"Stop fighting you two. And stop with the constant screeching...it's driving me mad!"
Raka sighed once more as he closed his eyes.
"It's here again...Monkey! Full sail!. Nobby, keep a lookout!" Raka yelled as he took control of the tiller.
As the wind caught on the sail, Raka took out a spell scroll.
"Air wave!" An intense blast of air hit the sail, instantly accelerating the ship from the slow drift to a fast pace.
While holding the tiller, Raka closed his eyes once more. And then he changed course a few degrees.
'Hope we lose it this time!'
This had been their routine for a few days now. All because Raka and his crew were being chased by a sea dragon! 'Persistant bastard!'
Raka's journey actually started two real life weeks after the first voyage of the Dawn Dream. Suffice to say he wouldn't be the first to reach Khardoum.
He needed a whole real life week to finally learn the 'Sailing' and 'Fishing' skills. And then another week to finetune his teamwork with monkey and gain the confidence to sail on his own. The last week, he also spent planning his journey and acquiring supplies and things he might need.
At the end of the two weeks, when he was finally ready, the villagers threw a celebration in his honor. Even though he had been with them only a few months, game time, they already considered him to be an integral part of the village. Not to mention, the villagers really liked to party!
And they gave him farewell gifts. Spears mostly, as a fisherman always needed a few. But then he also got a good hunting knife from Farun and family, which was much better that the one he had. And Guran gave him a toughnut boar jacket. Made from the fur of the very same boar, Raka had killed.
Toughnut boars had the hardest, roughest fur of any animal on this island. To make a jacket out of it, the skill of the craftsman could only be considered to admirable.
"Here, try it on..." Guran urged.
Raka took the jacket from Guran's hands and then grunted in pain as his arms fell down.
""Hahahahaha"" Many people started laughing seeing his shock.
"What is this....it weighs a ton!" Raka grunted.
"Hahaha...yeah that it does. It will take some getting used to. But it's advantages are many, so you better build your body up a bit." Guran said.
"A bit! This is a bit!" Raka was forlorn.
"Well, it is considered a treasure and I am sure many people would die to get their hands on this." Guran had a twinkle in the eye as he said that.
"Yeah...right!" Raka said. He knew toughnut boar fur was not really an expensive material because of obvious reasons.
"Jokes apart, this jacket skin is very tough and gives good defense. Even better than some metal armors and a lot cheaper than them. It should be a lot better than the armor you have. Also, it is waterproof and warm. A must have for any sea traveller. Most of all it's durable and will not get damaged easily by the elements. The weight is a bit on the higher side but I am confident you can manage that much." Guran said.
"And if you still don't believe me, why don't you try stabbing it with the brand new hunting knife you got." Guran's voice was full of confidence as he put on the jacket himself and gestured.
"I will do just that." Raka gladly obliged.
Peng! A soft dull sound resounded as the blade struck the jacket. Raka looked in amazement as the blade failed to leave even a scratch on it.
"Damn! How tough is it! It might be even tougher than the original fur." Raka exclaimed.
"A very good friend of mine made it. He could have become a very rich man with his skills. Alas, he is such a recluse. Anyways, now it's yours." Guran said.
"Ah thank you Guran. Could you also thank the person who made it. I am sure he must be quite skilled." Raka replied.
|[p=center]Leather Jacket (Common)[/p]
Defense: 55 (Added defense when embedded)
Made of good quality toughnut boar leather. Has good defense and durability. Increased weight due to leather properties.
Raka was delighted with the properties of this thing. His defense would increase manifold and the durability was also a lot higher. It was just the weight which was a problem. Compared to his Iron chestguard which weighed just 15 points, this jacket weighed a 150 points. Raka didn't know how much a point translated into grams or kilos or stones but just by looking, it was ten times heavier.
Not that he needed to know how much it weighed. He had held it in his hands and was astounded already.
'Thank God, I increased my Strength. If I had gotten this when I left the battle school...ah now I know what a tortoise feels like.'
Still, it was not like he could equip something this heavy and fight. Atleast not until he increased his Strength some more. Raka put the jacket in his bag along with the rest.
