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Godless and Faithless Chapter 6

Godless and Faithless Chapter 6

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The man hesitated. "Come with me inside, we can talk about it in my home."

The kids having already finished pulling weeds went home, along with the angry child who gave him a parting glare to let him know this was not over before scampering off.

The rest of the villagers, having also finished their work for the afternoon, headed inside with great haste, eager for some rest. This left Rayner and the man walking through the village by themselves, until joined by the healer followed by the village guards that brought him into the village. One of them was the woman he talked to about monsters. This was looking like an ambush. He made a move for his hammer.

"There is no need for that," said the healer. "We only wish to talk in private."

He looked around. Nobody made any threating moves, and the village guards were unarmed, likely to put him at ease. He moved his hand away from his hammer. "Fine, we can talk, but I don’t like how you all went about this."

"Apologies. Please come with us."

They sat around a fire in the single room home. A woman came to serve porridge for those gathered around the fire before leaving the house. "My wife wants no part in this. She has no hope," the man said.

"First, introductions. My name is Martha, I have been responsible for patching up the men and women of this village since I was a girl. Our host," pointing to the man, "is John, uncle to the poor boy you saw earlier. These two," gesturing to the remaining man and woman, "you have met already. They let you in the village. Meet Mary and Walker."

They bowed their heads slightly in greeting. Eager to find out their motives Rayner asked. "What is this all about?"

"We did not let you in to help your sick friend," Martha said. "We needed your help."

"Why not simply ask?"

"We didn’t know enough about you. Now we see you are a pleasant and strong young man. That and we needed to keep our intentions a secret. Mary and Walker told the village council that they let you in because you could have attacked them otherwise. Their excuse for leaving the walls in the first place was youthful overconfidence."

"What task requires you to keep it a secret from the village leaders?"

This time Mary answered, "There is another monster common here. Dragons." Seeing his alarm, she elaborated. "Not the kind you are thinking of. I speak of the serpentine variety. They are not native to the area but they have bred well here, having no natural predators. The scale of the problem is reaching critical levels; it is still a local issue for now as the dragons are purposely trying to avoid notice."

In other circumstances he would have said yes without hesitation; however, he had Axel to care for. "I am sorry, I can’t help you."

"If you don’t, we have to make another sacrifice!" Walker said.

Sacrifice? He remembered the questions the kids asked and the crying boy. "This village sacrifices maidens to the dragons." The shame on their faces confirmed his words.

"We can’t fight dragons, we tried, and it was a laughable attempt. It’s a dragon for gods’ sake!"

In another life, he would heap shame on them, but the realities of this world tempered his righteous anger. These people had been dealt a bad hand. It did not change the fact that he could not help. "I am sorry. Is there anyone else you can turn to?"

"No combat Worshiper will come here unless they are looking for a thrill. Their churches and governments provide them with resources to fight both weak and strong monsters. We have nothing to offer them."

This story again. He’d yet to meet these Worshipers that used their powers to do so little for those who needed it. "I understand the people of Alta don’t worship the major gods to keep out of their conflicts, but it does not seem to be working. Alta is a war zone and you cannot defend yourselves. Why hold to this principle?"

Martha stared into the fire. "It is not entirely by choice. No matter how much we pray to any one god, none of them become powerful enough for it to mean anything."

Rayner thought about his lack of experience. What she said made sense. Even if they worshiped many gods instead of one, some objection to this practice should have formed along with a cult for the purpose of worshiping a more powerful god. He saw no signs of any such a cult.

For the first time, John spoke, "It is better to feed the beast than become the food."

Knowing the secret of the village gave the saying a much darker meaning. "Is the sacrifice related to you?"

"She is my niece; the boy is her little brother."

Again, it didn’t change his situation. He couldn’t help. It was best if he just left this place. Staying at their home, eating their food, and not helping them would eat at his conscience.

"We can heal your friend," Martha said.

"You said you could not help him before; did you lie to get me to help you?"

"Peace, please. I would not do that. The cost to heal him is significant. But if you can save this village from further sacrifices, then yes I can heal Axel."

"How much?"

"The cost is not money. The skill requires me to trade places with the target. Meaning I will be left in the condition Axel is in."

She was not a young woman; would this kill her? He could not ask that of her. "Is there no other way?"

