03 – My Rivals were Squirrels and Snakes

I sighed. My first VRMMO battle ended in disaster.

Currently, I was hiding inside a hollow tree trunk somewhere in the pitch-black forest, waiting for my magic to recover.

[NO NAME] [Infant Demon] 83/99

・A nameless infant demon. A spiritual life-form. Extremely fragile.

[Magic Points: 7/10]
[Total Combat Power: 9/11]
[Unique Skill: Reroll]

I’d heard that when players die, they lose 10% of their stats, but then why did I lose a whole half of mine? Was it just how it work for monsters? Or was it just for spiritual life-forms like me? Damn it, I had no idea.

Could it be? Could it possibly be that spiritual life-forms were incredibly weak?

At least my magic recovered over time. I had just a single magic point when I respawned. At the time, I seriously thought there was no way to progress any further.

My body shrank due to losing half my magic, which allowed me to hide within a hollow tree. What should I do now…? If I immediately died again, my character would probably be deleted, right?

The AI said my inventory would be dropped at my point of death, but this Identification Crystal still stayed with me. I wasn’t sure why. Perhaps it was because the crystal was a basic item for new players, or perhaps because I kept it inside my body. Anyway, thank god for that.

 

There had been a few discoveries while I was holing up in this tree.

My magic recovered by 1 approximately each hour. I didn’t know if this was a flat increase of 1, or if it was a 10% recovery, since my current maximum magic was exactly 10. The things I could do would be different, depending on which it was.

After using [Identification] on a few wild animals passing by my tree, I found out something. If I lost all my magic power, it’s over for me, but when normal animals’ magic points dropped to zero, they just fainted. They only died when their hit points dropped to zero.

…is this normal?

Next, when normal animals lost some magic points, their combat power still stayed the same. However, their magic points would drop bit by bit when in combat. I didn’t know whether it was because they used magic to attack, because combat itself took magic power, or because they strengthened themselves magically.

I saw a snake attacking a squirrel. When the squirrel died, the snake sucked up some kind of mist from its corpse.

I could see pretty well despite the darkness. Was it just how the game was, or was it because I was a monster?

And finally, there was a drone beetle. It approached me, thinking I was some kind of tree sap and I killed it, but I didn’t get any stronger.

 

At any rate, I needed to find a way to fight. Judging from appearances, the only things weaker than that caterpillar that I could find were the ‘snakes’, the ‘field mice’, and the ‘squirrels’.

Which meant that the caterpillar was the weakest monster in this forest. And right now, I was much weaker than it.

Just using my unique skill, [Reroll], to make the caterpillar miss already ate up around 10 of my magic power, so it wasn’t practical at the moment.

But there was one good thing that came from that mess. All that desperate running around helped me get used to this body, and the nausea was much more tolerable now.

Not much of a silver lining, really.

Anyway, my next goal was to get strong enough to kill a squirrel.

***

There should be a way to leverage my doughiness, I thought. Which resulted in my current attempt to ambush a squirrel from above a tree. I dropped and covered it with my whole body.

At first, the squirrel violently resisted. It suffocated and stopped moving after a while, and I absorbed some kind of mist from it. Hmm, I didn’t feel anything different…

[NO NAME] [Infant Demon] 82/99

・A nameless infant demon. A spiritual life-form. Extremely fragile.

[Magic Points: 10/10]
[Total Combat Power: 11/11]
[Unique Skill: Reroll]

Yup, nothing changed. And the corpse was still here. What do I do with it?

Do I eat it? How? I wasn’t going to melt it down like normal slimes. Even my own doughy body looked far tastier.

Well, I couldn’t do anything about it, so I just left it there… was this really fine, though? I only had my theoretical knowledge. It wasn’t like I’d ever played a game before.

 

Since then, I killed another two mice with the same method. Finally, something changed.

[NO NAME] 79/99
[Magic Points: 10/11] 1[Total Combat Power: 11/12] 1

Both my magic power and combat power rose by 1. It was just a single point, but it did increase. It made me happy, true, but mostly I just felt relieved.

