“Are you sure you want to leave, Tyler?”
“Yes, Si. I want to explore this new world, and find my own way in life.”
“Remember to come visit me, okay?”
“Of course. I owe you more than you can imagine. Besides, you’re my first friend.”
It’s been two months since I bid Si farewell. I have ventured out on a journey of self discovery.
That being said, I’m still wandering this forest!
It’s called the Dellmore Forest, and it’s the largest area of woodland in Aren. I did find a few dirt roads, however, with travelling merchants to boot. Obviously, I avoided these paths. I don’t want an alarmed traveller to issue a subjugation request.
In reality, I have no choice but to stay in the forest. The people have been taught to hate the undead, and I’m right in the middle of a human continent. All I can do is train myself, and find another way.
I stop to think about my former home. I feel guilty about leaving my parents alone. Have they gotten over their grief? How is everyone doing? I wonder what my funeral was like?
I shake my head to dispel these thoughts.
Enough. I’ve spent enough nights drowning myself in pity. I’m glad Si wasn’t around to see me. From now on, I have to make my own home, find my own way of enjoying life, or rather, my afterlife.
While I walk, I use a sharp stone to chip at the thing in my hand: a mask. If I want to establish relations, the other party must not run for the hills. If I wear this, my black cloak and leather gloves, I would look… horribly suspicious. A lot more work still needs to be done.
Every three days, I hunt something for “food”. More importantly, I’m trying to raise my level and earn enough skill points for <Gift of Tongues>. I take a quick look at my status:
Class: Risen Skeleton
Max HP: 40
Max MP: 8
Attack: 13 (10+3)
Unique Skills: Ruler of One
Innate Skills: Night Vision (Basic) | Create Status (High) | Soul Core (Basic) | Soul Eater (Basic) | Enhance Mind (Basic) | Parallel Thought (Basic)
Extra Skills: Project Voice (Basic) | Sneak (Basic) | Heavy Strike (Basic)
Skill Points: 30/50
Affinities: Spirit | Dark
Resistances: Nullify Manipulation | Nullify Mental Impairment | Nullify Pain | Nullify Metabolism | Nullify Fatigue | Nullify Ailment | Temperature Resistance | Decay Resistance
Weaknesses: Holy Weakness | Blunt Weakness
Equipment: Iron Shortsword | Wooden Mask | Cloak* | Gloves*
Each level seems to generate 10 Skill Points, and <Gift of Tongues> costs 200 Skill Points. I’ll have to level up 17 more times before I can talk. I hope it doesn’t use MP like <Project Voice>.
Speaking of levels, I have confirmed it does have dynamic progression, with some stats more likely to grow than others. I was humming a lot (albeit, in short bursts) before I had reached level 5, and amazingly, upon levelling up my mana points increased by 20%…! It’s only one point, mind you. It also doesn’t reset your status.
In addition, you can gain experience without killing, but I have a sneaking suspicion it’s faster if I do. Not that experience points exist. I’m level 5 now thanks to catching this hare.
It’s still alive, and bound in my rotten funeral rags. I keep it on, well technically inside, my body as emergency rations. If I find nothing to kill, I’ll break its neck. Luckily for it, I find much bigger game.
It’s a boar. A normal boar. Not every creature in this forest is a bloodthirsty newb-killer. I use my skill <Sneak> which “reduces the presence of the user to all unaware targets,” according to Crest.
Who’s Crest? It’s my <Create Status> skill, of course! I gave up worrying about my mental state long ago.
I creep up to three paces behind it, and lunge with <Heavy Strike>. My blow is physically enhanced, but it is has a cooldown. I decapitate the boar before it even reacts, and proceed to devour its life force.
So ends another day for our poor friend Mr Rabbit. No, I have not started naming food for heaven’s sake.
<You have been bestowed the title of Hunter!>
Wow, that scared the living… Actually, I don’t have such a thing in my body anymore. That being said, the hare residing within me might. It wouldn’t be the first time it has happened. I could store it in my pouch, but I need to maintain my balance and it would ruin my items inside.
But never mind all that. Show me the title, Crest!
<Hunter: One who is skilled in tracking and killing animals. Grants ability to sense nearby wildlife.>
I guess I should have expected it sooner or later. It’s basically a skill, but it does not scale with stats or experience. It also lies outside the ranking system.
I stop and concentrate. It’s almost like a sixth sense, as I can roughly tell the presence of the birds above me, and the limp hare within me. This is going to be helpful, especially against an ambush by a pack of wolves. It hasn’t happened yet, but I did watch one hunt while I was atop a tree.
It’s well past noon, and the sun slowly descends. I wish I had a watch. As I continue to walk, I notice a small clearing past the trees ahead. Upon closer inspection, I find a cabin in the woods, with its residents currently outside.
I immediately use <Sneak> and find a vantage point from the bushes. There is one adult women and three young children. She is scratching symbols in the dirt, while the children copy her movements. Wait, isn’t she teaching them how to write!?
I pay close attention to her as she continues to teach. She appears to be in her mid-twenties with a tall, thin figure wearing a short sleeved shirt and a long cotton skirt. She has lengthy, auburn hair tied back with a ribbon, and hazel-coloured eyes set on a lightly freckled face. Her voice is enthusiastic yet soothing, as she guides one of her student’s hands.
Could this be a chance to learn how to speak, read and write? It sounds much better than grinding boars and hares. With each level, there is a definite slowdown in growth.
The problem is… how do I communicate with her?
I should wait until the young ones leave, lest I trigger an angry mob of peasants. In the mean time, I will quickly finish this mask.
As the sun slow sets, I listen to the kids shout a few words, before they run down a small forest path. Right, now is the time to establish contact! I am wearing my mask, my cloak and my gloves. I left my short sword in a bush. Is there anything else I need to do?
How about a gift! I’ve just hunted a boar as well. With its fur largely intact, it must be worth a fair deal. Should I bring the head as well?
I excitedly return to the boar’s carcass, thinking of ways to express my desire to learn.