Adventures on Terra - Book 1: Beginnings (Sample)
Sunlight pierces the lids of my eyes, disturbing my pleasant dreams. I groggily roll over in an attempt to escape the light but no matter what position I shift to, the annoyingly persistent light refuses to let me fall back to sleep.
Deciding it’s a hopeless endeavor to try go back to sleep, I open my eyes. Then, immediately close them.
There’s no way I saw what I think I saw. Why would there be a tree in my room?
I blindly feel around for a blanket or bed to confirm that I’m still in my room. Unfortunately, my hands only feel the dirt, rocks, and leaves. The evidence is mounting that I am not in my small one bedroom apartment. Mustering up the courage to face a weird reality, I open my eyes and see a forest canopy above me. Still on my back, I look left and right to confirm I’m not just looking at some poster pinned to the ceiling.
Nope. The leaves move in the peculiar way leaves do when the wind blows. Speaking of the wind. As it blows, I feel a natural ‘shrinkage’ from my lower anatomy that tells me I’m naked. My hands instinctively move to protect my manhood from the chill breeze.
As I wonder where all my clothes have gone, a soft feminine voice whispers near my ear, “Morning sleepy head. Welcome to Terra.”
The sound of another person so close to me sends a jolt of adrenaline through my body and I sit up, frantically looking for the person that spoke. While thoughts of drunk dialing former crushes pass through my mind, I hear a light hearted giggling.
I hear a tone of pity as the voice says, “Up here, Armon.”
Now, having a clear direction to reference, I look up and see the most fantastic sight. There, hovering about three feet above my head is a woman, no bigger than my hand, with jet black hair, and smooth alabaster skin. This tiny woman flies through the air with four translucent wings and is wearing a dress that seems to be made out of leaves.
I’ve never been the most eloquent of speakers, especially when talking to women. So it’s not really a surprise when seeing the small beautiful flying woman, all I could think of to say was, “What the hell?!?”
The young woman with wings smiles, puts her hands on her hips, and she patiently repeats herself. “I said ‘Welcome to Terra’. Or are you deaf?”
Still confused as to who or what I’m talking to, I answer, “Huh, no. I’m not deaf.”
Then, realizing that maybe this person can give me some information, I ask, “Where am I?”
The young woman, being sarcastic by nature, can’t help but respond, “I just told you. Terra. Remember the ‘Welcome to Terra’ part?”
The young flying woman, agitated now that her client seemed to be dumb as a rock, starts to zip around.
I’m becoming annoyed myself at the lack of information coming from the only person I can see and ask, “Where the hell is Terra? What are you and how do you know my name?”
Her patience exhausted, she flies right up to my face and replies in a huffy tone, “I am not a thing. I am Mary and I am your fairy guide.”
A fairy? A real fairy? I can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that I’m actually speaking to a creature of myth and legend. I pinch myself trying to wake from the dream I’m sure I’m still in. Yet nothing happens. I don’t wake up.
Noting the incredulous expression on my face, Mary sighs. “I know you no longer have fairies where you come from, but if you’ll let me get on with my introduction speech, maybe I can answer some of the questions you must have.”
Not having a better idea of what to do next, I nod in assent.
Mary clears her throat and begins her introduction speech. “As I was saying. Welcome to Terra. I’m Mary, your fairy guide. You’ve officially died and been transported here to have a second chance at life.”
“Wait! I died?” I interrupt.
“Yup. You’re the first person from your world to be reincarnated here too. The great Overlord God decided that you’d fit in well on Terra and brought you here after you died.”
“How the hell did I die?” I ask.
Mary’s eyes take on a far off look. As if she is looking at something I can’t see and responds, “Hmmmm. From your file, it seems you died from a heart attack after a 72-hour marathon gaming session. You really should have taken better care of yourself.”
I sit in stunned silence, trying to absorb the fact that I died, and was reincarnated.
Like most people that die suddenly, I lament my unfulfilled life. I died. That means I’ll never finish college, never become a contestant on The Price is Right, and never become a world class dancer. Not that I knew how to dance, but now I’ll never learn. Dammit, I never even got to ask out that hot girl Jenny from art class. I’d been waiting all semester for the perfect moment, too.
Seeing my dejected look, Mary decides to try and cheer me up with some information about Terra. “You really did luck out on which world you reincarnated to. Based on your file, Terra is the perfect world for you. Its creation is, in part, based on the video games you seemed to have enjoyed so much.”
Mary’s statement brings me back to the present. “What do you mean, ‘based on the video games’ I enjoyed?”
“Hmmm. The best way to explain is probably to show you. Think in your mind or say out loud if it helps, ‘Status’. Go on, try it,” she suggests.
Feeling a bit silly, I do as she suggests and shout “STATUS.” To my utter surprise, a blue window appears in front of me.
Name: Armon Ellington
Exp to next lvl.: 100
Attack: 1 - 1
She’s right. This is a status screen. Just like the ones I’ve seen in the role-playing video games I love. Maybe this isn’t such a bad thing after all. Sure, I never got to ask out Jenny, but I never got a status screen in my old world. I’m sure there are plenty of lovely ladies in this world too.