The next day he left the island. Waving to the people who had gathered on the beach, he made his way to the distant horizon. The route Raka had chosen was to sail directly from Ilmentia to Khardoum. It needs to be mentioned that most merchants did not take this route. It was because the sea currents usually flowed in the clockwise direction between the four islands.
Merchants would generally follow the sea current, as the wind would naturally flow in that direction and travel from Ilmentia to Brittanica and then make their way to Khardoum. It eased journey by a lot.
There was another reason why sailors never made their way straight from Ilmentia to Khardoum. Because of this particular sea current, unfortunately, there were a lot of no-wind and low-wind zones formed in between. Any idiot of a sailor would have enough sense to avoid them, for once you get in them, it will be a lot of hard rowing to get out.
It was a godsend for the players though. Sailing is a labour intensive business. The moment you lose concentration, drift even a few degrees from your route, you end up somewhere completely different. The journey from Ilmentia to any of it's neighbouring islands would take around 2 weeks game time. That's like 4-5 days in real life. How would a human being stay awake to play that long?!
Wherein come the no-wind zones! Just park your boat in a no wind zone and atleast you are reasonably sure that it won't drift too much, allowing players much needed rest. Or that's how Raka figured it. With ships having npc sailors, even Raka would take the well traversed route instead of going this way. But he had not and he did not.
Monkey may be able to sail but on his own it would be quite difficult. Not to mention it had no idea on how to read a compass and other stuff. And parrot, being a bird, actually had no idea how to sail. I mean why would birds learn how to sail anyway...it's kinda pointless.
After he set out to sea, he took out the mirrors to chat with the girls. Who knew how long it would be till he next saw them in person. Talking with mirrors is a lot like video chat, except for the requirement of setting up appointments. There is no telephone kinda ringing to notify the other side.
Usually people sent a pigeon or set up a scheduled time to talk when they met. But Raka figured that if he wrote the date and time on the mirror itself, it should be reflected on the other side. Given advance notice of a few days, it should more than guarantee that his message will be noticed.
He chatted for a few hours. At the end of it, Raka was tired. He smiled. 'Women do like to talk, don't they!'
For the next few days, game time, everything went according to plan. He reached the first no wind zone on schedule and took his well deserved rest.
And then they met the sea dragon!
Why it met them was something they could only attribute to bad luck. Really bad luck!
The Sea Dragon was the granddaddy of all eels. Or rather why it was called a dragon and not something grand eel, was a good question! In appearance it looked like an eel, just that its size was like 20 metres long. If that wasn't enough, this granddaddy of eels had a far better command of lightning magic.
Raka had never met this monster before but he knew what it was from the things other fishermen had said. It looked like an eel, how obvious was that!
"Run!" was the evident choice. Thankfully, they had an advantage. Sea dragons, though called dragons, were still fish. And fish cannot lift its head above water to look. All it could do was try to detect the wooden boat. But wood is a natural thing. So ideally, the sea dragon should not be able to equate wood equals prey.
'Ideally' does not work in life though. Not only was the sea dragon able to detect them but was also able to track them. What it would do once it caught them was a question, they did not want know the answer to.
'It must be due to the lightning magic...or magic perception,' was Raka's guess. He was helpless. He could not afford to lose the boat and he could not fight it at range. The most he could do was detect it's movement using his own magic perception.
The no/low wind zones he had counted on at the start had just become dangerous death traps.
Raka and the monkey and even the parrot were extremely tired. Raka had been logged in for around 24 hours straight. In game time, that would be considered as 3 whole days. In just a few minutes, Raka expected that the game capsule would log him out, as its safety measure kicked in. If that happened at a critical moment...
Thankfully, this safety measure did not actually stop a player from logging back in immediately.
'This cannot go on! I need to fight it eventually. But how do I fight against lightning?'
On land, there could have been a few options but on sea...
Raka sighed again.
'Well what will happen will happen. If my luck is that bad so be it. But I am not going to give up until the end.' Raka decided.
He closed his eyes to enter his colorful world again. The colors of the sea were constantly moving but like air it did not cause any disruptions. Raka observed that any movement which affected the natural environment would cause ripples in the colorful world. But things like air or water, even if they moved, did not cause such ripples.
'Maybe because it is the natural environment.' Raka guessed.
He focused again and started to gather some energy.
