Chapter 15: Catching a Ghost
Aldrich entered the Nexus with his small undead entourage behind him. Gold and blue sparkles of energy danced around him, completely restoring his health and mana to full.
What he first did was go to the Wellspring - the platform and basin of ornately carved white marble where the waters of life spiraled - and refilled his restorative flask. When he saw that the clear, crystalline flask was filled with gleaming gold and blue liquid, he capped it with a diadem shaped golden stopper.
Restorative Flask charges: 0/3 ] 3/3
After this, Aldrich spotted the stick figure entity standing behind a large work table of ashen stone where various smithing tools such as a hammer, anvil, and the orange light of a lit forge surrounded it. It had an ornately carved bronze hammer in its hand and it whacked away repeatedly at nothing, mimicking the idle motion of Sindri the smithing god.
Aldrich leaped several meters down and landed right in front of the stick figure.
"Oh, good Host, what can I do for ye today, eh" said the stick figure, mimicking Sindri's light and hearty tone, though its voice still had a neutral, emotionless timber to it that made it eerie. Like it was speaking in awkward text to speech.
"What you said to me before I left, about the hunt, what did you mean" asked Aldrich.
"Hm That ain't a request I can fulfill," said the stick figure, repeating Sindri's dialogue for when he was given a task he could not perform.
"Alright then," sighed Aldrich. He had no idea what this stick figure was, and though it did bother him, he could not be picky about it. It seemed to be some sort of unfinished asset that was a placeholder for both the goddess Arama and the god Sindri, and as long as it fulfilled their roles properly, he did not have complaints. "I want something crafted."
"Craftin', is it Heh, ya ain't gonna' find anyone as good at that as me!" said the stick figure. "Now, what can I do for ye"
Aldrich found a menu of options appear in front of him. Specifically, this was for crafting. By offering up dropped materials, coins, and Souls, a player could have Sindri create items for them.
Aldrich found the [1x Moss Beast Soul] in his inventory and offered it up. The glowing white orb that represented the soul appeared in his hand and then floated over to the stick figure.
"I want a weapon," said Aldrich. "Specifically, a two-handed staff that acts as a catalyst."
In Elden World, a player could ask Sindri for what type of equipment they wanted from a Soul, whether it was a piece of armor or weapon.
In Aldrich's case, he wanted a staff that worked as a catalyst, with a catalyst being a weapon that channeled magic and was thus appropriate for mage type classes.
The actual stats and effects of the weapon, though, were randomized.
Sindri would bring up a menu of three to six options, depending on the player's level, and these options would have varying effects and stats.
For example, giving Sindri the Soul of, say, a Fire Drake, would make him pull up three staff options, one that enhanced fire, one that had a fire breath type spell imbued in it, or one that simply just had high stats.
Sometimes, in rare cases, a weapon would have all of these effects. In bad cases, it would have nothing.
Basically, it was a dice roll system to get what you wanted out of a Soul, and by spending gold, one could reroll these options.
The stick figure swiped at the soul with its glitchy black block of a hand, and the soul disappeared.
"Ya got somethin' good here! A soul, is it Well, here's what I can do for ya!"
Aldrich saw three options flash in front of him.
1. Staff of Grasping Vines
Type: Staff (Catalyst)
This staff can cast the spell [Grasping Vines] that shoots forth six binding, thorned vines.
2. Staff of Iron Bark
Type: Staff (Catalyst)
No special effects
3. Staff of Stilling Pollen
This staff is able to cast the spell [Pollen Cloud] that paralyzes all units in its area of effect. Operates off a charge system with three charges. Each charge requires twenty-four hours to restore.
Forging Cost: 80 Coins
Reroll Cost: 30 Coins
Aldrich assessed the options. They were about what he expected. The item tiers were all at Common rank which was standard for an item crafted from a monster that ranged from levels 1-10. He recounted the item tiers in his head -
Basic: These were items that had zero stats or special effects.
Common: These items had a level threshold of 1-10.
Uncommon: These items had a level threshold of 10-30.
Rare: These items had a level threshold of 30-50.
Epic: These items had a level threshold of 50-70
Mythic: These items had a level threshold of 70-90. This was generally 'endgame' equipment.
Divine: These were top tier end game items that held a level threshold from 90-100. Gear of this tier was rare enough that it was extremely difficult to be decked out in full Divine equipment as the materials needed to craft them were too finite in number.
As for the options themselves, there was only one good choice.
Aldrich reached a finger out and pressed the [Staff of Stilling Pollen] option. This would allow him to neutralize Ghost with the most efficiency. The Alter could just phase out of [Grasping Vines] and the 5 vitality from the [Staff of Iron Bark] would do nothing considering the fact that Ghost was strong enough to shatter a human rib with a casual finger press.
As it stood now, Ghost could probably kill Aldrich in one good beatdown of physical blows, and without the stats and minions to back him up, 5 vitality meant precious little. It was just more health for Ghost to whittle down.
On top of this, Aldrich needed to neutralize Ghost quickly. He could not afford Ghost just escaping with his invisibility and phasing.
"A wise choice, good Host!" said the stick figure. It began to hammer rapidly down, the sound of clinking resonating through the empty temple.
In a few seconds, it was done. A glowing golden orb with the icon of the item embedded within floated towards Aldrich.
[Coins Remaining: 20]
Aldrich grimaced at how few coins he had. Since Variants did not drop coins, there was no easy way to farm them. He needed to find a way to get more if he wanted to use crafting and equipment system properly, and the only way was to obtain the ring known as the [Ring of Avarice] located within the First Trial.
So, until he got to level 10, he needed to be conservative with his coin usage.
"Thanks, System," said Aldrich as he felt the [Staff of Stilling Pollen] fall into his inventory. "Just curious, but can I take a look at your wares"
Aldrich knew that Sindri had a list of items he could buy. Basic gear, mostly. Stuff that got outscaled later very easily. The higher the player's level, the higher the rank of the gear, but as far as gear went, they were the worst of their tier.
"Of course, lad!" said the System.
A screen flashed in front of Aldrich. It was completely empty.
"Hm," said Aldrich. "That'll be it, then."
"Good luck on ye journey, Host. If ya ever need me again, I'll be hammerin' away here!" said System as it turned its attention away from Aldrich and went back to hammering aimlessly at nothing.
Aldrich walked away back to the exit Sign. It seemed that the System had no items available to sell. Not entirely a big hassle, considering the fact that Aldrich had no coin to buy anything with anyway, but it was noteworthy that that was another difference between now and how it was in the game.
Aldrich stood atop the exit Sign, his small group of Undead gathering around him. He looked to Elaine and Adam and nodded at them. "Tonight, I'm taking the first step to making things right."