Seeing him trying to stand, Thorn grabbed Oberlin and picked him up. Setting him on his feet, he left his massive hand resting on the thief's shoulder, his fingers ready to squeeze should the thief try and make a run for it. Surprisingly, Oberlin made no attempt to free himself, seeming completely resigned to his fate.
The innkeeper, too scared to continue yelling at his giant customer, ran to the end of the street to get a city guard. While he was leaving, Oberlin looked up at the mammoth figure holding onto him and grimaced.
"Greetings, my good man. Given the dubious nature of this initial meeting, why don't we start over? I'm Oberlin Danihoff the third, last in a long line of professional swipers. Being that we are both of the non-digital variety, and you haven't lost anything, do you think you could do a chap a favor and let me scoot before the constabulary show?" Oberlin looked at Thorn with a hopeful gaze.
It took Thorn almost a full minute to understand what the slim thief was saying, but once he got it, he couldn't help but chuckle. Shaking his head, he continued to hold the thief, impervious to his babbling until the guards arrived. Once he saw the guards, Oberlin gave an explosive sigh, looking up at the sky.
Rejecting the guard's offer of having Oberlin give him compensation, Thorn expressed his desire to go back to sleep, so the guards dragged the depressed thief away with them. Over to the side, the innkeeper was staring in despair at the hole in his wall. He had been tempted to raise a fuss so that Thorn would pay for the repairs but had abandoned that plan as soon as he saw the giant.
As for Thorn? He yawned, and stretching out an arm, he grabbed the exposed floor of his second story room, pulling himself back up to squeeze through the hole. Fluffing the small pillow he had been using, he lay back down on the floor of the room and was soon fast asleep. Gulping, the innkeeper swore to himself that he wouldn't be involved with this freak!
"Who climbs into a second story without jumping? Wait! Forget jumping, who does it at all?" he thought, dragging his axe back into the inn.
Thorn woke up early to bright morning light streaming through the hole he had made. Examining the damage, Thorn could see that the walls were made of plaster-reinforced wood with wooden frames around the windows. The plaster on the inside of the wall had been pulverized, and the exposed wood had been splintered beyond recognition.
After taking a good look at what was needed to fix the problem, Thorn made his way downstairs to the dining room. A quick look around confirmed that none of the rather spindly chairs would be able to hold his weight, so Thorn took a seat on the floor and waved over one of the staring waitresses.
"Morning, do you sell breakfast?"
"Yes sir," she replied, pulling out a menu for him. "It's two copper for the standard breakfast, which is two eggs, breakfast potatoes, toast, and juice."
"Excellent, I'll have six." Thorn handed the menu back. "You can scramble the eggs."
"Six, sir? Six eggs?"
"No, six of the standard breakfasts. That would be 12 eggs. Plus all the other stuff."
"Y...Yes sir," replied the waitress. Bemused, she walked into the back, returning five minutes later with a massive tray with three breakfasts stacked on it. Letting Thorn know that the rest of the food would be coming, she hurried away.
Thorn, excited to be eating something other than bread, devoured the potatoes first, before putting the eggs on the toast. Each piece of toast was polished off in two bites, and the rest of the eggs were inhaled, as well. Thorn was enjoying his juice, the plates in front of him empty, when the waitress came out to deliver the second set of food. At the sight of the empty plates, the waitress almost dropped her large tray in shock. This time she stayed in the dining room and watched in awe as Thorn shoveled the new food into his mouth as fast as the last.
Paying for his meal, Thorn heaved himself off the floor and went in search of the innkeeper. He found him outside talking to a dwarf with a thick leather apron. Thorn apologized again, and after some discussion, convinced him to not only let Thorn pay for the repairs, but to also rebuild the bed in that room into something that would fit Thorn's massive size.
That left Thorn with almost no money. So, after getting a few supplies and some food for lunch, Thorn readied his sword and headed back out to the old growth forest where he had encountered the corrupted wolves. Arriving without issue, Thorn ventured deeper into the forest.
The corrupted wolves seemed to travel in packs of three, which made them hard for a normal individual to hunt. At the same time, the low price per tail made the bounty unattractive for groups who would have to split the profits. Thorn, however, was not normal. His martial arts training, coupled with his size, made it easier for him to hunt. By lunchtime, he had a tidy pile of tails.
Noticing that the deeper he went into the forest, the greater the frequency of his encounters with the corrupted wolves, Thorn did his best to range around the outskirts of the forest while keeping a sharp lookout to make sure he did not encounter multiple groups of corrupted wolves at the same time. While he could deal with three wolves at once, he could not do so without injury. Adding another three wolves was beyond what Thorn could handle at the moment.
The next few days passed in a familiar routine. During the day, he would hunt corrupted wolves around the edge of the old growth forest. When evening came, he would make his way back to the city to turn in the quest. Seeing how willing Thorn was to pay for the wall repair and bed upgrade made the innkeeper much more friendly, and he happily continued to reserve Thorn's room for him.
Although the money was only trickling in, Thorn was content. He had no particular desire for money, so he was not worried that the task he had taken barely paid for his daily expenses. Every day he made a couple of silver that he stashed away after paying for his colossal meals and his room.
Once Thorn had been hunting corrupted wolves for a week, he decided to make another visit to the Training Hall to pay for the sword he had borrowed. Waving to the guards, he ducked into the hall. Hamm, about to start his familiar speech, saw him and brightened up.
"Hey, kid! You're back! Ready to learn how to wield that junky sword?"
