Chapter 63: Finding the Perfect Gift

The sun shining through the window this morning as we gather around having breakfast is quite refreshing, although it does look like there are more clouds blowing in so best enjoy it while we can. During breakfast Belinda’s upcoming birthday is mentioned several times, but nothing about a party is mentioned.

Zoey: “Of course I got her a gift already, you can’t wait till the last minute to get a birthday gift for someone” –She says to Roxy, but is obviously directing the comment at me.-

Lilah pulls on my sleeve and whispers into my ear. “Master, Lilah knows what to get Belinda for her birthday, but she needs 25xp to do it. Can Lilah have 25xp?”

“I don’t see that being a problem, but what do you plan on getting her that cost 25xp?”

Lilah: “That’s a secret…”

“Alright…We still have a bit of xp left over and the adventurers should start returning in a few weeks so once I will set it up before heading to the office.”

Lilah: “Make sure Lilah can use it anyway she wants without permission, so you can’t cheat and find out what she is getting Belinda early.”

“Ok. I promise…”

I didn’t actually think of that, but that would have been a good idea… Maybe I can get Bell or Scylla to use xp to get something for Belinda so I have an idea on what to get her. Scylla is coming to the office with us today so I can ask them both while we are there.

“What about you Roxy, have you gotten anything for Belinda yet?”

Roxy: “Well not yet, but I do know what I am going to get her.”

Belinda: “Two-Twelve will you quit trying to pressure the girls into help you find the right gift!”

“I just asked if she gotten anything…”

Everyone laughs after Belinda scolds me. I don’t know when it started, but I have begun eating normally with the others when we gather for meals, which includes breakfast almost every day. I still don’t care for eating much, but I have begun to enjoy the interactions with the others when I do.

After breakfast we prepare to head out, and I set the xp for Lilah. Belinda gives me a kiss and hands me couple papers that she had to fill out for the adventurers guild, and then she waves to Scylla, Bell, and I as we head out. With no adventurers entering the dungeon in over a month, and staying too busy with the Mayor duties I begin to wonder.

Is this the feeling of being human? If so I don’t find it unpleasant at all. This winter has given me a lot to think about. I am not even sure if I would bother with the dungeon once spring returns if it wasn’t for the fact of having to protect the crystal, and needing the xp to survive… I am sure that kind of thinking would turn the stomachs of a lot of the dungeon cores out there.

Once we reach the office the clouds retake the sky burying the sun yet again, after taking care of a few things I ask Scylla.

“Have you gotten your present for Belinda yet? I heard you were surprised about her birthday yesterday as well.”

Scylla: “No. I haven’t come up with something, but I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.”

“Well Lilah is going to use some xp and the dungeon to get her gift for Belinda, so if you want I can summon something for you.”

Scylla: “That’s not actually a bad id… Wait you are just doing this to get ideas for gifts aren’t you?”

“I was just trying to help.”

Scylla: “Yea…I think I better stick to buying it myself.”

I know if I don’t get to Bell before Scylla has a chance to talk to her it will never work.

“Scylla, this paper needs Belinda’s signature, you think you can run it to her and have her sign it real quick?”

Scylla: “Don’t you just usually take that stuff home and have her sign it, and just bring it back the next day?”

“I must have missed this one yesterday it needs to be filed with this stuff, so would you please?”

Scylla: “Alright, if it must be done today… Hey Bell, I am going to go shopping for Belinda’s birthday present this evening you want to go with me to get one for her?”

Bell: “Ok…”

Scylla looks at me, shrugs her shoulders, and struts out the door with the paper… I need to summon me some backup, these girls are out to get me… I think of asking Logan or Amy but Belinda is the one with the communication parchment for them and if I ask to talk to them she will know what I am up to…

I guess that leaves Susan or the receptionists at the adventurer’s guild. After getting our work done for the day I let Bell and Scylla leave early so they can go do their shopping. I meanwhile head for the bakery.

Susan: “I haven’t seen you in a while “Mister Mayor” what can I do for you this evening?”

“You and Belinda go way back before she came to Tobes right?”

Susan: “Ever since I retired as an adventurer and took up baking.”

“I am sure you know then, her birthday is coming up here in a few days. Scylla is putting together a party for her, so I thought I would come let you know about it.”

Susan: “Are you holding it the adventurer’s guild again, or you holding it at home this time?”

“Actually I don’t know, I am sure though it will be at home, we have that entire room for that sort of thing so I would think that’s where it would be.”

Susan: “Well I appreciate the invite, but shouldn’t you know the when and where before going around inviting people?”