Looking at the status screen, I see my name and age. Level 1. No class? That’s what my ex-girlfriend said when she dumped me, so no surprise there. I have 10 for all my stats. Guess that’s average. Thinking about the variety of different video games I’ve played over the years, I wonder what each stat does here.
“Mary, what does each of the stats I see on my [status] page mean?” I ask.
“Oh, well strength affects how hard you hit and how much you can carry. Dexterity determines how quick you are and how accurately you hit things when you aim. Constitution determines your health. Intelligence determines your mana and how powerful your spells are. Wisdom affects how quickly your mana recovers and how resistant you are to some spells. Charisma determines how likable you are,” she answers.
Ok. My gamer brain immediately thinks of all the gaming strategies possible with character stats like this. I usually min/max my stats when I play games but that’s when it’s a game. If I want to survive here, I’ll have to think of a better strategy than maximizing a single stat for the largest bonus.
Looking back at my [Status] screen I see that my attack is one. I wonder how that’s calculated. Something to figure out later. Defense is zero. That’s probably because I’m naked. “Umm, Mary? Where are my clothes?”
“In your inventory, silly. You get a few items to help you get started as a part of your ‘starter reincarnation package’. Your clothes are there.”
“How do I use my inventory?” I inquire.
“You can usually access any part of the system menu by saying it out loud or thinking the command. Try silently thinking ‘Inventory’,” Mary instructs.
I do as she suggests and think ‘Inventory’ in my mind. Another blue screen appears next to my status screen. This one has a series of boxes and some symbols at the very bottom. One of the boxes has something in it. When I focus on that box a small window pops up.
A basic shirt that offers minimal protection. At least it's better than being naked.
Oh. That’s neat. I get more information when I focus on something in the blue screens. I wonder how I put that shirt on. Hmm, maybe I’ll try thinking [Equip Starter Shirt].
It works. Suddenly I’m wearing a shirt. It’s basic homespun wool. A little itchy but that screen is right, it’s better than being naked. I focus on the other boxes that seem to have items in the inventory screen.
Basic pants that offer minimal protection. At least it's better than being naked.
Definitely need those. Can’t have the boys swaying in the wind. [Equip Starter Pants].
Like the shirt, the pants just appear on my body. Again, basic homespun wool. The itching might be more annoying down there but beggars can’t be choosers. Only two other items in the inventory. One is food and the other water.
Stale Bread Loaf (5)
A stale loaf of bread. When eaten, increases regeneration of health and stamina by 5% over 30 minutes.
Water Skin (5)
A skin of water. When drunk, increases mana regeneration by 5% over 30 minutes.
Health and mana regeneration when I eat or drink? That’s pretty standard in most Role Playing Games. That’ll be useful if I get hurt. Health I get. It measures how hurt or healthy I am. What about stamina and mana? “Mary, what affects stamina and mana?”
“Use of abilities and some skills use up stamina. Spells use up mana,” she answers.
Huh, skill, abilities, and spells? I check my status screen and find none of those. “Mary, I don’t have any of those.”
“Of course not. You’re only level 1 and just reincarnated. Abilities are either gained from your class or ability books dropped by monsters on very rare occasions. You can learn skills by either practicing something repeatedly or receiving training from someone that has that skill. Spells are gained from either trainers or spell books.”
Hmm. I don’t have any skill or spell books. Nor do I have a class. “You said I can gain skills by practicing them?”
“Yup, if you run a lot then you get the [Run] skill. Want the [Unarmed Combat] skill? Hit things with your bare hands. However, unless you already understand the intricacies of metal working you’re not going to gain [Blacksmithing] unless you train with a blacksmith. Also, abilities, skills, and spells all gain experience the more you use them. Skills begin at novice level then grow to beginner level, intermediate level, advanced level, expert level, and finally master level. So, the more you practice the better you get.”
Well, at least I can gain some skills on my own. Though it would have been great to have some overpowered spell or ability right from the start. I close all the blue boxes in front of me for now. Well, time to start gaining skills.
“Now the fastest way to become more powerful is to advance your level and skills. You gain experience by defeating opponents or completing quests. You can also use quests as an opportunity to practice your skills and abilities, leveling them too,” Mary lectures. “So let's get you your first quest!”
A blue notification box appears before me.
Mary is hungry. Create a comfortable location to eat, and prepare dinner for Mary.
Rewards: Base 10XP. Bonus XP based on the quality of meal and location prepared to eat.
Accept or Decline?
I think [Accept Quest ‘Make Dinner’] and the window disappears. “Hmm, ‘Make Dinner,’ huh? Somehow, I thought my first quest would be something along the lines of ‘Kill 10 Rats and bring me their tails.’”
Mary screws her face up in disgust. “Ewwwww. What would anyone do with rat tails? That’s just gross. I’d much rather have a nice meal. Preferably not rat, by the way.”
