In the eleventh part of a regular series, Karen takes on Fantasy Life in a variety of 'lives' and documents her adventures.

After last week’s work as a mercenary defending Castele and other associated kingdoms from the scourge of overgrown lizards and smaller nuisances, I wanted a change of pace that brought me back to the land without having to convince everything on it to run into my oversized sword, so I decided to pick up the presumably more lightweight angler’s rod. Anglers are some of the most recognisable people in Castele, given their quiet yet somehow nervous demeanours and penchants for fish-themed headgear.

On our first meeting the angling Life master Fisherman Sage is full of grandiose words, going on about having to negotiate adverse weather conditions, tracking the mood of the bobber, and keeping anger in check after being made a fool of by a sly little fish — this must be the infamous 'rod rage' that the news-at-six town criers have been on about. Sage dismisses me as obviously not having what it takes to be an angler, but suddenly becomes contrite once I turn around to go see the guild master again, insisting that I should stay simply because all new recruits get told the same thing. Lacking articulate speech means I’ll have to resort to calling this guy’s bluffs using the silent treatment and other acts of passive aggression, so angling already looks more stressful than I expected, but I’ll stay because I’m utterly convinced that I’m rocking my fish hat hardcore.

Dropping the pretence, Sage says that instead of listening to him carp about fishing I should try it and hands me a beginner’s fishing rod. I'd almost admire his confrontational style but Cervantes so far has been the most eloquent Life master, and Sage hasn't even tried to drop a single halfway serviceable pun since I started listening to him. My first task as someone who potentially has what it takes to be an angler is to catch a Castele crucian after speaking to a guy called Isaac, who is similarly new to the angling Life but has precious hours of seniority on me. Conveniently standing nearby, Isaac seems very impressed by the fit and finish of my beginner’s fishing rod, and runs off to stake out the prime fishing spot for Castele crucians, the familiar bridge at the waterfall in South Castele. Once I catch up to him at the bridge Isaac proclaims that he’s a new wave fisherman who stresses the importance of both practice and theory. As I go to cast my line, Isaac says he'll keep his fish fingers crossed for me without making it clear whether fish fingers are practical, theoretical, or mere metaphor.

I bag my first crucian with my new school ‘pull really hard backwards once the bobber disappears and try not to tip over’ blend of studied technique and complete lack of experience. Presumably uncrossing his fish fingers once I’ve landed my first successful catch, Isaac says we have to go sell the fish immediately because product freshness is everything to angler commerce. At the fishmonger Isaac explains the market for different types of fish to me as I’m receiving some coins for my catch. When Isaac mentions the applefish, a rare breed native to Castele, the fishmonger perks up as she had a customer ask for one earlier. Apparently this customer is a traveller staying at the Castele Inn who had his heart set on trying some native Castelean applefish cuisine, so Isaac suggests that we go speak with him. The old man interested in the applefish tells us that he last tasted it two decades ago while visiting Castele from Port Puerto and didn’t want to go back home empty-handed, so Isaac and I decide to go catch him an applefish. When we ask for advice, Fisherman Sage says that the best way to find out where to find an applefish is to ask the local cats. During my time as a carpenter I learned that I can communicate with beavers, so cats may also be feasible for me. After Isaac runs off Sage says we should compete to see who can find an applefish first, Isaac having a huge advantage over me if the fish fingers rumours are true.

Back at my room I make an attempt to communicate with my feline companion Salt, who seems disinterested but likes the way I smell. She makes vague motions to her food bowl so I run off to find a more knowledgeable cat. The magician Life master Jinx is the smartest feline in Reveria that I know of, but likely has better things to worry about than the habits of the common fish. Jogging around Castele Square aimlessly, I run into a cat on a dock who takes pity on me as a novice angler and directs me to the paladin-protected apple tree in South Castele, which makes a certain amount of sense. After I park myself at the familiar tree and listen to myself breathing for a few minutes my bobber disappears, and once I reel in the applefish I take it to the old man at the inn, thereby beating out Isaac and his applefish by mere seconds.

Thrilled with his new applefish bounty the old man introduces himself as Seabury, the chairman of Port Puerto’s famed Angler’s Association, and invites us to visit the port sometime. Flush with the excitement of meeting a genuine angling celebrity, Isaac grabs me and says we have to report to Sage. Our Life master recognises our efforts in international fish diplomacy and makes us full fledglings so we don't have to be embarrassed now that our reputations are presumably spreading throughout the port for the right reasons, at least this time. Fisherman Sage finishes by giving Isaac and me a pep talk before sending us on our way to find our respective meditative rod-carrying destinies.

The cat who helped me find the applefish, now relaxing by Sage's dock, tells me that she's part of the Toe Bean Squad, the feline network of anglers' allies in Reveria with representatives in every major city. Inspired, I get Salt from my residence for some toe bean networking opportunities and a bit of company before I go off to explore the many fishing spots of Castele. After pulling all of the requested fish species in appropriate quantities from the East and West Grassy Plains and the Elderwood, I get my friend Blue Cap for some Lava Cave fun as she’s very fond of Mount Snowpeak. Fishing in lava is not only technically possible, it adds the whole new strategic dimension of trying not to set anyone on fire. Our visit to Port Puerto is an always welcome way to cool off, but as a sometime tailor and distinctive headwear fan I’m more interested in seeing the Port’s take on angler fashion trends than being able to breathe comfortably. The sheer variety of fish-themed hats that are on display make the Port a style watcher’s paradise. Al Maajik, that arid land of the improbable, offers innovative sand fishing and some truly unique fish species, although the anglers’ human contact in the city is wearing an eminently sensible turban.

At the end of the day I have to give Blue Cap credit for sticking with me throughout my adventure in quiet contemplation punctuated by sudden fits of bobber-induced panic. Fishing a reasonable catch is extremely time consuming but I still managed well enough to reach fishing mastery, and at the celebration hosted by The Crown my fellow anglers turned out in such splendid hats that I had to fight the urge to cast my line. Oddly enough, none of us seemed to be heavy drinkers.

With the next to last Life to experience well and thoroughly explored, I face the prospect next week of infiltrating the profession that I am convinced secretly pulls all of the strings worth pulling in Reveria. I shall become a cook.

Rank achieved: Master
Useful for: Incorporating more lean protein, stopping to smell the roses
Quality of Life: Slow and relaAAAAAAGH!
Additional comments: If fish is brain food why can't I speak new languages?