"It is not suicide boy, I wouldn’t be transferring his injuries to myself, just his state of being. For example, if he were sick, I would feel sick, but not be sick. I will live. The problem is I could not carry out duties in such a state."

"Then his life will still be in danger. What is the point in that?"

"My skill works differently with mana related illness. It will debuff him."

This was likely the best chance he had at healing Axel.

"I’ll do it." The others brightened. The mood in the room had been dark since the conversation started. They thanked him with great enthusiasm, the job hadn’t even started yet and they acted as if he saved the day. "We still need to work out the details. I don’t want to go in blind."

Walker spoke first, "Their scales are not hard but they are thick, the deepest anyone has pierced it was two inches. The dragons are varying shades of green. We don’t know if that indicates strength or age."

Mary spoke next, "Most of them are the length of an average fallen tree, and almost as thick. The biggest I have seen could wrap itself around a small hill!"

"Known weaknesses?" At this they stopped, putting forward no ideas. Damn. "Do they breathe fire?"

"Why would they inhale fire?" John asked.

"No, I mean exhale fire."

John looked at him as if he were the fire-breathing dragon.

"OK, so they don’t breathe fire. So, they are big, strong, and hard to stab. Is that really all?" It did not seem so bad, compared to zombies.

"They eat EXP," Martha added.

Well, that was alarming. "I thought that was something gods do through prayers and worship?"

"We don’t think they eat all EXP, only some of it, certain parts of it. Everything we do is part of our experiences. Cooking, cleaning…"

"Not having sex. That is a form of experience or inexperience." He surmised this was the reason dragons wanted maidens.

"Again, we can only guess. It is another reason why we cannot get Worshipers to fight it. They don’t want their precious EXP taken."

Understandable. In most games all that is needed to gain experience is constant combat with monsters or performing the same actions repeatedly. Even if it resulted in diminishing returns in the form of less experience, it still added up.

With enough EXP a gamer would advance in level, granting them points to distribute among their stats or skills. But like he and Axel kept reminding each other: this was not a game.

They could not distribute points, pick classes, or gain EXP by mindlessly murdering large groups of monsters. The quality of experience played a huge role in leveling up more so than quantity.

In order to lighten the mood, Rayner joked, "The dragons might take their gold." They didn’t understand his reference. Meaning dragons are not known for hoarding gold in this world. "So, where is the dragon I am supposed to kill?"

"Dragons," John said.


"We want you to kill all the dragons."

They spent the rest of the evening discussing how others hand fought the dragons. They wanted him to kill all of them by himself. It would take some time for Axel to wake up even after the healer Martha had used her skill on him.

He left the village first thing in the morning, heading to the swamp where most of the dragons resided.

A green figure appeared ahead of him. He would have liked it to be the helpful goblin they fought within the miasma, but he had no such luck. Seeing clearer he could tell there was more than one. They were Inimi goblins, he could tell. Probably deserters from the main army. The two goblins had not noticed him yet. There were no trees, bushes, or tall grass to hide in, so he crouched as low as possible and crept toward them.

The two were fighting each other, over what he did not know. Both had several cuts on their green skin. Their injuries were not stopping the fight. As he got within striking range, he abandoned caution, rose to his feet, and came at them.

The goblins screeched in their rough high-pitched voice, quieting when he landed the first blow on one's skull and a foot to the other’s stomach. He followed up the kick to the jaw with a strike of the hammer, finishing the creature’s life. The goblin left alive wasn’t able to defend itself, the blow on its head causing it to stumble, blood pouring down its face. With another swing, Rayner ended its life as well. Checking if they had anything on them and finding nothing, he left.

He had been walking all morning, alone with his thoughts. He had no reason for attacking those goblins. They were killing each other and had not noticed him. He had the option of sneaking around them and continuing on his quest to slay the dragons. Instead, Rayner killed both of them, and with ease, not even needing to activate a skill. Whatever worries Axel had of fighting one and one, Rayner didn’t share.

His barbarian nature had changed him. Yet he wondered, if he killed someone back home, would he have reacted the same way, with slight disgust then a feeling of accomplishment after the victory? He had no way of knowing. What he did know was that the quest he was currently on sounded like something a barbarian from the stories would do. Enter a swamp, find the dragons, rescue the maiden.

Did this quest come to him because of his class? Or did this situation come about the same way Fred found him, a weak god telling its follower to find help elsewhere? He took out his notes and jotted his thoughts down.

