:

- First of all: I pay for you the two-month account of Valdira's highest, diamond grade. The work is also for two months, plus or minus a couple of weeks. Keep silent, Ros! Just listen!

I could hardly close my dropped jaw and shook my head – saying I'm listening. Gosha definitely was raving …

- Secondly: I plant you some money for personal expenses. For the chow, you know, drinking, pay for the hut and other trifles of a life. Long story short – I pay your salary. Let's say… One and half pieces bucks a month. If you agree to my proposal, I pay a part of money right now.

Making sure that I turned into a silent mummy Gosha continued:

- Those were bonuses. Now the third: like I said before, you play by my rules. To be more precise, your task will be to help one player to succeed in two specific objectives.

- Uh-uh …

- What did you not understand?

- Gosh, can you imagine how many bucks a diamond account for two months costs?

- Are you going to teach me counting? – sarcastically clarified the owner of a luxury apartment and I shyly zipped my lips.

That is so… compared to me, Gosha is just a hardened banker-Jew. By the way, he really works in the banking business. Something with investments …

That's why I stopped to insist, and only clarified:

- Is that all?

- No, not all. Now the last: you will have to delete your current game account and to create a new one from scratch. So, now that's all.

- Delete?! Gosh, do you know how much work I put into my Crashshot? – I jumped, and nearly spilled the whiskey – We can simply raise the account level from the wooden to diamond.

- No, we can't – cut off he, before make a hole in the glass in one gulp – Why are you not drinking?

I sipped half a glass unconsciously and did not even feel the taste of whiskey. To kill Crashshot? How many months I spent on its development … how many survived along with him … it's like another myself.

Regardless of their class, the accounts allow the existence of only one character. No duplicates. If you want to play with another character, erase the first one and start all over again. It's the company policy. Moreover this is due not so much to the game rules, but to cocoon itself and the personal settings. Something related to a mental turn-based adaptation and the addictive to the "new" body. That's why for example you cannot run for an hour as a cool half-orc warrior and then suddenly "jump" into the body of a graceful and sluggish draw magician. You can lose your marbles. And absolutely certain you will not be able to play for the opposite sex.

- Ros, believe me, I do understand you – suddenly said Gosha sympathetically – But there is no other way. You have to delete.

- But why? Okay, I got it – you want me to help one player in the game to achieve his goal. But now my Crashshot is pumped, there is a decent armor, so, it will be much easier for me to help from it. Why should I delete and then start over from scratch?

- Because the first goal of the player, which you'll have to help, is in the Nursery! – answered Gosha, and I shut up.

Checkmate.

It was about the little far-distant block available in each starting city. Nursery … is a sandbox for beginning players. The place, where they all begin without exception. It is relatively safe there, a lot of easy tasks that allow you to gain experience and a small amount of coins, and there are enough friendly NPCs there. It's prohibited to attack on other players eventually. An ideal place for a good start. A kindergarten. But there is one big "but"- once you left the Nursery, you'll never be able to go back there again. Pass through the arch of the inner gate and that's it – no way back. The magic veil hanging in the arch will not pass you back. That's right, in principle, because the grown-up players have nothing to do in the nurseries. Only NPCs can walk in both directions without hindrance.

If you want to get back into the Nursery - reborn. Delete the old character, reset the cocoon settings and begin your way in Valdira again. Your, so …

- Now, are you clear?

- Gosh ... but there is nothing in the Nursery! Two or three tasks and that's it! What should I do there?

- Win the tournament – answered Gosha calmly and again I stared at him dumbfounded.

- There's no tournament there. Even the player class is not defined there yet! No spells, no combat skills! Everyone is similar as eggs and armed with sticks as the Neanderthals!

- There is the tournament. Do not argue! If I said that it exists therein, then it's so. Ok, Ros, either you agree or not. If not - I'll borrow you money now and you'll go home, pay your charge, dive, ride your favorite Crashshot and "Hello Adventures". If you agree - we're talking on. You should decide. Meanwhile, I'll squirt out some more whiskey. And one more, Ros, I'm not worse than you understand what it means for the real gamer to remove his "native" character. That player, who needs your help, will do the same thing, and you'd better believe me, he will have to sacrifice with much more than you.

- What is his character cooler than mine?

- Bingo. And not only that. The level and armor come with time … but other things … Think about it

- And what is there to think –capitulated I – I agree. Taking into account all your conditions …

- … it will be simply foolish to refuse –finished Gosha for me– Truly. Well and good, now we shall discuss the remaining details.

- Gosh… just explain me only one thing – why me? There are more experienced players.

- I know you – said the stalwart calmly sinking again into an armchair – I know you not only in the game, but in the "real" life. You know me and understand that I'm not going to cheat you. Plus, several important factors successfully coincided – you have a great gaming experience, you're not stupid, and due to your dismissal you have lot of free time, which you can spend efficiently for both of us.

- I'm glad you don't think I'm stupid –smiled I crookedly – My heart feel better now.

- Anything else you want to ask me? My time is running out.

- Hmmm… Gosha, why do you need all that? Why do you need a victory on some children's tournament in the Nursery? Why all this hemorrhoids and spending of not too shabby amount of bucks?

- And this is not your business –cut off Gosha – Sorry, Ros, but the Clan's business does not concern you.

- Got it –nodded I – Not stupid. I'll be silent as a grave. I will not tell anyone.

- I know that you will not tell anyone. And I'm glad you understand everything right. Soo… and now let's talk about finance.

Emptied another glass, mine formerly friend , who could always borrow me a couple of bucks to the salary, and now is absolutely suddenly transformed into the employer, sat in front of a monitor and with a machine-gun speed entered several commands. He looked at the monitor for a couple of seconds, grunted in satisfaction, opened a desk drawer and put his hand into its contents. The short rustle of paper and now before my eyes is looming the pack of thin greenish-gray banknotes.

- Five hundred bucks – casually said Gosha – Think it is your advance. Another two and a half pieces already are on your wallet. Well, take it.

And I took that money, and felt myself for a moment as a real Judas. I sold Crashshot for thirty pieces of silver …

However, I was not given too much time to worry and let the bitter tears of remorse. With the same speed I was raised out of the armchair, slammed encouragingly on the shoulder, pushed in the right direction and now I'm in the stairwell, and standing in the doorway Gosha throws the last pep phrase:

- Erase your Acc, resets the cocoon settings, make a new registration, then callback. But do it quick – I have long time to be in Valdira and to do business with the Clan's treasury. And one more – Do not brake with the removal of your Crashshot. The more you pull, the harder then.

- So you're the treasurer, aren't you? –hatched I startled.

The Clan's treasurer … is almost a mythical figure. The man, who has the direct access to all accumulated treasures of the Clan. Just anyone is not appointed to this position. The trust should not be just an absolute, it should be perfect.

- Go ahead, Ros! Chlatter along and whirl like a horse!

And I was whirling, forgetting about the elevator and jumping over three steps.

I could ran to the lobby only, where the security guards me took me happily into their embrace. On the right hand closed around an iron palm, and in the ear I heard the deafening bass:

- Where are you running? Where did you take money? Well?!

Only then I realize that my crumpled and dirty tracksuit coupled with the ragged home slaps can in no way harmonize with the clamped in the palm pack of U.S. banknotes. And in another palm was clenched almost empty glass with the splashing amber whiskey. Nice look.

While I gathered my thoughts, the other security guard already decided everything for me. He spoke briefly with someone on the phone, grimaced and grunted:

- Let him, Nikolai. Everything is OK. Sorry for delay.

- OK – I shook my head and ran on in a state of some spacy. The body moved on full automatic, the emptiness was ringing in my head. No emotion, no thoughts – I specifically sought this state. So, I didn't waver and change my mind at the last moment.

The almost empty at this time of day yard flashed before my eyes. The dirty steps of the entrance are merging into a rosy veil and here is my dear door in front of me. The short key turn, broaching creak of the door opening, two steps down the short hallway past the kitchen into the room and I'm already in the room. The first thing is the cocoon. To fold back the plastic cover covering the control panel of cocoon. To fold back another transparent square covering by itself an unequivocally red button and push it against the stop to the barely audible crunch. With a slight clang on a computer screen connected to the cocoon pops up the warning:

Are you sure you want to make a full reset of your personal settings?

Attention! This operation is irreversible!

- No, I'm not sure – I respond and confirm the reset. Damn you!

The precisely glowing green lights on the panel of cocoon suddenly change color to alarm yellow and begin to blink intermittently. The cocoon started to methodically grind its contents.

Now the last thing…

Activate your account page. Private User settings, operations with a personal account, Delete.

And again a lot of warning windows with the red text pops up. Endless reminders about the operation is irreversible. That I'm making a monstrous stupidity …

But I am fiercely clicking the mouse and, finally, I achieve what I wanted – the screen has a virgin state. Account has been deleted.

And just now, I let myself to breathe. It's done, no way back.

Noticed a glass of whiskey remains standing on the table edge I stood up, saluted the empty wall and killed the contents in a single gulp.

Goodbye, Crashshot, may you rest in peace, bro.

In my head came up the moment of our last meeting with him – when I was sitting on the sun-warmed bench and looking at the billowing into the sky the fountain's water jets. A good place to die. Peaceful …

The cocoon completed a full reset only in an hour or more. Another half hour it took to set the defaults.

I didn't wast the time, too, and clicked a mouse with might and main, registering my new account in Valdira. An elite class diamond account. The registration procedure passed as usual, The Valdira's server gobbled up two thousand four hundred dollars in a flash. The surprises began only at the end, when I started to create the character and select its appearance.

If before I had just stupidly typed pleasing to me nickname in the empty box and time after time ran across the mocking sign "This nickname is already taken", then now, as soon as I rolled the mouse on the appropriate heading, something clicked and popped up a message:

Would you like to view the list of reserved nicknames for the elite Users?

Wow! For the elite! And who I was before? Yes, I'd like.

A very long multi-pages list was shown on the screen. Even at first glance, there were more than a thousand names. I had ripples of my vision from the infinite number of available nicknames.

I was kind of crazed by such an unexpected abundance, so, I preferred to use the search box, which was kindly built-in the list and typed the Latin letter "R". If the list is reduced, then I did not notice. Thinking for a while, I added "OS" to "R", and now the list was reduced to the digestible number of names – a little more than twenty nicknames, starting with "Ros". I inspected skeptically the suggested names and stopped on a hunch at the nickname Rosgard.

Rosgard… and why not? May be, it's slightly confusing but it sounds! And in any case it's not similar with the nick of my deceased Crashshot.

