Willow eyed the mobs and players around her, this was an area she hadn’t seen yet. Though, since Dawn had taken her back to the main gate and then they’d just taken the road right outside, she expected that if she had gotten here the ‘normal’ way she’d probably have seen this place before. There was still snow on the ground everywhere, like in the previous zone, and the mobs that were running around here were lynxes, their descriptions read ‘Hungry Lynx’, which wasn’t exactly creative but definitely got the job done.
Dawn: There is an area with fewer players but enough mobs to try a few things out not far from here. We could go there to practise?
There were quite a lot of other players around there, especially in comparison to how many she’d seen before. They were all killing the lynxes for as far as she could see and she didn’t really want to fight the other players over a couple of mobs just to learn how to unlock more spells for her class. Because she was pretty sure that there was no limitation on PVP in this area.
Dawn started walking again, staying close to the edge of the woods on the right side, not going in, although that had probably more to do with the limitations of the game from what she could see on her map. As the woods suddenly fell away, they walked into a clearing with just a handful of lynxes, but no other players. It looked kind of perfect to try and kill a few things on your own without being interrupted by other players.
Dawn: A side quest leads you here too, but not many people will bother with it, so it should give us some space to practice. How far to level 9 are you?
Willow eyed the tree at the bottom of her view.
Meadow: About 15% left?
Dawn: Good, you unlock an extra skill at level 9 anyway, so you should have about 7 skills soon.
Meadow: 7? Seven?
She had two skills right now. Going from two to seven... Wow.
He smiled at her, looking at the lynxes.
Dawn: Can you kill one of them? I’ll explain how to gain new skills after that.
It was a little over what she was used to, but Dawn was a healer, so he should be able to save her, if needed.
She focused on the lynx, targeting it.
‘Go!’ She thought the command to Iris, who ran towards the lynx and attacked it first, a large cone of fire going out in front of her.
[Iris hit the Hungry Lynx for 100 damage]
Willow turned her wrist, pulling up her elemental attack as the lynx now focused on Iris, keeping Willow safe from the attacks. As soon as it felt right, she let the bolt go, throwing it at the lynx.
[You hit the Hungry Lynx for 70 damage]
[The Hungry Lynx hit Iris for 67 damage]
Iris was charging up for another attack, she could see it.
Willow pulled up another bolt, waiting for the right moment to let it go.
[You hit the Hungry Lynx for 64 damage]
[The Hungry Lynx hit Iris for 70 damage]
[You hit the Hungry Lynx for 75 damage]
[Iris hit the Hungry Lynx for 110 damage]
The lynx let out a devastating cry and crumbled to the ground, curling up as it died.
She went over to the lynx, taking out her butchering knife and leaned over the lynx, pushing the knife into the belly of the creature and butchering it.
[You loot Lynx pelt]
[You loot wild meat]
[You loot leftover animal pieces]
She shuddered as she stood up, looking at Dawn, who was just staring at her.
She could see some emotions play over Dawn’s face before he sent her a message.
Dawn: I’ve never seen a player like you before. It’s...
That didn’t sound so good. She shouldn’t have done this. She was obviously not following the rules of this game and now someone found out that she was different, this never meant good things.
Dawn: This is cool, I didn’t realise that you could even do magic without a staff or other weapon and that attack... You said you didn’t have more than one attack... But I’ve not seen that one before. What is it?
Meadow: It’s what showed up when I did the tutorial. I just went through the steps like I was supposed to as far as I know.
Dawn: Yeah, you were supposed to do the tutorial, yes. Just, as far as I know, you can do fire or ice, not... What is it even?
Meadow: I have no idea, it shows as %Elemental.
Dawn: Impressive. Must be something that people haven’t figured out yet. Cool.
He nodded, then stepped past her.
Dawn: I’m mostly a healer, but these are my attacks.
He grabbed his staff from his belt and pointed it at one of the lynxes, then he shot a ball of ice from it. The attack took over two-thirds of the HP of the lynx. Then he lifted the staff and flung it down and a cone of ice appeared over the lynx, falling down on top of it. The lynx died, but Dawn didn’t go over to it.
Meadow: You don’t butcher them?
Dawn pulled a face, shaking his head.
Dawn: As soon as quests no longer required it, I stopped. Just... ick. No.
Willow shrugged, she didn’t like it either, but it felt like such a waste to just leave it there, not doing anything with it, especially when the items from butchering seemed pretty useful.
Meadow: Right. Yeah...
It was of course a possibility...
Dawn: I’ll show you how to put stuff on the auction house, that way you can make quick money with those skins and the meat. Not a lot of people have the guts to keep butchering to a high-level skill, most people stay to mining and herbalism for out in the wild skills.
Yeah, she would probably enjoy it better if she could sell the items off off at a good price. Like in DoE, the money she made here she could use in the real world, though she didn’t want to chance transferring between the two accounts just yet, but it was definitely a possibility going forward and the sooner she started saving the better.
Meadow: Now, how do I get more attacks?
Dawn: You should have a buff, a heal and two more attacks as your skills at this point. Usually, the attacks are either a cone, an AOE or a DOT.
Dawn: Mine were an AOE, the ice rock thing, and a DOT, I have a freeze attack, though I don’t use it often.
