Dreamweaver Chapter 145
In the end I was surprised when Sunghee begged me to let her pick the next job. It surprised me. She has a look of child like enthusiasm and wants to prove herself to me. How can I say know when she’s trying so hard to be good? This isn’t her acting out to be bad anymore either. Rapidly she picks up the token for ‘Wildlands search; hunt for orc hunters near the lands of the surface’.
“I think this one will be good. It can be manageable. There are worse things that could have been picked too. Also it’s good training for us to get back into the swing of things,” Sunghee said. She shrugs at me.
“So you are OK with it then?” Rina questioned, giving me an energetic clipped smile.
“OK, no objection here,” I said.
“I don’t see anything out of the ordinary about it either,” Sunghee confirmed.
“We need to fight back! I hate orcs and stuff like that. We can’t let them take this world from us,” Rina said.
“But they are a basic evil to fight in this world. They aren’t actually weak like people think. That’s why it’s good to know how to fight them. They can swarm in high numbers sometimes too,” Sunghee said.
“I guess she is right. If we don’t fight them continuously it is letting them have this world in a way,” I said.
“I hadn’t thought about it like that,” Sunghee frowned.
“We can do this,” Rina said, pumped up. Although her enthusiasm is there, she is still not a combat person.
“Don’t get ahead of yourself. It’s still dangerous for you,” Sunghee said to her, stabbing her finger into Rina’s chest. Sunghee wasn’t trying to be aggressive but just trying to make sure she knew to stay close to us.
“I get it. But I want to do better,” Rina said.
“Just stay close to me always,” I said. I feel like a broken record but you have to focus on the basics of self defense. We went over a couple of other points with Rina too right after that.
Before we leave Gyle got us some military dry rations, two days worth for each of us, just in case. We don’t have a guarantee we won’t be out a few days plus it’s good to have prepared food and extra supplies. It’s a good investment I guess because I don’t want to mess around hunting stuff and focus on the job. I only want to stay out one day though, but maybe that’s just me being lazy.
We checked out of the front gate to the surface that leaves the mountain. Using the job chit as the gate pass works it seems. One look at the chit and the guards understand what’s up. It also made the guards less suspicious of the humans in our party, and I guess dwarves are always a bit suspicious of non-dwarves as a defensive trait, though they seem to be trying to not be racist at least.
The gaurds give us the sunlight protection glasses again since we’re not used to such bright light anymore as part of the job detail. For the first ten minutes my eyes are watering like crazy and so are everyone else’s while we stay near the door. Having runny eyes makes you want to die. It’s like hell. And stepping out into the sun for the first time after so long really makes it that much worse.
“I hate this part. It makes my eyes runny for like forever,” Gyle gasped.
The girls are trying to not fall and trip either. They are trying to not curse but I can see it’s not easy for any of us.
“It’ll pass,” Gyle said.
“He’s right, I hope,” Sunghee said.
“I forgot how long we were underground!” Rina exclaimed.
It may be that there’s something in the atmosphere of this world that adds to the effect.
Finally we get on our way after our eyes got used to being above ground again. We’re travelling at a good pace down the road going northeast, which is different from the branch of road that goes to the ranchers farm that we’d done the day previous. It was going West.
I wonder…are we finally getting used to this world I think as we travel along.
The girls are even a bit chatty and learning to blend in and dress like natives of this world. They are learning to accept and respect people of this world as much as people from our world. Will they eventually forget we were from Earth I wonder?
While dressing handsomely and trying to stay up to style, both Rina and Sunghee have put on the dwarven trousers and shirts with belts, boots, and neckerchiefs. They have decided to look rustic since we’re going to be outside.
Although Sunghee still ties the shirt up under her breasts daisy duke style. That’s the one reminder of us being from another world.
We try to keep a good pace, but not too strong as we travel on the trade road that we’re supposed to be patrolling. As usual while walking I put up runic shielding on the girls, but don’t put too much else up yet to not waste mana, since there’s no guarantee what or when we’ll even find anything. It could be hours before we run into anything if we even do. We’re still gaining a good lead over what others would do because of the enchants on their clothes I have active.
But I also had to give Rina her treatment, which reminds me she’s not able to go far from me.That part saddened me, since I had thought she was getting better. I used the regerenation (upgraded) spell version this time instead of the normal heal, which is more suited to a problem like hers.
I was hoping that we’d get to where I wouldn’t have to use it on her. But we’re still using it less than we used to.
The job chit for this one comes with a map that we have to turn in when we’re done. It’s marked with orc sighting spots on the surface that we’re encouraged to check out. Mostly the focus is keep the trade roads opened up and free of orc and goblins.
I can see Gyle is impressed even though he’s seen it before. “I wonder how you ended up with such unique skills Shun,” Gyle said aloud.
I shrugged. “No idea. But I’m glad I can keep my people alive.”
“Well said,” he countered.
“Just keep it a secret,” Sunghee said to him.
“I get it,” Gyle replied.
“How did they get this information? How reliable is it?” I asked Sunghee and Gyle.
“It’s pretty reliable. They are paying us to go out and it has a minimum income guarantee in this contract which is also good. Orc kill bounties are solid income if you can make sure you have a solid party that won’t get captured or die,” he said.
