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Most of the people that had already gotten hangover cures from Torunn left the cabin and gathered up in the training area, but the majority of people just looked confused our stubbornly stayed in the fur piles. James tried another approach.

“If you want a cure to your blistering headache, go to the training area!” he hollered while pacing the cabin.

A few more people reluctantly ambled out of the cabin, mostly in an effort to get away from James’s yelling, but the majority of the people flat out ignored James’s orders. Luckily, Torunn stepped in.

The Martyr Chieftain stood from his stool by the bar, cleared his throat and commanded, “OUTSIDE. EVERYONE. NOW.”

To James’s amazement, even the stubborn duo of Patricks starting to move and hurriedly make for the door. James’s brother even rushed down from the second floor stairs and gave James a confused look as he ran past. Moment later, Torunn and James were the only ones left in the cabin.

James blinked, “How in the world did you do that?”

Torunn let out a worried chuckle, “It was an ability that I got from a class my father recommended. It was the first time I used it. I didn’t think it would be that effective.”

“Yea, it was crazy. Even Patrick woke up and rushed out the door,” James’s said with a laugh.

“It was definitely effective, but I should be more careful about how I use it in the future.”

“Definitely, a lot of those people, my brother included, were clearly moving against their own free will. That kind of control needs to be exercised with extreme discretion.”

Torunn nodded, “I agree, I even told my father that I had no use for a class like that or the abilities it offered, but he was insistent. He told me that if he wanted me to learn one thing from him, it would be the importance of that class.”

James gave Torunn a solemn look, “I wouldn’t doubt the wisdom of Dreng. If he thought it was necessary than I am sure it is. Is it the controller class? I saw it next to your name when I added you back to my party”

“Yes, the Controller class. It unlocks a skill tree of command and crowd control abilities.”

James thought back on the numerous time Dreng had incapacitated him in some way or another. Then his thoughts drifted to the library below him. He wondered if it held a book about all the known classes. So far James had seen a few basic classes that he was familiar with from other games, but there had to be many more. If he could get a list of them then maybe he could plan out the growth and development of his village. Suddenly, a more severe thought invaded his mind. If this game world was the humans’ new world, how would they feel about being told how to progress? It would be like growing up and being groomed your whole life for only one purpose. James wouldn’t want that for himself. Still though, if he could find a list like that he would have to find a way to use it. He could always figure out the best way to approach the subject when the time came, if it ever did.

James clapped his hands, “Alright, I wanted to get everyone together to discuss our plans moving forward and establish an open channel of communication. Can you bring out your debuff remover? I will bring the cider. Hopefully, that will smooth over any anger about how we basically took away everyone’s right to free will.”

Torunn and James rounded the corner of the cabin and found the majority of the village gathered at the training area. Some of the humans spilled out and were closer to the mountain since the area wasn’t big enough, but they all stood at attention.

“What the…” James said in surprise as he saw the villagers standing stock still and almost in a formation, “relax!” James commanded. When no one regained control of their bodies, James realized that the Martyr must have to be the one to release the ability, so he told him so.

Before an uproar could begin James held up his hands in an effort to calm the angered crowd. He didn’t have any special abilities to help control them, but he didn’t want those abilities anyway, even if Dreng swore by them. He would have to out-yell them until they all listened, so James did just that. The commotion caused a few other humans to stumble out of Martyr tents and join the unorganized and rowdy discussion.

Five minutes later, everyone was given a potion from Torunn and a mug of cider and sat in hesitant silence. Patrick and little Patrick, who were the rowdiest in the crowd, even managed to settle down. James suspected though that it wasn’t that he out yelled them, but because they grew bored and now just wanted to get whatever this was over with.

James cleared his throat, “First off we want to apologize for forcing all of you to run out here,” James said as he pointed an open palm to Torunn and back to himself, “It was an ability that Torunn had used for the first time. It is actually a great, although unplanned, introduction to why I wanted to gather everyone up. For those of us that were not born in this world, we will have many such accidents as the one that just happened. We will be confused by our abilities. We will struggle to adapt to our new life. That is why I suggest that we meet up right here every morning. It is not mandatory, but I think it will be a great help to us as we adapt to our new world.”

Suddenly, James was interrupted by a grunt from Little Patrick. James stared at him before continuing with his speech only to be interrupted once again. Then Patrick spoke up.

“Sorry, Little Patrick wants to know if he can leave since he was born on this world and none of this really applies to him.”

James blinked in confusion, “Wait what. First of all you can understand him? And second, he said all that with just two grunts?”

Patrick shrugged, “More or less.”

James shook his head, “No Little Patrick, I want you to stay, at least for this first meeting. I have some important announcements that the Martyrs will have to be aware of anyway.”

