“You should choose the Warrior class!” Patrick said for the fifth time as he gnawed on his roasted Ingo meat.
The party had spent 2 days hunting Oana with great success. None of the Oana camps notified other camps that they were under attack, so the party leisurely wiped out camp after camp without worrying about being outnumbered. It didn’t take the party long to realize the camps behaved like groups of monsters from other videos games. They had an agro zone and would only attack if something came within that zone. The Oana in the camps didn’t seem intelligent in the least, and would practically ignore the party unless they stepped into the aggro zone. It was an odd, but much appreciated discovery. If all the Oana behaved like the intelligence Oana scouts or Oana warriors then the party would have been forced to retreat. This sudden discovery of unintelligent mobs was a constant topic of discussion but had been temporarily put on the backburner so the party could discuss Omero’s new class.
“No, you should choose the Inveigler class. It would come in handy back in the village, especially since you are already seen as one of the leaders. Not to mention how beneficial it would be if we actually make it to the human village that Dreng told us about. If we make it there the Inveigler class will be able to tell you how people are reacting to your words right?” Alex counter-argued. Omero nodded, confirming Alex’s understanding of the new class. “That ability will help us say the right things to the right people and hopefully help us get in touch with someone that can tell us how to protect our souls from the Lich King.”
“I think it depends on what we need right now. Are we going to be able to fight our way to the other side of that dirt wall? Are we going to be able to survive whatever is behind it? If we can accomplish our mission without Omero than he should definitely choose the Inveigler class. But if we cannot even finish off the Oana scourge right in front of us then it will take forever to get around them and get to the human village,” Michael added.
Patrick spoke up again, this time much more excited than angry, “Also, the mounts! I am pretty sure the secret to finishing Frey’s mission lies in the lizard village behind the dirt wall.”
James watched his party argue the merits of each class. Both of them would be useful for different reasons and he agreed with his brother’s logic. It would be nice if Omero chose a class based on what his party needed, but James’s didn’t want to go that route. He didn’t want to be the type of leader that commanded people to comply with his decisions. He wanted to inspire loyalty, not demand it. When the party’s argument grew to a crescendo, James silenced them with a wave of his hand, “Omero, what class do you want?”
Omero seemed surprised at the question and stumbled for an answer, “I… I… don’t really know.”
“Well, since it is a very real possibility that you will be living out the rest of your life in this game with us, then I think it is important that this choice is yours,” James motioned to his party, “we can advise you on what would benefit us, but the decision is yours and yours only. You will be the one living with it.”
Omero nodded and considered James words before his eyes glazed over and he began poking at the air, “It’s done,” Omero said with a breath of relief, “I will be honest, after seeing you guys fight I knew I was out of my league. As much as I like to pretend like I am a character in a fantasy world, I cannot pretend to be a fighter. However, I do want to help rescue the other people from earth that are trapped in that terrible dungeon. I think I will be most effective in doing that in the other human village. If there are answers to be found there, I am sure I can get them, especially with my new class.”
Patrick let out a loud groan and mumbled something about how he would never get a mount before Omero cut him off, “I know I am new to the party, but I have no doubt you guys can defeat any enemy placed before you. I watched you fight in Ogrim’s domain. I watched you all train day in and day out, and most importantly, I watched you guys interact. I might not know much about this game, or how strong the enemies in front of us are, but I do know people, and you guys have something special together.”
The party woke the next day to find that some of the Oana camps they had cleared in the previous days were now filled with Oana again. It wasn’t clear to James yet if the creatures respawned like they did in other games or if there was a more realistic reason the camps were busy with life again. What was clear was that it was finally time to attack the village hidden behind the earthen wall. James knew that they could spend days clearing the Oana camps and that if they did truly respawn it would all be a waste of time. He had to find the source of the Oana and destroy it so that the creatures no longer plagued the Great Savanna.
James instructed his party to prepare for battle as he did so himself. Everyone had been buffed up from eating their Ingo meat and drinking cider, so all that was left for James was to divvy out the loot they gained over the previous days. Certain items were already given out to members of the party when they all agreed that the person to receive the item was an obvious choice. Still, though, there remained a few, rarer items, that almost everyone could benefit from. Handing out these items required more thought. James opened up his equipped items tab to see where he was at in the gear realm.
