Chapter 6: Busy little buddy
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 “What is that!?” Mia was screaming at me while we continued running away.

  “How am I supposed to know!? When I left, the only things I knew of was the vine monsters that my familiar was hunting and my familiar!” I shouted back.

  As I shouted my response, I got worried. Why was I being chased by a monster? Was Rumble okay!? Glancing up at the top right of my vision I saw Rumble’s health bar full but his stamina bar was draining fast… along with a crying emoji.

  After a few moments of continued running while processing the situation, I realized that I was truly an idiot. I skidded to a stop and turned to face my familiar. Rumble however, did not stop. Crashing into me and bringing me down to the ground in a tight hug, Rumble was obviously glad to see me.

  Mia not knowing why I stopped, spared a glance to see me get bowled over by the aggressive plant. Spinning on her heel, trying to save her friend, she swung her leg and landed a solid hit on Rumble’s core. With the mass of roots tumbling away, Mia grabbed me by the arm and started to pull me up. As I awkwardly accepted her help, while still being stunned by what just took place, Mia’s leg gave out under the strain forcing me to instead support her weight as I quickly righted myself.

  “Ugh, I got the “hamstringed” debuff from that kick. I must’ve really hurt my leg hitting that monster. I’m not sure if we can take it though. The thing looks really solid and it easily bowled you over.” Mia stated.

  “About that… thats actually Rumble, my familiar. He has grown quite a bit since I left this morning but there is no doubt in my mind that it is him.” I explained

  “Wait, you have a plant monster!? What kind of hunter are you!? Mia vigorously inquired.

  “Well, I did’t ever tell you what my primary class was. Frankly I didn’t want word of it spreading until I got a handle on the class and how it synergizes with my secondary farmer class. I replied.

Mia still being supported by me leaned back in order to give me a disbelieving stare with one of her eyebrows raised in a look that screamed “are you serious right now?

  “Looking back I should’ve mentioned it on the way back but now I’ve got to make up for lost time. This plant monster approaching us is Rumble, my tree plant familiar. He is tough, fearless, and will happily snuggle you for warmth. So why don’t we get you into the house, warmed up, and situated before dark. With your leg hurt, you will probably just want to sit by the fire while I prepare for the night.”

  Still obviously annoyed with me, Mia allowed me to help her towards the shack. As we approached, Rumble finally righted himself and caught up to us. As they came closer together, Mia stopped me and bent down towards the familiar.

  “Look, I’m sorry for a moment ago. Your partner is a little slow on the up and up, hopefully this didn’t ruin our prospects of being friends though. I would be happy to be friends if you are up to it little guy.” Mia sweetly offered.

  With a smiling emoji in the top right of my vision, I saw Rumble close the final distance between himself and Mia before grabbing her legs, tripping her, and catching her in a sitting position perched on top of his core. With Mia confusedly sitting atop his head, Rumble started off towards the shack.

  “What’s he doing!?” Mia questioned after a moment.

  “I think he took your offer to heart and now ya’ll are best buds!” I replied. “He is probably taking you to get warm inside since he could tell that your leg is not doing so well after ya’lls introduction.”

  Mia looking both surprised and impressed, started to relax and enjoy the ride. “I think we are gonna be good friends Rumble. But you and your partner both need to get better at introductions…. You wouldn’t believe how Brad and I met each other, we even got scolded by some snooty politician within moments of saying hi to each other. “ She went on to explain.

  As the two disappeared up the path and into the shack I couldn’t help but shake my head and laugh while picking up all the spilled food. The food now covered in dirt was a lot less appetizing but still essential for our survival. Sure I had eggs but they only last so long. “I wonder if I can buy some chickens of my own soon, I would love to have a steady supply of my own without having to spend precious coin everytime I fried up a few.”

  Having gathered all the food bigger than crumbs, I started to make my way towards the shack. Making my way closer I noticed random chunks of wood and more than a few withered leaves piled in small little neat clusters along the side of the path. Peering closer at them multiple message boxes popped up over them, most of which were describing them as various dead monsters. After having passed over a dozen of them an exceptionally flashy box appeared with a burst of fanfare and sound.

Congratulations Achievement Earned!