“Well there actually there was something else as well. I thought since you have known her for quite a while, you would be able to help me come up with an idea for her birthday gift.”

Susan: “You two weren’t together during her birthday last year yet were you?

“That’s right. I was there but it was sort of a last minute kind of thing.”

Susan: “So this is the first time you are getting her a birthday present?”

“That’s right…”

Susan whistles then says. “That’s a tough one.”

“What do you mean?”

Susan: “A birthday present for you lover is always important, but for the first one it needs to be really special.”

“So, what should I do?”

Susan: “I can’t really answer that. It’s something you need to figure out on your own.”

“Everyone is making such a big deal of the gift I need to get for her, but nobody will help me finding something appropriate…”

Susan: “Where everyone just has to give her a gift that says hey here is something you like. You need to give a give her something that also says this is how much you mean to me.”

“I guess that makes sense… It just doesn’t help me much… In fact it probably makes it worse.”

Susan: “And this one won’t ever be forgotten, so make it count.”

“Great… Can you at least give me of some ideas on things I should avoid?”

Susan: “It should be something personal, but I would avoid clothing. I would even go as far as to say any equipment at all. That kind of thing is too interchangeable, and you won’t keep it for more than a few years if actively leveling. The exception to that is jewelry, but jewelry has many different meanings and can easily be misinterpreted.”

“What else?”

Susan: “Anything perishable, best stick to something she can carry with her anywhere, or at least where she can place it somewhere like her room where she can look at it whenever. Perishable items can go with the item however. Adding chocolates in addition to the gift would increase the impact. Flowers work well for that, but they to serve many meanings depending on the flower, and they are not readily available this time a year.”

“Anything else…?”

Susan: “Just make sure it is personal. Without receiving any shipments from the capital all winter you might think you have to just settle with whatever is left, but making a crappy hand carved figurine yourself would beat buying one that doesn’t hold any meaning to you two. Although with the time you have left if you hand make something yourself, and it doesn’t turn out well it may look like you just didn’t put in enough effort as well, so only do that as a last resort.”

“Well I am still not sure if that helps, or just makes this even harder, but at least you answered my questions even if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. For what it’s worth I appreciate it.”

Susan: “Any time, Mister Mayor.”

“Well I have taking up quite a bit of your time, let me at least buy some bread to make it up to you.”

Susan: “Well you let me make the cake for Belinda’s birthday party, and we can call it even. Just send Scylla to give me the details tomorrow about the when, where, and how many.”

“I don’t see how costing you more expense would be considered paying you back.”

Susan: “We will say it’s my birthday present to Belinda then.”

“Then I still owe you for the help.”

Susan: “Good night Two-Twelve…”

She pushed me out of the store… Well I guess if that is what she wants. I will let Scylla know when I get home. It’s kind of late now, I will have to take a look around for a present tomorrow, but at least now have a list of things to avoid.

When I make it home I find Roxy, Scylla, Bell, Zoey, and Lilah all gathered around talking about Belinda’s birthday, but then Scylla shushes them.

“You do realize it is Belinda’s birthday, and not mine right?”

Scylla: “Of course, but we got to make sure you do your part right. How is that going by the way?”

“I still haven’t found anything, but I am at least starting to get an idea. Also tomorrow, when you get the chance you need to slip out of the guild, and go talk to Susan at the bakery she wants to make Belinda’s cake.”

Scylla: “You talked to Susan? That is cheating!”

“Don’t worry, she didn’t tell me what to get, but she at least helped me in telling me what to avoid.”

Scylla: “Ok I will take care of it, and don’t think I am not going to check out your story to make sure.”

“Where is Belinda anyway, has she not made it home yet?”

Zoey: “We told her to go take a bath so we could talk.”

Scylla: “I think she figured out what we were doing, but that’s ok. She will still be surprised when the times comes I guarantee it.”

The next few days I search every business in Tobes. Most of them are closed until the transports begin again from the capital. I am left with only one option…

Denova: “If it isn’t the Mayor of Tobes, come to check out the “Mayor Special”?”

“I am interested in making a purchase from your warehouse.”

Denova: “You and everyone else in Tobes. Everyone has about cleaned me out. Now that I have all the extra space I am thinking of making changes. Come spring how does Denova’s General Goods sound?”

“Don’t you have enough to take care of with your brothel, bar, and all your side ventures?”

Denova: “That’s the idea. I can run everything else out of the general goods store. I made enough from selling all that junk from the warehouse, and maybe get a few more girls to run it.”

“Well can I take a look at the warehouse or not?”

