Amazing Journeys Online Episode 3: Death Offers a New Perspective
The wolf reached up, extending claws that dug into the tree trunk. In a smooth movement, she pulled up, back paws gaining purchase. The wolf’s gaze never left her prey.
Socrates swallowed. He scanned his “Hero” sheet, which appeared as a white document hovering in the air. The wolf visible through the translucent page. His stats were the basic starter set, all tens except for agility, which was an 11.
“Hmm, that must have been from the strikes with bow and arrow,” he thought. Of course that would not help in this moment. There had to be something, some skill that he could use to get himself out of the situation. The list was pitifully short:
- Herblore – Rank 1: Locate and identify basic herbs from levels 1-10.
- Cat’s Landing – Rank 1: Cushion landing from falls of 10 x Skill level + Character level for percent success: Currently 11% for up to 10 feet. Half for each 10 additional feet.
- Climbing – Rank 1: 10% bonus to success to climbing, minus difficulty of the surface attempted.
- Skinning – Rank 3: Skin animals for useable leather: 14% bonus to success
- Fletcher – Rank 2: Make and repair arrows: 12% bonus to success
- Bowyer – Rank 2: Repair and make bows: 12% bonus to success.
- Archer – Rank 3: +2% chance of critical success to hits.
- First Aid – Rank 1: Can make bandages and treat wounds that are basic.
Nothing. Socrates sighed. He looked down and jumped in fright. He landed while clumsily grabbing for branches above him. Vertigo swam through his head as the branch above him bent, lowering him forward where the wolf glared, her breath hot and fowl against his face.
As he scrambled for footing, the wolf reached a paw and sunk claws into the branch beside his foot. He immediately stamped on the paw, once, twice, three times. The wolf howled, snatching it’s paw back and scrambling down three feet.
Socrates breathed hard, hugging the trunk, and glaring down at the wolf. All he wanted to do was smash that smug face. Just once, before he became lunch. Suddenly, an idea came to him. He brought up the digital character sheet and looked again at his skills.
“It might just work,” he murmured. He looked down at the wolf, who glared back while extending a paw. “Either way I die. Might as well try and get some payback at the same time.” Socrates leaned over to gauge the distance. About 40 feet to the hard ground. He then stared directly into the wolf’s eyes.
“Hey you! Yes, you. Want a piece of me?”
The wolf growled in defiance. Socrates almost lost his nerve. He took a deep breath. “You can do this,” he said to himself. “Hope it works.” Socrates stepped off the branch.
The wolf’s eyes widened in surprise as Socrates hit her in the face feet first. The force pulled her from the tree. She scrabbled with her claws for purchase. Socrates bear hugged the wolf as they fell together. The ground rushed towards them.
They impacted the ground, the wolf yelping in fright and pain. The man grunted.
After several long moments, sounds of birds and insects filled the silence. After a longer breath of time, Socrates groaned and rolled off the wolf. Slowly, stiffly, he sat up. Message bubbles filled his vision alerting him to what he’d already known and felt. The damage he’d taken from the wolf’s claws in the seconds of the fall were significant. Normally, that damage along with the fall would have killed him, and sent him to the Death Waiting Room for nine hours to reflect, before he could return to the game world. But, Cat’s Landing worked in combination of using the wolf as a buffer.
Reminded of the wolf, Socrates reached out, tentatively at first, to touch the rough fur. The wolf did not stir. Looking closer, the life bar was empty. He smiled, reached for his skinning knife, and stopped. Moving his hand through the fur, it suddenly didn’t feel right to just skin it. The wolf would disappear once the skinning was done. He wanted to savor the moment, the exhilaration of defeating his first great foe, and being alive. He smiled, chewed on a healing herb that healed over time, and arched back to feel the warmth of the sun and the cool prickle of the grass.
Low growls drew his attention past the nearest trees. Several wolves appeared. There looked to be five, then seven, then nine. Most were adults, with a couple of pups.
Socrates scrabbled backwards. Pain aching through his body, as he used a tree trunk to climb to his feet. Climbing a tree was out of the question, not with this pack. Fighting was just as hopeless.
The wolves did not attack. Something or someone held them back. Socrates took slow steps backwards not turning away from the pack. He knew at any moment they would leap forward and he’d be done.
Another wolf appeared, larger than the others. The pack made space for the beast. It had reddish brown fur. A scar slashed between the eyes and down the nose. It woofed, and the pack grew instantly silent.
Good cliff hanger ending. Now I’m left waiting for next month’s piece.