I stopped on this nickname, and moved on to the next page and again felt like the jaw is starting to fall off in amazement. Instead of usual two dozen variants for the character's appearance, I was offered no less than several hundred settings by means of which without a doubt I could give my game avatar a unique view. Here only I had absolutely no desire to do it. Quickly trekked through all settings I left the appearance of my character almost defaulted – just recoloured hair from light-brown to black and changed the eyes color from blue to dark brown. Race - Human. It is definitely.

Another few meaningless options; an offer to learn the library in details for the beginners; an offer to be trained the basics; an offer to make a short digression into the World of of Valdira; an offer to look at the sights of a bird's-eye … cancel, cancel and cancel.

And finally, the long awaited sign appears on the screen with tantara sound:

Congratulations! Your game character Rosgard is created!

And just after that, another standard greeting on a golden company logo background appeared:

Welcome!

The World of Valdira is waiting for you!

Sighing with relief, I pulled away from the computer and got into the standing near cocoon.

It was uncomfortable to lie – with the resettled settings the cocoon had no data on the parameters of my body. It's ok, a couple of hours in the game and the elastic bed will fit to the body contours. The meantime can and be patient.

So ... let's go!

Chapter 3.

Return to the Nursery. First day.

The rainbow swirl was circling two times longer than usual – after all the birth of a new character is not a routine entry. But everything comes to an end and now I am standing in the midst of a narrow street, feeling a dry road dust with my bare feet.

Nursery.

Behind my back is a guttering silvery veil of exit, from where, according to the official legend, the descendants from another, slowly collapsing world, appear. That is us. Roughly speaking we are the refugees. We pissed away one World stupidly and now are migrating to a more sunny place quickly … That is our worthless legend.

The low mostly single-storey houses of rustic style rose in front of me. The outskirts, what can I say. The Nursery territory covered a fairly large site, including about thirty houses, one store, a tavern, several warehouses and other outbuildings and gardens. This is what I could remember from my memory. After all, almost two years have passed since I've been here and did not stay for a long time. Then I remember I have done a couple of transient tasks from the local NPC and immediately rushed on, to the main city.

- Wow! Cool! – squeaked a thin girlish voice behind me.

I turned around and saw a girl who flopped down on the ground and was passing spellbound the handfuls of road dust through her fingers.

- As a real! Hot stuff!

"First time in the game" - stated me the obvious fact and turned my attention to myself. Hmm …

The ripped linen shirt and pants. No shoes, the barefoot heels are black of dirt. The thin swag hanging over his shoulder complements the appearance of a poor beggar. I did not look inside, but I knew that there are only two things in the knapsack – a small piece of stale bread and a cracked pottery saucer. It was something to dip up water from a well or a feed ditch. Of course you can drink in the usual way, but the game creators decided that it is not aesthetic to make a person to stand on all fours like an animal over the ditch. Ethics-sir …

I have no hint of any weapons – except for my own fists and legs, if I can say so. All the basic features are at a minimum, what I easily made sure by recalling an appropriate tablet:

Basic character profile:

Strength – 1

Intellect – 1

Agility – 1

Endurance – 1

Wisdom -1

Nice…

Letting out another afflicted sigh, I stepped aside and a sat down on my haunches, leaning against the stone wall. And then I pressed "Exit" with the unfaltering hand and fell out of Valdira in the real world.

It's time to let my new employer know on the successful implementation of all set tasks and find out what I must do next.

I had no time to dial the number – the phone rang before I could touch it.

- Hallo?

- Ros, this is Gosha.

- Oh! And I was just about to call you...

- Look, did you already set the account to zero? Did you delete your character?

- Yes, as we agreed.

- Damn! You could still run around for him …

- And what, was it not necessary?! Gosh!

- No, everything is according to our plan, just one snag here was drawn – she can't appear in the Nursey now.

- And? She?

- Yes, the player is a girl. Well, she will appear not earlier than in a couple of days. Maybe a little longer. Such are the things.

- Two or three days?! What are you talking about, Gosh?! I has already deleted Krashshot and registered the new character! What should I do now?

- What do you mean? What is the problem? – asked again Gosha in surprise – I think you will find what to do without any problems. You have money. Come over your friends, make a party for a couple of days, and pull a bird. You will be able to survive without a game for two days.

- Yes, I understand that … - I held out contritely – But damn ... I was going to "dive". Alright … I will wait for the news from you. My new nickname in Valdira: Rosgard. Now it sticks out in the Nursery at the entrance

- What grade has your account?

- Diamond. As we agreed. And listen, Gosh - I'll be in the game. I will run in the Nursery at least, what really there. If you need me urgently, post me in private.

- Two days? – chuckled the stalwart – You will go crazy there. I am saying - pull a girl and poshed up. If you don't know any, I can help. Would you like?

- No, thanks – refused I – I'd rather hang out in Valdira. Okay, I'm waiting for the news.

- You… you amaze me, Ros –chuckled Gosha uncertain – Okey-dokey. Now the most important: Do not even think to join a group with other players, in no case sour relations with the innkeeper and needless to say, I think, do not leave the Nursery. It is very important! Have you remembered?

Do not leave the Nursery – even the fool knows that. And what about the ban on the creation of a group with other players and the sour of relations with the innkeeper, I did not understand. But I didn't start asking any questions on this subject.

- Has remembered. Not to join, not sour, not leave – after a little hitch I replied – Listen, about this tournament … what is required of me? In what direction shall I develop the character? I can't learn or buy spells in the Nursery, with grades and martial skills is the same nonsense.

- Here all is simple. You said yourself - like the Neanderthals with sticks. Rivet a strong middle with a bias in physicist. This tournament is not that hard … it's rather special. You will cope without any combat skills. The main thing is not screw up before the tournament, too much depends primarily on certain conditions, which you need to perform almost in a specific order. So, did you really decide to prop up two days in the Nursery?… hmm ... well ... then good luck, Ros … gard.

On that note the incomprehensible conversation ended, I remained sitting on the bed, looking blankly at the wall and clutched the handset infolded in silence in the sweaty palms. Two days! In the Nursery! What would I do there?

Well, I will deal with it. At the same time I will try to find out why it's prohibited to quarrel with the innkeeper. After all the curiosity is an ineradicable thing!

Entry.

Welcome!

The World of Valdira greets you!

The newly obtained character met me there where I left him – he was sitting just in two steps away from the Source (exit) and was staring blindly in front of him. Nothing really has changed around too. That girl that so violently was admired the realism of the virtual world has evaporated long ago in an unknown direction, but instead of her three individuals of masculine gender were drew and busily was looking around. Too busily. There is no smell of newcomers here –these guys are obviously experienced and know what's what.

- Oh! Hi, dude! –greeted me one of the newcomers happily – Join to us! I know this game like my five fingers! With us you will be on Easy Street! A continuous drive with a minimum of stops!

Before I could open my mouth to send a "well-wisher" where further, he continued his speech, outlining my future in bright colors:

- At first as everyone you will rattle a stick, and when we collect some money, you will become the healer and the bafery! Well, that is a physician! Got it? Jump to our group and raced! We will kick rocks from the Nursery, there is nothing to catch here!

- Please, race! – I muttered gloomy, rising to my feet and dusting off the ripped pants from the road dust.

- What?

- Hit the road, I said! – growled I – I will not join the group, and I will not be a physician. Clear?

- Hey, come on! Come to us, Rosgard!– not departed the pester, who had already read my nickname, but I turned and walked away, carelessly waving a hand on the move.

He should look for other simpletons for himself. I hate such freaks, which are specially waiting at the gate and misleading the beginners! They recruit them to their group, at full gallop bring them to multiple tasks, impose an unnecessary grade or craft and due to this hapless poor man they are growing rapidly in levels. They are growing exactly as long as the spacey player does not realize that he was not going to turn into the buff or the physician, and dreamed of becoming a warrior or at the worst a shaman…

- Oh my Lord! – a pitiful feminine lamentation torn off me from the thoughts and raising my head I came across to the portly blowzy housewife, staring at me over the wooden fence – What are you wearing, a good man?

- Good afternoon, the mistress – unconsciously smiled I, remembering the enigmatic Gosha's phrase – don't quarrel with the innkeeper! It's certainly not the innkeeper, but still she is the NPC. Maybe she is his wife or the lover …

I already knew what will follow and the townswoman from the outskirts did not disappoint me:

- And look at his pants, pants! There no living spaces! And your shirt is torn, too … where were you tramping, a miserable … Wait, you're going to the town square, aren't you? Oh… Are you really going to go there in such kind? Look, our guards don't welcome the ragamuffins! They will clap you in prison as a warning in an instant!

- And what should I do, mistress? –wreathed I in the widest smile, becoming the sweet jelly – You're welcome to all we have! I haven't a spare shirt and pants. Such is the trouble.

- So it's not a problem at all! – a woman clasped her hands – The clothes can be dolly up! I can borrow you the needle and thread, not a big deal!

- Here thanks you, a good woman! But only I do not know how to handle with a needle! Whether will you not help the poor traveler? And I will repay you for the kindness with my work!

- How not to help! It's not a big deal –responded the townswoman immediately, opening the gate in front of me – Take off your shirt. I'll mend it in a trice. Come into the yard, you will not denude on the street, will you?

The first optional task started and is successfully moving ahead. An endorsing inscription framed in the azure frame flashed before my eyes:

The character's appearance plays an important role in the World of Valdira!

"Like I didn't know" –chuckled I mentally, stepping into the yard. None of the important NPCs will not give you a task if you look like a tramp. And he would not talk with you, too. It is only in the Nursery you are allowed such things. The "Local people" are here kind and sympathetic as on selection.

The square yard looked more than cozy – swept clean, a few blooming flowerbeds overlaid with the stones on the edges and slightly to the side a couple of vegetable beds. There is a neat wooden table with a scraped up to the whiteness countertop and a pair of low benches in the middle of the yard. In the corner you can see the buried in the ground wooden frame of a well, near stands a bucket with a rope tethered to the arc.

The overall well-groomed appearance was marred only by six withered trees extending near from the inner side of the fence. Rather thick trunks with a diameter of the hip of an adult, the sticking out in different directions dry branches and small woods, "decorated" with the abandoned bird nests. The bark blackened and was hanging unsightly.

And here is the task …

Without waiting for a reminder I dropped my knapsack on the bench, pulled over the head the disintegrated shirt and threw off pants, and remained almost naked. Only the loins are covered with the blinding white and clean cloth, most resembling a diaper. Another concession to the aesthetics – the underwear never became dirty. Even if I fall down in a mud puddle and ride in it like a hog, the likeness of underpants will continue shining with a snow-white purity, sharply contrasting with the plastered over with mud body. It's checked – I had to once force a small swamp, while I was doing one of the tasks to find the special plants. On my return the outfit was draggled in trash, the stinking swamp slurry dripped from my body, and the diaper, as if in mockery, amazed for its dazzling whiteness of the fresh snow.

