Chapter 3:

Apothecary in Another World

Nol and Voyd: A Quiet Fantasy Life Isn't So Quiet After All!

I woke up in the morning and walked out of the storage room and examined my mostly empty store. For the time being, it seemed that my first task would be to clean up. Stretching my tentacles, I produced several brooms and rags with some health potions in the stead of water and soap. It took a bit more concentration than normal, but with some effort, little dust clouds floated to the sides of the store, drifting with the currents before waves of liquid splashed on them, changing the dusts into clumps.

Wet rags dragged those clumps towards the corners and soon I was left with nice, healthy wood. Actually, perhaps a little too healthy as little sprouts started to pop out of the walls and flooring. Did my health potions end up awakening some seedlings or something? Well, it didn't matter too much to me although the little sprouts on the counter and shelves posed a bit of a hassle.

With the cleanup quickly done thanks to the power of tentacles - Voyd helped out as well, though he made more of a mess than he helped - I started eating my daily breakfast of highly nutritious protein. They shouted weird things as usual, but they were tasty all the same. After eating though, there wasn't really much to do except make some potions for later.

As the sunlight drifted through the windows, I found myself bored and sleepy, so I ended up taking a bit of a nap on the counter. Definitely not the best behavior, but I was sleepy and I needed to stay in the shop for now.

* * * 

"Hello! Is Miss Nol Mamo Rein in? We are here to deliver the ordered equipment and furniture."

I opened an eye to look at the door and windows. Hmm... If I could see them through the windows, then surely they could see me. Then again, they might not know what I looked like and decided not to assume my identity. How professional. I shook my head a little to wake myself up and stretched out reflexively as I sent two tentacles to the door.

One tentacle opened the door while the other one, with the end in the form of a mouth, greeted the delivery personnel. While a few seemed slightly surprised, most of the delivery personnel barely batted an eye. One of them, likely the representative or leader of the group, traced his way along the tentacles to find me lounging around on the counter.

"May I presume you are Miss Nol Mamo Rein?"

Such polite speech; I would totally want this kind of person to work for me, but I didn't plan to poach any workers from other businesses. That would just sow resentment for a minor benefit in the long run. Instead, I nodded and jumped off the counter as I retracted my tentacles to their more natural state. I curtsied politely after brushing off my dress. Not that I had any actual dust on my dress, mind you.

"I am pleased to make your acquaintance. Indeed, I am the one referred to as Nol Mamo Rein."

"We have brought the goods, Miss Nol Mamo Rein. Where would you like us to place each item?"

"For one pair of chairs and a small table, you can set somewhere in this room. For the larger table, I'd like it in that room," I pointed at the storage room before continuing, "You can place the apothecary tools on the table and a single chair there. The stool, you can put behind this counter. The portable step too."

Of course, they could have just left everything on the spot and I could've taken care of it, but that would require revealing more of my abilities than I was willing to show. I mean, certainly, I could grab things with my tentacles, but things picked up still had weight. It wasn't that I couldn't do it, but it would be simply inefficient.

Besides, that would just be rude to these workers who clearly had pride in their abilities and it would be an insult to their professionalism.

"And the shelves, Ma'am?"

"Oh, those arrived too? Along the walls where there are no windows for the taller ones and along the walls where there are windows for the shorter ones."

"Understood, okay boys, you heard the Miss, bring them in!"

With a near-shout of affirmation, the personnel hauled the furniture and tools in and set them, arranging them to fit neatly together. In a flash, the store went from an abandoned look to a proper store. Definitely a major improvement. Now, while I intended to use the tools for my own research, they were really more meant for camouflage; they were being paid for by the city, so I figured I might as well at least look the part.

With a polite bow, the delivery personnel shouted, "Thank you for your business!"

The representative added, "If you ever need help moving things around, give us a call. We will gladly give you a discount, Miss."

With that, the group left and the store ended up quiet again. 

I locked up moved to the storeroom before producing a variety of potions with my energy until I finally fainted, woke up, ate and drank to recover, then put the potions on the shelves. I repeated the process until I managed to produce a decent supply of potions to fill the shelves. It was a tiring process, but I was in no hurry - I planned to take it easy and live a nice, slow life.

Sounds boring? A nice, slow life is much better than one where I die horribly over and over again without even death as an escape. Even now, I had no clue how I escaped - my memories were still a complete jumble.

