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Tabitha was told to stay in bed and rest, and she agreed to that. But as Tabitha proved the night before, her idea of resting was giving it her all and working her body to the point of being knocked out by a falling branch after chopping down a tree.

Unfortunately, though, she was limited to what she could do from on top of the bed. Tabitha was many things, but a liar was not one of them. She agreed to staying in bed which meant she was staying in bed. Needless to say, that greatly limited her options.

But it didn’t limit her mind.

“Alright, Tabitha,” she said to herself, speaking with a quiet voice so as to not wake up the resting Runa. “You’ve got blacksmithin’ and alchemy available to ya. There’s probably gonna be a carpenter around here, too, considerin’ that most of the furniture I’ve seen so far is wood. Not to mention these houses are wooden. That means there are at least three professionals in this village that can train me. Now, alchemy is probably gonna be the easiest craft for me to really get into. All I’ve gotta do is mix things together in a pot. Anybody can do that. Hmm. I’d like to do it with a cauldron of my own, though. Maybe I’ll get the old man to walk me through makin’ my own alchemy cauldron. Yeah, I like that idea. Makin’ a cauldron of my own and usin’ it for alchemy sounds like it’d be real satisfyin’.”

Tabitha sat up in bed, looked out the window to the forest in the distance, and sighed knowing that she probably wouldn’t be back out there to chop down any trees for a couple of days.

She flopped back down and went back to talking to herself. “Maybe I could make myself a house here. Get a workshop up and runnin’… nah. I’ve got myself a whole fantasy world here. I wanna see everythin’ out there. There might be all new types of craftin’ I have no idea about somewhere out there. Maybe special skills the folk around here don’t know about. Not to mention that the more of the world I explore, the more materials I’ll have available to me. Yeah. In that case, I guess I should probably get a wagon or somethin’. I’m gonna need somethin’ to carry around all my tools and materials since I doubt I’ll be able to fit everythin’ in a backpack. I’ll make myself a wagon and it’ll be my own little mobile base. Though… gonna need somethin’ to pull it.”

Tabitha sat back up again to look out past the window with eyes full of yearning. No matter how much she distracted herself by talking, she kept on going back to wanting the freedom to chop down every tree she saw to make a million and one different items with their wood.

And then, of course, she flopped onto the bed again with a disgruntled sigh. “Dang arms. No, it ain’t my body’s fault. It’s that branch’s fault for knockin’ me out… assumin’ that’s what happened. Wait, hold on now. What I need is a helmet! I won’t need to worry about anythin’ like that happenin’ again as long as I’ve got a helmet! Alright. First order of business once I get out of here is to get me a helmet. Actually… if I get me a helmet… I could get one of them ones with a light on the front. I don’t mean just a fire one like a lantern, either. Those buggers I saw last night… they glowed pretty bright. They might not light up the area in front of me, but they’d at least show me what’s in front of my face. It’ll be like a discount minin’ hat!”

Rather than sit up, Tabitha looked over to Runa’s leg and sighed.

“Hope that feels better soon. I reckon if slimes and alchemy can exist here, then there’s probably somethin’ that’ll help her leg heal faster. But anyways, back to my to-do list. One, get a—ah, dang it. I forgot I said I’d check out their fields. Runa’s convinced I can help with that, though I’ve got no idea how to help with farmin’. Still, gotta keep my word. I’ll check out their problem and see if there’s anythin’ I can do about it. Then I’ll get me a helmet. Then once I’ve got a helmet, I’ll make myself a cauldron and start experimentin’ with alchemy. Then it’s time for chocolate. Real chocolate. Then again… if these folk don’t know about chocolate, maybe it’d be better for their obesity rates if I keep that invention to myself. Anyways, once I’ve got all that figured out, I’ll get me a wagon and be on my way! Maybe introducin’ these folk to real chocolate will convince ‘em to part with some of their horses… assumin’ they’ve got horses. Or whatever else I could use to pull a wagon.”

This time, instead of sitting up or looking at Runa, Tabitha looked at the other side of the room that had the cabinets and shelves full of various items. Bandages, spare clothes, a few pictures—pictures? Paintings? She noticed a painting of somebody who looked like a younger version of Hanne with an old, hunched over woman standing behind her with a wide smile.

“Huh… does paintin’ count as craftin’? I mean, technically, it’s makin’ something usin’ several materials, right? Hmm. Ya know, I should probably draw a line somewhere. Otherwise, probably everythin’ there is could be broken down to bein’ a craft. Even somethin’ like makin’ babies could be considered craftin’ if I really want to be extreme about it, and I sure ain’t gonna be doin’ any of that.”

Tabitha wasn’t sure what else to do at that point. She came up with plans, looked around everywhere she could, and—wait. There was still somewhere else she could look while staying in bed.

And that was under the bed.

Tabitha was so bored that she actually hung upside down off the bed to get a good look under it. What if there was a secret crafting material hiding under there? Then again, if there was, it would probably count as stealing to take it. It wasn’t like an RPG where she could just go into a house and collect random, shiny spots to gain new materials without any repercussions.

Then, as she looked under the bed, she saw it.

She saw…

Dust.

