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A note from Vincent Archer

Not too much of a challenge, at least yet. They're still level 1, after all.

The cat that was sunning himself on a large rock felt bigger than the ones they’d already met while following the brook.

 

Juvenile River Ocelot

Level 5

Health: 135

Mind: 60

Endurance: 75

Aether: 0

 

“Watch out. This one’s bigger” called Jonathan.

Jonas spotted the difference.

“It’s not identified as a minion.”

“Must be that minions are weaker than normal,” said Ira.

“This time, the fight will last a bit longer. But I can heal whatever wounds he causes if needed,” added Guss.

Laura surprised the team again by giving her opinion on the outcome.

“It probably won’t be necessary. Even with the double health, Ira’s not going to take that much.”

Ira smiled.

“Thanks for the confidence!”

 

By now, they had a routine. Chainmail-clad Ira moved to the front, while the rest of the team spread a few paces behind him. As soon as the cat noticed the intruders, he scrambled on its feet, seemingly hesitating. Then he jumped down from his rock and started running toward the six.

The team’s Defender moved to intercept the cat, slashing with his short sword. The cat managed to avoid most of the strike and clawed at Ira.

“This one hits harder. Those claws are nastier.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll raise your health back once you get another hit,” said Guss.

The rest of the group started to punch, jab and smash the cat. With double the health of the small ones, this time it was taking more than a few instants to make a dent in his health. Everyone focused on the cat, while Jonas tried everything to figure out at least one of his Arcanist skills.

 

Since he wasn’t that focused on the fight, he was the one who spotted the second incoming feline. That one was slightly different. Jonas immediately understood it to be the more dangerous of the two despite its lower level number. Obviously, the veteran moniker acted as a kind of opposite to the minion one.

 

Unmated River Ocelot

Level 4 veteran

Health: 252

Mind: 112

Endurance: 136

Aether: 0

 

“Watch out! Another one!”

While pointing out to the new threat, Jonas also felt some odd pressure building. As the cat bounded over the brook, a small ball of fire came out of his pointed finger, hurling toward the cat.

Skill unlocked: Flame Bolt (unranked)

Flame Bolt

Aether/Offense

Rank 0: Deals 50% of INT of fire damage to a target. Costs 1 Aether/damage.

 

The newer cat yowled and jumped on Jonas before the rest of the group realized they had a double fight on their hands. The slicing claws were also harsher.

Unmated River Ocelot claws for 14 damage (no defence)

“Bollocks! This one’s a lot harder!”

Ira turned and spotted the enemy. He immediately abandoned the cat he had been fighting and came over to Jonas, slashing at the larger feline. He immediately used his Repel to push the cat away and place himself before Jonas.

“Keep mashing the first cat! He’s already weakened!” yelled Ira.

The second cat tried to go around Ira, but he slashed again with his right hand while trying to get hold of the cat with his left. The chain glove proved effective at grabbing the cat’s paw, which finally left Jonas to turn his attention to Ira.

 

Skill unlocked: Hold (unranked)

Hold

Personal/Defence

Rank 0: Prevents an attack to a different target. Requires a free hand. Costs 1 end/dmg deflected.

 

Meanwhile, the original cat tried to get back to the annoying biped that had enraged him, but the 4 members of the group didn’t stop. Before the cat could reach Ira again, he fell on the ground unmoving.

“Help me on the big one now,” ordered Ira.

 

Unmated River Ocelot

Level 4 veteran

Health: 201

Mind: 112

Endurance: 101

Aether: 0

 

Guss immediately started healing back Jonas to full health, then switched to Ira. Meanwhile, the team had assumed its original position, and started unloading hits on the veteran target.

The cat did not like that. He yowled again in anger and wailed a flurry of slashes on Ira.

Unmated River Ocelot flurries for 28 damage (defence rating 4)

Despite the attack, the cat’s health was dropping now slightly faster than Ira’s. With a few heals, the outcome of the fight became clear.

 

2 River Ocelots: 669XP/6 contributors = 112XP

“That was a bit much,” said Jonas.

“We survived without a problem,” shrugged Jonathan.