'This time I will try to do some magic in the direction where the ripples come from. Hopefully it will be enough to confuse it.' He seriously doubted that such a basic thing would actually work but he was clutching at straws now. He was just about to reach another no wind zone.
|Play time has exceeded 24hrs. As a safety measure you are being forcefully logged out.|
Swamy staggered out of his capsule and made his way to the bathroom. His first order of duty was to relieve himself.
'Oh....did I doze off on the toilet seat? How much time has passed?' He quickly looked around and saw the clock. '20 minutes...oh no!' He was horrified.
He quickly washed up and logged in.
As soon as he opened his eyes and saw his boat, tears started forming in his eyes. It was still intact. Stars were in the sky twinkling down on the two animals as they snored.
'Lucky.... Maybe my luck has turned.' Raka sighed in relief.
There was still a problem. He had been gone an hour so who knew how far the boat had drifted. Right now they were in the no wind zone. But when he had logged out, they hadn't entered yet.
'Oh well...let's hope for the best.'
A good navigator can travel in night as he could in daytime. But in the middle of the sea, without a point of reference, if you lost track you really lose track of where you were. You simply head towards the general direction and hope, simply hope, that you reach land.
Just in case, he closed his eyes to detect any ripples. They may have lost the sea dragon but it could still be looking for them. Being a sea creature, it would be a lot faster than them.
He remained in the colorful world for a few minutes. And just as he about to open his eyes, he saw the energy bar.
'Hmm...that's odd. Why do I still have energy?' Raka had gathered the energy before logging out. 'Is it because of increased perception?' He started thinking at a million miles an hour.
And then he smacked his head!
'Is this the difference between instinctive types and intellectual types!' And then he started laughing like crazy.
"Hahahahahahhahahah.....this is it! this is it! Eureka!" Raka was delighted.
He quickly stood up and pointed his hand at a random location above water.
"Fireball!" He yelled.
A round ball of fire suddenly appeared in that location, floating just above the water, showering the ship with a dazzling light.
"Hahahaha...yes!" Raka cancelled his magic.
What was magic? Transformation of energy into physical phenomena. And it was done by gathering the energy and then transforming it into magic. The problem was gathering energy required Raka to close his eyes. But just now, he had found the solution.
Perception does not only help in increasing the rate of gathering energy but also how long the energy stays available for use, before dissipating. 'Thinking about it now, it was so obvious!'
To gather energy, Raka would still need to close his eyes and enter the colorful world. But once it had been gathered, he could simply use it like he had just done. Infact, it was not like he needed to use all the energy at the same time. He could keep using some of it as required.
'Oh...that's why Lady Verina closed her eyes to gather energy when she cast the Kraken magic. But she didn't need to, while casting other magics..' Raka finally connected the dots.
'Intellectual types of magic users would probably all have this kind of situation. Probably the instinctive type can gather energy really swiftly.' Raka was still trying to understand magic. 'There could be one more thing...maybe because gathering energy is so easy, increasing perception might be difficult for them. On the other hand, I had to raise perception first so maybe for all intellectual types, raising perception would be easier.'
The more Raka thought about it, the more sense it made. He was convinced that he had finally hit the hammer on the head.
'Which type is stronger? Maybe the instinctive types were stronger earlier but intellectual types would get stronger later. Perhaps even later, the two types would balance out.' Raka theorized.
Raka kept thinking about other things. After this epiphany, a lot of dots had started connecting and a lot of things started becoming clear. But Raka was wrong about one thing. Nature does not deal in absolutes. There is no white and black in nature, just many shades of grey. The game emulated nature also.
'Wait..if I have already gathered energy, then doesn't it mean that I can do magic anywhere. Or atleast anywhere I can perceive?' Energy is energy. It is the same everywhere. 'So why can't I gather energy at one place and do magic at another. 'Or rather, even if a few feet away, haven't I done it already. So it is true.'
Raka aimed at the water and imagined it turning round and round.
Nothing happened at first but as his energy kept being used, slowly a small column of water turned a little in a circle.
'Hmm..this is difficult. I can't actually see under water. So if I want to cast magic underwater, I will have to enter the magical world and perceive it...Ah...that's why!' Magic was a physical phenomena. It made sense that it would be limited by physical senses. For example, if you cannot see something, it would probably be difficult to cast magic on it. 'Should be the same with other senses.'
