“Those look awesome,” James said as he held a hand above his eyes, shielding them from the sun.
Alex nodded in agreement and pointed to the gargoyles that were now stationed across the top of the village walls, “And they will come to life and attack anything that tries to get into the village?”
Patrick scoffed, “Well no… but they do offer us some attacking buffs when defending the village. Basically, the same right?”
“Yea, except less cool,” Alex laughed then patted Patrick on his broad shoulders, “just kidding man, they are great… Jesus man, you are getting pretty big. What is your training routine like?”
Patrick shrugged, “I just work on whatever skills I think will offer a strength increase when I level them up enough. That and I eat a lot… not sure if that matters...”
“Hey,” James said as he studied the myriad of different golems through the blinding sun, “why are they all different?”
Patrick pointed to a golem in the shape of a strange fanged creature with dagger-like talons, “That one there gives us an increased damage rate when using sharp weapons. That one there with the bulky mass on its tail? That one gives an increased damage rate when using blunt weapons. There should be one for each attack type, even unarmed attackers like Alex. I wasn’t high enough to create any Gargoyles that increase damage done with spells though. I had the option to choose that crafting sub-skill, but I took the strength increase instead.”
“Figures,” Alex said with a chuckle.
James shrugged, “It was probably a good call in a weird way. We still have to get deeper into the dungeon, so that strength will come in handy. Besides, I don’t think Dreng’s Rest will get attacked by anything anytime soon, now that the aggressive Oana are all taken care of.”
Patrick nodded in a way that attempted to make it look like that was his plan all along, but it didn’t fool James and he was fairly certain it didn’t fool Alex either.
“Alriiiighty then,” James said, breaking the awkward silence, “I am going back to grinding my leatherworking skill. See ya guys later."
“Hang on a sec!” Alex said just as James had begun to turn away, “When do you want to try the dungeon again?’
James faced his companions and shrugged, “Tomorrow?”
Patrick shook his head, “I need at least two days.”
“In two days you will be strong enough to defeat Ogrim?” James inquired.
“By myself? No. But I will probably be strong enough for that in a week or two. I think in two days we will be strong enough to do it together.”
James nodded, “Okay, I am good with that. Just so you guys are aware, I haven't been training anything other than my leatherworking. I will try and have some new armor for you guys, but that is the only new thing I will be contributing.”
Patrick shrugged, “Fine with me. I am progressing fast enough for all of us."
“Same,” said Alex.
“Cool, I’ll see ya guys later. For real this time,” James said with a wave. He turned around and headed back into Dreng’s Rest. The gates were open, as they usually were not that he was back, so he sauntered through easily. His only resistance being that of nervous guard stares. Just as he passed that statue of the Legendary Chieftain, he became aware of footsteps following him. He turned around to question his would-be stalkers, but only found the amused faces of Patrick and Alex.
“I thought I already said goodbye to you guys?” James asked with a raised eyebrow.
“You did,” Alex laughed, “We are just going the same way as you.”
“Don’t you hate when then happens?” Patrick said in a flat tone, “You say goodbye to someone, then end up walking the same way as them? Awkwaarrd.”
Congratulations! You have received Superior Leather Bracers (Common)
Congratulations! Your Leatherworking skill has increased! Current level = 10 (max level = 10)
“Niiice,” James said as he inspected his latest piece of armor. Apart from looking better and no longer having the words, “shoddy” in their name, James could sense their increased quality. Before, he would have only been able to tell the rarity of an item from its name, but now his senses were becoming in tune with leather. He could see that the cuts in the leather were clear and sealed properly. Meaning they wouldn’t easily fray or become worn down in the elements. He could feel that the knots that tied the leather piece over itself were strong and well-hidden, so they couldn’t be chopped off by an enemy attack. Hell, his new bracers even smelled higher quality than all the other ones he made. James smiled to himself and swapped out his current leather bracers for the new superior pair. He purposefully tossed them into a pocket into his pants. He could have easily put them into his inventory, but he knew if he did, he would forget about them and never add them to the village’s steadily growing stockpile of goods.
