Omero continued to flee until the ground below him quaked, causing him to lose his footing and slide face first into the snow. The Italian human resource professional frightfully sat up and wiped the snow from his face, expecting the monster to be right behind him when he turned. Omero faintly got to his feet and glanced at the party members he left behind. He didn’t want to abandon them, but he couldn’t help it.
What is wrong with me? Omero asked himself. He had ignorantly let himself believe that being trapped in a fantasy world wouldn’t be too bad. He figured it would offer him some excitement and that excitement was exactly what he needed. His long career in the office was boring, and Omero had started to become boring himself. He didn’t want that, so when he found himself trapped in a fantasy world, Omero saw it as an opportunity to find himself again. He wasn’t always boring. When he was younger he was charming and outgoing. His work life just slowly beat him down into an autonomous corporate robot. That was why he welcomed this new world, this new opportunity. It was going to be great for him, but now Omero knew that he was wrong.
This world was nothing like he expected. Just like everyone else that ever watched a Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings film, he thought living in a fantasy world would be awesome.
“This is not fucking awesome,” Omero whispered into his trembling hands. Before a sob could escape his body, Omero did his best to learn what kind of danger he was in. Omero hated himself when he realized the Abominar was not chasing him and was instead busy stomping on Michael. He hated himself because he was relieved that it wasn’t him being stomped to death.
Better him than me.
The rogue thought invaded Omero’s mind, no matter what he did to try and reject it. He wasn’t built for this, any of this. When he first got to the village he thought he could just role-play as a fantasy character and everything would fall into place. He was wrong, yet again. Omero turned to continue running. He wasn’t sure where he would go, but honestly didn’t care. Anywhere was better than where he was.
The Italian forced himself to stop, to not run away. If he wasn’t going to help his party than he would at least watch them die. It would be his punishment for being a coward. Omero turned and watched the battle in front of him unfold.
The large white creature leaped into the air and Omero could see a smaller silhouette rise to meet it in the air.
Is that James? Omero wondered. He couldn’t be sure because he was so far away and the strange silhouette was so small, at least compared to the monster. Omero focused on the large creature in the air and tried to study its name tag. The name of the creature enlarged so Omero could read it from a distance.
RUN! Was the name above the monster’s head. The text was the color red, which according to the little Omero understood about his Inveigler class, meant that the monster hated him. A split second later, Omero repeated the same process to discover the name of the silhouette that was flying through the air to meet the monster.
Omero cringed as he read the name above the silhouette. Partly because he had hoped it wasn’t a member of his party that was suicidally flying through the air to attack the monster, and party because the text that made up James’s name was red as well.
According to the interface, James now hated him. He didn’t blame James either. He hated himself too. No matter how much Omero wanted to change that though, he couldn’t.
Abruptly, the creature and the person that saved him from the torturous dungeon, collided in an explosion of fire. Omero watched as the ball of fire’s forward momentum died and it slowly fell to the ground.
Bye… James Omero thought as he turned around, And thank you.
James stood on the chest of the Abominar and furiously deflected the claws of the creature with his short swords. The large white beast absorbed the majority of the impact when they hit the ground. That was the only reason James could think of as to why the creature wouldn’t just simply stand up and knock James off of it. Still though, no matter how stunned the creature was, it was still tough enough to swipe and claw at James.
“Alex, go find Omero! We need him for when we reach the next village!” James screamed out as he swung his Legion Commanders Short Sword around his back and into the chest of the Abominar. The creature growled in pain and shuddered. James fell to his knee and quickly whirled around to block a claw that he had a feeling was coming for him. He was correct, probably thanks to the Martyr’s Rage ability, but was too slow to completely deflect the attack. A single, extremely sharp claw carved a ravine into James’s bulging shoulder muscles as easy as butter. James health dropped by a quarter, but he didn’t let that stop him. He was already committed to destroying the creature that was responsible for sending his brother to respawn.
He wasn’t upset by the fact that his brother died but upset that his brother would now respawn weeks away from him. The Martyr’s Rage quickly filtered out the anger he felt due to his protective instincts for his brother and replaced it with anger over the fact that the creature just jeopardized his party's mission. Michael was the strongest fighter of their party, and if they ran into any other monsters on their way to the village they would be way less prepared without him.
James’s attention was drawn to a new icon underneath the Abominar’s name. When James's mentally requested more information he learned that the creature was suffering from a cripple debuff. The source of the debuff was Patrick, or more specifically, Patrick’s True Iron Maul.
He wasn’t sure if this was the first time the weapon’s hit effect was actually activated or not, but he was happy for it. The debuff slowed down the creatures attacks, giving James slightly more time to play offense.
James deflected a strike with the legendary sword in his right hand. Just as he felt the pressure leave his blade, James relaxed his grip on the sword just enough for him to cast a firebolt at the Abominar’s face. The firebolt launched from James's hand in the wrong direction. James figured he didn’t have enough agility or some other stat that would allow him to hold a weapon and cast a spell with the same hand. Luckily though, James upgraded his Firebolt spell with the Fire Curse Augment. James hand completed a few extra motions, a process that almost caused him to drop his short sword, and the curse was set. The fireball immediately reacted to the curse James cast on the Abominar’s face and was drawn towards it.
The hulking white creature must have finally had enough, because it forcefully stood. James was sent flying into a snowbank. He shook his head and gathered himself after his rough landing. The Abominar was flailing around dangerously. It clawed its own body in a desperate attempt to pat out the fire that was slowly consuming it. James called out to Patrick, telling him to step back. Surprisingly, the red-head listened, show more caution in battle than he ever had before.
