Lesson Learning

Xap held his breath. The 14-year-old orc hid in the bushes as the adventuring party passed him. They were leaving the village Xap was returning to. A small crowd of orc children booed and threw stones at the adventurers as they left. Xap took a moment to smile at his own memories of being too young to kill.

Now at 14 he was considered a Juvenile and had to hide to stay safe. As the adventurers paraded toward the sunset and out of the reach of the children’s stones, the kids all fled back to their individual houses. Xap waited a few more minutes to be sure the attackers were gone then he left the bush.

He ran through the smoking village to his home. Some children and surviving adults were doing their best to put the fires out. Xap did not see his parents or siblings helping with the fire anywhere.

“MOM! DAD!?” He ran into the hut screaming, then stopped immediately. Four orc corpses sprawled on the floor; Xap’s parents, older sister and older brother.

“Xap,” a faint voice called him from the next room to his right. Xap’s family was well regarded in the community and they had one of the larger huts in town with multiple rooms built around the main one. Xap dashed to the next room. He found his uncle laying in a pool of dark green blood; but, still stirring slightly.

“Uncle Crag!” Xap scrambled to kneel down by his uncle. “You survived!” Crag wheezed. He gripped Xap’s hand when the boy tried to console him, then Crag shook his head slightly. “You’re going to be fine,” Xap said.

“No time…,” Crag paused; he had trouble breathing for a moment, then finally managed to gasp in enough to fill his lungs again. Xap did not understand what his uncle was getting at right away until he spoke again. “Harvest,” Crag wheezed.

His uncle was responsible for overseeing the harvest this year. It was a great honor and meant the town put a lot of trust into Crag. Even at death’s door, he did not want to let them down. The harvest was supposed to begin in three days. Xap didn’t know anything about healing, but he knew the healers in his village weren’t the best. As wounded as Crag appeared to be, Xap doubted Crag would be up and around within three days; and, he realized Crag doubted it too.

“Are you sure?” Xap asked once he understood his uncle’s request. Crag nodded.

“Love you, Uncle Crag,” Xap leaned forward and kissed his uncle’s forehead. In the same motion, Xap slid his dagger out of its sheath and slid it across Crag’s throat before his lips left his uncle’s forehead. Dark green blood rushed out of the thin line and Crag gave one last wheezing gurgle.

Xap was surprised by a loud clang filling his ears; at the same time, a shower of golden sparkles erupted around him.

[Level Up!] golden text hovered in Xap’s vision for several seconds, then dissipated.

“What the hell?” Xap wondered aloud; there was no one left to disturb in the hut.  Xap stood and remained still for several minutes hoping for something else to happen. After nothing did, Xap decided he’d had a full day. Whatever it was that happened, he was done thinking for the day. It was close enough to bed time and he did not feel hungry in the slightest. He retreated to his own room, which thankfully did not have any corpses in it, and went to sleep.

The smell of bacon cooking woke Xap the next morning. His stomach growled and he got out of bed. After his morning routine he walked into the kitchen to see his mom standing at the black iron stove.

“Good morning, sleepy head,” his mom smiled at him.

“‘Mornin’,” he grumbled as he sat at the table. “Everyone respawn okay?” he asked. She nodded as she placed a plate of bacon and eggs in front of him.

“Perfect as always,” she said, then shook her head. “I just wish someone could teach those adventurers a lesson.”

“Yeah, me too,” Xap agreed. He focused on his plate and began shoveling food into his mouth. While chewing he looked up and noticed a red exclamation mark hovering above his mom’s head. He stared at it for several moments; his mouth still full of half-chewed food. His mother puttered around the kitchen while Xap watched the red exclamation mark. Finally, he finished chewing and swallowed his bite.

“Mom, you sure you’re feeling okay?” he asked. His mother stopped what she was doing to turn and smile at him.

“Feeling good as new,” she said. “I just wish someone could teach those adventurers a lesson.”

“I’ll do it,” Xap said. The words left his mouth before he could consider them, much less the fact that his mom was repeating herself. He didn’t know why he volunteered but it felt like the right thing to say.

[Quest Accepted: Adventuring Lessons] appeared in Xap’s eye line in red.

[1. Slay 10 Humans] appeared along the right side of his vision.

“I can do it,” Xap whispered to himself. “I’ll teach them a lesson they’ll never forget.”

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