“Pfffh. That’s a bunch of crap. Minimum income guarantees mean it’s guaranteed you’ll have a fight on your hands. They don’t put those on stuff that are questionable about if something will appear,” Sunghee said.
“Really?” Rina asked.
“Yeah, you think they want to just give up money for nothing?” Sunghee asked.
Ahh so it’s like that huh? I should have known.
“So minimum income guarantees can mean they know with a certain probability that there’s some activity in the area,” I guessed. Both Gyle and Sunghee nodded.
We keep trudging down the gravel and dirt road.
“I’d count on it, in this case. There’s been too much orc and goblin activity recently. But keep your eyes peeled and ready for anything,” he growled.
The walk through the wild lands isn’t bad though. Everything is really beautiful out here. It’s a lush area near the mountains that would otherwise be arid. Aspen trees are everywhere in this area, with other types of bushes. This shouldn’t be wild land. It should be the places everyone wants to live. That’s what’s weird about it.
How can some place like this be so beautiful and yet so deadly?
That by itself is proof that evil is winning if the best lands are untouched. This is the kind of place someone would picture in their mind as the ideal camping world. I could hardly wait to see the nearby rivers if we could find one and test what the fishing might be like.
“We have incoming,” Sunghee hurriedly said suddenly. She held up a hand for silence and her hand is already getting her weapon ready. I can feel the tenseness in her voice.
“How’d you know?” Rina suddenly said.
“Don’t question it. Get ready,” I barked.
We go into formation now changing from a row of all us to instead having Sunghee and Gyle on the front and me and Rina in the back with Rina behind Gyle. Actually I didn’t mind being on the front either if it would save Rina and Sunghee, but Sunghee wants me to be not have a chance of interruption on spell casts. It’d been one of the few things we argued about over breakfast today.
Sure enough, I barely got the circle of protection spell up, when a whole team of like three wargs hits our front line. They are massive and way bigger than the ones the goblins had raised that we’d seen in the past so I’m almost put up by it.
Two of them hit into Sunghee and she blocks with a buckler. She’s trying to keep it at bay but she’s pushed back by the weight of its pounce, while the other one went for Gyle. He’s able to chop it with his axe and keep it back. Somehow both of them barely stay up, but Gyle almost lost his hand.
But the one in the back had circled and tried to go after Rina.
It’s a classic predator strategy. Two rider less wolves distract in front, while the third goes after the easiest target. I saw it for what it was which was why Rina is still alive. She never would have seen that coming on her own. And even if she would have she wasn’t that strong.
The wolf crashed into the runic shielding and is trying to bite down on Rina while the shield is being slashed quicker than I ever thought possible. It has a huge advantage from humongous weight and razor like teeth that add to melting the shield so quickly that I nearly panicked. Turns out the shielding spells on Sunghee and Gyle are also being cut up by their teeth too. The circle of protection field doesn’t stop the wolves from attacking or getting close to us since they are normal monsters that grew in this world but I can feel an extra strength in the runic shielding because of it, as a bonus. The defensive field that it supports is worth the time lost in casting it but I’ll need to move quickly to save the team.
Still I think using the circle of protection defense spell was worth it. Especially if I can work it up some more later the stacking effect of it, with my other shields and buffs will start to pay off.
But jeez, wargs are so damn big! And those teeth and jaws are big enough to snap bones. Even small normal wolves from our world can snap bones with their jaws actually.
I feel so uneasy right now. Sweat is pouring down my face. Adventuring is not as easy as it sounds. I wonder what I was thinking for a brief second in signing up for this.
The girls are screaming while trying to hang on. They hate this too, but were following me from loyalty.
Despite having so much fear and worry I’ve been over this in my mind a dozen times since breakfast. Protect Rina first, since she’s the weak spot in our group. Then keep the others buffed and shielded. Make sure Sunghee maintains ability to call out the enemy to me and follow her experience. It’s this set of simple basics that will keep us alive, and just because I’ve acquired a few cool skills doesn’t mean we aren’t in mortal danger or can’t die.
I hit my stun ray spell on the wolf trying to get hold of Rina’s leg. It falls to the ground in a heap crushing its orc rider’s leg and hip, but I only have about 12 seconds left. Rina is jabbing it with her spear, but for little damage other than just making it madder. If anything it will just provoke it to go after her quicker.
This time I’m more creative.
I unleash two quick volleys of magic star missiles with each concentrating on the warg’s skull and eyes. When something is moving around and actively fighting I can’t aim for the eyes but on a stun like this it’s an attack of opportunity. The first volley makes the stunned creature yelp and connects for good damage, but missed the eyes, but my second volley manages to burn one of its eyes into a smoking hole. All eight missiles burn into its fur leaving scorch marks. Then I followed up with a savage chop to the neck of the beast.
It works. But it’s hard to use magic to aim for a weak spot like eyes and not something easily done.
