“James, could you help us up?” Andrew wheezed from his collapsed heap on the ground.
Jim turned and immediately moved to help the men up. Samouel’s fragile bones slipped together in Jim’s grip and he had to reach down to steady the shaman by the elbow. If Jim had thought that his aging reflection looked like his father, then Samouel would have passed for his grandfather. Possibly his great-grandfather.
“Thank you for teaching me magic, sir.” Jim deferred to the man as he would few others.
“No. Thank you for saving my life. Thank you all.” By now the rest of the militia had gathered around and listened in on the conversation. “Do any of the rest of you wish to learn magic like Mr Jim, here?”
Vanessa stepped forward and, taking her lead, so did the other lizardman hunters. Since reaching level 3, Vanessa and her squad had each selected the Scaled Skin talent, in addition to the Projectile Weapon talent Aimed Shot, and the Hunting personal talent Tracker. The power of the Scaled Skin ability was almost useless to the ranged attackers, but Vanessa had politely insisted they be allowed to take their first racial talent to embrace their new culture, separate from the human kingdom.
“Honoured elder,” Vanessa began in her usual respectful address, “we would like to learn from you.” Samouel consented and unlocked the hunters’ magical talent. After the final hunter had gone through the brief ritual Jim had already experienced, Jim received a prompt to select his hunters’ new Earth or Fire Magic talents. The options available in Fire Magic were identical to Jim’s and, therefore, useless to the dextrous young hunters. Earth Magic, on the other hand, in addition to some generic magic-enhancing talents, had two specialised talents for the hunters with unique prerequisites.
Strength of the Earth:
Jim decided to put the hunters’ fourth talent point into Camouflage for the same reason that he had selected incineration. He would select Strength of the Earth if the other talent trees didn’t take precedence in future level-ups. Jim also considered having his militia front-line troops learn Earth Magic, but that would have to wait for some time since their level appeared tied to Jim’s and, as yet, he was still one level lower than they were. He did, however, ask Samouel if he could heal the militiaman who had been seriously injured in the fight way back against the ratmen.
Andrew’s Refugee Camp Militia:
Langdon, level 5 Human soldier.
Langdon and the other members of the town’s militia left to finally get the sleep that the morning's commotion had deprived them of. Andrew led Jim and Samouel back to the village hall and guided them to a comfortable corner by the fire. Andrew arranged some food and drink for Samouel, then the old shaman healed both of their wounds.
“Thank you, uncle,” Andrew said. Samouel smiled but Jim was very surprised. He knew Andrew’s story, of course, but he hadn’t realised that some of Andrew’s family must have escaped slavery all those decades ago. It made sense, now, why Andrew wanted to return to his ancestral lands.
“Andrew, of course, you are welcome. You saved my life every bit as much as Mr Jim, here. I was very fortunate to reach your camp. I had worried I would not make it.”
“Tell me, uncle Samouel, what happened to your people? How many did you bring? Where are they?”
“After I received your message about resettling The Grand Plateau, I gathered a few hundred desperate peasants that still worked the abandoned lands. We were travelling from the north, not far from here, when we were attacked by human slavers. I did not realise they still prowled our lands and was careless. Our caravan was ambushed during the night. Over 200 were captured or killed, only I escaped.” Tears gathered in the shaman’s eyes. “I should have stayed. I should have used my magic to fight, not to run.”
Andrew reached over and patted his uncle on the shoulder. “Do not lose hope. Your people are alive and, if you were attacked near here, they cannot be far.”
“I’ll find them,” Jim announced. He couldn’t bear to watch the man’s anguished tears without acting. “Do you know where they might be?” Samouel nodded.
“I remember we had just passed a pit, perhaps an ore or clay pit, the afternoon before we were ambushed.”
“North-west of the crossroads?” Jim asked. Samouel nodded again. “I know the place.”
“Perhaps the humans want to use our people as labourers,” Andrew suggested. “If that’s the case, we are in luck. They won’t have taken them away to be sold and we should be able to recover them.”
Quest received: The Lost People.
The mysterious shaman you saved has proved to be Andrew’s uncle. What’s more, he had been leading a caravan of refugees to join the town that was ambushed and captured by human slavers. Search The Grand Plateau and save the refugees.
Jim accepted the quest and tried out his conversation skill: “Samouel, will you join us in saving your people?” His attempt failed. Samouel shook his head.
“I am a shaman, a spiritual guide to our people, not a warrior.” He then gestured at his body “And I am old and exhausted. I will give you some advice, though.”
Maybe Jim’s conversation attempt hadn’t failed. “Advice would be welcome, sir.”
“I was careless when I lead my expedition south, but so were the slavers that attacked us. Had we been prepared, we may have fended them off. They attacked us in rag-tag groups that did not obey any centralised oversight. They are no army; they lack discipline. If you seek them out during the night, you will likely find them easy prey.” A feral grin twisted Samouel’s face. "Moreso now that you have killed their leader."
“Then we’ll leave this evening,” Jim said. He turned to leave.
“James, before you go,” Andrew stopped him, “I have noticed that you do not sleep or vanish mysteriously as the others like you do. I, foolishly, pushed myself to work through the night alongside our people; however, I am no young man to work a day without rest. Would you lead the town in my absence? I have some ideas drawn up by my table in the study.”
“Of course. Get some rest.” Jim walked away from the two men and walked to the closed-off study in the corner of the otherwise open-plan village hall. When he sat at Andrew’s desk, Jim smiled in excitement.
You have been granted access to Andrew’s Refugee Camp Town Planning. You may decide the next building to be constructed.
Current build options:
You will unlock additional build options by constructing the prerequisite buildings, increasing population, obtaining blueprints, or completing quests.
With a current population of 195, your town generates 195 build points per day.
Jim had, until now, believed his appointment to councillor and subsequent construction of a sawmill had been quest rewards. Instead, Jim’s luck and Governance talent appeared to grant him significant control over an in-game town. Almost town, anyway. His plan had always been to use the resources of the computer-generated people he had encountered to fulfill his goal outside of the game. Jim allowed his somewhat uncharacteristic self-interest to order the construction of the Street Markets. The town’s population was currently low enough to not be stunted by a lack of housing, and at the same time, also would not provide enough recruits, but these were only rationalisations of Jim’s goal: Convert in-game resources into real-life credits. He also queued up the construction of Town Housing, in case his rescue of Samouel’s refugees delayed him longer than it would take to build the surprisingly simple street market.
Construction: Street Market
The quality of the material used in construction will affect the productivity and durability of the completed structure.
Build Points: 0/200
Rather than wasting his time waiting for the militia to rest up through the day, Jim began gathering the required materials. He had, in his inventory, 28 units of leather from his sleepless nights spent skinning. He also had the 5 Seasoned Hardwood Logs that he organised to be milled into 30 units of rare Timber, though he didn’t plan on allowing the precious material to be used for a basic street market. He dedicated all the leathers in his stockpile towards the construction and ordered the camp’s hunters and sawmill workers to provide the rest of the leathers and all of the timber. Jim himself foraged for stone, just as he had with the sawmill. He completed the task quickly but, luckily, didn’t have to wait long for the militia to awaken in the early afternoon.
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My name's Tim and I'm writing Forgotten Man Online, a game-literature light novel web-series that I plan to release here, on Royal Road, and eventually hopefully through Amazon's Kindle platform.
I studied writing at university for three years and then became a high-school English teacher in Australia (6 years in). Hopefully, that means you will find my content to be of a high standard and that you will enjoy it, provided you can stand the British spelling of words :).