Michael found himself wandering into a grass hut village wearing only a disarming smile. ‘Please don’t stab me. Please don’t stab the naked stranger’.
The women of the village took note of him and quickly rushed their children and themselves inside the huts. Soon, Michael was surrounded by men dressed in animal furs and carrying sharpened sticks that had been made into spears.
“Hello friends! I’m not dangerous. No need to get all stabby. I got dropped off by the Goddess Sara, and she told me to come talk to you.” Michael said to the group of heavily armed and un-smiling men.
“You said the goddess brought you?” A voice said from behind the men. They seperated and an extremely old woman strode forward and glared at him up and down. “This is the mighty warrior the goddess brought us? You don’t look like much. You look like a tall earthworm. Where are your clothes?” Her rapid fire delivery was harsh and left a sour taste in Michael’s mouth.
“I don’t have any. The goddess said she didn’t bring anything from my world. If you happen to have any spare clothes lying around, I’ll gladly put them on.”
She glared at him, making chewing motions with her mouth, like she had a chaw of tobacco. “What you think, we’re just going to give you clothes? Pah! You must have brain like an earthworm too.”
Michael ground his teeth, and thought back to Sara asking him to be kind. “Perhaps there’s something I can do to try and earn clothes from you?”
“Pah! You want free things, go fight the spiders. They always stealing from our village and killing our warriors. Plenty of free out there.” The old woman pointed to the west, towards the forest. Off in the distance Michael could see trees that were covered in spider webs.
‘Fantastic. Go fight spiders, butt naked. That’s normal.’
“Can I at least get a spear or something? I can’t exactly stomp spiders to death with no shoes on.”
The old woman just waved and walked away. The men nearby closed on him forcing him back the way he came. They didn’t look so aggressive anymore, now they almost looked like they felt bad for him. None of them offered him a spear though.
Michael stormed off towards the spider next grumbling the whole way. “Old bitch sending me off to get bit on the dick by spiders. Goddamn assholes wouldn’t even give me a weapon.”
He kept his head on a swivel while he made his way to the trees. He picked up several discarded sticks and branches that looked decent, but finally settled on one that ended in a big knot. He swung the improvised mace back and forth a few times trying to get a feel for the weight. It wasn’t a flamethrower, but it’ll have to do.
Way before he was comfortable with the idea, Michael was at the woods. Spider webs were absolutely everywhere. They hung from every horizontal surface like sheets. Brushing his hand along one, quickly made it clear that the webbing was strong enough that he would have to be careful, he could easily become hindered in the sticky mess and that was a quick way to end up with spider fangs in his ass.
Thankfully it was still mid afternoon, and there was no obligatory eerie fog over the area that seemed to pervade every other game he’d ever played. Nope. this was just trees, filled with webbing. Hiding murderous man eating spiders.
Michael crept through the woods, keeping an eye on the branches looking for anything that looked mean. As he crept deeper and deeper into the trees the webbing became thicker. Eventually he was forced to start pulling the webs apart instead of ducking around them. At the very first swing of his stick he heard rustling from the trees above him.
A brown spider the size of his head was climbing through the branches and making a beeline right for him. Even at ten feet away he could see fangs the size of his little finger. Michael backed up creating some distance and hoping to catch the spider on the ground.
‘Of course they’re brown. Camouflage. Fantastic.’
Then the spider stopped on the lowest branch, bunched itself up, and lept straight for Michael’s face.
He threw himself to the ground with a panicked scream as the spider sailed over his head.
“Fucking jumping spiders?! Thanks for the heads up grandma.”
He quickly spun and saw the spider was already racing towards him. Adrenaline shot through his body and he brought the makeshift club down on the spider with all the force he could muster.
The spider was instantly crushed beneath the heavy stick, exploding like a bag of puss in all directions. The goo that was the spiders insides splashed all over Michael’s legs.
‘Great, now I’m naked, weaponless, in a nest full of spiders… and covered in puss. Oh god I think I’m gonna be sick.’
You have learned a new weapon: Club
An improvised weapon made from heavy lumber. It’s good for whacking things.
You have created a new skill: Bash
Bring a blunt weapon down with force on a foe, doing STRxWeapon damage. Requires 5SP
‘Huh. So thats how that works. Explains why Sara mentioned practice.’
As he was reading the prompts, Michael noticed a grey mist rise from the spiders husk and fly directly into his chest. He quickly looked to his health bar to see if he was poisoned, but felt nothing and saw no indicators.
‘Maybe that’s not how this game works. Maybe I’ll only notice when my chest starts to rot.‘ He then noticed something in his SP bar. It was empty earlier, but now it sat at 5SP. ‘Oh! So that’s like my experience! I gain soul power from the things I kill. Got it. Sweet. Time to level up and smash me some spideys.’