Looking out the window, it seemed that night already fell or perhaps multiple nights already fell. I fashioned some wood with pegs and holes to connect them all and assembled them into a neat sign engraved with a little potion symbol and the words, "Nol Potions, We'll Nol your injuries!" I hung this sign and locked the door again before taking another nap after further bolstering my self defense supplies.

I woke up quite nicely on my personal Voyd bed. It was a perfect bed: smooth, cool, and shaped perfectly for a good night's rest. Not to mention Voyd made a great guard as long as I didn't faint from overexertion. I mean, given our connection, my fainting meant Voyd also fainted, but otherwise we kept to different schedules to ensure one of us stayed awake.

I walked out of the storeroom to see a rather unexpected sight. Out from my window, I saw a rather long line of people waiting.. That seemed odd given that I never announced my opening and this was supposed to be my first day opening. So why then, was I seeing a rather unbelievable sight of a line?

I cautiously opened the door with a tentacle and probed out with a tentacle in eye form to see that the line was longer than it looked from the inside. Changing the tentacle to a mouth, I asked why there was such a long line. The response? The waiting customers noticed the sign and assumed that I intended to open up and words spread before I ended up with a crowd.

Many of those in line had some pressing reason or another to obtain potions or salves as soon as possible and given that my shop slowly filled with potions over several days - had it really been that long - they assumed that the store would open soon. They weren't wrong, but just how badly did the city need apothecaries if a line already formed on my first day? At this rate, I'd be closed for several days after this batch!

I hurriedly made a new sign behind my back and 'pulled it out from beneath the counter' to place it on the counter. It was a simple sign that stated that each customer was limited to two items. I mean, if they were clearly dying in the middle of my store, I might finish them for expe-help them out and lift the limitation for them. I mean, someone dying in an apothecary's shop would just be bad for business.

With my tentacle, I quickly shouted out that there would be a limit of ten people at a time in the shop and that to allow for all customers to have a chance at obtaining what they need, all customers would be limited to two potions each. I could hear some grumbling, but nobody seemed to noticeably complain.

Business went surprisingly smoothly. The customers would enter and directly ask me for certain potions. The vast majority wanted healing potions, so I figured I'd just add a sign next time and dedicate a few shelves to healing potions of varying effectiveness.

There were some slightly unusual requests, such as a potion to cure certain problems, but I managed to produce those. Some had pretty serious side effects. Some of those I remade because the customer was willing to pay a higher sum for a less detrimental potion. I'd find some way to discard the unwanted potions later.

Even as the sun rose to the peak, the flow of customers showed no sign of stopping and eventually, I ended up selling out of the more popular potions. I announced this and most of the line dissipated. Although some of those in line complained, there wasn't anything that could be done about the potions selling out. A few customers did trickle in after, but soon even that mostly disappeared and I ended up making a closed sign.

After closing the shop, I went back to making more potions. Making note of which potions were most popular and the times each potion sold out, I focused on the more desired potions. After several cycles, I labeled the shelves carefully and took a final nap.

The next day went smoothly as ever. A line quickly formed once people learned that my shop was open again. I swear it looked like more people lined up this time, but there was no way, right? My potions sold just as quickly for a while and then petered out as my stock ran out. This time, my stock of potions ran out somewhat closer to about the same time.

Taking this updated information, I tweaked my ratios again so that I'd run out closer to the same time. Rather, why was I planning to run out? This time, I decided to take a break after making some potions and do some shopping, so when I noticed the sun out when placing my potions, I decided to take a quick trip out.

I made my way to the gate I entered from and after a little bit of waiting, I managed to ask a guard for directions. I made my way through the town to find an apothecary shop and saw the line wasn't much shorter than my own. I snuck a tentacle in to check on the prices and saw that they were priced somewhat higher than mine. Noting down the prices, I went to the next store and found similar prices.

After taking a look at the rival prices, I decided to next figure out why these potions and salves seemed to be in such high demand. I started asking around random people and eventually I found that there was something like a ruins that wild beasts made into a lair. Spiders of all things. In addition to that, there was a forest full of animals that needed to be regularly reduced in numbers or they'd run rampant.