“Make notes and learn their names”

Bestiary Tab unlocked

Defeat more unique species to earn their page

Defeat more of the same species to unlock more details on their page

  Caught off guard, I didn’t actually process what the message meant until my third reading of it.Impressed at the possibilities, I opened up my menu and saw the new tab; clicking on it I was surprised to see quite a few monsters that I had never fought. “Lasher (Vine)” was the only one I really recognized but I definitely didn’t remember beating as many as was listed.

  Apparently I had defeated 19 of them. One thing was obvious, it wasn’t me but rather Rumble had been a very busy familiar with a very zealous work ethic. Curiosity hitting me, I closed the bestiary and opened up my familiars page and found little change in his information. Not one to give up, I continued onto my own status screen and found a massive change. “Plant Familiar Skill” had risen all the way to level 2 and was also already 93% of the way through that!

  “Wow that little guy has been busy! He only got 5% per monster before I left and I bet he gets even less now.” Impressed at my little companion I continued up the path making note of all the piles that I would need to comeback to to loot. “I really wonder if he’s that strong because druid is legendary or if part of it is my farming skill having additional effects outside of just HP.”

Arriving at the door I saw Mia inside on her knees checking out the low quality emergency fire pit that I had. As I approached she turned to me with respect in plastered on her face.

  “I know Lieutenant Dan helped build the firepit but I doubt he helped gather all the wood. I can’t believe you managed to collect it all yesterday before turning in, or even if you woke up early before needing to leave for the introduction in Westbend.” Mia stated with genuine emotion.

  “Wait, what now? When I left, I had all of like 1 log left, that's obviously not that much.” I replied.

  Looking over where the log should’ve been, I was surprised to find an unorganized pile of small sticks, nothing large, but a huge pile of loose sticks as thick as my thumb with the occasional thicker piece no longer than a foot long. The pieces in general were better for a quick hot fire, but had just enough to keep a small one going for most of the cold night if rationed.

  “Rumble, did you do this?” I asked already knowing the answer as I saw little happy emojis flashing in my vision with him noticing my reactions.

  “I should’ve chosen Ranger…” Mia said flatly. “If I had a familiar half as useful as that, then I definitely wouldn’t have had such a rough night yesterday. I’m guessing he was also the one to kill all those monsters outside?”

  “To my knowledge, yes. I definitely didn’t kill all of those, but I absolutely got credit for them. Rumble leveled my familiar skill and checking the bodies earned me an achievement that unlocked a new menu tab called “Bestiary. I still need to go back and loot them but I wanted to bring in the food.”

  “Well, let's eat first and hopefully my leg will feel better. Afterwards we can try to get a few thicker logs before nightfall and we can also collect all the loot so that we can appraise it before bedtime.” Mia offered.

  “That sounds like a plan.” I replied.

  After eating a solid meal of bread, cheeses, and dried meats, Mia’s leg was feeling better after having regained health. Making our way outside we approached each fallen monster one by one, gathering them on the makeshift blanket litter we carried the food with. Having gathered all the monsters, we proceeded to chop and collect thicker pieces of wood for the coming night. With Mia’s help I was able to build up a small surplus to help me tomorrow in case I got back late from helping Mia set up her own fire and supply. Rumble meanwhile continued to beat the ever living snot out of random plants, monsters and ugly plants included. After having watched him for a while, I convinced him to gather his kills into a pile along with the others gathered earlier in the corner of our shack.

  Having gathered wood well into the last stages of twilight, the sky was barely illuminated enough to walk back to the shack safely. With the fire lit and a healthy store of wood for the coming night, I wedged a stick in the door frame to hold the door shut. Mia meanwhile had started to carefully pick up and sort all the monster loot.

  “Nothing amazing, but for just arriving you are sitting pretty with all this loot”! Mia was telling me excitedly. “The most valuable item is still considered trash quality, but piles of trash still mean a heap of copper! It also means a heap of experience for Merchant skill!”

  “What does your skill do?” I asked Mia while contemplating what I would want to buy first. Sure, a few chickens would be awesome for my daily breakfast, but with my skills I would be better off investing in some plants to harvest.

  “‘Merchant’s Eye’ is the Merchant class skill I’m using here, it lets me gauge an item's quality and worth. The information is highly limited right now but I bet it will be really informative at higher levels.” She said.

  And so the night continued, bantering back and forth while discussing what each item's general worth was. Eventually with heavy eyelids we stretched out next to the fire and fell asleep, Rumble positioned right in the nook of my armpit.