Loving the goggles, questioning the short pants

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

Clearly tailoring was not my calling, although I managed to stitch up some nice outerwear and the frilliest thing I’d ever be caught alive in, but with city life being all right for the most part yet lacking that special something I decided to get back to my adventuring roots and out of the sun by going underground with a pickaxe.

On getting my mining licence and standard-issue starting getup, I was surprised by how colourful the equipment was, and even more surprised by the fact that it had knee shorts. The guild master sent me to find my trainer and I wandered there wondering how long, in minutes, it would take me to start bleeding from the shins.

At the amazingly noisy miner's area I introduce myself to my Life master Duglas and his brother, Rocque. After telling me the most important things about being a miner — like how the kingdom is dependent on the flow of ore, how we’re all secretly rich although we’re covered in dirt, and how the mining Life has the singly greatest potential for bad puns in both quality and quantity — Duglas tells me he’s ready to learn all about mining. I am somewhat relieved that I can now measure the amount of time I can expect to start bleeding from the shins in hours. After Rocque corrects Duglas’ mistaken assumption as to who the student is, Rocque and I set off for Duglas’ house to get the training pick Duglas forgot to bring with him as I mentally add another two hours to my shin blood countdown.

Mining: a ton of pun

At Duglas’ home we find his long-suffering wife Mary and her tale of woe, having seen Duglas in the embrace of another woman yet again. I had up to this point thought that tailors were the source for gossip in Castele, but I guess I should have expected that miners always know the best dirt. After some confusion involving ‘boy meets girl’ and ‘boy means well but is evidently nearsighted’ I’ve earned my place as an apprentice miner and helped patch up things between Mary and Duglas. Rocque decides to leave for the kingdom of Al Maajik to pursue the woman who may or may not be the vile temptress Mary caught Duglas with, but you didn’t hear this from me.

Mary also let me know of another great responsibility I now carry as a member of the dirt-caked brethren. Miners, in addition to keeping the arms, armour and jewelry flowing also collect a substance known as ‘minty ore’ which is a key ingredient in Castelean toothpaste. The oral hygiene of the kingdom is now, apparently, also my concern; as if having to fend off all of these creatures and other assorted oddities while trying to mind my own business by creating a huge racket breaking rocks apart wasn’t enough. Before setting off on my travels, I go back to the miner’s conclave to talk to Castele’s friendly Mole NET representative, Molan. Mole NET is a miner’s ear in the ground and something of a mole fraternal order with representatives in all of Reveria’s kingdoms. Molan gives me some beginner’s advice and some potions, but I didn’t ask if anyone knew a ‘Resetti’ as I’m still an apple-cheeked mute with primo hair.

I easily pick my way through the first copper-filled cave, unearthing a few gems on the way with my faithful dog Pepper, and not doing nearly as much damage to my shins as I had previously feared, but the beginner’s outfit lacks protection and a certain flair. When I report in, Duglas mercifully doesn’t mistake me for his wife and try to bear hug me, instead telling me my next challenges can be found around the midway point of Mount Snowpeak.

Before I go, I find my friend Blue Cap hanging around Castele’s shopping district. She’s always up for an adventure and her family has a nice little holiday cabin on the mountain, so I invite her along. I also manage to purchase with my pile of Dosh — that steadily dwindled from buying tailoring materials — a new, cave appropriate set of duds in darkness-friendly shades of purple.

Grotto fabulous

Suitably geared, my party heads for the iron deposits of the waterfall cave of Mount Snowpeak, which is iron- and bat-rich. After gathering my trainer’s requested materials we beat a hasty retreat because Pepper has started twitching and whimpering at the sight of anything that moves. We’re also assigned a few whacks of the pick at the neighbouring Lava Cave which is mercifully bat-free but hot enough for me to consider switching back to the shin-endangering knee shorts.

Having enough of the bracingly thin mountain air and pickling in our own sweat from that Lava Cave adventure our party is sent to the Nautilus and Deepsea Caves of Port Puerto, which is a welcome relief — I have myself a nice little waterfront place on the Palace Way in the city there. We discover that the Deepsea cave is a haven for woodcutters and snake wranglers, but the Nautilus Cave is full of marine ore and many bats. I’m sure Pepper has decided to never forgive me, but Duglas has a lot of tasks in the Nautilus Cave, including digging up three amethysts. A fancy lady in Port Puerto wants the gems, but Duglas is merely interested in the spiritual purification inherent in the act of randomly unearthing precious stones. After three trips though the Nautilus Cave trying to find the final amethyst I have determined that they are responding well to my appallingly bad luck.

I decide to move the party to the Al Maajik desert, which to a miner has a near infinite supply of sand, fossils, and gold. If the citizens of Al Maajik started mining the stuff themselves they could buy Castele outright and have enough left over to set themselves up with a nice little seafood shack in Port Puerto. The Al Maajik desert is full of strange magical enemies but none of them appear to emit high-pitched sounds, as Pepper only seems disturbed by the sand in his fur.

When the day draws to a close, I have so much minty ore in my bags halitosis is a thing of the past in Reveria for at least a generation. Up in my attic room surrounded by ore, gems, and more than a little dirt, I have a choice to make. I could sell my filthy lucre, but that vacation home in Al Maajik is going to have to wait a while yet because I think it’s time to return to the workbench as a blacksmith, and see what I can make of all this.

Rank achieved: Expert
Useful for: Developing upper-body strength, building yourself a loosely-piled throne of Dosh
Quality of Life: Two picks in the air because that’s all I can hold safely
Additional comments: I can have more jewelry commissioned with the things strewn on my floor than I will ever need, with enough left over for an inlaid copper end table