The neck chop is an attack of opportunity while it’s down. Then Rina’s spear also bites into the neck where I’ve hit, following my lead. I do a follow up chop on the same spot and this wolf is dead. Its rider is too wounded by the massive warg falling on it to do even fight now while he has the wind knocked out of him. He was also pinned under its body and hadn’t been able to fight us because of his leg being crushed while trapped in the make shift goblin saddle.
Rina jabs at him mercilessly with her spear while he’s still trapped under the body.
He won’t last long.
“Help!” Gyle screamed.
“He needs shielding Shun!” Sunghee cries out.
I hope I can make it in time.
Sunghee is keeping her warg at bay, but just barely. Her own shield is hanging in pieces like a windshield that’s got cracks all over it, hanging in the air. Gyle’s shield has just collapsed, while his warg is bloody, but still determined. It’s a white and gray beast with intelligent looking yellow eyes.
Gyle falls down on the ground now, but partly to duck and partly really falling. The warg is energized by the look of his panic and helpless situation. Gyle looks pretty helpless right now while the enemy is going to go for a maiming attack and try to pull him away from our defensive line.
I managed to hit runic shielding just before its jaws were about to snap shut on Gyle’s foot legs intending to make it so he couldn’t escape.
I can’t use my stun ray for another minute. But for now Gyle is alive, just very terrified.
I charge forward and smash it in the nose with my axe. It yelps and pulls back long enough for Rina to get Gyle on his feet under my protective cover.
Shit this is stupid. These things are bigger than some bears!
Why am I trying to tank them?!
Maybe I should be a farmer instead.
Then I have to renew Sunghee’s shielding as she wounds her own warg but in the process almost lost her shielding too. I dodged two savage bites of teeth so sharp I almost fell over from just seeing them. The wargs smell awful too, like disease or some such crap.
“This buckler was a good investment. I think we need more of them,” Sunghee said.
She’s also the most solid person in our group besides my mage skills. She’s held her own over the others from years of practice and real combat situations. Somehow she’s kept her will power strong too and doesn’t have a ‘I’m gonna die’ look on her face like the rest of us.
I want to be more like her. Even though I have skills, I’m still learning how to deal with the stress.
“Damn wolves,” Gyle shrieked because of being scared to death.
I can’t blame him. These are way bigger than I thought they would be.
Rina and Gyle both switch to spears to try to push the wargs back from them and concentrate their power together while I’m in front too now. Their spears bite into its neck but it’s still trying to go forward.
My shielding is now taking several hits in a row while the warg tries to bear down on my using both its weight and teeth.
I unleash a quickcast volley of magic energy stars all aimed at its throat. It yelps but is just even more rabid than before. Gyle and Rina aim for the damaged part of the neck that I’ve done. Then I have to dodge more of its teeth while strengthening the runic shielding on the others.
The wargs are confused why their powerful teeth can’t hit us. They aren’t used to using magic and in effect it’s like they are trying to bite through a turtle shell.
Huh, I guess the runic shield does act like a turtle shell huh?
But some turtles still die from predators.
This is terrifying!
I managed to re-strengthen their shields but the wargs didn’t flee, but kept trying to rabidly tear us to pieces.
After another minute all the wargs are dead, except for Sunghee’s. I had to renew her shielding again, but she’s alive. She’s a lot calmer than the others now too. But if you think about it from the mana loss of that being just one fight, we lost.
Gyle and Rina are both having a moment of wiping away tears and swearing at the same time while they express various thanks for their life and relieving stress. I can’t blame them. They are only showing they are normal people.
But I’m already thinking ahead. We still have a ways to go. I have to figure out how far out is safe for us. And are there going to be more wargs? I hate wargs.
The circle of protection buff was worth it but isn’t a long duration buff yet. It’s for small battles and is already fading.
This skirmish brought me down to…I’m guessing about 86% mana. But still if that had been another mage they’d probably be empty since I have many times the total mana of another mage.
“Wow, that was scary as hell! Why do people do this?! It’s nuts to do this shitty work!” Rina swore.
“I know right! Finally someone who believes like me!” Gyle wanted to hug her but I intercepted him.
“Sorry, I got ahead of myself,” he said.
“People do it because they don’t want to be slaves Rina. We have to stand up for ourselves in this world. Nobody will do it for us,” Sunghee answered.
Sunghee said the right thing at the right time. She’s also helped me to remember we need to be looking for our own way to live. I feel like I’m really benefiting from her maturity and wisdom.
“Eh…you think so?” Rina said to her, looking up. She still looks nervous.
“Slavery is worse right? How much worse can it be than being eaten by wolves bigger than bears?!” she shrieked.
“I don’t want to be a slave,” Rina said. Although she did mouth something to me that was lustful in nature. I guess it was something about except for being with me.
“What are the chances of other wargs?” I asked Sunghee.
“Quiet down. We don’t know what else is nearby,” Sunghee said calmly while looking about.
“It’s a living. We’ll earn some money and find us a good place to live,” I said chastising Rina. I am partly trying to convince myself.
“Wow, none of us are wounded?! Isn’t that amazing!” Gyle is shocked.
“Thanks to Shun’s shielding skills,” Rina admitted.
“Thanks,” Gyle said.
“Don’t mention it. Just stay honest with us and we’re good,” I said.
