A Bad Mealtime

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I recently began playing Oberin and something funny happened to my character the other day. I wrote a story about it and submitted it to the player stories collection. Now, it’s here. Enjoy :)

This tale is related to happenings within the world of Oberin. It concerns itself with, and is written in first person by, Mokukiri, my lumber-jacking, magic-despising druid.

I enjoy working with others, but above that, I enjoy wandering through the sparse woodlands surrounding Lerilin. People have warned me that it's dangerous, but what's a man to do? I'm a lumberjack. I can't stay cooped up in a cave for hours, battling ants with my companions. No, I need some room to breathe, some sunlight to soak up, from time to time. I need to be in those glades, watching the sheep and dogs roam around.

It just so happens that I also very much enjoy moving around. So I too roam.

When I'm not felling trees or whittling, I'm either fighting or moving around in the wilderness. Since I spend so much of my time out in the open, I notice many things that would, at first glance, seem like nothing. It is in this manner than I discovered that the areas west of Lerilin are actually rather rich in herbs and plants that, with no effort, can be turned around and used as the physical components for spells. I have taken to wandering out and making my goal to be to gather these items.

Today, I went west, gathering up ginseng, lotus, and mandrake, straying farther and farther from the road. I lost track of time as I enjoyed myself more and more, and before I knew it, hours had gone by and I found myself before a bridge. What was this construction? Where did it lead? Perhaps there were more exquisite glades on the other side. So I crossed it.

I had only recently heard of the tragedy that befell Marali, and the impact of it had not quite set in, so when I saw the the sign saying “North: Marali” instead of turning back, my curiosity was piqued. I wondered what sorts of beasts lay along the road there. I would come back to Lerilin the next day, and boast to my companion, Sir Llew, about how I'd wandered so far and how I'd come back in one piece, having defeated all sorts of unknown enemies.

I only went two steps past the sign before I felt an odd breeze, and only went back one before a raging hurricane was upon me. This must be… a wind elemental. I'd seen one before, tamed by another druid. At that time, I was fighting alongside the elemental. I had never bothered to ask what their properties were, though I doubt that information would have been useful at that point. It was around then that I fully realized: I was hours' walking away from my hometown, alone, and to make matters worse my stomach was growling. And suddenly, I was afraid.

Confused, disconcerted, and desperate, I thought of nothing better to do than wildly swing out with my trusty katana. The wind abated slightly, before striking back at full force. I felt the debris kicked up by its blowing slice me through the spaces between my armor's plates, but I didn't fall back. I can hurt it. Again and again, I swung; slowly, I beat it back. I was bleeding heavily, and starting to feel exhausted, and my stomach wouldn't leave me alone, but this was it. I could win this battle, and then I would make it home. I would make it back to Lerilin, and brag about how I'd defeated such a powerful opponent.

As if it itself were unsure of its chances at this point, the wind shot away from me, moving at high speeds. My body kept telling me not to pursue the elemental, to take a break. My stomach cried for food. But my mind, full of glory, forced the rest of me to push on. It was only then that I noticed the lumbering creature emerging from behind a tree, moving towards me with its arms outstretched. The disturbingly humanoid creature, smelling of rotten flesh.

“Mmmmmmm braaains,” it mumbled, and I cursed under my breath, tried to move back, away from it. There was no way I could take on a zombie in my current condition. I ran a few paces before I fell to the ground. I'd taken a bad blow to my knee earlier, when a fallen log had been picked up into the air and smashed me. I couldn't run any further. My armor was dented in a dozen places, and impinging my breathing. t might have been the end right then and there. But as the zombie loomed over me, I acted quickly. I tossed my shield at it in an attempt to at least slow it down, and flung my katana away. Fumbling with the straps and buckles, I shed my plate armor. Reaching into my pouch, I drew out a piece of dull amber and a slightly crumpled lotus flower, missing a petal. I prayed that all those wasted years at the academy would pay off, and I cast my spell, flinching all the while.

It took me a moment to open my eyes, as if I were afraid that I'd find the zombie chewing on my leg. Instead, I didn't find my leg at all. It had worked. I could not be seen. I lay there on the ground, pieces of plate littering the landscape. I breathed as silently as I could, afraid the sound would indicate my position to the undead monster. I looked on in relief as it dropped my metal shield and began lumbering away.

And that was the moment, where, in my relief, I allowed my senses to come back to me and my stomach made itself be heard. Without thinking, I reached into my food pack and pulled out an apple. As I bit into it, I noticed that the hand holding it was visible. I choked on the first bite of the apple and fell to my knees before spitting it out onto the ground, my saliva mixing with the blood that had flown from my wounds. I almost laughed at myself as the zombie turned around. I considered drawing my spare katana, or possibly brandishing my glaive, but I knew it was too late for something like that. Unarmed, unarmored, alone, isolated, I could only watch as the once-human monster clawed my arm off and took a satisfying bite out of my other shoulder. The last thing I remember seeing was the motion my wrist made as my arm hit the ground, fingers still clenching that damned apple.

"A Bad Mealtime" was posted by on Monday, January 16th 2006. This post is categorized Shorts.

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