Jim followed the crowd of people leaving the sawmill to head back to the village hall. He entered the building with Andrew and Langdon, but the rest of the militia and many of the players dropped off after working through the night. The militia collapsed in a heap around the morning’s cookfire, while the players faded away and simply vanished.
“Well I suppose we’d better get some shut-eye, too,” Langdon said.
“You can go, Langdon. I want to speak with Andrew.” Langdon shook his head and sat on a crude stool, he had to hold his chin up, but he tried to pay attention.
“Go ahead, James,” Andrew said. Jim was about to speak when a commotion of yells and screams broke through the door of the village hall.
“Councillor, councillor. come quick! We’re under attack!” A gaggle of the townsfolk beckoned them outside. Jim and Andrew, putting their advanced age aside, made haste.
Out in the camp, a blazing inferno immediately caught their attention. One of the empty wagons that served as the perimeter of the camp had been set ablaze. Many of the townsfolk ran in the opposite direction toward the river, but Jim and Langdon felt they had little choice but to charge into danger once again. A meteor of flame arced into the sky overhead. Jim stopped Langdon. Anything that could produce that fireball would incinerate the two low-levelled men instantly. Jim ordered Langdon to wake the others and then meet him off to the side, perpendicular to the source of fireballs that continued to streak into the night.
Jim had thought he would be alone in scouting the danger, but when he reached the edge of the camp, a white-knuckled Andrew hovered at Jim’s back and clutched a militia spear in his hands. The two older councillors gaped at what they saw in the field.
Boros the Red, level 10 Human rogue wizard (Elite).
Samouel Earthtouched, level 10 Lizardman shaman.
A grey-bearded human in robes patterned with flames threw a torrent of flames at a fleeing lizardman. The lizardman defended desperately, relying more upon tact than power in the face of a powerful foe. He dodged, ducked, dipped, dived and dodged ball after ball of fire. When he couldn’t dodge, the lizardman would thrust his hand at the earth and hurl a chunk of magical stone to deflect attacks or distract the wizard. The earth shaman was skilled, but by looking at his dwindling health and mana, Jim could see that he would soon die to the more powerful fire mage. Jim was entranced by their displays of magical power.
“Samouel!” Andrew yelled, and dashed out, alone, into the magical duel. Jim hated to throw good money after bad but had little choice but to follow the councillor into battle. He just hoped Langdon, Burke or someone would pull a rabbit out before the town’s leader died.
Before Andrew could reach the waning shaman, an instant burst of flame erupted against the strange lizardman’s chest. A smouldering 76 charred the man’s skin and caused him to stagger to the ground.
“Help… me…” Samouel gasped.
Andrew crashed to the ground beside the stricken shaman and began hauling him out of the literal line of fire. Jim, rather than slowing as Andrew had, sprinted past the councillor and charged the wizard. Jim may not have any magic of his own yet, but he knew exactly how to handle an aging human who had obviously invested in mental attributes rather than physical ones.
A bright flash ripped past Jim, missing him, barely. He thought, initially, that his woven stride had saved him, but a scream of agony told Jim the truth. He looked behind to see a huge black 74 fade to smoke above Andrew’s head. The wizard was focussing on killing the real threat here: the shaman. Abandoning caution, Jim ran in a straight line at the enemy, who obviously dismissed Jim as an overzealous elder. More fireballs whizzed by Jim, but fortunately, none seemed to connect with Andrew or Samouel as they distanced themselves from the fight.
As Jim approached within ten steps, the wizard finally decided to act. Jim knew the wizard was too late, though. The fireball, upon leaving the wizard’s hand, followed a set trajectory towards Jim. Jim, however, had already executed the attack pattern Burke had taught him, avoiding the spell. He circled to the left flank of the wizard, the side in which the wizard held a glowing tome, and he dashed the ten steps between them. He placed his left leg far out to the side and pushed.
Jim’s militia spear thrust into the wizard, just as Burke’s had thrust into the spectral horseman in the previous fight, and he triggered Brutal Strike and Critical Strike. The blow produced an even better result for Jim than it had for Burke. The spear passed clean through the wizard, entering just above the right hip and exiting through the left armpit. The strike double crit. A sickening bloody 72 spewed from the wizard’s mouth.
Brutal Strike deals 72 piercing damage to Boros the Red (Critical Strike; Critical Hit).
The wizard’s rapid chanting stopped and the flames in his hands guttered and died. Jim was astounded at the amount of damage he had done, even with his piddly physical stats. He wrenched the spear free with a disgusting sucking sound and spun to the wizard’s second side. Jim tried to repeat his attack.
Brutal Strike failed -- insufficient stamina.
“God damn it,” Jim yelled. He thrust at the wizard anyway. Jim’s second blow only elicited a much more modest 15. The spear barely even penetrated the wizard’s side. Worse, the blow didn’t interrupt the spellcaster’s concentration. The wizard lashed out with a blazing palm and slapped Jim who had been too slow to retreat. A burning 14 crisped Jim’s face and reduced his health to 124. The wizard’s backhand repeated the action, and Jim had to duck back.
Using his spear, Jim was able to mostly hold the wizard off. Every time the wizard took the time to chant the long-ranged fireball spell, Jim used the brief second to spin-pivot around the spell and land a minor blow. The wizard tried alternating between the fireballs and his burning touch attack, and occasionally the melee spell would break through Jim’s attempted defence. His dexterity was just not high enough to dodge every attack.