He didn’t have to wait long. He turned to start heading back into the trees and saw that there were three more spiders scuttling across the ground. They were almost on top of him. With a cry, Michael whacked the first one and dodged as the other two went sailing through right where he had been standing.
The spiders spun around faster than a formula one race car and sprinted back for him. Swinging wildly he was able to crush both the other spiders before they got to him, but got his club caught in a web. He was about to yank it free when he noticed a fourth spider hauling ass down the silk and straight for his club.
Michael flapped the club up and down trying to dislodge the spider monstrosity, but the damn thing was latched on tighter than a tick. It just scrambled straight for his hand. In blind reflex as he felt the first spider leg touch his hand, Michael reached out and punched the ugly thing right in its fat body.
The spider finally came loose, and sailed through the air smacking against a tree. It wasn’t dead, but it was really hurt. Michael was only too happy to finish the job, and with a mighty tug he pulled his club free of the webbing and smashed the spider.
You have created a new skill: Punch
Fist, meet face. Simple yet effective.
Michael took in heaving breaths as he read the latest prompt. He was in terrible shape even for the game. He took a quick glance around to make sure there were no spiders in the immediate area and pulled up his stats to see if he was improving at all.
25SP to level up
25SP to level up
25SP to level up
Taking a quick glance at his Soul Power, Michael noticed that the fight with the camouflaged spiders from hell has netted him a whopping 25SP. It would probably have been a lot easier with some sort of real weapon or armor, but 5SP per kill wasn’t terrible.
‘Oh wait. I could level up a stat, but then I wouldn’t have any SP. My bash skill requires SP as fuel. So it’s either level up or use my skills. Hmm. Gonna have to play this smart.’
Turning back towards the jungle, Michael trekked onward carefully. Now that he knew the spiders were brown, he was able to see dozens and dozens of them in the trees far above him. He just had to hope they didn’t all come down at once and swarm him. That would be the second worst way to die. Right after being buried alive.
As he continued forward, the spiders became larger and spaced further between. Faced with a choice of dealing with many small spiders and just a few large ones, he continued forward. A large spider descended on a single strand of webbing from the tree above, like it was surprised anyone would be dumb enough to come into its forest naked, with a stick.
It hung there staring at Michael as its fangs dripped onto the ground below. With a shrug he let loose with his very best T-ball impression, swinging the club into the side of the spider as hard as he could. The club connected perfectly, hitting right in center mass and knocking the spider sideways into a tree.
The spider did not instantly explode though. Despite his best Babe Ruth, the spider’s carapace was only cracked and leaking. Its legs flailed in the air obviously hurt, but it wasn’t down for the count yet.
Seeing an opportunity, Michael thought ‘bash’ and and raised the club above his head. The skill activated and his arms felt as if they were on rails. The club head turned white and slammed down on the ground hard enough to pulverize the spider and leave a sizeable dent in the soft earth below.
The grey mist wafted up from the spider and into Michael’s chest, boosting his SP by ten.
‘Double the enemy, double the xp. Simple. So 5SP for the little guys, and I can kill the big guys with bash and still net 5SP. If I had a proper weapon I could kill them without skills and keep all the sp. Interesting. This game rewards actual learning and not just skill rotations. Oh, there’s gonna be a lot of pissed off scrubs.’
Michael watched the trees carefully as he considered the implications of having to choose between leveling and using his skills. He knew this game was going to be like any other, but he was going to have to play this smarter and more carefully than he had ever done before in his life. A thrill of excitement shot through him.
That thrill was quickly chased by adrenaline and fear when he heard the tale tale rustling of rushing spiders coming up from behind him.
Spinning on his heel, he saw two large spiders running straight at him through the forest underbrush. Michael looked around for anything he could use as a second weapon. The club was too slow to fend of the rushing attacks of both spiders. He saw a softball sized rock near the corpse of the last spider he killed. He quickly scooped it up and heaved it towards the spider that was climbing over a log to his left.
He got lucky, and hit it. Not hard enough to cause any real damage, but enough to knock it off its feet for a second. While leftie, scrabbled and tried to stand, Michael was able to greet the spider on the right with a Bash. His club lit with a white glow and slammed down on the spider right as it got within face hugging distance. It exploded like a wet paper bag full of puss and hate.
Giving himself a little mental cheer, he turned and swung at the second spider, missing it by a centimeter. His eyes widened as the spider closed the gap with what he swore was a hungry look in its eyes. Instinctively, he kicked out at the thing trying to create some room as he backpedaled. The spider completely ignored the kick, juking around it and closing the distance. Before he could regain his balance, the spider latched onto his right calf, and sunk its fangs deep into his leg.
Pain shot through him, starting at his leg and shooting up through his whole body.
You have been poisoned. You will lose 1 health every second until dead or cured.
Spider bites are nasty things. Their venom slowly dissolves the flesh so they can drink their prey. I would try to avoid that in the future.
