She decided to search the ruins of the house. Sometimes there were still good things inside, medicine, bandages, clothes. It was dangerous, but the outpost needed supplies, one of the settlements had recently moved into the walls. There were more people and more chances of an attack.

She could hear the ghouls shuffling through the dead leaves outside, so she would need to be quiet. She slipped though the broken window and crept across the dusty floor. She was on the look out for traps, The Trapper having been spotted in the area a few days ago. She had never seen him, but the stories about the bodies found in his wake would make even the most hardened soldier tremble.

She searched the kitchen, nothing useful, just ancient food from before the bombs. She found some clothes in decent shape in one of the bedrooms. The house yielded nothing else of value. She slipped past the hoard, they were getting distracted by their own footsteps in the leaves.

Once they were out of ear shot she broke into a jog, keeping out of the leaves. The walls of the city rose up to greet her and she sprinted the last leg of her journey. She was greeted warmly by the guards as they locked the gate behind her.

“No trouble with the hoard today?” One asked as she caught her breath.

“They are noisy enough to hear coming a mile away.” She swigged metallic water from her bottle. She pulled the clothes out of her bag and tossed them to the guard. “Nothing else good out there today.”

“Too bad. At least someone will be a little warmer.” The guard looked at the clothes.

“We’re going to need all the help we can get this winter, its coming up fast.” She walked up the street and went to her bunk in the small house she shared with the other scavengers.

She crashed onto her bed, exhausted. Her stomach growled at her forcefully. She poked though her bag lazily, trying to find her food voucher. She was falling asleep and gave up quickly, opting to go to bed instead.

The morning came streaming in the window, warming her cold face. She rolled out of bed and took care of the morning necessities in the bucket at the end of the hall. Grabbing her bag she kicked her housemates awake.

“We got work to do today.” She shouted, they grumbled and got up slowly.

She went down to The Kitchen, handing over a voucher and was issued a plate. The plate of food was cold, like always, but it filled her grumbling stomach.

She headed out the gate, refilling her water bottle at the river that ran just outside of town. In the forest the air was musty with dead things. The hoard passed though recently, but they were long gone now. She listened carefully for any other things that might be lurking in the brush. Deeming it safe she continued thorough the forest. A twig snapped and she dropped to the ground. There were no more sounds, that didn’t mean it was safe. She laid prone in the dirt hoping that whatever it was didn’t see her.

Her mind raced as she heard a tapping, in code. She recognized it and stood up. She held her hands up as the other person approached with their gun raised.

“Who are you?” They asked.

“A Scavenger from Hope.” She sized him up. He was either a hunter or a settler. She didn’t recognized him so he must not have been from Hope. “You are?”

“The Trapper.” He grinned, the gun went off with a bang.


Arming Day

Everyone waits anxiously for the day they receive their weapon. Its a way to protect yourself in the wilds, it means you can finally take quests from the boards in the center of town. Monster hunting, duels, even just exploring are possible once you can protect yourself. I have been waiting my twenty one long years for my weapon and today is the day. Shifting around on the balls of my feet I close my eyes and wait for it to materialize.

I feel the weight of it as it becomes solid. I cracked my eye open to see what it was. It had a long handle, which was flexible, and a long blade at the end. It was a long spear. I had never used a spear before, I practiced with my fathers sword and my mothers bow before, neither seemed to fit me right. I tugged at the golden tassels tied to the end of the shaft. The engraving on the blade was also gold. It looked beautiful, willowy, elegant, but difficult to use .

After a few practice thrusts against a tree in the communal yard I headed to the board to accept my first quest. Yohan marched over with his huge club made of rocks tied to a rough tree branch. There were ware marks on where he gripped it, he was only a few months older than me. I slung my spear over my shoulders, looping my arms around it.

“So what are you taking this time?” I asked trying to sound casual.

He grabbed one off of the wall seemingly at random and lumbered off, not even grunting in my direction. I examined the wall carefully, I wanted something at a beginner level, I had been warned that I might need to wait a couple days for one to show up. I spotted one that seemed pretty easy, just walk through the woods and find ingredients. I should only need to fight to defend myself if attacked. I shifted my spear, the weight was satisfying. I had to admit I liked it a lot.

I headed out to the forest to collect the ingredients, on the alert for any monsters. It didn’t take very long and I didn’t run into any trouble. I did see Yohan barreling through the forest after something. Back in town I turned my quest to the person who had requested it, she was a nice little old lady who was our local healer. I tried to find her weapon, more out of curiosity than anything else. I couldn’t spot one, and generally its not polite to ask.

Heading back home with the money jangling in my pocket, I stopped for a snack. Yohan’s parents owned a bakery that had the most fantastic desserts. There were rumors that his father’s weapon was a rolling pin, that had been disproved fairly quickly.

I went home with the baked treats. I handed them over to my mother. She smiled and put them on the table for the family to share. I told them the harrowing tale of herb retrieval. Mom laughed but dad looked at me sourly. I knew he disapproved of me making light of the dangers of questing. He had been dreading my birthday since the day I was born. His sword hung on the rack near the door. My spear was propped up next to it. My mother’s quiver and bow were in their bedroom since she had been doing maintenance on it for the past couple of days.

I didn’t know if my next quests would go this well, many people had died taking on quests they were too weak to accomplish. My dad seemed to think it was all going to fall apart at any minute.