James’s sleep was fretful. He woke the next morning with a tweaked neck and tight muscles. He must have become more familiar with sleeping in a pile of furs than he had realized. At first, he thought the fur piles were just a step up from the ground, but actually sleeping on the ground had shown him otherwise.
Like a gift from the gods, he heard a noise that under any other circumstance would have sent him into a rage. A rage so bloodthirsty that he would have been able to give Torunn the cold shoulder as payback for yesterday, and not even feel sorry about it.
James would indeed have to clear out these Ingos if he slept here again. He was happy they were here right now though since he needed their furs to make bedding and proper shelter. Waking up to them under any other circumstance was not acceptable. It was one thing James vowed not to stand for in this world. Adult Martyrs fighting their wives, letting Torunn tackle him; those were all things he could deal with. But he could not cope with waking up to Ingos anymore.
The new human was sleeping inside the crude shelter James had built the previous night. James stood up and leaned a bunch of branches onto the center tree. Then he started a small fire inside. It wouldn't have been enough to keep out rain, but fortunately, it didn’t rain last night. Actually, James pondered, the weather hadn’t changed once in this world at all. Yet another thing he needed information on.
After a good stretch of his tight muscles, James walked up to Torunn - who was out in the clearing doing his thing with the herbs again. James couldn’t even be sure that Torunn had ever stopped working with his herbs last night.
“Hey, Bonehead. I am going to hunt some Ingos. Do you want to come?” James asked his Martyr brother, who shook his head in response.
“Skins,” Torunn growled.
“Yea, skins. I am going to get some,” James responded as he began to walk away.
“SKINS!” Torunn yelled as he hopped to his feet, pointing at the Adventurer’s Satchel on James’s back.
“Oh, that’s right. I probably already have some,” James said as he dug into his pack. He silently wished he had remembered last night. He wouldn’t be in the pain he was in now if he had. James pulled out the skins, which were promptly snatched away by Torunn.
“Hey!” James exclaimed.
Torunn growled and turned his loot away from James. “Need,” he said.
“Whatever. I was going to get some more anyway. Keep an eye on this other guy, will ya? If he wakes up, come find me.”
James remembered he should have some Ingo meat as well and was looking forward to eating it, but when he looked in his satchel, and the interface came into vision, the Ingo meat was gone. If he recalled correctly, some of his items would drop on death depending on the rarity of the items and his bag. He checked his equipment and confirmed that the Ingo meat was the only thing lost.
Torunn grunted his agreement, and James set off. He didn’t have to wander far until he heard the splashing of Ingos in their small lakes. He revealed his Martyr skinning knife and made sure his Bent Copper Buckler was in good repair. It wasn’t, but James figured it was because of the quality of the item, and not because it was going to fall apart at any moment. His weapon and his shield were both greys in his interface and had a “Widespread” quality attribute. If his sword had held up all this time, he was sure the buckler would too.
James peaked his head into the Ingo clearing and counted. “One, two, three, four, this won’t be a chore,” he whispered to himself, before letting out a soft sigh, “I should work on my rhymes.”
James activated Jump Strike at the Ingo furthest from the others. It didn’t stun the creature, but it did surprise it, allowing James to get an unmolested sword strike in. The Ingo reacted quickly to the attack and struck out with its beak with startling speed. It impacted James in the arm right above his shield, causing him to seethe in pain. James thought he should have easily been able to block the attack, but figured he probably needed to get used to fighting with shields first.
James killed his first Ingo before the others reached him. He backed up and activated Jump Strike again. This time the 30% chance to stun worked in his favor, allowing him to focus on the other two Ingos. Although things were going okay so far, the Ingos still had him surrounded. The stunned Ingo regained consciousness and re-joined the fight before James could dispatch any others. He lowered his body and spun around, letting his blade trail out in an arc that cut against the legs of the two closest Ingos. They stumbled and squawked in pain, giving James a second to backup and activate Jump Strike. His earlier suspicion was correct - the closer he activated Jump Strike, the higher in the air he would go. Trying not to succumb to his fear of heights, James distracted himself momentarily by looking at his Health and Endurance bars. His Health was at 48 out of 60. He had lost 12 HP so far and had 18 more to go before he went into shock. His Endurance points were at 20 out of 50 since he had already used Jump Strike three times.