To top it all, the diaper possessed a couple more super abilities: it cannot be destroyed, and only I myself can take off me this piece of cloth covering the reserved area.

The last rule has been entered after a couple of incidents in which the stronger players stripped other gamers right down to nothing and in such way made them to defile through the city streets. They soldered to the fibber serious penal sanctions, to the victims gave comforting bonuses and the diapers and girlish T-shirts began to take off only by the hosts. There have never been any rapists in the game – if your cocoon will register the fact of the attempted rape against another player or NPC, then you instantly are kicked out of the game. At that it will be made for forever and with the removal of your character. But if it has happened by the mutual desire – no problems. Enjoy and have an orgasm.

Oh yeah! Almost forgot! It's also impossible to lose the diaper – just give a command and the pure white piece of cloth is materialized on your hips itself. Such here an incredible super item is available to each player.

By the way, where is a friendly mistress? I am standing here naked and castaway in the middle of the yard …

- Good for you, sweetie! And I will mend your things in a trice and bring them in the right condition – jabbered the mistress came out of the house, holding a needle with the already passed white thread before her eyes – It would seem you offered to help me with the housework, right? It would be nice! Because no man in the house, how I can handle it alone.

- I will help you, a good woman –figured I a slight bow, fighting the urge to cover the stupid diaper with the palms – What can I do for you?

- Can you see these trees? – at once responded the mistress, pointing with the needle toward the ugly dry trunks – Here after all what a big problem had happened! About fifteen years ago I planted a young oak trees, they at once went in the growth, I could not be more happy! They gave the shadow and the acorns for my darling pigs, and then not otherwise they were jinxed and at once all my oaks withered... that's a trouble. I am a weak woman, how can I wave an ax. And you're a strong guy, and have such broad shoulders. Pull up and fell one tree, and branches I'll lop somehow by myself. If you help, I will remember your kindness for age.

- Why not help a good man – I did not go out of the role – Please, give me an ax, mistress!

The mistress wreathed in a satisfied smile disappeared in the house again and soon returned with the ax. The ordinary ax with a fairly long wooden handle. Rough forging iron has already touched by rust, but the blade edge is shining of polished metal. I reached out and took the ax and immediately could feel its solid heaviness – of course! Taking into account a proud index of my strength that is exactly one unit, it is normal.

With difficulty holding the ax in the air, I stamped to the leftmost tree – once I had already felled it, but drat, it rose again and once again was withered. Along the way, I closed the appeared inscription shining like a rainbow before my eyes:

Congratulations! You got your first task!

Achievement!

You got the achievement "Helping Hand" of the first rank!

See the table of achievements obtained in the settings of your character.

Your reward for the achievement: +0.1% to your chance to identify the objects.

Current chance of successful identification: 0.3%

And then I closed it and could see the next:

You've got the task "Help with the yard work!"

Help a single woman to cut down the withered trees in her yard in the best of their abilities and possibilities.

Minimum conditions to complete the task: pull up and fell at least one tree.

Reward: your clothes will be mended (repaired) that will give you a more respectable appearance.

I clumsily swung the ax, and so stood in this awkward position, becoming like the Tin Woodman.

Wait a second …

I lowered the ax and quickly got into the Basic character profile and stared at the line:

Objects' identification: 0.3%

Two-tenths of a percent from the unit I got of wisdom and Intellect and another one-tenth came from the achievement. The last time there was nothing similar. Yes, I got achievements exactly the same way, but they never gave any "pluses". The conclusion suggests itself – once again the diamond grade of my account worked out, giving me the tiny bonus. Interestingly it turns out …

Me, I whistled in surprise as I closed my data panel and swinging the ax again to hammer it onto the stubborn oak trunk. The ax left a scarcely noticeable mark on the blackened and bumpy rind and then gleefully sprang back at me, almost hurting my leg. Even the ax handle itself almost slipped through my fingers. Excellent…

My low fence wasn't able to hide my yard and, as the entry arch where the new players appeared one by one was pretty near, I couldn't say I was all by myself. The passing by gamers were a bit amazed at seeing a kinda puny creature in white pants, hammering his ax onto the barely swaying tree. The majority just passed by unwilling to lose their precious game time on chatting with me. However, there were some of them, hanging around, watching me for a moment and then giving me the unwanted pieces of advice:

- You need a higher swing!

- Your hammer at the wrong angle…

- , Hey, you never gonna cut this tree! You're not strong enough.

- You'd better find a saw! Who the hell uses ax for that?

As they were finally convinced I was reluctant to take their unwanted pieces of advice, they just left while I was still cutting the damn tree, yet not falling down. Though, it was far from falling down as all this time took me maximum to cut into quarter of its trunk after which I was already exhausted. Short-breathed, I put the ax down and slightly closed my eyes, waiting for my power to restore. My endurance equals to one, so I am quick to get tired and see the scale warningly turning red.

Another extremely motivated gamer, running by me couldn't help pausing and, as he pressed himself against my fence, murmuring to me in a whisper:

- Hey, dude! Down with this shit! I know this quest – you only get some poorly patched clothing as your prize, that's all! I searched the forums here and actually come across a very "cool" task here in School, which consists of two parts and giving you thirty red cents! It is surely enough for you to buy some new clothing in a shop nearby. Come on!

- Thank you, my friend – I nodded – But I need to finish what I started.

- As you like – the stranger shrugged his shoulders and hurried away not paying me any attention. He has taken me for a freak reluctant to miss any of the tasks available even if they failed to become profitable. I didn't feel like explaining this well-wisher, that I stuck in School for a couple of days and just kill my time! Damn Gosha!

- Aren't you tired, my dear? – the house mistress asked – Aren't you exhausted? Wouldn't you like to drink some cold water?

- With pleasure, good woman – I hoarsely thanked her, leaving the trunk.

And I was truly thirsty. The pure water made my refreshment twice faster and also concealed my hunger. I actually wasn't yet hungry, but still was willing to refresh myself. Heh… wish I could have here my favorite canteen from Crashshot with its special refreshment potion… Just dreaming…

Having drunk half a jar with the cold water which made my teeth ache, I was refreshed enough to take the ax and continue to cut into the dry tree as hard as stone. How strong a man shall be to cut stones with picks? I sympathized with the poor miners.

Nock, nock, nock… the staccato sound of my cutting formed one endless and monotonous sound.

My next strike made a long sliver cut into my cheek. I swore and checked my status and wasn't at all surprise at seeing the life points loss. Though insignificant, still it was a loss.

Life points: 67/70 Mana: 15/15

Great! A couple of hours more and I will drive myself to death. Anyway, I was pretty aware of this as last time I cut the tree down there were only forty life points left.

My first joyful moment occurred when I finally managed to cut the miserable oak up to its center. After enormously powerful strike I attached all my remaining strength to, the tree started violently and clearly crackled. And I saw a short-form table:

Strength increased for 1 point.

Endurance increased for 1 point.

Finally… last time I managed to improve my characteristics a bit quicker. Or my fatigue makes me think so?

Just to celebrate such an event I finished the remaining water, whipped my mouth with my hand back and got to my work with a vengeance, literally said. Earlier I just had one point for power, but now I had two. The strike power increased, I mean, the cut strength, and the improved endurance will let me feel OK longer. And my points also increased just a bit. Going on with my work I moved to my menu and displayed my basic characteristics:

Basic character profile:

Strength – 2

Intellect – 1

Agility – 1

Endurance – 2

Wisdom -1

It isn't that miserable if comparing to my gone Crashshot.

In an hour the tree gave out a long screech, crisped as broken tree, shuttered heavily and finally fell down accompanied by the breaking sound of its branches. The oak was defeated. I disposed my first opponent in this game and this battle was pretty time-consuming and exhausting though the oak failed to strike back. Though… when I checked my life reserve, I found this old withered wooden stump stroke back pretty effectively – as I saw only thirty life points out of eighty.

I finished. , Tired, I put down my tool and leaning onto the ax handle just assessed the information displayed:

You got a new profession - the lumberjack!

The lumberjack skills have been increased by 1. Total: 1.

Your stamina is increased by 1 point.

- Well, thank you! A good deed done! – the mistress immediately responded keenly observing the process of the tree mutilation. - Thank you! And I've already repaired your clothes, mended every hole, and placed the patch on each tear! Take it!

Two years ago I behaved just like that – I took my well-mended clothes, returned the ax and casually said goodbye to the mistress. The task was completed successfully.

But this time I was in no hurry to take the clothes back. Because I was not in hurry at all.

- Wait, mistress, - I smiled becoming pale, taking a step toward a fallen trunk and picking up an ax that has recently appeared much lighter for me. – Too much work is left.

- It seems that candid gods sent you to me! – The townswoman immediately got her bearings. - Well! And then I'll thank you with a square meal! What do you say?

- Thank you, mistress. With a great joy.

- Let's agree! - The woman nodded, laying my neatly folded clothes on the bench and slowly marching into the house. – I'll light the fire! The food will be great!

The task continued.

Looking at the bright blue sky, I wiped the sweat on my face and continued to battle with the already defeated, but not yet completely surrendered enemy. I had to chop off all the knots and branches and then cut them into small pieces. Yes, and I needed to store the whole thing in a corner somewhere.

About ninety minutes later I coped with the whole affair and could barely stand on my feet not so much due to fatigue, but because of my remaining poor eight life points - a couple of times the sharp splinters flew to the sides, and another time I stumbled and instead striking a thick branch, I snagged myself in the leg with an ax, for which I once lost ten life points. In gratitude for all the suffering I got one more increase of the lumberjack profession that became equal to 2 points.

The lumberjack skills have been increased by 1. Total: 2.

"Wow ... I have never had the lumberjack skills more than one point", - I smiled, plunging an ax into the trunk.

Reaching the water well, I hardly took the bucket filled with water from it and drunk enough, so reducing the level of fatigue and restoring three life points. I stood on my feet already firmer. I could drink more water, but it was too much – the limit of the game. Twenty minutes later I could drink some more. But personally, I was counting on the hearty meal promised by the mistress. The food will restore my life points much faster.

Being convinced that another flown away sliver will lead to my untimely demise, I decided to pass the time before lunch and construct a primitive weapon for myself. The mistress won't give me an axe, and it is too short – I have never liked to come to the enemy at a short distance. A powerful long-range bow is completely different - one accurately shoots an arrow and you're done.

Choosing from the mountain of felled branches the relative thick and straight branch, I again became armed with an ax and with a few careful blows chopped it off from both sides. And I became the owner of gnarled walking stick reaching my shoulder by the upper end. I would say that I made the battle pole, but this dull stick did not deserve so proud title. There is one simple task to which I planned to return later and in that situation the walking stick will be a necessarily useful staff. Catching an ax more comfortably, I carefully cut down all the knots and teared off the rough bark, exposing the yellow core. Well, that's done. I could not reach the better results. If only to ask the kind mistress to give me for some time the kitchen knife and clean off the bark residues and other roughness.

