The Innkeeper

Chapter 95 The five families

Leo was, naturally, Lex. He simply took off his Host Attire and put on one of the glasses to stay anonymous. He still did not use his actual name though, to avoid even the chance of any suspicion.

He was excited because he had finally figured out a way to interact with his guests without having to worry about how he appears. He could ask the stupidest questions – after all, he was just the owner of a gaming shop. It wasnt even magical, like the barber shop or the Battle Ax. It was straight up video games on computers. It was unfortunate that he couldnt connect the shop to the Internet back on Earth but he could make do.

Other than video games the computers would have an extensive library of movies and videos to watch, but it would take time to transfer all the data. How did Lex manage to get all these games and videos if the shop couldnt connect to the internet, you ask? As it turns out, through the Fancy Monocle! When Lex had connected it to the internet to build up its own database, it had absorbed everything. Lex could selectively upload the data from the Fancy Monocle onto his computers. Who knew other than its original purpose the Monocle could act as a USB? It just went to show that he should not limit his understanding of things according to the systems descriptions.

“Ive never played video games before, is it too complicated?” asked Helen. She was up to try it – when else would she get the chance to game so casually?

“No, not at all. Its very simple. Ill teach you, itll be very easy. And if you dont like this game, just wait a bit. New games are being added to the system as we speak, itll just take some time.”.

The gaming shop was both on the ground and first floor. On the ground floor guests would be able to rent a chair and desk where they would get access to a computer along with all the essentials such as mouse, keyboard, controllers (if you prefer) headset and whatever else you wanted. On the first floor guests could rent private rooms so that they could game in peace without the distraction of being in public. He kept both options available because sometimes the atmosphere of the shop contributed to the gaming experience, but sometimes during important matches you could not deal with any distractions. This way both options would be fulfilled. Also, for anyone who wanted to play VR games they would have to rent the rooms.

Lex took Helen to a seat and started the game for her. He took the desk beside her and booted the game up for himself as well.

“Ill help you through a few games while you get the hang of it,” he said, as he set up the LAN party. From the counter a small figure watched the two.

The A.I. for the store, who was known only as Z, was the first A.I. who already had a name upon being summoned. He was also different from the other A.I. staff in another important manner – the rest were all adults, even Velma was in her teens. Z on the other hand looked like he was ten years old. When he was sure that the two were preoccupied with whatever they were doing, Z opened the admin computer and started watching an anime called Initial C. It was a racing anime with the main character being an old man who looked somewhat similar to Gerard. Summoning one of the snacks sold at the Gaming shop and unceremoniously charging it on Lexs tab, Z started watching anime.

Neither Lex nor Helen noticed this as Lex was walking her through the tutorial and controls. League of Lexs, or LOL, was played using several different heroes all of whom had different abilities. It was a game where one had to compete for limited resources and equipment with the enemy, all the while attacking the enemy base to keep pressure on them and prevent them from getting those resources as well.

“These heroes are based on real life cultivators on Earth,” Leo said, once he was done explaining the various Hero abilities.

“Really?” Helen asked, surprised.

“I dunno, probably,” Leo replied. By now he had already selected his own Hero and had completely forgotten about Helen.

Helen was annoyed at Leo, but also curious about him. He was older than her by a lot, at least by her standards it was a lot, but he was the one acting like an excitable child.

He started the game and they were playing against the computer, and contrary to her surprise he did not abandon her to go play, but walked her through the map and introduced her to the many mechanics of the game. He helped her fight enemies, collect resources, get familiar with her abilities, learn about cool downs and more. When enemy Heros attacked them he helped hold them off so she could practice combat.

The speed at which she was picking up the controls was astonishing, and within ten minutes she did not need Leos help at all. At this point he left her alone, so she could try and get used to playing alone while he went to a different part of the map. Surprisingly, they had good synergy and quickly defeated the computer. Satisfied with Helens skill level, Leo said that this time hed play against her so that there was more of a challenge.

She was very receptive to the idea and Leo started a new game. For the first few minutes Leo almost felt bad for her, as not only was he very experienced in the game, his skill had only increased since he started cultivating. But quickly he noticed that Helen was dominating the game. She was killing off the Heros on his team and stealing all the resources she would need to build her armies. Leo went to block her, but found that he was always one step behind her. Something was definitely wrong. It was then it occurred to him, SHE WAS ALSO A CULTIVATOR! Not only was she a cultivator, her realm was above his so her response would naturally be even better.

The game shop owner took this personally and started playing without holding anything back as this was no longer a matter of entertaining a guest but a matter of honor. The match finally ended with Leo taking a reluctant lead, but Helen asked to play again. The second match was a draw, the third in Helens favor and the fourth another draw! Without realizing it, the two had been playing for over two hours!

When Leo noticed the time he knew he had to stop as he had other things to take care of, so he left Helen to her own devices. He let her know that other games would also have been downloaded by now if she wanted to explore, and that since she was his first guest he wouldnt charge her this time around so she could play as long as she wanted.

The young girl was a little disappointed to see Leo go, as she wanted to defeat him thoroughly, but consoled herself by saying she would do so next time. Leo asked Z to take care of Helen if she needed anything, and left the shop.

The shop owner disappeared, and reappeared in his apartment. He took off his glasses and changed back into Lex. The Innkeeper was a little pale as he had exhausted a lot of mental energy focusing on the game. Helen still had not mastered the full mechanics of the game, but her reaction time made it difficult to compete with her. He would get his revenge next time and show her what real skill was.

He took a nice, long shower to relax before he went to the Meditation room. Lex had decided to meditate everyday to increase his cultivation. Just as he was getting into position and about to begin, Mary appeared in front of him looking hesitant and confused.

“What is it?” Lex asked, ready to receive some bad news.

“I cant be sure, but I think…” There was a lot of hesitation as she took a pause, before finally deciding to state the insane fact she had discovered. “It seems like playing video games has the same effect on you as meditation.”

“WHAT?” Lex asked excitedly as he jumped up. This was too good to be true, right? Meditation was difficult and sometimes boring, while gaming was the exact opposite. How could they be interchangeable?

“Well, Im not sure yet and theres no conclusive proof. You should keep meditating for now, but this is definitely something we can research. If its true, who knows, your gaming shop could actually qualify to become a real Midnight Inn service.”

Lex grinned. One research paper he wrote in college were the mental benefits of gaming. As a true gamer – one who regularly showered and took care of his hygiene, Lex was strictly against gamer stereotypes – how could he miss the opportunity to benefit the gaming community?

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