James looked at the Oana settlement in awe.
The party had traveled for more than a week and saw nothing but white expanses. That wasn’t the only reason the colorful Oana settlement looked so impressive though. It stretched on for miles. Smaller encampments scattered the land in front of the party, each having a handful of unknown structures and their own pillar of smoke that billowed from somewhere within.
James ducked back down the pile of snow his party had been hiding behind and whispered, “Okay, I think we can attack the smaller camps without drawing the attention of any others. They are all spaced out pretty far, so as long as they don’t have any horns or alarms, we should be good.”
Everyone nodded, eager to finally do something other than walk.
Alex peaked his head out from behind the snow bank and pointed at something off in the distance, “What about that?”
James peaked his head out as well and followed Alex’s finger, at the center of the smaller villages stood a giant mound of snow-covered earth. James had never seen anything like it in the mostly flat savanna, “It must be a wall of some sort. They probably dug up the ground with their claws and built a wall with the dirt. I am willing to bet that something important lies inside it.”
An uncharacteristically nervous Omero spoke up, “Is there any way we can get a peek over the dirt wall?”
James looked around for something to climb. The scarce trees of the savanna didn’t grow tall enough, so even if they managed to climb one, they wouldn’t be able to see over the dirt walls. It was possible that they could climb a mountain, but they were all too far away.
James shook his head, “No, the only way we are finding out what the Oana have hidden behind the wall is to climb it. Let’s not worry about that right now though. A lot of fighting stands between us and the wall. We will worry about it if we manage to get closer.”
James glanced at his party’s stats on the left side of his peripheral vision. He didn’t doubt that his party could take on more than a few Oana at a time, but was hoping to be able to test out Omero’s fighting capabilities before they ran into any. Unfortunately, the party didn’t come across a single creature on their long and boring journey, not even a single Ingo.
James – Level 22 Embrant
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
Alex - Level 17 Metalworker
Health - 180 of 180
Energy - 220 of 220
Omero – Level 6
Health – 120 of 120
Energy – 120 of 120
James came up with an attack plan and briefed his party, “Okay, we are going to sneak up to the closest settlement. Michael and Patrick will lead since they have the most health. Omero, you will follow them. I want you to get some fighting in if possible, but make sure to position yourself so that our tanks take all the damage. Alex, stay by Omero’s side. You will be his second line of defense. Since you are unarmed anyway, don’t attack unless something attacks Omero. I will stay back and cast fire bolts. If something goes wrong I will jump in and stun an enemy. It is important that we do not die. Everyone here can respawn, but more than likely we would respawn back in the village. We cannot afford to wait the eight days it takes to walk back here if someone dies,” James turned to look directly at Omero, whose effort to role play in the fantasy world was weakened. James could tell the man was nervous about the fight and knew that this would be his first, “Omero, if anything goes wrong I want you to retreat back here. Okay, everyone got it?”
The party nodded and began pulling their weapons out of their respective inventories.
Patrick lovingly caresses his True Iron Maul and turned to Omero, “What is your weapon of choice?”
The Italian human resource manager uncomfortably held up a common rusty Oana Sythe and shrugged, “Certainly not this.”
Patrick chuckled and gave Omero a pat on the back, “Well it is your lucky day then. We are certain to get a great deal of loot today!”
James stopped sneaking ahead when he was within casting range of the Oana and let his party continue on. He could clearly see four Oana in the small camp. Two of them where sitting by the fire, one poking it with sticks and another roasting some sort of meat. The other two were walking back and forth between various tents and huts. It was interesting that the Oana’s nametags didn’t say that they were scouts or warriors, which meant these lizard creatures were different than the others that James came across, but what really drew James’s attention was their buildings. One of his goals for the expedition was to learn new building plans to bring back to his village. James guessed that the tents held the same purpose as Martyr tents or human cabins, in that they were just what the Oana race slept in, but he suspected that they would give a different buff to those inside it.
Human cabins gave a buff to constitution and Martyr tents have a buff to strength, so James figured that the Oana tents were likely to give a buff of a different stat. Having a retinue of buildings used for sleeping that all gave different buffs to those inside them wasn’t exactly a huge improvement to James’s builder’s interface, but he was excited to get the building plan nonetheless.
