Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Day 12 - A Pelting for a Pelt

I woke up feeling the need to refill my log supply. Stepping out into the forest, I chose a nice aged pine and began chopping it down. When the tree fell to the ground, I repaired my axe and began making logs. When the log pile was completed, I toted them inside Refugio. On my last trip to bring in the wood, I turned and glanced up to the cliffs above. There, many tiles up the mountain was the figure of a cat! It was a young mountain lion, but what I mostly saw was a chance for a pelt!

He was high up, really high. But not too high that I could not see him and know what he was. I thought if I could remove all my items from my inventory, I might be able to climb up the rock face to lead him down. But I had to be careful! If I dropped to the bottom and was injured, I would not be able to duck into Refugio to heal. But if I could get him down to the cave, I could step out, fight, duck in, heal, and repeat until he was dead. I decided it was worth the try.

I placed all my gear into the large cart and scaled the rock face towards the mountain lion. Slowly I climbed, rehearsing what I was to do the moment the cat moved towards me. And then he did! I watched as he carefully descended. I waited until he was close enough for me to hear his breath, then I released myself from the climb and rolled my way down to the grass below. Immediately I looked at the cliff. Where was he? Was he still coming for me? No, he had stopped and was staring down as if he thought I wasn't worth the effort to kill. I climbed up to the flat tile in front of the mine entrance. I was winded, but with much determination I climbed up again to coax him further towards me. He moved towards me and as I released my grip to fall, his left paw grazed my hand. I tumbled past the entrance and onto the grass below. My hand had a minor cut and I was hurting a bit from the bruises. But by then, the cat had made his way to within a few tiles from the cave. I needed to get inside to heal. Slowly I climbed towards the entrance and darted inside as I saw the cat moving once again.

I was safe but in no condition to fight. I lit the forge and decided I needed a shield and a better sword. The mountain lion would not wait forever so I knew I didn't have time to do very much crafting. I took some iron lumps to make my first small metal shield. If it had been unfinished I would need the living pelt outside to finish it! Fortunately, it came out completed. My attempts to make a long sword were not so successful. They kept coming out unfinished. One did come out finished, but with a 14% chance of success, it was not a surprising failure.

And so I was ready for battle with my small shield and short sword. By then my wounds were gone. The time had come to step outside. When I rounded the corner to head outside I realized it was dark, very dark. Night had fallen and I had no source of light. I stepped out into the night and heard a feline war-cry! He raced down to meet me and as I lifted my sword in defense, he leaped inside the cave! Now, I was on the outside and he was on the inside! I opened the gate as he turned towards me, clawing and biting as I was kicking, slicing, and bashing. The fight seemed endless. But when I reached less than 50% health, he clawed me once more before collapsing at my feet. Exhausted, wounded, and bloody, I shuffled over to the large cart to get my butchering knife.

NO! Oh, I had not made one! But the pelt, I needed it in one piece. Reluctantly I grabbed my crude knife. Looking at the worn handle and stone blade, I turned and walked to the dead cat. Dropping to my knees, I carefully sliced on the pelt trying to remove it. With the flames flickering against the cave walls, I sliced the last section of the pelt from the cat, taking a piece of his flesh with it. I dropped the knife and held up the pelt in my bloody hands. Though I had submitted my body to a pelting from the mointain lion, he submitted his body for the pelt I then held up against the cave wall. It was a fair trade I thought. He fought nobly and I would cherish his pelt for many days.

I returned to the forge and placed the single piece of meat into it. It was there that I became proud of the crude knife that was still lying disrespectfully on the cave floor. The pelt was a beauty - and a quality of 33! My first tool had provided me my latest one. I walked over to the lonely knife and wiping the stone blade, I placed it honorably into the cart that would become its temporary casket. I knew it would be the last time I would ever need it.

I removed the cooked meat from the forge and laid in front of it while I ate meat and stroked the soft pelt. A small release of air from the carcass of the cat reminded me of my struggle. But I wasted no time utilizing the pelt as a blanket to cover my wounds. That night, as I laid by the forge and watched the hypnotic dancing of the flames against the cave, I thought once again that life was good.

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