The vast majority of monsters you will run into out there are just regular animals mutated by mana. Well, that is a lie, most of the monsters you will run into are actually Demihumans because Goblins basically live everywhere, but aside from them, most monsters are mutant animals.
Oh, sure, most of them breed true, but at their core they are more animal than monster.
Real monsters? If you run into a Gryphon or a Chimera you will truly understand what a monster is, and those are on the low end of the scale. Wailing Maidens and Elementals and Spirit Swarms; the world is full of creatures that are mysterious and dangerous in ways that a big ass toad could never be.
Well, except for the HypnoToad. That thing is one hell of a fucker.
-part of a lecture from S-Rank Adventurer Dre the Massacre given to new Adventurers.
*Four and a half months later*
Fall was starting, and it had come as a bit of a shock. I hadn’t had to live through a real winter since my second life, my life as Hemere had mild winters at most. I haven’t seen snow in nearly two decades at this point…
Of course, I haven’t seen snow here yet either, but preparation would be vitally important. I would need to stockpile wood and food, and neither of those were easy for me. Gathering food was easy, but preserving it would be a challenge. Unfortunately, I just didn’t have a good source of salt or another preservative.
Wood, despite the fact I was surrounded by it, was also hard to gather. My stone axe was not nearly enough to cut down anything but the smallest trees, not when wielded by my weak and short limbs. Not just that, but after cutting a tree down I have to cut it up, and it was over a week of work to do the whole thing.
In fact, everything I did seemed to take forever. I was just too small and too weak to really work. My home - including my new wall - had taken me three months to build. The entire thing was a five meter square block, with two and a half meters between the floor and the ceiling. I had divided it into three rooms with an entry, then a “living” room of a kind, and then my bedroom.
The doors were makeshift, made of sticks bound together. The living room had small windows with little shutters that I made for them. Well, I call them windows and shutters, but they were only about a human’s fist in size and they had dividers that split that “fist” in half. They couldn’t be large enough for even a small monster to sneak through, after all. The entire thing was covered in my fired clay shingles - which had taken forever to make - and as a result my house kind of looked like a giant pangolin had rolled up and been partially buried. I had no confidence that it would remain warm throughout the winter.
I was padding the inside of my home with Blood Squirrel leather - another thing that took me forever to get right - and furs, and testing a way to preserve meat without salt. I was very hopeful that my plan would work. After butchering, I cut the meat into strips and smoke cooked it. Then, I took the meat and sealed it in clay before baking the clay. My line of thinking was: the smoking would help to preserve the meat and then by baking it in clay I would be doing a bastard version of pasteurization. The clay would prevent any oxygen or microorganisms from getting in and whatever did survive wouldn’t grow very much because I stored it in my cool cellar. Well, it wasn’t really a cellar, it was a hole in the ground that I had put a little wooden top on, but it isn’t about what you have, it is about how you sell it.
It helped that my standards for “edible” food were far lower than they used to be.
[You are able to eat things few others can!]
[Any poison you consume deals 50% less damage to you, spreads throughout your body 25% slower, and is removed from your body 100% faster. Any infection or parasite that you consume has its symptoms reduced by 50% and your body adapts and fights off disease and parasites from food 100% faster.]”
It was not, sadly, additive with my other abilities. I had hoped that it was, because that would have made me immune to any poison that I ate, but it was multiplicative. So if a poison I ate was going to deal ten damage a second to me, my [Poison Resistance: Major] would reduce that to two damage a second. Then, my [Strong Stomach] ability would reduce that to one damage per second.
This meant that I could eat even rotten food, although I would very much prefer not to if I could help it.
A lot would depend on just how cold it got. If it was a mild winter, then most of my preparation would be meaningless but I wouldn’t mind too much because it meant I’d survive the season with ease. If it was a Minnesotan/Canadian/Russian winter… Well, leaving my home would be impossible and that meant eating whatever I had stored, in whatever condition it was.
There was a part of me that was actually quite curious how “death” from environmental factors would work in this world. Did it deplete my Health? And if it did deplete my Health, did that mean I couldn’t die from cold so long as I ate enough because of [Regeneration: Minor] and [Salutivore]?
[You heal while eating!]
[Consuming food causes you to heal quickly. The exact amount you heal and the duration that healing lasts depends on the quality of the food you eat.]”
I was thinking that the cold would likely impede my regeneration, if it was to get cold enough for me to be worrying about dying of it anyways.
Idle musings aside, my preparations continued.
*Two and a half months later*
It was cold. Brutally cold.
