The Mists of Arathia

A Fantasy Isekai LitRPG Adventure

Title: The Mists of Arathia
Series: Lunar Insurrection #0.5
Published by: Dragon's Hoard
Release Date: September 18th, 2021
Contributors: Derrick Ward, Erynn Lehtonen
Pages: 98

NPCs aren’t supposed to gain skills. They don’t go on monster-slaying adventures. But levelling up is their only chance of escaping the Mists…

Three years ago, the Mists devoured Arathia and killed two-thirds of the population. Those like Rey who survived the mysterious fog were permanently branded and thrown into a new world with monsters, levels, and skills.

Returning to their way of life seems impossible until Arathia’s resident crazy homeless guy proposes a plan that just might get Rey and his friends out of their dead-end village.

When they leave their safe zone, they find that the truth about the Mists is far closer to home than they ever could have believed.

And wait, what do you mean they’re not real people, but non-player characters in a new full-dive role-playing game?

Lunar Insurrection is an experimental LitRPG/GameLit series, combining elements of fantasy and Dungeons and Dragons with a twist on the Isekai genre. Each novella-length installment builds on the larger story and world.

Start reading the prequel to the series, The Mists of Arathia, today!

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Chapter 1

They don’t notice me, although I’m often the first person they meet. They come into town with their shiny armour, but what they wear is worth more than the village’s measly herd. yet, they look through me, through us. as if we don’t exist, as if our stories don’t matter.
I’ll show them. I’ll show them that our story is the only story that matters.


“Hear me out.”

Those seated at the table scanned the Bent Wheel searching for an excuse to leave, but when their eyes returned, nobody moved. At the head of the table, a girthy man held his cloak open, trapping Reynar and his two companions in the booth. The homemade trench coat was covered in bulging wool sacks, and some writhed as if invisible fingers were relentlessly searching for a way out.

A soot-stained hand reached into one of the pockets and pulled some coins out. “Tabitha! A round on me!”

The closest patrons sneered at the bulky man through sideeyes, his loud voice breaking the stillness in the room like glass.

The only barmaid at the Bent Wheel, Tabitha, caught the dirty coins in a blue napkin as he dropped them into her hand. She groaned as she weighed them in her palm. “Samson, you know this isn’t enough for you and all your friends. Supplies have been short since the Mists came in. You gotta cough up some more of your dirty change.”

Samson continued his speech, ignoring the scowling woman. “I gathered you all here because you are the most capable folk in this ‘ere village. I’ve unambiguously picked you to join me on the best, no, the greatest opportunity of your lives.”

“Gathered us?” Glen swished his ale and chugged the rest. “We were having a good ole time here before you invited yourself to our table.”

As I designed!”

Not like we are goin’ anywhere else. Ain’t much to do around here but keep your head down and work since that fog dropped. What in the world could we be joining you at?” Trusted with butchering, Glen’s experience with knives also made him good at pointing out the obvious.

Reynar’s lips hardly moved from behind a flagon of weak ale, “You mean Mists.” Reynar, the woodsman, also happened to be the one who lived furthest from town and closest to the Mists. “Fog is heav—”

“Well, I’m glad you asked!” Samson pulled a chair from a nearby table, prompting more scowls from the occupants. As the chair scraped across the floor, Tabitha returned, carrying three tankards, distributing them to the men trapped by Samson’s newest tirade. She departed before the dirty man settled into his pilfered chair. “You see, I’ve got a plan. A plan to get us out of this little run-down village. We all know that since the Mists dropped around town, that anyone who goes in gets attacked. We all heard their screams when Richard first tried to leave. I’ve been experimenting—”

“Sure, that’s what we’ll call it. We heard what you’ve been doing to those poor critters in the woods, Samson. It’s pure butchery—no offence Glen.” Reynar nodded to Glen, who nodded back. “How is this experiment going to be any more worthwhile than when you tried to prove pigs could fly?”

