Rea once again, probably thanks to [Insomnia], woke up before Nathan. In an attempt to toy with the poor man some more, Rea repositioned herself before joyfully going back to sleep. The next time she woke up the world was upside down. Nathan had thrown her sorry butt off in a poorly thought out attempt to escape the awkward position she had put them in.
Something about teasing this middle-aged bachelor, obviously not by choice, made Rea incredibly happy. "If you wanted to know how flexible I am there are better ways Nathan..."
Just as she had hoped he jumped to conclusions, "Wah!? No never, never ever, never. Got that Rea?"
Rea made a perplexed expression while absently rolling over, "That's not healthy at all Nathan."
Blushing he replied, "Well I mean, not with you, alright?"
"But yoga is good for the body..." Rea twiddled her thumbs, "everyone should do some sort of stretching exercise once in a while."
Sadly Rea had forgotten this was a different world, so her entire misleading joke went right over his head, "What's yoga?"
Sighing outwardly Rea revamped her scheme, in true sore loser fashion, and assumed a yoga style forward fold, taking full advantage of her double jointed body, "You move into positions like this and focus on breathing properly, it's to increase flexibility and promote blood flow I think?" For a moment Rea saw him blush again, feeling victorious she decided that was enough toying with Nathan for one morning... *Riiiiip!* unfortunately the craftsman that made her shorts was a dunce...
Rea chuckled ruefully and stepped over the now incapacitated man to retrieve her pack. After making alterations to her shorts, and improving the design a bit, Rea drug Nathan over to his original sleeping position she gently woke him up.
*smack* *smack smack* *slap* ... ... ... *SLAP!*
As he teared up while rubbing his cheeks she claimed, "It's morning Nathan, we should get a move on soon."
Blushing he quickly arose, "Rea that was very bad, never do that again!"
Innocently looking right into his eyes she replied, "Do what?"
Still flustered he answered, "Yoga!"
Rea cocked her head sideways, "What's yoga?"
For the next few hours Nathan refused to make eye contact and only muttered incoherent psychobabble to himself... Rea felt that she may have overdone it just a little. Sensing that time was a wasting Rea decided to get a move on, with or without his consent. Seeing as they were eastward bound for Vestlei, Rea proceeded to tie a slipknot of linen around one of Nathan's ankles. It only took a full twenty seconds of her dragging him face down across dirt and stone to get Nathan back in the real world full force. After some slight apologies the pair were, once again, on their merry way...
Rea being Rea, she took one more coy glance at the recovering man, "So what's yoga?"
... not on their merry way. On the bright side Rea managed to gain a level as leatherworker, and rank up her [Sadism] today.
Entirely unhappy with the fact that they made no progress at all the day before Rea was very careful with how she slept last night. Nathan, as far as she could see, had struck the entire day from memory. The landscape really wasn't changing very much as they continued further east, to be honest, Rea was getting a little tired of pine trees. Monsters seemed to be declining in level as they got closer to Vestlei, she assumed this was because of the city's efforts. Every once in a while Nathan would take a sudden detour or stop and start digging. This pleased Rea to no end, every time they stopped she learned something new about plants and wildlife, sometimes gaining a new ability that had to do with things like botany or tracking. By the end of this day Rea had gotten to level 11 [Job-Survivalist].
As they enjoyed a varied broth stew with rabbit meat Rea asked, "I've seen you shoot a few times now, why the cheap bow?"
Nathan grinned roguishly, "My family heirloom is a [Legendary] bow, I can't very well use it for everyday things. The weapon is meant for battle."
Rea turned that over in her head for a second and realized that it meant he hadn't expected to meet anything too dangerous out in the wildwoods. "What's a huge flying creature that eats wolves and appears near where we first met?"
*Pffft* After spitting out his soup Nathan answered eerily, "That's likely be a low rank wyvern, even I'd be hard pressed to survive an encounter with one. If I had my heirloom I could take one, but as I am now I'd try to run. Someone like you should... well you probably wouldn't survive, why?"
