Tessa pulled her ponytail over her shoulder nervously, spinning in front of the mirror. She felt… strange. But the world was a strange place now, wasn’t it?
She had known things were wrong in her relationship with Randidly a long time before he broke up with her, but she had wanted to work through it. It didn’t seem like he did. In the wake of that, the system had descended on the world, ripping away half of her building and all of her sense of security.
The night everything happened, both the breakup and the world shaking change, Tessa had curled up in her bed and cried herself to sleep, trying to ignore the screams.
They had been dating for a year, and it hit her hard. Not, of course, harder than the system, but still.
The next month had blended together in a desperate blur of short term jobs and and sleazy guys like that patroller Alex, always trying to isolate her and tempt her with cheap beer and free food.
And now, just finally when she was wavering, Randidly showed back up. If that wasn’t fate, she didn’t know what was.
Noticing the time, she hurried down the steps. To her surprise, Randidly was already there, calmly eating a hardboiled egg.
“Oh! I’m sorry, did you wait long?” Tessa asked, instantly nervous.
Randidly was a good hearted person, but he did have something of a moody streak. Not that he would do anything about it, he would just be grumpy, but Tessa didn’t want grumpiness to interrupt their reunion.
Again, Randidly’s even gaze surprised her. His eyes calmly looked her up and down as he swallowed the last of the egg. Then he shook his head. “No, I just got here.”
He still had the habit of keeping his face completely still while lying, which was slightly relieving. Even so, though, why did he lie about something so simple? He always lied for the dumbest reasons. Although this definitely was the same man she dated for a year, he seemed... almost completely different. Her eyes had always been drawn to him, but now there was something more to that. Like his presence drew everything towards him, as if he was the center of the world.
Tessa shook her head, trying to banish those thoughts. “So, uh, I have some food tokens saved up. I can show you around the city…”
She trailed off as Randidly gave her the look. She felt her cheeks flush slightly. It was the look he gave her when he already knew what to do, and was about to tell her. It was annoying a lot of the time, but there were some other times…
“Actually,” He said calmly. “I had a question first. What do you know about the University Lectures here?”
Sam grunted, turning over the breast plate. Over the last month, he had managed to set up something of a forge, and they were beginning to experiment with shaping metal. The whole ordeal was vastly simplified by when, around a week ago, Daniel had purchased the Supply shop, and they could purchase bars of smelted iron for relatively cheaply.
Far, far more cheaply than the weapons and armor they would become. The only issue left was shaping the metal. He examine the breastplate more closely.
Novice’s Breastplate Lvl 2: +7 Health
The bonus would be barely noticeable, but Sam supposed it was better than nothing. “An improvement is an improvement. Good work.”
The man who ran the smithy, Ceth, chuckled bitterly. “And fucking long hours of work too. I need to get some more points into stamina, and I should be able to make things like this pretty regularly. As my Metal Working Skill improves, so should the armor. There are even specific skills for each body piece, so when we figure out a mold for a helmet, it will go even faster. We are moving in the right direction Sam. Why the rush?”
Sam scowled powerful. “Don’t say something like that. You know it’s bad luck-”
A notification popped up, silencing him.
Congratulations! Your Newbie Village has been upgraded to a Trainee Village. The chance of obtaining superior classes is slightly increased. Raid bosses spawning in your area have a slight chance of spawning as a Tier II Raid Boss, at Lvl 30. Dungeons in your area will become active more frequently, spewing out waves of monsters. This cannot be prevented.
Due to your Tribulation remaining, the Tribulation has been strengthened. Be careful of your impending tribulation.
Due to being the first Trainee Village, on your world, the Soul Skill of Your Village Chieftain has been strengthened. The skill level will be reset, but all of the gains shall be retained.
Due to being the first Trainee Village in your Zone, you have become Earth’s Nexus Seed for this Zone 32. Searching for appropriate matching Village….
Match found! Village is first Trainee Village in zone, in world, and third in your batch of Worlds. Nexus portal has been founded near the center of your Trainee Village. In 7 days, the portal between your and your sister village has opened.
Warning, in 21 days, a Lvl 35 Raid Boss will randomly spawn on either your or their world. Good luck.
Sam’s glare towards Ceth deepened. But then he snorted, and left the smithy, heading towards the village center.
Daniel owed them all an explanation for this.
Randidly glanced around at the students listening to the professor's lecture. This was the 3rd lecture they sat through, and honestly… most of it was trash. More hurtful than helpful, although not in any permanent way. The 1st professor had recommended gathering as much PP as you could, and then spending it all at once, to increase the effectiveness of the stat gains.
The third professor had speculated on the source of the system, and whether god was involved.
It was only the 2nd professor of the day, a small, greek man, who Randidly found fascinating.
“Why,” He had asked, “Is this happening?”
The classroom had remained silent, and the professor had continued. “And I’m not talking the technical details of why… but the larger scheme. Why. Why has this ‘system’ been installed on our planet? Why are we pushed towards killing monsters, growing stronger, and gaining classes? There is no such thing as a free lunch. What are we losing?”
A student raised his hand. “Our humanity? We are becoming desensitized to the value of life-”
The professor waved that answer away. “Technically correct, but you are thinking that humanity is the center of the universe. It is clearly not. Anyone else?”
“Resources? Precious metals?”
“Control.” Randidly spoke softly, but his voice resonated strangely, carrying over the other whispers.
The professor gave him a long look. “Control over what?”
Randidly shrugged. After a pause, the professor continued to talk, moving on to the resemblance to RPGs, and what that could possibly mean about the why.
Randidly and Tessa went on to the next lecture.
After lunch, Tessa stood, her hands nervously smoothing her hair. “I… need to go. Oh but! I wanted to ask…”
She squirmed a bit, looking at him, and he simply waited. Then she said. “There… there’s a concert tonight. I have enough tokens to buy us tickets, if- if you want to go, with me.”
Randidly waved his hand. “Don’t bother.”
She visibly wilted. “Oh, then I should really.”
“Ah, Tess, that’s not what I meant.” Randidly scratched his head awkwardly, uncomfortable at making her upset. Even if he wasn’t interested in her now, he still had fond memories of their time together. He didn’t want to hurt her. “I, uh, was given these. So you don’t need to buy tickets.”
He produced the backstage passes, and her eyes widened into saucers. Shrugging, he offered them to her.
She held her hands up. “Oh wow! No, you keep them. I wouldn’t want to lose them at work. How… how did you get these again…?”
Randidly coughed into his hand. “For… sewing.”
“Yes. Is it really that strange I can sew?”
She burst out laughing. “No! It’s strange that sewing can get these! I didn’t even know they existed… where did you- well, nevermind. I need to get to work. Meet outside my building at 8 pm?”
Randidly nodded, and then watched as she smiled at him over her shoulder and left.
Bemused at her timid attempts at flirting, he turned and walked towards the nearby job crier, and swiftly obtained a job on a farm. It was apparently how Franksburg supported itself, with cutting edge vertical farms, but still, Randidly was relieved to find an activity he recognized..
At least this he had experience with.