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A note from James Northman

Happy Friday Everyone! 

Here is the latest chapter of Wildcards! It's my first time with battle scenes and I'm curious what you all think. I've created a poll at the very end to ask about your preferences when it comes to lots of stats in the middle of the chapter, or if you'd prefer them to be all at the end of the chapter where they're easier to digest and look through. 

Anyways, I'm officially one chapter ahead of the story now and will start releasing early chapters at the start of September to my Patrons, with the eventual intention of getting up to around 3-5 chapters ahead of Royal Road. 

Until then, the next update will be on Friday! 

James

Just as James was about to open up the menu in front of him, something caught his attention. He had already scanned each of Finn's men to assess their threat level, there were eight of them excluding Finn, which made a total of nine.

"But now there are eight."

James frowned as he abruptly sidestepped to the left. Everyone in that moment was shocked at the burst of speed, most of all James and the man trying to stab him from behind.

"Quests can wait."

He muttered as he gripped the sword in his hand. The knife wielder barked a few words at the armed men and after a moment, practically all of them were on their feet and encircling the Dread Pirate.

Only Finn remained on the ground, fear still etched across his face.

"But just give me one moment, I need to check something."

James held a hand up in the air as he glanced quickly at his skill list. If he was going to be caught in a fight, he might as well try out his new moves.

Suddenly two nets appeared in the air, flying towards him from different directions. The Slavers had created a circle around him and were attempting to remove his mobility.

Swift Dodge

The nets suspended in mid air. Each of his attackers' movements were completely paused as the flow of time came to a halt. James slid backwards between two of the slavers.

Swift Dodge has been Activated.

Swift Dodge: (Reusable in 19 seconds)

Main Attribute: Dexterity
Ability Type: Inherent
Cooldown Timer: 20 seconds
 
Swift Dodge thrusts the Dread Pirate in the opposite direction at 500% movement speed.

James crouched down and sliced horizontally with the Charlatan's Cutlass. The rusted blade made contact with the exposed hamstring of the nearest slaver and much to James' delight, the man fell to the ground with a despairing wail.

Coming out of the crouch, the Dread Pirate moved behind the downed man and placed the sword against his neck.

Some of the slavers were staring at the empty nets in the middle of their makeshift circle, others were gaping at their downed mate.

One of the smarter ones turned on his heel and started to run towards the town.

James gritted his teeth. He didn't have time to think.

Since he left the tutorial, everything was moving so fast. He didn't have an opportunity to read all the notifications that were popping up all around him. He knew some of them were indications of his battle, some were about the skills he had available and others were going to be about his opponents. There was so much information just being thrown at him and he desperately wanted the time to be able to sit down and make sense of it all. Nox was going to be reviewing the footage of his gameplay and James wanted it to be perfect. This whole situation was becoming increasingly far from perfect.

"Fuck it."

Without warning, James plunged the sword into the downed slaver's neck and left it embedded in his throat. His right hand, now free of a blade, drew the Moonlight Pistol from its holster.

You have killed a Slaver.

XP +180

As the gun was raised into the air, it felt once again that time had slowed. James figured that his high dexterity stat gave him a ridiculous amount of movement speed. He wanted to test that theory as much as possible.

Instead of firing straight at the retreating man's back, James felt like he had complete control over where the bullet would impact. There were only about fifty paces between them and James somehow knew that he'd be able to take him down from much farther away.

"Let's test it then."

James laughed as he swung his outstretched arm around rapidly. The gun was now aimed point-blank at a slaver who merely blinked before the gun fired.

You have killed a Slaver.

XP +180

The body of the man slumped to the ground, but before it made impact, the gun fired again. This time at another slaver within the circle.

"This is incredible."

James panted in excitement as he watched the reactions to the attacks. In other games, it was very normal for the bodies to just absorb bullets or attacks until their health points reduced to zero. In this environment, it seemed that each NPC would react like a human would when attacked. For that very reason, James started to target weak points that would reduce their mobility.

The gun fired again, and James knew exactly where the bullet would land. His aim attribute was far more useful than he had imagined.

"But that experience is a bit... terrible."

James noted when he looked at the notifications that had popped up. There was an additional option to show the breakdown of damage and the full Battle Report, but James just minimised it for the moment. He'd prefer to see his damage report and full experience gain after the fight, rather than get distracted mid-way through the battle.

After another two shots, James checked the pistol in his hand and was happy to see it automatically showed him a screen.

Moonlight Pistol is low on ammo.

Bullets Remaining: (1/6)

"Time for our test!"