“Thanks to Guss,” added Laura.

“At least you won’t complain that you haven’t got magic yet,” said Ira lightly.

“That was… a bit weird.”

Jonas turned to Guss.

“Is that how your cousin worked out magic?”

“Don’t know. I mean, he was trained by experienced Professionals. We’re making this as we go. But now, you can do magic. We’re all real Professionals.”

Laura had stepped and turned the cats’ bodies, who hadn’t started to decompose yet.

 

Leather Weapon Holder

Waist

Basic equipment

Requires: level 1

Provides: none

 

Aetheric Simple Burlap Headband

Head

Common equipment

Requires: level 1

Provides: +5 Aether

 

“Sounds… like better equipment.”

“And the amount of XP was a lot more.”

“The cats were harder as well,” noted Laura.

“So the next question is: who gets which?”

Jonas thought quickly.

“Belt is simple, we only have three people with weapons, and Ira’s probably better off with metal armour rather than leather.”

Spotting Laura’s dubious look at the very thick belt, he quickly decided not to press the issue.

“Alton? Think you can slip your knife in it?”

“Looks like there’s a buckle. Probably.”

Jonas moved to the next.

“The headband looks like something useful for aether use. That’s… me and Guss, pretty much. But I think Guss’ ability to heal us back is more important than me firing fireballs.”

“Sounds good to me.” “Yes.” “Good.”

They looked as the cats started to decompose as usual and stared at the unexpected leftovers.

 

Feline raw meat

-

Basic reagent

Requires: none

Provides: cooking component

 

“Well, that answers the question about food later.”

“Do bigger cats means they’re large enough for the meat to be left?”

“You get the starter equipment appearing under each corpse, but stuff like that is… inside the body?”

Alton snorted.

“Makes sense. The flesh is inside, not outside.”

“Do we have to eat cat?” wondered Laura.

“There’s not much choice, I think.”

“Let’s keep going,” said Jonas.

 

Laura Charlotte Harvey

Health: 183/183

Mind: 182/182

Endurance: 196/196

Aether: 181/181

Effective level: 1

Level 1 Breaker

Experience: 237/909

Strength: 20

Dexterity: 20

Agility: 17

Constitution: 18

Stamina: 19

Wisdom: 19

Focus: 18

Presence: 17

Fortitude: 18

Intellect: 18

Milestones: Adjustment II

Skills: Smash (rank 0), Batter (rank 0)

Equipment: Refurbished Breaking Hammer, Flimsy Leather Gripping Gloves

 

Breaker

(tier 1)

Required: 18 STR

Provides:

+3 health/+6 endurance/+2 mind/+1 aether per level

+1 Milestone/15 levels

Breaker Milestone: +3 STR, +2 FOC, +1 FOR, +1 DEX, +1 AGI, 5% blunt damage

Skill set: Physical / Offense

 

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A note from Vincent Archer

As an aside, the prequel to the Infinite Labyrinth is now up. If you want to be spoiled about the game mechanics and have a peek at some of the characters we've seen in Interlude and already heard about, that's the place to go.

Recruit - An Infinite Labyrinth Prequel is a slice of life of "normal" beginner Professionals, under expert tutelage. It's not a full story; I wrote it to make sense of the setting and the game mechanic I wanted to use. It's also not entirely canon - I may end up having slightly different characters and background here and there.

I'm adding about two chapters a day there, as fast as I can clean them up and run them thru elementary grammar/spell checking.


About the author

Vincent Archer

  • France

Bio: Vincent Archer wrote his first story around age 11. On a mechanical typewriter, with carbon paper for a mimeograph to distribute in class. His teacher knew enough to make vague encouraging noises rather than really tell him what she thought. He wrote more stories afterward, but Time has thankfully managed to erase every trace of them.

Now that his career has settled in a mix of routine and insanity and that he's figured out that herding cats would probably be easier, he's finally started to write stories again on a media rather than inside his brain. Some of those are even potentially good enough to show to other people.

Silvergates is his first attempt to finish one rather than admit defeat against the usual writer's block.

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