72 Power of Positivity
Next stop is the Adventurer's Association.
Now that Taliesin is also loaded with leprechaun gold, I tell him he should find a Liaison of his own. When you have the coin, your Liaison can provide hints for finding items like Housing Deeds, Animal Companions, Steeds, and so on. Plus, with his Luck, it won't be long before quality shit falls into his lap, even without help, so he'll need a Liaison sooner rather than later.
He starts searching through the available staff, and I call over my man Alfryd.
"How can I be of service, sir?"
"I'm ready for my turret. I mean, my house!"
He raises an eyebrow. Like the rest of his hair, it's mostly black with streaks of silver and white. The man takes "aging gracefully" to an entirely new level.
"No, I think you meant turret," he says drily.
Eh. He's not wrong.
"Unfortunately, sir," he says, "nothing has changed since the last time you called. The price is non-negotiable."
Smirking, I plop my leather purse on the table. It's holding Taliesin's share, too, since his beginner purse can only hold 100 gold.
Alfryd blinks in surprise.
It's the most emotion he's shown yet. I feel like I just won something.
As I fill out the 2-Star housing form and pay the fees, Alfryd looks at me with a speculative gleam in his silver eyes.
"May I inquire, sir," he says in a carefully neutral tone, "what your goals are?"
"World domination, mostly," I reply, twirling my new key.
The skeptical eyebrow returns. "Indeed?"
I nod. "Obvs. Currently aiming for Savior of the People to control Gael. Always angling for the wealth, prestige, and unique items that will make life and fighting as fun as possible."
I sigh dramatically and slump against the counter. "Also hoping to win the heart of this amazing girl, but that's more of a dream."
Alfryd pinches the bridge of nose. "Those are all dreams, sir."
Elbow on the counter, I lean my cheek on my palm. "Only for those who can't achieve them. For me, they're goals."
I'm not exaggerating.
Alfryd can tell.
For the first time since I hired the man, he looks excited about our contract.
I mean, he still has the same stoic expression and ramrod straight posture, and ostensibly nothing has changed, but there's this light in his eyes now, and I tell you, this butler's falling for me, guys.
"Confidence is often mistaken for arrogance," he says in that posh British-y voice I admire. "Perhaps I judged too hastily."
"Oho! Are you saying you were wrong about me?"
"Tch," he scoffs. "I said 'perhaps.' Time will tell the truth of your genius...or your over-bloated ego."
I could lay on the charm and Charisma the fuck out of this guy, but I'm enjoying his brutal honestly. (Plus the stoicism is so butler-y.)
"I'll take that challenge, Alfryd." I push off the counter and rustle my wings. "But I don't expect to be the only genius in this partnership."
His nostrils flare to prove his annoyance, but otherwise, he remains impassive. "What might you be suggesting, Sir Darkness?"
I know he's making fun of me, but joke's on him; that nickname is dope.
"By the time I conquer Gael, you need to have proven yourself as well. Find me a direct lead to a Nova item, a Unique Quest, or a Housing or Business upgrade. I want something that truly sets me apart before I move on to Realm Two."
Alfryd's mouth thins. "Is that all, sir? Hardly a challenge."
He's lying, of course.
But he has the highest stats of any Liaison I've ever heard of; if anyone can do it, Alfryd can.
And now he's properly motivated.
I smirk so hard I feel it in my soul.
"Will that be all?" he asks with a slight bow. (Pretty sure it's to hide his irritation.) "Any requests to be accomplished sooner than the Fall of Gael?"
"In fact, yes."
Whatever kind of smile I'm making, it makes a flash of worry cross his face.
I came up with tons of plans during my involuntary time off the last couple days. His jaw gets tighter and tighter as he struggles to stay impassive while I list off increasingly difficult requests.
First, I put him to work finding the best Lifestyle Liaisons for my business partner Arachne and my Blacksmith Vulcan, three options for each since I know they're picky biyatches.
I also task him with setting up a meeting between the Capitol City Regent and me. The Regent's a member of the Tuatha, so I should have barely enough Reputation to not be arrested on sight by his guards. The rest is up to Alfryd's stupidly high Influence stat.
Then I switch gears and ask a question: "How many stall plots are there in the Teleportation Portal Market?"
Alfryd, I'm pleased to see, doesn't need to look it up. "20."
"And what's the rental rate per plot?"
"1 gold Daily, 5 gold for the week."
Excitement bubbles in my chest. "You can rent weekly? I thought it was daily first-come, first-serve."
"Once the Portal opens, then yes. But now? No one wants to set up shop there, so the city's losing money."
