Id spent the last few hours being ambushed by spiders.
From a gaming perspective, that was great! Each of the tiny fanged menaces was essentially just a gross wad of experience, and it was pretty undeniable that I needed some experience right now.
From a real life perspective, however — and I really couldn stress this enough — it sucked.
Not because of the venom: While it stung, as long as I made sure to rest enough after each ambush, the little spiders definitely weren going to kill me.
Not because of the psychological damage either: Despite "being ambushed by tons of venomous spiders" being rather high on the "things that would probably give me horrible nightmares" list, I was actually holding up pretty well. The Trauma Suppression skill, mixed bag though it was, was likely to blame for this.
Nope. In the end, the worst part of killing the spiders was simple: I was covered in spider crud. Foul, pasty, rank-smelling spider crud.
While it was gross, very quickly Id realized the best way to kill the little devils was to squash them the moment they landed on me. The end result was that Id invented a strange new mixture of whack-a-mole and the macarena, and also that I was covered in spider guts.
It was thus that when I finally found a stream, my first reaction wasn "Great! Im so glad Im not going to die from thirst!" but rather "Holy hell, Im taking a bath right now."
I made a beeline for the water, only to be rudely interrupted by two sharp pains on my neck.
Took 1 damage from Bite.
You are Poisoned!
Seriously? Let me bathe!
I immediately threw my hand to my neck, crushing one of my minuscule assailants while the other skittered upwards. Sadly for me, it made its way up to my hair, and I got to experience the oh-so-soothing sensation of having a spider scuttle around on my scalp. Notably skeezed out, I slapped it as fast as I possibly could, smushing it flat and earning me a harsh whack to the head.
Another jumped at me, and I traced its movement back to a branch where two of its siblings laid in wait. I dispatched the first of them with another slap, and with the others now in sight, I was able to avoid their jumps. They landed on the ground and hurried to my feet, but it was no use. In a moment, both met the soles of my boot, and the corner of my vision flashed with twin experience notifications.
I waited tensely for another spider to make its move, but no more came. Instead, however, a prompt popped up, accompanied by an unexpected wave of euphoria.
Congratulations! You have reached level 2!
Note: Each level up will automatically raise your Constitution and Prestige by 1.
As a human Protagonist, you have 6 free stat points to allocate.
A level! And it came with six stat points? I thought back to when Id received my Lesser Boon, remembering how an extra five points of Strength had taken me from a homebody to a CrossFit enthusiast. I couldn wait to see what I could do with six more.
That, however, would have to wait. With no more spiders in sight, I quickly looted the ones Id just killed before running to the stream with joy.
In a flash, I undressed and soaked myself in the water, and despite the slightly cold temperature, it was undeniably one of the best baths Id ever had.
Once Id rid myself of all the gunk and no longer felt like a dirty goblin, I used the water to do some spot treatments on my clothes as well. Seeing as the spiders preferred biting exposed flesh, my wardrobe had actually fared pretty well, and moments later, I was dressed and ready for action.
After giving the crud-imbued water a second to flow downstream, I quenched my thirst and then sat down, ready to figure out how to spend my new stat points.
The first step was just figuring out what my stats even were. Thinking back to how Id been made to think "Inventory" to examine my bag, I searched for a similar magic phrase to show me my stats. After a few tries, I discovered the correct word was "character," and a large status sheet popped up in front of me.
Mark of the Protagonist
Minor Class Token
It looked like despite having my new fancy swirly mark, I was still just a basic noob.
At least they seem to have given me the ability to speak the language here. Although, no idea how that works…
Particularly demoralizing was the fact that one of my stats hadn even hit 10 yet, which seemed to be the baseline for a normal adult. Had I hit the gym in the past few years? No. But whose fault was that really? If the gods had considered coming down to my college career fairs and warning me that I might have a future as a fantasy adventurer, I would have considered doing a push up or two, right? Clearly this was on them.
On the plus side, at least a few of my stats were above 10 too, so hopefully it all evened out. Plus, my bonus from the Strong Armed boon had bumped me up considerably.
Knowing my stats didn help me figure out how to allocate my new points though. Even if I knew the names of them, their uses still evaded me. For instance, what on earth was Wisdom and how was it any different than Intelligence? Even when it came to the ones I kind of understood, I still felt in the dark. Perception, for instance: Would that increase my pain perception too? I hoped not.
I focused on my Perception stat, trying to bring up some more information. After a moment, a line of text popped up: Increases sensory abilities and awareness of danger.
Well gee. That was helpful.
"Um. Any chance I could get a little bit more here? Universe? Gods?" I wasn actually expected to pick just based off of that, was I?
Honestly, Id mostly expected to be ignored, but a moment later, a prompt popped up.
Gods Mind Activated
Basic information requested: Perception
Affects sensory abilities.
As is true with all stats save for Luck, stat increases up to 25 will mostly affect the user physically. For human Perception, this entails dramatic increases to sight, hearing, and scent, coupled with more subtle increases in touch and taste.
After reaching a Perception of 25, further stat increases will affect the user magically. The most notable change is gaining a "danger sense" which will alert you if something close by is watching you or about to attack. You will also experience drastic increases in basic senses and the ability to detect mana.
