Chapter 6 – The Polar Bear’s Wooden Wife Part 1
Dima Volk felt out of place amongst other alchemists. He was a more than two meters tall and people would say that he was as broad as two mountains. His large build, pale skin and white hair led to people giving him the nickname Polar-Bear. He disliked that name for several reasons. The strongest amongst his grievances was that it took longer to say then his full name. Why would anyone use a nickname longer than his full name? What was the point in that, he wondered? The wastefulness of it aside, he also disliked being compared to a beast. He acted out each of his motions with thought and planning. That his attitude was dismissed and his appearance was what was focused on was annoying, and somewhat disappointing.
The use of that nickname, however, wasn’t why he shied away from others with the same class. It had more to do with how out of place he felt around them. There were two main purposes for alchemists, potions and bombs. As such, the typical person who chose that class was small, skinny, weak or intellectual. It was not the kind of class that attracted people that could get the nickname Polar-Bear. Other alchemists would act afraid of him or mistake him for a fighter, and that fear made it uncomfortable for him to be around them. Truthfully, he did consider himself more of a fighter them a healer. He learnt how to make both potions and bombs mostly as a formality. His real goal with the class was different.
If an apothecary was the best class at manipulating the natural parts of things; than the alchemist was the best class at manipulating the magical components. If a plant could be used for in medicine then it could be ground into magic powder. While that wasn’t always the case, it was that way a lot of the time. Most things contained at least a little magical energy and mixing energies was what alchemy was about. One combination he was fond of was mixing a heat-stone based powder with a sonic-bone powder and just a little cold-crystal powder, which resulted in a force-based explosive power. In short, an effective alchemic gun powder. When he discovered that recipe a system message rang through his head telling him that he had unlocked the gunner prestige class.
Prestige classes were, essentially, unique classes that could be held by more than one person. Although, it would be more accurate to say the unique classes were individual prestige classes. They had conditions that had to be met before becoming them and could only be taken by a player at a level higher than ten, but were generally stronger, or at least more focused, then base classes. The gunner for example, could be considered to be an alchemist that has focused on the use of a single recipe.
At the time, Dima wasn’t far from level ten so he considered it a lucky find. When he went into his recipe list, he found three new items there. When he unlocked the class, schematics for three simple weapons had appeared. From a message that floated near them, it seemed that once he selected one, the other two would be removed from the list. The selection, apparently, effected how his skills would progress once he became a gunner. The options were a flintlock pistol, rifle and blunderbuss. With those options, he felt that the rifle would be best for simplicity and versatility. When he made the selection, not only did he get the schematic, a weapon and repair kit also appeared beside him. It seemed that it was a starting package for the class. He was thankful, but less so for the title that appeared at the same time.
“Title unlocked, First Gunner.” From the title description he found that the items were because of the title and not because of the class.
After securing a reasonable supply of alchemic powders and bullets for his weapon, he set off on an adventure. He had been working out of a town that sprung up near the original camp, but found the environment toxic and the weather torturous. As someone accustomed to cold places, the heat of a summer like environment felt like it was melting him. Knowing his own preferences, and the necessities of his craft, he headed in a direction he guessed to be north, towards a vibrant old woods next to a glacier filled lake. How the two survived next to one another, he had no idea, but it seemed to fill his needs adequately.
It was mid-morning on his third day of traveling when he encountered a NPC farmer. The farmer lived in a small hut with his family, surrounded by the land he worked. He was cautious at first, but offered Dima food and a place to rest. Though he was grateful for the offer, Dima could see that the farmer’s wife was unhappy with the offer, and politely declined. As he left the land, the farmer warned him to avoid the woods; that the spirit people were heavily bound by traditions and it could be dangerous to offend them.
He was curious about the so-called spirit people. From what he had read in the forum, if a player wanted to play as a race other than human they would have to meet and befriend a member of that race. While he didn’t particularly want to stop being human, he thought that having the option available would be better than not. He made a point to himself that, should he meet one, he would do his best to befriend a spirit person.
In the woods, at around lunch time, he could hear the flowing of a nearby river. From a distance he could hear the splashing of water and a woman singing. He couldn’t recognise the words but the melody and voice were very soothing. He thought about approaching, but was warned off by his common sense telling him not to go near a woman alone by a river. He didn’t think much good could come from it, although a lot of harm could result. The woods were a dangerous place, and any woman confident enough to play alone in the river was sure to be armed.
As he thought to himself, he failed to notice that the song had ended. Instead he was woken form his thoughts by a scream. It wasn’t a playful scream, but one filled with absolute fear. Running towards the scream, he could see burning wolves on the far side of the river. Burning wolves were large copper-brown wolves that emanated searing heat. Grass and leaf-litter around the creatures caught fire and the fire was absorbed into the creatures’ fur. When enough fire was absorbed, a burning ring appeared around the wolves and shot out like a disk.
It took a moment for Dima to notice that they weren’t targeting him, but instead the disks headed towards a strange structure at the bank of the river. It had four wooden legs and was roughly human shaped with two arms and a head. Oddly, the head and upper body seemed to be made of glass, with soft glowing spheres of light in both the chest and head. The two lights were different colours and he found himself being draw, completely fixated, to the golden light in the chest. It was like a small star, fresh wheat and the first light at dawn. He felt an overwhelming desire to possess that light. If not for the wolves he might have run down at that very moment.
As strange as it seemed, the statue moved to try and avoid the attacks, while letting out a startled, feminine cry. One of her(?) legs was unable to avoid and started to burn. The statue then rolled into the river, as a sobbing sound rang out.