Achievement!

You got the achievement "Gunsmith" of the first rank!

You can see a table of achievements obtained in the settings of your character.

Your reward for achievement: +0.5 % for the quality of produced weapons.

1% for the chance to successfully create the weapons.

Another dubious achievement. I have never planned to create weapons on my own. It's simpler to buy it or "pick up" from a monster.

Clinging to stick with both hands, I stared at it and then I got the extensive data:

Oak stick. Two-handed weapon. Damage: 4-8. Damage type: crushing. Durability: 29/30

Hmm ... it even does on a bad walking stich. And no advantages for the attack or characteristics. Just the weighty and unbalanced stick that can be used to hit an enemy into the brazen head or another body part, that is not bad. The weapon is based on the level. All right.

Adjoining my new weapon to the rest poor property lying on a bench, I sat there, idly looking around and sniffing with the anticipation to the delicious smell of cooking from the open door.

The chain of «newborn» players did not run low trailing behind the fence. They curiously twisted their heads from side to side, loudly admired the realism of the virtual world, and walked away without stopping. Usually at the entrance the player were waiting by the mistress who invited me to the dinner, invited them to mend clothes in exchange for a small favor, but now this woman bustled in the kitchen and the players were in full bummer in this regard. No, they do not have such the great desires to cut the dry oak - let them waiting in line, I do not mind! This waiting is practically for nothing – just a couple of days, no more ... hmmmm ...

The hostess was not particularly in a hurry. I had a chance to come back once more to the water well, where finally finished the water remaining in the bucket, restoring a few more life points and getting rid of fatigue.

Some chickens came out of the coop previously unnoticed by me, cackling and scattering around the yard and I was beginning to predatory glanced at them, but at this point the hostess came out of the house wrapped in a cloud of fragrant steam and set two bowls filled with food .

In one of them there was a thick rich soup, the second one had a sort of whitish seethe cereal grains. It smelled awesome. I was presented with an ample spoon, and I eagerly pounced on the food, feeling how the life points are increasing with each swallowed piece.

I ate like a powerful bulldozer, leaving only the bowls licked until shining - and I wonder how I have not gobbled them up. But the life has recovered almost by eighty percent. Energy was in full swing in me.

- That's good! You made the cook happy; you did not leave even a piece of food on the plate. – The welcoming hostess was even shining with pleasure, collecting the empty dishes from the table. - And now you shouldn't be afraid to hit the road! You'll be able to overcome any difficulties!

- Thanks for dinner, dear. - I replied in the same tone. – But I'm not going to hit the road now! Oh, too much deeds are left.

At this point, you should have seen the bewildered face of the mistress – it was a striking sight.

- Deeds?

- Of course! Five trees that have not gone away. - I said, nodding at the withered oaks standing in a row. - Now I'll do them. Or you are against it?

- No, no, no! - The stricken woman spluttered, for the umpteenth time dropping a stack of my clothes back on the bench. – I'll just be glad! Bu I' don't have anything more to repay you.

Checking? The players almost never help НПС for free. Especially in the boring routine tasks where you can't expect the rapid increase of level or too many "goodies". It's possible. But in any case, I have not get any information about the execution, the hostess has not sent me away from the yard... so we will go through. I'll just try to bargain for something edible, so as not to turn up my heels because of the hunger and cold.

- I don't need payment. – I said in a lordly tone of a rich man. - But if you provide me with dinner, it will unspeakably grateful!

- Even don't mention it, you're my savior! – The hostess quickly rattled. – I will give you the dinner and a bed in the barn to sleep in the warmth!

- Here we are. - I smiled, getting up from the table. – I couldn't wish more, dear.

The hostess nodded silently and walked me with rather dumbfounded look, carefully and lightly unbelievingly watching how I was silently taking an ax and, in fact, approaching to the next tree. Having a glance over the fallen trunk already cleansed from the branches, I turned to the mental blocked woman and asked her with a joyous face of an idiot:

- Maybe, you have a saw, my good woman?

- Of course...

- Then I'll saw and prick you the firewood! - I blurted out, finally finishing off the poor woman by my incredible generosity. – You just have to find it and bring it to me, mistress. I will do everything by myself.

There was silence in the yard ... almost deathly silence.

Shrugging, I grinned with a half-mad smile of the sadomasochist and swung the ax.

At this time, the result of my tiny power leveling was evident - an ax blade did not bounce, but confidently was inserted into the wood for a finger depth. And it was really easier for me to use the ax that was almost unwieldy for me earlier. The power raised by one point, coupled with two points of the lumberjack skill began to yield fruits. The ball was set rolling!

Before dusk I was able to cut three more trees, spending much less time than earlier. Now only two poor oaks towered over the fence instead of six, and the yard was almost littered with felled stems and dry foliage interspersed with abandoned bird nests. I fumbled in the nests just because of the interest, but did not find anything apart from the rubbish. What was interesting and enjoyable is that for each subsequent oak I was spending less time. The second tree surrendered three hours later, the third and fourth demanded for two hours each. I have not touched collapsed trees, immediately approaching to the following oak. I will chop off the branches afterwards.

I made breaks only to "drink water" from the water well, regularly visiting the bucket and pouring as much life-giving liquid as possible. At the same time, I had a rest in these moments. Each time just a few life points have been restored, but it was enough - steel splinters started to fly away in much smaller quantities. The lumberjack skills had an effect! After the third and last for today collapsed tree I was given several goodies at the same time:

Your strength is increased by 1.

Your endurance is increased by 1.

The lumberjack skills have been increased by 1. Total: 3.

You have a new skill!

Ability to use axe (without throwing) is increased by 1. Total: 1.

Generally it's good. The life points have been increased to ninety; strength and endurance are three points each. If I got the lumberjack skills up to five points, it will be possible to visit the guild located in the city and get the journeyman rank. By the way, this is an interesting thing about slashing weapon...

Being intrigued, I opened the information menu and carefully studied the popped up message:

Usage of the axes 1

Depreciation of an ax used in battle or work is reduced by 1%.

Damage using an ax is increased by 1%.

During repair of the axes the chance of success is increased by 0.5%.

"A bit far from the bounty, but they still gave it". - I have concluded, closing the message.

Notification about the depreciation alerted me and I hurriedly opened the characteristics of an ax.

Cheap lumberjack's ax. Two-handed weapon. Damage: 8-12. Damage type: slashing. Durability: 102/120.

I can relax. I was agonized for nothing. An ax is for the "quest", so it has an increased strength and durability. It is possible that it is gradually recovering this very strength, like the self-repair. The unattractive ax went through many hands, when hundreds of players fiercely cut the stubborn trees completing my current task. If it is not, it means that the hostess has the whole warehouse of axes in the house, but I am deeply doubted in it. It was not prohibited ti act the role of the thief and the player who got inside so cozy and nice-looking house could be greatly surprised and frightened by a couple of hundred axes neatly stacked in the kitchen. A sort of quiet house of horrors...

The opened door plucked a cloud of fragrant steam for second time today, and the impossibly sweet voice of the hostess came from the house:

- Sit down at the table, my dear man! Enough for today, you've already got tired.

"I'll go there, and she'll hit me on the head with the stockpiled ax and take me to the stove!" – The thought flashed through my head and I almost guffawed loudly. I think too much. No, in the world of Valdira there are human НПС seeking to kill player - forest robbers, for example, but that's clearly not the case.

By the way ... The damage of my axe is also too overstated by a couple of points both to the minimum and maximum - so a novice player could still cut a strong tree and not to curse everything.

- I'm coming, my mistress. - I said, struggling with my laugh and stepping over the trunks of fallen trees.

I could not resist, and while welcoming woman was setting the table, I chopped off part of the branches of one oak in order to decrease the amount of work for tomorrow.

This time I was treated by three courses - again porridge, soup and the bowl of the coarsely cut vegetables. Before I could thank the board with sliced bread together with the mug of respectable sixe with homemade kvass. Cramming up mouth with burning food, I rolled my eyes up and groaned with pleasure, pleasing the mistress a lot.

- My name is Vlasilena. - The woman suddenly said, and I almost choked.

When НПС call their names by themselves, it means that their attitude towards you changed from neutral to friendly at least. Apparently the mistress was seriously impressed by my desire to help her.

- Ros ... Rosgard. - I said, once cleaning up my throa. - Nice to meet you, Vlasilena!

- So we know each other. - The woman nodded, stood up and added. - I will go and make the bed for you. Too late.

- Thank you.- I replied and making sure that she did not see me, I hurriedly grabbed all the bread on the table and shoved it into my knapsack, fortunately it lay at hand and I did not have to get up from the table. The three-course dinner will be enough for me, and I'll save the bread for later. Bread is everything.

I barely came to the barn - where the mattress with a blanked laying over the straw waited for me - holding the swollen belly with both arms. – I ate everything that was offered to the last crumb, and then covering the whole thing with delicious kvass - that, incidentally, gave a temporary boost of the power by one point. Oh, Vlasilena, why have not you given me kvass in the beginning? I would have fewer amounts of problems. You didn't give me it because I was not good enough. My reputation has been seriously growing in her eyes just now, and when we first met I was just an unfamiliar ragamuffin. Many of us are wandering on the roads of Valdira, you will not have enough kvass for everybody...

Flopping down on the mattress, I hid the blanket up to my chin and closed my eyes wearily. So the first day came to an end. It's time to get back to the real world and start feeding the real myself.

Flash.

Hello rainbow…

Exit.

Chapter 4

Back to the Nursery. Day two.

Fell out of the cocoon, I first of all rushed to my tiny kitchen, which barely accommodates the antediluvian fridge from the Soviet times, a table, a couple of mastodon stools, a gas cooker and a sink. I flopped down a pan on the stove and clamped up a giant omelet, threw out it on the hardly found clean plate, took the fork and went back into the room. Before the meal, I opened one of the blisters lying in the medicine cabinet and shoved an aspirin into myself. I didn't have a head ache at all – just wanted to make the blood "thinner", on the advice of one of my friends, he is an experienced gamer, too, who doesn't practically leave the game cocoon. As he says - to prevent the possible problems. After all, the almost motionless lifestyle makes itself felt. I didn't know, if it's true or not, but drank one pill every day, despite the possibility of obtaining a stomach ulcer – according to rumors as well.

Then the turn of omelet came, and I dealt with it for a couple of minutes. I took the plate back into the kitchen, where I grabbed a bottle from the fridge using the convenient opportunity and stuck to the neck, drank a liter of water. Well and good. I fed both of us at once – myself and Rosgard.

