Alex thought about his new life while he lay in bed in the dark basement. Some rays of light came through the trap door at the top of the staircase so he knew the sun had come up. The days were still long, and filled with hard physically demanding work. He was used to that though considering his old life as a lumberjack. He considered some of the projects he had brainstormed yesterday and came to the conclusion building a carriage or a water wheel might be biting off more than he could chew right now. "I should do something simpler that I can do in a day." Alex next unbarred the trap down and opened up the flap to let some light in. It bothered him that there was no way to secure the trap door from the outside but unless he ran into a locksmith there wasn't much that could be done about that.
Fufi asks, "What were you thinking about doing?"
Alex answers, "Well I was thinking about cleaning the fountain. If we are lucky then cleaning it could get it working again and we wouldn't have to go as far to get water anymore. Next I wanted to sort stuff in the basement. I think there might be some things that could be used to start a fire. Too bad there isn't a hearth in the basement. I might have to try to build a fireplace with a chimney if we don't want to smoke out the whole basement."
Fufi grins and says, "I know you like experimenting with that cleaning skill."
Alex grumbles, "Well it is the best tool I have right now I have to make the most of it."
The two of them head to the stream where they have another meal of berries, fruit and fish. Alex brought a couple of thin flat rocks that he used as plates and the paring knife he just acquired. It was much easier for him to gut and prepare the fish with a knife rather than a screwdriver.
Alex says while eating the sashimi, "Not having any seasoning is a bummer. Even a little salt would be nice. Do you know if the oceans on Terre are filled with saltwater Fufi?"
Fufi answers,"They are salt water the same as Earth but the closest one is about 100 miles to the south."
Alex looks dejected and says, "I guess it would be more than a day trip to get some salt water and evaporate it to make some sea salt seasoning."
Fufi hints, "You know, the same flavors can be accomplished by someone with a cooking skill. Seasonings are optional for high enough leveled chefs."
Alex gapes, "That is cheating so bad. Earth's entire culinary industry would be in an uproar is something like that came in to existence there."
He was speculating that Fufi might be encouraging him to get a cooking skill. He would feel dirty being able to create great meals without the proper ingredients. Looking towards the heavens Alex shouted, "God or Goddess of cooking the system of this world owes you an apology for its cheapening of the entire food industry!"
A few seconds later his phone rang out, "Hestia, goddess of home and hearth is moved by your passion for culinary arts. You have been awarded the skill [cooking]"
[New Skill: Cooking level 1]
Alex looked at Fufi who was staring at him. He wasn't quite sure how to discern flamingo facial expressions but he guessed she was giving him a smug look right now. Alex frowned and said through gritted teeth, "I don't want to hear it." After finishing breakfast they cleaned up in the cold stream and set about their next task of cleaning the central fountain. The fountain was huge and took most of the morning to clean.
It was at the end of their cleaning spree that Alex noticed it wasn't enough to get it working again. The spigot that the water was supposed to come out of was clean and the drain that likely went into whatever sort of sewer system this place had left was open. "Of course it wouldn't be that easy," Alex grumbled beneath his breath.
"What's that Alex?" Fufi asked curiously.
"I might know why it doesn't work. Water is supposed to come from the stream or whatever but it isn't making it all the way. Unless it is supposed to focus on some weird way like water crystals," Alex answered.
Pointing at a rusted grate near the fountain he added, "It looks like there may be some kind of sewer or maintenance tunnels here. Hopefully we can follow the pipe and see the problem. I'm not a plumber but hopefully the problem will be obvious down there."
Fufi nods her head and says, "That sounds like a good idea. But it is dark down there I bet."
Testing the grate by pulling up on it Alex grumbled, "It won't budge. It is rusted shut."
Snickering Fufi said mirthfully, "Think about what you just said."
Alex makes an 'O' shape and pulls out his feather duster. He dusts the dirt layer off first then keeps dusting until the rust layer is also gone. It only takes a firm tug to lift the grate up. Alex looks down there and there is a rusted iron ladder attached to bricks that form a wall. After that it is complete darkness.
Fufi's feathers fluff up as she asks, "Is there light down there? I could use my gem to light the way but my magic is low after summoning you from the dungeon. I'd like to not use any magic for a couple days to recover."