James laughed as he whipped the pistol up and aimed at the back of the fleeing man. He was running in a straight line towards the town and James aimed slightly above his head. It was exactly what his intuition was telling him to do.

"Bang."

The Dread Pirate laughed as the gun fired.

Of the original nine slavers, Finn was huddled beside the women and children, his face still white with fear. One corpse lay on the ground, its neck cut by the Dread Pirate's blade. Another was missing half of its head as a result of the Moonlight Pistol. Two slavers that had been holding their nets at the ready were now on the ground clutching their shot kneecaps.

The remaining three slavers turned to watch their friend collapse to the ground, his attempts at fleeing for getting help for them died with him.

You have killed a Slaver.

XP +150

"Even less experience for that one? Was he really that weak?"

James muttered in curiosity before he waved away the notification that kept trying to give him a breakdown of the fight.

Holstering the pistol, James twirled the Charlatan's Cutlass in his hand as he looked at the remaining three slavers.

Suddenly, a devilish smile crossed his face as an idea occurred to him.

Wasting no time, the Dread Pirate launched forward with his blade, slicing at each arm and leg of the remaining slavers. Their morale was at an all time low from seeing their group dismantled by one man.

With their fight gone, the last of them raised hands and threw their weapons to the sand in the hopes that the Dread Pirate would show them some mercy.

James ignored their pleas and continued to attack until they were all downed.

There were now five of them, whimpering and begging for their lives as they rolled around on the sand.

Suddenly a scream erupted from the group of women, and James turned to see Finn's corpse twitching on the ground. A very triumphant looking Otto was sitting on his forehead, with a single tentacle raised in victory.

James grinned as he congratulated the little guy.

"You're the best little murder Octopus, aren't you?"

Some of the children were kicking the sand in front of them in the hopes it would dissuade Otto from killing them.

James looked at the group and decided to try out his evil plan.

He had thought of just killing everyone outright, but since the experience was so low, James knew that the women and children would offer even less benefits.

Leaning over to pick up one of the discarded knives, James tossed it towards them.

"You have a few choices available to you."

James started as he pointed towards the town behind them.

"You can run to the town, and hope the rest of this Escravo Cartel don't catch you and sell you."

The Dread Pirate made a face that implied it wasn't a smart option. He then pointed to the forest.

"You can try to get back to your village and get killed by the Goblins on the way."

That was obviously a terrible option too. Lastly, James pointed at the injured men behind him.

"Or you can kill these men and become stronger. Your choice."

With that said, the Dread Pirate turned on his heel and started walking towards the forest that held the Goblins. He willed for his notifications to appear now that he had time to read them.

They appeared with the most recent at the top, and James knew he would need to scroll back through them to find the ones that related to the beginning of the battle.

Before he began his search, the most recent notification caught his eye.

You have created a Quest.

James stared at the notification in bewilderment for a moment.

As much as he wanted to check it out and to pore over all of the data from his recent fight, James fought the urge. Since he had logged into the game, he had been pushed in certain directions and he was following the path of the game. He wanted to taste a bit of autonomy.

"Let's go kill some Goblins, Otto!"

The Dread Pirate announced as he started jogging in the direction of the nearby forest.

His tiny void demon appeared on his shoulder a moment later, eager to find the next fight.

 


 

After a few minutes of jogging, James finally reached the edge of the forest. He had no idea how he was supposed to go about the quest. In terms of skills, he didn't have anything relating to tracking monsters.

Without wasting any more time, James drew both his sword and pistol and started walking cautiously between the rows of trees. The ground was covered in an assortment of moss, twigs and vines. Each bush was densely packed with leaves that swayed back and forth, obscuring his already limited view.

The Dread Pirate made sure to avoid each of the branches on the ground as his eye attempted to take in everything around him.

There were no sounds coming from the forest other than the rustling of leaves as the wind caught them.

James had hoped that the Goblins would have just recklessly screamed and attacked him from afar, giving him time to counterattack with the pistol.

Unfortunately, he had no such luck.

It appeared as though the Goblins were much further into the forest than he had anticipated, or that they were much stealthier than he had originally given them credit for.

Your created Quest has been completed.

Kill to become Stronger: (Complete)

Shari has decided to follow the lead of her idol, the Dread Pirate.

You have gained a new Follower.

"What?"

James paused for a moment as he looked over the notification.

"Did one of the women or kids... kill the slavers?"

The Dread Pirate wanted to know more about Followers and Factions. He knew that there would be loads of information on the Escravo Cartel after his fight with the slavers.

