Already kicking himself for letting her out of sight, Rowan broke into an easy run through trees and bushes. He skirted around a bulbous rock formation back into the meadow.
The uneasy feeling in his chest turned out to be correct, for a knee-high boar-like creature was closing in on the campsite, its stench not too offending. Long, pointed tusks bobbed up and down as it sniffed left and right. Its hooves were picking up pace—straight toward a napping Gabrielle.
Arctic Boar (level 1)
Oh, not too bad.
Rowan blew a high-pitch whistle with his fingers, catching the boar’s attention, and spammed warning pings through the party interface.
She woke with a startle. Her head jerked left then right. “Bad piggy!” she yelped, jumping to her feet. Moonfyre was in her right grasp, her own bar in her left. Dual-wield metal sticks didn’t appear too effective.
By some luck, the boar broke into a frenzied charge at Rowan and not her. Its eyes were very-faintly glowing a dark shade of orange-brown, a sign of weak magic. Strong, stocky legs carried it through the tall grass like a snow plow, beefy muscles rippling under thick brown fur.
Most of all, this one boar alone was enough for over a dozen steaks and many nights of soup. And all that nutritious bone marrow! Rowan’s mouth was already watering, his stomach suddenly hungry and rumbling for his next meal.
With the axe held like a club, Rowan slammed the flat of the blade against its snout and locked the handle against its curved tusks. The boar was squealing, attempting to bite. Its weirdly hooked teeth were inches away from his wrist, and its foul breath triggered a gag reflex. Splashes of stomach acid came up as he levered it toward the ground, Gabrielle tackling from the side.
Tonight’s dinner went down without any trouble at all.
“Kill it! Kill it! Kill it!” she chanted.
He pinned its head down with a knee to the skull, dislodging the axe with a loosening shake. The sharpened edge glinted under the sun. He saw his own manic eye, crazed for blood.
“Do it! Do it! Do it!” Gabrielle cackled.
The boar whined as though it knew what was about to happen. Its eyes closed. Its legs stopped kicking.
“It’s grilling time!” Rowan declared.
The axe’s sharp tip made quick work of the boar’s exposed neck. Blood sprayed. The sound of slaughter was such beautiful music to delight.
The experience bar, floating beneath those muddy hooves, progressed five percent, strangely enough. Maybe there was a significant penalty for kills above one’s level. Or Maybe the fatty Orc had died after they had been whipped through the portal; Rowan did recall a distance penalty in the very-limited game guides. Either way, five percent was five percent. And it had been shared between him and Gabrielle.
“Yippy!” Gabrielle clapped twice, jumped straight. “Now all ya got to do is skin it, gut it, wash it, and chop it up, Row! Cus I’m certainly not doing any of that.”
His boiling exuberance drained to his feet. “I’ll do it later.” He thumbed over his shoulder. “There’s an apple tree a hundred yards that way. No strawberries though.”
She blinked. “Are they ripe?”
“Yeah. They’re like the size of grapefruits too. I dropped a few by that boulder.”
“Kay.” She skipped off in that general direction.
Rowan blew a cool lungful, the ache in his side returning. He stepped back from the pooling blood and those fleas jumping on unwashed fur. Ultra-realism to a tee.
Arctic Boar Corpse (level 1)
Parts Missing: 0%
Spoils in 47 hours
Useful summary. And arctic? No wonder it’s so cold!
Rowan whistled and scratched his head. Some part of him had assumed the boar would’ve broken down into its useful parts upon death like in other online games. Of course, that was a far too optimistic assumption, and he had zero clue on how to butcher this thing… though someone on the forums, for sure, had knowledge to share.
He flicked open the web browser, which defaulted to Sortis Online’s website. His account was already logged in.
The chatbox beeped before he could navigate to the forums. Three messages were waiting for him. He had missed two.
Tasha NaMuso (To Rowan LeMort): Hey, Gab isn’t responding. What’s happening?
Tasha NaMuso: Hello??? What is happening???
Tasha NaMuso: You have ten seconds to respond before I assume you two are having another fight.
Oh lord. Gabrielle’s rather protective older sister was snappy as ever. He scrambled out a reply before she did something unhelpful like raising the alarm on the forums… or worse. He passed her a party invitation for the heck of it, and she accepted without delay. Her icon was a painting of a straw hat. Her favorite straw hat.
Rowan LeMort (Party Chat): Nah, we’re fine. Long story short, we got Demonborn, escaped from Orcish jail, and now we’re in the arctic. She took a nap. Oh, we just killed a boar too. Do you know how to butcher one?
Tasha NaMuso: Gab! Are you okay?
Gabby LeMort: Whoooooops. Didn’t see ya. I turned off those annoying private message beeps a while back.
Tasha NaMuso: OMG you had me so worried! This game is so realistic. I can’t tell the difference between here and real life.
Gabby LeMort: Dun’ worry. The worst that could happen is some hungry Orcs chopping me up into steaks and leather ^_^ Nearly happened too.
Tasha NaMuso: What?!
Tasha NaMuso: And no, Rowan, I don’t know how to butcher a boar! Lol… Have you checked the forums? I saw a bunch of guides on there.
Good suggestion. He ignored their reunion talk and reopened the browser. In the Player Guides sub-forum, the Wilderness Survival section called for his attention. It was far more popular than had had guessed it would be, hundreds of threads already posted. A few five-star guides had floated to the top—relevant guides. He briefly previewed a few on interest. A thread near the bottom of the page was practically beginning for his eyes.
How to Butcher and Prepare Common Animals Without Magic, posted by DeezeNuts 52 minutes ago. 4 Stars.
