Chapter 5 – Druid
Lotus Crane watched from a nearby bush as a player called Dawn Light fought against a static rat. They were a very common enemy in those woods, as thunder rats gave birth to litters of twenty at a time. They weren’t particularly strong but it was rare to see one by itself. What was surprising to Lotus was that the tall blond author came to the forest alone, despite being only level five. Since she was so obviously weak, she should have brought some more people with her. If she wanted to be alone, at the very least she should have chosen a safer place to start. Looking at her stats and equipment, even the rat was stronger than her.
Inspect was a common skill, and a useful one at that. It showed simple details about a target, such as their class, race, level and elemental affinity. Inspect would normally take a long time to improve but since it activated whenever herbal lore was used, it grew quite quickly for her. At the amateur level, it would usually only say the race of a monster, a player’s name and any titles, or a brief description of an object. When it reached the experienced-amateur level, it revealed a monster’s level, but only if it was less than her own. After a few more stages, she reached her current level, sub-par expert. At that stage she could get the complete information on any target at a lower level to her and partial information on a target five levels higher. For some reason she felt like the level names were insulting her.
Having spent two in-game weeks alone in the forest, mostly avoiding people and working on her apothecary skills, she felt that she had become somewhat feral looking. Her clothes were sown together plants and her hair was caked with a glossy red sap. Her scythe had long since been replaced with one made from the arm of a large mantis. Not only was the blade stronger and lighter, the natural ridges held poisons effectively, making it the perfect weapon for her.
Within her first day in the forest, Lotus had noticed that herbal lore pointed out dangerous plants just as readily as helpful ones. With her strength and equipment, poisons became her strongest weapon very quickly. She paid careful attention to how the poisons worked, compounding them to make them more effective or target specific areas. The poison she was most proud of was one that destroyed the targets brain, but left the meat edible.
During her second in-game week in the forest, she encountered some players harassing a young golden fox and kicking its dead parent around. Seeing that kind of thing really bothered her, and she swiftly took action. She pelted quick growing vine seeds at them and while they were confused she followed that with some plant growth accelerating liquid. Spiked vines shot out from the seeds and spread out over the players’ bodies, trying to chase down every drop of the accelerant. Unable to move, the players could do nothing but wait for her scythe. After she treated the fox’s wounds she received two system messages saying, “Title unlocked, Favoured of the 13th World.” and “Unique class unlocked. The 13th World’s Druid class is now available on levelling up.”
On inspecting herself, Lotus found that it was true; the Favoured of the 13th World title sat beneath her name. The title’s description read, “A player who acts in a way that the 13th world approves of or otherwise has gained its favour. With this title the voice of the world can be heard and the traditional method of power casting becomes possible”.
A druid was like a nature loving wizard, and as such had the same strange problem as a wizard. If the title description was to be believed, if she changed her class to a wizard or a druid she would be able to uses spells. Furthermore, she could choose a unique class. Unique classes could only be held by one player at a time and were generally slightly better than the class they were based on. There was a rumour on the forums that Fred had the unique class devilish businessman but didn’t use it, since it would drive way customers. Whether that was true or just something started by a disgruntled customer, he wouldn’t say.
Without hesitating, Lotus went and fought some more creatures to get the experience she needed to gain her next level. It felt right to her that on her 13th level she would become a 13th World’s Druid. The list of added skills and abilities was somewhat long and in the corner of her vision was a transparent symbol that looked like an open book. When she shut that eye she could see a list of the spells she could cast. Amongst her skills there were a few that she was happy to see. Herbal lore was replaced with natural lore, the improved version that also granted information about animals, beasts, insects and naturally occurring things. She also gained several skills from the communication category, which allowed the user to understand and be understood by the target, depending on the skill. She gained Communicate: Animal, Communicate: Plant, Communicate: Elemental Spirit and Communicate: World. Although she had those skills, they wouldn’t be particularly useful until they were levelled up. At their lowest level, she could only talk to plants and animals that already had near-human level intelligence.
As Lotus watched the static rat attack Dawn, she couldn’t help but remember the fox. To her, Dawn seemed every bit as weak and defenceless as that young creature and the rat was picking on her because of it. Had the rat finished her off quickly, instead of playing with her, Lotus might not have made that connection; but since she noticed, she couldn’t ignore it.
With practiced ease, she snuck soundlessly behind the rat and dispatched it with her scythe. With the nuisance dealt with, she went to work treating the injured Dawn. Dawn’s skin was smooth to the touch and its pale colour had reddened from the shock. It was also warm to the touch, hot even, from both body heat and the extra volts that travelled through her.
Taking a mixture of herbs from her pouch, Lotus staunched the wound with a moss like plant and numbed the pain with a mild poison. She then bandaged it with a curative leaf, letting a poultice work its way through Dawn’s body. The way she twitched with surprise at Lotus’s appearance reminded her of the fox and was very cute. She found herself petting Dawn’s head and saying, “There, there, you’re safe now.”
As Dawn stood up, she was thrown off balance by her heavy bag. Lotus tried to contain a joy filled laugh at the sight. After regaining her footing and brushing the dirt off her clothing, Dawn took a deep breath and started to speak.
“Thank you for saving me, that monster was small so I thought it would be weaker.” She said with a small voice that seemed to hide her embarrassment, and highlight that she thought the rat was strong.
“No worries, I don’t like it when the weak get picked on, so I wanted to help you out.” As Lotus said that, Dawn seemed to shrink even smaller. Although she meant well, Lotus had reminded Dawn just how weak she was and the pride she had placed in her class was hit. After all, she was saved by someone who was obviously an apothecary, one of the classes that were shunned for being weak. Although, Dawn couldn’t be sure that she was an apothecary, since there was a level difference and she couldn’t use inspect on her.
Thinking about her own survival, Dawn knew that she would need the ability to heal and some kind of close range fighting ability. From what she had seen, Lotus had both of those. If she could observe her activate those abilities, Dawn could copy them for herself.
As such she asked, “Would it be alright if I travelled with you for a while, I’m not familiar with this forest and you seem like you can handle yourself?” She asked with the meekest voice she could manage. If acting weak would get the skills she wanted, then weak she would act.
Somewhat confused, but nonetheless happy, Lotus replied, “Sure. I’d love to travel with you.”