"I was delirious with a fever after this happened," Rea motioned to her arm, "I'm pretty sure it ate the wolves I killed and flew off."
Nathan shook his head, "You're lucky it ate those wolves, wyverns have a good sense of smell... trust me when I say you did not go unnoticed."
"Yeah I had a feeling that was the case, I really thought I was dead when that thing woke me up. Oh well, about how far are we from town?"
Changing gears Nathan looked towards the stars, "If we hustle... tomorrow night maybe."
"Thanks for helping me level up as a survivalist all day, I'm really enjoying this journey now."
Nathan gave her a perplexed look, "You accepted the [Job-Survivalist]?"
"I learned it a while back, why?"
He sighed outwardly, "It's really tough for a survivalist to follow a path that leads to [Hero] rank, I'm not even sure if you have any chance at getting a longer lifespan now..."
Rea cocked her head, "You make it sound like I can only be a survivalist."
Nathan turned back into his instructor mode that Rea had seen a few times during their detours, "Listen up Rea, the reason kids wait so long to get a job, and research about different jobs before they pick one is because you only get one job. That's why you have to think carefully before you accept one."
Rea grinned wholeheartedly, she'd just become an incredibly unique being with massive amounts of potential, and she knew it, "Don't worry about that Nathan, I'm not quite human remember? I already have a few different [Jobs]."
Nathan mulled over that for a second and realized just how incredible Rea is, "I'm looking forward to the future Rea, the path of a [Hero] just got much easier for you."
"I forgot to ask you but, about my tuition..." Rea began to tussle through her pack.
"I can handle your tuition, the Ainsworth family is owed a few favors and we aren't poor."
"Well... how much is all this worth?"
*Pffft* Nathan spit more of his broth all over the place as Rea dropped Saul's gold and gems in a small pile. "Rea, where did you get all this... wah, diamond, emerald... ruby? That's a small fortune."
"I got it from the lizardman cave where I was born, so it's probably the money of poor adventurers and merchants that had an unfortunate meeting with my former tribe."
Nathan waved his hand nonchalantly, "That's alright then, anything reclaimed from monsters is considered fair game. This is easily more than enough to cover your tuition and living expenses, you may even have a little left over afterwards."
Rea smiled absently, "Would you mind handling that for me Nathan? I'd like to focus my efforts on training in the academia for now, learning about commerce and currency can wait as far as I'm concerned. For now the basics will do."
After collecting the pile of currency and gems Nathan explained to Rea a simple currency system she'd be using in the city.
1 gold = 100 silvers.
1 silver = 100 coppers.
1 copper... is just a copper.
He also explained that some of the gems were worth 12-24 gold each, and both of the diamonds should go for about 48-58 gold each. When Rea asked why, he explained that the gems could be used to forge high rank equipment... and nice jewelry.
*Pffft* Nathan spit the last of his broth on the ground when Rea pulled out a vial of elixir, "I'm not sure selling that would be a good idea..."
Rea gave him a warm smile, "I don't plan on selling my blood, that may draw unwanted attention. I want to test the effectiveness, and if possible stock some of it up. I should earn some easy good guy points if we anonymously distribute my blood to doctors around the city."
Nathan was a bit conflicted. Sure her [Elixir] could do a lot of good, but it'd also be putting Rea in danger. "I know a doctor personally, Ella Wyrmwind, we can trust her. I'm not about to pass out ophidian blood to a bunch of unknowns." Nathan took another glance at Rea, "I'm not too fond of the idea that you'll be bleeding yourself though."
"I'll be careful Nathan..." Rea noticed something odd about the blood, "I did this a few days ago and it doesn't seem to be coagulating at all," she handed over the vial, "Try my [Elixir], we need to be sure it works, I am a bit unique after all."
