A note from mroysson

16-Jan-2018 Chapter has been edited for structure and general niceness. This one was less of a crater than the previous ones, but djeez. 

I let my mind go blank for a while, just enjoying the scenery. As we got deeper into the forest, the trees grew taller, the greens of the leafy crowns darker. After some time, I come across a trail in the woods. Deep claw marks from a massive animal crossing my path.
"Hey Rip."
He pops his head out from my hood.
"Look at those. Your perp wasn't a giant grizzly, was he?"
Rip gives me a look that says
"Come on..."
Then goes back to steering.
"Fine, be that way. I wanna see what this is."

Focusing on the trail gives me some more information.

Freshness: ?
Direction: ?
Created by: Large Ursine.

Maybe the Zoology skill affects the information I get from the inspection. Ignoring Rips hair pulling, I begin tracking the animal. I nearly get turned around at one point, tripping over some exposed roots. When I realise the marks left all over the bark are from claws, the system awards me a new skill, which makes the tracks much clearer.

Skill discovered: Tracking

As I slowly stalk forwards, the tracks begin glowing with a soft red light. I notice how the forest has gone quiet, creating an eerie mood. Even Rip hides further down my hood, staying uncharacteristically still. Just as I reach a small clearing, I can hear a violent crash nearby. I throw myself against a tree, making myself as small as possible. If it was possible to merge with the bark, I’d be tasting wood already. After a minute of holding my breath, I hear a vulgar slurping coming from the same direction as the crash. Curiosity gets the better of me and I carefully peek around the tree. I see a titanic beast, the biggest bear I've ever seen. It's easily the size of an elephant. The ground is littered with giant wasps, larger than me. I can only imagine they fell in defence of their hive. Now cracked open, the precious, golden goo is being slurped up with great abandon.

Skill discovered: Stealth

Hmm. Maybe it's time to move on before he sees or smells me. If he wasn't so busy gorging himself, he'd probably decide I was next on the menu. I sneak off and detour around him, being extremely careful of making any sounds.

Skill discovered:  Move Silently
Ability increased: Luck

As I get further away from the noise, I begin to relax. Rip comes out of his hidey hole and resumes ordering me about, and I accept my new role.
Another half hour passes, with me running and resting, and Rip patiently kicking me whenever I'm too slow. He shows me a few more herbs as we go, but I refuse to eat any of them. There's no river nearby, and I really don't trust his judgement on this. He acts insulted, but shrugs it off. I stuff my pockets with the more portable herbs, and just take note of the other ones, increasing my Herbology little by little.

Skill increased: xxx
Herbs discovered

After coming across a particularly nasty poison ivy analogue, I decide to take a short break. Finally having a chance to sit down and relax, I notice a strange smell. It's rusty and wet, with some mean undertones. Letting my nose lead me around for a little while, I take the scent in, inhaling it as I go along. It's definitely familiar, on the tip of my tongue as it were, but I just can't place it. The scent is getting stronger and stronger, until I’m stopped by a squishing sensation under my feet. Looking down, I see a red, wet rope on the ground. As I pick it up, I realise just a second too late that it's actually some poor creatures small intestine. I'm about to shriek, but four paws pinch my lips, and a furry face sticks its head up and slowly shakes from side to side. I nod back. This is fresh, and the guy is supposed to be a hunter. It's probably a good idea not to scream when might be close. I carefully place the innards back on the ground, and investigate the area. There's offal from five different creatures here. My zoology skill isn't high enough to identify them from the remains, but on the upside, I'll never forget what discarded innards smell like. I had to focus a few times to avoid being sick, but the practice from the bulbs helped me keep my concentration at the right level. There's nothing of use here, but I see another trail leaving the area.

Freshness: ?
Direction: ?
Created by: Human.

