Michael woke much earlier than he usually did. The sun wasn’t even completely up yet and the sky was just beginning to lighten from the deep navy blue of pre-dawn. Something tickled his ear as he laid there, and caused him to jerk his head.
Kari lay next to him snoring gently. Her mouth must have been right on his ear and tickled him awake. He tried to extricate himself from her, but she wrapped herself around him like a snake. The world’s softest boa constrictor. His movements woke her and she stared up at him, blinking sleepily.
“Good morning Kari” he said with a smile on his face, and a quick scratch on her head.
‘Just pretend you’re up early on purpose. Maybe she’ll think you’re responsible like that. Wait. No that’s a terrible idea. When she thinks that, she’ll expect that, and let’s be honest there’s no way you can keep that up for more than a few minutes. Sooner or later you’re going to do something really, really stupid and she’ll be confused. No, it’s better to just set the bar low now.’
“Good morning my alpha!” Kari stretched languidly, the shirt she was wearing riding up her form to reveal her lovely thighs, and closely trimmed pubic hair. Michael tried to avert his eyes, but that small patch of red fur was like a magnet, daring his eyes with promises of hidden treasures. “You’re up awful early. A big strong man like you must always rise early. All the better to hunt while your prey is tired.”
“Actually Kari, I normally sleep in, but something woke me up. It’s almost dawn so I figured I’d get an early start.”
Kari nodded and stood, brushing the dirt out of her hide shirt and the leaves out of her hair. “That’s wise.”
Michael shook his head to clear it, and deliberately turned away from Kari rubbing her hands over the shirt and the lovely body beneath it. It wasn’t her fault that he was so hard up. He thought back to his last encounter and realized that it had been almost a year since he had gotten any.
‘Come on. Focus!’
He set about breaking down camp and preparing for the day’s journey. After tending to nature's call, he set about looking for a replacement for his bow. He was able to find a stick that was the appropriate length, and still slightly green. It must have been knocked down by the bear as it trampled through the forest.
Some light trimming with the sharp edges of a rock that he had smashed, quickly turned it into a straight bow, not unlike the old English or Japanese longbows. Albeit much shorter. He was able to salvage the tendon from the bear’s leg to use as a string, and with a few more notches, the bow was complete.
You have learned a new skill: Crafting
With careful insight, and a steady hand, you can craft items to aid you along your quest.
From shoes to sex bots, the limit is only your imagination.
You have created: Primitive Bow
Ranged weapon made from salvaged wood and bear tendon. Does STR+AGI damage
It’s better than a sharp stick, but not by much.
Michael grinned. ‘Woohoo! Crafting is a thing. I should download some engineering eBooks. I’m pretty sure there’s a zombie survival guide that would come in real handy right about now. It’s a shame this bow sucks. It does even less damage than the last one. Is it because it’s made out of inferior materials?’
Then an idea struck him. At first, he dismissed it out of hand, but the more he thought about it the more he figured why not. He quickly gathered up pieces for a second bow. He shaved the stick as smooth as he could, and carefully notched it. Then as he put the finishing touches on it, he reached for that swirling energy in his chest.
The crackling storm flowed eagerly into his arms, and down into the weapon. The white glow infused the bow and outlining the grooves and channels he had scored with his pathetic tool. Sweat began to bead on his forehead as the magic was happy to flow over the weapon, but refused to sink into it.
His hands tightened with the strain, and his jaw clenched as he tried to force the soul power into the bow, but he felt like something was missing. He quickly thought back to al the other times he had created a spell, and realized that power itself wasn’t enough. It needed direction.
So he concentrated, pushing all of his thoughts towards the bow’s power. He imagined it drawn taught and then the arrow punching through an armored knight. He held the image in his mind, and shoved. There was an audible snap as the energy finally sank into the wood and disappeared.
You have created: Primitive Bow of Power
Ranged weapon made from salvaged wood and bear tendon, but enchanted with a power boost by Michael. Does (2xSTR)+AGI damage
You made a thing! It’s not a very powerful thing, but look at you go!
You have created: Enchanting
Using your own soul as fuel, you can modify physical items to hold magical traits.
Now we’re talking. Sword of Truth here we come!