Dust that she was about to become very well acquainted with as she sneezed and lost her balance, causing her to fall onto the floor headfirst. It wasn’t a big fall, definitely not enough of one to hurt her, but it was a loud one that made her feel like a fool.

“Ow, ow… c’mon,” Tabitha said, “be more careful. Ya already hurt your head once. Ya don’t need to hurt it agai—"

“Tabitha?” Runa asked. “Are—are you alright?!”

As soon as Tabitha heard how panicked Runa sounded, she flipped herself around on the floor and held a finger up in front of her lips. “Shhh! Don’t—”

“Is everything alright?” Hanne asked from the other room, her voice growing louder.

Tabitha had barely any time to act. She climbed up onto the bed and tucked herself back under the covers just before Hanne reached the room.

“Is everything alright?” Hanne repeated, asking the girls with a raised eyebrow. “I heard something.”

“Everythin’s fine and dandy!” Tabitha answered with a bright smile. “Just in bed as ordered!” Tabitha was a woman who never lied, but she was also a believer of telling people the technical truth. Technically, she was in bed as ordered.

But Hanne wasn’t buying it. The older woman narrowed her eyes at Tabitha and looked at Runa after seeing that she was awake. “Did something happen?”

Runa looked at Tabitha, who was still smiling and looking at Hanne… while giving Runa a thumbs-up behind her back outside of Hanne’s sight. So, Runa nodded and said, “Every-everything’s alright.”

“Well… how’s your leg feeling?”

“Good! Thanks again for helping me last night.”

“It’s no problem. I’ll rub some more of the potion onto it in a few hours. Made a fresh batch here with Tabitha this morning.”

“Alright, thank you!”

Hanne nodded and returned her attention to Tabitha. “Stay in bed.”

“Yes, ma’am! Trust me, if there’s one thing my old world taught me, it was how to never want to leave my bed!” After all, getting out of bed meant going to work usually. “Oh, but uh… how long do ya want me to stay in bed for?”

“At least until noon. Our chief wants to pay you a visit, and she won’t be available until then. You can do what you want once you have a chance to talk to her.”

“Sounds good to me!”

Hanne looked the two girls over one last time before leaving them alone, returning to her work in the other room.

“Nice goin’,” Tabitha told Runa. “Also, thanks for worryin’ about me, but I’m—”

“Are you alright?!” Runa asked, wearing all of her concern on her face. “You were unconscious and—”

“Like I was about to say, I’m fine.”

“Are… are you sure?”

“C’mon, a little branch ain’t gonna take me out! It’s only gonna knock me out. Big difference. But really, I’m fine and dandy. Whole and hearty. Least, I think I’m whole. No idea if a kidney was removed in my sleep or anythin’.”

Runa shook her head. “We’d never!”

“I know, I’m just teasin’ ya. Now, go on and get back to sleep. I promise I’ll do my best not to wake ya up again.”

“I’m too relieved to see you are alright to fall back asleep now.”

“C’mon, your body needs it.”

“I… alright. But I have a question.”

“Ask away as long as it means you’re goin’ back to sleep afterward.”

“Are you… going to leave us?”

Tabitha nodded. “Yep. Once I’ve got everythin’ sorted out here. No offense, but there's a whole world out there waitin' for me to see it. I don't wanna leave a single stone unturned.”

“Then,” Runa paused and took a deep breath, “when the time comes… will you take me with you?”

Despite Runa being the one with canid features, it was Tabitha who tilted her head like a confused dog. “Ya what now?”

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A note from Barking Otter

About a week has passed and we've reached 222 followers since posting the story! Thank you all so much! I thought we might not even have fifty followers by the end of the first week, but these last three days have really brought the numbers up! The story also got another review, so thanks to Masphelicia for that! Now, maybe it's a bit too overeager to aim for this, but I want to try and reach 500 followers before the second week is over. That means just over doubling the current follower total. I think that might just be possible with the story's current growth rate, so I'm going to do my best to make sure it happens! But if it doesn't happen, that's okay! It's just a goal I want to reach. Best case scenario, I'll be happy and proud to have reached it! Worst case scenario, I'll still be proud of myself for doing my best!

That aside, thanks to those of you who keep on commenting! I always look forward to your comments even if they're just a thanks! They're also really good motivation. So, if you really want to motivate me to write even more, give me some more praise. Heh. Just kidding. Kind of. But really, every single time I see you all posting on the latest chapter, it makes me want to go write another chapter so that you have more to read right away!

By the way, did you know that there's a 24/7 available otter livestream on Twitch? It's super adorable. Highly recommend. The only time I ever don't want to write more of this is when I'm distracted watching otters. Feel free to check that out here!

I should probably stop rambling now. Anyways, it's Sunday, so that means it's a new week. I hope that we all have a great week coming up! I'll keep doing my best, so I want you all to keep on doing your bests with whatever you might be dealing with in life right now, too! We'll give it our bests together!

See you next chapter! And next chapter is time for a bit of worldbuilding!


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About the author

Barking Otter

  • The Otter Who Barks

Bio: You should all be thankful that I'm not punny enough to make up my own dad jokes or else I would constantly include them in my story.

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