Raka understood that it was not a limitation of magic itself, rather it was a limitation due to himself.
And then he had a brainflash!
'If I can do magic...then doesn't it mean...! this..this...' Raka was too excited. If this was possible..he had to test it out immediately.
Raka took out a mirror. He saw that he had taken out Lady Verina's pair. He closed his eyes and entered the colorful world. Many colors whirled around as he looked but there were no ripples. He looked towards the energy form of the mirror. It seemed quite solid.
Raka walked towards the mirror energy form and then stepped in it. The feeling of the mirror was something like the earth. Feeling solid but permeable. He walked down into it, the feeling intensifying. But then suddenly it cleared out. Raka's felt his heartbeat increase a thousand times.
Calming his heart, he looked around this place. This was not the boat, of that he was sure. He slowly walked around and found several energy forms which looked like tables and chairs. He walked further and he found a larger energy form, the shape of which he could not determine.
'Odd shape. It looks like a cuboid with a cuboid on top.' Raka walked even closer to try to get more detail. When he neared and he saw more detail, he was still confused. 'Is it a coffin? That can't be right. Why would someone keep a coffin in their house. Vampires, maybe...' He tried to look at this thing from different angles.
'Oh I know. It's a bed. The kind which has overhanging curtains.' Raka suddenly realized.
'Haa...just a bed. Um...wait, it's night time right... hehe.' He walked extremely close to the curtains and then through them.
A vague energy form was lying on top. 'Hehehe...I can see you.'
Raka opened his eyes and found himself on the boat.
|Perception increases by 10.|
Monkey and Nobby suddenly woke up to find Raka laughing his ass off while rolling on the deck. They looked at each other in consternation. 'Has he finally lost his rockers' was what they were probably thinking.
Raka's hysteria lasted a while. He eventually stopped laughing and sobered up.
And then he was horrified. Just a moment ago, he had felt like there was an inflated balloon in his heart. Now he felt like that balloon had exploded into pieces. The reason was simple. 'If I can perceive that place, can't I do magic there. If I can, then so can someone else!' Bonding was after all, a way to remove nature's limitations.
Mirrors were good communication tools. Bonding was not a difficult magic and definitely not a secret. So why didn't everyone have mirrors. Even if they were expensive, they could still buy a pair of small ones. So why didn't they? 'Isn't it because of this? Holy....'
Raka would have to be really careful where his mirrors end up. Not only were they a danger to him, it would also become a danger to others. 'If any of them fell into wrong hands...' Raka could only imagine the consequences.
'Peek should be relatively safe though.' Raka sighed.
Raka struggled through a couple of hours but there was still no sign of the sea dragon. Satisfied, he logged out and went to sleep.
Swamy woke up after a long sleep. As he yawned, he thought to check up on the forums before logging in.
The forums were abuzz. Apparently, the main news was the first player who reached Khardoum from Ilmentia.
'Hmm....so I am already late..' Swamy started reading the details. 'Player Suzaku..reached today morning... Much fanfare, etc. Hmm apparently the guy had advertised that he was coming or how could he generate such a welcome.'
There was even a video of the entire event. Dozens of players came to visit the docks and cheer for this guy. Amazingly, not many npcs were there. 'Yeah, after all it's a big thing for players only!' Swamy sighed.
Raka had logged in again after almost 10 hours of real time. It was day break in game. As the morning sun shone, he felt a lot better. Even monkey and parrot seemed a lot better. They had rested and now felt like themselves. Even Raka felt that he could face off against one or two sea dragons.
While the sun rose a bit higher, Raka practiced. He needed to understand his limits to really be able to use magic freely in battle. For that he chose a very simple magic. Compression and Expansion. Compression was simple. When you apply control on magic, it indirectly causes the compression to take place. Like how the formless fire became the shape of a fireball. Expansion was just the opposite but also very simple. In fact, every time the control on magic failed, when you ran out of mana, the magic had a tendency to backfire. Or to say it exploded on you. Explosion is just an extreme form of rapid expansion.
Rather compression and expansion are not treated as magic but as a process of magic. They are like the basics of the basics. But Raka understood that these basics of basics could be used to fight. Being very simple, their mana requirement was low and one of the biggest problems Raka had, was insufficient mana. He had spent far too long in his quest to do free magic and neglected Focus as a result.