I want to laugh like a maniacal villain SO BADLY right now.
I keep it in, though, so I don't lose the little respect I've gained in Alfryd's esteem.
"Taliesin!" I call. He immediately turns his bright smile in my direction. "Can I borrow your gold?"
He gives me a hearty thumbs up. "Sure! Do something cool with it!"
I thumbs up back. "Will do!"
Alfryd shakes his head. "That boy is not normal."
"No, no he is not," I agree. I give Alfryd 300 gold. "Reserve as many days as you can with that. All 20 plots. If you can manage to negotiate for a full month, there's a bonus in it for you."
Alfryd's silver eyes shine at the challenge, but he also looks down at me in warning. "The Regent doesn't project the Portal will open for at least three weeks. This money will be worthless if it doesn't open sooner than that."
My answering smirk could put Hades to shame. "Good thing the Portal's opening in about 10 hours then, huh?"
Salt-and-pepper eyebrows shoot up into Alfryd's hairline. "Can sir see the future?"
"No need," I reply. "I make the future."
Begrudging respect appears in Alfryd's expression, in spite of his best attempt to lock it down.
I have Alfryd write up a contract and send him on a quest to find the best businesses to start setting up stalls near the Portal.
(No store that competes with Silken Strands, obviously, since Arachne's store is right off the square.)
The ones most likely to buy in are those farther away, especially since Steeds and intra-city public transportation haven't been set up yet. If businesses want the inside track to be ready when the first Players arrive, I want 25% of their stall profits for the length of time I hold the lease for the property.
Everyone knows the Markets do the best business in the first few weeks after Teleportation opens up, so I expect it won't be too hard to find owners willing to accept my demands.
Alfryd frowns. "They won't believe me, sir. About the Portal opening so soon. At least, many won't."
"That's fine. Great, actually. Warn any business that doesn't sign before the Portal opens that the next contract option will be worse for them. Write up a brutal secondary one. Bleed 'em dry."
I tell him there are five businesses, however, who absolutely MUST sign a contract before the Portal opens, no matter what it takes.
First, there are a few massage parlors in town; whichever signs first gets the only Street Massage stall I'll allow in the market.
The street massages in the beta were insanely awesome. Not only does the massage feel great on your neck, shoulders, and arms, but it increases your HP! You end up with a second, smaller consumable HP bar.
When you go to the massage parlors themselves and pay for a full-body massage, there's even a small chance to permanently increase your Vitality +1.
Next, Alfryd must find at least one vendor that sells food or drinks that temporarily increase your Stamina bar, and a potions vendor.
One stall will be a street forge for Vulcan, but I'm not concerned about the profits for that. I just want my blacksmith to level up faster and start gaining capital to open his own forge.
The final, most important stall, will belong to Quinn the Mapmaker.
Quinn's ten kinds of crazy, and his shop is nearly impossible to find in the maze of Tara, but he's the Official Cartographer of Realm One. Each Realm's Capitol has one such person, and only they can provide accurate maps for every region in the Realm. They're pricey, but it's worth it if you want to know where to find the best Zones for grinding, or for specific resources, etc.
Not only will his stall make serious bank from all the hardcore gamers, but I have plans for Quinn once the game opens up to more casual players. I need to forge a relationship now, in preparation for later.
I also have Alfryd claim five stalls in his own name. Players won't want to pay another Player who beat them to a good spot so quickly, but they'll have no problem paying an NPC. Alfryd will build five simple stalls for Players to rent by the hour to sell/barter their goods at a cheaper rate than the Auction House tax. I trust him to figure out the percentages and whatnot.
And boom. With that, we'll have Health bonus, Stamina bonus, maps, weapons for sale, weapon repair, plus potions necessary for adventuring and stalls for quickly selling raw materials.
All immediately out of the gate.
What hardcore gamer, out to seek his fortune, will be able to resist?
When I've finished speaking, Alfryd's impassive facade cracks.
"If you really pull all this off..." he begins.
"I'll make enough money to buy a small city, yeah," I finish.
"Without actually doing any real work," he adds, sounding most impressed by this part.
I shrug. "Who has time to work when there are horrible monsters to slay and beautiful women to lay?"
He looks skeptical. "So you suddenly think seducing that woman is no longer a dream?"
"Power of positive thinking, Alfryd!"
"Too right you are, sir."
"So...can YOU actually pull this off? This is way beyond the normal scope of a Liaison's abilities."
He sniffs, as if offended by the suggestion, but a few laugh wrinkles light up near his eyes.
"Power of positive thinking, sir."