A note from Journeyman_Mike

Don't worry the Character Screens will get better, this was the best I could do on a time crunch. I'll be making later chapters longer today was a long day at work and the drive home was fraught with snow squalls. Tomorrow will see Chapter 3 released with at least 1500 words and the weekend will be a deep dive into the dungeon. We'll have at least 2 chapters of 2000+ words and a good amount of combat and skill-ups!!


Welcome to Appalachia

The first thing Henry saw when the light faded was a translucent gray screen floating right in the middle of his vision.

"Amie, what the hell is this and where are we?"

"As I was saying, we're going to be put through a bit of a test. If we survive we'll be stronger than all but the best adventures. How cool will that be!"

"Okay, I get that we need to integrate or whatever, but why put 200 people into a dungeon! This is one of the most dangerous places we know of and everyone who volunteered for this is a civilian. It's CRAZY!!"

"Henry, did you not read the recruitment agreement? It clearly described the whole process..."

Henry thought back and knew he only briefly skimmed the recruitment materials. It was just so exciting to be chosen for a life of adventure. He just didn't think it would start so quickly.

"So how does this all work?"

"I'm connected to your nervous system. All you have to do is think or say what it is you want and I can visualize it for you like that gray box. For example: think or say status, now."

'Status' Henry thought as hard as he could.

"Haha, there's no need to have an aneurysm, Henry." Amie chimed.

Henry Woodridge Archetype: None
Age: 25yrs Profession: None
Strength 8
Agility 6
Constitution 6
Endurance 5
Intellingence 8
Wisdom 7
Defense 2
Attack 3
Skills None


"Okay, Amie. Most of this makes pretty good sense, but how do you figure out attack and defense?"

"It's pretty simple actually. All you need to do is take your Strength and Agility divided by four to get Attack, and your Constitution and Endurance also divided by four for Defense. You really have to take these values with a grain of salt as they are extremely simplified and will become more accurate and advanced as we continue to integrate and optimize. Seriously, right now we're like a newborn baby. It's kind of sad actually, but don't worry I'm sure we'll nearly die soon! Then, the real fun starts." Amie started to laugh like a schoolgirl meeting One Direction for the first time, a little crazy and almost too excited.

 As Amie was ranting and raving about the virtues of near-death experiences Henry finally too a good look at their surroundings. They must have teleported a good distance because he didn't recognize the area even a little, not that he had tons of experience out in the Incursion Zones. However, he was pretty sure that trees the size of small skyscrapers were pretty easy to spot. The trees looked like oak, but easily dwarfed the Redwoods that Henry had seen in the history books; no one ventured into that forest anymore.

In the canopy, Henry could see the last vestiges of sunlight slowly, almost lazily, filter to the loamy soil below. The forest smelled of old wood, damp soil, and the slight tang of decay. Pleasent in a way that Henry had not experienced before, it was hard to believe that such a place could hold life-threatening monsters and the most deadly sentients Humans had ever encountered. 

Listening carefully he could only hear the chirping of crickets and a gentle breeze brushing through the leaves. 

"Amie, isn't it strange for a forest this size to be so quiet?" The hitch in Henry's voice brought Amie out of her rant, which if she was honest had probably ventured into manic territory after she espoused the virtue of throwing yourself into deadly danger just to see if 12 total endurance really made a difference versus 11. 

Using Henry's senses wasn't the best way to observe the surroundings, but Amie had little choice, yet. "It's probably only quiet since we appeared out of nowhere 5 minutes ago. I'm sure that some creature of other will happen by soon to eat us." She was so happy about the prospect of digestive interaction with the wildlife that Henry had no idea how to respond.

"Maybe we should get moving, then" He was already headed off into the forest not waiting for her to respond, it's not as if she had much choice in the matter after all.

As they traveled through the ancient wood it was becoming clear that neither had a clue where they were headed.

The tall pale goblin had appeared out of a brilliant flash of strangely gray light and stood in place talking to itself for several heartbeats before moving off into the forest. The Pygmies that inhabited the area could not believe their luck, Goblin meat was a rare delicacy. Usually, it took the whole clan to capture even a small band of the green obnoxious creatures, but they never traveled alone and were rarely so large. A great hunt was about to begin.

A note from Journeyman_Mike

Thanks for reading! This is a rough edit, I'll likely revisit all early chapters after I get 20+ written and can take a weekend to go over everything.


Comments and suggestions are always welcome!

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About the author


  • Penn's Woods

Bio: Mike is an amateur author and management professional. When he isn't working he spends his time reading, playing D&D, and conquering the world in Civ VI.

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