Currently listening to –> Nothing 😦 Sadly, I am at work right now and have to keep the noise to a minimum…
So…week 3 of NaNoWriMo didn’t go so well…
Between a stubborn muse, work drama, and studying for and taking the GRE (a test required to get into graduate school), creative endeavors ended up pretty low on my list of priorities. At this point I am roughly 6,000 words behind my goal for today, which could be worse, but still…
On the upside, I did still finish two whole chapters this week, so I’ll have some things to share. Also, I got an email yesterday saying that I was receiving a royalty payment! All $4.20 of it! I could buy another cup and a half of coffee!! (Lol. You know you’re an indie publisher when…)
At this point, I really don’t know if I’m going to manage the 50,000 words, since Thanksgiving is coming up and I’ll probably be pretty busy. But hey, I’ve still got 20,000 words more than I’ve gotten for the past 4 NaNoWriMos, so maybe we’re making progress.
I’m off to work again, now. (15-hour shift, here I come; actually, I’m already here…). In the mean time, I hope you enjoy the snippets from this last week’s work. Also, I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. Happy reading!
Alex the Fisherman (from Chapter 7):
“That does remind me, though,” Yoshitsune mused, looking over at Alex. “We’re right next to a river, and since he’s a level 50 fisherman class…”
“Congratulations,” Searos said suddenly, clapping one hand on Alex’s shoulder and causing the young man to jump visibly. “You just got promoted to dinner-catcher.”
“I got promoted to what?” the rich boy inquired warily.
“Open up your inventory.”
“How would I do that?”
The Dwarf swiped his fingers through the air to open up his inventory. Alex followed suit, jumping slightly when the dialogue box popped up in front of him.
“O-Okay. I think I got it.”
“Now look for something labeled ‘Fishing Rod’.”
The rich boy frowned as he scruitinized his list, then he mused, “I have one called Ino’s Rod…”
“That’s it,” Searos nodded, looking slightly impressed. “That’s just the name of a really high level fishing rod. Click on the name, then reach into your satchel and pull it out.”
Alex gave the Dwarf a “have you gone crazy?” look, then sighed and did as he was instructed. Instantly he gasped when he pulled an exquisitely carved fishing pole out of his bag.
“T-That’s incredible!” the young man mused, carefully examining the rod in his hands. “How do you fit something this big in a bag this small?”
“It’s called a game, sweetheart,” Tara answered sarcastically. “It’s not meant to be 100% realistic.”
“Good,” Yoshitsune nodded. “Now that you have your fishing pole out, go catch us something to eat.”
“Excuse me?” Alex answered indignantly. “I am Alexander Roth the-”
Instantly Wraith slid her sword out from its sheathe with her thumb and the rich boy jumped.
“F-Fine! I’m going! So…how do you do this?”
“Don’t worry,” Vigil answered. “You’re a level 50 fisherman by default. I’m sure the system will just take over once you cast your rod.”
Alex gave her a doubtful look, then headed to the bank. He eyed the rod warily for a moment, then awkwardly brought it back behind him and swung out. Immediately a fine, silky thread whirred through the air, the hook at the end landing with a plop in the water. Alex cast a questioning gaze over at the others who stood watching him, but no sooner had he done that, however, then there came a tug at the end of the line. Then, all of a sudden, there came a jolt, bending the rod almost completely in half as the rich boy jumped in surprise, nearly falling into the water in the process.
“Hey, Alex, I think you’ve got something on the end of your line,” Wraith called out to him as he struggled to keep from falling or losing his grip on his fishing rod.
“No kidding!” Alex yelled back. “Someone do something!”
“You can handle it,” Yoshitsune answered, completely unperturbed.
Vigil watched as the rich boy’s feet began to slide toward the edge of the embankment.
“Guys! Help me!” the young man exclaimed, his eyes wide as saucers as he leaned back in an attempt to keep from falling face-first into the water.
“Do you think we should help him?” Vigil inquired, looking over at Yoshitsune who stood with his arms crossed over his chest.
“Nope,” the samurai answered placidly. “I think he’s doing just fine.”
“Put your back into it,” Searos said, leaning on his staff slightly as though he were watching some sort of everyday sport.
“What does my back have to do with this?!”
Instantly the fish at the end of the line darted to one side, and Alex yelped as he nearly did the splits in an attempt to keep from being pulled over.
“Very artistically done,” Tara called out sarcastically. “Have you ever thought of taking up ballet?”
“I hate you all!” Alex yelled back. “Why can’t I let go of this thing?!”
“It probably has something to do with your fishing skill level,” Yoshitsune answered. “Your form is bad since you’re in control of the NPC body, but your skill level keeps you from losing the catch. I’m sure the fishing pole you’re using has something to do with it, too.”
