Humanity Online: World Sanctuary
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11 A Dog Named Ca
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Humanity Online: World Sanctuary
Author :Seshata
© Webnovel

11 A Dog Named Ca

So…this is excruciating.

Like, I get that the VR experience is vastly different from any other gaming experience, and it's important to 'crawl before you roundhouse kick' or whatever that saying is, but seeing as I'm not a literal baby, this is torture.

For my first Foundation Skill Quest, I'm running around the village posting "Lost Tanuki" fliers.

Most of the tengu huts are essentially treehouses, so I'm pasting fliers to the bare tree trunks beneath the houses. The market, post office, and school are at ground-level, built into giant hollowed-out trees like those Redwoods you can drive through in California. I slap fliers onto the doors of each, not bothering to ask the owners.

It's not that I believe it's easier to ask forgiveness than get permission. It's more that I believe it's easiest to do neither.

If you don't get caught, you don't get bothered.

I do take note every time I pass a tengu NPC with an orange-glowing name, so I won't have to search long for the next task. Anything to finish these painfully simple quests faster.

Finally empty-handed, I race back to Little Jojo, the teary-eyed tengu kid who's lost his pet.

"Thank you, Hero!" he cries, flinging himself at my waist in a grateful hug.

"Uh. No worries," I reply as I awkwardly try to pry him off me. He has a surprisingly strong grip for such a tiny brat.

I'm fairly concerned I'm going to take damage.

The chime of a system notification alert grabs my attention, so I give up and just leave the kid attached while I two-finger swipe to turn on Visual Notifications.

(Too many people in the beta died due to ill-timed notifications popping up in the players' sight lines during battles or while traversing dangerous terrain or whatever, so they added the toggle function for players to choose when notifications auto-appear and when they simply chime and a red exclamation point is added to your status window.)

[Quest Complete! You completed {Help Little Jojo} in 02:48. Pass Time: 09:00]

[Quest Success Rating: S – Unlock Chain Quest!]

[Quest Reward: You have gained Foundation Skill: Sprint (Basic)]

[Sprint (Basic): Like jogging, but faster. Allows you to move at maximum land speed, based on Agility and equipment bonuses. Consumes Stamina.]

Weird. Sprint wasn't a skill in the beta, it was just a thing you could do, like walk or jump. It always consumed stamina though. Maybe now that it's a skill, leveling it up can decrease how quickly it uses SP? That would be convenient.

"Great news, Hero!" Little Jojo exclaims, little arms still locked tight around me. "Someone saw the flier and brought info on Neko! Will you go save him?"

His oversized eyes, filled with hero-worship and awe, stare up at me with all the hope and optimism of childhood.


"No."

I flatly refuse, then flick him in the forehead.

Gotta squash that naïveté early.

A system alert chimes.

[Chain Quest {Save Neko} Activated!]

[Warning: Failure to complete this mandatory quest will result in penalty.]

Oh, c'mon! This counts as an official chain quest? I know you can't opt out of chain quests in this game, but for fuck's sake, the kid named his raccoon dog 'Cat'!

The tanuki's probably suffering from an identity crisis and couldn't take it anymore. I doubt the poor bastard wants to be found!

Chain quests are supposed to be rewards for above-excellent initial quest completion, but honestly, this feels more like punishment.

"Fine," I growl.

Little Jojo cheers and attacks my leg with such an intense hug my pants lose another precious point of durability.

I wonder if the quest would cancel if the kid mysteriously died.

---

Little Jojo drags me to a dark section of the forest and points out a trail of will-o'-the-wisp fires, smoky electric blue flames that seem to emit a low-key aggro-pulling effect.

To my surprise, I feel like I could break the aggro-pull if I wanted. I'm curious whether it's a racial perk, since the fires are tengu magic, or if it's a willpower effect of the Windflower Emblem's Fortitude +1 hidden attribute.