Right. So, she ‘just’ had to figure out what other attacks she could have? Figuring out the first one was bad enough and she officially only had had a choice of two attacks back then.
Meadow: How do you know what to do?
Dawn: You kind of just do, I think? At first, I just kept waving the staff around, seeing if it made a difference. I did stumble into finding out that my buff is a speed up buff, which affects movement but also casting times and even cooldowns, so that was nice. But other than that, everyone just sort of does their own thing.
This game was odd, really odd, and not really in a way she enjoyed... ‘You sort of know’ wasn’t really a strategy that tended to work for her.
Iris sat down next to Willow, leaning against her leg. She reached out to the little dragon, petting her on the head. How did someone do this without looking silly?
There was only one way, really...
She stepped forward, toward one of the other lynxes and held her hands out in front of her. A cone type of attack would probably make the most sense for a stance like this, right?
Dawn: You’re not using your staff?
Meadow: If I didn’t need one the first time around, I don’t think I’ll need one for the rest?
Meadow: It makes sense in my head.
She took a deep breath. A cone type of attack required a focused type of energy in front of her hands and then pushing it out to the lynx. She took another breath, trying to connect to the sense of energy inside of her, like she figured out for her bolt, but while it spiked a little, nothing happened. Maybe not a cone?
An AOE attack would be different, there were so many ways she could try to summon that. First, she needed a focus on the location she wanted the attack to take place. And maybe focus the energy there too? Like, instead of making it appear in her hands to shoot over to the monster, maybe somehow making the energy start there in the first place?
Somewhere in her head it made sense. She could envision the area of the attack and then as she took a deep breath, she raised her arms from around her sides up, like she was lifting something, and suddenly the area she was visualising started to move under the lynx, bubbling almost and it went red hot, throwing up bubbles of what looked like lava.
[You hit Hungry Lynx for 250 damage]
Willow dropped her arms down and the lava pool disappeared. The lynx wasn’t dead yet and it came running at her. But she suddenly couldn’t remember how to do her normal attack, too surprised by what just happened.
Did she really just create a lava pool? What the...?
As the lynx got really close to her, she pulled up her arms in front of her in defence, trying to protect herself, and suddenly she was surrounded by a clear shield-like thing as Iris roasted the lynx.
[You deflect Hungry Lynx’s damage by 80]
[Iris hit the Hungry Lynx for 102 damage]
Willow came to her senses enough to shoot off one of her own bolts.
[You hit Hungry Lynx for 85 damage]
The lynx fell down, curling up. She’d defeated it. Then she knelt down and butchered it, taking the items. Trying to do something that was sort of normal in this game before she thought about what just happened.
She’d just... created lava, and then the shield?
She turned to Dawn.
Meadow: Did you make that shield?
She could still see the buff that went with it on the side of her view, now slowly fading away as the effect wore off.
Dawn shook his head.
Dawn: No, that was all you. Cool buff too, handy if you suddenly get jumped or something.
That was intense, and very surprising, but she didn’t know if she liked finding attacks out this way. As she glanced to the bottom of her view, she could see two more boxes on the line filled. There were still two boxes empty in the middle of them. Dawn said that there was supposed to be another attack and then a heal or something.
She now had five skills on the bar, her racial attack, the elemental bolt, the ability to summon Iris, an empty slot, the lava pool attack, another empty slot and then a skill called barrier, which was probably the buff she’d just pulled up.
Now she just had to figure out the rest of them...
Willow stepped back as a large wolf jumped for her, pulling up her barrier, and then throwing a bolt at the wolf. She’d been playing with Dawn for the last hour or so, defeating creature after creature, levelling up a little faster than she would normally have been able to do.
They were now fighting level 14 monsters, even though she was only level 10, but with Dawn at her side, they were able to get through them pretty quickly.
About ten minutes ago, she’d found out her other attack skill. She’d tripped as she’d stumbled back trying to dodge one of the wolves and as she’d been waving her hands, trying to hold onto something, the wolf had gotten tangled in spooky vines, putting a bleed DOT on it. She’d still fallen on her ass, and it had hurt pretty badly, but at least she’d found the other attack.
She’d also realised why she’d never really figured out any of the extra attacks before. She’d been keeping it pretty safe when it came to how to fight monsters, only fighting the ones who were a little separate from the rest of the mobs and well within her level range, so there was never any reason to really push herself. Now she was actively trying to find them, they came quite easily.
Dawn: You in for another zone up?
They were walking along a path to the next zone and Willow checked the time of the outside world. It was already past midnight and she’d obviously missed dinner today. Great...
Meadow: I’ve got to go, I need to sleep.
She’d been inside HF all day and no matter what, she needed to log off for a couple of hours so she could get some sleep.
Dawn: Oh, okay. See you tomorrow?
Meadow: Yeah. Sure.
It’s not like she had much else to do, and she still had to progress in this game, or at least give her some clue as to how she could help Soleil and Violet and the others...
Meadow: See you tomorrow.
She logged out of the game, not so worried about her location this time as they were standing in the road on a pretty safe spot, and as she took off her VR headset, she sighed. That had been one intense session, way too intense.
But she also wondered why the game hadn’t told her the time yet, or that she was supposed to have dinner hours ago... Something odd was going on, this hadn’t happened before in the years since she had her BASE implant, it would always give her notifications, it hadn’t not done it before... What was up with that?