Too lucky! Rowan head-butted the thread link.
You don’t. Get lvl 5 character first then get the Farming profession. You’ll get the Butcher skill at level 1 husb. It’s like ten times faster than doing it manually. There are masters in most towns and every city. Tomes are common too. You can buy them from scribe shops. Don’t run off too far into the wild before you get it.
“Oh, screw you!” Rowan bellowed, laughing.
“Huh?” Gabrielle blurted, a half-eaten apple in hand. “I didn’t do anything. Did ya want an apple?”
“Not you. Just a troll on the forums.”
“Takes one to know one.” Her eyes rolled.
He looked at her square on. “I agree.”
Her tongue poked out for a second. “Anyway, what’s the plan now? I think we should start building a house.”
“Here? We still haven’t scouted the area. There could be monsters nearby.”
“Looks safe enough.” She shrugged.
Unsure, Rowan hummed a long note and instead looked back at the chatbox.
Rowan LeMort: Hey Tasha, are you still planning to join up?
Tasha NaMuso: Why wouldn’t I?
Rowan LeMort: Our characters are Demons… or are going to be soon. We’re basically the super bad guys. Not even the Orcs like us, afraid.
Tasha NaMuso: *shrugs* We can build up our own little village and be hermits. There’s plenty of space. Have you seen how massive the world is? Do you have a map?
Gabby LeMort: Nope. How big?
Tasha NaMuso: Like the same size as Earth. Maybe bigger. The Great Plains you were in are almost big as the Sahara. It looks like you’re way, way north right now. There are a lot of fjords near Trollheim. Do you see any landmarks?
“Oh great. More trolls,” Rowan said, looking around. He wasn’t surprised at the size of the world oddly enough. Synaptic had talked-up that facet on multiple occasions.
Rowan LeMort: Nothing apart from one mountain that’s much taller than the others in the distance. It’s maybe ten miles away.
Gabby LeMort: There’s a narrow pass in the mountains leading to the meadow we’re in.
Ten seconds ticked by before another message slid up.
Tasha NaMuso: That might be Mt. Colline or Mt. Sunderburn. You’re quite close to the north pole. It’s summer in the northern hemisphere right now btw.
Seasons only lasted for a month on this planet, a year being four months. Days were the usual twenty-four hours, however. All the NPCs grew faster too. Most natural processes were sped-up by varying factors.
Rowan LeMort: Any danger?
Tasha Namuso: The maps don’t say, and you’re not close to any notable settlements. Want me to ask around?
Rowan LeMort: Sure, but be discrete. Anyway, how far off are you from unlocking Mage? We’ll need a Group Portal soon. You are still going Mage, right?
Tasha Namuso: Yes, I am. I need level ten, which a few guys said should take a day to two of grinding. There’s a scorpion infestation in the mines, so likely earlier.
Rowan LeMort: Good. We need a set of Profession tomes, maybe two sets. Swordsman and Priest tomes too. Are you by a slave market?
What kind of medieval fantasy game would this be without slave markets? Who was going to do all the manual labor?
Tasha Namuso: No slaves here, thankfully! :) And tomes are expensive. Why can’t you come here? The masters are charging almost nothing.
Rowan LeMort: The Orc chief could sense our demonic magic. I don’t think we should go to any Human town.
Five seconds ticked by.
Tasha Namuso: Alright, but you owe me.
Rowan LeMort: Keep an account.
She worked the usual nine-to-five as an accountant for a big architectural firm, older than Rowan and Gabrielle by half a decade. He had thought she was too old to enjoy these violent games, but this virtual reality tech was apparently drawing in people who had never played anything video related… of all ages, of all walks of life. Was this a technological revolution in the making?
He noticed Gabrielle hadn’t said anything for a dozen messages. Alarm thumped behind his eyes, but she was in no danger—working on something in the grass. He asked, “What are you up to?”
“Marking out foundations for a cabin? Do ya seriously expect a woman to sleep out in the cold?”
He grinned, his inner troll waking. “Where else would a woman sleep?”
Her lips pinched and twisted. She wasn’t pleased. “Shoo. Why dontcha go cut up that pig?”
“I’m going—” He blinked. “Actually, I will. I need its sinew.”
“You’ll see.” It was obvious enough. He opened the browser once more, then entered into the most popular thread of the Wilderness Survival section.
How to Make a Longbow and Arrows Without Professions or Skills in the Wild, posted by Windweaver 2 hours and 32 minutes ago. 5 stars.
I’ve already made mine (and I’ve made plenty before IRL), so I know this works. You will need a few pieces of wood a yard to two long (a few inches or more thick), some dry sinew (you can get this from basically any farm animal), tree sap, charcoal (look in other guides if you don’t know how to make this), and basic tools. Feathers and iron tips also help for the arrows, but don’t worry if you can’t get these. If you do this right, you’ll get a Crude Longbow of your wood type that should have around a 7 damage rating and Wooden Arrows with 5 damage ratings (My oakwood bow has 10 damage, and my oak arrows have 8), which combined is slightly worse than most Iron Swords.
Step 1. Carve your piece of wood so it looks like this. Try to get it exactly as shown to the dimensions labeled. Use the grid overlay. The symmetry is important.
The diagram was loading at a slug’s pace, understandably. Synaptic’s servers, apparently state-of-the-art, were under extreme load. Complaint threads regarding login queues were flooding the support section regarding error 37. Some poor lad had his queue reset after waiting three hours.
Rowan chuckled and manhandled the boar corpse, carrying it to that flat-top boulder. No problem here. The greater Internet had plenty of guides even if this species of boar was unique to this world.