Chapter 7 – The Polar Bear’s Wooden Wife Part 2
Somewhat confuse, Dima Volk decided to attack the wolves. Bringing our his rifle, he broke the barrel open and slipped a white coloured oiled-paper pouch in the side closest to himself and a blue coloured pouch in front of that. He locked the barrel back in place and brought the weapon up to aim. In his mind, he activated his snipe skill and the vulnerable areas of the wolves were highlighted in his vision.
As he pulled the trigger, a thunder like crack rang out and the wolves froze. They froze in a figurative sense, that they were frighted and confused by an unfamiliar and dangerous sound. However, they also froze in a literal sense, as the alchemic reactants in the bullet combined on impact and exploded in a wave of frost. It was a powerful recipe, one that Dima had acquired from another alchemist at a very steep price. At the time he felt like he was being extorted, but in seeing the effect of the burning wolves, he felt that he might have gotten a good deal. Though only the wolf that took the full brunt of the bullet was dead, the others were slowed enough that he could deal with them using more conventional bullets.
After the wolves were dead and the used bullets were collected, he was about to start skinning them, and processing them for alchemic materials, when he heard sobbing from behind him. Turning around with detest for his own negligence he saw the statue hunched over in the river with its two arms pressed against one side of its cylindrical head. From the sound of crying, although there were no tears, she (?) was distressed. He was kicking himself that he hadn’t taken her thoughts into consideration. She had been hurt and a stranger started making noise and killing around her, of course she would be crying.
Heading over to her, he fished a healing potion out of a pouch on the side of his belt. He had no way of knowing if it would work on such a different creature, but he felt that attempting to help would at least calm her. When he arrived at her side he could hear her mumbling something, though he couldn’t make out what it was.
“Can you understand me?” he asked, trying to sound as non-threatening as he could, “I want to treat you wound; would you let me see it?”
Still through tears and faint mumbling she nodded and raised the burnt leg out of the water. Pouring the potion on the singed black wood seemed to work, restoring it to a health sap-soaked, oaken brown. Relieved to see that it worked, Dima looked at his patient gave his best smile. He held out his hand to help her up.
Still sniffling, the statue like wooden woman managed a few clear words to him. “Responsibility… Take responsibility for seeing me naked.”
Hearing her, his mind broke. Given her alien appearance, he hadn’t considered the possibility that she might need clothes. It made sense, though. He wore clothes, why wouldn’t she. Looking over to the riverbank, he saw a small basket hanging from a tree. From what the farmer had said, the spirit people were very strict about their customs. If he handled the situation badly he could be in serious trouble. Taking a deep breath he tried to sort things out as calmly as possible.
“Umm… By responsibility, you don’t mean…”
“Marriage” She answered before he could even finish, “You saw me naked, so you have to take responsibility and marry me. Otherwise I’ll never be able to.”
That stunned him. God damned programmers added something like that to the game. What era are they living in?
“You know, even if you’re seen…” he started to say, before he was cut off once again.
“When a spirit person is seen naked a piece of their soul enters their partner and they are joined.” Hearing that, gave some context to the rule, but he still hated the programmers who implemented that. “I won’t let you weasel out of it. Even if you try to leave, I can use the connection between our souls to follow you.”
Thus began Dima Volk’s marriage to The Spirit of Blooming Oak. Later that day they arrived in her village and it was officially registered. Under Oak’s name was the title [Dima Volk’s Wife]. He wasn’t willing to look at his own titles, but he got the feeling he had something similar there. The village was, during the ceremony, recorded as a re-spawn point and the option to change his race into a tree spirit.
The clothes that Oak was so embarrassed to be without, turned out to be a single wooden plate that fit over the clear section of her body. Although it seemed otherwise indistinct from the rest of her wooded body, one side of it and an elaborate, vaguely Celtic, engraving. He didn’t know what its real purpose was, but for him it served as a way to tell where she was facing. Despite forward and backward being otherwise identical, Oak and the other spirits seemed to be only able to see in one direction. Furthermore, Oak noticed him staring at her chest and started to fidget in embarrassment. Thankfully he learnt that outside of the village, and therein knew to be more discrete.
He was also thankful for the floating names as, although each spirit seemed to have no difficulty telling each other apart, to Dima, they all seemed identical. When he asked Oak about it, she said, in an upset tone, that the colours and sizes of the lights in their heads were different. From a distance he couldn’t really see it, but when she stood next to her brother it looked obvious. His brother-in-law’s light was slightly greener then Oak’s angle-wing pink light. Her light was also larger by about a finger’s width at the radius. He later heard that the closer the light was to white, the stronger the spirit was and the women had larger lights.
The average level amongst the villagers was around fourteen, though the outliners for that were extreme. His new father-in-law, a blacksmith, was level forty-five. Apparently, he did a lot of adventuring when he was young. His light was a pale blue-white. After meeting his new father, he resigned himself to the fact that there was no way out.
Oak was acceptant of the fact that he was a traveller, unexpectedly so. She said that she would travel with him for a while, to make sure he remained faithful, but would eventually go back to the village to have their children. As Oak was sure that they could have children, he wasn’t going to question the method or the reason for her certainty. As his young wife was a level ten blacksmith, he had no issues with taking her along. After all, a blacksmith was probably better able to fight then he was. Not only were they the best prestige class for crafting, they had the ability to use any weapon or armour they made, whether they had the skill for it or not. They usually focus on two or three types of crafting, but crafting skills they focused on could reach higher levels than other classes. High level blacksmiths could even craft weapons with naturally occurring enchantments. As Oak was only level ten, and therefore had only just become a blacksmith, that was a long way off, but she would still be better in melee then him.
Aside from formalising the marriage and introducing Dima to her family, the main reason for coming to camp was to assemble adventuring gear. After changing into armour and filling a bag with essentials, her father met her at the front door. He knew that she had wanted to go on an adventure for a long time. He also knew that he didn’t want her to go alone. It was quite a shock when he suddenly brought home a husband, but the man reminded him of an old friend and he trusted his daughter’s judge of character. He knew she wouldn’t have pretended that the soul trade was irreversible if she hadn’t seen something in him.
As she left he gave her a small pouch. It was a traveling forge; a small workspace that had been compressed inside a bag with a spell. His father had passed it to him when he set out and now he passed it to Oak. He hoped to live to see the day when she passed it on to her child.
The young couple left after spending the night in the village. They left, arm-in-arm, towards the glacial lake.