Gyle is really impressed. Partly he’s glad we aren’t human hamburger right now. Partly also he’d had doubts about us leaving the fortress with only the small party that we do have. A lot of other parties are often bigger though they make less money that way.
“So why didn’t the two wargs retreat after the first one and it’s rider die?” I asked them.
“Probably the orc tamer or rider, not sure which, may have starved them before they left wherever their base was. I’d seen them do that before. They want them fearless and aren’t above drugging either their animals or people either. It makes them fight harder since they’re desperate. But it can make them weaker endurance wise,” Sunghee said.
“That kind of makes sense. They also look kind of shabby and too thin for their frames. Probably weren’t fed well even when they did get food,” Gyle said.
“And you kept us alive eh Shun?” Rina nodded at me.
“For being bigger than a man that’s no easy feat,” Sunghee admits, and gives me a pat on the back. She smiled at me with real affection and real respect.
“Hey look at that,” Rina said, pointing to the beasts’ necks.
“Chains. Those kind of chain collars are used by orcs. It’s further evidence that they are here on an assignment probably. It could be scouting us or disrupting trade or just getting meat. Or who knows if they don’t have their own kill quotas either,” Gyle warned.
“So we are on the right track. They probably won’t like that we killed their pets,” Sunghee said carefully.
“Why the hell would anyone keep those as pets?! They’re crazy!” Rina exclaimed.
Orcs don’t value their own people. If they have too many kids or too many old people they get fed to the wargs too,” Gyle said.
“Are you going to be OK?” I asked Sunghee.
“I’m good. Let’s push on,” she said.
We did decide to take and skin the warg pelts though, including the ears and any useful parts. Its extra work but the pelts might be worth something. Sunghee corrected us on the pelt skinning, since she’s done this before. And because their bodies are so big it’s not easy. I learn from her that to get the best price you have to keep the teeth, head, and feet attached with all claws. Some of the buyers may be involved in taxidermy and other pursuits that require certain parts to be a certain way. If it goes to leather then later that person take those off, but some of the buyers involved in taxidermy won’t even give it a look without the parts she wanted included.
I’m surprised that dwarves practice taxidermy but it makes sense. They admire strength and wargs and bears epitomize strength. But once we see how long it will take to do all this I just ended up throwing all three warg bodies into my dimension inventory slots after we did the first one. We can finish it when we get back, plus we don’t need extra smells of blood attracting other predators.
Sunghee was also useful in helping us know how to get cleaned up from her adventuring skills.
Sunghee has to help me push the huge warg bodies into the inventory slot box. It’s hard work because they are bulky. But she also has a cleanup spell too, so she’s less queasy about the blood getting on her than the others.
Gyle was a bit surprised by this. “I didn’t know you had adventurer inventory slots! Nice!” He’s once again, looking at me with hero worship.
“Just promise me you won’t tell anyone. It can make me a target,” I said.
“Got it boss,” he said.
I’ll consult Gyle later on their market price of the wolf bodies. Everything here has a value it seems. We’ll probably only get full price for one of the pelts though, since two of them are damaged more than a buyer may like.
We trekked for another hour before the next skirmish. In an hour of no skirmishes, I’m guessing my mana core feels like somewhere around getting half of that mana I lost back. (Maybe mid 90s %???). It’s not easy to estimate.
There’s no such thing as a safe zone out here it seems. We finally had another signal from Sunghee of danger not long after that.
It’s an orc patrol of some kind, which guarantees they have some kind of village near here.
Both our team and theirs’ also saw each other at the same time. They are about sixty to seventy feet out from us.
“Trouble!” Sunghee said to sound the alarm.
I barely cast my barrier fence in time to crowd control all eleven orcs in the patrol. They ran smack into the transparent wall of force. I can still see their confusion and rubbing their faces as they shake off the effect trying to figure out what just happened to them. Then me and Gyle start shooting them as fast as we can at the open spot on the right side of the fence that was my purposed kill zone left open. He hits two right away with his crossbow, one in the chest over the heart which dies but the other one is only wounded by a gut shot. Those two both have come around the edge of the fence and the other orcs are following suit.
My barrier fence will help us set up shots though it costs a lot of power. The crowd control of herding them through that one particular spot is wonderful still.
I hit the next one with all four star missiles. It goes down, but it was a big guy that took all of those missiles before it would die. Big orcs are scary. I almost thought he wasn’t going to go down.
“Damn. These are tougher than goblins,” Rina nearly panicked. Rina is trying her sling out, throwing rocks, but she’s a bad aim still. Nothing hits and it doesn’t look like she’ll ever hit but that’s reality. You can’t expect someone to learn a range weapon in a day, and this isn’t a video game.
“Stay in the back Rina,” Sunghee warned.
Already it looks like the orcs are looking at the women first with greed and blood lust all over their faces. It’s not hard to predict their Neanderthal like thinking.
“Oh shit!” Rina exclaimed.
I managed to get one more volley of missiles out killing another that cries out pitifully. One more runty wart faced ugly orc goes down, but Gyle is still reloading. The look on his face shows he’s trying to hurry but isn’t sure he’ll get to reload before they come to close combat range.
They will be on us soon.