“Damn shame, poor porkers never even had a chance.” Glen sounded disappointed as he shook his head. “Could have been bacon, pork chops, ham hocks, but no. Had to try and make them fly.”

“Now, now I know rumours are going around about me, but it has not been all for naught! I’ve discovered something. All of those poor creatures died for a reason.” He pulled his long brown sleeve back up his right arm, revealing the dark markings they’ve all become familiar with over the last three years.

Three years ago on a full moon, the Mists fell upon their village. The Mists themselves were harmless, but it was accompanied by a pestilence that cut through the village like a scythe. Those who survived were left with unique markings on one of their forearms, called Pitch, as if charcoal was etched on their skin. Those gone now didn’t live long enough for their black scars to finish developing. Rey’s fist tightened around his tankard, and he threw back another gulp as the Pitch reminded him of his lost wife, Shandra.

“You see this marking here? Samson pointed to the long hollow rectangle near the crook of his elbow that extended up to the inner side of his forearm.

“Yeah, we all got those scars, so what?” Rey’s voice came impatiently as he set his tankard down.

Samson’s finger directed their attention to one part of the rectangle, where one side appeared wider than the other.This bit of black here, filling up the rectangle? It moves. At first, I thought I was crazy. I caught a hare in a snare, and when I went to collect it, the markings darkened and shifted. So, I did what any reasonable person would do: I set more snares, all over the place.”

“Yeah, setting snares indiscriminately, that’s just a woodsman’s butchery, no offence Rey.” Rey returned the butcher’s courtesy with a nod.

“Aye, that’s what they say. But this bar means something. Now, I calculated—”

“You wha’?” Glen said.

“Calculated. I figured it out, guys. This square marking this isn’t a square. It’s more like a tube. You know what you can do with a tube?”

“A wha?”

“A tube, like uh… a long hollow thing…”

“Oh so, those reeds we used as kids to breathe underwater.”

“Yes? Yes! Yes, exactly! Like those, so imagine, if we fill these things—”

“We drown.”

“Exactly. Wait, No! Not those, these!” Samson pointed at the markings on his forearm. “What do you think happens when we fill these?”

“I dunno, you’re the cunning one with the plan.”

“See, I’ve calculated—figured outthat all critters all fill the tube about the same amount. So between the five of us, we need to kill five hundred and twentyfive critters. Now, I’ve designed some bait”—Samson tapped one of his lumpy brown pockets—“I just need help digging some pits and sharpening some stakes, and we’re good to go.”

Rey set down his now empty flagon of weak ale and moved onto the ale Tabitha had set in front of him. The bitter taste was heavier than his previous mug. Noticing the lack of ale in front of Samson, Rey smiled as he nursed this stronger drink. “Alright, let’s get this straight,” Rey said. “So, we help you dig some pits, slaughter some woodland critters. We fill these cursed little bars on our arms with more of this Pitch, and then what? We die like Shandra and every unfortunate soul who perished three years ago? What guarantee do you have that this will do anything for us but make us more miserable?”

Tabitha peeked from behind Samson’s bulky form. Her golden curls framed her face. “I don’t think you’ll die. Those that died still had the markings, but they never finished developing. The tubes definitely didn’t fill up like Samson is suggesting, either. Rey, you know that better than most of us. It was the other markings they didn’t get. Like, Glen, doesn’t your Pitch have another one of those tubes further up your arm?”

Glen’s ears and cheeks went red when Tabitha addressed him. He bowed his head in accord, simultaneously turning over his forearm to show his markings, which had a bar about halfway up his broad forearm. “I got something like that, but I don’t pay it no mind; it’s filled up before, but it just empties again. Doesn’t seem to change anything, although there is something satisfying about seeing it fill up gradually.”

“Wait, gradually?” Samson seemed confused. “I’ve only ever seen it go up after I kill one of them woodland critters.”

Most of the day, it’s covered in blood, from ya kno’ actual butcherin’? But when I wash it off every day, it always seemed a little fuller. With all that’s been goin’ on, I figured, what’s the worst that could happen? Musta filled it up a couple times now and nothin’.”