Ah, another snake showed up, attracted by the corpse. It looked like my body had some pretty sharp senses. I managed to learn how to detect ‘presences’ now, somehow.

I swiftly and carefully snuck my way up the tree, back to my old ambush spot. The snake still hadn’t noticed me.

My handling of my body had gotten much better. I was probably as fast as that caterpillar now. Not exactly an impressive achievement, I know.

The feeling of being an indistinct mass still made me nauseous, but little by little, it had gotten better. Tolerable, now.

 

I hid myself on the tree and looked down. The 1-meter long snake slithered toward the mouse I killed – oh, wait, another snake showed up.

The two began to intimidate each other over the meal.

[Snake] 78/99
[Magic Points: 5/5]   [Hit Points: 15/15]
[Total Combat Power: 15]

Huh, snakes were weak. Still stronger than me and squirrels, though. Also, Identification Crystal, you didn’t even put any thought into naming them, did you?

They hissed.

…can you two please do this somewhere else? You’re messing up my plans here. I could just not peep and go elsewhere, but I was afraid I’d accidentally run across another snake or caterpillar in the process.

Both of them were about the same strength. Perhaps that was why none of them were willing to back off and miss out on a fresh meal. They began fighting.

Both of them twisted, turned, and generally just tried to constrict the other. The fight looked… really boring. After some time, one of them finally landed a bite on the other’s neck.

Yup, boring. It kept biting for a while, then won the fight just like that. Again, the winner absorbed the mist-like thing from the loser.

[Snake] 77/99
[Magic Points: 3/6] 1↑  [Hit Points: 8/16] 1↑
[Total Combat Power: 16] 1↑

Oh? Its stats went up a bit. Was this a ‘level up’ kind of thing, as I suspected?

The winning snake was hesitating between the mouse and its newly-killed meal… whoops, it saw me.

Fine, then. Preemptive self-defense! I jumped down from the branch and wrapped myself all around the snake. It shrieked something fierce.

Ooohh crap, it’s big. At the moment I only had enough volume to fill a bowl, so I couldn’t completely cover the snake.

It retaliated by constricting me, but failed due to my sloppy, doughy body.

And then I felt the snake suddenly heat up. Without warning, it chomped at me in a burst of newly-discovered strength. That hurt quite a bit!

[Snake] 76/99
[Magic Points: 2/6]  [Hit Points: 8/16]
[Total Combat Power: 16]

The snake’s magic power dropped. So it’s true, then, that you needed magic to strengthen yourself.

[NO NAME] 75/99
[Magic Points: 8/11]
[Total Combat Power: 10/12]

Hey, I just got my magic back up again! You damn reptile!

In my anger, I started to flail about. From my doughy body came whips to bash, to kick, to punch, and generally just throwing a tantrum right on the snake. I didn’t even know what I was doing.

The snake’s body cooled down, perhaps running out of magic. Then a few of my tentacles hit its head, but they were deflected.

…eh? Really?

The snake gave a few twitches, which stopped after I covered its head and squeezed. My body sucked in the mist from the corpse.

…I won.

[NO NAME] [Infant Demon] 74/99

・A nameless infant demon. A spiritual life-form. Extremely fragile.

[Magic Points: 8/13] 2↑
[Total Combat Power: 10/14] 2↑
[Unique Skill: Reroll]

So, I got stronger when I won and absorbed the mist. Was that mist the snake’s magic? Vitality? I guess I’ll just call it ‘life force’.

My guess – huh, it’d been a lot of guessing and hypothesizing, hadn’t it? – was that for monsters and animals that had physical bodies, their Total Combat Power enumerated the power they had only when they strengthened themselves with magic, while spiritual life-forms like me always fought with 100% of my Total Combat Power.

I had always thought spiritual life-forms to be weak, but if this hypothesis proved true, I needn’t be. Hopefully.

 

Also, please let me learn [Identification] already.


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