You have 52 unread notifications.

"That's going to have to wait until later, isn't it Otto?"

Turning toward his shoulder, the void demon was nowhere to be found.

Pausing all movement, James looked around cautiously.

Something wasn't right.

A slight creaking noise sounded out from above him, which differed from all the natural sounds around him.

James whipped his head up to see what the cause was... and felt his heart start to race.

A dozen Goblins had him surrounded, each of them holding their weapons tightly as they stared at him from the safety of the branches.

In the half a second that it took him to comprehend what was happening, James studied the creatures intently. This was his first time seeing the creatures.

Their small statures were squat and frail looking. Pointed ears and long hooked noses were the first nightmarish details that James managed to identify.

Most of them had a yellowy-brownish skin tone, and their garments varied between scraps of cloth and ill-fitting armour. Each of the foul creatures were studying him carefully as they pointed their bows and spears at him.

"Fuck."

James spat as he whipped his pistol up to shoot at them.

The moment he spoke, their ambush started.

A volley of arrows followed the crude spears that were thrown at James. The once quiet forest erupted in a series of screams and cries of anger from the Goblins.

Two of the creatures made no attempt to move and instead watched intently from a higher branch in the tree.

The Moonlight Pistol steadied in James' hand as he took aim. All the arrows and spears slowed down from James' perspective for the briefest of moments as the pistol fired.

The bullet hit its mark and James was rewarded with the sight of a Goblin's head snapping back from the impact.

If the head-shot hadn't killed it, the fall from that height certainly did.

You have killed a Goblin.

XP +250

Swift Dodge

James' body flew backwards as the arrows and spears collided in the general area where he had just been standing.

Aiming the pistol again, James shot at another Goblin Archer. The arrows were much faster than the crude spears, so he made it a priority to get rid of them first.

You have killed a Goblin.

XP +250

Hissing sounds erupted from each of the creatures followed by snarling and guttural noises. James assumed they were taunting him or at least communicating with each other.

You are Despised by the Goblin Race. Your reputation cannot fall any further

"Despised is such a strong word."

James laughed as the pistol fired again and again. His eye locked onto each target and his body followed his intentions flawlessly. Just like his earlier fight with the slavers, the Aim attribute gave him such an increased aptitude for ranged fighting. The sensation of having time slow down for him ever so slightly was an incredible boost too. The high dexterity bonus had a lot of advantages, and James was really starting to enjoy playing as the Dread Pirate.

You have killed a Goblin.

XP +250

You have killed a Goblin.

XP +250

Each time the pistol fired, a Goblin's body would fall from the trees. It was only after the fourth had hit the ground that one of the two Goblins on the higher branches acted. His lithe arms weaved in a series of jagged movements and James guessed that he was casting a spell.

Aiming at the spell-caster, James fired the Moonlight Pistol.

The bullet exploded a few paces away from the Goblin Mage who was grinning triumphantly. It looked like his spell was for a protective barrier.

Without missing a beat, James made a show of moving his wrist slightly and aiming again... but this time at the Goblin beside the Mage.

From observing their basic hierarchy and how they moved and acted, James was sure that his new target was their leader.

The screeching of the Goblin Mage went up an octave or two when realisation dawned on it.

Instead of firing immediately at the supposed Goblin Leader, James paused.

The Mage immediately cast a new barrier around the Leader who hissed at him in warning, but it was too late.

The Moonlight Pistol returned to its original target and fired.

The Goblin Mage looked incredibly confused up until the moment the bullet ripped through its neck.

You have killed a Goblin.

XP +250

Moonlight Pistol is now on cool-down.

Time Remaining: (60 seconds)
Bullets Remaining: (0/6)

Getting rid of the spell-caster came with a price though, which James felt in his left leg and shoulder.

You have suffered damage!

Type: Basic
Amount: 12 Damage
Cause: Goblin Arrow
You have suffered damage!

Type: Basic
Amount: 11 Damage
Cause: Goblin Arrow

Grunting at the pain, James activated his Dash skill immediately to burst forward and away from the incoming spears and remaining arrows.

His eye glanced over the notifications before looking back up to the now completely empty higher branch.

The Leader was gone.

"Shit."

James cursed as he whirled around, only to narrowly avoid the incoming knife attack from a heavily camouflaged Goblin that was hiding in dense undergrowth.

"Not just an ugly face, are ya?"

He said with gritted teeth, the Charlatans' Cutlass came up this time to parry away the short blade just in time. The terrifying thing about that attack only caused James to love the game more. The Goblin had been there the whole time and didn't recklessly attack James. It instead waited until the Dread Pirate was completely focused on the battle above, to then attack from below.