Feeling that Rea was making some sort of indecent joke Nathan reluctantly proceeded to open up a slight laceration on his arm, he'd used ophidian blood to heal a few wounds before. Rea felt a little weird watching someone drink her blood, but this is a different world with good reasons. In less than a minute it was like there was never a cut to begin with. "Rea, you are definitely special..."
"I assume something is different from the norm?" she answered, annoyance obvious in her voice.
"Ella could use this without raising any eyebrows. Maybe it's because you're... a lot like humans, but that worked about ten times faster than it should've, didn't even leave a scar. Besides, it doesn't even taste like blood, it's sweet like my sister's homemade apple fritters," he explained.
Rea had tasted her own blood a few days back, it was not sweet. Feeling like she got the short end of a very long stick, Rea was a bit miffed. "We can work out the details of my donations after I meet Ella. I'm getting tired Nathan."
"...," at this point Rea was giving Nathan a very obvious, slightly sleepy gaze.
Nathan had given in, his fate as a pillow was sealed.
By this point Nathan had found his soon to be daughter's uncanny ability to find fresh water a bit odd. After asking a few times how to learn the ability, all he got out of her about it was, "Step 1: Bang a goddess," whatever that means. After filling up their canteens and deciding to take it easy on the way back, instead of rushing to Vestlei the pair went about trading various bits of information. Rea was happy to find out that this world was likely just as large, if not larger than earth. Nathan's often exaggerated tales of the monsters he'd fought and people he'd met were very entertaining. Rea told Nathan about a few of the hazy things she remembered from her proofreading work, then silently cursed herself for not paying more attention at the time. What intrigued Nathan the most though was information about how monster's [Rank Up]. When Rea told him about how she'd all of a sudden turned into lizardman dinner one morning, Nathan nearly had a seizure.
Giving into curiosity and tossing his better judgement aside, Nathan asked what it means to "bang" a goddess. As Rea began to explain, in vivid detail, her first encounter with Airi, Nathan quickly shut her up. He had gotten the point, Rea was favored by a goddess and it probably wasn't an ability just anyone can learn. Happy to see the man blushing from ear to ear once again, Rea decided it was about time to get a move on. However, shortly after leaving their latest water source, Rea began to notice something entirely out of place. Every so often her psychometry was picking up scraps of blue silk off to the south. After the third piece Rea felt that it wouldn't be the right thing to do if she ignored it. Once Nathan was told about the scraps he quickly had her lead him to one. The expert tracker quickly noticed signs of a small caravan, and somebody leaving a trail. Of the few reasons to leave trails, only one would involve ruining high quality silk.
Fearing that some woman's life was in danger, the chivalrous hunter, to Rea's dismay, bolted after the trail. It hadn't been until now that she realized just how fast Nathan was. Luckily, Nathan was leaving an incredibly easy to follow trail as he tore through the woods at breakneck speed. Unluckily, the stupid... the chivalrous hunter had followed the wrong caravan at a fork. Using her psychometry Rea easily identified the right course. Even though she was pretty sure this is something beyond her current level to handle, Rea, wanting to do the right thing, followed the caravan. Just before nightfall, she had caught up. In true cliche fashion, about a dozen shady looking men and women had a young woman locked up. The young woman's stats were a bunch of [???]... that's suspicious. From this distance she could identify the cage as wrought iron, taking note that it was locked Rea wondered if she really should just walk away.
Just as her survival instinct was winning Rea's psychometry, once again, convinced her to stay. It had picked up on, Sara Razuul, a level 17 bandit wearing around her neck one [Wrought Iron Cage Key]. After seeing that, she waited for nightfall and stealthily made her way around the makeshift camp. Maybe it's because they all had perception abilities, but not a single one of the shady group was on guard. Thanks to this Rea easily made her way into the woman's tent. Now standing over a sleeping Mrs.Sara Razuul, Rea let out a forlorn sigh. This freckled slender redhead with long straight hair decked out in leather really hit her strike zone.
