That was less helpful than you probably think.
First of all, Prof didn’t have a clue, what Elite meant (probably NOT being decorated with every possible medal in your own army and a few of allied ones for long service and prowess on the battlefield), secondly even if the wolf was a Level 500 raid boss, at the moment Prof didn’t have much choice but to power through or die trying. And finally he already was “watching out” for the obvious reason that he didn’t want to end as chew toy for an oversized lapdog.
Prof at least concluded, that if Level 10 Elite had any connection how Earth-RPGs measured power, he was in for a tough fight.
What he already knew.
The next few minutes were spent with attacks, counter-attacks, counters to counter-attacks and basic grinding. Prof was able to hit the wolf a few times, but he also bled from a few scratches – he already lost a quarter of his starting 81 HP. Luckily, non of the hits the wolf landed was a critical.
Also, if Prof hadn’t spent most of his money on his nice armour, he would have made a trip to the modern and well kept waiting room of Afterlife Inc. to have a nice chat with the paragon of customer service there.
Prof realized that he had to stop Spots jumping around, and time was against him. He was reasonably sure that a “Level 10 Elite” had a bit more HP than him, so he had to deal much more damage than receiving himself. With “normal” attacks neither could be achieved, so Prof started to fight like he planned from the beginning: through Critical Hits. He concentrated his attacks on the legs of his enemy, and “invoked” the desire to do critical damage.
He didn’t know, how and what that did, but obviously it was a conscious process. Without the intent you still could be lucky and deal tremendous damage, but with the intent and “invoking” the possibility, the chance grew exponentially. A minute later Prof’s HP reached the halfway mark, but finally he could land that important hit.
The strike almost severed the wolf’s left rear leg, only a few tendons kept it in place. Prof grinned maniacally and concentrated from now on on the other hind leg. The difference was telling, with only three legs Spots’ evasion wasn’t so good any more and not long after Prof managed to break the other hind leg too – unfortunately at the same time the Dire Wolf managed to land one of the “freak” Critical Hits too.
It locked it’s jaw on Prof’s left forearm.
The enormous fangs gritted on the metal plates and his HP hit 10% immediately. Prof started to get dizzy, his vision got blurry, and panic started to rise. He started to hit the wolf with his right (larger) axe without any plan or thought. After a sudden pull, Prof fell to the ground. He discarded his weapon and with his last strength tired to crawl backwards, all the while pulling out one of his potions from the bag. With four HP remaining, a stray weasel could have killed him, not to mention a ticked off mutant wolf.
After downing the potion and still not having a meeting with a receptionist rejected from a crypt, he started to calm down. After his vision cleared up a bit, he took stock of the battlefield. The severed head of the Dire Wolf was a few metres from him, and not far from that quest drop lay the rest of the wolf – decorated with quite a few of arrows.
Prof hoped there were no far-green activist on Arkadia that would start a campaign against his obvious actions of animal abuse and against eating meat or no forestry agency to jail him for poaching…
No, in fact the local government gave him the license to hunt a wolf, and the forestry agency directed him to this spot, so he was safe from that corner.
Of course, he bribed the forestry agency for the directions, so he maybe was clear there too.
After no activist showing up, realising, he had the official backing of the local government (not that that meant much), and the issue being self defence in the first place (look, it’s better to be in the clear legally if you visit a different country with strange customs), he checked himself too. His wounds started to close slowly, thanks to the potion, but his left bracer was in a bad shape, with a huge fang lodged in the leather.
Prof poked it out and put it next to the Iron Bit-System Coin – he had the idea to make a Lucky Charm out of them. No matter, if it really was lucky, but the thought was what counted. Like the charms most soldiers had in the last big war: at least you had something to believe in that got you through the FLAK.
Prof cleaned his wounds with some water and bandaged the big one on his forearm. Either his 58% in [First Aid] was enough, or he was just Lucky. And another Skill he had to raise to around 100% to be content… Diversification was the thing on Arkadia. If you neglected most of the Skills – being content to able to barely function – it was your funeral. Literally. He was curious, how long it would take to heal the wounds – back on Earth it probably would take a few weeks.
In the meantime Kendrik also showed up grinning. Based on the arrows in the carcass he took part in the battle despite his earlier warning. Prof was sure he owned his life to the ranger, without his help the wolf would have probably overwhelmed him.
“I leveled up, my friend!” he patted Prof on his back “At my age and Level it’s not an ever day thing! I own you a big thank you!”
“Oh, no, Master Kendrik, it’s me who owns you! If you hadn’t intervened, I would surely be dead!”
“Spots was dead anyway, the only question was, if you survived. It was a very close call!”
Kendrik collected his arrows and started to dress the defeated wolf. With practised ease he skinned it, cut of it’s claws and fangs, put the meat and internal organs into a pile and even cleaned a few of the bones. While Prof observed him, he remembered something.