James took a few steps in his new armor set and got the feel of it all. It didn’t feel like it weighed him down all that much and as a bonus, he felt way safer. James pulled up his inventory to see the fruit of all his hard work on paper.
Left Hand – Legion Commander’s Short Sword (Legendary)
Right Hand - Martyr Skinning Knife (Widespread)
Feet - Reinforced Leather Boots (Uncommon)
Legs - Leather Trousers (Widespread)
Chest - Leather Cuirass (Widespread)
Shoulder – Leather Pauldrons (Widespread)
Wrist – Superior Leather Bracers (Common)
Back – Thick Ingo Skin Cloak (Common)
Head – Leather Helm (Common)
Neck - Necklace of Lucidity (Uncommon)
Ring 1 – Brutus’s Ring (Extraordinary)
Sheath 1– Clunky Short Sword Sheath (Widespread)
Sheath 2- Oana Scythe Sheath (Common)
Bag - Adept Adventurer's Satchel (Uncommon)
“Awesome,” James said, still excited to see everything in his interface, even though he was already wearing it all. Even though most of the things he was able to craft so far was of widespread quality, James couldn’t believe that he hadn’t ever crafted anything before.
“I could have had full armor sets this entire time…” James said, absently mindedly searching for a mirror inside the cabin and failing.
Damn, he thought, realizing that he would only be able to see the blurry version of himself that a reflection of water happily offered.
Alex burst through the cabin door. James was ready for him though. Somehow whenever he seemed to be doing something embarrassing, like strutting around in a new armor set, someone always managed to walk in on him. It was just the way things happened in Dreng’s Rest. There was no privacy. At least for him. And maybe Torunn.
James gave Alex gun-fingers, but the military veteran didn’t seem to notice as he made a b-line for the bar. He purposefully poured himself some Ale and flopped down into a stool
James, clad in leather, approached, “You okay dude?”
Alex jumped, almost spilling his ale in the process, and glared at James, who couldn’t help but laugh.
“Finally,” he said, “I am sick of always being the one getting snuck up on.” James took a seat next to Alex. “What’s going on man? It’s only like... lunch time.” He nodded to the mug of ale in Alex’s hand.
“It’s five-o-clock somewhere right?” Alex said before taking a swig.
“Welllll…. We don’t know that actually. There isn’t even a way to tell time here yet and who knows if they have different time zones.”
Alex scoffed, “You sir, are an asshole.”
James shrugged, “Never pretended to be anything else. So what's the deal?”
“Ahh, nothing,” Alex said as he ran his fingers through his long hair, “I just keep getting caught up in blacksmithing things for other people. I thought it would be a fun craft skill to have, but it turns out that it isn’t so fun when you have to craft a bunch of miscellaneous items.”
“Like what?” James asked, pouring himself an afternoon ale in the process.
“Random hinges, special nails, and a million other things for Birger. Pots and pans for villagers. The occasional trinket for Torunn…” Alex replied and held his mug out. James lightly tapped it with his own. “I am pretty sure he uses them for Alchemy, but you get the idea. I keep having to craft things for other people.”
James shook his head, “Nah man, that's not supposed to happen. I told everyone to leave us alone while we prepared to face Ogrim again.”
Alex waved a hand dismissively, “Ahh,” he said, “It hasn’t really taken up to much of my time. I just hate being an order taker. The real problem is it takes up valuable skill points to be able to craft these random things.”
“What do you mean,” asked James.
“You have to have a certain sub-skill thing to be able to craft things for other crafting skills. For example, I took the builder's blacksmithing sub-skill first so I could create the hinges we needed for the front gate,” replied Alex.
James took another sip of his ale and thought for a long while. When he spoke again, his voice took on a persuasive tone, “Okay, I think I have a solution. I will find you a reliable assistant blacksmith. In return, you prioritize teaching him a skill that will allow him to be able to craft things for leatherworkers. What do ya say?”
