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“Good morning James,” Frey said with a warm smile.

“Good morning Frey, you are looking well,” James replied as he walked into the Martyr’s tent.

Frey nodded, “Yes well, the cubs have finally settled down a bit. I got a full nights rest last night.”

“That’s great, I wasn’t even sure that they slept at all,” James joked.

Frey laughed, “What can I do for you, James? I think you wanted to speak to me the other day before Dreng’s ceremony?”

James couldn’t remember what he wanted to speak to Frey about and decided it must not have been that important, “Yea, but I cannot remember what it was. I had another question though. Is it possible to remove marks?”

Frey looked slightly offended at the question so James continued, “It isn’t for me. Michael was marked by the Lich King and needs to remove the mark. It causes him to slowly lose his sanity.”

James decided not to go into more detail just in case the Martyrs were fundamentally against death magic or something.

Frey thought for a moment before answering, “No. There isn’t a way to remove marks, at least not that I am away of. Maybe you should check with Frode though. He is much smarter with those things than I am.”

James nodded, but didn’t leave the tent. Instead, he stayed for a while and spent some quality time with the Martyr that adopted him. They mostly talked about trivial things and the Martyr cubs. James learned their names and that a few of them had shown promise for crafting classes. James listened in rapt attention as Frey talked about why that was such good news. She said that her race hadn’t had many crafters in years and that it was a good sign. Every other Martyr cub before them, besides Torunn, automatically became fighters. The cubs couldn’t choose how they progressed until they reached Torunn’s age, so they naturally grew stronger in the paths that they mostly practiced. Since they had been on the run and fighting for survival for so long, the cubs all became fighters, naturally.

Frey and James bonded over how special Torunn was. Frey seemed to know without a doubt that Torunn would be a great chieftain. If James didn’t actually know Torunn personally he would have though Frey thought such a thing because she was Torunn’s mother, but James knew otherwise. It wasn’t a mother’s love that made Frey speak so highly of her cub, it was the fact that Torunn was actually deserving. He was already wiser than his father, who only truly became wise in his last years of life. He wasn’t as strong as Dreng, but he wasn’t weak either. Frey told James that Torunn was still one of the largest cubs her clan had ever seen before, even back when Martyrs were numerous. She told James that the only other cub that came close was little Patrick. The cub that was named after the red-head was in fact, almost as large as Dreng was when he was a cub.

The conversation took an unexpected turn when Frey confided in James that Patrick would make a decent replacement for Chieftain if anything was ever to happen to Torunn. The loving Chieftain mother made the comment so nonchalantly that James was taken aback. James promised the Martyr that he wouldn’t let anything happen to Torunn, but he didn’t feel like the promise affected her as much as he thought it should. James chalked the issue up to the difference in their cultures and decided to ask about how she was doing with Dreng’s death. He figured since their light-hearted conversation took a turn for the worse, it would be a good time to discuss it. James expected to have to comfort Frey but was instead met with the same positive vagueness that Torunn gave him when he asked about Dreng’s death. The entire thing was odd to James. He knew he was close to Frey, and expected her to confide in him, but she clearly didn’t need to.

James finally concluded that the Martyrs didn’t need emotional support, at the very least they didn’t need as much as humans did. Apparently, returning Dreng’s body to the Great Savanna and the ceremony they held afterward was all the coping they needed. They would never forget Dreng, but they viewed his death and his sacrifice in a positive light. It was like the funerals back on earth where everyone said they were celebrating life instead of mourning, except Martyrs were actually capable of doing so. No matter how much James poked and prodded, thinking that the Martyrs just didn’t know how to express their feeling, James was met with positivity. It was confusing and refreshing in a way. James spent a few more minutes bringing his conversation with Frey back up to light-hearted levels, and then excused himself to find Frode.

James found Frode following Torunn around as the new Martyr Chieftain spoke to the members of his clan. It was odd to see the powerful and wise old Martyr follow Torunn around, but James could tell none of the Martyrs felt the same way he did. It was just yet another cultural difference between humans and Martyrs.

“Frode, wait up!” James called out as he ran up to the group of Martyrs. Frode greeted James with a wave. James closed the distance between them quickly and decided to get right down to business, “Can I speak with you for a second?”

Frode smiled and gave a glance to Torunn, who nodded at the request. Frode then left his advisee and lead James to an empty section of the village.