"Just how many of you are there?"

Moonlight Pistol is now on cool-down.

Time Remaining: (45 seconds)
Bullets Remaining: (0/6)

James saw the Knife Goblin thrust forward and was surprised to see that everything didn't slow down like it normally did.

Twisting his torso at the last moment, James still felt the sharp blade slice into his side.

You have been Paralysed!

Type: Paralysis
Amount: 15 Damage
Cause: Serrated Blade
Health Points Remaining: 102/140

It suddenly made sense to James. The dexterity stat made things seem like they were slowing down, but in actual fact it was just him speeding up at the moments he used his advanced aim or mobility. In this instance, the Goblin had used a dexterity based attack which had sped him up too.

You have suffered damage!

Type: Basic
Amount: 15 Damage
Cause: Serrated Blade

The Goblin's knife continued to slash across James who couldn't react due to the Paralysis.

James gritted his teeth as one of the crude spears finally found its mark.

You have suffered significant damage!

Type: Piercing
Amount: 34 Damage
Cause: Crude Spear
You have suffered damage!

Type: Basic
Amount: 15 Damage
Cause: Serrated Blade
Health Points Remaining: 38/140

James saw one of the Goblin's in the branches twist his torso to put extra effort into throwing a spear. The Knife Goblin in front of him also pulled its hand back in preparation of a stronger attack and James immediately understood.

Since his health had dropped to a low point, they were all using their strongest attack to guarantee a one-hit kill. It was actually laughably similar to the short-sighted logic that Calista had shown in the Pantheon. Intelligence truly felt like it was only applicable to scheming and quick thinking, there really was no substance or wisdom to their actions.

In the extra second that it took the Goblins to ready their special attacks, the Paralysis wore off and James immediately counterattacked the prone Knife Goblin.

The Charlatan's Cutlass stabbed forward and cut lightly against the Goblin's leathery skin, only for James to whip it around and slice horizontally at the creature's wide eyes.

A guttural scream ripped from the Knife Goblin's throat as James flanked him and pulled his torso roughly to one side.

The Goblin's Spear attack from above lanced down and embedded into its ally's body. The blinded Goblin slumped to the ground immediately, dropping the knife as it did so.

Moonlight Pistol is now on cool-down.

Time Remaining: (34 seconds)
Bullets Remaining: (0/6)

Picking up the knife, James was pleasantly surprised to feel time slowing down around him as he took aim. He made a mental note to stock up on projectile weapons that he could use when the Moonlight Pistol was out of charge.

Another interesting thing that James hadn't anticipated was how his aim would alter his intuition. When he started to aim the knife, James started to point it at the Goblin out of instinct, but the Aim attribute was telling him to raise his aim high above the Goblin's head... and it just felt right.

Pulling his arm back before launching the knife forward, James knew in the moment that the blade left his fingers that it was going to be a hit.

The Goblin cackled as it watched the trajectory of the knife sail high into the air.

It died laughing.

A gurgling squeal sounded out from behind him, causing him to instinctively dodge to the side so as not to be caught up in another attack. A well placed stealth attack would be enough to kill James with his low health.

The source of the noise was the Goblin Leader from earlier. He had managed to sneak up on James and was holding a curved blade which glowed eerily.

James could see desperation and fear in the Goblin's eyes as it clawed at its neck.

It was futile. Otto's tentacles continued to constrict around the leathery skin, pumping venomous acid into the terrified creature. In a few short seconds, the body slumped to the ground, piece by piece before disintegrating.

From the corner of his eye, James saw a few objects glinting sporadically in the place where the Goblin Leader died. He'd have to investigate it later. He couldn't get complacent in his current state.

"Good work, Otto!"

James commended the little guy before turning back to the remaining Goblin's who were no longer working as a team. The death of their leader had caused them to fall into chaos. Their weapons were trained on each other as each Goblin pointed accusingly at different branches before gesturing down at the Dread Pirate.

"You know, if you had just attacked me normally instead of all trying to get the kill, you would have all won as a team."

James mocked them from below.

Whatever logic that previously prevailed in their minds, was now replaced by an unadulterated rage. Throwing their tactics away, the Goblins leaped down from the trees and launched toward James and his awaiting blade.

Incite Fury has been activated.

Incite Fury: (Active)

Due to successfully shaming the Goddess Calista, you are able to cause all Goblins below Unique Rank to fall into an indescribable rage.

"No more reacting."