The list he compiled was a stress reliever, a way to gather and categorize their problems in a way he could control. It gave him the illusion he and Axel knew what the hell they were doing. An illusion that broke with every encounter.

They expected this to be a fetch quest. An escort mission. Point A to B with the family and it had gone off the rails.

A sound interrupted his brooding. It was a kobold, making no attempt to sneak up on him. Rayner had been too lost in his thoughts to notice its approach.

"Look, I am not in the mood right now. So, if you can understand me, I will let you go away. I have something more important to do."

It did not respond with words. It swung something at him. He ducked it with ease. It looked like talking this out wasn’t an option. Fine, here comes the barbarian. The kobold took out its long knife and came at him. Rayner let it get close, then kicked it in the stomach. He followed it up with a punch to its reptilian face. He’d learned something from all the combat he had been through. Keep attacking!

He punched it again and again. It swung its wicked knife wildly, causing Rayner to step back, but gathering his courage he pushed forward. He would not have to worry about the knife when the creature was dead. He tackled it to the ground and ended the fight with his hammer.

He heard more footsteps and remembered kobolds fought in groups. Three more came forward cautiously after having seen Rayner kill the first one. They all had the same long knives and a sack with a large rock in it.

Rayner used the same battle philosophy as before. Keep attacking. He attacked the one to his right, taking the hit from the rock on his side, sucking up the pain. Rayner hit it with his hammer anywhere he could then stomped on it with his boot.

He knew the other two would take it as a chance to attack him from behind; it was what he wanted. When he heard their attack from behind, he turned and used Roar, releasing a wave of green rippling force from his mouth.

The skill forced them back, and as they were running at him when he used the skill, they lost all balance and fell. He took the chance to fall upon them.

He considered for a moment just leaving them battered and broken, but there was no reason to believe they wouldn’t attack others. So, he killed all of them.

He continued on his path, hoping for no more interruptions, but again his hopes were dashed. This time it was by a pack of wolves. He’d fought those before. The only difference between the ones circling him now were the horns on their heads.

He ripped the horn from one's head causing it to howl in pain. He used its own horn to stab it. Rayner activated Roar on the others, knocking some back and scaring a few, but the others remained strong, taking swipes at him whenever they could.

Unfortunately for them, this worked to his advantage. He had found an interesting aspect of his skill Force Hammer. Even before hitting the target, force projected from the hammer, making it an extremely short-range distance attack.

But as the wolves were lunging at him, he was able to take advantage of this aspect of the skill. It kept the wolves off him, the extra reach of the hammer helping. He would thank Dian, the weapons shop owner, for the advice.

Having enough of the fight, he used Roar continuously. He learned during the fight in the miasma that his skills did not stack, but repeated hits with blows of force disoriented the wolves. He then began to use the tried-and-true tactic of beating an enemy while they were down.

Other than a few scrapes he came out of the fight relatively unscathed. Too bad monsters didn’t conveniently drop loot in this world, but he would settle with them being dead.

Rayner heard more voices off into the distance. They weren’t human. More goblins, a group of them. He could wait for them to eventually find him like before or he could attack.

The goblins didn’t know what hit them. They had been arguing over what he believed was the location of the wolves when he plowed into them. He used Battle Cry, he felt as if he could do anything, he knew he could rip them apart with his bare hands. And that was just what he did.

In the fight, he’d lost his hammer and opted to put his hands in the goblin's mouth and pry its mouth open as if wanting to get a better look inside.

"Say ahhhhh!" The goblin screamed, stopping only after its dislocated jaw hung limp. That was the limit for the others. They fled.

Checking the bodies, he hissed his teeth. "They have nothing on them either."

Monsters were a constant threat in this region. Well fine, if they wanted to come at him and die, let them come. Then a thought floated in his mind, a crazy idea. He would just kill every monster on the path. Why wait for them to stroll into him and attack? He would take the initiative; he was sure Axel would approve.

The maimed bodies of rabbits lay strewn across the field. Rayner was currently beating one into a mushy pulp.

"Hey, stranger!"

What was that buzzing in his ear? Another monster?

"I said, hey!"

He turned toward the buzzing. A man, a farmer by the looks of him. Not a monster.

"Are you…OK," said the farmer.