So casted another barrier fence spell. I love this spell because it slows them down…but it’s a mana sieve spell so I worry about using it too much. I can feel the crushing despair of a ton of mana dropping that makes my body feel faint from the exertion.
“Don’t let them close to melee distance. These are tougher than normal orcs. These fuckers were trained since birth for slaughtering people,” Gyle yelled in fear. He managed to squeeze off two more shots and wounds two more orcs which slows them down. But he won’t be able to reload in time before they close to melee distance, so he puts away the crossbow.
The orcs are chanting something too. I wonder what it is. But I hear the same chant every time. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s some kind of jihad like crap.
I hit another one with another star missile volley; I picked the closest and biggest lead orc leading their charge. He goes down, and the last missile hits another orc behind him with only a minor wound appearing.
3 dead orcs now, with four wounded and hanging back.
4 very big orcs still headed our direction that are like six and a half feet tall. Damn those things must be eating steroids!
I’m just glad there aren’t any wargs.
“My gosh they are freaking huge! Don’t let them get any closer!” Rina exclaimed.
I can’t help but still be fearful. If they get to close combat range it will still be scary.
As they are closing to melee range I hit one more killing it with all four magic missiles from my last volley. Sunghee does some weird ninja strike crap that was a blur and then the one attacking her first is down.
Gyle managed to stop one, and block its attacks but he’s bowled over by its strength.
I hear a scream.
What? How did that happen?!
Sure enough the last orc has somehow punctured Rina’s shield instantly and is trying to haul her off through the grass. How did it get through the shield?! He’d snuck up from the left side under cover to look for a kidnapping opportunity.
I’m horrified. He must have had huge stupidly awesome strength to do that in such a short time!
“No!!” Sunghee and I both scream in panic.
Rina is getting dragged off while she’s kicking and screaming.
The other wounded orcs that are left are trying to rally to run over to help this tricky sneaky bastard.
I hit him with a volley of magic missiles again, and he manages to live.
How did he not die?
He’s tough as nails and it’s like his skin is thick too, with him covered in tattooes and some kind of woven bones as a breastplate.
No way! How did he do that?!
Sunghee’s sword deflects the orc’s own weapon and then her blade is stuck in its chest.
I managed to run and block the attack of another wounded orc, and Sunghee joins me to stop its friend while Rina barely gets away from kicking it in the nads. She switches to spear attacks and helps us finish off the others but is really shaken up.
The battle ended pretty quickly not long after that.
We saved Rina from getting captured but she’s red faced from expressing her fears and stress while crying still.
But mana went from 95% down to 65%. The barrier fence spells are shitty efficiency. But it did help in preserving health and shielding. I need to train with it more and see if I can get its mana efficiency at an improved rate.
Is that wishful thinking though, to think that a massive game changer spell like that can be improved much on mana efficiency?
How did that guy grapple Rina though? I suspect it was a boss of some kind. That explains it, but the others with this whole team weren’t too shabby actually. By taking us on directly they presented themselves as formidable opponents and seasoned veteran orcs that were meant to stir up trouble.
Sunghee checks to make sure none of them got away or are lurking close by. Using her alertness skill she can do that, while partnered up with Gyle to have him snipe anything on standby.
“Did any of them escape?” Gyle said quickly. He’s stressed out and there’s an edge to his voice. He’s afraid to put his weapon down even though we’re done fighting.
“I don’t think so. But keep your guard up,” Sunghee said.
“We still have to decide how much farther we’re going to go,” I said to them, thinking aloud.
“It was crazy to leave the dwarven mountain wasn’t it?” Rina sighed.
“We have to make a living,” Sunghee said for both of us to remind them. Even Gyle knows this.
Quickly we also ‘double tap’ each orc to make sure they are all dead, and loot them as fast as we can. It takes a lot of courage to loot orcs because of their terrible smell. Plus they often don’t have much on them, but we do learn some things.
They usually don’t have anything of value on them, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying to do. Turns out looting them was worthless. Their clothes are too smelly and rotten. And their weapons are all stuff that can break easy or easily made like clubs and stuff.
But we did salvage a worn metal short sword from the lead orc.
“We need to move fast. Anything near here will have heard the girls’ screams. To orcs that’s like asking them for dinner,” Gyle said worriedly.
I look back and Sunghee is helping to cut off the last few orc heads after borrowing Gyle’s axe.
“Huh? What are you doing?” I asked.
“The bounty for orcs is proven with their skulls or ears. Last I checked the current market rate for their skulls was 1 silver a head,” she said.
“It’s gone up since then. Now its 2 silver per skull because people are afraid they will have another jihad soon. Plus there’s the job reward for having over 10 orcs as the requirement,” he said.
“Jihad? You guys use that work for orcs and goblins?” Rina asked.
“It’s not my first choice but that’s what a lot of people do even though some people think its racist. It’s not dwarven in origin, but somehow the orcs came up with it,” Gyle said.
I didn’t want to comment on that.
Gyle shows us the proper technique and way the dwarves do it to ‘scalp’ them from the bodies without having too much damage, so we can show proof of the job. It’s kind of horrid to get used to but the girls get right into it when he told them, ‘no proof, no money’.