James cleared his throat once again and continued to address the group, “Aside from our daily morning meetings and check-ins, I want to make sure we all have the same information about our new world. There are things that we will learn along the way that the entire village will benefit from. We have to have an established way to communicate these things. Additionally, we will all train together.” James’s voice grew louder and took on a severe tone as he pointed to the portal embedded into the mountain face, “Just through that portal lies more of us. More humans that are being imprisoned, tortured, and even having their souls ripped from their bodies. I know that that seems like something you all would never have to worry about, but we are in this crazy world now. The majority of you have seen these conditions first hand, and I can tell you from experience that losing your soul is not a pleasant experience. No matter what your beliefs are, no matter if you think you have a soul or not, I can assure you it is a very real threat.” James paused his speech to shake off the uneasily feeling he got from remembering the painful eternity he endured without his soul, “Right now we are not strong enough to enter that dungeon. We need to learn, we need to train, and we need to grow so we can save our own!”

The majority of the villagers all nodded in agreement and hushed conversations flooded the training grounds. James let everyone speak and did his best to gauge the mood and reaction of the crowd. The majority of them thought it was a good idea, as they either wanted revenge on their jail keepers or just had no idea how to react to their current situation, but some people in the crowd grew upset. James expected this and gave them time to see if they would sort out the small disagreement with themselves.

James sipped on his cider and his eyes met with his brothers, who gave him a thumbs up and a smile. Neither of them had ever really been public speakers back on Earth, so James knew the thumbs up was for his performance. James knew it wasn’t great, but was honestly more surprised that it wasn’t terrible.

When the crowd quieted a degree, James spoke up again, “Okay, now for some more details. Most of us already know the current situation of the village and the Oana threat from yesterday’s ceremony, so I won’t go too deep into that. We do, however; always need to keep that in mind. Even though one of our main priorities is to rescue people from the dungeon, we cannot turn a blind eye to the Oana. If we are not safe ourselves, we won’t be able to get anyone else to safety either. Now, as the village grows, I am sure we will have more need for crafting classes. After this, we all need to break into groups and discuss what classes you already have or want to have. I need someone who can manage this. I need someone to keep track of what the village needs for crafters and defenders and compare that to what we currently have. Do I have any volunteers?”

Lilly hesitantly raised her hand.

“Sorry Lilly, right now you are our only healer and a great clothes maker to boot. You already made everyone the cloaks they need to survive the winter and I am sure you will have more such work in the future. We need someone else.”

“I can do it.” A familiar and confident voice called out from the crowd. James looked for the source of the voice and saw the man he was imprisoned next to in Ogrim’s cavern step forward. It was the same man that somehow kept his sanity when all the other prisoners lost their own. Aside from that, the man also managed to joke about Ogrim’s baldness in the heat of battle, when all else seemed lost. From all James could tell, the man was perfect for the job.

“You got it, thanks. Get with me after this. What is your name again?” James asked the dark-haired man.

“Omero,” the man replied with flair.

“That is a unique name, where are you from?” asked James.

“I am from Italy,” Omero answered with a slight flair to his words.

James nodded, “And the same situation happened in Italy as it did in the States?”

Omero nodded, “Yes. We were rounded up in the middle of the night by uniformed men. Then we woke up in the game,” Omero pointed to a few of his friends and chuckled, “Well us unlucky fools woke up in the dungeon, but it is the same story from all of us, I have already checked.”

James nodded again before addressing the group, “Okay, everyone break up into groups and discuss how you plan to contribute to the village and your goals for your new life in the game. Omero will come by and mark down your current classes and what you want to do. Ready, break!” James said with a clap of his hands, which was only accompanied by a clap from his brother’s hands.

“Alright well, we will have to work on that,” James mumbled to himself as everyone dispersed. James watched as they all grouped up into their cliques. James didn’t really need them to group up for what he wanted to do but was interested to see which kind of groups they would form. He wanted to get an idea if there were any outcasts or groups of people that shunned others. Luckily, James couldn’t see anything that could cause problems in the future. Everyone sort of merged together and flowed freely throughout groups. It was odd to see, as people didn’t really do that in real life, but James figured it was because of their common ground. There were people from all over the world here and all of them were trapped in the same situation.

Alex, Michael, Lilly, and the Patricks walked over to meet James and Torunn. James was hoping they would, because he wanted to discuss some things with them personally and didn’t want to call them over, for fear of singling them out and making them seem more important than the rest of the villagers. Omero walked over to James’s party as well, and James realized everyone present made up a council of sorts. Maybe not a council, but they were definitely his most trusted and capable companions, not counting Omero, or at least not yet. James knew he would be working closely with the confident and hardy Italian man since Omero would become a manager of sorts.

Omero personally introduced himself to the members of James’s party and even flamboyantly bowed to kiss Lilly’s hand, and action that caused Alex’s eyebrows to practically meet his hairline. Lilly seemed completely honored at the courtesy, but the remaining members of the party all shared Alex’s reaction.

To Omero’s credit, he immediately read the reaction of the group. The awkwardness in the air was palpable as Omero purposefully continued his charade, but just when James was about to let the Italian know that Alex and Lilly were a pair, Omero burst out laughing.

“Sorry, I thought it would be appropriate seeing how we are in a fantasy world and all,” Omero chuckled as he gave Alex a pat on the back, “I was wrong though, it was just as awkward as it would be on Earth!”

James watched as his party visibly relaxed and joined Omero in his laughter. And with that slightly awkward joke followed up by an extreme ability to read people, James was certain Omero would make a great addition to his party.