Denova: “If you tell me what you are looking for I can tell you if there is any left, but I am telling you they cleaned me out.”

“I am not exactly sure what I am looking for…”

Denova: “Oh I see. The princess’s birthday is coming up here pretty quick isn’t it? You still haven’t gotten her anything? Well for what it’s worth when she kicks you out of the house, you can always keep warm with one of my girls. For the standard rate of course.”

“Fine, if you’re not going to help me you are just wasting my time…”

Denova: “Now just hold on. Jewelry doesn’t keep your warm, it can’t be burnt, or ate, so there may be some pieces that I still have laying around.”

Denova wasn’t kidding about being cleaned out, the last time I entered the warehouse there were only pathways though everything. Now there are only items catered to adventurers remaining, even the crates seem to be broken down to use as firewood…

She brings over a chest that looks suspiciously like one of mine from up at the dungeon and dumps the contents out on top of some weird metal bed looking thing sitting in the middle of the warehouse.

Most of the items look old worn and just plain pointless… most of the items are rings, but rings are a touchy subject so I probably should avoid them. There is also a pair of gaudy bangles that I quickly dismiss there are a few necklaces and a bracelet, but the ones that have jewels the jewels are so small it’s even hard to tell what kind they are…

“This is it?”

Denova: “Well Tobes isn’t exactly a bustling city now is it?”

“Well then how much for this?”

I ask while picking up the bracelet, which seems to have the largest stones. They are at least large enough to determine a color.

Denova: “150 gold”

“You have got to be kidding me.”

Denova: “Supply and demand.”

“I can get gems 10 times their size by the handful out of the chests in the dungeon.”

Denova: “All them gems are unpolished and uncut, they are practically worthless.”

“Then how much for this necklace, the gems on it can’t be called more than grains of sand…”

Denova: “Fine go with the cheapest thing possible that is a sure fire way to impress a princess. 75 gold.”

“Forget it. It was a waste to bother with you to begin with…”

Denova: “The rings are much better, how about a nice sapphire ring here? 100 gold and look at the size of the gem.”

“I will figure something else out…”

Denova: “Well you got 2 more day. Nobody else in Tobes is going to have anything, you will be back and I promise the prices will go up.”

I leave the warehouse and begin heading back home. That was ridiculous, but she was right about one thing it’s not like I have much choice. I am going to have to use the dungeon to come up with something. That night after Belinda goes to bed I wait till she is sound asleep then sneak out of bed and transfer to the core room.

I have been so busy with being mayor I haven’t even stepped foot in here in over two weeks. I spend the next hour combing through the [Menu] trying to find something, anything that would make a good gift. Once I come across the jewelry section I am surprised at the cost of most of it.

I find a plain necklace that has a nice design, but doesn’t have any gems on it. It only cost 20xp though. Compared to a necklace with a diamonds starting at 2000xp, 20xp sounds like a joke…

Denova said the jewels from the chests in the dungeon are uncut and unpolished making them almost worthless. I decide to look over the jewels I have been summoning. They are just listed by the type of gem they are and I can lower or raise the size which affects the xp cost, but I don’t see anything about unpolished or uncut.

I decide to try something. I take a cheap type of gem and make it small enough it only costs around 3xp. When I finalize the summoning I focus on the shape of the jewel in my mind I picture it as perfectly round sphere.

The gem when summoned results in a little sphere. The color is pretty bad and it might be a little lopsided, but it does look like I can shape the stones… I try it with a little better quality gem and a little larger. I keep trying different things and before I realize it I got a small pile of gems of varies types and sizes in all sorts of shapes.

I decide to stop there I have spent close to 200xp, but I think I am feeling confident. I even have an idea that I think Belinda will enjoy. I add the miscellaneous gems to a chest and hide it in the dungeon. In the inventory someone might find out this way I should be good at least till after the birthday.

I decide to wait till tomorrow to make the present and with a smile on my face I head to bed. The next morning I head to breakfast and even endure the girls teasing me. After heading to the office I have trouble working as I am still a little worried my plan is going to work.

At noon I finally give up and we shut down for the day. I quickly make my way home and head to the core room. I temporarily restrict access to the core room and begin to put my plan in action.

Scylla: “How long has he been in there?”

Bell: “We closed the office just after noon… And he looked really frustrated when we come home… He then locked himself in his room… He hasn’t come out since.”

Roxy: “Maybe we were a little too hard on him?”

Lilah: “Maybe he is just thinking really hard and plans to get his gift in the morning.”

Zoey: “Well he better hurry up, it’s not even 24 hours until it begins.”