"It doesn't seem so. Let's come back here when we have a torch , a lantern, or some other light source," Alex answered nervously.
Alex places the grate back in place and steps back. Happy to have an excuse not to go down there he says, "let's go inventory the things that we found in the basement until then."
Fufi nods her head in agreement as they head back to the basement and inventory their new finds. Fufi starts by talking about the firewood, "It is a pity we haven't been able to start a fire yet."
Alex smiles and says, "Yeah it would be nice to have a fire in here but it is going to be a little more difficult without flint and steel or some kind of tinderbox."
Fufi says, "There has to be something like that around here somewhere."
Alex says, "We'll find it eventually, hopefully."
After an hour and a half they finish rummaging through the pile in the basement they find the following items:
[3x metal tongs]
[1x small metal pliers]
[5x ceramic pots]
[2x quartz crystals]
[2x empty lantern]
[1x steel pauldrons (Lacking straps) ]
[5x iron plates]
[4x copper plates]
[10x empty potion bottles (missing lids) ]
[1x copper chain]
[8x iron cylinder]
[200x iron nails]
[50x iron screws]
[2x pick axe heads]
[1x war axe head]
[200x lumps of coal]
Alex guessed that the nails and screws were the only remains of the furniture that used to litter this place as debris after his cleaning skill did its thing. After Alex was finished looking over what he could salvage he thought to himself, "There is enough here to make something but I'm not sure if we have enough to finish a carriage or even a cart. And the lanterns are useless without some kind of fuel."
Fufi looks up from her inspection of the items they had found and asks, "What are you thinking?"
Alex answers, "Well it is not really relevant but I thought at least this world isn't still using dove tail connectors."
Fufi raises her voice in a shocked manner, "Just what are people doing with the tails of lovely doves in your world?!"
Alex grimaces, "No no you don't understand, here it is like this," He grabs Fufi's tail feathers and spreads them out thinking the shape of spread tail feathers would make it obvious what he was trying to convey. Instead some kind of misunderstanding takes place and Fufi lets out a shocked cry, "What do you think you're doing? Don't just touch my tail feathers so suddenly!"
Alex laughs nervously, "Oh I was just showing you the shape. When you fly the tail feathers spread out wide. A dovetail connection is just a shape where two angled cuts of wood can slot together. In the days of Yore carpenters would use that instead of screws, bolts, and nails." He releases her tail feathers and pats her on the back saying, "Sorry for getting carried away."
Fufi shakes her feathers and says, "No that is alright. It was just startling to think people in your word were harvesting doves for their tails." She adds, "I've never seen that shape before though."
Alex says, "It is just an old world way of building furniture."
Fufi tilts her and says, "If that is the case then please don't phrase it in such a disturbing way next time." She then looks back at her tail feathers and shakes her head again. Alex smiles nervously at her and says, "Sorry about that again."
Alex points at a sword leaning against a wall and asks, "Think this will be useful in the sewers?"
Fufi says pensively, "Perhaps, though you don't have any swordsmanship skills."
"Fine," Alex says and takes one of the swords from the wall to inspect closer. He examines the blade and finds it isn't rusty. After testing the edge of the blade he realizes it is sharp.
"I can't believe this thing got sharp just by cleaning it," Alex boggles at the concept.
Fufi sighs at his amazement and says, "Don't underestimate cleaning."
Alex looks up at Fufi and asks, "Are you serious? How does cleaning sharpen swords?"
Fufi scoffs, "With your skill bonus from your equipment your skill is much higher than it would normally be. Of course it would be amazing because of the bonuses."
"Wow that is surprising," Alex says while examining the blade closely. It isn't just sharpened, but also polished. The steel feels almost like it is glowing in his hand. He shakes his head and says, "This world really is full of mysteries." He then turns his attention back to his inventory and picks up one of the iron plates he had found earlier.
He takes a few moments to run his thumb across it. As expected, he found no grime and no rust. He suspected if he had a white glove it would pass the white glove test.
"What are you doing Alex?" Fufi asks as she watches him examine the plate.
