"Hey!" Keia said. "We’re going to share this loot, right?"
"Of course we are," I said. "But I'm taking all the Horizon gear. At least I’m taking all the stuff with stat bonuses on it.”
"Going to do that little nifty disenchanting thing on them?" she asked.
"That's the idea," I said with a grin.
There were all kinds of nifty spell infusions on these weapons and armor. I held up a sword and concentrated until I felt the same warmth I got earlier doing the disenchant on Kristoph’s sword.
No tooltip popped up this time. I knew how to do this, after all, so there was no need for the game to hold my hand. A moment later the blade glowed, that spell mist appeared around it, and then I was the proud owner of a spell infusion that added a chance to do some ice damage every time the owner landed a hit.
"This is going to be fun,” I said.
I tapped any and every miniature chest I could find. It was pretty easy because, despite the fact that the Horizon Dawn people had been blown to bits, it seemed the game had decided their treasure chests would appear in the spot where they'd expired and not where the various bits of their bodies had landed which would’ve made for a much longer search.
Weapons weren’t the only thing I found. There was plenty of of gold which went to Keia as thanks for her being nice enough to let me have all the weapons bearing enchants.
There was also the occasional bit of goblinsteel ore. I held onto that after promising Keia I’d make her something nice out of the stuff when I finally figured out how to do that.
All I really cared about were all the weapons and armor though. I was going to have a field day disenchanting all of this. I’d just discovered Spellcrafting and now I’d been given a buffet of enchants to choose from. Talk about dumb luck!
Literally dumb luck, considering all those Horizon people had been dumb enough to stand in a nice cluster long enough for me to blow them to tiny meaty bits.
Not that there was much else we could do with Horizon weapons aside from disenchanting them. I wasn’t going to use them, and considering all I knew about Keia I figured she wasn’t going to use them either. I also assumed Horizon Dawn would take a dim view of anyone who tried selling their stuff to other players.
Actually that was an idea to consider. If selling their shit would really piss them off then that was something I was really interested in.
I was in the middle of disenchanting something and enjoying pleasant thoughts of pissing off Horizon Dawn when Keia looked up and cocked her head to the side in a now familiar gesture.
"What is it?" I asked. “Is little Timmy stuck in a well?”
She flipped me off. "I hear something coming this way. Though I should’ve let whoever it is come and kill you if you’re going to be a sarcastic ass.”
I listened, but I couldn't hear anything. Well I could hear the typical forest sounds all around us, but I didn’t hear anything in that forest that sounded particularly dangerous.
"I got nothing," I said.
She rolled her eyes. "Of course you've got nothing," she said. "You don't have the listening abilities I do."
"I figured you'd say something like that," I said. “If there’s something out there looking for us then I figure it’s time to get the hell out of here."
There was just one problem with that idea. I tried to burst into a run, that seemed like the right kind of pace to get the fuck away from some assholes hellbent on killing my ass, but my movement was slow. Ridiculously slow. As though I was trying to walk through thick molasses or something.
I’d heard a story about a molasses tank exploding in a city once upon a time and people drowning in the slow moving death. I wondered if this was what it’d felt like as those poor old timey bastards suffered one of the most unpleasant and ridiculous deaths humanity had ever accidentally devised.
"What the fuck?”
"What's wrong?" Keia asked.
"I can't move!" I said. “I mean I could move from chest to chest in the little cluster of dead Horizon fucks here no problem, but when I try to break into a run it’s like running through invisible quicksand!”
She rolled her eyes, and she was obviously having trouble keeping it together from the way she grinned and covered her mouth.
"What?" I asked.
“Duh. You’re encumbered!"
"Are you fucking kidding me?" I asked. "Encumbered? They put encumbrance in this game?"
“You should’ve figured that one out on your own,” she said.
“I thought they were better than that,” I said. “And encumbrance isn’t a very realistic mechanic, thank you very much.
“Of course it is when you really think about it," Keia said. "Everything in this game is realistic. Is the idea of you being able to carry unlimited amounts of loot all that realistic?"
I sighed. “I guess being able to carry infinite stuff in some magic bag of holding isn’t realistic, but the idea that there’s some arbitrary point after which you suddenly can’t move always annoyed me.”
