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James mentally asked the spirit a few more questions but got no response in return. He sighed, realizing she must be too weak to communicate with him and that he would have to build the portal as soon as possible. He was a little worried that the reward he got would be smaller if he waited too long, but the fact that Salmaana returned his soul and his brother to him was what ultimately made him get out of his fur pile. He had an idea of where the portal should go but had no idea how to actually build it.

Mentally pulling up his town builder interface, James perused the options looking for something that would help him out. The last time he used the interface he just selected an empty lot on the overlay and a pop up appeared with the buildings that were available to him. However, when James selected the empty lot that Patrick created by digging into the mountain, no portal option became available in his interface. James sat back down into his fur pile, realizing he was at an impasse. He needed to learn the ins and outs of his town builder interface and he needed to do it as soon as possible.

James let the town builder overlay cover his vision as he laid his head back. The bird’s eye view of the village was semi-transparent but didn’t seem to be any less visible, even though it was dark in the cabin. After a few sleepy minutes, he found out that to build things he needed to have the building materials within his zone of control. The interface would automatically calculate what he could build with the materials he had available and show the option when he mentally clicked on an empty lot. He found this out by mentally clicking on the empty lots below the cliff. When he did so a list of available buildings popped up. It was clear that he could build a few shacks on multiple lots, one cabin on one lot, or something called a Sculptor’s Hovel. The limiting factor keeping him from building them all was wood. James suspected that if he got a wider range of materials in his zone of control he would be able to build a wider variety of unique buildings.

Sculptor’s Hovel - Allows a crafter to create sculptures that give unique bonuses to the area of control they reside in.

James hadn’t had a chance to talk to Dreng yet, so he wasn’t sure what the Martyrs were currently working on. Because of this he refrained from selecting the build button. The fact that this village had access to stone, and both Lilly and Alex had crafting classes now, meant that this building was a high priority. Yet, James needed to worry about building the portal first. His tinkering with the interface told him that he just didn’t have the required materials to build it yet, as he could only see the material requirements for buildings he already had the materials for. In fact, he was realizing that it was more of a building cost, than a building requirement.

James shook his head in frustration. “There’s got to be another way."

He thought back to the games he played in the real world. The ones that had any sort of crafting usually had recipes that he could find. He hadn’t seen any recipes in the game so far, but then again, he hadn’t even explored the whole savanna yet. James recalled the strange book that Lilly had with the unknown lettering. It was possible that it was a recipe of some sort, but he wasn’t able to read it so it wouldn’t do him any good at the moment.

Out of options, James mentally reached out to Salmaana again. ‘I don’t know how to build the portal. Is there a recipe or material list or something?’

A whisper echoed inside James’s head in reply, but he couldn’t make out what it was saying. He closed his eyes and calmed his breathing.

‘Smash... the vessel… Break it…’

“I have to break the vessel? Are you sure?” James asked out loud. He waited a long while in his fur pile before deciding he wasn’t going to get a confirmation. With a sigh, James stood up and headed to get the spirit vessel from the basement. Smashing the vessel would surely remove the time slowing advantage he had. James hated that fact, but knew he had to do it anyway. If Salmaana needed it, he would do it. She had sacrificed enough already. Losing his time slowing effect was a small sacrifice in comparison.

***

James stood in the small cave that Patrick had created behind the training area. He chose this location so it could be walled off with stone. Allowing a portal with unknown properties to be built in his village still gave him an uneasy feeling, so he would make sure that it would be protected and out of sight. Hopefully he could seal it behind a strong door at some point. Besides, it probably wasn’t smart to dig much deeper into the mountain without reinforcements in place anyway. Patrick would have to find another location to mine, but James didn’t think it would be a problem. There were many more places on the mountain that could be mined that would actually extend the plateau he stood on, without risking a dangerous cave in.

James raised the large ornate jar over his head; it glinted as the first rays of sunlight reflected off its jeweled surface.

“I hope this works,” James said, seconds before he slammed the fragile creation into the stone ground.

James closed his eyes at the moment of impact just in case any shrapnel exploded into his face. The vessel hit the ground with a soft shatter. Not knowing what to expect, James let one of his eyelids slowly rise. When he saw that nothing spectacular happened and no shrapnel hit his face he let out a sigh, partly from relief and partly from disappointment. James reached out to Salmaana and felt an emptiness in his mind where her presence once resided. She was gone.

“Goodbye, spirit. Thank you for your sacrifice,” James whispered to the wind, hoping his goodbye would somehow reach the spirit. “Now, how do I build this portal?”

James thought something would fall out of the vessel that he would be able to use to construct the portal. When nothing did, he opened his builder interface to see if he could find a clue there.

Consecrated Land - A small plot of land that has been infused with an unknown spell. Would you like to activate the spell?

James spaced out for a second. Was it as easy as that? He mentally replied yes to his interface, which still felt awkward to do, and the ground beneath him started to rumble. Spikes protruded from the ground where he smashed the vessel and slowly grew taller. James cautiously stepped closer to get a look at the material. It looked like the same metal his brother wore in the spirit battleground at first. Upon closer inspection, James realized it wasn’t a metal he had ever seen before. It looked more like the hardened remains of a charred tree. When the largest spike reached two feet in length a half circle grew underneath it.

“What the whaaat?” James whispered as he got a full view of the portal.

The sinister black material formed a spiked circle that violently protruded from the ground. Inside the circle, a dark purple gas shimmered and waved about. James unconsciously took a step closer to the portal. He squinted his eyes in the hope of seeing beyond the gas, but it only gave him glimpses of what may lie on the other side. Human-like figures formed and dispersed as the gas whirled around. The purple became so dark in spots that it looked almost black. Suddenly, another figure appeared, this time much more clear. He recognized it immediately as his brother. James's heartbeat quickened as he glanced to the Martyr tent where he swore his brother resided. Another swirl of dark purple coalesced next to his brother and solidified into another form. This time, it was Torunn.

James quickly asked himself where Torunn was before remembering he was asleep in the cabin. He was splayed across his fur pile sleeping like a rock. James wondered if the portal was intentionally messing with him. He watched as the two figures interacted. The different shades of purple that made up the two figures started to move violently. James watched the portal in awe as Torunn bared his teeth and tackled Michael. James’s brother fell limp as Torunn’s teeth dug into his neck.

“What the hell?” James gasped as gaseous Torunn met James’s eyes and gave a mischievous grin. Torunn sunk his weight into his legs and charged James. The purple gas that made up the Martyr cub grew larger, making it seem like he was actually getting closer to James. When the form of Torunn grew to his real-life size it exploded from the portal, knocking James onto his back. James lashed out with all of his limbs, utterly startled and scared for his life. He pushed Torunn off of his body and threw him against the rock wall of the partial cave. If Torunn really just came from the portal did that mean he had really just killed Michael?

James angrily stood to confront the Martyr cub he once considered his game brother. In the place where Torunn should have been, lay a small greenish-brown creature. It wore what looked like a fur coat. James slowly reached out his hand to turn the creature over to get a good look at it. The unconscious creature jingled as James turned it to face him.

“Noma?”

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About the author

BigMartyrs

Bio: Writer of disparate LitRPG stories.

Current works = Legends of the Great Savanna (published) , Milton (Ongoing)

Stay in touch at JLLincoln.com

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