Blinking away the prompt, Michael focused on the more immediate problem of the corgi sized spider, chewing on his leg. The pain was excruciating. His leg wasn’t made of flesh anymore, it was a party of fire and lightning, and all his nerves were invited. Using his leg as a club, Michael slammed the spider into the tree one, two, three times. Finally the spider let go of him and tried to run off, shell cracked and oozing.
“Oh no you fucking don’t.” He shouted. He activated Bash again, and pulverized the little shit before it could move more than three feet away. The thump and explosion of spider guts was especially satisfying this time.
Michael sagged to the ground with a groan. His leg was a pulsing mass of agony. He wasn’t sure if he’d even be able to walk.
‘Maybe turning the pain settings all the way to max was a bad idea. When I log out, I’m going to have to turn them down. This is brutal.’
He studied his leg. It the was a gaping hole on his right calf, where the skin and muscle had been chewed clean through. The blood was coming down his leg in a sheet. ‘If this was real life, I’d probably bleed out soon.’ Then as if he had willed it into the universe...
You are bleeding. You will lose 1 health every second until dead or healed.
Ouch! That looks like it hurts.
“Ok seriously, what the hell. Are you watching me?” He called to the sky. The personal notes on the notifications were either amazing foresight and programming, or he was being actively watched by the AI. Honestly this game was so deep and well designed it could be either.
He was greeted by silence from the heavens. Nothing but the breeze and rustling of nearby spiders made any noise whatsoever.
Sighing heavily, Michael considered his current problem. He was poisoned and bleeding, in the forest, with no clothes or medical supplies, and surrounded by some of the most asinine mobs he’d ever encountered in his gaming career. He glanced quickly at his health bar to see how much time he had.
Effects: Poisoned(-1/s), Bleeding(-1/s)
Soul Power: 40
‘Oh shit! Eleven seconds until I die. Great. What do I do? Tourniquet? No rope. Pressure bandage? No rope. Leaves? Not good enough. Mud?’
Michael quickly grabbed a double handful of mud and shoved it into the wound trying to stem the bleeding. It didn’t tickle, but he grit his teeth and shoved it in anyway and stared at his health bar.
‘Damn its not working! What I wouldn’t give for a healing spell. WAIT. I created the Bash skill by accident. Maybe I can create a healing spell.’ Michael’s panicked thoughts rampaged through his brain.
Watching the last few health points he had tick away Michael reached for his Soul Power with his mind. He could feel a warm energy swirling and cascading in his chest, like a storm just about to break. He focused on his leg, gathered that storm in his mind, and pushed the energy towards the wound; willing it to knit the flesh together.
The storm swirled around in his chest, fighting him. It resisted being pushed. Almost like there was a barrier on the outside of his chest and he couldn’t get through it.
Michael grit his teeth even harder and shoved with his mind. Forcing the damn to break. The crackling, swirling energy in his chest surged through the gap in the barrier and flooded down over his leg in a cascade of white fog. It seemed to hover just over the wound, before changing to a green glow and sinking down into his leg. The pain immediately subsided, causing Michael to gasp in relief. He glanced at his health bar.
You have created a new spell: Healing Fog
A gentle fog settles over your target healing them.
Effects 10SP to remove single effect (bleeding, poison, etc)
Health 4SP to regain 1HP
Michael shot his fist in the air. “Fuck yeah! Healing spell for the win. Who da man? I da man.”
He felt a sharp pinch in his back as he sat there celebrating, and the world went dark.
He opened his eyes and saw that he was standing in the middle of the field between the village and spiders gove. Sara’s gorgeous eyes were locked on him in a gentle gaze. He looked around confused.
Sara smiled and chuckled gently. “You were in the middle of celebrating your discovery, when you got bit by another spider. You died, my hero.”
“Oh god damnit!” Michael swore.
“That’s goddess damnit, my hero,” she said with a giggle. “I’ve resurrected you. Because this is your first death, you will not suffer any punishments or handicaps. Only for your first time. If you die again, you will lose any and all positive effects, all of your SP, and of course all your items. If you find your corpse you may reclaim your items, but someone or something may beat you too it. I’ve also resurrected you close to where you died, since I have the feeling you’ll be heading right back in; but in the future I will resurrect you at whichever town you were last at.”
Michael nodded along, glaring at the spiders nest. “You’re not wrong.”
“You’re doing well my hero. Just learn to watch your surroundings a little more. This world is more dangerous than you know. It’s not just spiders that want a piece of your ass.” she said with a smirk. With that and a flash of blinding white, she was gone. Leaving him standing naked in a field once again.
Michael chuckled at Sara’s triple entendre. He had to hand it to the programmers, they really had gone all out with this game. He quickly checked his health, and sighed in gratitude to see that it was full. He was less happy to see that his soul power was completely depleted. He’d blown his entire load healing himself, just before he died. What a waste.
He turned to glare the spiders nest a few yards away.
“It’s payback time bitches. Just as soon as I find myself another club.”