James finally landed but unfortunately didn’t stun his prey. He was starting to regret his strategy of investing most of his points into Wisdom. He had gained five levels so far, and the Ingos were still almost as hard to kill as they were the first time around. He obtained a modest advantage from his new Jump Strike ability, and the damage increase from his higher short sword skill helped, but he still thought it should be easier.
Realizing he needed a different attack strategy, James stole one from Torunn’s book. He backed up until he was at the edge of the clearing, and then disappeared into the grass. James took two quick steps to his right, crouched into the sneaking position, and allowed the Ingos to run right by him. When the last Ingo was about to pass James, he reached out and struck it from behind. The Ingo silently fell dead, its brethren none the wiser. This method of attack was certainly efficient, but James only wanted to use it as a last resort. He was confident he didn’t want to become an assassin type character.
After James killed one more Ingo with the sneak method, he let the other one chase him back into the clearing where he challenged it to a head-up fight. It still wasn’t easy, but at least James was getting experience for the skills he wanted to gain experience for. The last Ingo fell, and James sat down to replenish his supply of skins.
The sun was about to begin setting when James returned to his clearing. He dispatched a handful more Ingo nests that day, resting up to full Health and Endurance between each one. He gained quite a few Ingo skins, some meat, and even a piece of armor for his wrist.
You have received Cracked Leather Bracers.
James equipped the item immediately. He could tell it was of widespread quality, as it glowed with a grey aura when he found it. He knew it probably only offered one Armor point.
James re-lit his fire and set some Ingo meat out to roast on some rocks nearby. The other human was still fast asleep. James hoped the smell of food would wake him. Torunn was still outside making his mash. The Martyr cub had Ingo skins cut into small sections and laid out all around him now. He was placing his pulp into the center of each skin when James looked over. James left his game brother alone and worked on improving the shelter while his food cooked.
He began by cutting away the tree branches that reached into his shelter. He piled these inside for firewood and then started cutting the outside branches away from their trunks. James added these to the woodpile as well. When he finished, a half a dozen or so gnarly-but-straight trees were leaning against his center tree. He then laid Ingo skins out the best he could over his tent framework. The skins didn’t connect, but they would at least provide better shelter than they had last night.
Stepping out of the makeshift tent, James checked on Torunn who looked to was finished with his project. He cut some of the skins into thin slices and was using them as strings to tie the parcels closed. The finished project was a small pouch with whatever Torunn had been crushing in his hands inside. Torunn stood and gathered up all of his creations. He tossed half of them to James and motioned for him to place them in his bag. Realizing he didn’t have a bag of his own, Torunn fashioned a belt from the skins and tied some of his pouches to it, before tossing the rest of his pouches to James, who put them away in his bag.
“Uh, thanks… what are these?” asked James.
Torunn just smiled and looked at the makeshift dome tent.
“Alright, well at least my bag doesn’t have a limit to what it can carry. Any more mysterious pouches you want me to carry around?”
That’s when James remembered he was in a game. Everything felt so real it was easy to forget - even though he had a lion-man that followed him around everywhere. Since he was in a game, he navigated to his interface to find out what the mystery pouches were. Opening his inventory, he saw the infinite scrolling grid with a chart to the left he could use to cross-reference item rarities with his bag rarity to determine item drop rates on death. He ignored this and looked for the pouches.
Ingo Meat x9
Ingo Skin x1
Healing Salve x12
James focused on the healing salve and was surprised when he received more information on them.
Healing Salve - Heals 30 HP over 5 minutes.
“Torunn! How did you make these?” James asked excitingly. Upon inspection of the item, he could tell it was different than the salve Frey used on him after the Oana Scout attacked him.
“New urbs,” Torunn grunted as he continued to inspect the dome tent.
James watched as the Martyr cub cut the remaining Ingo skins into more thin strips. He imagined Torunn’s grunt meant there were new herbs in the area and wondered if the Martyr's difficulty with words was why he didn’t talk much.
“Is he self-conscious about his speech?” James asked himself.
Torunn proceeded to poke holes in the Ingo skins draped across the exoskeleton of the dome shelter. He then fed the strips of Ingo skins through the holes and pulled. The result was a cohesive Ingo skin roof.
“Smart,” James commented, genuinely impressed by his game brothers ingenuity.
Torunn continued working without reply, but James could see a small smirk begin to grow on the Martyr's face.
A few moments later, Torunn and James were standing a few paces from the hut admiring the product of their love, sweat, and tears, when they heard someone making actual tears. The new human was awake and sobbing inside their new shelter. James immediately set off in the direction to formally meet the other human, and comfort him.