“Psssh, I have looked all over for an assistant. If you can find me a reliable one I will teach him how to sing and dance for you.”
“Deal,” James said with satisfaction as he held his mug out in front of him. Alex gently tapped it with his own, careful not to spill any of the precious afternoon ale.
“Deal,” Alex said, finishing off his mug and standing up to leave. He turned just before the door, “Oh by the way… this was just added in Omero’s notebook, so you probably haven’t seen it yet but… when you are crafting, the last item or thing you make that takes you to the next level - as long as it is in a 10 level increment - will be of the next highest rarity. Just thought that would be useful.” Alex hiccuped and exited the cabin.
Yea, James thought as he downed the rest of his own ale, I figured that.
After grabbing lunch at Oana Camp Silent Contemplation, James sauntered over to Torunn’s new quest board. He took his last bite of the Oana food and studied the odd penmanship of the board. It was clearly written by Omero, in some sort of red ink, no doubt crafted from Torunn. An interface box exploded into James’s vision, almost causing him to choke on the strangely spiced meat in his mouth.
Town Quests are Available!
! Hunt down five BisonBogs !
! Gather 20 Lame Danders !
! Track down and report the migration direction of 3 Blue Nifrit colonies !
! Hunt down one Giant Ingo !
Cool, James thought as he telepathically selected the first quest. Gone were the days were he poked around in the air to navigate his interface.
Quest Accepted! Hunt down five BisonBogs.
Quest Rewards - Experience and Town Standing Points
Special Objective - Only Kill five Bisonbogs and turn the quest into the Chieftain immediately.
Adventurer’s Bonus - Five Bisonbogs have been marked on your map.
Even cooler, he thought as he pulled up his map and verified that it showed the location of the Bisonbogs. It didn’t show exactly where they were since he was still in the village, but it did show an arrow pointing to their direction. He figured that once he entered the Great Savanna, or at least got closer to them, he would be able to see their exact location.
“Sir,” A guard said mid salute as James turned to leave his village. He paused and looked at the guard. It was the same nervous teenager that stopped Omero from entering the village when they got back from Abaddon’s Land of the Undead.
“Do you like being a guard?” James pondered out loud, in the direction of the teenager. At least he guessed it was a teenager. Size was all relative nowadays, and not really a good hint as to someone's age. The boy was definitely man-sized, but even that was hard to nail down. James had been man-sized when he entered the game, but now he was much larger. In the end though, what made James think the guard was still only a teenager was his nervousness.
“Y yy yes,” said Guard.
“No truly,” James said, doing his best to take on a friendly tone, “I don’t want anyone here doing anything they don’t want to do.” James laughed, “Otherwise, what is the point of all this?”
Got you now, James thought.
“Well… I guess not really-”
“You look quite strong,” James interrupted, softly slapping the guard's shoulders.
“Oh, I am no stranger to hard work,” Guard said proudly.
“Good!” James exclaimed with a nod, “and creative too, I suppose?” He added while pointing to the guards oddly pleasant looking assortment of armor taken from the village’s stockpile.
“Oh yes!” Guard replied excitedly, “That’s me alright.”
“Great,” James said with a smile, ‘Then I have a job you will love!”
Guards face darkened, “Well… w w wwwhat about my post, sir?”
“Leave here right away and go straight to the Chieftain. Tell him I sent you and that I require that he find a replacement guard for you. Tell him it will help me defeat Ogrim and he won’t give you any problems. Once you do that, go find Alex right away. He will probably be in the training area or the blacksmith's hut. Got all that?”
Guard muttered to himself for a brief moment before nodding and saying, “Yes, sir!” Guard gave his final salute as a guard, a rather rushed one at that and sprinted away.
“Good lad,” James said to himself as he stepped into the Great Savanna. He put his fingers to his mouth and gave a loud whistle. After a moment or two, Fletcher, James’s loot finding mount, turned the corner of the village wall excitedly. James patted his mount on the head and hoped on its back, ready to hunt some Bisonbogs and finally reach level thirty.