"Now I need to sleep"- I adopted a hard decision, overcoming the desire to return to Valdira and do something there, despite the night-time. And this, my old chap, is already a disappointing diagnosis…

Climbing into the bed – a sheet and a pillowcase would be already good to change long time– I buried my face in the pillow and slipped off immediately.

According to the electronic alarm clock I slept almost five hours. I woke up by some jerk. Just I was sweetly snoring in both nostrils, and then bam, and I'm completely woken and staring at the wall in bewilderment. It's 04:55 on the dial of alarm clock. It's still dark outside the window, but it's dark in here, and it's almost dawn in Valdira. Very well. It's time to get down to business.

While the kettle was boiling, I managed to visit my WC to get rid of excesses and have a wash. My damn coffee was not at all warm, 'cause I added too much milk in it. Though strong. Now I needed to drink some more water, through away the empty bottle in trash, put the unopened bottle into fridge and so, my household routines in this world were over. While the world of Valdira just enters its daily life…

The drowsy dawn went full blast. The sun, rising behind the watchtower, was gilding everything with its warm sunrays. The street was desolated and lifeless. And it was silent… resoundingly silent morning in the country. Extremely bucolic…

Standing by the barn where I spent a night, I was watching the sunrise for a couple of minutes, and then gave a killing glance to the still standing after yesterday's battle trees . Just a couple of oaks. What a trifle! It's time to finish with you.

Vlasilena was not yet in the yard. The house door is tightly closed. The mistress must be still sleeping and watches her seventh dream. Well, here I really was unable to do anything, as I had to wake her up with the ax sound. I wasn't gonna to wait until she slept herself out and finally wakes up! Moreover, people in the country should wake up before dawn! Seems like this…

Digging my ax from under the pile of felled branches, I firstly took a look at its characteristics and smiled with pleasure. I was right about its self-recovery, indeed.

Cheap lumberjack ax. Two-handed melee. Damage: 8-12. Damage type: cutting. Hardness: 120/120

Brand new ax again!

It's just itching to take such a unique carpenter tool, though it's just useless. I'm not in to becoming a professional lumberjack, though if it did occur to me, I could merely buy better tools from any blacksmith. Moreover it might be somewhat troublesome, as mistress wouldn't understand it if I stole her little ax. She might get offended and tell it to the watchmen. And do I want it? To dart through dark valleys and shiver at every sound just because of the stolen shity ax?!

I was maliciously joyful when ruined that bucolic silence with my tax twangs and bold shouts. If some neighbors were still sleeping they were now surely woken up and «delighted» to see me.

My ax was steadily cutting into the last but one tree, each of its strike was deeper and deeper into the dead dry wood. It was much better than yesterday and I managed to cut the oak down in less than an hour! My new skills and strength combined helped me to save plenty of time. I wasn't actually hurrying up, but it was impossible for me to stay here in the yard for another day.

Sleepy Vlasilena appeared in the doorway right when the oak longly groaned, lap sided and fell down. And I shrugged my shoulders, numb from exhausting resulted from those miserable three points of endurance. Then I came to the next tree, firstly giving a glance at my health indicator.

Life: 52/100 Mana: 15/15

Pretty nice. I could actually go to the well with its plenty of cold water. However, spoilt by Vlasilena's hearted attention, I made up my mind to do it in a different way and embraced the mistress in my charm:

- Well, good morning, dear mistress! Could you please give me some kvass? I feel somewhat tired and thirsty.

Giving me a sleepy smile, Vlasilena nodded to me and went away. My try was a success. I waited for my mistress in the doorway, carefully took the full jar and swiftly drank that fresh eye-opener. I restored some of my life points and received +1 to my strength for one hour.

Warmly thanking this kind woman I returned to the last tree and unleashed my rage on that tree. I was cutting so furiously as if decided to set a record. And I managed to cut down this tiny tree in forty minutes which cost me 20 life points. Who cares? The thing is, I did cut down all the trees. The hardest and most dangerous work was now done, if not taking into account the upcoming sawing up logs into billets.

The yard seemed much sweeter without its ugly decoration of six dry trees. Along the fence there still were cut stumps with hedged splinters and crust. Hmm… those stumps just slipped my mind. Actually, I could uproot them, though it would be a hell and effort-consuming job, requiring my personal, moral and gaming points stated in the desired strength characteristics graph.

As for my strength, I failed to receive the awaited endurance and strength increase. Complete bummer as they say, no freebies. The points surely increased, but much slower than before. And actually my kinda kvass as dope also decreased the working time and effort made.

I chipped off tree branches and regularly went o the well, which allowed me to work fruitfully till the very afternoon, as I managed to clear out the fallen trees from their branches. And I did receive the increased endurance for my hardworking:

Your endurance increased for 1 point.

I failed to receive any strength... Well, that's a bit sad…

Quickly finished my hearty meal, I returned to work and managed to cope with huge pile of branches somewhat within two hours, turning the ugly mish-mash into a couple of dozens of neat nice logs and same amount of small bundles of firewood. I treated those logs somewhat businesslike and didn't mind to take them nearer to the barn and arrange there. The yard, free from the tree rubbish, became much larger and it wasn't anymore a necessity to lift your feet high every step not to catch on the sticking branches. I was so much involved in my work that barely ignored the passing NPS and gamers. I just let them pass by. The hardworkers don't need to pay attention to the idle passers-by!

As if by magic there appeared two rough but stable bears on which I managed almost slaving away to put the thinnest of the six logs. Right then, as I was groaned while forcing the unmanageable log, my exhausted eyes finally saw the awaited message:

Your strength increases for 1 point.

Great!

Grinning with pleasure I took the toothed two-handled saw I cut into the tree, pouring the ground with lots of tiny splinters.

«Hey, last time I left Nursery I had just two points for each strength and endurance…» - a surprising flashed through my mind though. I doubled those points by now and I'm still a jump from the Gate of Birth. Though my characteristics remained one point each, I could help it. Thoughtless ax work doesn't affect anybody's intelligence.

The key thing was that my excitement drove me further as those unexpectedly found bears which could hardly hide anywhere in that little yard did not pass unnoticed. That means I'm on the right track! The ax, saw and bears – everything for successful cut-down and sawing up. The level of task could truly vary as you could cut down only one tree or grit your teeth and proceed till the end. It never occurred to me. I never came across anything like this on the gamers' forum. The guru gamers on forum told not to bother with this task as it was just waste of time with minimum profit. Though… it still might be so. I didn't arrange any extra premium, actually.

Busting my guts out and sinking in the honest sweat, I was working for the shank of the day and sawed six oak logs up into blocks! If it were in the reality, I would have flecked out long time ago. But here it is normal and beneficial. I have just finished seeing up the last log and my endurance has immediately increased by one point.

Your endurance is increased by 1 point.

But that was only the half of it, the most challenging thing was waiting for me until the supper, when Vlasilena, sitting opposite me, suddenly leaned forward, touched my hand and said gratefully:

- You have respect for promises, Rosgard. You've made everything as promised: you've saved me from wizened oaks that every day reminded me about one evil day! I've saved from it as from an wall-eye. They hovered before my eyes every single day! I don't know how to thank you.

- You've already thanked me. You've given me full meal and allowed me to stay overnight, - I bowed my head with respect, hiding my eyes, where fierce curiosity began to shine. – Let me ask you… what evil day have you mentioned?

- Oh… - shrugged Vlasilena with cold – I've said about the day, when my green oaks suddenly became dead wood. Would you like to learn about the old story happened three years ago? I haven't told it anybody yet.

- Yes – I confessed without concealing anything seeing the hesitant hostess – Absolutely! You will ease your mind and take a load off, if you tell me everything!

"I'm singing like a nightingale. Where did I learn to behave like that?" – I was astonished at my own abilities and eloquence, which has suddenly awaken.

Maybe I should become a bard? I will be knocking about various taverns, cook-shops and other dives and will tickle ears of natives with singing and different lying cock-an-bull stories… No, I can't be good at music considering my modest talents. I won't earn money, but I can easily catch it hot, because I have very twangy voice…

- OK – Vlasilena decided standing up from the bench – Wail a minute, I'll bring candles. I'm afraid to tell about it in the darkness. Would you like kvass? One more cup?

- With pleasure. I don't even know how I can manage to live without your cooking and kvass. I've spoiled me, hostess.

My flattery was flowing like a river, and my principle rule was "plenty is no plague". Judging by Vlasilena's smile, flattery seeds were planted in the fertile soil.

Already lighted candles were brought and put on a clay bowl turned upside down. Looking at me over two trembling lights, Vlasilena paused to gather her thoughts and finally began her story:

- it happened three years ago. The day was sunny and fine as today. The evening was turning into the night, and the first stars appeared in the sky. I was going to bed, when I heard noise coming from the street. I was afraid that there were thieves. I live alone, I don't have husband, that's why I'm afraid of every sound…

- I see – I sympathized.

- I picked up the axe at inner porch, the one that you have been using for two days without rest, and silently went out in the yard. I was constantly thinking what to do: raise a hue and cry or wait for a while. If it turns out that I raised the scare in vain, neighbors will give me no space and will laugh at me. I was standing for a while in two minds at the door, looking at one side and another. My benefit was that the moon was shining its brightest. Silence! As if no one made any noise. I had already decided that it was a dream, because the whole day I spent in the garden in the sun, and it seemed to me something. I was glad, but from the street, exactly from behind my oaks, a voice appeared like somebody's muttering. And some rustle... you know, as old soaks are muttering something and trying to rise from the ground? Have you seen such picture at least once?

- Yes – I said, remembering how many times I have found my neighbor from the lower floor that could not overcome a few steps and get to his door. I had to lift him and carry him on my back, listening to his incoherent drunk babbling and "enjoying" his incredible fusel mouth exhaust.

- And in that moment I heard the same babbling. My fear was gone. I thought that Miklevan with drank too much beer and came to me that to confess his love once again... - Vlasilena giggled, but then became serious and continued - I put down the ax and went to the gate. In order to scold my admirer and send him home. But that was not Miklevan! I didn't reach the oaks and saw what was happening in the street in the moonlight...

- And what was happening? – I asked eagerly, digging my fingers into the table.

- The moon is not the sun, that's why I saw everything dimly. I could only see the two dark figures ... it seemed to me they were men. One was on the ground as if dead, and another hung over him and slowly pottering in his clothes and mumbling something evil ... kind of like "well, where is it?", "where is she?" ... Then the first suddenly moved, groaned terribly and waved his hand in front of him, severe cold was breathing and oaks died ... crust crunched, something began to crack crunching inside my oaks, branches began to deform as if in convulsions, and the next day I went out of the house, but they blackened the dropped the leaves...