Left Hand – Legion Commander’s Short Sword (Legendary)
Right Hand - Martyr Skinning Knife (Widespread)
Feet - Cracked Leather Boots (Widespread)
Legs - Ingo Cloth Pants (Widespread)
Chest - Ingo 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)
Now that James had two short swords what he really wanted was another sheath so he could have them both at the ready at all times. His Pointy Bracer Cover didn’t really do him any good and was just a waste of an armor slot. James also needed to start equipping rings, and unlike the sheath, he knew they actually had a ring to give out.
James grabbed the parties unassigned loot bag from Omero and pulled out the rare items inside, letting them drop to the ground so everyone could see. Two green beams of light slowly grew from the pile of loot, along with one blue light and a couple of greyish common lights. James reached down and grabbed one of the common items first.
Scaled Breeches (Common, Leg Slot) + 3 Armor
“Alright, let the bidding begin!” James announced as he held up the pants for inspection. The green scales that made the pants reflected the sunlight, but unfortunately, their scaled surface wasn’t clear enough for James to see his own reflection in them. James quietly daydreamt about the things he would do for a proper mirror as his party argued about which of them should receive the pants. James was never a vain man, but the closest he could ever get to seeing his own reflection was when he pulled up a bucket of water from the well in his village. He desperately wondered what he looked like, but slowly realized it was probably a good thing that he didn’t. He somehow felt more confident, more himself, without ever seeing his reflection. He knew who he was by his actions and his thoughts and formed an opinion of himself that way. He didn’t need a mirror to confirm or deny how he felt about himself. Even though not having a mirror was probably a good thing for a number of psychological reasons he didn’t understand, James still wanted one, if for nothing else than to check his nose for debris before he started his day. That was one thing he would have never even have considered about living in a fantasy world; the sheer amount of people that unknowingly walked about with buggers in their noses.
Michael grabbed the scaled pants from James outstretched hands, bringing James back to reality. He knew he wasn’t going to get the pants and would rather find something that made his casting better anyway, so he didn’t feel bad about not paying attention to the pants debate. He would, however, pay attention to the conversation for the next item, because it was something that actually benefited him.
Ring of Fire Mastery (common, ring slot) Increases the rate at which the wearer masters the element of fire by 1%.
When the ring originally dropped, James thought he was the obvious choice as the person who would get it. Apparently, he was dead wrong though. His party hooted and hollered when he went to put on the ring and demanded that they make the decision together. James was taken aback at the demands, figuring it only made sense for him since he was an Embrant, but apparently, the party had all seen his meteoric landing from his jump strike ability and were interested in increasing their own mastery of fire as well.
After five minutes of intense debate, James talked his party into letting him have the ring. He only had to mention the fact that he had to invest heavily in intelligence and wisdom to deter Patrick and Alex, who both needed strength for fighting and crafting respectively. Michael and Omero were much harder to convince, but James just needed to mention how there was no easy way to start fires in the village, and the number of fires that needed to be lit every day was growing. James’s brother and Omero both admitted that they didn’t want to spend their nights rubbing sticks together, and revoked their bid for the ring. James happily equipped it, all while knowing that the long nights he spent starting fires were worth it 100 times over. He could shoot freakin’ fireballs now, and all he had to do was rub some sticks together and deal with his raw hands for a few weeks to learn how. Who wouldn’t make that sacrifice?
Suckerrrrs, James thought as he slid the plain silver ring over one of his fingers.
A few other items were given out, including a sheath for a two-handed weapon and various scaled armor pieces that James had no use for. He wasn’t against having the armor, but it would be better if the others had it, at least for this mission. Patrick and Alex fought over the two-handed weapon sheath, but Patrick ended up winning since he was the only one that actually had a two-handed weapon at the moment. Michael had complained that his two-handed weapon skill was much higher than Patrick’s, but the argument fell flat since Michael was wielding the gifted, single-handed maul from Dreng. James’s brother even tried to argue that he would probably find a new two-handed weapon soon and that he would have to return the maul to Torunn anyway, but Patrick only replied with the option to trade in the future.
As Patrick strutted around proudly with his giant True Iron Maul strapped to his back, James got an idea. He had never thought about trading with his own people until Patrick brought it up, but he had the perfect item to trade, the Spiky Bracer Cover.
“Hey Alex,” James called out, getting the attention of the military veteran, “you still fight unarmed right? Think you can make use of my Spiky Bracer Cover?”