Admittedly, I had expected as much, which was why I was toasty warm in my home! Calling it toasty might be a bit of an overstatement, I was perpetually cold and I had to ration the fuel for my fire carefully. Every night, I curled up into a little ball and dreamed of warmer days and every morning I woke up in such freezing cold pain that I could barely add fuel to the fire that I never let go out.
Outside, the wind was howling and the snow was so deep that I had to burrow out of my front door and clear space on my roof so that the smoke from my fire could get out of my house! This, of course, meant that my walls were useless right now, so I was terrified that some monster might attack me whenever I left my home. Who knows what kind of creatures might be wandering through the perpetual blizzard? I didn’t want to find out.
I spent most of my days working on my Meditation Skill and trying to sense mana again, which I was having some trouble with. I could remember what it was like before, but translating that to this life was much harder than I would have thought.
It was before I had managed to succeed that one of my worst nightmares happened; the loud noise of a predator scratching at my home’s walls. With my makeshift leather armor, a poisoned spear, and a torch, I went to confront the monster outside only to find…
[Juvenile Stone Lynx, Lvl 4]
Of course, even though it probably had to tunnel through the snow due to its weight, with the ground frozen it was actually able to range north, and now it had found me. Of course it had, I was the only spot of warmth and food for Podi knows how far. I couldn’t run this time either, I needed that warmth and food for myself! Which meant that I had to fight.
I exited out my door and the Lynx heard me despite the fact that I was under the snow, I had barely left before a pair of sharp paws came down and collapsed the tunnel’s ceiling! My torch went out with a hiss and I was blind for a second before my [Infravision] kicked in.
[Allows you to see heat!]
[Infravision allows you to see heat gradients instead of usual light whenever you want. Useful for seeing in the dark.]”
I wasn’t a fan of [Infravision], using it too much gave me a headache and I very much preferred to see normal colors. However, the Lynx easily stood out against the cold snow, its body radiating heat. It thought it had me trapped in the collapsed tunnel, but it didn’t have the intelligence to take my spear into account.
I very nearly was able to spear it through the mouth right then, but it pulled back before I managed it. I scrambled to my feet, spear held in both hands between me and the Stone Lynx. The snow was dense enough in areas for it to walk on top of it somehow, but there were a few places I had tunneled under that I might be able to trick the Lynx into.
However, the only way I could win this fight is by cutting the Lynx in the mouth. Every other part of its body was covered in its stone fur! Having it fall into a sinkhole in the snow wouldn’t help me do that, I needed the cat to be getting ready to pounce on me if I wanted to kill it.
I tried to bait the Lynx by thrusting forward, but a bat of its paws broke my spear! I went to grab my knife but it was already on top of me and I screamed as it took my entire arm in its mouth and bit down! By Podi it hurt so much, but I had to have the clarity of mind to use my natural toxins and make a scratch inside the mouth…
[You have been bitten! You have lost 30 hp!]
The Lynx bit my right arm off. I very nearly passed out right there, but I couldn’t let myself do that here! Passing out in the snow would be death, much less in front of the Lynx! The Lynx though was gagging and wheezing; it might be able to eat poison, but it wasn’t actually resistant to poison entering its blood!
[You have suffered massive trauma! You have lost 40 hp!]
I was basically dead, but so was the Lynx. I charged and knocked it into one of the areas where I had tunneled, and it fell into the snow. I was falling in and out of consciousness, but I managed to bury it alive in snow. Between the toxin and the lack of air, I had to hope it would die.
Myself? I stumbled back to my house and collapsed inside, hoping that my regeneration could keep me alive long enough for me to wake up and eat to activate [Salutivore].
“[You have defeated a Lvl. 4 (Juvenile Stone Lynx) and earned 200 xp!]
[For killing a monster two higher Evolution stages above yourself, you have earned 200% extra experience! You earned 400 xp extra!]
[Congratulations! You have reached Hunter Level 9!]
[You have gained +15 Perception, Agility, and Endurance; +10 Strength and Dexterity; +5 to all other Stats!]”
[Congratulations! You have reached Level 5!]
[You have gained +2 Agility, Dexterity, and Willpower; +.8 Perception and Acuity, and +.4 to all other Stats!]
[You have reached the limit for your current Species and Growth stage! You may Evolve!]
[Would you like to see your available Evolutions now? Warning: deciding not to choose an Evolution will result in the System choosing for you.]”
I was barely conscious at this time. No, I wasn’t fully conscious by now. I knew I chose something, but I didn’t know what I had chosen. I just knew I had chosen something (very rare), because I had just chosen one of them at random.
Minutes later, I was unconscious.
*Some time later*
I was surprised to wake up! I stretched my wings and yawned, happy that I had managed to sur-
I had evolved before I passed out, what the hell did I evolve into!? I was bigger, I would be barely able to squeeze out my door. I didn’t have hands anymore, but two large wings and two powerful legs with giant and sharp claws. My head was wedge shaped, and I could feel my many large and sharp teeth with my tongue.