- And what about those two men?

- I couldn't make a step as if I was frozen. I only saw that the second men stood still, and the first groaned strained, as if he was torn to pieces inside. Somehow he rose to his feet and ran away. He limped, stumbled and fell, but he ran anyway! When I came to my senses and step back, the second man began to move, spun on-site, fell to the ground as if he was looking for the traces and then rushed in the same direction. He ran so quickly that he disappeared like a flash... oh ... When I remember it, I feel fear again ... That's the story, Rosgard . That's how I lost my oaks. I near went out of my mind, thanks God, it didn't happen.

- And what happened next? – I could not contain myself – Further?

- Well, who knows? – the hostess shrugged – When I regained consciousness, I went home, locked the door, propped it up with the bench and shook with fear until the morning. Only at sunrise my heart felt relieved. I did not tell anyone about what I've seen. Out of harm's way. Nobody would believe me anyway, there would only be gossip.

- I believe you, hostess! – I said firmly. In expectation of the task, I made the most serious look and asked - You obviously want me to find everything out for you? To learn who was at your house on that gloomy night and who is responsible for the death of oaks?

I was shocked deeply by the answer.

- No! No, Rosgard! –said Vlasilena flourishing her arms. – Don't even think about it! I don't want to know anything about them! Do you really think that I want to die? No! This is the tale that is told. That's it! Oh, and in fact, it is already too late ... we are sitting too long. I'm going to sleep, because I need to get up early in the morning tomorrow.

Having said these words, Vlasilena stood up and went to the house, left me in the puzzled solitude. The door slammed muffledly, the door bolt clicked and then my jaw clicked, which I could hardly close.

There won't be any task. It sticks out like a sore thumb.

I inclined over the table, blew out the candles, which became half smaller, took the candle-ends off the bowl and put them into my knapsack. I am thrifty person. I would take the bowl too, but Vlasilena would find the loss.

Sitting for a while in the darkness, I rose depressed and went to the shed, where was my bed. Mattress thrown over prickly straw and thin blanket is the most comfortable setting for such naïve idiot as I was. I hoped for something special, for cool task of encapsulated type, for something fabulous and phantasmagoric… and got ordinary horror tale.

Closing my eyes I stretched my hands for the encapsulated game interface.

Exit.

Leaned back from playing cocoon, I lay down for a while, looking at the ceiling, and then shook my head angrily. Getting outside I sat at the computer, but my urinary bladder clearly hinted me that I need to go to the lavatory.

When I entered Valdira's game forum, I found the searching line and printed several key words:

Nursery, Vlasilena, task, to cut down withered trees.

As I expected, the screen was filled with many suitable themes and I had to read everything to separate the wheat from the chaff. I spent one hour and when I tore myself away from the computer, I clicked my tongue thoughtfully.

No.

There wasn't anything about the story that I heard at the forum.

The most topics didn't even contain the name of Vlasilena. She was called city dweller, hostess, "local at the entrance", quest NPS. Only in two from fifty topics two meticulous gamers found out the name of the hostess and told about it everybody. But nobody said about the gloomy tale about two strangers and severe cold. In informal and detailed guide for newbies the task was marked as unprofitable. It was advised to ignore it and do not waste time or cut down one tree and go further. Rise of strength and endurance by one point (in the process of cutting down) and tidy clothes were mentioned as a reward. And that's it.

Staying thoughtful, I automatically went in toilet and then cooked supper. I didn't want to sleep and decided to put my neglected dwelling in order. Just for my health. Firstly, I collected rubbish from the corners in two big bags and placed them near the entrance door. I washed and arranged my modest dish. My ardour didn't last long and I went to sleep.

I was lying calmly for about a quarter of an hour, but then I was suddenly thunderstruck. By tomorrow midday the girl-gamer promised by Gosha would appear in the nursery. I would participate in a tournament with her and I should win. And a tournament means a battle. There wouldn't be question-answer game there for sure.

I had 48 hours to complete the most profitable tasks in the nursery, gain at least several levels and collect some equipment and weapon. Instead of it I had spent two days for the useless fuss in Vlasilena's yard…

«What an idiot» – concluded I. Tomorrow from the early morning I will train my character.

The only joy is that my future fellow player will be exactly the same feeble newbie without outfit.

Chapter 5.

Nursery. Day Three … and damn it all!

I was awoken by the treble phone call. Half asleep I hooked the handset with the disobedient fingers and croaked:

- Yeah?

In response I heard the cheerful in contrast to me voice of Gosha:

- Hi, Ros. Are you sleeping?

- Not anymore … Hi, Gosh. What time is it now?

- It's six o'clock in the morning.

- What?

- Did not you get the norm?

- Conversely –growled I, throwing my legs out of bed – Overslept. So, is it time?

- What for?

- Well, to go to Valdira. To meet that girl.

- That's why I'm calling, Ros. Today it will not turn. She is still at war.

Blinked several times, I mentally reproduced just heard information and realized that I'm still sleeping and seeing some stupid dream.

- Gosh, please, repeat what you just said. Where is she?

- At war! – clearly and distinctly repeated the stalwart – Oh… I see what you are talking about. She is in Valdira at the clan war. We are defending the clan citadel from the Archangels third day. Freaks are storming incessantly. Plus they concluded the battle alliance with Clan of Gray Shadows and now it's really get tight for us. That's why I'm calling – Today she is not able. Each fighter is in the account, and like she is - its weight in gold. So I put you in the know, today, and probably tomorrow, you should wait nobody. Run around in yourself. Did you understand?

- Yes, I did –muttered I fatalistic, fighting the urge to hit the phone to the wall.

- I hope, you did not do anything stupid, yet? Like joint the groups, sour relations.

- I didn't. I behave like a disciplined child.

- And is our disciplined child still in the Nursery, like all kids should be? – Gosha's voice was oozing humor.

- Yes, I'm still in the Nursery.

- Good boy! By the way, there's a new piece of information about the additional conditions. In short - don't even think to die. No deaths as long as you win the Tournament. Or did you yet?

- Oh no, I'm still alive and well, did not die even once. Gosh, are you kidding? Where can I die in the Nursery? You should try hard to kick the bucket there.

- Well, you at us are an able guy–snorted Gosha – I myself did not know about the deaths, this piece of information came only yesterday from one reliable source. Okay, I have to run. In general, I have described you the situation, so wait for my call in the near future. Do you still have money?

- Yes, I do –confirmed I.

- Ok then, good luck. Ah yes - if you can, find for her some not too shabby sword. You have time anyway. Do some tasks, collect some copper coins. Sort of like I remember, there is a shop there selling the weapons. Ok, I ran away.

I could not respond - the short beeps rang out in the handset. Extremely cautiously I dropped the handset, several times breathed in and exhaled. So, to find for her the not too shabby sword, he said? And what about a complete Mithril armor? I can, be sure! Because I'm an able guy!

I need urgently to calm down ... and I know one excellent way!

Flash.

Hello, the qualmish rainbow.

Entry.

The first stump I literally pulled out of the ground, not even properly cut off all roots. Just grabbed with hands the base of the thickest side roots and by eversion an ugly lopped stump, straining every muscle to a crisp and hoarsing fold it far away. Fatigue level jumped up to the limit, but I calmed down abruptly and partly came around. And the game without any delay responded to such furious tension and showed me another bonus:

Your strength is increased by 1 point

Let's see what we have now?

Basic characteristics of the character:

Strength – 5

Intellect – 1

Agility – 1

Endurance – 7

Wisdom -1

It looks somehow crooked – I have concluded, having carefully studied the characteristics. Typical development of the novice warrior. And inferior as well – any experienced player-physician let a little, but would raise the agility. On the other hand I did not raise the level, so it's not too late to equalize the situation. And the extra points of life at the beginning are never superfluous. Six to eight beats from a weak opponent I can stand relatively easy.

Two hours later all stumps were uprooted and attributed to the barn, where they joined the hefty pile of firewood. For this drudgery I got no buns, but in principle I did not expect that. I worked completely stress-free. Firstly, the stumps were small and not so widely ramified. Secondly, four points _ the ability to handle with axes and the raised lumberjack skills by three points were not let me to strain too much with all my desire.

But anyway - it's done. I've done all I promised. I can of course still chop some block of wood for the firewood, but my patience is not enough. And so it I stayed here too much time.

I rinsed at the well and returned to the table standing in the middle yard, where Vlasilena was waiting me.

- The work is done, mistress!

- And it's done superbly –nodded Vlasilena in agreement, handing me the clothes – Take, Rosgard. You did more than promised, so I decided to decorate your cloth a little. I have nothing more to give you.

When I unfolded the shirt, I found something new – not too intricate blue and yellow ornament appeared on the collar and sleeves cuffs, but it was pleasant to the sight. I didn't become hesitate and immediately put on the shirt and pants which have become look much dressier. At the same time I've noted with surprise the appearance of let the tiny, but nevertheless positive characteristics:

Appearance + 1 point

- Did I please you? – asked Vlasilena with a purely feminine slyness and I nodded quickly.

- You pleased me a lot!

- Here we go –smiled the mistress, handing me a small package – I packed you some food for the road. Also I put in it a flint, tinder and a tinderbox. Handy on road.

- Thank you again –bowed me, taking a gift and feeling like a good mood is returned.

Congratulations!

Quest "Help with the yard work" is done!

Reward: tidied clothes.

Not too bad! I am provided with food for the first time, it's not a problem to find the water in the area, and the tinderbox with flint so in general always should be in your bag. In Valdira you have the opportunity to make fire by several primitive ways – for example, by friction of one dry piece of wood to the other, but somehow it's easier with the steel.

After putting the package in my knapsack, I am armed with a stick and started to say goodbye to the kind-hearted mistress.

- Thank you for your kindness and caress, Vlasilena! Let your home always has the welfare.

- And I want to wish you good luck on the road wish, and let you meet only good people on the path –replied me Vlasilena in tune, thought a little and added – Do you remember what I told you last night?

- I do – I immediately made a stand.

- So, I really know nothing more, and that what I know I want to forget as soon as possible. But next day after the incident, the Frol by a nickname Potbelly visited me – he keeps the trading bench nearby. So he came and kept asking, if I saw something or maybe heard. And he was torturing me, why all my six oaks suddenly withered at once. I laid him and said that I was sleeping and know about nothing, and I don't understand what is going on, and as for the oaks, so everything is God's will. And he went with nothing. Since you are so interested in it, ask the Frol diligently and maybe he will tell you something.

- Thank you, Vlasilena! Thank you! – I thanked I and bowed once again, and went to the gate.

