A note from Journeyman_Mike

Now we explore the loot and other goodies Henry and Iggy have picked up so far!!

Waking to soothing birdsong Henry slowly opened his eyes. The cave was large and bare with only the scattered remains of prey animals disturbing the uneven rocky floor. He had made his way to the back of the cave yesterday before passing out from his first real fight in the Zone.

It was midmorning his stomach growled angerly for some breakfast and before he could go about organizing the spoils of his earlier battle he needed to take care of his immediate needs. Luckily, the bear's corpses were still fresh enough that he didn't think it would be too much trouble to make a simple meal of their flesh. The biggest problem would be starting a fire since he didn't have his flint and steel or any magic to spark kindling.

Sighing he made his way out of the cave and began the long process of gathering wood and making a suitable fire pit. It took him a little over an hour to make a passable pit with the rocks of the cave and eventually even got a fire going by rubbing two sticks together as he had been taught when he was only a child. *DING*

Skill Gained: Survival lvl 1

A basic and necessary skill for all those who venture in the untamed and wild lands beyond the safety of cities and towns. Survival skill grows as you learn more about the natural world and how to shape it to your needs.

-Able to prepare a basic campsite and forage for common food.

-Synergy with Herbalism, Construction, Farming, and Hunting skills

"That's useful. And the other skills listed should be pretty easy to get." Henry mused as he took one of the pygmies knives to skin and prepare the bears. He figured that he could smoke most of the meat so it would keep longer and probably dry and prepare the hides. Those were skills that most people on the Border learned from a young age even if they were only farmers it was still necessary to supplement their diet with wild game and often traders would pay good coin to even crude hides. As he got to work an expected *DING* sounded Henry ignored it for now and continued the tedious and bloody process of dressing the large animals. It took him a full three hours to finish dressing the massive bears and start the cooking and drying process. In that time he had heard several soft chimes indicating skill gains and level ups.

It was finally time to check out all the loot he had gained and examine his skills more closely.

The first items Henry Analysed were the pygmie spears.

Item Name: Crude Spear

Quality: Basic

Durability: 10/20

Damage: 3-8

A basic wooden spear with a flint knapped blade. Common with primitive races and those lost in the woods with little crafting knowledge. Not to be confused with a real weapon quality item this spear is a hunting tool.

That was a little disappointing to Henry and Iggy, but at least the spears would be useful for the time being. They had three spears that weren't broken in the battle the best of the bunch having 12 durability remaining. Next came the serrated blades that all the pygmie scouts carried.

Item Name: Rusty Iron Tooth Dagger

Quality: Common

Durability: 15/100

Damage: 20-26 (3-10)

A common weapon for thieves and thugs this serrated blade is a menacing dagger that has seen rough use and little maintenance.

With five of the daggers all of which were in rough shape, Henry began to think that maybe it would be better to melt them all down for scrap. The final item had come from the pygmie leader and looked like a piece of cheap jewelry.

Item Name: Minor Copper Ring of the Hunter

Quality: Uncommon

Durability: 30/50

+1 to Perception, grants the wearer the Tracking Skill at lvl 1

"I didn't know there was a Perception stat? Iggy what does this mean, are there hidden stats that we'll have to unlock?" Henry was pissed, how could so much be hidden from them. They were just thrown into this experiment as fodder for the Trail Rangers and the U.S. Military.

"I don't really know if anyone has a clue about all the stats and skills that are out there Henry. Remember that the Incursion was only a generation ago and we're still learning so much about what it all means." Iggy tried to calm his anger but was just as confused as him.

"Fine, I'll give the adventures the benefit of the doubt for now." His tone icy "Let's look at our status, a lot might have changed."

"Okay, I'll bring up the notifications that we ignored in the battle and after."


Skills Gained: Polearms, Small Blades, Pain Resistance, Mana Manipulation, Nanite Control, Cooking, Leatherworking

Focus on a skill for a detailed description.

"The first two are pretty self-explanatory, but Pain Resistance could be interesting and the others I could use a look at." Henry focused on the last three skills for more details.

Skill: Pain Resistance lvl 3

Pain helps us to understand dangers to our health, but it is not necessary after a certain level of self-understanding. Grow in the ability to know yourself through pain and pain will trouble you no longer.

- Every level of this skill reduces the effect of pain by 1%

- Increases Resilience by +1 per skill level

Synergy with Mental Toughness


Skill: Mana Manipulation lvl 1

Mana exists in all things and through understanding can be coaxed into form by an act of will. You have scratched the surface of Mana and it's connection to yourself and the world around you.

- Able to manipulate the mana stored within your body, higher skill levels unlock more control.

- Increases Wisdom by +1 per skill level

Synergy with Meditation


Skill: Nanite Control lvl 1

Through a complicated scientific and medical procedure, your body has been integrated with billions of nanomachines. Through an act of will, you can control these machines with greater skill level comes more control.