"Are you the one killing everything?"

"I am killing these rabbits," showing the bloody pulp that was once a rabbit to the farmer.

"I see that. Look you—I think you need help. Why don’t you come with me? My daughter is a fine cook."

Seeing no more monsters to kill he followed the farmer to his home.

The farmer spoke the truth, his daughter cooked a fine meal. Gregory owned his own small bit of farmland away from the village. He and his wife tended to it themselves, risking attacks by dangerous monsters for the extra cash.

"You have been a very busy young man; it was like you were possessed."

"Rabbits are easy to kill."

"You killed more than rabbits."

What was he talking about?

Seeing his confusion Gregory answered, "You have been killing every monster in the area for two days. I saw you before, stomping on a large poison frog. I called out to you but you didn’t hear me."

Two days, he remembered none of what Gregory spoke of. He was fighting the goblins then…nothing until the rabbits.

"Check your stats for debuffs, maybe you are under the effects of a skill."

Name: Rayner, Level: 1, Class: Barbarian, Mana: 4, Skills: Force Hammer(0.5) Roar(1.5) Battle Cry(1) Rampage(5), EXP: 52.

Wow, a new skill appeared causing him to attack every monster in sight. The skill as described told him it would expend mana as long as it remained active and it remained active until he defeated all enemies.

Unlike his world, skills used mana, the magical energy source of this world, to activate special abilities. Since mana also represented health, draining it meant draining his own life. He almost ended up like Axel after the fight against the miasma. If Gregory hadn’t found him, he would have killed himself by exhausting his mana.

"Thanks, Gregory, you saved my life."

"Your life? Oh, no young man, I and some others have been following your swath of destruction. We will have safe travel for weeks, maybe months with all the killing you did. The monsters aren’t used to being hunted like this and are running scared."

"Oh. You’re welcome." Not knowing what else to say.

Gregory’s cute daughter giggled while covering her mouth with her hand. Her mother admonished her.

"Can I stay here to rest?"

"We would be happy to host you, my boy, stay as long as you like."

Unlike like other homes, there were two rooms instead of one, and proper wood floors instead of packed earth. It smelled nicer than other homes; the mother must have been using scented herbs.

The guest bed made him itch, so he took out his sleeping bag and slept in it instead. The sleeping bag was the most useful item brought with them from their homeworld. He shut his eyes and tried to sleep.

The door to his room opened and a figure approached his bed. He wasn’t in it but the person didn’t know that. Slipping out of his sleeping bag, he came up behind the intruder and wrested them to the bed.

The person under him gave out a squeak. That was not the sound of a monster or an assassin in the night. As his eyes adjusted to the dark, he could see it was Gregory’s cute daughter.

"Why are you sneaking into my room?"

"To sleep with you."

He did not feign ignorance; he knew what she meant. "You should not have sneaked in here; I could have hurt you."


Was that excitement he saw in her eyes? Why did he keep running into these types of girls? "Yes really. I am a barbarian, I could take you right here, have my way with you and leave you without your honor." He had heard those lines from some movie and repeated it to the girl, hoping to scare her off.

Her breathing increased, he could feel her breath on his face, and she squirmed under him. She was not trying to escape, she was excited. "I could never face my father if you did such a thing."

She lifted her thighs to rub between his legs. "No, you wouldn't, but I would make you. I would show your daddy what a slut his little girl is." What the hell was he saying?

She moaned in response to his threat. "I won’t resist, I can’t fight off a big strong man like yourself." She put her hand down his pants and fished out his cock. Her eyes went wide, startled for the first time.

"I am not some farm boy." He parted her thighs. "You will not tease me!"

"I’m sorry, you are just so, large." She massaged his muscles, trailing her hands across his arms and abs.

He grew hard and could feel how wet she already was. She was ready, they both were.

He pushed himself into her in a single thrust. The girl jerked forward covering her mouth to prevent from crying out. He pumped his hips up and down as she squinted her eyes, head turned to the side. "Look at me." She didn’t listen. "Look at me." This time he turned her face to him. When she opened her teary eyes, he kissed her deeply.

This was what she needed. She met his thrusts with equal enthusiasm, no longer caring if her parents heard her gasps of pleasure. She was saying something to him but he could not understand.

"If you spill inside me, no other man can have me."

"Then no other will have you." He said before cumming inside her.