I spend the rest of the afternoon making a present for Belinda. It takes me quite a few tries to make it the way I want, and without realizing it we are now dangerously low on xp. Now that it is finished however I am pleased with the way it turned out.

After its completion I receive a message.

Dungeon Core #212 [Mayor ——] has acquired the skill Dungeon Jewelcrafting (Rank 1)

Dungeon Jewelcrafting can now be learned from skill screen for 5,000xp as long as the conditions have been met.

[Dungeon Jewelcrafting] (Rank 1): Unlike normal jewelcrafting in which requires tools, a dungeon monster with Dungeon Jewelcrafting is able to manipulate the summoning of gems and jewels into desired sizes and shapes for the required xp cost. Dungeon Jewelcrafting raises all quality of summoned gems by 1 rank. Xp cost of enhancements and enchantments placed on jewelry type items is reduced by 25% if placed on the item at the point of summoning.

I had to receive the skill “after” completing the gift didn’t I… But what’s more why did it add Mayor in the spot where my name goes? I haven’t looked at the Dungeon Core Information in a while, so I pull it out and sure enough it shows it the same way.

I then check my adventurer’s ID but it hasn’t changed. I don’t understand how this works, but it’s not like I can do anything about it.

My xp is now in a spot that won’t last till spring comes, so I am going to have to come up with something. Maybe Belinda’s birthday party will get us some, but I need to come up with something else as well.

I finally store away Belinda’s birthday present then remove restriction on the core room. I then transfer back to the bedroom, and find Belinda has already gotten there.

Belinda: “There you are. Everyone seemed to be rather worried about you. You do know that I understand that with the winter getting me something for my birthday wouldn’t be easy, so don’t stress about it.”

“I actually used the dungeon, and I think I got something that you will appreciate.”

Belinda: “I hope you didn’t spend too much xp, but you should probably head downstairs real quick, and let the girls know, I think they are finishing up preparations for my birthday party downstairs right now.”

“How did you…?”

Belinda: “Well it was kind of expected, and Tobes being the small town that it is word gets around fast.”

I nod and decide to head down to the others before heading to bed. The girls quickly quiet down when I enter the room, but once they notice it is me they begin again.

Scylla: “I’m just saying, everything is ready now, and we just got to decorate the ballroom tomorrow.”

Zoey: “Hey boss. Did you figure out what you are going to get Belinda?”

“It’s taken care of.”

Roxy: “Did you make it yourself? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised…”

“Well… Something like that.”

Zoey: “So, back to the party. How are we going to keep Belinda busy tomorrow so she doesn’t see us preparing the ballroom?”

“I don’t think that will be an issue. She already knows about it.”

Scylla: “I figured we probably wouldn’t be able to keep it a secret.”

Roxy: “But she still doesn’t know the details, so we can still surprise her with how much work we put into it.”

Scylla: “You’re right, so Master can we count on you to keep her busy tomorrow until we are ready?”

“I guess it won’t be a problem.”

We talk a little more about the party but they don’t give me any of the details as well.  After an hour we eventually part and head to bed. The next morning after breakfast I lead Belinda out of the house with her leaning on my shoulder while holding my arm.

Belinda: “I am sure you are supposed to keep me busy until they are ready, but I guess I can consider this a present as well.”

“How is that?”

Belinda: “Well I get to spend the day with just you and me until they are done. We don’t get time to ourselves much anymore.”

“Yea everything has been pretty hectic this winter, but I got to admit I have quite enjoyed it.”

Belinda: “I am glad things are working out, but I would still like to have a bit more time with you.”

“Maybe you should build me a new office and put the adventurer’s guild inside of it.”

Belinda: “Well that’s… You know that is not actually a bad idea. I mean you are going to need a new office eventually anyway since you are still using the one attached to the old mayor’s house. The adventurer’s guild is also pretty small in comparison to normal guild halls.”

Belinda continues to talk about building a city hall and adding the adventurer’s guild to it. She seems to begin to get excited at the idea. The conversation remains on that topic for quite a while even with Belinda drawing some rough floor plans into the snow.

I think the only thing stopping her from placing a commission for the building right this second is the fact most of the buildings built in Tobes are done by adventurers and we are lacking in them at the moment. After a while I change the conversation to the dungeon.

I try not to mention the fact I spent almost all of our remaining xp on her birthday present, but try to get a few ideas on how we could acquire some more xp before spring arrives. We eventually come up with a plan.

We continue to spend the rest of the day together but most of our conversations always seem to end up back on the growth of Tobes or on the plans for the dungeon. Belinda never seems to tire of it though so it seems like that is alright.