"Good morning." Thorn smiled back at the friendly trainer. "Actually, I'm here to return the sword. I borrowed it last time I was here, but now I have enough money to buy one for myself."
"Wait, that is one of my swords?" Surprised, Hamm grabbed the sword from Thorn and examined it. Seeing the familiar handle but damaged blade, he shook his head in disgust. "What were you doing with it? Chopping rocks?! What did I tell you about control, kid? Look how trashed this blade is! After only a week too. Sheesh. You know, I'm starting to think you are not suited for swords."
Glancing around at the hall, empty in the early morning, he turned back to look at Thorn. "Listen, kid, you better scram before Janus gets here, unless you want to spend the next year practicing shooting arrows. She threw quite the fit that you ran off last time. But I've got a tip for you. Out in the mountains, north of the city, is a friend of mine who might have a combat style that is more suited to you. If you want to go further on the martial path, you should look him up."
As Hamm finished speaking, a notification popped up, asking Thorn if he wanted to accept a new quest. Agreeing, Thorn opened the quest details.
A Hidden Master
The martial path is long and fraught with danger. Having learned all that you can from Sword Trainer Hamm at the Berum Training Hall, you have been given the opportunity to further your training with a mysterious master who lives in the mountains to the north.
Find Master Sun
After getting rough directions from Hamm, Thorn thanked him and immediately left the Training Hall as fast as he could. Janus had reminded him of his aunt, and he was especially bad at dealing with those types. Since Hamm had recommended that Thorn not bother with a sword, he spent a couple silver on a heavy machete that came with a sheath. Then, after having the smith who was selling it add a few serrations to the thick spine and sharpen the swage, Thorn tied it onto his lower back for easy access.
The directions that Thorn had been given were not very precise, so he stopped back at the inn to let the staff know that he may be out for a couple days and to stock up on some food that he could cook in the wilderness. Thorn had never been camping before, so he was eager to try spending a couple nights out in the open. He had bought an extra large blanket earlier in the week to cover his new bed, so he brought that along, as well.
After a quick stop at an adventurer's shop, Thorn gathered up his gear and left the city through the north gate. To the north of the city, a large plain ran up to a small, mist-covered cluster of three mountains. Bisecting the plain was a lazy, winding river, a ferry waiting to take Thorn across for a single silver.
Thorn had been in the game for a couple weeks now and was settling into his new life. While he still had no overarching goals, he could roughly sense a new drive, a new purpose, beginning to form in his heart. Tempered by his frequent fights with corrupted wolves, Thorn had found great enjoyment in hunting them.
Thanking the ferryman, Thorn jumped off the log raft and set off for the mountains. He was looking for a ‘Master Sun' who was supposed to live somewhere on the second mountain. Hamm had told him that he might have to spend quite a while looking, but that did not bother Thorn one bit. The last thing he was lacking was time.
While the quest log did not give him much information to go on, Thorn was interested in what this Master Sun could teach that Hamm and the other trainers couldn't. He agreed with Hamm that the sword was not a good weapon for his size. In fact, after weeks of fighting corrupted wolves, it was pretty obvious that even his Taijiquan was not well suited for fighting, either.
Taijiquan itself was highly effective, but it had been designed to allow a lesser force to fight against a greater force. In the three weeks that he had been playing Nova Terra, Thorn had never found himself in a situation where his force was exceeded by his opponents. The longer he fought the wolves, the more he realized that he could swat them out of the air, killing them as they jumped at him. There was no need to dodge or attempt to divert the attacking energy when he could meet it and overcome it with force.
For a while, Thorn thought the solution to this would be to get a bigger, heavier sword. But even that did not seem to be optimal, as Thorn found that it was easier, albeit more dangerous, to use his hands and feet. The speed of readying a weapon could not compare to the speed of a palm strike, and his palm strikes rivaled the destructive power of a sword swing.
This realization had dawned on Thorn after he was surprised by a trio of corrupted wolves immediately after dispatching another group. About to collect the tails of the first group, Thorn heard a sound and looked up in time to see a large wolf bounding toward him. Instead of drawing his sword which was stuck in one of the wolf corpses next to him, Thorn instinctively swung a backhanded chop that smashed the wolf's spine and almost severed its head.
After crushing the other two wolves with a couple of punches, Thorn realized that he had actually killed these wolves faster than normal. Much faster, in fact. From that point on, he had abandoned his sword and started killing the corrupted wolves with his hands and feet, increasing his daily hunting counts.
By the time evening had arrived, he had reached the foot of the second mountain, so Thorn decided to set up camp. As the last rays of sunlight slipped over the horizon, Thorn pulled out the fire starter he had bought and tried to light a campfire. After a few failed attempts, he finally got a blaze going and sat down to enjoy a meal.
Given his total lack of cooking experience, Thorn had opted to bring pre-cooked food that he purchased from the inn. His storage space kept everything at the same state it was when it was put into his inventory, so he did not have to heat up the food again or worry about it going bad.
Thinking that it would be better to have a light meal before he set out again, Thorn pulled out a whole roasted chicken, a massive bowl of rice, two gallons of tea and a bunch of condiments, spreading them out on the ground before digging in. As he was finishing up his meal, Thorn heard a surprised exclamation from the edge of his camp.
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Bio: My name is Seth Ring and I am a writer. I create worlds and tell the stories of those who inhabit them. I love exploring these new worlds with other people. I post a chapter every Friday around 12 pm EST. To get advanced access to chapters you can support me on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/SethRing.