On the other hand, even while being simple, if he could manage it, they could end up having enormous power. Perfect for his situation.
That's what Raka was trying to do.
Right now, Raka was trying to make an airball. Similar to a fireball but made of air magic. 'Exploding this should cause the Air Wave magic I used before.' Air Wave was like a directional explosion of an airball, the force escaping in one direction only.
He imagined how it would look like in his head and waved his hand. A nearly transparent round ball of air was formed instantly. 'If I focus more, I won't need to wave my hand. But for now this is ok.' Then he imagined the airball expanding. Slowly, it became larger and larger while becoming even more transparent. A little while later it completely disappeared from view. But Raka could still feel his mana being drained so he knew the magic was still in effect. Another few moments and finally the airball could not hold its shape and dispersed as puffs of air.
'Alright now that I have seen it, I just need to imagine it happening instantly.'
Raka quickly made a fist and an airball formed. He waited a moment and then suddenly opened his hand.
Piff! An almost audible sound came and in the next instant a wave of air blew over him. 'Hmm...success! So all I have to do now is increase power.'
And then, maybe because his mind was clear due to the long rest, he realized something more. He hadn't tried to do free magic since forever. Everytime he had gathered energy was only when he wanted to use it. Thus he had missed noticing that his energy remained available for longer periods of time. And because he hadn't, he had been so absorbed in simply increasing Perception.
His Perception had reached the 60s. But if he had noticed, he probably might have been able to do free magic while in his 20s or 30s.
'Alright! I am officially an idiot!' Raka sighed.
Actually, other players had realized this fact much earlier. But as it was a very basic fact, like swinging a sword, no one had really thought to put it in the forums. In Raka's defense, he had never interacted with other players so far in the game, hence he could be pardoned for not knowing such a little thing.
Raka could not remain depressed for long though. He still had a journey to complete.
"Monkey, take out the oars. Let's row."
The sea dragon had followed it's prey for a long time but everytime it thought that it came close, the prey would suddenly run away. It was confused. But it was patient. Humans were delicious creatures. And finding one alone was like hitting the lottery. It kept on chasing. Soon it reached the edge of the region which the humans called the no wind zone when it lost it's prey again.
It immediately started going in one direction at great speed. But after travelling a long time, it did not find the prey. Immediately it changed direction and increased its speed even more. But again, after a long time, it still did not find it's prey. It was confused again. Where did the human disappear to?
There was this large area of sea in front where the currents do not flow. The sea dragon knew that humans did not go into the area where the currents do not flow. Could this human have entered the area, it wondered.
It dare not enter this area. Sea creatures of all kinds rely on sea currents more than people realize. Ofcourse one was a bit afraid entering an area without them. And then there was the danger of it's own predators.
So it went around the area on to the other side and waited for the human to arrive. Ah~ delicious meat.
Unaware of all this and completely convinced that he was out of danger, for now, Raka rowed. Every hour they took a 15 min break. In this period, Raka took out his piece de resistance. A drive paddle! A very expensive piece of equipment. In fact, if his boat had not been free, Raka wouldn't have even dreamed of acquiring it.
He put the drive paddle in its designated place on the back of the boat and started embedding water magic. 'Time to increase my Focus!' Using this thing, one was required to use the least possible energy to increase Focus. It did not speak much for speed though and rowing was still faster. 'Just for now...wait till I increase my mana...I will drive it like a motor boat...' Ah, distant dreams!
Almost four hours game time later, they finally made it out of the no wind zone.
'Ugh!' Raka stood up and stretched. It was hard work, rowing that is. One had to wonder why it didn't increase his Strength but the fact was it didn't. And just as the wind hit the sails and the boat lurched forward, a flash appeared in the corner of his eye.
He couldn't react. None of them could. The lightning just hit the wood and burst into flame. Lightning + Wood = Fire. Fortunately, this was the sea and water was all around. But if more of that lightning hit....
"Monkey, Nobby take care of the fire." After shouting Raka turned towards the sea dragon. He clenched his fist and released.
Piff! Piff! Two sudden air explosions took place very close to the sea dragon. The air blasted itself on the beast. It screamed and dove deep.