I quickly opened up my menu page and saw:
Name: - Species: Hatchling Lesser Wyvern Level: 0/5 Experience: 000/210
Class: [Hunter] Class Level: 9 Health: 168/168 Mana: 14/14 Stamina: 100/100
Str: 47 End: 56 Vit: 57 Agi: 56 Dex: 42
Per: 57 Acy: 44 Wil: 36 Cha: 37 Mgc: 29
[Prey Sense](class) [Hunter’s Rest](class) [Breathes through her Skin](racial)
[Toxic Skin](racial) [Toxin Control: Minor](racial) [Regeneration: Minor](lesser)(racial)
[Scale Armor: Minor](racial) [Envenomed Bite: Hatchling Komadus Lizard](racial)
[Infravision](racial) [Salutivore](racial) [Strong Stomach](racial)
[Lesser Wyvern Hide](racial) [Poison Resistance: Major] [Disease Resistance: Minor] [Better First Impression]
[Healthy Thoughts] [First Words] [Killing Blow]
Ambush: 4 Analysis: 3 Cartography: 1 Charge: 5 Cleaning: 3 Climbing: 3
Composing: 1 Construction: 3 Cooking: 4 Charm: 1 Crafting: 5 Dancing: 2
Dagger: 1 Digging: 6 Dodge: 4 Drawing: 1 Etiquette: 1 Intimidate: 2
Jumping: 4 Leatherworking: 2 Meditation: 6 Poetry: 1 Pottery: 2 Reading: 1
Singing: 2 Spear: 3 Sprinting: 4 Swimming: 4 Stealth: 6 Taunt: 1
Throwing: 4 Tracking: 4 Trap Making: 7 Weaving: 2 Writing: 3
What the hell is a Lesser Wyvern!?
“[Hatchling Lesser Wyvern]
[Wyverns are the lesser cousins of dragons, and so even a Lesser Wyvern is a powerful threat. Highly resistant to the elements, magic, and weapons, the Lesser Wyvern can absorb incredible amounts of damage. Worse, its powerful jaws and talons are capable of biting through all but the best steel armor. Wyverns of all kinds are also known for mutating into magical varieties, so it pays to check and be sure you know what kind of Wyvern you are fighting. +4 to all Stats, +3 Str, Vit, and Agi per Level, +2 End, Wil, and Mgc per Level, and +1 to all other Stats per Level, [Lesser Wyvern Hide](racial).]”
Fucking awesome, apparantly. I should check out [Lesser Wyvern Hide] too.
“[Lesser Wyvern Hide]
[You resist damage of all kinds!]
[You gain 20% resistance to all elemental damage and 10% resistance to all weapon damage.]”
Is that why I feel warmer? [Scale Armor] must actually make me more vulnerable to winter! How the hell do the lizards survive the winter!? I guess it doesn’t matter right now, all that matters is that I survive.
I squeeze my way outside and drag the Stone Lynx back in. Butchering it is a lot harder without hands, but helped quite a bit by my sharp talons. Actually, I probably wouldn’t have been able to butcher it with my hands considering how hard its fur is.
Once this terrible winter is over I will be able to test my wings out!
*Two months later*
Over the winter, I had managed to get the Skill: Manasense, which allowed me to sense mana like I had before. After that, it took a month of work to get the Mana Manipulation Skill. By that time, Spring had come! The snow was melting, the birds were singing, and a very awkward Wyvern was trying to learn to fly.
Flying, as it turned out, was a bit harder than just flapping wings and jumping. It took me days to actually manage to get into the air and stay there!
“[You have learned the Skill: Flight! Flight is now Level 1!]
[This Skill improves your ability to fly and glide!]
[For every Level of Flight you find it 5% easier to fly, you fly 10% faster, and it takes .2% less effort. Additionally, your effective Strength, Agility, Perception and Acuity are increased by 2.5% per Level of Flight while flying.]”
Flying was hard, but amazing! Suddenly, I could leave the valley whenever I wanted without having to go through the gorge. Scouting the area would be a breeze from above, in fact, I was able to see where the gorge ended and the surrounding hills gave way to plains!
What, in the name of Podi, is that thing at the entrance of the gorge though!?
I was too far away to use Analyze, and I had no intention of getting closer. It looked like someone had taken a snapping turtle and quartered its shell without removing it. And instead of the little tongue that snapping turtles had to attract prey, this monstrosity had tentacles that came out of its mouth that were meters long.
As I watched, it was eating what looked like a buffalo whole. What the hell is wrong with this world!?
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