With any luck, that’s where the hunter went. I carefully follow the trail, doing my damnedest to move silently. It's another 15 minutes until I hear a voice.
"Damn forest, damn rocks, damn tent, damn everything."
Another player, definitely. I feel Rip's claws dig into my neck when he hears the voice.
"Stop that right now"
My voice is a whisper. I really don't need that distraction right now.
The campsite seems very basic. A small circle of stones with a fire, some meat roasting on a spit, drying racks with a few skins and a backpack resting against a large rock. The hunter himself seems to be fighting with a hide tent, which doesn't seem to want to be raised. He swears a little, kicks the tent, pulls out a flask and takes a deep pull, and continues trying to set it up. He’s equipped with a sword on his belt, and there's an arrow and a quiver near his backpack. I wouldn't be able to get any of this stuff without being spotted, I'm sure of it. I also can't do a frontal attack. He was able to kill off Rip’s mother. I wouldn’t even register as a warmup. As I carefully retreat to weigh my options, Rip yanks my hair to try to get me to go back.
"Quit it!"
My whisper sounding angrier as I get some distance between us and the hunters lair. I sit down, pull off the ferret and place him in front of me. His whiskers tremble with barely restrained fury.
"Hey! Furball! I need you to calm your shit. I know who he is, I know what he did. We're going to get him, but I need you to calm down immediately, otherwise, we're both going to die here, and neither of us would enjoy that."
He calms down a little, still fuming with anger.
"So here's what we're gonna do."
I tell him my plan, and I swear he was grinning by the time I finish.

I crawl back to where we saw the hunter. On the way, I pick up some rocks lying on the ground. He seems to have been able to get the tent up, though it is the most ramshackle tent I've ever seen. Still, considering my own skill in camping, I probably wouldn't do any better. As I observe him, he's sitting quietly by the fireplace. Occasionally he'll prod the meat, turn it a little, or slice a piece off and eat it. I know I'm undead, I know I don't feel hunger, but that looks really tasty right now. How long have I been in the game this session anyway? It must have been hours by now. No matter, I’ll worry about that when this is over. When fifteen minutes have passed since Rip left, I take a deep breath. My heart should be thumping now, if it wasn’t for my dead state. I've never actually done something like this. Well, never premeditated at least. I've been goaded into a few fights in my past, but always due to my temper. I stand up and walk out of the bush I'm in.
"Hey asshole!"
I scream as I throw the rocks at him. Four rocks fly. The first hits his tent, making it fall down in disarray. The second rock hits his fireplace, making embers fly everywhere and hopefully giving him a bit of a start. The third and fourth both go wide, but I feel I got my point across. He waves the embers off and looks at me with wild eyes.
"Fucking bitch, I'll get you for that!"
His voice is a screeching scream. Bullseye. I turn and run like a crazy person. Feels like all I've done since I started playing this game has been running. At least this time I have a plan. Trees pass by so fast it’s hard to keep track. I wish I knew what my speed was. I've never been able to run this fast in real life. The feeling is amazing. The wind in my face, the pounding of my feet on the ground. I only wish I could feel my heart beat faster as well. I run for about two minutes before I realise I'm not hearing him behind me. Dammit, I was sure he would chase me. I stop and turn around, but I see nothing in the forest. There are sounds of birds, wind, leaves, but no running, swearing or attacking. As I consider whether to go back or continue, there's an ominous twang in the air.

You have been hit by a hunters arrow for 45% damage

I stare at an arrow embedded in my shoulder for a few seconds before what's happened registers in my mind. Another arrow slams into a tree trunk next to me, before I finally snap out of it and take off running.
"Gotcha you slag! Wait until I get a hold of you, I'll teach you what happens when you mess with Huntex!"
Even in my injured and shocked state, I’m baffled by his choice of name. My shoulder hurts like hell, but at least I learnt not to stop and gawk in a combat situation. I run for another few minutes, when suddenly, I'm floored.
The air is forced from my lungs, and I feel a kick in my side.

You have been kicked for 10% damage

Shit, I'm below 50%. My health bar is more yellow than orange at this point. I roll to my left, as the kick was into my right side, hoping I'll get the room I need to get to my feet.
"Where are you going babe, we're only getting started!"
He's still right next to me, getting ready to stomp my chest. I barely manage to twist out of the way as his foot impacts the soft forest floor. He's so fast! He outran me to this place, he was in front of me right now. This was such a terrible idea, I should never have agreed to help that damn ferret! I get up to my knees as he's about to stomp me again. I brace with my hands, and manage to grab his foot as he's kicking down. I twist it as hard as I can, putting my entire body into the motion, and he goes down.
"Unh! Fucking bitch, what are you doing? I'm gonna *oomph*"
His ability to articulate sentences seems to be predicated on his genitals not being punched. I feel dirty for touching him voluntarily, but needs must. I finally manage to get up, and keep running. This should buy me some time. I hear him swearing behind me, rustling sounds of someone stumbling to their feet. There's a thunk and a crash on a tree next to me, and my vision goes blurry.