He also showed us the alternative technique of just cutting off the heads with an axe but that way uses up more weight more quickly so not everyone does it that way. Who wants to carry those filthy heads anyway?
It’s also interesting that even though we have a good amount of intelligence, each of us is bringing something to the table here. I’ve learned some things from Sunghee, and Gyle already.
I’ve even learned to be more grateful of just enjoying how beautiful this world is because of Rina’s awe at this planet. She’s noticed several species of butterfly and sparrows already.
“So we could actually turn it in now and be just fine?” I inquired.
“Technically yes, but there’s a bonus if we get 20 orc skulls,” he countered.
Somehow I’m really glad that orcs and goblins don’t look anything like humans because if they did I would have lost my lunch trying to get the skulls or ears.
“I don’t want to be greedy. Greed causes compromised judgment,” I said.
“It would be worth something if we can say we located their lair,” Sunghee said.
“That’s true,” Gyle admitted.
“Let’s keep moving. But let’s not get greedy. I don’t want to go near the lair with only the four of us. We can probably only do one more skirmish before I have to go back to rest,” I said.
“As usual, you’re right Shun,” Sunghee said.
“I wouldn’t mind going back home now actually,” Rina chuckled.
We ignored that comment.
Will we be making buckets of silver this way?
We changed tactics this time, and took note of the lay of the land and using markers decided to leave the road and go a bit south first before resuming the same direction. This was Sunghee’s recommendation to avoid any follow up patrols that may have been alerted to a skirmish nearby.
This area has a lot of wood and trees that help us to hide in as we rove but we still have to be careful about how we move. In some ways the woods and trees are good but in others they are bad. It can be used for hiding but if the orcs attack us it means that they are already close by the time we see their group so that means they could have a close combat advantage that would be tough to counter.
Sometimes Sunghee has us stop while she checks by trying to hear sounds near us periodically. So far she’s kept us on the right track.
Then we keep moving forward bit by bit using every skill we can to push our advantage.
Sunghee coaches us to avoid low ground, which can paralyze your vision range of seeing an enemy in time. She also has us avoid stepping on dead wood or stuff that will make noise. She has us try to look for and always check points of reference so we can later find our way back to the road area.
We endured two more hours of trekking.
Mana goes up approximately(?) 20 percent increase from the time passing while we walk(?) ?? (80 to 85?). Wish there were numbers available but that wouldn’t be very realistic would it. It’s like trying to cook when you don’t have measuring cups. The rate of increase is slower than that when I’m fully resting or lying down however.
I’m seriously lucky my mana core has improved on not just total mana but also regeneration rate since coming to this world. I’d also only gotten to regenerate that lost mana because Sunghee kept us out of trouble. There’s no replacement for someone as skilled as Sunghee.
Sunghee has us notice the birds are still in this area. There are a lot of sparrows, and sometimes a hawk or two. We see squirrels everywhere that aren’t hiding. It’s a good signal there aren’t any orcs near us. From her I also learn that she uses the birds as a first signal that something isn’t right in the area, if it’s too quiet.
Then we had our next skirmish soon after. We catch sight of another orc patrol, just like the last one. This one has twelve orcs instead of eleven. It also has what I guess is some kind of big ugly looking sub-chief with a splash of white paint on his face as some kind of tribal markings.
We’re lucky we have the initial advantage. I have the others duck down low to get an idea what we’re dealing with. But we can’t stay low forever since they could spot us anyway. After we’d spotted them first, this time because we’d used Sunghee’s higher ground for better range idea. They are approximately 60 feet out. We backed up a few paces to use higher ground. But we were only able to do so because they didn’t have any wargs in this group.
We crouch low while Gyle gets his crossbow ready. I got creative too, and used a different magic load cast system that while taking extra time will unleash two volleys at once. Gyle releases his at the same time I do.
3 orcs go down initially on our surprise volley, with their sub-chief being one of them. I made sure we targeted him.
“Nice!” Sunghee cheers.
“It’s still fucking scary,” Rina said fearfully.
I can’t blame her. She’s right. If even one of them get to us, the stress goes up.
The orcs are charging at us en masse. I hate this part.
To be different this time I cast the bubble barrier around the thickest part of the orcs. This tactic I wanted to try instead of the barrier fence by forcing them into a temporary cage. Because it’s so similar to the normal barrier fence in effect it’s about the same mana cost.
It works! Five of them are trapped in a wall of force light blue sphere bubble.
“That’s so cheaty,” Rina said.
The orcs are immediately terrified but desperate since we have made half of them unable to fight and got rid of their leader at the same time. Of the four left, one of them tries to run away when he was already really close to us while the other three hesitate but still are trying to get close enough to engage us.
I hit the fleeing orc with a volley of magic missiles and he dies.
Gyle and Sunghee block the other three long enough for me to do follow up star missiles that shriek as they bury into the remaining orcs wounding all of them and opening up a chance for Sunghee and Gyle to finish them off.
“That was much better this time,” Sunghee said encouraging me with a smile.