For a moment, Alex strained against the pull of the fish. Then, all of a sudden, he shouted, “I am Alexander Roth III! I will not be defeated by a fish!”
Instantly the young man regained his footing and pulled hard. Then, a moment later, the line popped out of the water, a 2-foot long fish with silvery scales at the end.
Alex’s jaw dropped as he stared at the creature flopping violently at the end of his rod. Then, all of a sudden, a look of victory crossed the young man’s face, and he turned to look at his comrades, a look of pride in his eyes.
“I caught it!” he exclaimed triumphantly.
“Good job,” Vigil smiled.
“He actually caught something,” Searos mused, a hint of surprise in his voice.
“Yeah, he might actually be useful after all,” Tara nodded in response.
At this, Wraith huffed and crossed her arms over her chest.
“Well that was boring. He didn’t even fall in.”
“Well, this means we should have plenty to eat, right?” Raine mused.
“Actually,” Yoshitsune said, stepping toward where Alex stood. “Alex is a level 50 vendor-class NPC, meaning we really didn’t need him to go fishing right now. His inventory should be full of fish at the moment.”
Instantly Alex’s jaw dropped in surprise. This was followed shortly by a look of rage.
“You made me go through that even though you already knew we didn’t need any fish right now?!”
“You learned how to catch something, didn’t you?” Yoshitsune replied, plopping a hand on top of the young man’s head. “Congratulations. You can put it back now.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me! And quit treating me like some little kid!”
“Well, either way, you can’t just leave it on the hook. Go ahead and take it off. If you have room in your inventory, you can store it there until we need it.”
Instantly Alex’s face paled at this.
“You want me to do what?”
“Take the fish off the hook.”
The young man glanced first at Yoshitsune, then at the fish, then at Yoshitsune, then back at the fish. He gulped before hesitantly reaching out toward the creature at the end of his rod. Instantly the fish began to flop back and forth wildly, and the young man jerked his hand back with a slight yelp.
“Why would anyone want to eat something like this?” he gasped, eyeing the fish warily.
“Do you not eat fish, Alex?” Vigil inquired, raising a curious eyebrow at the young man in front of her.
“Well…I do…but the stuff I eat doesn’t look anything like this.”
“What does it look like, exactly?” Raine questioned.
A sigh escaped Yoshitsune’s lips at this.
“And where do you think that meat comes from?”
Alex gave the samurai a hesitant and slightly confused look at this.
“Um…from the supermarket?”
Tara and the Squirrel (from Chapter 8):
“What chance do you give this party actually succeeding?” Raine pondered, glancing over at Searos.
The Dwarf shook his head.
“1 in 10.”
“You’re so generous,” Tara responded. “We’ll be lucky if no one kills each other before the day is out.”
“Luckily for Alex, he’s technically an immortal object,” Vigil responded. “Not that I don’t also feel like smacking him from time to time, but still…”
“Yeah, well if I didn’t have so much self-control, I’d have used a spell or two on him by now already,” Tara huffed.
At this, Searos gave his wife a quirky grin.
“Aw, honey, I’m so proud of you. You’re learning self-control.”
Vigil chuckled at the pair’s little dialogue. She didn’t know either of them much at all, but from what she had seen, Tara seemed like such a calm and cheerful person, if a little on the funny side. Whether Searos was just being facetious or whether there was some measure of truth to his words, Vigil didn’t know, but she didn’t even have time to ask before a distant snarl followed by a frightened squeak split through the still afternoon air. Instantly Yoshitsune ground to a halt, his right hand flying to the hilt of his sword, his left arm flung out to bar his companions from moving forward.
“What is that?” the samurai questioned cautiously, his sharp blue eyes scanning the flower-bedecked hills surrounding them.
“I don’t know,” Vigil responded, moving over to the man’s side. “But whatever it was, it sounded like it came from just over this hill.”
For a moment, Yoshitsune worked his jaw, as though deep in thought. Then he turned to the others, his expression serious, “Everyone, be ready for battle. We’re nearing the foothills of Mt. Olympus, which means the magic and monsters will be stronger here. Be on your guard. And Alex?”
“What?” the rich boy questioned warily.
Yoshitsune narrowed his eyes at him.
“Be sure to not get in our way, understood?”
“Excuse me, but who do you-?”
Alex looked slightly taken aback at the threatening tone in the other man’s voice. Then he crossed his arms over his chest and looked away with a huff.
“Good,” Yoshitsune said, turning back to the hill. “Let’s go.”
Quickly Vigil and her companions hurried up the hill before them, coming to a stop just atop the hill’s crest.
“What on earth is that?!” Alex gasped, hiding behind Vigil when he spotted the source of all the commotion.
Vigil frowned. There before her, chasing a fluffy silver and red squirrel in haphazard circles, was a large black canine with two slavering heads and a body the size of a small horse.