“Master Kendrik, I have a question. You warned me that Spots is a Level 10 Elite – how did you know?”
“Hmmm? That was the Skill [Observe], if you have it at a high enough Level, you will be able to figure out the target’s Level, battle prowess, health and maybe even the Stats and Perks. Of course, depending on your and his Level. Strange that you asked, I thought this was common knowledge!”
Prof though this Skill was a very important one to have, but was surprised that he hadn’t picked on it earlier.
He even read that Rule Book, after all!
He figured out earlier that if he concentrated on a Skill on his sheet, detailed information was provided on a separate parchment, so he searched for [Observe] and concentrated. No wonder, he didn’t pick up on the Skill earlier, the description was vague, and if he didn’t know what it did, he would have figured, it’s main aim was just to provide information on things, and what they were. Prof was sure he could tell that piece of metal was a sword without the Skill’s help, but if the Skill worked like Identify or Appraisal in RPG, that was a whole other business!
He wondered, how many Skills had different or extra effects than what was written in the Rule Book or on the sheet. He was certain, the Locals figured out a lot of secrets and collected even more information on the System in the past few millennia. He absolutely had to find a library!
“That was good information, thank you! I do have another question, Master Kendrik: I understand the meat and the pelt, and maybe even a few of the organs, but why are you collecting the claws, fangs and bones?”
“Almost everything has a use in alchemy. Hajni can use a lot of these parts directly, and the rest we can sell for good money in Gaborh’s Castle.”
That was also good to know. Also another Skill, no, multiple ones to learn in the future better. [Skinning] and [Dressing], maybe a bit of [Alchemy], [Animal Lore] and [Monster Lore]. His head started to hurt.
Soooo many Skills to learn, so few Skill Points! 110 Skill Points per Level seemed a lot in the beginning, but now Prof wasn’t so sure any more. Of course, no normal person would come to the idea to rise a few hundred Skills to around 100%, there would be simply no need for a city-dweller to learn how to hunt or track, or for a day-worker to learn about science. For most people, the starting value for Skills (that is around 30-50%) would be more than enough.
Even for adventurers, there was simply no need to have more than maybe a dozen Skills above 100%, but Prof was so new to whole System, he couldn’t tell objectively how high a Skill Level was and how many Skills he needed. It was clearly written in the Rule Book that around 50% was enough for everyday functions, but the deluge of information was still overwhelming, and seeing a professional do things raised some inferiority in Prof.
He stamped down the feeling, afraid of being “gifted” with a Perk again. Than he stamped down on his paranoia too. To have a boost to his ego, he checked the haul with his [Valuation] Skill, just to get a feeling for the prices on Arkadia. In the current state the pelt was around two silvers, the meat a bit more, but for the claws and bones Prof only got a vague feeling of “more than nothing, less than ten silvers”.
While Prof was musing about Skills and prices Kendrik finished dressing the hunt, put the haul away, and started walking in the direction of the village. Prof stopped him.
“Master Kendrik, how far is the lair from here?”
“Around five hundred meters. Why?”
“We have a lot of time, and it’s not far. Maybe there is something interesting there, or maybe even something we could sell. It’s worth checking out.”
“Good thinking! You are right, there could be some valuables lying around. At least we would be sure, there are no other wolfs nearby. Let’s go!”
The lair opened in the side of a steep hill, it was obvious that there was a landslide a few years back and it opened up a small cave. The Dire Wolf then found it and made it it’s new home. On the clearing in front of the cave there were only a scattering of unidentified bones, which, according to Kendrik had no use or value whatsoever.
Prof lit his candle and started his delve into the mysterious and extremely dangerous cave of the wolf. The dirt of the short entrance gave way to stone after a couple of meters – in the dim candle light Prof didn’t realise, that the stone was not natural but hewn, so he was surprised when he found himself in a small, maybe three by three meters, chamber. The floor was covered with dirt and twigs, while on the wall he could barely make out indistinct remains of carvings.
Prof had the impression that they told a story, but couldn’t make sense of it, neither who was depicted nor what it tried to convey. While looking around, Prof had the urge to dig around in the dirt on the floor. Maybe his [Looting] Skill or Scavenger Perk tried to tell him something. As it transpired, the dirt was around thirty centimetres deep.
Prof didn’t feel like playing archaeologist and dig through two cubic meters of dirt in the vague hope to find something valuable, so he just rummaged a bit. He only found a few bones (according to Kendrik, possibly Human ones), a handful of ancient copper coins, some rusted through unidentified pieces of iron, a beautiful bronze ring and part of a silver chain.
His valuation of the whole pile informed him, that he struck jackpot and found stuff worth fifty coppers. The copper coins he found were not current denominations, so the value was exactly zero – but he hoped he could find a collector and sell it that way. He expected more…
It was time to return to Smallgrovewell.