James admonished himself as he launched forward towards the approaching creatures. He wanted to blend his fighting style from the last decade with the new abilities of the Dread Pirate. He hadn't proactively started any fighting on his own terms yet.

The Charlatan's Cutlass weaved forward as though it were an extension of the Dread Pirate's arm. The tip of the blade swayed to the left before darting right and gouging into the eye of a reckless Goblin. Pivoting on one foot, James twisted his whole body and used the momentum to launch a large sweeping cut with his blade which was aimed at a completely unprepared Goblin. At the end of the swing, James turned his head to look back at the blinded Goblin. His free hand pulled out the now refreshed Moonlight Pistol and fired it point-blank at the back of its head.

You have killed a Goblin.

XP +250

You have killed a Goblin.

XP +250

The momentum of the full swing, in addition to the use of Swift Dash, was pulling James forward.

Villainous Flair has been activated.

Leaping forward, James placed his hand on the ground before cartwheeling over the dying Goblin. The Moonlight Pistol raised once more and shot twice, killing two Knife Goblins who had burst forth from the ground. James enjoyed the weightless sensation as his whole body completed the flip.

You have killed a Goblin.

XP +250

You have killed a Goblin.

XP +250

The half dead Goblin that was clutching his side, snarled in an unknown language.

"Tell Calista I said hello."

James smiled as he raised the pistol at the injured Goblin and fired.

You have killed a Goblin.

XP +250

As if by total chance, the last of the rabid Goblins were just outside of melee range. Two held their spears as though they were about to throw and one was drawing their bow back slowly.

James knew from getting hit by arrows and spears, that the spears were far worse. Raising the Moonlight Pistol, James fired his remaining two bullets. Killing both of the Goblin Spear wielders.

You have killed a Goblin.

XP +250

You have killed a Goblin.

XP +250

The last Goblin's that had taken extra time to draw the bow, started to glow faintly. James guessed there was a skill attached to the upcoming attack.

With his pistol on cool-down, Swift Dash on cool-down and having nothing to throw at the Goblin, James guessed that he'd have to rely on his Swift Dodge skill.

The only problem was if he used it too early, it would allow the Goblin to aim at him and kill him. If he used it too late, he'd get killed by the attack.

In that moment of completely indecision, James had a really stupid idea that he definitely wanted to try out.

"If this works, I'm sorry."

Turning around so his back was to the Goblin, James angled his sword and activated Swift Dodge.

The skill launched the Dread Pirate backwards at 500% movement speed. The Charlatan's Cutlass in his hands impaled the Archer Goblin before they could activate their skill.

You have killed a Goblin.

XP +250

Quest Updated: (Kill All the Goblins)

"Okay, since it's updated the quest... that should mean there are no more hiding around this specific area?"

James muttered as he looked around at the carnage he had caused. There was absolutely no comparison to fighting the Slavers. This was by far the most fun he had in a battle in a very long time. The fact that the Goblin's had a completely different battle style... with such a variety of attacks. It was exhilarating just being able to rush around and fight like that.

"You alive, Otto?"

The Dread Pirate called out and as if by magic, the little Void Demon appeared on his shoulder... covered in blue Goblin blood.

"Good! Lets go see what these nasty bastards left for us..."


 

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A note from James Northman

So I'm officially one chapter ahead and I'll be starting to release early chapters on Patreon starting next week. Just wanted to thank everyone sincerely for their support.

The messages, reviews, comments and encouragement have been great. I know I can't please everyone with the story, but hopefully it's enjoyable to the vast majority of you. It's no longer possible for me to respond to each and every comment, but I can guarantee that I'm reading them all! 

If you'd like to support me on Patreon, here is the link. :) 

James



Support "Wildcards: Book One - The Dread Pirate"

I'm conscious that a lot of people don't like huge amounts of data and breakdowns in the middle of a story. Especially when it comes to listening to stories on Audible etc. I've been thinking of putting a section at the end of each chapter, with the major updates to statistics and menus. It would cover things like Quests, Battle Reports, Level Information. 
Add Notifications, Battle Reports, Quest Lists & Menu Options throughout the chapter where relevant.
74.03% 74.03% of votes
Add Notifications, Battle Reports, Quest Lists & Menu Options at the end of the chapter so it doesn't detract from the story.
25.97% 25.97% of votes
Total: 697 vote(s)

About the author

James Northman

Bio: Irishman struggling to get through the #LitRPG Tutorial Island.

Currently writing Wildcards: Book 1 - The Dread Pirate

If you'd like to support me, here's a link to my Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/JamesNorthman

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