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James took a break from training and sat down against the cabin. The furs that Lilly had refashioned into cloaks kept the snow from soaking into his bottom. He pulled up his damage notifications. This was the first time he had the time to actually practice fighting with that hooked item he received before he entered the Spirit Battleground. He hadn’t been sure how to use it and figured the training area was the perfect place to figure it out. The device fit into his sheath slot in his interface but didn’t really have a physical sheath to hold a small knife or anything. James wondered why the item was classified as a sheath as he continued to fiddle with it. The device covered his bracers and had hooks that jutted out from the top and pointed back to his body. Small spikes also pointed directly forward. Until James figured out it’s intended use he would treat it as a secondary weapon. His damage notifications confirmed that it could be used as such. It didn’t do as much damage as his primary weapon, but it still wasn’t a negligible amount. If James ever lost his weapons and was out of mana this could be his backup. It was unlikely to happen, but there was nothing wrong with being prepared. If he found himself weaponless he could either run away or swipe at the enemy with his hooked and spiked bracer.

Equipped Items

Left Hand – Empty

Right Hand –Martyr Skinning Knife (Widespread)

Feet –Cracked Leather Boots (Widespread)

Legs –Dirty Cloth Pants (Widespread)

Chest – Dirty Cloth Shirt (Widespread)

Shoulder – Empty

Wrist –Cracked Leather Bracers (Widespread)

Back – Thick Ingo Skin Cloak (Common)

Head – Empty

Neck –Necklace of Lucidity (Uncommon)

Ring 1-5 – Empty

Sheath 1 –Clunky Short Sword Sheath (Widespread)

Sheath 2 – Pointy Bracer Cover (Common)

Bag – Adventurer's Satchel (Common)

James once again mourned for the shoulder item he lost the last time he died. He couldn’t even remember what it was called, but he remembered it fondly. It made him feel safer and more prepared than any other piece of armor he had gotten so far. James assumed it was because he never wore shoulder armor before in the real world. He wore helmets at various times of his life so he knew that when he eventually got a helm to wear it probably wouldn’t have the same effect as the shoulders did. Shoulder armor just felt more heroic.

The cloak that Lilly made him was also very respectable. He happened to get the first one she made and was not disappointed. As soon as he got it he left the warmth of the cabin to train. Everyone else was eagerly awaiting Lilly to finish creating cloaks for them so they could go outside and get rid of their cabin fever. The cider he made helped, but they were all starting to feel a little trapped.

“I guess Dreng’s plan to hole up and bunker down was a good one.” James sighed as he took in the fresh air. It chilled his lungs, but he welcomed the feeling.

You have received Thick Ingo Skin Cloak. +1 Armor and Constitution. Crafted by Lilly.

The cloak marked the first item his party had created that gave a stat boost. Apparently, Lilly hadn’t been idle with her crafting class. James would have to follow up with her and Alex, although he assumed Alex didn’t have the same amount of time to progress as Lilly did. He was always busy either fighting with James or building things. James wasn’t sure if the woodworking skill directly benefited from Alex’s crafting class, but he would have to find out.

James glanced at the second sheath slot in his interface. The item that fit securely over his bracers was called the Pointy Bracer Cover. The name didn’t give James much of a hint of what it was used for, other than to cover a bracer.

“What are you up to?” Noma asked startling James who was lost in his interface.

“Jesus, Noma,” James said in reflex. “I’m just trying to figure out my interface. It is pretty confusing to us humans from another world.” James waved his spiked bracer in the air in frustration. “Also, I’m going to hit Level 20 soon and I wanted to get an idea of what type of classes I would be offered.”

“Ah, I see,” Noma said, taking a seat next to James, “What level is your Intelligence?”

“Thirty.”

“That is good, and honestly a bit surprising. Once upon a time, Salmaana told me a story about how her family stressed the importance of Intelligence. She told me all of her relatives were practically forced to spend every available point they had in the stat. Her family was one of the only ones to do so. She told me that a long time ago everybody would focus on their Intelligence, but the strategy was slowly lost over time.”

“Why is it so important?” James asked curiously. He knew Intelligence was important but didn’t completely grasp why.