“Fuck yeah!” Michael pumped his fist in the air, causing Kari to jump. “Sorry, but I just made this! How cool is that?”
Kari looked at him confused. “The bow? I saw, but why did it glow?”
He grinned wildly, and did a little dance, flexing and posing for some unseen crowd. He turned back to Kari and handed it to her. “Because I enchanted it. Now this bow will do more damage than a normal one! Isn’t that great?”
Kari took the bow and looked it up and down, then handed it back. “Ah kay. When are we going hunting? I’m hungry.”
Michael’s smile faded as the magnificence of his discovery was completely lost on her. ‘She doesn't get it, but this opens up so many opportunities. I wonder how far the game system will let me “invent” and how much is pre-programmed. Nizhoni said that magic was an abomination, so I doubt there are any enchanting teachers nearby either. Damn, what I would give for a civilization.’
“Hello! You’re pretty.” Kari said, looking over Michael’s shoulder. He turned to see Sara sitting near the embers of this morning’s fire warming her hands.
“I knew you were special Michael, I knew it from the very first time you sent an inquiry email about Iona’s release date. What I didn’t know, was how special you are.” Sara turned her head, and her blue eyes locked on his. They were deep emerald blue pools, that he wanted to sink into and be lost in forever. Even the way her blond hair cascaded casually over her shoulder stirred things deep within Michael.
“I’ve come here to warn you Michael” she continued, ignoring his obvious staring. “You’ve made a discovery that neither you, nor the world is ready for yet. Magic spells exist already in the world, and yours can be lost in the background static as people cast them all over the world. Infusing magic into an item though. You are the first of your kind to invent such a weapon. Your bow shines like a beacon against the fog of this world, and all the gods can see it. There are gods that will fear your power, fear what you will become, and you’ve just told them where to find you.”
She rose from her place near the fire and came to stand over Michael. “I cannot protect you for long my hero, but I will give you my blessing.” Gently she laid a hand on his chest, and he felt a searing pain as her hand burned his chest. He cried out as the smell of his flesh hit his nose. There was a blur of red as Kari rushed to his side, snarling and baring her teeth.
As fast as the pain had come, it vanished. It didn’t fade or lessen. It just suddenly wasn’t there. Sara stepped back and eyed her work, nodding to herself. Michael looked down, and where she had placed her hand there was now a raw print. A fresh scar, bright red, in the shape of her hand. It looked as if it had only just begun to heal, and still had a long way to go.
“The people of this world will ignore that mark, but it will show the gods that you are under my protection.” She met his eyes again, and held them. “It will not last, my hero. As the wound fades, so will my protection. When it is gone completely, the gods will come after you. Their minions are under no such obligation though, so they will surely come after you. I suggest you prepare yourself.” She shook her head sadly, then looked off into the forest. “I had hoped you had more time before you caught their attention. Be strong my champion. Be wary, for they will come in the dead of the night, dressed in everything you’ve ever wanted.”
With that she simply vanished. Once second she was standing in front of Michael looking to the east, and the next she was just...gone.
Michael jumped as a hand touched him. While he wasn’t looking Kari had snuck up next to him and gently touched the scar on his chest.
“Does it hurt?” Her face was worried, looking right on the edge of tears.
Michael shook his head. “Not really. It stung when she did it, but it doesn’t really hurt now. Kinda tingles actually.”
“Good.” Kari’s golden eyes met his. “If she had hurt you, I would have torn her throat out and eaten her heart.”
Michael was a little taken aback. “You would go fight a god for me?” he asked. She nodded her head and curled into his chest. He wrapped his arms around her and held her close, gently rubbing her firey mane.
“I would fight all of them, my alpha.” She looked up at him, eyes glistening with unshed tears. “When she touched you and you cried out, I was so scared that I would lose another alpha. I don’t care if she is a god, if she ever touches you again, I will kill her.”
She gently kissed the scar, trailing her lips over the individual lines of the fingers, and then placing one last kiss right in the middle of the palm. “Promise me you’ll be here forever?” She laid her head back on his chest, and her arms snaked around him, crushing his ribs in a hug.
Michael kissed the top of her head, and hugged her back. “I promise.”