Then we repositioned ourselves at sixty feet before releasing the bubble sphere of force that was acting as a jail on the last five. After repeating a similar process using Gyle’s crossbow mixed in the entire patrol is decimated with no survivors. Some of them had tried to run and we had to prioritize those first.
“This is a pretty good haul,” Gyle said as we take their heads.
We did find an iron dagger on one of them, which was in the belongings of the sub-chief. But secondhand weapons are hard to determine how worn the metal is and if there’s danger of them snapping from metal fatigue. It’s obviously a knife that isn’t made by orcs, but doesn’t look dwarven either.
“I wouldn’t keep that. Probably all kinds of filth and orc disease has been exposed to it,” Gyle said.
“I agree,” Sunghee said. She has a rancid look on her face as she looks at it.
I guess that’s the view any normal adventurer’s might have from salvaging orc equipment.
“So we sell it to a thrift shop?” Rina suggested.
Mana I think is at approximately 64 to 72%. I made a safety mechanism of deciding to not go below 50%. So soon we will go back. I don’t want to take chances with my people.
I guess this far is enough. We’ve done well for the day.
What I’m really interested in, is how much money we’ve made.
We didn’t find the orc village or lair; nor do I want to. But we were able to get rid of one more patrol of nine before turning back in much the same way as the others. We’ll probably get back to town right at dark, if we’re lucky. Although maybe knowing where some of the orc villages are might help to avoid them directly; I’d hate to stumble on one by accident.
How many orc lairs are close by anyway?
Come to think of it, there might be several. And they breed faster than mice and rats.
I equipped the +run/movement speed enchant on each of them, which stacks with their already existing shoe enchant. Sunghee warns us to not assume it’s always safe for areas that we’re going back over, just because we already took care of stuff in that direction once.
We reported to the adventurer’s guild not too long later after going back as fast as we can.
32 orc skulls redeemed for 2 silver bounty each
3 warg bodies…the adventurer’s guild won’t take these since they weren’t part of the job but they are impressed with the size of them. We’re directed to turn those in at the leather shop. To not risk having the public view or any nearby spies we hired three teenagers off the street 5 copper each to help us carry the warg bodies over to the leather shop. They of course wanted some kind of reassure that the wargs are really dead before they are willing to touch them. Then we also had to finish skinning two of them.
1 very surprised Adventurer Guild receptionist with results and 1 also very surprised military liason stationed also in the Aventurer’s Guild. They hadn’t expected a small group like our four man team to outdo the teams that had ten to twelve people in them.
One mixed race half-orc skull that they wouldn’t give us anything for…
Orc subtotal 64 silver.
Job completion bonuses for each tier of ten orcs;
15 silver, (bonus achievement)
Job Completion bonus 35 silver.
Turns out most teams only do one patrol and turn back. It’s too dangerous to stay out all day. I was right to turn back when I did. Almost nobody is crazy enough to go out there in the middle of the night.
Leather shop gives the most for the largest carcass that is the least damaged. We get reduced amounts for the other two heavily damaged carcasses. The leather shop also does taxidermy we find out. I don’t have much interest in that, but dwarves like buying that sort of thing so we are able to profit from their hobbies. They do it to make their businesses, not their residences look fiercer and more successful against orcs and somehow that appeals to their clients who value strength.
Warg Subtotal 24 silver pieces.
“Ahh man I wanted some real gold,” Rina exclaimed looking pouty.
“This is actually really good,” I said.
“He’s right. Steady silver is better than death for gold,” Gyle said it like it’s some kind of slogan. I get the feeling he’s heard it somewhere else and didn’t come up with it on his own.
“Are you serious?” Sunghee raised an eyebrow.
“Actually this is pretty good. You have to remember the daily wage of the average person on the street is like 1 to 2 silver a day. And we pulled all this in on our own. Now we’ll have to watch out for thieves and robbers,” Gyle said with wide serious looking eyes.
“Really?” Rina is distrustful.
“Just don’t brag about your wealth or let people know you have any. Even dwarven towns get thieves,” Gyle whispered to me over the back of his hand.
“I agree with Gyle for the most part,” Sunghee said. She’s scratching her head.
“It’s not too bad. Don’t worry, we’re still saving up for a house, more equipment, a better life and all that other good stuff,” I told the girls. They look really happy hearing that and then take my hand and wrap it around their waists with each of them next to me.
123 silver total for the day before splitting among team members.
But then Gyle has a concern. He thinks it’s unfair to pay our rooms separately after expenses and that they should be taken out as an expense before divide up the money. Part of his argument is that it’s unfair that he is paying higher living costs compared to us.
At first I thought he was trying to get extra money.
The girls argued back that we’re married together. That attracted a lot of attention from people nearby. Partly it’s because the girls are pretty but also because people notice quickly when you have more than one woman.
Gyle said he isn’t sure if polygamy is legal here.
Sunghee tells him it’s no one else’s business.
He dropped it at that.
I had to stop them from making too much noise too before other people started noticing. Then I listened to both sides.
In the end I told Gyle I’d make a decision in the morning after thinking about it. I have doubts about this though. I am leaning towards thinking that Gyle is making us live on his level on an advantage that is natural and not predator by Rina and Sunghee being with me.
