With a small fire finally contained near the center of the tree hollow, Nate sighed as he sat and looked at his partially burned pants on the ground in front of him. It had only taken him a moment to strip off his flaming pants, but the damage was done anyway. The flickering light from the fire also helped to illuminate his burned legs. They weren’t necessarily burned to the point of blistering, but the red irritated skin was uncomfortable enough that Nate couldn’t put on his last remaining pair of pants just yet.
The very small amount of smoke that was produced by the little fire was conveniently drifting up and out of the opening in the tree. The height of the tree entrance had actually been an advantage this time and allowed for proper outfall of smoke. Nate had even gone out outside to make sure he wasn’t sending a smoke beacon to everything outside. Surprisingly, the smoke wasn’t visibly noticeable at all from outside of the tree.
Following the standard for his painful experiences, Nate had actually managed to make the best of the situation and gain a few levels in experience and even a new skill. While looking over his user interface, Nate wasn’t exactly unhappy with the whole incident. His talent in finding disaster had been a great benefit to his skills and stats. However, as he looked over his user interface, Nate’s mind kept flashing through all the unsolicited threats that he had endured to get to this point.
Name: Nathaniel Redsun
Level: 7 (Exp. 173/700)
Primary Class: Calm Survivor (Level 4)
Survivor’s Need (Passive) (Level 2)
Survivor’s Awareness (Passive) (Level 3)
Survivor’s Resistance (Passive) (Level 5)
Secondary Class: None
Speed: 12 Agility: 12
Stamina: 13 Strength: 13
Intelligence: 16 Perception: 15
Wisdom: 17 Will: 18
Stat Points Available: 0
Silent Presence (Passive) (Level 3)
Dark Vision (Passive)(Level 10)
Pain Resistance (Passive)(Level 9)
Physical Damage Resistance (Passive)(Level 2)
Infection Resistance (Passive)(Level 6)
Poison Resistance (Passive)(Level 10)
Burn Resistance (Passive)(Level 1)
Fear Resistance (Passive)(Level 6)
Standing half-naked in the tree, Nate let out another sigh.
“How many times have I almost died in the last month? Ten times?” Nate said to himself out loud. Trouble seemed to find him easily since he left Newcomb City, but he was managing to stay alive.
“How long can it last though?” Nate asked himself while contemplating his luck, his life, and his eventual death. From all the horror stories he had heard about the wilderness and his own experience so far, Nate knew that he couldn’t remain as lucky as he had been forever. One day, his luck might run out.
After coming to terms with his continual near-death experiences, Nate snapped out of the mental slump and began to pick up the mess inside the tree hollow.
Although his singed legs caused his skin to feel a bit tight, Nate was more worried that he was down to his last pair of good clothes. If anything happened to this pair, then he would have to figure out how to stitch some of the scraps of the ruined clothes back together.
“Or just run around naked,” Nate said out loud to his thought. He burst out laughing at his own joke then went back cleaning up the mess.
Despite the dwindling clothing supply, the other item really causing him to worry at the moment was his unfinished weapons. His lack of progress was defined clearly when he caught the sight of the fire reflected off of the rapper of his last meal bar.
Tomorrow, he would be officially out of food. His only option was to go out to either hunt a beast or find something else that was edible. His first experience with beast meat had been rather unpleasant, but maybe he could get over the issue by cooking the food. Regardless of the food source, he needed to complete his weapons first to have any chance of survival if he encountered a beast on his search.
Moving gingerly around the tree hollow, he picked up the stone that had started the fire and began to inspect it. Even with the stress of potential starvation, Nate was a little excited about finding a method to start fire. Upon closer inspection, the stone did look a little different than the others. Even though its texture and general coloration was about the same as the other stones, Nate noticed small red flecks on the surface.
When working in the factory, Nate had been exposed to numerous types of materials. He had seen metals that produce heat or electricity. But, a fire producing rock was something he had never seen. The mystery puzzled him to the point that he spent several minutes trying to recollect if he had ever learned of anything concerning special stones. His memory failed him and he had no choice but to just set the stone off to the side away from the rest of his belongings. He would definitely keep a hold of this special stone, but he needed to make sure he didn’t accidentally bump it with metal. No more uncontrolled fires.
After about a half-hour of inspecting the other stones for irregularities, Nate determined that the rest were just regular stones. Not trusting his luck, he even lined the other stones up and tossed pieces of metal at them to see if a flaming spark was created. Thankfully, nothing happened.
With the threat of spontaneous fire mitigated, he arranged himself in a position that was comfortable with his singed legs. Then, he got to work again. Nate began grinding and shaping the last remaining blades for his planned weapons.
About an hour later, Nate was complete with his work at sharpening the metal. His tree hollow smelled of wood, burnt hair, and sweat.
With the newly sharpened arrowheads and spearheads, it didn’t take him long to fashion some weapons together. The wooden branches were easily shaped with his knife to give them some semblance of arrow and spear shafts. The bow structure was a bit more complicated, but with a bit of whittling, Nate was able to craft something that seemed to function reasonably well. Years of assembling items in a factory had given Nate some significant experience in weapons crafting, so the task was somewhat manageable even with the lack of resources. Clothing scraps were used as bindings and tree sap was used as adhesive. Other needed material substitutes seemed to function beautifully. With a fire available, Nate even had the ability to temper the metal components and harden the tree sap. The whole process was quite familiar to Nate and he soon had a complete set of weapons ready for use.