“She told me that Intelligence affects everything related to your interface. That is its true power. A higher Intelligence leads to a higher mana pool, but that is such a small benefit compared to what it does to your interface.” James made a confused face, letting Noma know to continue, “The higher your Intelligence the more your interface gathers information from your surroundings. At very high levels it can notify you of things you were not aware of. Anyway, I don’t think you need to be worried about what your interface offers you for class choices. I think your Intelligence is high enough that your interface will present you with options that you actually want. At your level, it should be able to sense what you need and what you want. If your Intelligence was lower, it might give you options based on your actions. If it was extremely low it would only offer you classes based on your statistics.”

James let out a sigh of relief. “That’s good, for me at least. I am sure Patrick won’t have the same benefit though.”

Noma smiled and let out a short laugh. “I think Patrick is happy with what he has."

James nodded and glanced over to Noma who now seemed to be lost in thought. “What is it with everybody being so distant lately?” James asked himself.

“Anyway,” Noma said as he shook himself from his daydream and sat down next to James. “I came to remind you of your reward!”

Excitement filled James. “Oh yeah! I forgot about that!”

“I know,” Noma sighed.

“Uh, what is it?” James asked curiously.

Noma waved his hand and a familiar menu filled James’s vision, “Soul items?” James asked, even though the answer was obvious.

“Yup, you get to choose one basic soul item. Salmaana’s leftover power will allow you to wield it.”

“Awesome!” James said, dragging out the word.

“Yup, you can’t choose a super powerful item, as they are made by combining basic soul weapons together, but whatever you choose should still be better than anything you can get out here.”

James immediately sorted the interface to only display short swords and shoulder armor. He desperately needed another weapon to grow his duel wield skill, but he wouldn’t be opposed to having shoulder armor again. His sorted view narrowed down his choice to about 30 items, but it was still a lot to go through.

“What do you recommend for short swords or shoulder armor?” James asked as he used his hands to manipulate the interface, even though he knew it wasn’t required.

Noma sighed. “I actually recommend you choose this…”

Ring of the Druid Queen - Increases armor by 10 and mana regen by 10%.

James let out a slow whistle as he read the ring’s description.

“It is perfect for you as someone that mainly uses melee weapons but also has some magic,” Noma said.

James agreed that it was indeed perfect for him. The armor would help him take less damage in battle, and the mana regen would ensure he could cast more fire bolts. James still wasn’t sold though.

“It is good, but I think I want something with a stat boost at least." James said. He liked the ring, but from what he knew about the game, stats were the most important. They were hard to come by and all gave numerous benefits. If he had the opportunity to increase them, he would have to take it. He couldn’t be tempted by useful, but basically vanity items. The armor and mana regen would certainly be useful, James didn’t doubt that, but stat increases would be more useful over the long run. That was what James was all about now, playing the long game.

Noma let out a sigh of relief. “Well, choose what you think is best then.”

James glanced at Noma with concern but wasn’t interested enough to question why Noma was being slightly passive aggressive. Twenty minutes later, and after numerous terrible suggestions by Noma, James had whittled down his options to two items.

“Okay, I think I know what I want. Once I choose an item, will I actually be able to equip it? Like will it take up a slot in my equipped items interface?” James asked.

“Yes, yes it will,” Noma replied with a shiver.

“Will I ever have the opportunity to get other soul items and combine them into something truly powerful?”

Noma rubbed his greenish-brown hand over his face and sighed. “Yes. You will get the option to choose a soul weapon anytime you defeat an enemy in a spirit battleground and release the spirit that controls it.”

“Excellent,” James said as he rubbed his hands together. “I choose this!”

Short Sword - Raises all stats by 4.

The names of the items James had seen in the game so far always had a descriptor in their names that indicated what rarity they were, like his Cracked Leather Boots or Dirty Cloth Pants. Yet this short sword was just simply named as it was. It was a little disappointing at first, but when James realized it was one of the only items that offered a stat increase and could be combined with other items to build something more powerful, his disappointment waned. He would need this one short sword if he ever wanted to have a truly powerful weapon. The stat point increases were nice, but what really made him choose the short sword was its future potential. If he won more spirit battles he would be able to make something like the Longsword of Draining that caught his eye when he first discovered soul weapons. This simple short sword was the stepping stone to getting one of those awesome weapons.