The room cost was what again…I check my notes.
1 silver 5 copper for Gyle and his room and with the family rate mine is 1 silver 20 copper. Total per day for room and meals come to 2 silver 25 copper for both parts of the team. We also haven’t pushed anything unfair on Gyle. It’s not really that worth it to me to be absorbing people’s life style costs or even fair.
123 silver is the same as 1 gold 23 silver. If I take that out first then we’d have 1 gold 20 silver 65 copper to distribute. It’s also always awkward when there’s that 1 copper left that doesn’t’ divide. This has been a good day. I like this.
Or I just divide normally with the 123 silver…which is probably what we’d do for today. I just hope Gyle doesn’t become a pain in the ass.
Wait…we don’t have a burden of care over Gyle actually. I do like him, but if I give in on this he will just bring up something else like expecting us to pay for his life insurance or other benefits. I never promised to care for his life. Was this why he lent me money earlier; so we’d be indebted to him and make it hard to cut ties if disputes came up? So it could be he’d done a small free item to me in order to try to get a bigger more long term free item from me in return.
This is why friendships can be complicated. Everyone is desperate to live too, so they push an advantage if they can get it.
I’ll just have to let him down tomorrow morning then. In my opinion he’s overstepping and I’m going to do what I think is right, other people be damned. But I could make a concession in paying for the reimbursement of lost crossbow bolts and that would probably make him happy. It’s a legitimate high cost expense that should be hard for one person to shoulder plus it helps the team. To be fair when he shoots prey with the crossbow bolts, not all of the crossbow bolts are retrievable though we do try to salvage as many of them as we can.
I’m not an expert but it does seem that bow and crossbow people do try to salvage their bolts and arrows as much as possible though.
So to make sure I checked with Sunghee.
Sunghee then confirmed to me that crossbow bolt users do normally reuse and salvage all of their bolts, except for those that are damaged or split. So we won’t be paying for all of Gyle’s bolts, just the ones that are damaged or lost. It will be like a periodical investment but not something I want to quibble over each run.
It cost us also 2 silver for the dry rations for the team for two days worth. That’s a legitimate team expense. I also had decided I’d get another bundle of throwing knives for Sunghee and then she’ll be able to help with some range warfare. We do have the one bundle but have been trying to save them.
123 silver is reduced further…
Sunghee, Rina, and I go around town after dinner break to check the shops;
10 crossbow bolts for Gyle, heavy type. Cost of 10 silver total.
2 more throwing knives for Sunghee (now she has 12 total); cost of 10 silver; wow those are more expensive than I thought. That’s why I didn’t buy a mountain of them right away. We are so far lucky we haven’t lost any of these either, but that could happen in the future if ‘prey’ runs away with a few of them stuck in their hides.
Cost of room and food, the dry rations we have only used part of, plus paying the teenagers to help carry warg bodies…3 silver 40 copper.
I should get a few more shields but we need to bring in some more before I start bleeding money.
We gain income of 10 silver pieces from selling the dagger we found to the secondhand goods shop; plus an additional 70 silver for the worn short sword that was originally a pretty good piece and just needs a small bit of TLC and a good owner. Because they are used we couldn’t get full price for them.
Normally I wouldn’t share weapons and armor costs per person before dividing the shares but in this case it’s because I’m being generous and giving of my own funds so we’ll have better survival rates and it’s doubtful Gyle will be able to afford the crossbow bolts on his own without help if the cost of a bolt is nearly the same as a man’s daily wage. Of course I suppose he probably gets those free from his family shop, so he has advantages of his own.
If he loses one bolt it’s got to suck big time! I should check how many he has after we get him this tomorrow.
Final revenue from the day comes to 99 silver 40 copper + 80 silver = 179 silver 40 copper.
179 silver 40 copper / 2 premium shares and 2 assistant shares = 29 silver 90 copper for Gyle, and the rest goes to me since Rina and Sunghee are with me and being my women. Our money also stretches further by doing a co-op system like this.
My money bag = 135 gold 85 silver 67 copper + 1 gold 49 silver 60 copper = 137 gold 35 silver 17 copper
We rest at the inn for awhile with the rest of the evening off.
But something cool happens as a bonus.
Turns out Gyle’s relatives with the weapon shop have a firing range in the back yard for themselves and for customers but it’s mostly unused since most people would practice in their own yards. We’re able to get practice with Rina, Sunghee, and Gyle each with slings and throwing stones, throwing knives, and Gyle on his crossbow with all of us firing into hay bales taking turns.
This has turned out to be an effective boost of courage since you can’t just blink and have a skill without hard work.
We will probably come out here as often as we can to practice and that might help Rina with everything. Come to think of it, I’m good with magic but not normal weapons and that worries me. I can benefit from the range too although I’d be better off focusing on magic.
We find out Gyle now has 43 bolts, after receiving the 10 we gave him.
He in turn gives us two more throwing knives as gratitude, which I think he borrowed from his uncle. Now Sunghee has 14 throwing knives.
Sometimes Gyle’s ethics are weird.
We practice until it gets dark. There’s something reassuring about practice when you don’t have someone trying to cut you up into little pieces.