With his rigged up bow and arrow in hand, a spear on his back and a knife strapped to his belt, Nate ventured out of his tree to test his new weapons out.
An hour later, Nate sat down against a tree while disappointedly staring out at an undamaged target. His weapons performed wonderfully. The bow would actually send arrows off straight and quick. The spear had a good weight and wouldn’t wobble when Nate threw it.
The problem was Nate. Although he could probably be considered an expert at assembling weapons, he had zero experience in using them. Even after an hour’s time, he couldn’t get a single arrow or spear to hit a makeshift target made of large leaves. He hadn’t even earned a stat increase from all the physical activity and his arms felt tired.
As usual, everything seemed to be going against him. Even though he had almost died several times, his failures today seemed to be affecting him a little more than usual. First, he was burned. Then, he could not use the awesome weapons that he had made. Nate felt dejected. It was like someone was sabotaging his every effort.
Looking out over the forest floor with some self-pity, Nate stood up with the bow and knocked another arrow. I have to learn to shoot or I will die. He then proceeded to stand up and ready his bow for a shot. Just as he was sending forth an arrow, a system alert sounded.
[Will Stat has increased by 1]
The alert seemed to distract him as the released arrow completely missed the target and lodged into a tree off in the distance.
“Haha, figures,” Nate said out loud to no one as a smile crept onto his face.
He knocked another arrow and let it fly. The arrow still missed the target, but Nate didn’t stop. He knocked another arrow and sent it off. No luck.
Nate continued the process for some time before he finally had some success.
He was hitting his target with every other shot. The hits were not perfect, but they were starting to be consistent. A fifty percent chance of hitting a target was pretty good in Nate’s option. He felt like he was ready to venture out to search for food. But by the time, it was already late in the evening. The sun was starting to set, but Nate continued practicing. All he could do is hope that he would hit the target when it counted.
Bright and early the next morning, Nate went out on his search for food. Trying to remain as safe as possible, he moved through the forest while utilizing his [Silent Presence] skill. The effort was a bit more difficult than usual because he was carrying his bow and arrows. He also had the spear strapped to his back. More than once, he had gotten his weapons caught in vines or sticks as he ducked and hid behind the landscape. Luckily, he managed to maintain his silence and moved unseen on the forest floor.
The scale of the surroundings gave cover for Nate to hide as he searched for food. The roots from the trees were large enough to hide his whole body behind and the fallen leaves on the forest floor were as big as his body. The rocks and boulders spread throughout the woods also gave cover as Nate crept along silently.
Since he lived his whole life in an industrialized section of a city, Nate had no exposure to the wild and definitely had no idea how to hunt for animals. All he could do was move quietly along and hope to see something that he could kill with his bow and arrow. Or maybe he would get lucky and find some type of plant to eat. Nate was inexperienced and naïve but his knowledge of his nonexistent food supply pushed him forward along the forest floor.
As he stalked through the woods, Nate had time to observe the forest in more detail. The savage landscape was full of trees that were as wide as some buildings he had seen in Newcomb City. The forest floor wasn’t continually flat, but instead was a rocky terrain with many nooks and crevices.
Nate actually felt somewhat safe with so many places to hide but was also cautious. He remembered how easily the snake beast had hidden in his tree hollow. Any of the dark deep crevices in rocks or trees could be hiding another snake beast or worse.
As he slowly moved through the forest, he made certain to use his senses to the max. He was always listening for any odd noises, feeling the ground for the vibrations of a large beast and looking around his surroundings.
[Perception Stat has increased by 1]
[‘Silent Presence’ has increased to Level 4]
Nate was thankful for the increases earned along the way, but after only a few minutes of walking, he encountered a problem. He wasn’t quite sure how to make it back to his tree hollow. Nate had a bit of panic at first but then resorted to trying to reason his way back to the tree hollow. Looking around, he saw a familiar knotty protrusion sticking out of a tree off in the distance. It looked just like the place he had sat when he almost died from his first level advancement.
With the landmark in sight, he moved back in the direction and luckily found his tree hollow again. Realizing the danger if he were to get lost in the wilderness, Nate developed a game plan. He would use pick up pieces of branches along the way and wedge them in the tree bark of a nearby tree. The contrast of the light branches against the dark tree bark was a good visual marker.
With a plan in mind, Nate marked his way along as he crept through the wilderness in search of food.
After several hours of moving around, Nate started to have doubts about the dangers of the wilds. He hadn’t seen or heard a single beast.
Of course, he remembered being attacked by the gigantic snake, but he at least expected to see some sort of beast roaming the Soaring Woods. From his education, he had expected dangerous beasts to be numerous throughout the area.
“I can’t really see off into the distance though,” Nate thought, “Something could be a few hundred feet away and I would never know.”
After a minute of thinking the situation over, Nate decided to look for a tree to climb. Maybe he wasn’t seeing anything because his vantage point was just too low. He remembered the breadth of the wilderness he could see from up in a tree and thought this would give him a chance at spotting something.
After staring up into the trees, Nate spotted a tree with a knotty protrusion that he could use to sit and wait for a beast to walk by.
While waiting on some sign of a beast, Nate stayed on high alert.
The lack of danger during his day trip didn’t cause him to be lax in his awareness. He knew that beasts were still out there somewhere. So, Nate sat up in a tree for most of the day. His entire mental faculties divided between hoping that no beast kills him and wishing that something to eat shows up.