“Are you sure?” Noma asked.

James considered the question. He thought he was sure, but since this was such a big decision he figured he should double check his own surety. Was this what he really wanted? Was it what he needed? Was it what would be best for the big picture? He could certainly go for some type of utility item, like the Forest Child’s Slipper she had in the spirit battleground. He got the slippers to eventually build them into something that would allow him to teleport. The ability to teleport outside of the battleground would certainly be useful, but he didn’t know what the range would be. He could always raise his Sneak skill to Level 20 and get the Blink ability like Alex. Would a Teleport skill be much different? James didn’t really have anywhere to teleport right now even if it was, so he once again chose the short sword.

“Yes, I am sure,” James said seriously.

Noma nodded, stood up, and swirled his hands around in a pattern that told James he was casting some sort of spell. James watched as Noma’s hands began to move faster. His fingers grew longer and thicker periodically. The air began to swirl and become blurry, as did James’s recognition of reality. It was moments like these that were surreal to James. He had become used to the interfaces, but every time he cast a firebolt or saw a spell he was reminded that his new reality was extremely different than Earth. Noma gathered the swirling air with his hands and compressed it before throwing it upwards. The energy he was gathering collected and caused a tear in this plane of existence. A small portal appeared in the air above Noma and James. It looked much like the portal to the Lich King’s realm, but was orange in color, instead of a dark purple.

James watched as the portal rippled and his new short sword fell out and dropped to the ground. The short sword was pristine and gave off an orange glow, causing James to gasp. Noma collapsed to the ground with an exaggerated sigh of relief. James figured the spell must have been extremely exhausting for the soul merchant to cast. He watched as the small greenish-brown creature struggled to get back on his feet. When he finally managed to do so, he walked around the corner of the cabin and disappeared without another word.

Alone with his new loot, James eagerly picked up the short sword. A rush of energy filled his body, causing James to take an involuntary sharp breath as he gripped it. James felt all sorts of powerful as he raised the short sword in front of him. The feeling was no doubt from the sudden increase in all of his stats. When he increased his Constitution he felt healthier. When he increased his Intelligence he felt like he could think more clearly, but James had never increased all of his stats at once. Even though it was only a minor increase of two points to all of them, the feeling was still overwhelming. James let the feeling flow through his body as he darted to the nearest training dummy, eager to try out the new weapon. Before he did so, James checked the weapon out in his interface. What he saw made any traces of doubt he felt from choosing the weapon disappear.

Left Hand – (Acquired today) Legion Commander’s Short Sword (Legendary)

James eyes widened at the new information. He wasn’t sure why the short sword wasn’t named as such in Noma’s soul weapon interface, but the thought quickly left his mind when he navigated to the item drop rate grid. The legendary level rarity of the weapon, combined with the rarity of his bag meant that the short sword had a 20% chance to drop when he died. It was the lowest drop rate he had for any of his equipment and meant that it would be less likely to lose the sword than any of his other gear on death. Still, there was a small chance he would lose it, and James’s did not want that to happen. Equipment in this world was not easy to come by, so James resolved to find a higher rarity bag to carry his equipment in. If he could find an uncommon bag then his short sword would only have a 10% drop chance. If he could find a bag that was one rarity level higher, the drop chance on the short sword would drop to zero. James daydreamed about all the possibilities that would give him before exiting his interface and giving the sword a practice swing. James’s first actual attack cut the training dummy in half, causing the top portion of its body to fall to the ground.

“Oh crap,” James gasped excitedly.

The training dummies were strong enough to withstand all of his attacks before and only had minor scratches to show for it. Even Patrick’s True Iron Maul wasn’t able to outright break the training dummies. When the redhead trained they always had to make small repairs or add new skins to the training dummies, but even Patrick was never able to completely destroy the dummies. James checked his damage notifications and let out another slow whistle. His new short sword did triple the damage of Patrick’s weapon.

James was eager to try out both of his short swords at once, but decided against it. They were already low on resources as it was, he didn’t need to go and destroy their training area. Instead, James ran back into the cabin to show his party his new weapon. He hoped they would be excited as he was.

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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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