James deactivated Martyr’s Rage and quickly removed one of Torunn’s strong healing poultices from his satchel. James watched the Abominar rage out as he spread the thick green substance over the wound in his shoulder. The cut was so deep that James had to question if he was supposed to put the poultice inside.
What if it healed and got stuck inside me?
Finally, the Abominar managed to snuff out most of the fires on his body and now resembled a bloody and mostly hairless bear. The resulting image was even more terrifying than when James first laid eyes on the beast.
Oh no you don’t James thought with a grimace and activated Jump Strike once again. James slammed directly into the beast, which meant the full force of his Meteoric augment traveled through the beast instead of the ground. Between fresh flames, James could see the skin and muscles of the Abominar tremble and quake just like the ground did when he landed on it. Still, though, the hulking creature did not fall. It did its best to fend off James’s flurry of strikes while trying to pat out the fire that was slowly burning away the health bar of the creature.
“Now!” James yelled to Patrick. The redhead hesitantly stepped forward and began to charge. James imagined that Patrick was scared to catch on fire himself, and didn’t blame him. James would never have attacked the burning creature if he wasn’t immune to fire. Still though, James needed Patrick to risk it. They needed to kill the beast once and for all.
Patrick activated his bulldoze skill and slammed into the Abominars back like a leaden ball fired from a cannon. The Abominar’s head whipped back as its chest arched forward from the kinetic energy and pain. It let out a desperate howl and a long minute later, finally succumbed to its impressive number of wounds.
James and Patrick decided to set up camp for the night. It was a little early, but they were reluctant to continue on their journey. If they did, it was unlikely that Alex would be able to find them again. James pulled up his map and saw that Alex was about an hour west of the campground were they slain the Abominar. Hopefully, he would make it back before the sun went down and hopefully, he would make it back with Omero.
“Just me and you again, buddy!” Patrick said as he did a happy shuffle and inspected the loot they piled up from the Abominar.
“Yea, unfortunately.” James said with a chuckle, “What did the Abominar drop for loot?”
Patrick looked up at James with a confused look before pointing to the skinless heap of beast laying out of smelling range of the campground, “You mean the Abominal Snowman?”
“That was an Abominar.” James corrected.
“Huh,” Patrick said in contemplation, “You mean the same type of monster from Frey’s story of Dreng?”
James nodded as he contemplated the story Patrick was referring to. Frey lovingly recited the Martyr story of how Dreng killed the Abominar at his funeral. Or his life ceremony. Whatever the Martyrs called it.
“Man… she made it sound like it was easy to kill these things!” Patrick said as he gave the Abominar one last look.
James scoffed, “Yea, it wasn’t easy at all! Dreng was just a beast.”
“A legend,” Patrick corrected.
James nodded solemnly as he ran his finger through the only patch of skin he was able to remove from the beast that wasn’t burnt. The fur was white, soft, and comfortable to lay on. It was the exact opposite of the beast it came from in its final moments. When James skinned the beast he was alerted that a number of his attempts had failed. He figured that if he never invested in the skinning improvement that increased his chances of skinning tough-skinned animals then he wouldn’t have been able to salvage any of it all. But he did though, and he intended on having Lilly make some sort of cape out of it. It would be his reward for investing in the skinning improvement instead of taking the stat increase.
“Anyways,” Patrick announced as he pulled up his fur pile to the loot and sat down, “We have a few different rings… A longsword…. Oh, we have some gold pieces, that's weird… and look at this! A sheath for your other short sword!”
James caught the sheath that Patrick tossed over and attached it to the belt of his other sheath. Now he wouldn’t have to put one of his short swords in his inventory and risk being unprepared. He also wouldn’t have to worry about drunkenly putting the wrong short sword into his inventory and feeling like crap because he lost the stat boost of his Legion Commander’s Short Sword.
“Anything else for me?” James asked. Patrick shook his head. “Toss me one of those gold coins then. I want to check them out.”
Patrick flicked a coin over with his thumb. James caught it and turned it over in his palm. It was rather heavy and sloppily produced, which James figured was just because whoever made it probably couldn’t mass produce anything yet. James requested another coin and confirmed that they were both slightly different. They did have a series of cuts engraved into them that formed a six pointed star though. That meant that the coins were indeed currency, or at least made from the same people. James added them to his satchel and his interface updated, saying he had two gold coins available.
“Any idea what the symbol on the coin could be?” James asked the redhead.
“No,” Patrick replied as he inspected his own coin,” but I am more concerned with why the Abominar had gold coins in the first place. Did he kill a human for them, or did he just drop them because he is a mob and that is what mobs do in games when they die?”
James shrugged, “No clue. How many do we have?”
“Let’s split them,” James suggested. Patrick didn’t object and tossed over four more coins.
Then suddenly, the red-heads face took on a mischievous smile. “Let’s split all of it. All the loot! I originally said that there was nothing else for you because I figured we would split them with the rest of the party, but Michael is probably back at the village, Omero didn’t contribute, and neither did Alex really. Just me and you buddy!”
James couldn’t help but succumb to a fit of greed and pleasure at the idea of splitting the loot just between Patrick and himself, “Okay, but if something is like really meant for Alex, we have to set it aside for him still. Only if it would be beneficial to him though, and only if it is very beneficial.
Patrick’s smile somehow grew even wider and the two companions sifted through the pile of loot together.