“That’s a level 50 sub-boss, an Orthrian Hound,” Yoshitsune answered. “They’re not as bad as regular bosses, but it’s still difficult to solo them. We’ll need to be careful. If we attract its attention, it’ll be a challenge to keep from taking damage.”
“Okay, Bait,” Wraith said, grabbing Alex by the shoulder and tugging. “You’re up.”
“Not on your life!” the rich boy exclaimed, latching on to Vigil.
“Children,” the elf sighed.
Just then Tara gasped.
“No! Run little squirrel! You can make it!”
The whole group turned to look at the Faerie questioningly, and Vigil blinked at her when she saw that the other woman was hugging her staff to her chest, a look of genuine concern on her face as she watched the Orthrian Hound chase the squirrel down below.
Again, Tara gasped as the little silver and red squirrel just barely managed to escape the Hound’s jaws, and instantly the Faerie pulled her staff into her hands.
“Don’t worry little guy!” she exclaimed. “I’ll save you!”
“Tara-” Yoshitsune began, reaching out to stop the Mage from doing anything hasty.
But it was too late.
“Hey, you ugly monster!” Tara shouted, slamming the end of her staff into the ground. “Leave that squirrel alone!”
“Here we go…” Searos sighed, crossing his arms over his chest as a violet-hued magic circle appeared beneath the Faerie’s feet, violet archs of electricity dancing around her body.
“Hey! Elf man!” Alex exclaimed, still peeking out from behind Vigil. “Get control of your wife before she kills us all!”
In seemingly one swift motion, Wraith pried the rich boy off her friend before hitting him hard enough to make him land on his backside.
“She’s not his pet,” the Berserker growled. “And anyway, quit hanging off of Vigil. What kind of man are you, hiding behind a girl?”
Alex looked like he might respond to this when, all of a sudden, Tara shouted, “Thundrous Retribution!”
Instantly a column of sizzling violet lightning pelted from the clear sky down to the Orthrian Hound below, striking the monster and eliciting a high-pitched yelp from both heads at once. The squirrel skittered out of the way as the monster turned two pairs of glowing crimson eyes on the warriors at the top of the hill.
“H-Hey! Why’s it looking at us?” Alex squeaked, scooting across the ground several paces backward.
“Wouldn’t you look at us two if you just got hit by 2000 HP worth of lightning?” Yoshitsune sighed, drawing his sword. “I guess we have no choice now.”
“Hold on,” Searos interrupted.
The others looked over at the Dwarf questioningly, but before they could say anything, they heard Tara shout, “Rending Vortex!”
Vigil then turned to see a drill-like vortex of wind collide with the Orthrian Hound that had been darting up the hill toward them. The Hound yelped on impact, stumbled, then tried again to run up the hill, but before it could go more than a pace, Tara pointed the gem at the top of her staff toward it, shouting, “Enervation!”
The Hound stumbled, slowing dramatically.
A chill breeze encompassed the monster’s body, causing it to hunch down, trembling and snarling.
“Wrath of Set!”
A dark cloud of black sand joined with the chill breeze, scratching hundreds of tiny lesions into the Orthrian Hound’s dark hide.
12 beams of blinding light shot out from the sky, piercing the Hound from all sides. Then, with a few more attacks, the monster growled one more time and collapsed to the ground, disappearing into a cloud of sparkling ash and leaving in its place a pile of various items.
For a moment, everyone stood in stunned silence, staring at the spot where the Orthrian Hound had just been. Then Alex slowly looked over at Yoshitsune.
“What was this you were saying about that monster being hard to fight?”
The samurai cleared his throat and looked away slightly at this.
“Well, they’re still not…easy…to defeat.”
“Okay!” Wraith exclaimed, holding out one fist in challenge. “I’m taking on the next Hound. There’s no way I’m gonna be out-done by a Mage!”
Vigil rolled her eyes at her friend, then turned back to Tara, but already the Faerie had rushed down the hill to where the squirrel huddled, staring at her with a mixture of fear and curiousity.
“Hey, little guy. You’re safe now,” she said, kneeling down in front of the squirrel and reaching her hand out toward it.
The little creature backed away slightly, chittering a warning as its tail bristled.
“Aww,” Tara pouted. “Don’t be afraid of me.”
Quietly Vigil made her way down the hill, kneeling beside the Faerie and looking over at the squirrel.
“It’s an untamed animal,” the elf said, glancing over at Tara. “It’s not going to let you touch it no matter how hard you try.”
“Sad day,” the Faerie pouted. “But I like the squirrel. Squirrel, why don’t you love me?”
For a moment, Vigil blinked over at the other woman. Then she chuckled slightly and held her hand out, palm flat and facing toward the sky.
“Gelio,” she called softly. She then blew softly over her palm, causing a light breeze to stir the squirrel’s fluffy silver and red fur.
