Chapter 2 - The Karma Shop
I walked closer to the altar until I was right in front of the sapphire. The gem was floating in the air now, wrapped in wisps of blue fog. Should I just touch it and hope for the best? The air around it feels really cold, though. My hand might freeze if I try to grab it.
Before I could do anything, another message appeared.
[Do you wish to access the Karma Shop before reincarnating?]
I guess this is where I get to spend the 27 points I received earlier. Though I’m still not sure what Karma is or why this system exists, there should be no harm in checking out the shop.
I mentally pressed [Yes]. The window closed and another one took its place.
[Welcome to the Karma Shop! Please select one of the menus below.]
[Items] [Stats] [Abilities]
[Class (Locked)] [Settings] [Domain]
Six options appeared in front of me. How interesting. This whole system was looking more and more like a low budget RPG. [Stats]? [Abilities]? That sounds like I can make myself stronger or get special talents for my next life. Maybe this is how NBA class athletes are made...
I decided to suspend my disbelief for the moment. As weird as this whole chain of events might be, it’s a fact that I’m dead; all I can do is go with the flow. Being a gamer, the thought of “starting bonuses” excited me too. But just in case, I tried to choose the (Locked) option first.
[Insufficient points to unlock Main Class. 50 Karma needed.]
Well that’s a shame. My “main class” sounds like it’ll give me some sort of unique skill that would be really powerful. But it requires twice as many points as I have right now. Damn it, if only I saved a schoolbus full of children instead of just one kid.
Shaking my head, I abandoned that silly line of thought and picked [Items] instead.
[Please choose category of items]
Two new choices. But what does Soulbound mean?
As if the system could hear my internal voice, a small notification appeared.
[Soulbound items are carried over to all of your future lives. If lost or damaged, they are restored to perfect condition upon reincarnation. Repair service is free only for Soulbound items with a rarity of <Rare> and below. Normal items are permanently lost on death.]
My future lives? I suppose I should have expected it. The system did say something about my previous life being “Run 001”, so it makes sense that reincarnation isn’t just a one time deal. But is this how it works for everyone? Will I get to keep my memories? No one on Earth has ever talked about this system. Maybe it's because our minds are wiped after every death.
That thought scared me a little. Even though “Richard Brooks” is gone, I don’t want my ego to disappear here. All of my experiences are precious to me. If my memories and personality were ever to be taken away, then that would be my real death.
There’s also the chance that not everyone gets to reincarnate, which is why nobody knows about this system and the whole Karma thing. That would mean that there’s something special about me. But what? I’m as average of a person as they come.
Well, there’s no use worrying about it right now. I selected [Soulbound]. Immediately, hundreds of new lines appeared inside the window.
[Note: You may sort displayed items by Price, Rarity, Type, and other factors.]
[Dagger <Common> - 25 Points]
[Short Sword <Common> - 40 Points]
[Short Bow <Common> - 45 Points]
[Greatsword <Common> - 50 Points]
[Warhammer <Common> - 50 Points]
[Halberd <Common> - 60 Points]
[Leather Cap - <Common> 40 Points]
[Leather Brigandine <Common> - 70 Points]
[Alchemy Kit <Common> - 75 Points]
[Short Sword of Flame <Uncommon> - 100 Points]
[Longbow of Accuracy <Uncommon> - 125 Points]
[Staff of Regeneration <Uncommon> - 150 Points]
[Armor Piercing Mace <Uncommon> - 150 Points]
[Lesser Tidal Staff <Rare> - 400 Points]
[Old Runic Breastplate <Rare> - 500 Points]
[Wings of Boundless Flight <Rare> - 650 Points]
I was a bit overwhelmed by the selection.
Weapons, armor, even a pair of wings - is this really some sort of game? Not to mention the prices are way out of my budget. The only thing I can afford in the entire menu is a dagger, and I’m not about to waste my points on something I can probably find in a kitchen.
Still, I was curious and looked around a bit more. The displayed items could be changed just by thinking about what I wanted to see. For instance, if I thought “show only melee weapons”, the shop would do so. I could also sort it by the item’s rarity such as <Common> or <Rare>. Finally, focusing my eyes on a single item would bring up a longer description.
[Wings of Boundless Flight <Rare> - Cloak slot. Manifests white wings, allowing the wielder to traverse difficult terrain with ease. 3 hour duration, resets daily. Compatible with all chest armors.]
Hah, that sounds incredibly fun. Just the thought of zipping around the sky made me excited. I wonder what the maximum speed is? It would be like having my own portable jet. But the price tag on it is insane. 650 points… that’s like 25 times my life’s work.
I kept window shopping for a little longer, then I checked out the [Normal] items category. That was pretty disappointing, though. Only <Common> and <Uncommon> items were for sale, at a fifth of their Soulbound costs. There was no other difference.
While I could buy a normal dagger or sword, it seemed like a huge waste. These points aren’t easy to come by, so I’d rather avoid spending them on temporary weapons that I don’t even know how to use. Let’s check out the other menus then. First, [Abilities].
[Caution: Main Class locked. Purchased incompatible abilities cannot be refunded]
[Blade Skills] [Polearm Skills] [Blunt Weapon Skills] [Archery Skills]
[Fire Magic] [Water Magic] [Wind Magic] [Earth Magic] [Lightning Magic]
[Light Magic] [Dark Magic] [Void Magic]
[Movement Skills] [Utility Skills]
Again, my sense of reality was assaulted. This is all straight out of a fantasy game, isn’t it!? Learning magic would be really cool, but it makes me wonder again: why hasn’t anyone on Earth ever showed off powers like these? Well, there’s another possible explanation for that.