In an attempt to spare the attractive bandit's life, Rea lifted the key from her chest while desperately fighting off certain urges. Sadly it was not meant to be, the woman had easily awoken. Knowing that she was dead if this woman screams, Rea immediately locked lips and fell on top of her. After a few confusing moments, as she attempted to silently seduce the woman, it became apparent that Rea wasn't about to be forgiven. Having been pushed back Rea noticed a blade grasped in the woman's palm behind her pillow. Rea countered by pinning the arm down and kissing her again, this time more intimately. About two minutes, various gasps and some rather skilled grappling techniques later, the woman's entire body shuddered and fell limp beneath her. Rea carefully pulled herself to a hair's breadth away from Sara while roughly grinding a knee into the woman's crotch and whispered, "If it isn't already obvious there's something I'd much rather do to you than take your life... I don't suppose you'll just give me the key?" Sara gasped for breath and obviously considered the proposal as she tightened her thighs around Rea's knee, moments later her head leaned back and lips opened wide to shout, sensing the danger Rea countered with a [Vicious Bite]. The woman failed to cry out as her fangs sunk into Sara's throat. Feeling the bandit's entire body convulse and press against herself Rea dug in deeper, if only to end this sooner. Once again, the sensation sent horrible shivers down her spine. Looking over the now lifeless woman she gave her one final, gentle, bloodied kiss, and let out a small complaint,"What a shame..."
No longer in the mood to loot, she chose to leave this woman's clothing alone. After doing her best to wipe away some blood, Rea exited the tent and quietly made her way to the cage. After opening, and entering it to claim her prize, Rea's jaw hit the floor. [Psychometry] was now telling her, Level 86 [Skinwalker Cannibal]. As Rea broke out in a cold sweat the creature spoke. "You've come to rescue me?"
Rea found the sight of this beautiful young woman a bit terrifying now, "Of course, I assume you left the trail that I followed, we can't speak here, let's go."
The creature however had sensed Rea's fear. "How did you know?" it asked.
Rea took a step backwards, "Whatever do you mean, fair maiden?"
The creature took a step forward, "Quit playing games human!" Sensing the danger of being noisy and facing this thing, Rea immediately spat venom. As the creature howled out in pain and began to tear off its flesh she fled from the camp at record speed. Behind her Rea could hear the ensuing chaos, and dying screams of certain shady people.
|Ability [Sprint] learned.|
Ability [Stamina Lv. 1] learned.
Rea had spent all night running and didn't stop as the sun rose. It wasn't until noon that she managed to meet up with Nathan. As the hunter apologized Rea smacked him a few times. After explaining what had happened Nathan's expression became serious. "We cannot leave the skinwalker be Rea, its got your scent. Those bandits are probably dead, and if that thing follows us back to Vestlei hundreds could die."
Rea gave him a pained expression, "Can you kill it?"
"Maybe, the only iron I've got on me is this caving blade... We can cut east, outrun the skinwalker for five days and make it to the merchant post."
"Iron, I've got this," Rea pulled out her iron falchion, "will this do?"
"I may be able to handle it..."
As Nathan carefully inspected the blade Rea added her final two cents, "Good, I'm... really... tired..." and with that she collapsed.
Nathan was doing a good job of hiding it, but he was very afraid. Twice in this hunter's life he had encountered a skinwalker, and twice he had watched a handful of friends die. Everything but iron barely damaged the near immortal beasts. If you were caught alone being flayed alive was inevitable. The thing could kill and wear your closest friend's skin, you'd never know it until teeth were gnawing on your flesh. Taking count of the situation, and observing Rea's condition he decided to use what little advantages they had. The skinwalker knows Rea isn't human, it'll assume that she is alone... Less than a minute later Nathan had picked up a certain piece of bait... a certain ophidian and dropped her in the middle of the path. Looking back and forth between the nearby pine trees and gauging the distance as well as line of sight, Nathan set about making a simple trap. The trap couldn't be anything to elaborate, just something to make some noise and catch it off guard. Less than an hour later he was ready and hidden.