The party was now within hearing distance of the small Oana camp, in the same formation that James prescribed. Everything was going well. They snuck closer and closer until they were just steps away from the camp, but still, the Oana didn’t notice them or move to defend themselves. Patrick looked back to James and gave him a confused look. James was confused as well, as he thought the Oana would have spotted his party from much further out. James waved Patrick on.
The Oana had a clearly worn circle around their camp where they had walked frequently enough to melt the snow. James watched as Michael slowly stepped into that circle. The moment his foot passed into the boundary of the Oana camp, all four of the lizard creatures ran at him. Two of the Oana where even behind a tent and didn’t have a clear line of sight to Michael, and yet they ran in his direction as well.
Michael swung the mace he got from Dreng at an approaching Oana. The lizard creature took the hit to its shoulder with impressive grace and lunged at James brother with its claws. Patrick joined the fray and swung his maul high into the air. With a grunt loud enough that James could hear it, the red-head slammed his maul down onto the Oana that was attacking Michael. The lizard creature smashed into the ground and laid still long enough for the three other Oana to close the distance. Michael and Patrick stood stalwartly and traded blows with the creatures. They took more hits than they gave out in an effort to allow Omero to get some hits in.
James's heart stopped for a second as he saw the first Oana begin to stand up. The party moved slightly so the creature was just out of their range of vision. It was clear to James that his party had thought the first Oana dead, so James cast his first fire-bolt, hoping to alert his party of the danger. Fire exploded from James's hand and shot toward Omero, who noticed the fireball barreling towards him and froze in fear. James couldn’t control his firebolts after they left his hand, but luckily he correctly predicted were the Oana would travel in an effort to ambush his party. The sneaky Oana unknowingly stepped into the flight path of James's spell moments before it would have struck Omero. James watched as his spell hit its mark with an explosion of sparks. The Oana slumped to the ground, revealing and an extremely surprised and frightened Omero.
James wanted to laugh at the look on Omero’s face but didn’t let himself. If he had miscalculated or if his Firebolt was stronger he would have hit his own party members. He shouldn’t have had to take that risk. It worked out well, but James nonetheless made a point to discuss the issue with Alex later, since it was his job to protect Omero’s flanks.
The remaining Oana were eventually defeated and James moved in to join his party. The battle took longer than he thought it would, even with their strategy to let Omero do some attacking, “Those guys were stronger than they looked huh?”
Michael shook his head, “I don’t think they were actually that strong. I just don’t think we have the right weapons to fight them.”
Alex peaked his head out of one of the huts, “I think Michael is right. I could see that Patrick’s attacks were dealing much more damage, even though Michael is much stronger than him.”
James’s raised his eyebrows, knowing the red-head would take offense to Alex’s words, and said, “Ooooh, burrrrnnn.”
Patrick grunted and waved off the joke, too interested in the loot drops to care.
Michael laughed, “All jokes aside, he is right. I think the Oana’s scales give them a good deal of armor. That is why Patrick did the most damage. He is the only one with a two-handed weapon.”
James nodded, appreciative for the insight his party gathered, but much more interested in something else. James walked up to one Oana tents and placed his hand on it. He slid his hands across its rough surface, becoming familiar with its material. He closed his eyes and focused on his other senses. The smells coming from the Oana camp were unfamiliar, but when James was done he could separate each individual smell from the conglomerate and tell the direction of their sources.
Congratulations! You have begun to unravel the mysteries of a new building style - Oana!
Sturdy Oana Tent – Increases the agility and critical strike chance of Oana within the tent by 2.
James studied his prompt. The tent would more than likely end up being useless to him, but what it lacked in practicality it made up for by providing insight into how James's builder’s interface worked. James noticed that the tent offered a buff increase of two, instead of the usual single point increase of his current buildings. James mentally brought up more information and discovered that the Oana tents were built with the hardened skin of the No-No. James smiled at the realization. It meant that he could probably upgrade his own buildings if he had the material. It wasn’t a huge discovery, but James knew every piece of information he received in the game world came with the promise of answering many more questions. It was all one large puzzle, and he would accept any sized puzzle piece.