James stood on the top of a guard tower and wiped the sweat from his brow. The village was coming along well. The wall was finished and was so tall now that even an adult Martyr couldn’t easily climb it. They would have to build ramparts and stairs next so that the walls could be manned. The guard towers were unfortunately too far back from the wall, causing a blind spot for the Martyrs that stood guard. If the Oana managed to sneak through the Great Savanna undetected they would have free roam of the land on the other side of the wall and the guards would have no clue.
James recalled the conversation he had with Frey earlier that day. She said they once lived in a village where tall buildings were connected by rope bridges. Maybe they could build a bridge like that to the wall. It would solve their blind spot problem with much fewer resources. It might also give some reprieve to the Martyrs that were starting to complain of being trapped.
Before James visited the guard tower, he met with Dreng to check on his brother. The chieftain said that the Martyrs got increasingly antsy as the wall grew higher. They were used to wide open spaces and plenty of room to amble about. James couldn’t blame them; Martyrs were big creatures. Dreng wanted to continue discussing building plans but James didn’t have the capacity. He asked that they meet again the next day and that for today all they needed to do was seal off the portal. James was relieved that he didn’t have to explain the portal to the chieftain as Frode had already briefed him on the subject.
Dreng conceded, sensing the worry in James, and told him about his brother. He said that Michael was strong, even stronger than James and Patrick combined, but he was still struggling to free his mind from the delirium. When Dreng saw the worry on James's face grow, he called Frode into the meeting, anticipating that the human cub would have an assortment of questions he couldn’t answer himself. Dreng was right. James bombarded Frode with questions as the advisor struggled to keep up. In the end, it was clear that everything that could be done for his brother was being done. If Michael was going to recover, he would have to do the rest himself.
James watched the sun go down from on top of the guard tower. He had a long day, made longer by the fact that he still didn’t get the opportunity to sleep off the weariness he felt from the spirit battleground. James hoped that tonight he would be able to get a full night's rest. He exhaled the stress from his body.
“Okay. Michael is safe and being cared for...” James said to himself as he counted his completed tasks on his fingers. “The village is safe for the time being, the portal is blocked off and inaccessible, and I will need to talk to Noma later, but for now, I can relax. What better way to relax than to spend some stat points?” James pulled up his interface and navigated to his statistics page.
James – Level 19
Constitution, Level 8 – Controls how much health you have
Strength, Level 6 – Affects your ability to use weapons, lift objects, and your size
Endurance, Level 5 – Controls how much energy you have
Agility, Level 5 – Controls your movement abilities in battle, dodge, critical strikes, and unarmed combat damage
Will, Level 6 – Controls how low your HP can drop before you go into shock, and affects your ability to tap into health, endurance, and mana reserves
Intelligence, Level 30 – Controls the data you can gather from your interface, the world, and how much mana you have
Wisdom, Level 27 - Controls the rate at which you gain all types of experience, and more
“Hmmm,” James murmured.
It seems he didn’t gain any experience from the spirit battleground. All of his stats were the same as just before he went into the battleground, including the 2 points of Constitution he gifted to himself. Considering how much work he had put into fighting for the spirit, James was pretty disappointed.
“Did we really do all that work for nothing?” James asked himself. “No…” he admitted reluctantly. He knew better than that. Just because he didn’t get anything tangible from helping the spirit didn’t mean it wasn’t the right thing to do. Helping a century-old water mage that sacrificed her life to protect the world was enough. Besides, the spirit didn’t give him much of an option, so there was no use in complaining.
James’s frown quickly turned into a smile when he remembered that Salmaana said he would get a reward for helping her.
“You’re terrible.” James chastised himself for the irony.
He knew he should feel satisfied just from doing the right thing, but there was nothing quite like a shiny and useful item he could hold in his hands. James decided to finish looking for updates in his interface before he went to talk to Noma. If anyone knew how to get Salmaana’s reward it would be him.
James glanced over his statistics page again and noticed the description for Will had changed. It now said that it affected his ability to tap into health, endurance, and mana reserves. That must have been how he had got the surge of energy that allowed him to keep swinging his Martyr skinning knife at the Lich vessel back in the spirit battleground. He had been exhausted, but if he would have given up at that moment, Ogrim and the other enemy heroes would have won the battle. James was certain that was the gist of what happened, but he would certainly need to discover the intricacies of the statistic. If he would have kept trying to cast firebolts at the vessel instead would he have tapped into a reserve of mana? How large were the reserves was he able to access, and how exactly did he access them? These questions would need to be answered.
Congratulations! You have surpassed Level 30 in Intelligence! You can now inspect the buildings of other towns and learn how to build them.