Have a lead! Let that is not a task yet with a good reward for the performance, but there is something in this…

I guess, I'm glad that Gosha's girlfriend is still fighting with the assailants, defending the clan castle from them. So let fighting to itself on health and I will look around the county. Maybe I'll find out something useful...

Crack! A kick with the oak stick fell right on target.

A hefty gray rat was thrown to the side and spun like a top. The rat already didn't think about the fight, no way - barely hobbling on three legs, the disgusting creature was trying to reach the black hole in the wall. I need to make another good strike and the rodent is ready. I raised my stick to strike, but before I could lower my arm, both in the air briefly whistled something and a stone crashed into the rat with a slap. Emitting a piercing shriek the rodent died … and all the appropriate points for the fight went to the one who laid the final blow. I turned around furiously and stared at the blond guy standing ten paces behind me, who was already throwing up another pebble on the palm. He was wearing just like me in the clothes for the beginner. Only his clothes were still ragged and without the slightest sign of ornament. A piece of rope was tied transversely the waist.

- Hey! What are you doing?!

- Sorry, I was unable to convert – smiled widely the blondy waved his hands – I actually threw into the wall of the barn and the stone landed in the rat.

- Really? –growled I.

Such a freak! Such as this goon players call the rat. They are waiting for, while a monster fighting other players would be at the last gasp and finish it off with a single blow, taking all the cream. Without spending strength and life points. And they remain unpunished, because they operate only in those areas where battles between players are prohibited. Or they have enough agility skills to slip away from them deserved punishment.

- Stay out my mobs, are you clear?

- Come on, I told you - I was unable to convert. Listen, I've already seen you! You were uprooting the stumps today, weren't you? And what did you have to mess...

Without replying I leaned down and picked up the remaining trophies of the rat: skin, a piece of raw meat and a terribly long tail. To the full indignation of blonde rat-player.

- I killed her! So the loot is mine.

- Oh, sorry, I was unable to convert – I grinned badly.

I wanted something else to add, but at that moment of the barn another rat crawled out, and I rushed to the wildly screamed creature. I was holding a stick with both hands, because the blow is much stronger this way, and trying to keep from the brisk creature at a distance. One short blow knocked off a half of the rat life, the next wave threw it one step back, not allowing to get to my feet. Damn! The wriggled out by unthinkable way rat hooked me still with its small, but extremely sharp fangs, and I lost ten life points. Okay, I will live through it ... just required to inflict her one short jab and...

Flop! Another stone hammered the rat in the ground and it emitted a spirit.

- Oops ... I missed the mark again - he blond guy was smiling clumsily and trying to make a grimace of remorse – That's how it happens...

- Happens – I agreed, picking up another three items from the ground and turning to the player – Happens…

I want to read the nickname … Dort Viderrr. Add to the Enemy List. A hanging over the blond guy's head nickname was colored in bright scarlet. Done! Now if he will be in my eyes again, the system will immediately alert you about receive the enemy. The time will come and we count with this Dort Viderrr… Some found Dark Jedi.

But ... why should I delay the revenge? I prefer hot dishes, so to say the piping hot one.

I looked around and made sure that there is nobody around – the barn was located on the very outskirts of teh Nursery, in the opposite side of the Vlasilena's house.

After talking with Gosha I realized that today's at my beck, so I decided to wait with my visit to the Frol Potbelly and, by running through the memorial places, gathered as much walk-through quests as I could. The blessing is they have not had the temporary limit for execution.

Now I must deliver two letters to different parts of the Nursery, pay a visit to the tanners and give him an order from one of the citizens, fill a barrel of water for a feeble old lady … stop, this task I had already done, having received the award in thirty points of experience and four copper penny that is now were rolling forlornly at the bottom of my knapsack. The old lady was trying to get rid of me with a simple "thank you, grandson," but it didn't go for her, and I still obtained on demand the persuade award. I've had enough charity.

One of the tasks was the commissioned by the local miller to reduce the rat population nest in his distal ramshackle barn. To implement it he required to provide before the miller's bright eyes at least ten rat tails.

It was not from the hand to me thrust inside the barn – there were at least a dozen of those rats. They will devour and not notice. So I was waiting near the construction until the next rodent crawl out to breathe free air again. Divide and rule is the best principle of action for a single player. The action plan was developed and approved by me as I have already started to implement it, when that homegrown Dort Viderrr appeared here … and in fact somewhere he pricked up to throw stones, bastard. Other than he has spent all morning to stock up with stones and to learn throwing them foe a short distance.

And now I was developing another plan - a plan of revenge. There was such a good in the barn beam, on which you can quite easily climb up from the box, marched to the wall … and rats were unable to replicate this acrobatic trick. The beam ran from one wall to the opposite, and what is the most important – its end rested into the wall exactly above the single door. Last time I sat there for a solid hour, waiting for the right moment to escape from tailed critters, who hated me. I hope the developers did not fix this thing… and I hope the blond guy "Darth Vader" will be stupid and greedy enough, to swallow my artless, in general, the trick.

By throwing a sidelong glance at the player shuffled behind my back, I got a radiant smile in response. Well, well...

Slightly adjusting the even heavier now knapsack, I slipped into the half-open door of the barn and looked around quickly. Eight fatty rodents did not become look around and happily cheeping rushed towards me like stink – wow, the delicious catch itself come into our hands. Without waiting for when they will cut me off from the exit, I jumped to them and nearly without looking inflicted several sweeping blows to the rat backs. Damn ... I blow too slowly. It's affected by the lack of agility and the inability to handle this type of weapon. Another blow...

Rats were not pleased by my so brazen behavior, so they screamed furiously and rushed forward my ankles. I turned around and is for all my worth sprinted to the cherished box and climbed on it in time relatively safe –just one vermin hooked my bare heel. Minus eight points of life…

Jumping up, I clung to the beam and fairly easy climb on it – thanks to the bumped up strength – and shouted with all my might:

- There you go! And again! And again! Get it! Level!

Without stopping to shout all the small stuff, I crawled through the beam to the opposite wall. The infuriated rats followed me, lifting their narrow faces to the ceiling and trying to jump to my feet hanging down from the cracked beam.

- Another one is ready! Here to you, bitch! Wow! Bags! Full! Here I understand the loot!

The blond player could not resist the mention of "bags" and flew inside and went straight into the joyful arms of the rat pack that in a crowd took away almost half of his life. The player shouted something obscene and began backing away, waving his arms and legs. Without waiting for when he gets to the door, I jumped off the beam gently, being at the very entrance and behind the dark Jedi and then silently slipped out. With one strong kick I slammed the door and hastily stressed her with whole body, not allowing it to be opened. The door began to shake frantically when Dort Viderrr started to pound at the door out of his remaining forces.

- Open the door! Rosgard! Open it, you are the bit…

And silence... breathless…

I was waiting, until the rats will finished with a miserable Jedi and calm down and rushed back from the door – was watching through a crack between the boards, I opened the door slightly and looked inside. The body was a step away from the threshold. More true, it was not the body itself, but something like a clot of shimmering silver fog in form of the human body, clothed in the shirt and trousers. Now Dort Viderr himself was again near the initial gate and needed to run across the Nursery to come back here and pick up his stuff. That's just he will have nothing to take. Punishment is the punishment.

Keeping an eye on the rats, I plunged my hands in a silver fog clot and quickly robbed the body, "ripped off" his bag and clothes. I closed the door behind again and, without considering all my prey smartly stuffed into your my bag. Just on time –another rat jumped out through a hole in the wall. Being straightened in three blows with the rodent, I picked up the dropped loot, estimated the number of remaining points of life and decided to retreat.

Life: 21\110

Less than a quarter. Not enough. Especially taking into account a strict ban on death.

Achievement!

You got the achievement "Marauder" of the first rank!

See the table of received achievements in the settings of your character.

Your reward for achievement: +0.1% to the critical strike chance.

Current critical strike chance: 1.2%

One more achievement. And one more tiny bonus …

One percent on a successful critical strike is given by default to each player from the very beginning, I have tenth of percent from the agility point and the same number from the achievements obtained… not bad.

Stepping back thirty paces from the barn I stopped at the previously noticed ditch with the relatively clean water. First thing I did, I fished out of my bag a clay bowl and drank water scooping it up, recovering a small amount of my life. Deciding that I will recover too long this way, I took two pieces of bread and have used them for their intended purpose. Very good. Now I should drink water a couple of times more and will be able to go again at the heroic battle with rats. For now we can see what we get hold from the corpse of Darth Vader. I did not expect to find the Jedi lightsaber there, but with our poverty we should be glad for any rag. What do we have here…

Set of starting clothes.

Scrap of rope.

The only piece of bread that I gobbled right there.

Another clay saucer.

Dozen stones that I immediately threw away in different directions. Although the stones were not bad – almost identical, carefully matched to each other in size and shape and rather weighty. The Jedi has tried hard, nothing to say. I suppose, he had crawled half of the Nursery at his belly to collect such an arsenal.

Eight worn copper coins. But it is already not bad! Now I am the proud owner of entire twelve copper pieces. Soon I will be bravely written in the oligarchs – of village scale.

There was nothing else – except for the empty bag that worth nothing. I carefully packed all my prey into my duffel bag, stuffed the trophies from the dead rat on top and began to wait the continuation of the banquet, with the convenience leaning my back against the tree trunk,.

The blond appeared five minutes later – he was wearing only a diaper. He galloped up closer as a lame goat and yelled:

- Freak! I lost half of my experience because of you!

"You're lucky that we are in the Nursery"- I thought to myself. Outside the Nursery the dead player loses much more – at least three quarters of experience gained and sometimes they can withdraw a whole level. I didn't start wasting my time to explain, preferring to scoop up some water and to refill the life points.

- I brought you in my Black List, are you clear? Pray now, freak! Every day I will catch you and bang down! Every day! And I'll tell my bros to spread rot to you by a dreadful! You will be afraid to go out of the city! We'll make you such things that you will remove your fingers! We'll bend you down such way you will never straighten up! Are you clear?! Did you understand me?!

Oh my God, how many people did I see like you…

- Help me, please, to pick up the stuff – unexpectedly steeply changed the topic the blond guy – Then we are blanket. You will live and not be afraid.

Yawning, I looked at Dort Viderrr, who was expectantly looking at me, and realized that now I will not be able to collect the desired number of rat tails. This one will not go away. I must leave now, while he does not yet know that his stuff migrated into my bag.

I stood up and stalked away, heading for a tiny little church seen ahead.

- Where are you going?! Help me! Well! So now you really have problems! Bitch! Just try to out of the Nursery! I'll waiting for you at the output! Clear?! I will wait for you!

At the outlet of the Nursery? I doubt. The attacks on other players in city boundaries are prohibited. But out of town, yes …

If Gosha calls me shortly and notifies that we have another additional condition – not sour relations with players, I will laugh like a horse. And then I will send him far far away.