“Doesn’t work like that,” Keia said. “There’s a sliding scale of encumbrance. The more stuff you carry past your ability to carry the slower you move. It’s not a line you cross or anything.”
“Great. So what do I do about it?"
"Drop some stuff?" she asked.
"But if I do that we’re going to lose a lot of the ore we just found!" I said.
“Are you kidding?” she asked. “You’re not dropping that ore we found. That stuff is too fucking valuable to leave lying around for those pricks to get for nothing. Drop that stupid Horizon Dawn Syndicate stuff.”
“But I’ll lose the spell infusions,” I said, a note of panic coming to my voice.
I wouldn’t have cared a whit thirty minutes ago if I had to leave a bunch of Horizon Dawn Syndicate crap behind. Now, though, that stuff was a valuable source of potential money and skill gains for this new ability I’d discovered. It could very well be as valuable as the goblinsteel ore. Maybe more valuable.
This was the ultimate crafting ability in this game, if I didn’t miss my guess. That meant that something intangible like a spell infusion could easily be worth way more than more tangible stuff.
Just like I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get back to a high level mine any time soon to get more goblinsteel ore, I also didn’t know when I’d find a treasure trove of stuff to disenchant like this again. Maybe not in a good long while considering all the help it’d taken to get out here in the first place and the clever improvising it took to make the big boom that converted these assholes from players to loot.
“Come on. I can hear them getting closer,” Keia said. “They know exactly where we are, and if we're stupid enough to stick around they’re gonna make us seriously regret it!”
"I have a feeling enchanted items like this are going to be a real pain in the ass to find without going through dungeons or something.”
“So what are you going to do about it?” Keia asked. “You wanna get away with some of it or try and take it all and get your ass killed?”
“I’m going to disenchant them, damn it!"
"We don't have time," she said. "Why don't you hand me some stuff?"
"You've been loaded down with ore and that stuff is pretty heavy," I said. "Do you have space to carry anything and still be able to skedaddle?”
She went glassy eyed. I figured that meant she was looking at her encumbrance. I thought of my own, and a number appeared in front of me. It looked like I was currently using 150% of my 100% encumbrance with all the weapons I was carrying.
Great. I hated it when games foisted realistic stuff like this on players. It was even more annoying seeing something realistic being translated into math by a game that’d otherwise been so hyperrealistic that the math felt like it was hidden so far.
I disenchanted another sword. I got a nice little strength enhancement spell infusion from the thing. I figured I could make some good money from something like that. Assuming I survived to use any of these infusions.
At least I could rest assured that any spell infusions I learned here would survive my death, unlike the ore and flower petals. I decided not to mention anything like that to Keia though. I figured she’d take a dim view of me willingly sacrificing us and our loot because I could get something out of this that’d survive a good old fashioned player killing.
Also? Disenchanting that damned sword only took down my encumbrance by about two percent. Motherfucker!
"Toss some stuff on the ground," she said. “I’ll see how much I can carry."
I tossed a couple of pieces of armor to the ground with one hand as I disenchanted another sword with the other. I only had to hold the things in one hand to disenchant which was useful. That left my other hand free for tossing stuff to the forest floor.
It made a hell of a racket as it landed, too, but I figured I didn’t have to worry about that drawing the wrong kind of attention. Not when the wrong kind of attention already knew exactly where we were hiding.
This sword yielded a lightning infusion. That’d be interesting. I found another one that was just another fire infusion and tossed it to the side. I didn’t need to waste time on spell infusions I already had.
That brought me down to 144% encumbrance. Not enough. Even I could hear someone crashing through the forest around us now. They were close. Close enough that I could almost feel the swords poking into me.
"This is going to be close," Keia said.
"I don't think it's going to be close," I said. “We’re not going to make it."
Another sword disappeared in a puff of digital magic. This one added a percentage to attack. Another thing that seemed like it would be frightfully useful. For other players. It’s not like I could get much use out of it considering I didn’t have much in the way of offensive ability at the moment.
"This is all I can carry," Keia said, staring down at a pile of loot she hadn’t picked up.