“Do you know of a way to removed marks? My brother has one from the Lich King and we need to get rid of it somehow,” James asked.

The wizened Martyr said the only way he knew how to remove the mark was to get the Lich King to do so. Frode admitted that that option was probably farfetched and that the only other possible way was to find a strong mystic to remove the mark. When James was asked what a Mystic actually was Frode just smiled and said James would find out soon. All of James’s follow up questions were met with cryptic responses. James left his meeting with the advisor frustrated and confused.

“Damn NPCs,” James cursed as he headed back to the Cabin on the Cliff. He didn’t get why the Chieftain’s Advisor wouldn’t just give him a specific answer. James wanted to blame it on the fact that he was in a game world now, but knew deep down that that fact hadn’t really limited any other NPCs before. James never got the feeling that the NPCs were following a pre-planned plot line or purposely withholding information just for theatrical reasons. No, the only reason Frode would withhold that information was that he truly believed James would find out soon and that the information would just serve as a distraction if he found out now. So that only left one problem.

How does Frode know that I will discover more information about Mystics soon?

James pondered that question until he was hailed by a Martyr that was working on the Chieftain’s hut. James recognized the Martyr as one of the builders and confirmed his name.

Birger

“Good to see you, Birger. What’s going on?” James asked.

Birger climbed down from the Chieftain’s hut where he was patching the roof, “I reported our progress to the Chieftain. Torunn informed me that it made more sense for me to report to you since you are the overseer and have the builder interface.”

James nodded and wondered why Dreng hadn’t instructed Birger to do the same, “That is correct. How is everything going? It looks like everything is coming along well.”

James surveyed the hut, which was almost complete. Apart from a few holes in the ceiling, the new Chieftain’s hut was almost an exact replica of Dreng’s old hut. The only difference was an odd chair in the center of the building. James focused on the chair and realized it gave off a slight blue glow. Birger picked up on James’s interest in the chair and offered an explanation.

“That is the Chieftain’s throne. Dreng had one like it, but it didn’t glow like this one.”

“How did you uh, make it glow?” James asked.

“We really didn’t do anything special. I built the previous Chieftain’s Hut with my own hands and can tell you from experience that we followed the same process. The only difference is you.”

“Interesting…" James thought out loud. The throne of this hut was most likely glowing because of the buffs granted by his builder's interface. Dreng's throne didn't glow because it was built by normal means, without a builder's interface. Another question shoved its way into James's mind.

"So who actually tells you to work on something?”

“I usually get notifications of a quest when you want to build something as I am the most experienced in crafting buildings. Everyone else that has a class that could help is notified to report to me. I instruct everyone from there.” Birger explained.

“Awesome, so you all get experience by building these buildings then?”

Birger nodded, “That's correct.”

“Okay, I have one more question. What happens if I choose a building that you have never built before? How do you know what to do then?”

Birger smiled, “That part is simple; I get building plans when I get a quest to build something from you. If the building is new to me, I simply follow the instructions included in the quest.”

James thought for a second then smiled, “Sorry, I have another question. What is your class?”

James was hoping that Birger would be able to level his class abilities and learn new building plans, but Birger said his Constructor class only had skills and abilities related to production speed buffs and the sort. James was slightly disappointed and resigned himself to getting new building plans from other settlements once again. It was clear that he was the only one that could get new building plans. He still held out a small hope that he would be able to find some plans in the Library, but it would probably be awhile until Lilly was able to translate the language.

“By the way, I wanted to report that the Chieftain’s Hut will be finished by sundown, way ahead of schedule!” Birger quickly reported before James could ask any more questions.

“That’s great news!” James exclaimed genuinely. This would allow him to get started on cabins for the other humans by tomorrow. “What was the reason that we finished so early?”

“The cubs, some of them didn’t have anything to do so they lent a hand. At first, I was nervous that they came over to destroy our work in progress, but it turned out to be just the opposite,” Birger smiled as he continued his report, “and that’s not even the best news. With the help of the cubs, we should be able to construct two buildings at the same time!”

James eyes widened in delight, “That is great new, Birger, truly. Keep up the good work!”

Birger nodded at the compliment and returned to the roof of the Chieftain’s Hut with a single giant leap.

James rubbed his hands together and thought, “Alrighty, so far this leadership thing is easy.”

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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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