Of course, those going into the ruins and forests were fairly skilled, but the creatures they hunted were rather dangerous as well. It wasn't uncommon for a person to go hunting and end up with a boar tusk in their gut, seek out potions to recover and die before they managed to return to town. For this reason, those that could afford to would have their own personal stock of potions just in case.

Those who couldn't get the more effective potions would at least buy some potions that would delay their death long enough to make an emergency purchase. Sometimes a member of a hunting party would be sent ahead to buy a potion while the rest carried the injured member back.

Salves were for more minor injuries and often acted slower, but were also much cheaper to buy and took very little to make. Of course, I wasn't a real apothecary, so I couldn't make those salves. Well, I could, but considering how critical they were to someone's health, I couldn't exactly put lives at risk with a potentially ineffective product. I had my own pride as a potion maker even if I could just generate them with energy.

After my sleuthing, I learned some useful information and returned back to my shop to continue making potions. I was being paid to make lifesaving potions and that was more than a good enough reason to continue my work. Of course, I'd reprice my potions to better match the market standard. I wasn't trying to compete with my rivals. If anything, all my rivals were too busy to care about competing.

I mean, I could have taken care of the ruins issue, but I didn't feel like dealing with spiders. I could perhaps make some arachnicide potions though and sell those. If I combined those with a bit of my ExP[l]otions, I could perhaps create something like a smoke bomb. I fiddled with some experimental combinations to make a shelf full of arachnicide potions with varying properties from squirting types to misting types to ones meant to be splashed on the targets. I also made ones that ignited easily, ones that would shoot pellets of explosive archnicide potions, and more.

A few days later, my shop opened again and I was greeted rather rudely.

"My master will purchase you and all of your potions. Here is the contract."

The sharp nosed servant of someone with more wealth than sense pushed up a monocle as he handed me a parchment and an inkwell. Really now, how rude. 

"I refuse."

"A mere commoner has no right to argue against a noble."

"Oh, is that so?"

I took a quick look at the contract and sent a tentacle into the air to make an announcement.

"Hello everyone, may I have your attention? I have a Sir Moron Idiahots. Oh, sorry, I said that wrong. I have a Sir Moran Idahots who wants to enslave me so that I can't sell you potions at affordable prices. Instead, you will have to pay your life savings for a single potion."

Well, needless to say, the area filled with shouts of anger and the servant was quickly dragged away. I heard shouts about commoners not getting away with laying a hand on a noble's servant and a bunch of threats. Some pained screams followed for a while, but eventually the mob returned, flashed me a little hand signs and winks, then returned to the line.

Well, that was a bit surprising of a reaction. Would they be okay after harming a noble's servant? I know I ignored their reaction and did nothing to stop them, but I did worry for them. Well, it was certainly nice of these people to help me out. I guess the worry showed on my face since the customer at the front of the line whispered to me, "Don't worry too much about it. There is no way that they can identify us and that sort of slavery is illegal here anyways."

"Why did they target me of all things though? Aren't there a bunch of apothecaries in the city?"

"Normally, certified apothecaries are minor nobles or have some noble as a patron. They must have heard you have no such thing and considered you an easy mark. It shouldn't be hard to get a noble to act as a patron though. Apothecaries are highly desired around these parts."

So my choices were harassment or find a noble to protect me? Still, I was, in a sense, working for the city, so wouldn't that make me almost a government worker? I wonder if I could ask if I had any protections against nobles through the city. Well, either way, I needed to thank those that helped me out, so I made an announcement.

"As a little thank you for all of your help, potions are half off today!"

At that, the customer at the front asked, "Are you certain that you can afford to do that? Potions are pretty expensive, you know."

"Well, I raised the prices to match the apothecaries in this city, so half off is still somewhat expensive. Besides, I am not hurting on money. The city is paid for the store and the furnishings, so my own cost is much lower."

"In that case, you should ask the local lord to be your patron seeing as how you are basically there anyways. And thank you for the discount."

With that, the line moved and the potions quickly came off the shelves. A few customers asked for rather specific potions, but I managed to provide those. One of the customers happened to be a guard, so I made an inquiry about possibly having the local lord protect me. It seemed it would take a few days to deliver the request, but they intended to talk to their fellow guards to see what they could do to speed up the process.

My potions sold out about at the same time as usual and returned to my normal schedule. I hoped that I didn't jinx myself, but I hoped that these relatively peaceful days would continue.

Joe Gold