Instantly the squirrel’s ears perked forward and its body relaxed visibly. With a friendly chir, the little creature hopped forward, cautiously approaching the elf and flicking its tail back and forth. With a gentle smile, Vigil held out her right index finger, touching it softly to the squirrel’s nose. She watched as a silvery light shimmered across the squirrel’s body. When at last the light had faded, the little creature sat back on its haunches, and Vigil scooped it up in her hands, holding it out toward Tara.
The Faerie gave the Elf an interested, if slightly confused, look, then carefully scooped the squirrel into her own hands.
“Um…what did you do?”
“I tamed it,” Vigil answered, swiping her fingers through the air and opening up a dialogue box. She then slid the box over to Tara. “I’m giving it to you as a pet, if you want it.”
Instantly Tara’s eyes lit up as a little squeal of delight escaped her lips.
Quickly the Faerie accepted the transaction, then grinned as she leaned forward to look the squirrel in the eyes.
“You’ll be my friend from now on, okay?”
The little creature twitched its nose and tail as it cocked its head to one side.
“Ohhh, you’re so cute!”
“Great…” Alex grumbled, propping one elbow on his crossed knees and dropping his chin into his hand. “You could have tamed a fighting animal and instead you tame a squirrel…”
“I don’t even know anymore,” Yoshitsune sighed. “Okay, now that you’ve saved your squirrel, let’s keep moving. We’ll be lucky if we reach the Sacred Gates before nightfall.”
Alfred the Squirrel (from Chapter 8):
“Wait. We’re doing what?” Alex questioned incredulously as he watched the others begin setting up camp.
Already Yoshitsune had taken firewood from his inventory, while Wraith leaned over his shoulder and Searos, Raine, and Vigil began to set up tents in a circle in front of the arch.
“We’re camping,” Tara sighed in response as her little silver and red squirrel pet hopped from one shoulder to the other, chittering at the rich boy as though scolding him. “Alfred says to just be quiet and stop asking questions.”
At this, everyone paused to turn and look at the Faerie, eyebrows raised.
“Who?” Alex inquired, narrowing his eyebrows in confusion.
“Alfred,” Tara replied, petting the squirrel on the head. “My squirrel friend.”
“What made you name your squirrel Alfred?” Yoshitsune inquired, a strange look on his face.
“I don’t know,” the Faerie mused, looking over at the little creature on her shoulder, her lips pursed in thought. “I guess because the name Alfred makes me think of a butler, and if my squirrel could talk, I imagine that he’d be a very refined squirrel.”
“Well, that’s stupid,” Alex grumbled in reply. “How on earth could you think a dumb little rat like that could be refined? If anybody around here is refined, it would be me.”
Tara cast a furious glare at the rich boy, raising her staff threateningly, but before she could say anything, Wraith drew one sword, setting the blade on fire.
“I’ll show you refined,” the Berserker growled, also glaring at Alex.
Raine chuckled at this, but instantly Yoshitsune grabbed the woman by the wrist, pulling her flaming sword over to the firepit he had made and using it to set the firewood alight.
“There,” the samurai grunted, standing to his feet. “We’ve got a fire going. Now put that sword away before you hurt somebody.”
“Did you just use me as a match?!”
“Put the sword away.”
“Fine,” Wraith pouted, sheathing her sword and crossing her arms over her chest. “You’re as bossy as Vigil.”
Butterfly Woman (from Chapter 8):
“Actually, Mt. Olympus is a party-specific zone,” Yoshitsune answered as everyone else gathered around the fire. “I’ve never made it all the way up there before, but I’ve talked to others who say that the monsters operate in mobs.”
“That’s going to be fun,” Vigil sighed. “Are they more magic-oriented or melee-oriented?”
“From what I’ve gathered, the monsters here seem to be more magic-oriented, which means that we’ll be at a disadvantage with our unbalanced ratio of melee to magic party members.”
“I don’t know why you’re so concerned,” Alex grumbled. “The butterfly woman seemed to have no trouble with that monster earlier today.”
Instantly Tara reached out, bringing her staff down hard on top of the rich boy’s head, the “Immortal Object” sign glowing in the dark atmosphere above him.
“You, too?!” the young man yelped, rubbing his sore head as he glared over at the Faerie.
“I’m a Faerie, not a butterfly,” Tara huffed.
“Children,” Vigil sighed.
The Elf glanced over at Wraith who sat with a smirk on her face.
“I’m proud of you, Tara,” the Berserker chuckled lowly.
The Faerie gave the other woman a thumbs up, causing Alex to bristle visibly.
“Would you guys quit encouraging violence?!”
“This is going to be a long trip,” Yoshitsune sighed, standing to his feet. “All right, everyone. Let’s finish setting up camp and get to bed early. We’ll want to be at full strength for tomorrow’s journey.”