First thing I did I delivered all letters, spending on this business not more than a half hour. And as soon as I gave the last letter, a long awaited event happened:

Congratulations!

You have got a new level!

The current level: 2

Available for distribution points: 5

Achievement!

You have got the achievement "Higher and Higher" first rank!

To see the table achievements obtained in the settings of your character.

Your reward for achievement: +0.5% to the number of acquired experience.

Current level of bonus: + 0.5%

A bonus achieving impressed me, but not too pleased - half a percentage point will be increased almost imperceptible. But this is only the achievement of the first rank; let's see what happens when I reach the next.

The first thing, I closed help page which appears on the eyes for beginners. For me it's already passed stage. Then I entered to my characteristics and sadly sighing over each item given a total of all five points. As a result, the following results:

Basic characteristics of the character:

Strength – 5
Intellect – 1
Agility – 1
Endurance – 7
Wisdom -1

Almost all the funds of skills are invested in the agility. Endurance suits me yet, and just added to the force unit: with the expectation that the same rats did not kill with three, but with two strikes. Save both time and health. Although through increased agility can dodge a big chance, and a chance for a critical hit also became a bit higher.

That seems reasoned wisely, I give a total of points correctly, but still left feeling wrong - this is my eternal such quirk. Always I dissatisfied something and I in all doubt.

Besides, now it is necessary to gradually decide whom to be. Determined with the future development of your own character. One thing I know for sure - be ranger shooter I'm not going. I've had enough of the deceased Crashshot.

So thinking on this important topic, and I reached to the master tanner. And I immediately stuck the glance at the neat leather jacket hanging in plain view. Brown color, a double row of polished copper buttons, high collar and roomy pockets – it's a dream, not an ordinary jacket. Then he looked at the price and grimaced - fifteen silver coins. Without five gold coins.

- Welcome, dear ... - began welcoming speech jumped towards me hefty man in a leather apron over a gray shirt, but glanced at my calling is not much confidence in the figure and abruptly changed his tone - What ought to, my good man?

- Check asked me to give you - I said, digging in his bosom, handed tanners carelessly scribbled sheet - From the Honourable Chris in the Street...

- I know him - cut me tanner and casual gesture threw me a couple of coins - So much for your labors.

I certainly caught the coin. Two coppers...

- Thank you, venerable - strained smile, I muttered - Have you got any instructions for me or work?

- No - short cut tanner and our conversation ended.

Congratulations!

Quest «Deliver the order tanners» fulfilled!

Reward: two copper coins and 40 experience points!

Well, at least the experience gave. But coins could fork out more.

Coming out of the leather workshop, I froze, trying to figure out where to direct my bare foot. I did not want rats - Darth Vader certainly still there and normal hunting will not work. Assignments somehow ended quickly and where to take new, I had no idea...

- Accommodating! Hey, my dear!

Turning to the voice, I saw standing on the opposite side of the street dressed in a housecoat old man, waving his hand at me. "Local." The old man was completely unfamiliar to me.

Coming closer, I have portrayed a studied slight bow and smile with a question stared at the old man.

- My dear, if I understand right you're a messenger? Well, you are sent to different places? With letters and packages? I would pass bundle one…

"Granddaddy you choose expression, but I do not look at your gray hair"

- Uh-uh ... - I hesitated.

- No? Oh well ... I have carry myself...I didn't want to wasting bother old bones, but nothing to do - this babbling old man smelled robe, turned his back on me and went to the gate.

- Oh! - I woke up and hurriedly yelled - Do not make a mistake, do not make a mistake, dear sir! Yes, send me, send! And they sent me too! And you can send! Ugh! That is - yes, I am the messenger!

- It is good! - Glad senile - A from the window spotted you, let think know - not whether the messenger, like hurt. Wait ... you're a true messenger? Do not you cheating feeble old man?

- You can ask a master tanner. I've just got him the paper with the order passed by the venerable Chris. And before that, two more letters delivered. So do not doubt, my dear ... I'm sorry, do not know how to dignify you.

- Poluni dignify me - said the old man calmed down, sharp look appreciating my appearance - Yeah, not like a tramp. Something to wear clean, neat ... It is just almost no shoes? Messenger without shoes not a walker...

- How far it is necessary to carry a letter? - I become gloomy.

Now he will send me to a nearby town or village, but I am from Manger not a walker. If so, it would be only temporary limit was not. Letter does not weigh a lot; let hang out in my bag until I will get to the right place.

- No, not far off. Two streets - reassured me Poluni and then hardened - For more than five pennies do not ask! Not a sack of potatoes, you carry tea and convolutions tidily! Will be engaged?

- Undertake to distinguished, Poluni - immediately agreed and I took from the hands of a small old rag bundle stringed and ringing their five coins.

Flashed the information of acceptance job from which I learned that getting this work possible only if I have already completed at least three similar type jobs delivery. Clear. That's why the old man called me. And he was right about the shoes - it's time to buy something.

On the way to my herbalist I was seized by a curiosity. It was easy to untie and print were not available. Inside was tattered book titled "Foundations of herbalism and potions." It decided the case. If there had been an ordinary love story book or a collection of fairy tales - in Valdivia had a huge number of them, and each of these books can be read, the occurrence is a desire - I would immediately took the parcel to the destination. But the book has practical value. So I decided to stay on the way to read it from cover to cover. Benefit amount was not more than thirty pages - on the basics. Such a book could be found in any bookstore, and the cost is relatively cheap - no more than two silver coins.

Choosing a place under a shady tree and sat comfortably immersed in reading. Half an hour later the book was read, and as a reward I got two skills, increase to mind, and even a brief description of several medicinal plants that I could now identify, among other herbs and collect.

Your intellect is increased by 1 unit.

You get hold the ability to "Boil a small healing potion."

You get hold the ability to "Boil small Mana Potion."

Now you know the plant looks like "Plantain".

Now you know the plant looks like "Daisy".

Now you know the plant looks like "Peppermint."

Now you know the plant looks like, "St. John's wort."

Small potions recover by twenty points of life or mana, which is sufficient for the initial levels. There is no sense with these skills, even if I find the necessary herbs - for making elixirs require special tools and supplies. Alchemist becomes not difficult, but also expensive and a chore. So I read the book only because it is free. Well unit Intellect will help me.

Plus a modest achievement "The Reader", which gives +0.5% to reading speed.

Neatly wrapped bundle in a book, I took it to the right place, for which he received from the old herbalist gratitude in the form of one small healing potion. I had not buy of an old lady, not wanting to spend their pittance. Having fulfilled all hanging on my job but one I decided to correct this omission and went straight to the memorability of the barn. It's time to tackle the problem of leveling.

To my surprise, Dort Viderrr was not there. The more, the better. There were a few other players, but they conducted themselves properly, each hitting just their mobs and quick chop ten tails, ran pass quest. All in a hurry leave the Nursery and plunge into the real world of Valdivia. Except me.

Rat's nest turned in my disposal. And get out of here soon I'm not going to. Armed with an oak stick, I set to work.

The war with the rats continued until the evening. First slowly and carefully when after each rat killed I did break and restored health through water and bread. Picking up another level, received five points invested in strength and agility. Power and speed bumps increased significantly and I ventured to move the battlefield inside the barn. A couple of times had to take a break. In the first case, the same rats gnawed me to a critical level of life and had to rest up on the beam and chewing stale bread, and then splintered stick and I hastily wrapped her piece of rope - the same who had served the belt of Darth Vader. In addition to points obtained from the level raising, has made raising endurance and strength due to the incessant battle - trying not to give myself a moment's rest, laying out to the fullest.

Your strength is increased by 1 point

Your endurance is increased by 1 point

Next level came unnoticed, all the points received I once again put into the strength and agility. My character has reached the fourth level. Previously I left the Nursery at the second level.

At the distribution of points I was guided by the following logic and Gosha's advice - there are no guilds in the Nursery, and accordingly, the player can't choose a class and learn the combat skills. Also there are no magic shops selling the scrolls with the offensive and defensive spells. Conclusion - here everything rests on the brute force, agility and endurance. Due to the complete lack of spells the intelligence and wisdom are absolutely useless and spending the precious points on them is simply stupid. The Nursery is intended for only one goal – to give the novice players the time to get in the game and to raise a couple of levels. Even money is not a critical factor for the novices – entry into the basic guilds is free, payment for the first training is symbolic therein. If the player is a magician then as soon as he enters into the guild and selects one of the faculties, they give him to choose one of three offensive spells for free. If he wants to enter another one faculty - spells will not be given him for free anymore. For others scrolls he will already have to pay in full. But it's out there - in the city, and in the Nursery there are no guilds.

When evening came I let myself to take a break. Until it's not completely dark, I broken off more dry branches from the nearby standing trees and grabbed the dry grass – all with a reserve, so it was enough for a few hours. Using a tinderbox lit a tuft of dry grass and kindled a fire from it in front of the open door of the barn. The illuminated area was quite enough for the further conduct of combat operations. I decided to keep two existing in stock candle cinders. But the truth is now I had to wield just with the thick and weighty bough – my oak stick was completely broken, and I sent its stumps to the fire.

The extermination of rats continued with renewed force. The rodents living in the barn had the second level - I had the fourth. An earning of experience points was delayed incredibly, but I nevertheless has achieved my goal – got after all the fifth level, and after the curtain fell also got +1 to the endurance.

It wasn't necessary to put out the campfire - without having fed it damped itself. And I took on my back the becoming fairly heavy bag and walked away from a dangerous place. For overnight stays I chose a patch lined with dry leaves near the city wall that was securely enclosed on all sides by the high and thick bush. As soon I was covered with branches on all sides, the system posted a message:

Camouflage +10

Achievement!

You have received the achievement "Keep head down!" of the first rank!

See the table of received achievements in the settings of your character.

Your reward for achievement: +1 to camouflage in the natural surroundings.

Current bonus level: + 1

Ah ... the nostalgia wafted …

How many times I was hiding like that in the bushes, forest wilds and even in the tree crones …

I palmed off the bag under my head; the stick worn to a frazzle of the rat backs laid next to me, and in this my preparation for sleep were finished. One last thing left only for today – to distribute the points of characteristics obtained for the fifth level. Without thinking twice I divided them between the endurance and the agility. And I stared at the result obtained:

Basic characteristics of the character:

Strength – 13

Intellect – 2

Agility – 11

Endurance – 11

Wisdom -1

Life: 93\170 Mana:20\20

Definitely today I lived the most productive day in the Nursery. And now it's time to live at least a few hours in the real world. If you believe the timer, I spent eighteen hours in the game. It's time to relax …

Exit.