Warning: You have been caught in the affected area of an acid arrow. You will lose health until the acid loses its potency or is neutralised.
You are affected by 'The Acid, it burns!' lose 1% health per 10 seconds

Half my face feels like it's on fire. I force myself to run through the pain, watching my health bar diminish point by point. I can hear him coming after me, too close. He’s close enough to grab me. I didn't do any damage to him, and there's no way I'll be able to find Rip now. Suddenly, there's an impact on the undamaged side of my head, and I almost tumble to the ground. My hair is pulled hard to the left, and my muscle memory takes over, steering me into some bushes. There's a quick drop which takes another 10% of my health, leaving me with 50 seconds to live, and a strange thundering sound, too close for comfort. I try to roll around, but my hair is being held in place from behind. I can feel cold dirt being thrown on my face, while a devastating roar is heard nearby.
"Holy Fuck, what are you!"
I can hear the surprise in his voice. I hope he spent his most powerful attack on me. I can hear the giant bears angry howl as an arrow hit him.
"Get away you asshole, I'm not here for you!"
There's the sound of a hammer hitting a hard surface, and a tree falling over.
"Aaah! No! Get away!"
There's a wet crunch, and everything goes quiet for a few seconds. The next sounds are crunching, chewing, Then footsteps coming past us. I risk a peek, and regret it immediately. Right past us wanders the giant creature. Not a meter separates us. He stares right at us for a second, then continues walking. A minute later I can't even hear his footsteps, and I turn around to look at Rip. He's standing there on his rear 4 paws, his front 4 spread out to make himself large. His central gem is shining, projecting an image in front of us, hiding us from the bear. I touch the side of my face, and realise the dirt neutralized the acid when I had 2% health left. I grab Rip and hug him close, kissing his fuzzy little head.
"I'm sorry. I'll never call you a little shit again"
He squirms a little, then resigns himself to the hug. With a groan, I roll around and stumble to my feet.
"How the hell did I survive that?"
My vision slowly returns to normal, as I clear my head carefully.
"Did you notice where he went down?"
Rip nods, and leads me through the forest. My little companion managed to catch the attention of the bear, and run all the way to meet me while I was trying to get to him. He made it further than I expected, since I was otherwise engaged for longer than I should have been. We get to the scene of the crime. His body is still here. I wonder how this works... I mean, does his body disappear when he times out? Does his stuff stay behind? I carefully search his corpse. He's wearing a neat cape which is still usable, if a bit ... grimy. His boots seem good. He's not wearing any armour, and his clothes have been ripped and partly eaten. I find his bow and quiver, with four arrows. I can't find his sword anywhere, however. He's also wearing an amulet, a bronze chain with a green stone pendant. I grab it as well.
"Let's go back to his camp. I'm sure we'll find the gem there."
Rip nods eagerly and gets on my shoulders. The walk back to his camp is slow and painful. I'm not completely defeated, but near enough to make no difference. I check my messages while we walk.

Warning: Your health is critical
Ability increased: Endurance
Ability increased: Focus
Skill increased: Running
Skill increased: Aim
Skill increased: Stun resistance
Skill increased: Body Control
Skill discovered: Unarmed Combat
Skill increased: Sneak attack
Skill increased: Stealth
Skill increased: Move Silently
You have been marked for death by a hunter. Any attacks by a hunter will do more damage against you. Hiding from any hunter will be more difficult. Mark will last for 24 hours or until killed.

Bit of a mixed bag.. On one side, at least I can get the messages aggregated. On the other side, it seems like I’m heading in the direction of some sort of assassin class if I’m not careful. Hopefully, Huntex’ bind point or whatever it’s called is far away from here. We get to the camp, and nothing seems to have changed. The tent is in shambles, but his backpack is sitting there. We hurry over and start digging through it, searching for the gem. I find some clothes, soap, dry rations, weapon maintenance kit, field dressing kit, some scrolls, some potions and at the bottom, in a soft leather pouch, a beautiful gem.

