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Panting hard, Eric dodged the claw that was hurtling towards his face, throwing himself backwards in the nick of time. His bow lay abandoned to the side, next to a red-maned wolf with four arrows sticking out of its side. Its companion continued to throw itself at Eric, disregarding the numerous cuts and stab wounds that now riddled its body courtesy of his bronze dagger.

Cursing the uselessness of the tiny dagger, not for the first time this fight, Eric found himself wishing he hadn’t bought those iron arrows. If he’d instead opted to purchase a sword or spear from Tom, this fight would have been over. Instead, his health was now blinking dangerously low as the wolf in front of him threw itself at him again.

Attempting to cast a spell, the wolf's paw flashed towards his hand, forcing him to abandon the cast. It seemed that this wolf was determined to keep the fight at melee range, which was not exactly his forte.

Looking at the wolf's healthbar which was nearly depleted, Eric gritted his teeth. Grabbing the dagger in both hands he met the wolf’s charge head on, swinging his dagger like a baseball bat and smashing the blade into the wolf’s exposed ribs. Undaunted, the wolf snapped its jaws at Eric, attempting to drain the remaining few points of his healthbar even as its own emptied. With one last weak nip, the wolf fell to the ground dead and Eric collapsed beside it.

This was the closest he’d come to death so far since entering Fate. His healthbar blinked slowly, indicating that he had only a hair more than 10% of his hitpoints remaining. Had the wolf landed even one more good swipe, he’d have been sent back to the revival point.

I’ve gotten cocky, Eric thought to himself as he struggled to sit up. Everything had been going fairly well so far: he’d defeated demonic rabbits, survived a fight with a player killer, and soloed wolves with ease after only a few hours in the game. He hadn’t expected fighting two wolves to be so much more difficult than fighting one had been. Looking up at the darkening sky, he reflected on the fight.

He’d seen the wolves first, feasting on the carcass of what appeared to be a small furred animal. Using Charged Shot, he’d taken away almost half the hitpoints of the first wolf before they were even aware of his presence. Until that point everything had been going well. He’d landed first blood. He had the range advantage, and the wolves were heavily injured after his first shot.

Unfortunately, it was from there that everything had gone to shit. The wolves had used the trees to their advantage, darting between the trunks and avoiding his arrows. Unwilling to lose his expensive iron arrows, he’d held his fire. Waiting for a clear shot, by the time he’d been able to line up a second arrow, the wolves had been nearly upon him.

Luckily, he’d managed to take out the first wolf with a few more well placed arrows. But not before the two wolves had combined to take down almost 70% of his healthbar. Unlike when he’d fought a single wolf, the two wolves had worked together, flanking him and preventing him from getting critical shots off. The second wolf had on two different occasions taken arrows meant to dispatch the already injured wolf, causing the fight to drag out and giving the two wolves more chances to claw at his exposed flesh.

In order to take out the first wolf, he’d been forced to expose himself to the second, sacrificing his flesh in exchange for the life of his enemy. And unlike the other wolves he’d fought, this wolf had cunningly attacked his arm, forcing him to drop his bow. The wolf had then prevented him from retrieving it, forcing him into melee combat with only his dagger for the duration of the fight.

Really, the AI in this game was way too good. A mere wolf had realized that his bow was the biggest threat and nearly managed to kill him because of it. Staring at the wolf’s corpse in annoyance, Eric kicked at the beast half-heartedly. It appeared he couldn’t rely solely on archery and magic if he wanted to survive. At least for now while he still had no real skills. Without his bow, and lacking the ability to form the runes to cast spells quickly enough in the middle of combat, he desperately needed to find a way to defend himself should the fight descend into a melee. Or find some nice people to be his meatshields, he thought with a small grin.

Struggling to his feet, Eric quickly looted the two wolves and fled. Not wanting their corpses to attract more wolves. Even with his natural health regeneration kicking in now that he was out of combat, he was still below 20% health. Nowhere near enough to safely fight wolves or any other creatures attracted by the scent of blood.

Escaping the scene of carnage, Eric quickly fled the scene. Fortunately, Fate sealed his wounds fairly quickly after taking damage so long as the bleeding debuff was not applied, so he didn’t need to worry about leaving a trail of blood behind him. He also hadn’t noticed wolves or other monsters tracking him through the scent of blood on his clothes so far, so hopefully that was another game mechanic designed to help promote game balance over realism.

After stealthily moving through the forest for a few minutes, he’d gotten almost a kilometre away from the two wolves carcasses. Excitedly, he looked at the event log which was giving off a brilliant light. If killing single wolves had provided him with fairly large gains so far, what would a fight that was more than five times as dangerous reward him with? Sitting down on a nearby stump, he opened the event log, the light from the status window gently illuminating the darkness of night that had befallen the forest.

 

[Charged Shot has levelled up to Beginner 3]

[Basic Archery has reached Apprentice 2]

[Basic Evasion has reached Apprentice 1]

[Evasive Shot has levelled up to Beginner 10!]

[Basic Archery has reached Apprentice 3]

[Red-maned Wolf has died]

[You have dropped your Fine Yew Longbow]

[Your left arm has been crippled for ten seconds!]