There must’ve been something in the look I gave her. She rolled her eyes and made a disgusted noise.
"You need these stupid spell infusions more than you need to live with all your stuff?” she asked, her voice dripping with sarcasm. “If they kill your ass then you’re not going to have anything. Everything in your inventory will be in a little glowing chest on the forest floor next to those items.”
Again I decided it wouldn’t be prudent to mention I’d get away with the spell infusions at least. She looked frustrated enough to commit murder as it was, and I was the only convenient victim. Like she seriously seemed like she was in a mood where if she thought she was about to die then she’d have no problem taking me with her.
“Motherfucker,” I growled. “This shit would’ve been valuable, too.”
"Damn it," Keia said.
She held her hands out and a bow and arrow appeared with a little transporter effect like from an ancient Star Trek movie or something. No sooner had it appeared in that outstretched hand than she pulled the string back and let loose with an arrow that flew into the forest with a loud hiss.
The hiss was very quickly followed by a thunk and a loud scream.
“What are you doing?” I asked as another weapon, this time a bow and arrow, disappeared in a white puff of magical energy.
“That was me conceding the point that you need to get as many of these things disenchanted as possible,” she said. “And that sound was one of my former guild mates getting an arrow to the knee.”
She grinned. "Though hopefully I hit a far more critical piece of anatomy than the asshole’s knee. Hard to tell when I’m firing based on sound and not on what I can see.”
“Keep it up," I said. “But let me know when you can’t hold them off any longer.”
“Will do,” she said, loosing another arrow that was shortly followed by another thunk and another pained scream.
I pulled out weapons and disenchanted them as fast as I could, but it was still a race I knew we were going to lose. I could hear more and more people crashing through the underbrush, and I knew if I could hear them then they were too close by far. It sounded like they had a whole raiding party coming at us.
"We might have tonight's raid coming for our asses," Keia muttered.
I held up an armored chest piece that was a lot heavier than anything else in my inventory. It was time to be strategic about the stuff I was getting rid of.
The piece gave the wearer a bonus to defense. I concentrated. It glowed, but there wasn't the usual puff of magic that made the thing disappear.
I bit back a couple of curses. Of all the times for the disenchant ability to suddenly get pissy because something I was trying to disenchant was beyond my ability, this was the worst. I didn’t even know how the damn game determined whether or not something was beyond my ability to disenchant.
I did know this thing was a big motherfucker. It’d probably been attached to a big motherfucker before that motherfucker turned into little bits and pieces of motherfucker. If I got rid of the thing it’d go a long way towards getting rid of my encumbrance.
I closed my eyes. I tried to push out all the distractions from the surrounding world. Which was difficult considering those distractions from the outside world coming to bring a world of hurt down on me with lots of sharp pointy painful things, but I had to do it. I pushed everything away. Felt for the soul of the item.
I couldn't see the chestpiece disappearing because my eyes were closed, but I could feel the weight in my hands turn to nothing, then my hands closed together because there was nothing there. The magic moved into my body.
I grinned and pulled out a few more bigger items. I should’ve done this from the get go, but it hadn’t occurred to me in my panic.
I felt like I’d been operating on panic and making shit up as I went along for far too long. I needed to get back to methodical. Do research. Come up with a plan. Kick ass.
I turned a few more heavier items into puffs of magic, and I could finally move again.
I sprinted for the pile of crap. There was no more encumbrance to hold me down. I grabbed a few swords with spell infusions I didn’t have yet and tossed them back into my inventory. I had plenty of extra room now that I’d rid myself of the heaviest crap.
"Let's go!" I shouted.
Hi! I'm a working writer who's been doing this full time since early 2015. I got my start in the Kindle romance boom, and I'm finally getting around to publishing stories under my own name!
I live in the Midwest with my wife, kids, and cats. Most days find me sitting in front of my computer typing out stories for your enjoyment!
I'm currently releasing Spellcraft. The tale of Conlan, a gamer who loves finding ways to exploit game systems, and how he uses those unique skills to battle a soulless multinational entertainment conglomerate who killed his sister and is trying to take over the gaming world!
Spellcraft is currently released on a chapter a day schedule.
I hope you enjoy my work. Thanks for reading!