Jaro didn't know regret or fear, he felt only anger at not being able to complete his mission. A thunderous boom that was echoed by the frightened whine of wolves suddenly filled the night air. A second booming crash and the pressure of bodies holding him down disappeared.
"Here we go!" Nix took a two-handed swing at an escaping Dire Wolf, launching him several feet in the air. Lightning crackled down the length of the hammer as he spun and slammed another one into a paste.
He switched the hammer to one hand, and a half-dozen flame strands caught two fleeing wolves, he yanked them backward and then batted them out of the air. Nix ruthlessly finished them off and spun around for more. A disappointed look on his face when he discovered that they had all gone.
Jaro climbed unsteadily to his feet. He stared at the armorless man, even in the night his yellow eyes glowed. "Thank you for helping me. I'm Jaro, from the Nescari settlement."
Nix was only half-listening to the person speaking. He smiled at the hammer that was crackling with lightning. "Thor, God of Thunder."
"Thor? A God?" Jaro bowed deeply, "I have been looked upon with great favor. It is..." He trailed off when Nix held up a hand.
"I wasn't being serious. I'm Nix. Just a regular dude." Nix let the lightning fade from the hammer before tossing it back to Jaro.
"What's a dude?"
Nix silently cursed himself for letting the dude word slip out. That damn Mai kept saying it while they were playing dominoes. "It's like a demi-god, but without any powers."
Jaro looked at him for a moment before cracking a wide smile. "I understand Nix. How is it that you can use my hammer?"
Nix gave him a deadpan look. "Because I am worthy."
Jaro pulled his bandages out of his inventory and started cleaning himself up. The fighter noticed Nix watching him. "Do you have an interest in treating wounds?"
"Yes," Nix nodded. "Doesn't everyone?"
Jaro has decided to teach you Basic Bandaging.
Recover a small amount of
the health lost from a wound.
You have learned Basic Bandaging.
"Normally such a thing would be frowned upon since we can only gift one person the ability to learn a skill. However, given that you saved my life, I feel it is justified."
Nix nodded and grabbed the bandages from Jaro. "Let me practice!"
Jaro shrugged and let him work, he'd have to redo it, but the practice would be good. "What are you doing in Titania Forest?"
"I beat up a goddess, but then somehow ended up losing. Next thing I know, here I am." Nix carefully wrapped a deep gash on Jaro's calf.
Your Basic Bandaging Skill has risen to 2.
You Basic Bandaging Skill has risen to 3.
Jaro chuckled and slapped Nix on the shoulder. "Was it a Thunder Goddess?"
"Nope." Nix shook his head and wrapped up the last bandage. "Why were you running through the forest in the middle of the night?"
"I've been gone several months on an important quest. In my rush to get home, I crossed paths with the Dire pack."
"Shouldn't you know better?" Nix covered a yawn and started skinning Dire Wolves.
"I should," Jaro admitted. "This pack is far outside of their normal hunting grounds."
Nix left the meat where it was since it was too much like dog for him to touch it. Jaro had no such qualms and claimed the meat.
"I need to get back Jaro, there are a few things I need to do tomorrow in Bachoni." Nix shook his hand and realized the man was phenomenally strong.
"Nescari is half a days travel from here. Head east and you can't miss it. If you have the chance, come and visit." Jaro bowed slightly and then started out at a trot, completely oblivious to his healing wounds.
The Salamander was invisible from the ground, his emerald coloring blended perfectly with foliage from the tree. Its four legs hung on either side of the branch while it dozed happily in the morning sun.
The creature opened one eye when it heard the slapping noise. A quick glance toward the river identified the culprit. Soup was slapping the surface of the water loudly, its eyes were staring into the trees where Nix was hidden.
"Gonna eat you Soup." Nix covered a yawn and walked down to the river before taking a seat on the riverbank. He let his feet soak in the water while he leaned back.
Soup just watched with her Aquamarine eyes, her smooth head pushed against him She made a soft noise like a clucking sound.
Nix listened quietly, she had never made much noise but he knew that Sea Turtles could make sounds. "What should we do Soup? Wait for a few days for help to arrive or scout around a bit and take over the place?"
Soup didn't answer, she was content to lay on the bank.
"What was that? Prey waits? Fine, I'm going to visit Bachoni today. I want you to stay hidden."
Two hours later, Nix stepped onto the dock at the Iron Pike Trading Post. In the distance, he could see a small sailboat approaching.
"Thought I'd be seeing you today!" Hoot was holding a cup of something that smelled like coffee.
"What is that your drinking Hoot?" As far as Nix knew, there wasn't any coffee in Colonial.
"It's called Rhyn, they grow it in the far south. Although I have a small patch of it myself."
"Where can I get some seeds?" Nix knew without a doubt, he could find a market for it in Colonial.
"Just used the last bit of mine, although I heard Shelly in Bachoni has a large supply. She keeps some winter grain too."
Nix nodded and chatted with Hoot while the boat anchored close to the Trading Post. Two men were rowing a small dingy loaded down with supplies and Nix caught the tied-off rope when it was tossed toward him.
There was quite a few items that Nix was interested in, however, his first priority needed to be credits and gear. All it took was one sentence from Hoot and they agreed to give Nix a ride to Bachoni.
On the trip back to Bachoni, Nix learned that the Lake was called Otter Lake. By the time they were within sight of the city, the sun was already late afternoon. It had taken three hours to sail the distance.
Bachoni was exactly the way Nix had pictured it in his head. It was a huge floating city, complete with tall wooden walls. He could see it was surrounded on three sides by a large marina where boats of all shapes and sizes could be seen.
The city lived entirely off the lake and traded with a number of coastal towns that shared Otter Lake with them. According to Hoot, it had started as a fishermen rebellion of sorts and then ended up becoming a thriving community.
Nix took a deep breath when he stepped onto the dock. Immediately, a scrawny kid dressed in rags ran toward him.
"Traveler! Do you need a guide?" The kid flashed his white teeth at Nix, a born hustler if there ever was one.
"No." Nix was about to walk past him but instead stopped. "Answer a few questions and I will give you two of these." Nix took out two cans of Otter meat.
"Otter?" The boy nodded quickly. "Ask away!"
"I need to find a General Store and somewhere to buy gear."
"Geno's Armor is the place to buy weapons and armor. There's a weapon shop called Manigans, but he only sells firearms. We have two General Stores, they are across the street from each other. They are actually sisters who are feuding, so be careful what you say."
Nix tossed the cans to the boy and thanked him.
There was a slight swaying sensation when Nix walked down the boardwalk toward Geno's Armor. A small tailor shop caught his eye and Nix stepped inside to take a look.