“Alright guys, the first order of business is getting know our classes. Omero, can you write them down?” James said.

Omero looked around his surroundings before shrugging and asking, “How? I haven’t seen a piece of paper or a pen since I got here?”

“Oh right, I got ya. Hold on a second,” James said before pulling up his map and printing off a copy. The map materialized in front of James’s face and fluttered to the ground to the amazement of the party. James picked up the map and handed it to Omero, “Here, you can write on the back of this and I will make you a charcoal pencil.”

“Wait, how did you do that?” asked his party in almost perfect unity.

James’s smiled as he used his older short sword to carve a nearby stick, “That was my second order of business. After Omero writes down your classes I was going to show you guys something, as well as let you know about my new skills of course.”

James grabbed a torch from his inventory; lit it with a firebolt and handed it to Omero. A few villagers looked on in awe as the firebolt shot towards the mountain peaks, before returning to their groups and discussing their classes with increased fervor. James smirked at the reaction and wondered how they would react if they saw Michael’s death bolt.

“Okay, everyone here needs to remain in my party at all times so that we can always find each other,” James said as he sent everyone a party invite.

James – Level 22 (Unchosen)
Health - 120 of 120
Energy - 90 of 90
Mana - 340 of 340

Michael - Level 28 Warrior Death Mage
Health - 400 of 400
Energy - 120 of 120
Mana - 300 of 300

Patrick - Level 20 Warrior Stoneworker
Health - 360 of 360
Energy - 200 of 200

Torunn – Level 19 Controller
Health – 310 of 310
Energy – 250 of 250

Alex - Level 17 Crafter
Health - 180 of 180
Energy - 220 of 220

Lilly - Level 14 Clothworker
Health - 90 of 90
Energy - 60 of 60
Mana - 180 of 180

Omero – Level 6
Health – 120 of 120
Energy – 120 of 120

James studied the strengths of his party members as he did his best to listen to Lilly discuss the details of her class with Omero. He quickly realized that he wouldn’t be able to do both. He just had too many questions regarding his party members classes and progression to pay any attention to Lilly.

“Omero, can you not only list everyone’s current and preferred classes but also look out for trends and basic information about them? For example, Lilly just said she originally chose a crafter class but had a secondary option to choose a specific crafting class. I can tell from my interface that Alex’s class is just listed as Crafter. I assume that means Alex hasn’t chosen a specialized crafter class. Is that correct Alex?”

Alex nodded in agreement, “Yes, that is correct. I chose the crafting class at level ten and am able to test out different specializations. I have access to a few different crafting skill trees, but I can only see the first few skills. I’m pretty sure when I choose a specialization I will be able to see more of the chosen skill tree.”

Lilly nodded, confirming Alex’s words.

James turned back to Omero, “See, that is the type of thing we all need to know. I had no idea about that mechanic, but it seems like such a basic thing. If we can learn all of the basic game mechanics, then humanity will have a much easier time adapting to this world.”

Omero waved his piece of paper in the air, “Understood. I can definitely do that, but I will probably need more paper. Can you magically print some more?”

James navigated to his interface and hit the share button on his map rapidly. A storm of papers materialized in the air and fell to the ground. James handed them to Omero and returned to studying his party members.

The first issue that James needed to solve was choosing his own class, but he decided it would be smarter to dig into that after he had information about everyone else’s classes, so he turned to Lilly and asked her how she had been leveling up. She hadn’t been really fighting with the party since she couldn’t respawn and yet she still leveled up quite a few times. Lilly told James that every time she crafted something in her specialization, she gained experience. She said it wasn’t much and that each time she crafted the same item she got less experience from it, but it was still enough to level. James made sure Omero wrote down that information. It was good news, considering that there was bound to be a few villagers that would refuse to fight for various reasons. Those people would be able to live their lives in peace and still contribute to the community and the safety of the village.

James wanted to get more information from Michael next because his class sounded seriously impressive, but when he turned to his brother, Michael spoke up first.

“Hey James, something you said has been bothering me for a while,” Michael started, causing everyone to exit their respective interfaces, “you mentioned that Salmaana was able to take your soul back from the Lich King and give it back to you. Do you have any idea how she did that?”

“No, I don’t, but I think you’re on to something. I have been thinking about that for a while too. If we can find out how she did it then maybe we would have a defense against the Lich King. The fact that he can steal our souls and give us a real death is the only reason we aren’t in there right now.” James replied.

“We have to learn more about Salmaana…” Lilly added, deep in thought.

“Noma. Noma was the only person we knew that actually met Salmaana,” Patrick said rather sadly.

James frowned, “Yes, we should make it a point to find Noma, but we have no idea where he went and we can’t leave the village just yet.”

“Who is Noma?” Omero asked, ready to take down notes.

“He was my friend,” Patrick replied, “he helped us find you guys, but banished himself from the village.”

The rest of the party only nodded, not seeing the point in bringing up the reason for Noma’s self-banishment. Luckily, Omero was too bogged down with his note taking to inquire further.

“I think we might have another solution until we find Noma. Do you remember that locked door we found in the basement? Well, I got it open and discovered a library below it. I want all of us to go explore it, right now.”

 

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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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