'Damn! This thing is very intelligent.' Raka closed his eyes and tried to find the sea creature. 'There!' Raka simply reacted and imagined a powerful waterball exploding inside at some depth. Luckily it had enough power to cause a explosive wave. Creating a water explosion was difficult, owing to the nature of the medium. The denser the medium, the more energy it required.
The water wave hit the sea dragon, smacking it bloody. A bit of red rose to the surface. Raka tried another waterball in the same general direction but this time it was a miss. Doing magic was difficult if you could not see where you were doing it. It was like a sensible irony!
Another lightning hit the boat. Monkey and parrot rushed to that other place. The sea dragon hid while it charged for another strike again. Raka closed his eyes and tried another waterball explosion. This time the creature was ready for it and as it sensed the change in the water, it immediately ran away in the other direction.
"Grrr....this thing is annoying!' Raka equipped his toughnut boar leather jacket. If nothing else, it will provide some protection from the lightning. Just then another bolt hit the boat. 'It is toying with us!' And then it dove again, out of sight. Raka needed a plan and fast.
He closed his eyes and waited for the next lightning attack. He had to time it perfectly.
The sea dragon soon moved upwards for it's next attack. Near the surface, lightning blazed out of it's body headed towards the boat. In that same instant, Raka opened his eyes and focused his mana under a spot just below the sea dragon.
The lightning bolt missed Raka by a centimetre. All his hair stood up on ends due to the electric charge.
Splash! Splash! Splash! Splash! Splash! Suddenly five simultaneous water explosions occurred launching the water up high. The water hit the creature and it was thrown into the air. Biggest enemy of fish...air! It breathes air and yet it dies in it. Another irony!
'Here's my chance!' Raka launched all his remaining mana into fire explosions. The sea dragon hit the water badly burnt but still alive. It wanted to dive under but at that moment, Nobby swooped in and struck with its beak on the head of the creature. Its head was pierced and it died instantly.
Raka brought the boat around to look at his dead prize. With the help of monkey and Nobby, they slowly dragged the sea dragon out of the water and onto the boat. With a width of almost 2 metres and the length of 20 metres, this sea dragon was bigger than the boat. Raka, with monkey and Nobby, quickly tied ropes around it and lifted its ends above the water. If someone looked from afar, they would probably see an upturned sea creature with a sail flying on top!
The island of Khardoum slowly came into view. Khardoum was basically a desert. But they were one of the richest human islands.
The reason was gold. The only human island which had gold deposits. Just like Dubai or Jordan finding oil and becoming rich, Khardoum had become a desert people wished to live in.
It was another irony that the largest city on the island was not the capital, which was located near the gold mines in the middle of the desert, but rather the port city of Maccaba, located in the east of the island. West of the island was a long snaky forest which stretched out all across the western edge. The forest ended up in a large desert as one went towards the center of the island.
Currently on it's western seaboard, a weird looking ship was slowly approaching it.
"Nobby! There should be a cove near by, find it." And a green parrot took off in search for a landing place. 'The best place would be to find the fishing village. I think it should be close by.'
"There is one, a bit that way." Nobby reported.
"Alright!" Raka adjusted his tiller accordingly.
The cove was like a U-shaped piece of land with little protection against the waves. Still it was better than nothing.
'Hmmm....oh this should be...ah there it is.' Raka carefully studied his map, trying to find out his location. 'The fishing village is further south but we should take a bit of rest here.' Thinking that, he made his way into the cove.
As he reached the beach, he dropped anchor in shallow water and looked up into the forest.
"What the!" He could not help exclaiming. There was this woman, definitely a woman, straight from the stories of Aladdin and that Princess of Arabia. Wearing a loose fitting two piece pink dress. The lower one was tied up on the ankles. The top was a pink blouse only covering the chest and tied up on the shoulders. Between the two, the waist was bare. Her long golden hair was tied up in a ponytail. There was a thin veil hiding the lower part of her face. She was sexy!
It took almost a minute for Raka's brain to react.
'Umm...arabian...not egyptian? Oh that's a player!' Raka realized.
This sexy lady approached Raka, while he simply kept staring, and then said,
Ah! The bane of this game; Language!