Tabitha reached over and touched the markings on his arm below the halffull tube. Glen’s face flared once again, but Tabitha didn’t seem to notice and said, “you seem to have more markings under here than Samson, though. It must mean something with having filled that tube.”

Another large forearm pounded into the table, and the wood creaked as Rey’s arm rolled over. He pointed at a marking on the left side of the partially filled tube. It appeared to be a triangle attached to a square. “I don’t know much, but I presume this is a tree.”

Glen and the gaunt man seated next to him, John, said in unison,Oooooh.”

Everyone but John was surprised by his presence. “Damn John, when did you get here?” Glen, sitting next to him, asked flatly.

“What? I been here the whole time, dumbass, John grumbled. What about the little markings above the tube? Does anyone know what that means?”

Above the partially filled Pitch on their forearms were three symbols that none had seen anywhere else. The men squinted at the runes E, X, and P, but unanimously agreed they had no idea what the markings meant or if they were important at all.

Rey, dismissing John’s question altogether after their initial examination, pointed at the little tree on his arm again. “I’m going to presume this has something to do with me cuttin’ down trees. Now I haven’t filled it up like Glen has; we haven’t needed as much firewood since the Mists fell, but I’m gonna guess them little rectangles next to that tube of his is supposed to be a knife, like one of them big ones you use, Glen.”

It took Glen a moment. He stared at the little rectangles on his arm, scowled, and gave up. Then his eyes carefully followed the tendons in his wrist up to his hand and closed his finger as if wrapping around an invisible handle. He nodded and shrugged as if satisfied with his unseen comparison. “Aye, that must be one of the big ones. Those are my favourite.”

“I assume it has something to do with your work as a butcher.”

Oooooooooooooh. Oh, oh shit.” John pulled his sleeve down to cover his own markings, although Rey had some suspicion about what the handshaped markings on John’s wrist meant.

Before anyone could ask, Glen muttered to Tabitha, “so Tabitha, what does yours have?”

“Oh, I don’t know, just some weird teardroplooking thing with lines in it.”

“That sounds cool! Show us!” Glen reached for Tabitha’s arm, but the sound of shattering ceramic echoed from behind the counter on the other side of the room.

“TABITHA! Can you get that?” Godfrey’s deep voice boomed.

“Another time! I really must get back to work.” She hurried to the sound of the Bent Wheel’s proprietor

Glen’s cheeks brightened once again. “Yes, yes. Of course. Godfrey can’t run this place alone.”

Samson’s unwelcome voice interrupted the moment, “So, what do you say, boys? If those little bars in the middle of the Pitch indicate our work, this big one down here must have a more general purpose. So, if we fill that up from killing forest critters, perhaps we’ll get better at killing overall! Maybe we can then beat the Mist monsters and get out of here.”

Rey snorted. “Now, that’s just absolutely crazy. This might be the craziest thing you’ve ever said, and we’ve been convinced by you in the past. Ain’t nobody getting stronger, and ain’t nobody getting out of here.”

“Well, what’s there to lose? We kill some creatures which seem unphased by the Mist, and we fill these bars up. Nothing happens, we go back to normal. Something happens, we get out of here.”

“I just want to make sure them poor critters you’re slaughtering don’t go to waste,” Glen piped in. “Some people in the village are still going hungry, right John?”

Shuddup, Glen! We’re doing alright, but something more than stale bread and leather soup would be nice.”

Rey sighed heavily. “Alright, fine, I’ll come and help, but only for the promise of food and making sure the hides and meat don’t spoil.”

“Excellent! Everybody, meet at Rey’s house tomorrow morning. I’ll show you all the blueprints.”


Before Rey realized where Samson had set the meeting, Samson had turned in a flourish of his grubby trench coat and left, leaving a few more dirty copper coins behind.

Melody of Dragons

Lunar Insurrection book 1

Academy of Souls

Lunar Insurrection book 2

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