As Nathan lay in wait he steeled himself to fight off the skinwalker. The last two he had met were inhumanly fast and strong, Nathan truly believed that the first strike was his only chance of winning. Hoping that it hadn't decided to wear a bandit, Nathan silently apologized to the bait.
Rea woke up later that evening a bit dazed. The first thing she noticed was a low growl off in the distance behind her. To her dismay the skinwalker was approaching very quickly. It had gone from being a beautiful young woman to this grotesque amalgamation of flesh and bone. Still not sure what the heck was going on Rea pulled out her big horny stick and launched a [Swift Javelin]. Effortlessly knocking the projectile aside, its hideous scowling face almost seemed to grin and chuckle. Realizing that Nathan was nowhere in sight Rea readied her weapon and began to walk backwards. Feeling that she had to buy time until the hunter noticed her, Rea spoke up, "I've set up traps all over here, you better not come any closer!"
Nathan literally smacked his forehead...
The skinwalker, having some sort of inhuman gift to perceive lies and sense fear, knew Rea was lying and charged forward. As it closed in, a sudden thundering clap exploded to the left, Rea equally surprised, continued to keep her eyes on the skinwalker. With its attention focused on the sudden boom caused by Nathan's trap, the hunter, as if from thin air, appeared behind the beast and launched a well aimed slash. Just as his blade made contact, the skinwalker lunged backwards into Nathan's chest. After skidding across the ground and falling to his knees he looked up. With one raised hand it prepared to crush him, just then a mythril spear was thrust straight through the creature from behind. As it howled and turned to strike Rea, Nathan rose and used [Reckless Assault] to launch a flurry of cleaving blows with the iron falchion. Sensing the danger it tried desperately to fend Nathan off. The final result was a bloody, butchered, standing corpse.
|[Job-Spearman] Level 7!|
Ability [Spear Proficiency] learned.
[Job-Spearman] Level 15!
Ability [Improved Piercing Power Lv. 2] learned.
"I hate skinwalkers," Nathan remarked short of breathe.
Rea, still a bit shaken that the stuff of nightmares from her world, are real in this world, replied, "I hate this world." In retrospect, Rea was glad that thanks to [Psychometry] she'd never accidentally bang a skinwalker.
Nathan chuckled ruefully, "I'm sorry Rea..."
A chill ran down her spine as she looked on, the skinwalker had thrust a speared hand into Nathan's chest. She nearly dropped one of her elixirs while rushing to Nathan's side, the man collapsed into her arms.
While Rea attempted to force feed him the elixir, Nathan turned his head away, "There's no saving me Rea, my heart... it's..."
Fear turned to sorrow as Rea denied the reality unfolding before her eyes, "No no no no, Nathan, no, please, no, don't do this to me, Nathan please..."
The dying man held a hand to Rea's cheek as she sobbed uncontrollably, "You need to burn the bodies, take my armor to sis. Okay?"
"No, Nathan, no..."
"Rea Ainsworth..." Nathan gathered the last of his strength, his final resolve, "you will become a hero, you'll live a thousand years and save a thousand lives. Never give in, no matter what."
Rea put all of her effort into giving Nathan one last broken smile, "I was gonna cause you all sorts of trouble, I had great jokes planned out," she painfully choked back tears, "the only man I can show my body, or how you were the first to drink my elixir..."
Nathan grinned helplessly and let out his final breathe... A pest until the end...
|Ability [Dying Will: Nathaniel Ainsworth] learned.|
Two hours later Rea had collected Saul's loot, removed Nathans scarlet armor, and burned both bodies. With her heart still on the edge she began to walk east, Rea wouldn't sleep until she was safe, until she'd made sure that Nathan hadn't died for no reason.
|Ability [Resolve] learned.|