James tilted his head. That was two things today that told him he needed to explore the world - first the human currency of gold coins and now this.
“How big is this world?” James asked as he stared out across the Great Savanna.
It stretched on further than his eyes could see. He had done a decent amount of exploring and still only reached one end of the Great Savanna. How many days would he have walked before the Savanna ended if he went in the opposite direction? More importantly, what was on the other side of this mountain? James turned his head from the Savanna and studied the mountain. Its peaks were mostly covered in clouds. He could probably climb it a little if he wanted but there was no way he would be able to get high enough to get over them. If he wanted to see what was one the other side of the mountain range, which he did, he would have to find a way around.
Sneak, Level 6 (1 level gained recently) – Visibility & sound decreased by 6% while sneaking
Skinning, Level 19 – Time to skin & error rate decreased by 19% while skinning. Error rate when skinning tougher skinned creatures reduced by an additional 50%
Cooking, Level 22 (4 levels gained recently) – Food is 22% more delicious. Stat buffs from meals that award them increased by 22%
Fire, Level 18 (6 levels gained recently) – Your mastery of fire is increased by 18%
Short Swords, Level 26 (5 levels gained recently) – Damage done with short swords increased by 26%
Short Sword Ability “Jump Strike”, Level 12 (2 levels gained recently) - Chance to stun 80% (25% + 5%/lvl)
Short Sword Augment - Tremor - Land with such force the ground trembles beneath you. Surrounding enemies are slowed for 1 second
Dual Wield, Level 1 - Damage penalty from dual wielding decreased by 1%. Current damage penalty when dual wielding equals 59% for both weapons
Small Shields, Level 13 - Chance to fully deflect or block an attack increased by 23% (10% + 1%/lvl)
Party Leader. Level 6 (4 levels gained recently) - Damage taken by party members reduced by 6% (1%/lvl)
James gasped. Before he entered the spirit battleground his skills were progressing extremely slowly - even with the training ground. This and the fact that he was growing depressed over not knowing were his brother was, made him practically forget about his skills. He was training just for the benefit of clearing his thoughts in an effort to not go crazy. He succeeded in not going crazy, but that wasn’t the only benefit. He actually had some skill progression now! James mourned for his party members that didn’t invest in Wisdom early on. Skill progression slowed so drastically that he wouldn’t be surprised if his party members only gained a level or two in some of their skills.
James resolved to talk to his party again about investing in Wisdom and let a smile cover his face. He was getting quite the formidable skills list. His highest skill, the short sword, now had its own list below it, complete with augments and sub-skills. He would have to find another short sword soon so he could grow his dual wield ability. That would be his highest priority when it came to his personal growth. He also had to get a grasp on what the town needed to build next and get an idea of how Alex and Lilly’s crafting skills worked.
“So much to do, so little time.” James sighed as he watched the last vestiges of light disappear across the Great Savanna. He mentally minimized his shield skill, willing his interface to hide it next time he brought up his skills list. If he was going to be fully invested in dual wield he didn’t want to worry about shields. Besides, he made the decision to drop the skill a long time ago when he chose the stat boost instead of the option that would improve the skill.
James had one more notification blinking inside his interface. He opened it and smiled, “Finally something else to cook!”
Congratulations! Your cooking skill has surpassed Level 20. You can now choose from the below 2 recipes.
Recipe 1- Spiced Cider, Increases morale by 10 for 30 minutes.
Recipe 2- Travelling Wine, Increases morale by 2 for 2.5 hours.
“Hmm, the cooking skill includes drinks as well?” James wondered. He was hoping he would get another food recipe. He wanted something that would give him a higher stat boost but would honestly take anything other than roasted Ingo meat and Tucca. That was an exaggeration though. He had the grain that they fashioned into a sort of meal or porridge. It didn't give any stat boosts and was a distraction from the Ingo, but honestly tasted horrible. It was clear that to cook good food in this world; James needed to have a recipe from his cooking skill. He could always just randomly cook something, but it always turned out bland, burnt, or inedible if he didn't have a cooking recipe for it.
James’s thoughts were interrupted when he realized he was cold. The hair on his arms perked up and he used his arms to warm them. James was utterly confused at the feeling. He had been chilled once when he stayed in the rain too long, but this was the first time he actually felt cold, cold. He quickly chose the Spiced Cider recipe that increased morale by what he assumed was a huge margin for a short amount of time. He figured he already had something that gave him a long-term buff but was admittedly disinterested in the decision at this point. He was freezing!
James turned around, opening the trap door to the makeshift guard tower and climbing down. He rushed back to the cabin, eager to warm himself in front of the fire.