He stayed on top of her, stroking her hair. She kissed his chest, whispering to him until they fell asleep.

He had woken with the girl gone from his bed. When he left the room, breakfast was ready and everyone was preparing to eat. They ate in silence. The walls were thin.

The home small. Her parents must have heard them. They had said nothing, however, likely afraid of what he would do if they objected to the bedding of their daughter. They should, as he only just learned her name was Sasha during breakfast.

Having finished their meal, the mother cleaned up after them. It was too much, he was a guest in their home, he had to fess up.

"I am sorry. As you probably heard, I took your daughter last night."

The entire family stopped what they were doing to look at him. Before exploding in laughter.

"Is that why you are so tense?" Gregory said.

Confused, he asked, "Is this not a big deal here?"

"Rayner, we…" Gregory had to pause until he stopped laughing. "We know what you were doing, and we gave her permission to do so."

"As if she needed our permission," the mother added.

"We encouraged it."

He did not know what to say to this.

"It is not every day a young woman gets to meet a strong handsome boy. She could not pass up such an opportunity," the mother said.

Rayner looked back and forth between Gregory and his wife. "An opportunity."

"If ever you are in the area and there is trouble you will remember me." Sasha smiled at him. "Now I am no longer a maiden. Thank you."

Practical was the way the people of this world approached sex. He’d seen that on display among the refugees and the women of the brothel he and Axel stayed at. It was not as simple as exchanging pleasure for protection. Instead, the goal seemed to be to form a lasting connection between partners.

Yazid had brought up the point when talking about the sexual politics that would exist in an apocalypse. His example was that if Rayner or Axel had to choose between two women they have never met before, who would they partner with, the girl who had sex with them or the one who did not?

The answer was obvious. Even between people with the most casual of passing relationships would have some trust, respect, or fondness for a sexual partner.

Somewhat disappointed he said, "I understand. And if I were a woman?"

"Then I guess my husband would have a go at you for old times’ sake. His first time was with a Worshiper," she said casually.

"Female combat Worshipers are notoriously lusty," Gregory boasted.

Something Sasha said clicked in his mind. "Her not being a virgin any more means the dragons won’t take her." The mood grew tense. As he thought, he was right. "I am on a quest to kill them all. Hopefully, nobody has to worry about them after that."

"You are not just here to slay the common monsters?"

"No, I am on a quest to rescue a maiden the village I was staying at sacrificed."

"And the others?"


"Will you save all the other women and girls the dragons took?"

How could he have not realized? Many dragons meant many sacrifices. "Yes, I will."

The reactions varied. The mother looked like she was about to cry, she had probably lost a loved one to the dragons. Gregory gave him a hard look. Sasha hugged him peering into his eyes as if he were a hero sent by the gods.

The gods didn’t send him, but he wanted to be a hero. He would become one for these people.

"If you do this everyone who has suffered because of the dragons will reward you. The people here don’t have much, but they will offer it."

He wanted to say something along the lines of, ‘no need’ or ‘heroes don’t need a reward.’ But this wannabe hero did need rewards. Both he and Axel only had a few coppers left to spend.

They told him what they knew of the dragons. Sasha flirted with him every chance she got, leading to another quick round of sex behind the house. When they came back inside, her mother knew exactly what they had been up to. She had finished cleaning his clothes, meaning he was ready to continue his journey.

"I never felt charisma like yours, it felt so…aggressive," Sasha said while smoothing his shirt, her hand lingering on his chest.

"Is it really that different?"

"Even a poor girl like me can feel it."

"Honestly, I have very little understanding of charisma. The attribute has a different meaning where I am from." Keeping secrets from a girl he may never see again wasn’t needed, he could speak freely with her.

"I knew you were a foreigner! This cute girl here will explain it." Sasha pointed to herself with her thumb, indeed looking very cute. "Titles affect your mana and your attributes, is it different in your country?"

"Actually, no its not. Different titles, give different bonuses to stats."

"Since you are a barbarian your charisma changes accordingly. Most people have the title of worshiper or even acolytes. Unfortunately for you but great for us simple folk, there are few barbarians."

He hadn't time to go looking for barbarians to seek information. Besides, she’d told him enough. Title altered stats, same with most games with the exception of the personality changes.

After kissing Sasha goodbye, he left the family and continued to the swamp where the dragons resided.

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