Congratulations, you have recovered the Gem of an adult female OctoFerret. This gem contains the memories and abilities the mother wanted to pass on to her children.
Attention: You have recovered a quest item. You can now finish the quest Avenge the OctoFerret
a) hand the gem over to Rip for the full rewards of this quest.
b) Hold on to the gem, and finish the Quest. You have avenged the mother, but will only get partial rewards for the quest

I turn the gem over in my hands, admiring it’s awesome luster. Rip sits silently next to me, watching my actions. I have no idea of it's worth to me personally. I mean, it seems to contain skills and abilities, which is useful, and the hunter wanted to keep it for some reason. On the other hand, I know what it means to Rip. Could I really disappoint him by keeping it to myself? I know there isn't really a question here. I take the gem out of the pouch, and kneel next to Rip.
"So, Mr Fluffers... "
He growls at me.
"Calm down. I think this belongs to you."
I hand him the gem. His eyes widen, and he hugs it closely, a soft glow surrounding him.

Congratulations. The Quest Avenge the OctoFerret was completed.
All objectives completed.
Your standing amongst OctoFerrets everywhere has increased.
All plains dwelling creatures of Light will be more positively inclined towards you.
Rip the OctoFerrets opinion of you has improved to ‘Fond’

A little underwhelming really. I’d hoped for something .. More. Rip holds the gem to his own, and there's a bright light.

The cleansing light cures your status ailments and restores your health.

The world comes back into focus, and the pain begins to go away. There’s still pain, but everything feels so much better.
"Wow.. Thanks Rip I..."
Another flash of light, and the gem is gone. Rip's own gem now shines with a brighter light than before.
"Dude, you're brilliant. I mean, you're shining like a star. What's going on?"
Another flash, and Rip is gone. In his place is an elf clad in green vines and leaves.
"There, this is much better."
"What's going on. Rip? Is that you?"
"Yes Shae. With the return of my mother's gem, I have been.. Completed. By bonding with the gem, I have become much more than I was supposed to be. The life-force is incredible, and I’ll be able to go home and save my siblings. If I can get home in time."
“That's cool, we can head back as soon as I’ve healed up a bit”
He looks away before he continues.
“I’m sorry. You won’t be able to come back with me. There’s not enough time, and I move faster on my own. If I were to delay for much longer, the energies will overwhelm me, and my entire bloodline will die with me.”
My voice betrays my emotions. He's dying? Because I succeeded my Quest?
"Please don’t worry. This is the way my kind lives. From my sacrifice, a new line will form. The only sadness is that it will remove me from your company."
"So this is it then? All that just so you could just run off and leave me?" I can feel my anger rising. It's irrational, I know. I've known him for less than 24 hours. He's a ferret. An artificial ferret in a virtual world. And my heart is breaking.
"I am sorry for that. While we will never meet again, you may encounter my siblings out in the world. We share a soul across all of the planes, and any of us is all of us. They will assist you as I have. I want to give you one last gift before I go, however. I think you will find it useful in your travels, especially considering the way you tend to get in trouble."
His visage is annoying. Kind and patient, softly explaining, tearing at my soul.
"I'm not sure I want it..."
As the words leave my lips I feel the pointless petulance weighing on me. I turn away from him anyway. He's still standing in front of me.
"I know, Shae."
He hugs me, and I let him, trying hard not to cry. The light flares up around us, and he's gone. Rip is gone.

Skill discovered: Illusionist
Warning: You have gained an ability that channels mana. Due to your racial specials, spending too much mana means your body will acquire rot. If the rot proceeds too far, you will devolve to a lesser form of undead.

I dry my eyes and pick up the stuff around me, roll up the tent and attach it to the backpack, and walk off. I travel for two hours, away from where the bear went.. I walk through a stream, up a small hill, across a crevasse, and finally find a little cave where I can bed down for the night. The process of setting up the tent makes me understand why the hunter was swearing, but I’m mostly on autopilot now. I finally make it, roll out the sleeping bag, and go to sleep.

You are in a safe location. Do you want to log out? Your avatar will be placed in sanctuary until you return

I nod yes, and the world fades from sight once again.

A note from mroysson


Due to feedback, I've removed a part of this chapter showing the POV of the antagonist. Let me know if you'd like to read it (I can always post it as a separate chapter.)

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About the author


  • Stranger in a strange land

Bio: Software developer by trade. Games developer by uni course. Shopkeeper in a previous life.. don't ask.

I took a look at my life recently, and realised I read too much. I watch too much tv. I play too many games. I consume too much. It was time for me to create instead, improve the balance of things. So I wrote, and I wrote, and I managed to finish a first draft. Then I went back to the beginning and started rewriting it, while working on the sequel.

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