Either way, I don't bother dispelling the aggro-pulling, since I want to follow the lights anyway. I ditch the kid and start using my brand-new Sprint skill to zip through the ferns and trees. As I near the last visible blue flame, another appears further into the woods, then another as I near that one, until I'm playing a bizarre game of tag with magic fireballs.

It's kinda fun, tbh. Especially since I can finally feel the speed effects of the Emblem and my base Agi racial bonus; my max speed is already as fast as it was a month into the beta.

For the first time since I fell on my ass this morning, I'm smiling.

My ever-present HP and SP bars glow in the top left corner of my vision. While the blue Health bar stays full and happy, my green stamina bar rises and falls constantly as I manipulate my movement speeds.

Stamina is a complicated beast in Viren's Refuge. I'm more familiar with its intricacies than most, since one of my long-term beta assignments involved testing dozens of stamina-maximizing techniques.

Sprinting consumes SP, while Agi and equipment determines how rapid the rate of consumption. Jogging, walking, and standing replenish SP at different rates, so there's an art to alternating movement speeds to run most efficiently without depleting your SP and entering a Weakened state.

Combat also consumes stamina. Melee skills use more SP than non-magic ranged attacks, and magic skills generally consume the most SP, just like magic consumes mana in other MMOs. The stamina burn during combat isn't unreasonably fast, though; by Level 10, if you're decently efficient, an average player can fight for 5-10 minutes without needing an SP recovery item or spell.

What's really cool (for expert players, anyway) is that combat skill proficiency and accurate combo delivery greatly influence SP consumption.

Essentially, fighting well allows a player to also fight longer.

With my badass racial perk, hitting 95% proficiency with a blade or martial art skill will not only deal double damage, but it will also consume half the SP the base skill consumes. Basic-Level skills only operate at 60% efficiency if you simply let the System Assist perform the skill for you.

In no time at all, I've gotten back into my zone, and my optimized running pace makes me faster than the will-o'-the-wisp lights can generate. I end up running in the dark for a bit, and I realize I'm still easily avoiding hazards and weaving in between trees and branches at full speed.
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Holy shit, I can see in the dark.

HIDDEN RACIAL PERK FTW OMG.

It's not perfect night vision or anything, but I can definitely differentiate shadows and make my way through the gloom without much extra effort. I'm gonna have to experiment later, someplace truly pitch-black, to see the full limits of this, but I'm currently feeling as excited as if I'd found a legendary treasure chest when I expected a purse of coppers.

A ring of bright blue flames suddenly appears around me, so I stop. A weird squeaky-honking sound draws my attention to a hollow log. I peer inside.

"Ah, poor Neko-chan. You are one freaky-looking critter, my dude."

The tanuki squeak-honks at me again, clearly agreeing with me but also peeved I called him out like that.

The game artists apparently couldn't decide whether they should go for realism or stray into the Japanese folk art design, so they did a bizarre combination of the two. So now we're dealing with real tanuki noises, natural raccoon-like face and pointed nose, a cartoonish overly-round fluffy body, hind legs/paws normal, front paws more like cartoon hands...

...and poor dude is completely balls-out.

We're talking real low-hanging fruit, here.

Pair of pears damn near dragging on the ground.

I legit don't know how I'm supposed to carry this thing back to Jojo without accidentally skirting second base.

I'm not even sure I should; is this an okay pet for a kid?

Maybe whichever tengu created the will-o'-the-wisps was trying to protect Jojo's innocence.

Neko squeaks indignantly, and I guess he's right. What do I know about child development? My sister gave me a book about Zeus turning into a golden shower to impregnate a princess when I was eight.

"Fine, but you're walking on your own. I'll be your guide, but I'm not getting up close and personal with Neko nuts, cool?"

The tanuki honks in agreement, and my first official chain quest ends a ten-minute jaunt through the forest later.

If I have to pick up the tanuki a couple times to help the horribly-proportioned creature over huge fallen trees, and if there is the teeeensiest moment when perhaps one absurdly oversized testicle barely grazes my arm, well.

If I successfully repress a memory, it never happened, right?

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