We have lunch at the restaurant but even their supplies are running low though the winter so there isn’t much to choose from. After lunch we continue our simple day wondering aimlessly around Tobes. Once it starts to get cold again and the sun begins to set I receive a message from Scylla telling me that they are ready at the house. We then set back out heading home for Belinda’s birthday party.

Once we enter the house I lead Belinda to the ballroom where the girls have set up the party. When we open the door there is a bunch of people that shout “Happy Birthday” which seems to startle me far more than it does Belinda.

The ballroom has been completely decorated for the occasion. There is a large table set up in the middle of the ballroom floor which has a cake on it that dwarfs the table. So much so that the wrapped presents that have been brought for Belinda are sitting on the floor under the table.

The number of people that have come to celebrate Belinda’s birthday make up pretty much every person in the village that I know, and even a few I don’t… If the parties we throw get any larger we are going to need a larger room to hold them all.

Many of the people come up to us personally wishing Belinda a happy birthday, and it takes us over 30 minutes until we are able to take a seat. Once we finally do though the party begins to progress. I don’t remember much of Belinda’s birthday last year due to passing out so I try to take it a lot easier on the alcohol this time.

The open bar keeps most of the men from the village entertained and the gossip keeps most of the women busy, but even when dragging out the cutting of the cake we still lose quite a few people before midnight arrives.

Belinda has opened a few of the gifts from the villagers and most are pretty common items. She however is seeming to save the gifts from the girls till later. After midnight passes we gain around 300xp which is surprising lower than I expected, but at least it’s something.

After midnight however the people slowly begin to head home. It still takes another 2 hours though before it is only us remaining. Lilah is having trouble staying awake so Belinda decides to open her gift so she can head to bed.

Lilah used the xp I gave her to summon Belinda a new pair of boots. 25xp seems quite a bit for just a pair of boots, but they do look to be of a pretty good quality and Belinda seems to like them as she thanks Lilah and gives her a hug.

Roxy’s gift and Bell’s gift as well both consist of clothing, and Zoey seems mighty proud of herself after Belinda thanks her after she un-wraps Zoey’s gift of some gaudy weird looking earrings… Scylla’s gift seems more practical as she got Belinda a set of supplies to help her at the adventurer’s guild, like writing utensils, ink, that sort of thing.

Belinda then looks around for my gift but cannot find it she then looks to me.

“Now before I give you my gift I want to say a few things first.”

Belinda: “It’s ok, I heard about you having trouble. Even going to Denova’s place trying to find something, and I promise not to get upset about the gift.”

“Well it’s not necessarily that… I just heard jewelry can lead to misunderstandings like when I gave you the magic ring last year…So I just want it to be clear if my gift is not appropriate, I am sorry.”

Belinda: “Ok…”

I take out a small wooden box that I summoned to store her present in, and I hand it to her. When she openings it she looks at it questionably for a few seconds, but after removing it from the box something seems to click.

The gift I gave Belinda was a necklace, and although the necklace itself isn’t that special, but hanging off the necklace are several different colored gems that take the shapes of several animals each having a color to matching the girls favored elements.

With one open space on one side there is a rabbit made from onyx, a salamander made of sapphire, and a cow made from a ruby. On the other side with two open spaces there is a wolf made of emerald, and a dog made from another ruby.

In the center between the animals there is a small spherical diamond that appears to change color depending on how you look at it.  The quality of the necklace isn’t exactly expert quality as the salamander is kind of hard to tell it’s not just a lizard, the dog and wolf look almost exactly same, and even the rabbit and cow are not the best.

However Belinda doesn’t seem to mind at all because after she realized what it was, tears began to fill her eyes and she wraps her arms around me hugging me tightly. She then has me put the necklace on her while the girls look at it.

Scylla: “That is quite something Master…”

Zoey: “No fair the only one smaller than the dog is the rabbit.”

Lilah: “Is that Lilah?”

Bell: “Pretty…”

Roxy: “There is even one for me?”

Belinda: “This is wonderful Two-Twelve. I couldn’t be happier.”

Belinda then kisses me and hugs me again.

“Well its already getting really late, we probably all should head to bed.”

Scylla: “You’re probably right. Come on Lilah let’s get to bed.”

Zoey: “Not that Boss is going to get any sleep tonight.”

Roxy elbows Zoey and then the girls begin to disperse heading to bed, but Zoey wasn’t exactly wrong either… After Belinda asks me how I made the necklace and tells me over and over how much she likes it we go to bed, but it’s not till the sun begins to rise till we actually go to sleep.

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