Wow, that was actually kind of helpful. Who woulda thunk it?
I checked through the other stats, finding that, besides for Luck, they all had the same pattern: Regular changes up till 25, then much more dramatic ones.
As for what all the stats did, Strength was entirely as expected. Dexterity enhanced speed, flexibility, and the ability to make precise movements. Intelligence gave a small boost to cognitive abilities and mental multitasking, but its main function was to make spells more powerful.
The resource stats were Constitution, Endurance, and Wisdom. Constitution increased health and health regeneration rates while Endurance did the same for stamina and Wisdom did the same for mana.
The two oddball stats were Charisma and Luck. The first one somehow altered my persuasiveness, likability, and appearance, while the second just made me luckier in general. I honestly found it a bit creepy that a stat could alter the way I looked like that, but new world, new rules, I supposed.
Done reading through the stat descriptions, I made my choice: Four points would be going into Strength and two into Endurance. Maybe once I was out of the woods, Id settle down and never fight a day in my life. If I ran into trouble before then, though Id need to be as strong as I could be to survive.
Satisfied with my choices, I confirmed them and waited for my body to adjust to the changes. Instead of instantly growing bulkier, however, a prompt appeared.
As a Protagonist directly chosen by a god of luck, all stats will be assigned randomly.
What? Was I seriously not even allowed to choose my stats? How would I get anything done like that? What if I tried to become a mage and all my stats randomly went into Strength? Worse yet, what if they all went into Charisma and Luck, and I was stuck defenseless forever! I came this close to shouting for Dex to get his supernal ass down here and to become a god of something that sucked less.
As I bemoaned my fate, the prompt popped back up with my new stat changes.
Free stat selection confirmed: 3 Perception, 2 Intelligence, 1 Strength
I groaned at the unlucky distribution, even as my body began changing in response to it. The Intelligence was entirely useless without any spells, and what did I need all of that Perception for?
Suddenly, my senses expanded: I felt like Id taken an ultra strength sudafed, gotten all the wax removed from my ears, and put on a pair of glasses that I didn know I needed. Every scent and sound became a bit richer, and not only could I see noticeably farther, but also I could pick out the finer details on closer objects too.
Despite being unhappy with how things had turned out, I had to admit that the increase felt phenomenal. If this was just a Perception of 14, I couldn imagine what it would feel like once I hit 25. Besides, I supposed I couldn really complain. Random stat allocations or not, it was still a lot better than being dead back on Earth.
Without a way to carry any water, I decided to follow the stream for a while. With that decision made, newly statted up and ready to go, I continued on my way.
I walked on for another hour, completely uneventfully. Truthfully, it was kind of relaxing. The trees weren as thick around the stream, and as such, Id been forced to stop for spider ambushes much less frequently.
Sadly, however, the pros of following the stream seemed to come with some cons.
Right as Id pulled out some bread from my pouch, a movement caught my attention. I swiveled my head over to get a better look, and barely kept myself from gasping aloud.
Up ahead, something was moving towards the stream to grab a drink. It was still a ways off, but with my newly enhanced vision I could see that it was another spider. Unlike the other spiders Id fought, though, this one was huge. It had to be around the size of a well-fed shih-tzu! Holy hell, did spiders really get that big? It was an eerie bright blue, and from what I could see, it had sharp, bladelike protrusions coming off of its legs.
Thankfully, I was concealed by the trees and too far away for it to notice me. While I definitely wanted a better source of experience than the spiderlings, there was no way I was messing with a spider that big. I focused on it to see if I could get any more information, but the only thing that came up was a little name tag denoting it a Spider Prince.
I moved deeper into the forest, hoping to skirt the spider and continue onwards. At the same time, I returned the bread to my pouch, pulling out my knife and my spear instead. I tucked the knife into my belt while tensely gripping the spear. While I hoped I didn have to use them, it wouldn do to be unarmed if that thing attacked.
My eyes were glued to the spider as I creeped as quietly as I could. Just a few more steps and Id be far enough to breathe a little easier.
It was right about then when I felt the familiar sting of a spider bite on my neck.
Id been so focused on the larger spider, Id almost forgotten about the smaller variety, and I let out a little yelp as it bit into me. I swatted it and began my dance with the other spiders that followed, dodging, stepping, and slapping until they were all dead. While I was getting better and better at fighting them, I still ended up taking about 20 damage from the exchange.
During the fight, Id tried to keep the larger spider in the corner of my eye, but as my fight had drawn to a close, Id been forced to take my eyes from it. I whipped back to make sure it wasn coming for me only to find that it was… gone.
My heart started racing, and I bolted for my spear which Id dropped to more easily fight the spiderlings. For two minutes, I held the spear out in front of me, turning slowly, scanning for any signs of attack, but nothing came. It was like the spider prince had just vanished.
I finally started to relax. I was no expert on spider anatomy, and I had no idea how well they could hear, but I was pretty far off from where it had been. I imagined it had probably just had its fill and moved away from the stream.
I pulled my spear back in and started to walk on without looting any of the spiderlings, eager to put the entire area behind me. Out of the corner of my eye, though, I saw something leap towards me at an incredible speed.
The spider prince was evidently not going to let me off so easily.