"Just admiring how something that should have been scrapped could get so clean," Alex says and sets the plate back down in the pile. He looks over to Fufi and says, "That's all I had for today's investigation." Fufi looks over to him with curiosity and he says, "Think there is any place where we can find lantern oil or something that can work with the wick?"
Fufi nods her head and says, "That is a good idea. However it might mean searching for who knows how long."
"You know what? We'll leave it for another time. There are other things I can work on today. I feel like the solution is right in front of us somehow I am just missing it." Alex says as he pulls out the copper chain from the pile of things they found in the basement.
Fufi tilts her head in confusion as she asks, "What are you doing now?"
"Well I found this thing here and I am trying to figure out if it could be useful," Alex said as he held up the chain in his hand.
"Fufi you are brilliant!" Alex exclaims then gestures with his free hand to the plate.
Looking taken off guard for a moment, Fufi says, "I am? I mean of course I am!" She puffs up her feathers cutely at the praise.
"Well think about this chain," Alex said while holding up the chain for Fufi to see. He then places one of the iron plates on top of the anvil and folds the chain over it. He then grabs a cylinder and drapes the chain across the end, "We just need to shape the plate into a bowl shape, attach the chain to that and the iron cylinder and we have a brazier."
Fufi smiles as she looks over Alex's work and says, "That is brilliant! I like it!" She then gives a few tugs on her tail feathers in an effort to straighten them out.
Getting right to work, Alex took the items he needed for his creation out of the dim basement and into a corner of the adventurers guild ruin that would function somewhat like a lean-to. After about an hour of what was mostly hammering the plate on the anvil and a bit of fiddling around with the other tools he had a crude brazier hanging by copper chain from a metal pole. Fufi spent the time watching him and preening her feathers. She had already done so much that her feathers were almost completely back to their usual pristine condition.
"Fufi I'm finished with this," Alex says as he holds up a crude brazier for Fufi to inspect. Fufi looks over Alex's creation and gives him a look, "That is so clever of you." He places some lumps of coal in it to show how he expects it to work.
After a short while Fufi says, "I have a question though."
"What is it?" Alex asked nervously. He wasn't sure what to expect but he was pretty sure that whatever it was wouldn't be good news.
"Why isn't it cute?" Fufi asked.
Alex puts a hand on his chest and stares at Fufi in disbelief, "And here I thought you were going to ask how I planned to light it." He chuckles and says, "It was a lot harder than I expected it to be." Fufi smiles at Alex and he continues, "I'm not a blacksmith you know."
"You were able to create a brazier though," Fufi says with a look of amazement. "That is almost as good as a blacksmith." She then giggles as she adds, "Almost. So, do you know of a way to light it with the things we have?"
Alex nods and says, "Let me demonstrate." He proceeds to take a smaller piece of the steel pauldron set with one hand and the quarts in the other. Striking the steel to the quartz makes some sparks when he does it right and after a few tries the sparks catch the soot and some dry leaves in the brazier on fire. With a bit of blowing he is able to get the thing going. It took longer than expected and he had to had a bit of wood to the fire before the coal lumps were successfully burning.
"Wow that wasn't easy," Alex says as he looks at the flames dancing in front of him. He turns and sees Fufi looking at the fire.
"Not bad," Fufi says and gives Alex a nudge of her beak on his nose.
"Thanks," Alex says as he looks towards the fountain. "Think we have time to explore the sewer and see if we can figure out our pipe problem?" He says while walking over to the fountain. Fufi nods her head and follows him.
Feeling upbeat, Alex opened the grate and headed down holding the brazier in one hand. He had his feather duster and sword strapped to his side with the cloth belt of the robe he wore. Fufi hopped down after him.
The first few meters of the pipe seemed like it was carved out of rock or maybe even like hard clay but then they started to encounter large sections that were smooth. "Hmm, they didn't use a metal pipe here. I bet it collapsed in on itself somewhere." There was a faint smell of sewer gas. This worried Alex a bit. He figured any sewer would have been washed away by rains flowing the water to the river or wherever the outlet was.
The smell was starting to get more intense and Alex wasn't sure if he would be able to keep himself from gagging. He walked into what seemed like a cave-in and noticed something big stuck in the passage.
His phone rung out:
[Battle Begin: Sewer Slime]