Jim was gratified to see that both he and his opponent dealt similar amounts of damage to each other, and Jim even had a slight edge. However, Jim’s meager health pool made his plan unsustainable. He tried to think of a back-up plan as he fought but could come up with nothing. If Jim continued to fight this war of attrition, he would die before the wizard’s health dropped below 600. If he ran, the fireballs would incinerate Jim.
Death seemed inevitable.
In the final moments of Jim’s hope, the situation abruptly changed. Three iron spearheads simultaneously burst through the wizard’s chest. Triple instances of bloody 50s dripped from the wound. Langdon, Burke, and Martin stood arrayed in a crescent-moon formation behind Boros the Red. Boros’ mouth opened and shut, repeatedly, in shock.
A volley of arrows further impaled the man and the words “Duck, Jim!” accompanied pounding footsteps. Jim dipped to the side, and three more spears ran the wizard through from the opposite direction to Langdon’s. The stricken human’s waistline had been replaced by Jim’s militia frontline.
The six burly militiamen heaved at their spears and, in a sickening critical strike of over 300 damage, Boros the Red fell to the ground in two, separate pieces. Apparently, physics could defy health pools.
Burke spat on the corpse.
You have received the following from the battle:
Encyclopædia Magicka Volume 3: Tome of Flames
Congratulations, you have reached level 4. Your attributes have increased. You have 1 talent point to spend.
Seeing the rewards from the victory report, Jim immediately knelt to loot the wizard’s corpse. It was dirty work that felt a little immoral, but… This is a game… He peeled the bloody robes from the dead man, who was thankfully wearing underclothes and grasped the tome that had fallen to the side.
Jim immediately tried to learn the Tome of Flames but was unable to do so due to not having the Fire Magic talent. Jim brought up his talent interface and tried to select Fire Magic… but it was still locked. Frustrated, Jim approached Andrew and Samouel, who had lain exhaustedly propped against one of the unburned perimeter wagons.
“Sorry to be blunt, Andrew and Samouel, but can either of you teach me how to use this thing?” Jim tossed the Tome of Flames between the old men. Samouel smiled.
“I think you have earned some levity for saving my life Mr…?”
“…Mr Jim. I am, however, a practitioner of earth magic, not fire magic.” Jim groaned inwardly, thinking he would be, again, have failed to unlock his magical potential. “This means that, ordinarily, I would only be able to teach earth magic...”
“Ordinarily?” Jim prompted. The shaman spoke too slowly.
“As I was saying. Ordinarily, I would only be able to teach earth magic. However, this is the Tome of Flames, one of the six volumes on basic magic. I could, using my mana as a conduit, teach you any magical school, so long as I had the requisite volume of this encyclopædia.”
Quest received: Mage Guild.
Samouel has revealed that a number of basic magic spellbooks exist in the world. Collect all of the volumes in the set and deliver them to Samouel.
Rewards: 3000 experience points; Samouel will help construct a mage guild in Andrew’s Refugee Camp.
Finally. Jim dismissed the quest prompt. He would definitely search out the tomes, but for now…
“So, you can teach me magic?”
“For saving my life? I will teach all of you magic if you wish. Though until you gather the other magical volumes, I can only instruct you in fire and earth magic.”
Jim agreed immediately, choosing fire magic since he had the tome. The shaman had Jim sit beside him and placed his hand over Jim’s heart. Jim opened his talent interface. Fire Magic was unlocked.
Fire Magic Talent Tree selected.
For unlocking the basic tier of Fire Magic, you may now learn tier 1 fire spells.
Available talents: Ignite; Incineration; Impact; Flaming Weapons
Your fire spells will cause your target to burn for X% of the damage they deal over 5 seconds, where X is equal to the number of talent points invested in the Fire Magic talent tree.
You may use your fire magic spells to target and destroy objects in the environment.
You may invest X% additional mana into your spells, giving them a proportional amount of mass. X is equal to the number of talent points invested in the Fire Magic talent tree.
You may expend 1% mana per second to imbue your weapon with fire magic. Your weapon will deal additional damage to X% of your spell power, where X is equal to the number of talent points invested in the Fire Magic talent tree.
Jim spent little time selecting his talent: Incineration. Every other choice he had would be limited to 1% power as it would be the first point he invested. Incineration, on the other hand, could be an exponential force multiplier if used correctly. He finished his level up by investing 4 points into Intellect, now that he could leverage the bloated power of that attribute and picked up the Tome of Flames.
You have learned the tier 1 spell: Elemental Fire.
Elemental spells give the spellcaster the ability to conjure the corresponding element to their hand.
The simple form of Elemental Fire allows you to envelop your hand in flames, granting you the Burning Touch skill. Burning Touch deals damage equal to 10% of your spell power and costs 10 mana. Skill level 0/10
The intermediate form of Elemental Fire allows you to call flames to your hand and project them forth, granting you the Fireball skill. Fireball deals damage equal to 50% of your spell power and costs 50 mana. Skill level 0/10.
Insufficient Wisdom to learn the master form of Elemental Fire.
Jim called forth a fireball and hurled it into the morning sky.
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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 :).