Alex nodded in agreement, a little too enthusiastically. James smiled, knowing he had Alex in the palm of his hand. As soon as Alex agreed, James proposed a trade and Alex’s happy expression fell. The party laughed in response, and a bidding war began. It turned out though, that Alex didn’t actually have anything useful to trade, so James ended up giving the item to him anyway, as it did really make more sense for an unarmed combat person to have it. The spiky bracer cover wasn’t considered a conventional weapon, so Alex could use it and still level up his unarmed skill and unlock better abilities while doing more damage. Alex thanked James and promised to craft something for him in return as soon as his blacksmithing skill was high enough.
Before James could start the auction for the rarest items they had, Michael spoke up with a story about the Spiky Bracer Cover. He described how he came across various monsters in the dungeon that all had unique fighting styles. He said that even two identical monsters, all with the same primary weapons, could attack in different ways dependent on specialized sheaths.
Michael uncovered his wrist and displayed a scar from one such attack. It turned out that one of the Undead soldiers that Michael came across had a spike strapped onto their helmet. When Michael blocked a sword strike from the Undead creature it simply drove its spiked helmet into Michael’s wrist. James brother originally thought it was just an oddly spiked helmet, but when he inspected it he realized the spike was removable. It was only when Michael equipped the spike that he realized it fit in his sheath slot. Michael concluded that sheaths were not only for sheathing weapons, like everyone originally thought, but could be used to customize fighting styles. He suspected that there was an infinite amount of different weaponized sheaths available, and swore by their effectiveness. Michael said he had to fight numerous Undead soldiers to survive the dungeon, but the soldier that was smart enough to utilize a sheath was the only one that came close to killing him.
James’s curiosity was peaked at Michael’s story. James silently wondered if there were any sheaths that could customize his magic-based fighting style while he instructed Omero to write the discovery down in his lore book. The Italian was now the go-to person to record any new game mechanics the party learned about and was tasked with briefing the rest of the village on new information. Omero quickly wrote down the information in his banded book of maps and with a smile, told James that a training session would be designed around the new discovery as soon as they had enough specialized sheaths to experiment with.
Oana Villager’s Headdress (uncommon, head slot) +1 Armor +5 Agility.
James held up the thin black sash and let his party members make their arguments on why they should get the item. No one in the party managed to find any head armor yet, so they were all eager to fill the slot in their gear with the first thing that came along. The sash ended up being awarded to Alex though since his unarmed combat damage was dependent on his agility.
Oana Villager’s Cleats (uncommon, feet slot) +1 Armor +5% running speed.
The leather boots looked quite durable with hardened spikes that could dig into the earth, and most importantly, carried no foul odors. James was happy for the last aspect as it meant that he could equip any shoes or boots he found in the game. Previously, James had only either had his own shoes that he started the game with or the slippers he used temporarily in the Spirit Battleground. In either case, they were both technically brand new and didn’t smell.
“I think I should have those. You know, just in case I need to retreat,” Omero said with a sly smile. The human resource manager had managed to find his suaveness once again and even managed to ask for the boots in a tone that didn’t make him seem like a coward. James didn’t actually think the man was a coward before, but there was a moment or two before Omero had experience fighting where he was definitely afraid. Now though, Omero was a pretty experienced and productive fighter, even without the warrior class, and his confidence could once again be easily discerned from his way of speaking and how he carried himself.
None of the party member’s had a good enough strategic reason that Omero shouldn’t get the slippers, so James gave them up. Most of the party members either had abilities that allowed them to cover a good deal of distance quickly, like James’s jump strike or Patrick’s bulldoze ability or just flat out ran faster than Omero because of their higher stats.
“Okay, we saved the best for last!” James said as he picked up the pile of scaled cloth that gave off a purple light.
Patrick patted his bulging stomach in a rhythm that somewhat resembled a drumroll.
Oana Villager’s Disguise – (rare disguise, one-time use) Disguise yourself as an Oana Villager for ten minutes. Disguise is ruined on attack.
James twisted his face in confusion as he read the details of the item. He had originally thought the disguise was a cloak or some sort of wizards robe. He was actually certain that the item would be his since he was the only caster of the group. The only reason he didn’t take the item when it first dropped was that it was the rarest item the party had come across. Now though, James’s plan to greedily equip the robes wouldn’t be possible. James noticed the confused faces of his party members and realized they must have already inspected the item as well.
“Really,” Patrick scoffed, “a disguise?”
James nodded and quietly whispered, “Yea, sometimes I forget I am in a game until stuff like this happens…”