“Ok. Ok. Make a meal. No rat. Got it. I don’t suppose there’s a supermarket nearby?”
Mary shakes her head no.
Oh well, didn’t think it would be that easy. Mom taught all her kids how to cook but we always used ingredients from the store. Guess I’ll have to get back to basics to get this quest done. A simple meal of roasted meat and salad seems like it shouldn’t be too hard. I look around at the forest and realize I have absolutely no idea what plants are edible. I would probably fail my quest if I poison Mary. I sit and try to think of a way to figure out how to tell which plants to eat. As I sit, I hear a faint rustling sound. I quickly turn my head to see what is making the noise and see a small, white, furry animal. It’s a rabbit. It’s much larger than the rabbits I’ve seen before and it has a horn sticking out of its forehead. As I focus on the weird looking animal, a new window appears above the rabbit's head.
Well, that’s useful. At least I can tell what it is now and if it’s stronger than me. As I watch the horned rabbit I see it move to a bush and start nibbling. Of course! That’s how I can tell which plants to eat. Watch the local wildlife. Guess that’s how I’ll have to get the meat for my meal, too. “Mary, are there many animals around here?”
“Yup, this is kind of a beginner area. You’ll find all kinds of animals including some predators and monsters too, so be careful. You only get one life here. No respawns.”
As soon as I started talking to Mary the horned rabbit ran off. The bush I saw it eat is small and has broad green leaves. That’ll do for part of the salad but I get extra XP based on the quality of the meal I make. So, I want to see what other plants can be eaten around here. I get up, dust off my pants and begin my search for another horned rabbit to watch.
Moving through the forest I catch glimpses of white blurs running from me. The last horned rabbit I saw ran away as soon as it heard me talking to Mary. Guess I’m making too much noise. I’m snapping twigs and rustling leaves with every step. That won’t do. I’ll never find another horned rabbit that way.
I start to deliberately watch where I step and move carefully to avoid small twigs and leaves on the ground. That’s better but I still hear my steps. I remember seeing a movie about ninjas and how they walk toe to heel and not heel to toe. I try it and notice that I make less noise. Guess those ninjas know what they’re doing. I move a lot slower now that I’m trying to be quiet. It’s frustrating, but it can’t be helped since it’s the only way I’ll ever get close to another horned rabbit.
I’m on my second hour of moving quietly through the forest when I see a horned rabbit again. I freeze the moment I see it. I don’t want to scare it off and have to look for another one. The horned rabbit doesn’t seem to notice me, and I watch to see what it does. The critter hops around the little clearing, nibbling on several plants including a bush with bright red berries. I take mental note of the shape of the bush, its leaves, and the berries to use in my salad later. As the rabbit moves out of the clearing, I move to follow it as quietly as I can. Suddenly a window pops up.
You've learned the skill [Sneak].
I mentally ‘Woooohoo’. My very first skill. Thank you movie ninjas.
I focus on [Sneak] to get more information.
You are more difficult to notice while sneaking. Movement speed is reduced while sneaking. Advancing in Sneak reduces movement penalty and the chances of others noticing you.
Level: Novice 1 (1%)
Bonus: 20% reduced chance of being noticed. Movement speed is reduced by 75%.
So, the more I practice sneaking the better bonuses I’ll get as I level. Something to work towards I guess.
I continue to follow the horned rabbit for another hour, watching its patterns until it disappears into a hole in the ground. As I watch the horned rabbit, I get new notices.
You've gained a level in [Sneak]. Novice 2.
You've learned [Observe].
I check to see what changes happens to [Sneak] when it levels up, and what [Observe] does.
You are more difficult to notice while sneaking. Movement speed is reduced while sneaking. Advancing in sneak reduces movement penalty and the chances of others noticing you.
Level: Novice 2 (15%)
Bonus: 21% reduced chance of being noticed. Movement speed is reduced by 74%.
You learn the weaknesses and strengths of a creature when you observe them for long periods of time. You gain a bonus to damage when fighting creatures you've observed. Advancing in Observe increases damage bonus to observed creatures.
Level: Novice 1 (1%)
Bonus: 1% damage bonus to creatures observed.
Creatures Observed: Horned Rabbit
I get 1% sneakier per level of [Sneak]. I wonder if the bonuses change when I get to beginner or intermediate. We’ll have to wait and see. However, I receive a nice a bonus to damage from [Observe]. That’ll be useful. Every bit of extra damage helps in a fight. Too bad I have to watch something for a ‘long period of time’ to get the bonus. It’ll only be useful when I have time to watch an opponent for a while and I won’t have time to get the [Observe] bonus in a surprise fight.
As I walk away from the rabbit hole I decide to start collecting the plants for the salad part of the meal quest. I rush over to the where I saw the berries and realize I’m wasting an opportunity to train. Why walk like normal when I can [Sneak] while I collect plants. It takes two hours to collect enough of the plants to make a salad for two. By the time I return to Mary, my [Sneak] skill has leveled up to Novice 3.
Time to get the meat.