[Militia Swordsmanship has reached Beginner 6]

[Casting Arcane Strike has failed]

[Sword Technique - Guard has levelled up to Beginner 4]

[Militia Swordsmanship has reached Beginner 7]

[Red-maned Wolf has died]

[You have levelled up to level 4! Stats have been updated]

[You have received: Militia Badge]

 

Eric whistled, the haul from the fight was pretty big. Multiple skills had levelled up significantly and he’d gained another level thanks to his Evasive Shot reaching Beginner 10. Unfortunately, he’d once again failed to receive a new skill after reaching Beginner 10 in a skill. It seemed that players only received a skill for their first skill to hit Beginner 10, Eric surmised. Dismissing the thought, Eric was about to close the event log when a line at the bottom caught his eye. Opening his inventory, he spied a small silver pin, covered in blood and other matter but otherwise identical to the one he wore on the left breast of his wool doublet. Taking the badge out of his inventory, he examined it.

 

[Militia Badge]

Description: A small silver badge fashioned in the shape of a leaf-bladed spear. The symbol of the Novanalba militia. This badge appears to have belonged to a former militia member. Bring it to a local militia captain to find out more.

 

[Quest received: Militia Losses]

Deliver the militia badge to a militia officer. Perhaps they’ll be able to tell you who it belonged to, or give you other clues to the owner’s fate.

Reward: ???

 

Staring in surprise at the quest that had just appeared, Eric regained his composure and put the militia badge back inside his inventory. It would appear he was not the only militia member who’d had trouble fighting those wolves. And it appeared that the previous fighter had not been as fortunate as he’d been, Eric thought grimly.

Checking his healthbar, which was back above 70%, Eric stood up. Before he went back to Tonbura, he wanted to hunt a few more wolves. His main objective now was to earn enough coin from this expedition to purchase a new weapon that he could use in melee combat. His trusty bronze dagger just wasn’t going to cut it in a real fight.

Plunging deeper into the forest, the dark canopy overhead slowly began to dim as the trees grew thicker, clustered together as they all fought to receive the meager rays of moonlight that made it through the canopy above. Recalling the map that Alistair had shown him, Eric realized that by now he was very deep inside Stillwood Forest. The branches above had gotten thicker, with dark moss hanging from dead boughs. Clambering over fallen trees and skirting mossy boulders, he decided that he would continue onwards for another ten minutes before turning back, not wanting to forge too far into the monster-infested forest. The sounds of the forest were also slowly growing dimmer, with the occasional screech or howl causing Eric to freeze in place, nocking an arrow to his bow as silently as possible.

Occasionally a wolf, demonic rabbit, or other small creature would approach. Diving towards Eric with a dangerous glint in their eyes. However, these were all swiftly dispatched with a few well placed arrows. Single wolves were not too much of a threat anymore, especially not after that harrowing 1v2. As Eric pulled a pair of arrows out of the carcass of a red-maned wolf, he heard a cry.

Have other players ventured this far north? Eric wondered as he followed the source of the screams with a sense of déjà vu. Drawing closer to the sounds, he was startled by the sudden appearance of a system message.

 

[Quest received: Save the militia]

Save the two militiamen who are under attack! Kill or drive off the Elite Wolf.

Reward: Possibility to learn new skills. Increased favour with Novanalba Militia.

 

Knowing that they were NPC’s who could reward him with skills, he abandoned stealth and began to run, gripping his bow. Crashing through the undergrowth as he followed the sounds of battle and emerging into a dim, dark clearing, Eric could see a pair of militiamen struggling against an enormous wolf roughly the size of a picnic table. Standing well over a meter high, the wolf was almost as tall as Eric himself, with paws the size of bricks capped off with claws the size of pocket knives.

One of the men was clearly injured, his leg dragging as he kept his blade raised high. His companion stood in front of him, sword at the ready should the wolf attack once more.

As Eric watched, the wolf batted one militiaman aside, throwing the man and his weapon back a good two metres. Grabbing an arrow, Eric began to nock it to his bow, getting ready to save the man. However, before the arrow could even reach the string, the wolf leapt powerfully towards the injured militiaman, its claws batting away his sword as the wolf’s fangs found his throat. With a vicious tearing motion, the wolf jumped back, leaving the militiaman to fall forward, his newly opened throat staining the soft mossy floor of the clearing red with blood.

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A note from Lighthouse

Could this be a boss fight? Or is it an escape mission. I'm sure the answer will be revealed soon enough.


About the author

Lighthouse

Bio: The guiding light for gamers lost in the sea of online games.

Hey guys, I'm Lighthouse, a gamer from Canada who loves helping others in games. I've been a gamer for almost two decades and learned about LitRPG and webnovels a couple years ago. I finally decided to write my own novel in 2018 and Fate was the result.

I mainly enjoy fantasy and LitRPG novels and as a result my own novel is a fantasy LitRPG with a competitive gaming twist. Hopefully everyone enjoys my work ^.^

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/thegameslighthouse
Discord: https://discord.gg/9Xrp5H3

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