- Manipulate internal nanites, higher skill levels increase the zone of control.

- Increases Intelligence by +1 per skill level

Synergy with Machine Interfacing

"Now for the production skills..."


Skill: Cooking lvl 5

You have demonstrated a knowledge of cooking beyond the basic skill level. Your skill is that of a family cook, good and wholesome foods can be produced but to increase further complex dishes and techniques are required.

- Cook filling meals with ease


Skill: Leatherworking lvl 1

You have started down the path of a leather worker. Having crafted crude hides your skill has far to go before you gain mastery.

- Create basic leathers and leather goods



Stats Unlocked: Perception, Resilience

Focus on Stat for a detailed description.

"Holy Shit, that fight was profitable for us!" Henry was a little shocked at the number of skills and stats he had gained from a relatively low-level battle. "Iggy let's take a close look at the Status screen and get something to eat, that bear meat is starting to smell great!"

Henry Woodridge
Age: 25yrs Skill Level: 2 Profession: None
Health: 60 (5/min) Mana: 110(10/min) Archetype: None
Stats: Skills:
Strength 8 Machine Interfacing lvl 5 Tracking lvl 0 (1)
Agility 6 Unarmed Combat lvl 3 Survival lvl 1
Resilience 3 Dodge lvl 3 Cooking lvl 5
Constitution 6 Polearms lvl 2 Leatherworking lvl 1
Endurance 5 Small Blades lvl 2  
Perception 1 Pain Resistance lvl 3  
Intelligence 11 Mana Manipulation lvl 1  
Wisdom 10 Nanite Control lvl 1  
Unallocated Stat Points: 5 Unallocated Skill Levels: 3

"Hey, Iggy when did we level up?" Henry was curious why he didn't get a notification about leveling especially since it gave him some unallocated points.

"I'm not sure Henry. It looks like levels aren't like the old games unlike most everything about the Mana System. Let me look into it quick." Iggy was quiet for about five minutes while Henry tended to the fire and makeshift smoker he had made for the bear meat. By the time she spoke, he was sitting chowing down on a medium rare piece of bear steak.

Item: Simple Bear Steak

Quality: Uncommon

A well cooked and lightly seasoned bear steak prepared by a skilled home cook.

- Increased regeneration for 20 minutes (+25%)

"So it looks like Skill Level is the mean of all your skill levels. For you, right now with 12 skills at a total of 28, levels, that's 2.3. Your bouns skill levels are just your total skills divided by 4. Don't ask me why that's just the way it is."

"Thanks, Iggy. I can't say that it really makes sense to me, but sometimes we just have to accept the world as it is. Okay, so I have 5 stat points to move around and I'm thinking that we should shore up our weaknesses until everything gets to 10. What do you say, Iggy?" Henry began to pace as he thought about their future growth.

"I don't disagree, but I think we need to talk about skills before we decide after all some of our skills give a bonus to our stats. I'm thinking we need to focus the free point into physical stats and use our free skill levels to get more free stats out of the skills that give a bonus. After that we can train all of our skills and see about getting new ones, those synergies gave some good hints."

Henry stopped his pacing and looked thoughtful for a moment, "Iggy, that sounds like a perfect plan! We should stay here until the bear meat runs low and get a good skill grind done!"

Excited about the coming training and all the strength they would soon have Henry put 2 points into Strength, 3 points into Endurance, 1 level into Nanite Control, and 2 levels into Mana Manipulation. Bringing up his status screen to confirm the changes.

Henry Woodridge
Age: 25yrs Skill Level: 2 Profession: None
Health: 60 (8/min) Mana: 120 (12/min) Archetype: None
Stats: Skills:
Strength 10 Machine Interfacing lvl 5 Tracking lvl 0 (1)
Agility 6 Unarmed Combat lvl 3 Survival lvl 1
Resilience 3 Dodge lvl 3 Cooking lvl 5
Constitution 6 Polearms lvl 2 Leatherworking lvl 1
Endurance 8 Small Blades lvl 2  
Perception 1 Pain Resistance lvl 3  
Intelligence 12 Mana Manipulation lvl 3  
Wisdom 12 Nanite Control lvl 2  
Unallocated Stat Points: 0 Unallocated Skill Levels: 0

"We're on our way!"

A note from Journeyman_Mike

Hope you all enjoy this chapter, it was a bit of an info dump and in the future, I'll limit the notifications to the end of chapters as much as possible. There will be another chapter coming your way either tonight before I head off to bed or tomorrow when I get out of work...maybe both.

On a side note, many thanks to the first reader to rate me 4.5!! Not bad, I'll keep improving and get chapters to you guys at least every Mon-Wed-Fri with a bigger update on weekends.

Support "A Diver's Tale"

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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