Chapter 4 - The Awakening
Southcreek village: a settlement at the far southeastern province of the Elswain Kingdom. Being surrounded by forests, its main trade goods were furs, lumber, and medicinal plants. The village wasn’t wealthy by any means, but the inhabitants lead simple and carefree lives. Far away from any monster dens or the constant border skirmishes, its people knew nothing but peace.
At the crack of dawn, peasants feed chickens and usher livestock out to the nearby meadows. Woodcutters, large axes hefted on their broad shoulders, would drag carts into the forest for another day of chopping spiralwood trees. Foragers often accompanied them to pick herbs, mushrooms, and other gifts of the forest.
The village’s three hunting parties returned at dusk. If their bounty was especially good, all of Southcreek would celebrate it with a large feast. Song and laughter, drum and dance - the loud festivities would last well into the night. Marriages were often held during these celebrations as well.
Preparing the pelts was done by hunters too old or injured to go out into the wilds. Hanging, skinning, and curing was still hard work, but Southcreek was known throughout the kingdom for its fine animal hides. These veteran fur handlers took great pride in their craft and never cut corners.
At the end of every third month, a trip would be made to the nearby town of Bask. There they would sell their wares, buy any needed supplies, and pay taxes to the local baron.
In this chaotic and war-torn world, Southcreek can be considered an untouched paradise.
Two children were playing in a shallow river, just a short walk away from the village’s wooden palisades. One was a boy with short golden hair, while the other was a slightly older girl with purple pigtails. Laughter rang out as the two splashed water at each other.
“Gina!” The boy complained, sputtering. “Ugh, it got into my mouth!”
“Then keep it shut.” Gina giggled, kicking another spray of river water in his direction.
Caught off guard by her sudden attack, the boy stumbled and fell backwards with a cry. There was a soft thud as his head bumped into a rock on the river bed.
Gina doubled over in laughter. “Thomas, why are you so clumsy? Come on, get up.”
She walked over and helped Thomas to a sitting position. Her smile faded though, when she noticed the blank look on the boy’s face. Thomas was completely expressionless. There was also a small trail of blood running down the back of his head, but he didn’t seem to care.
“You’re bleeding!” Gina gasped. “I’m so sorry! Hurry, we need to get you to mom.”
She pulled and tugged on the child’s arm, yet he remained completely unresponsive.
“Hey, Thomas?” The girl asked hesitantly, her face filled with concern. “...Are you alright?”
Thomas just sat in the water, looking dazed.
* * *
Memories entered my mind like a crushing torrent, and my head felt like it would split at the effort of sorting through them. I couldn’t even see or hear anything because of the constant ringing. But the shock outweighed any mental pain I was suffering.
My name… is Richard Brooks. I died and was reincarnated. This is my second life.
For the first six years, I had lived as Thomas, an ordinary boy in this tiny hamlet. But today, my dormant memories have finally awakened. It feels unbelievable.
The ego of “Thomas” was quickly consumed by my real self. Soon, there was almost nothing left of the innocent boy who was playing with Gina mere moments ago. His experiences melded with mine, and my personality took over. The ringing in my head also finally calmed down.
[Status screen is now available for viewing.]
“Thomas! Please say something!”
I finally became aware of Gina’s frantic calls. The poor girl had been shaking my shoulders for the past few seconds, and tears were threatening to spill out of her eyes.
“Um, I’m fine now.” I said, gently taking her hands off me. “My bad. Didn’t mean to freeze like that.”
“Jeez, that was too scary.” Gina sighed in relief. “I thought you finally became a real idiot.”
What a rude childhood friend... she helped me to my feet, still looking a bit worried.
“I’m really sorry. I didn’t think you’d fall over.” Gina apologized again.
“Like I said, it’s fine.” I answered, smiling. “I’m a little dizzy, though, so can we go back?”
The girl nodded. “Your head is bleeding. Come on, let’s have mom take a look at it.”
As the two of us walked back to the village, I mulled over my memories of the past six years.
Both of my parents died when I was very young… there was an odd illness that swept over the village, killing dozens of people. My current guardian is Uncle Whitelaw, the village’s smith and my father’s only living relative. He’s a grumpy old coot who I’ve never seen smile.
Gina’s father died in the same plague that orphaned me. Her mother Hyacinth is a skilled herbalist, so she should have something for this wound. The last thing I want is a nasty infection; I doubt there are any well-equipped hospitals in this world.
Then I recalled the system’s message when I became conscious. Status screen is now available?
As I thought of the two words “status screen”, the following window popped up.
|ASCENDANT - RICHARD BROOKS|
|Body Name: Thomas||Age: 6||Race: Human|
|HP: 36/36||MP: 32/32|
|Affiliation: None||Class: None||2nd Life|
|STR: 17 (16 + 1)||AGI: 20 (18 + 2)||DEX: 12|
|CON: 22 (20 + 2)||INT: 16||WIS: 14|
|CHA: 20||LUK: 10||Stat multiplier: 40%|
|No active blessings or debuffs. Base stats lowered to 40% because of age.|
This is interesting.
First of all, my Dexterity is terrible. Damn, I should have put my points there instead.
I don’t know whether my stats are high or not compared to the average person, but apparently they’re reduced because I’m still a kid. Makes sense; stats are tied to my body, which still has a lot of room to grow. The bonuses I bought with my Karma seem to be active now too.
Hmm, I wonder what I should do from now on. Staying in this village for as long as I can might not be a bad idea. It’s a safe and peaceful place. But how should I spend my time here? Maybe I’ll try to become a hunter. Going deep into the forest every day sounds fun, if a little dangerous. Because of that “incident” with the truck, I’m much more aware of my own mortality now...
My daydreams were cut short the moment we entered the village, however, since another notification appeared.
[Main Quest acquired: “Learn to Survive.”]
[Gain Novice proficiency in five survival skills.]
[Reward: 25 Karma points.]