Maybe I’ll end up on a world other than Earth. If I’ve learned anything from clichés, then having magic like this means I’ll be summoned to a faraway kingdom as a hero. Either a wise old king or a buxom princess would be there to greet me. Then I’ll be asked to slay a demon lord - who has a roughly 25% chance of actually being a cute, misunderstood girl.
Alright, enough with the ridiculous tropes. While I would enjoy sightseeing on a different planet, something tells me it wouldn’t really be that fun or relaxing. First things first; let’s see if there’s anything worth buying here.
I checked out the options - each submenu had hundreds or even thousands of choices. From the blade category’s [Whirlwind Slash] to fire magic’s [Fire Storm], it all sounded amazing. Unfortunately, even the cheapest tier of spells like [Lightning Spark] cost 30 Karma to unlock.
The only thing I could purchase was a movement skill called [Sprint], which increases my running speed by 30% for twenty seconds. That sounds like it would come in handy if I ever needed to run for my life. It would cost 25 Karma though, so I wasn’t too keen on it.
Besides, I kept thinking about the warning the system gave me. It sounds like each class is only compatible with certain skills, so if I buy something here that I can’t really use in the future, it would be a waste of points. It’s probably best to learn my class first before messing around here.
Let’s check out [Stats].
[Bonuses apply after rolling initial stats. Each point costs 5 Karma]
[Strength: 0] [Agility: 0] [Dexterity: 0] [Constitution: 0]
[Intelligence: 0] [Wisdom: 0] [Charisma: 0]
Okay. After asking the system a few things for clarification, I think I got it.
Strength: Physical might and explosive power. Self-explanatory, really.
Agility: Speed and reflexes. Has a minor effect on stamina as well.
Dexterity: Accuracy and senses. The trademark stat of rogues and archers.
Constitution: Endurance, stamina, recovery, and basically how hard you are to kill.
Intelligence: Memory, focus, critical thinking. Primary stat for mages, since it affects spellpower and mana.
Wisdom: "Soft" intelligence, such as sensing when something doesn't add up. Affects magic defense and mana.
Charisma: Makes you better at things like negotiation and flattery. Significantly affects leadership.
Every time a person is born, their body’s “stats” are determined. By spending Karma here, however, I will get a flat bonus for each roll. I can’t underestimate this thing’s importance. A few points here might mean the difference between being sickly or strong.
Plus, each stat only costs 5 Karma to upgrade. This is probably the best place to spend my first points. Just in case, I looked at [Settings] and [Domain] afterwards. But there was nothing in those menus but a single disappointing message.
[Available only after your 10th reincarnation.]
* * *
For the next twenty minutes, I thought hard about what to spend my Karma on.
Constitution is pretty important. It affects how healthy and energetic my body will be, so that’s always going to be useful. Agility would be nice to have too - in the event that I wind up in a dangerous situation, running away will be my best bet.
I decided to raise both to 2, and then spent my remaining Karma on Strength. Being a little stronger than average is helpful for lots of things.
[Bonuses apply after rolling initial stats. Each point costs 5 Karma]
[Strength: 1] [Agility: 2] [Dexterity: 0] [Constitution: 2]
[Intelligence: 0] [Wisdom: 0] [Charisma: 0]
Perfect. I still have 2 Karma remaining, but there’s nothing that cheap in the shop.
Okay then, I think I’ve done everything I can to prepare. Let’s do this. But how do I reincarnate though? Do I just ask? System, please reincarnate me now.
[Request acknowledged, Ascendant. Closing Karma Shop.]
Oh hey, it actually worked. I folded my arms and watched in fascination as more lines filled the screen. But the final one made my blood run cold.
[Selecting random world…]
[Planet Size: Average]
[Terrain: 60% Land, 25% Water, 15% Ice]
[Population Density: Low]
[Sentient Races: 90% Human, 8% Beastmen, 2% Other]
[Monster presence: High]
[Danger level: Average]
[. . . . .]
[Warning!: Ascendant detected on Skosia]
[Stated Affiliation: Eclipse]
[New danger level: Extreme]
No! What is it with that danger level!? Put me on a different world!
I tried to tell the system to cancel the process, but that didn’t help. The blue wisps of fog surrounding the sapphire immediately shot out and wrapped around me, preventing any escape. My eyes lost their sight and I quickly became sleepy. It didn’t take long before my consciousness faded.
[Climb to the summit of power and seize our legacy.]
[This plane is your birthright, Ascendant.]
* * *
Several hours later…
A blue portal manifested inside the dome. Out walked a young woman, taking graceful strides like a proud cheetah after a kill. The soft clinking of metal on stone sounded as her greaves tread on the floor.
She had bright golden eyes, rosy skin, and dark blue hair tied into a high ponytail. Two identical sheathed blades were strapped to her waist, and she was dressed in an ill-matched assortment of armor from various eras. Tall and beautiful, this girl stood with the poise of an experienced warrior.
With a snap of her fingers, the two swords disappeared and her battleworn armor was replaced with more casual clothing. She nodded with a very satisfied expression on her face.
“Whew, that was a great run.” She said happily, stretching her arms. “Five hundred points baby!”
Lynn flopped onto the massive bed. It had been years since she had felt something this soft. Medieval worlds aren’t exactly known for comfort. Even though she had become a Grand Duchess in her last life and owned a luxurious manor, there’s just no place like home.
After a few seconds of rolling around in the oversized bed, she sat up and pulled out a golden locket from within her shirt. It was time to check on her charge.
“Let’s see how little Richard is doing. He should be married by now... eh!?”
She froze. Instead of a tired office worker with a boring face, the locket’s mirror was instead showing a completely different person. How!? Lynn quickly turned towards the center of the room. Seeing that the sapphire on the altar was glowing brightly, her smile disappeared.