Chapter 1: Fantasy Starter Pack
I guess this is where I tell the story, huh? About how I became the most powerful existence in the world? Before I start, I'd like to point out that writing stories is not my forte, and that my girlfriend is making me do this. Oh, yeah... and don't ask me how I'm uploading this from another world, because you won’t understand (at least, not yet).
It all started on a dull and bleary day. Mr. Brown's class was the bane of my existence. His voice droned on and on like the buzz of a bee through auto-tune. His colorful wool sweater quickly became the most interesting thing for every student present. His teaching was so uninspiring that the whole class was falling asleep.
At long last, the bell rang to indicate the end of the period. Everyone dashed for the exit, some with half-closed eyelids and scruffed hairdos. I wasn't fond of being in crowds if I could help it, so I stayed back until most had gone to go eat lunch.
I slowly made my way towards the cafeteria, organizing all the various dungeons and monsters I had prepared in my head during class. That was the sole reason I never fell asleep halfway through Mr. Brown's lectures.
My friends were waiting for me at our table. Dubbed ‘the game table’, we were always playing table RPGs and it just so happened that I was the "official" gamemaster.
Of course, my title of gamemaster gave me a 100% resistance to relationships, but I didn’t care back then. It was my job to conduct the adventures and I enjoyed it very much. In fact, expressing myself through solid mechanics and photorealistic scenes was one of life's few joys. I created unique dungeons, weapons, abilities and environments and then threw the players in it to mix it all up. Everything was perfect in my mind's eye.
Over my four high school years, my knowledge in the matter increased by leaps and bounds and I had more and more ideas floating around in my head. In fact, my adventures were so good that our table was well-known throughout the school. Not everyone would play--nor had the chance to, mind you--but a lot of students would come and watch. If you think that my level of passion on the subject was extremely uncool, then you would absolutely be right. But if you'd laughed at me at the time, I couldn't have cared less.
So... back to the story.
All hailed my arrival at the table. I sat down and produced a 20-sided dice out of my pocket. I twirled it in my fingers out of habit. I looked at it and I smiled wickedly before I started narrating:
"Number 14: Wyrdemon's Bestiary. In the darkest parts of Toral lives a demon race infamous for abducting elves. Atop only the tallest tree will they bind their prisoners. The ill-fated are gorged on demon blood, and slowly, the ancient magic dormant within will stir and erase their minds, transforming them into terrible creatures..."
My dungeons weren't always so morbid, but Alex was in a horrible spot on my mental map. Besides, number 14 was the 7th worse event to happen in my stories.
All of this to say that we were fighting an Elder Wyrdemon when suddenly the shining light appeared.
It came without warning. We soon found ourselves on an empty gray plane that seemed to stretch on forever. Around me were a few kids from our table, including some bystanders that were watching the game.
A quick headcount revealed that we were 12 guys and 8 girls, all students from the same high school. I discreetly slapped myself to see if I'd feel the sting. Maybe I should have remembered to pinch myself silently instead, because a few heads turned my way from the sound.
I didn't have time to feel awkward: out of literally nowhere, we heard a voice. It was melodious, feminine and sexy. The owner of said voice was, without a doubt, an incredible beauty. I couldn't help but be drawn to look behind me when I saw the shocked faces of the people around me.
A radiant woman, maybe 30 years old, hovered gently in the air. Although her face was proud and majestic, her eyes were as soft as a bed of feathers. Her curves were so precious I was certain I would remember them in my dreams for eternity. Locked onto my goddess, I felt all of the rules binding me to the world shatter.
"I am Lenea, the Goddess of Light. I have summoned you all to plead for your aid: assist my country in its time of need, and I shall be forever grateful."
This woman is a goddess?
A few whispers were heard from the students. Things from wanting to go home to statements of confusion or disbelief. One thing I was sure of? So long as I could keep staring at that woman, I didn't care what happened.
Probably thinking the exact opposite, a guy called Nathan spoke up:
"Where are we, my Goddess?"
His face was bleached and I could see the sweat on his palms from several meters away. I couldn't blame him... she was hot and also a goddess. Representing a group in unknown circumstances to a woman like that took a lot of leadership. And guts.
"We are currently in the Holy Realm. The world of Allelia has many such realms for its divinities, including the Underworld, Otherworld and the Forest of Life."
"Then... we're in Heaven? Are we dead?" Nathan asked.
"No, child. I have merely transfered you here. You will be sent to Ilonya in short order, but for now, think of the word ‘status’ for me."
A few of the students were still too confused to follow the conversation, but the others that were listening were suddenly inspired and feeling a lot less helpless. As soon as the word ‘status’ was imagined, a window with game information popped up.
It looked a bit like this:
Level 1 Human Male
EXP: 0 / 5
Titles: Chosen of Lorea
Stat Points: 0
When I concentrated on some words, other windows were brought up.
Chosen of Lorea
All experience gain is doubled.
The Gamemaster is able to manipulate the very nature of the world through his mind's eye. Greater permissions are available to the powerful Gamemaster.
Develop a mental visualization of a target, allowing you to alter them freely for yourself and see their properties. Limited range of 10 meters/ability level. Number of parallel instances equal to the ability level.
It seemed very intuitive, but maybe that was just me. I couldn't actually see everyone else's screens. I looked back at mine and moved my head around a bit. It was anchored to my vision, but I could see underneath it when I wanted to. Something like selective seeing?
Interesting, I thought.
As I waited for the others to finish their inspection of their statuses, it finally hit me.
What's up with that Gamemaster description?!
I was already so excited that my stomach was tingling. Adding any more would make me explode.
"You have all been generated a class according to your personalities and memories. Unfortunately," she said, "I am not authorized to modify your statuses directly."
At this point, I had practically zoned out the Goddess' voice, despite how amazing and hot she was. I know: call me an idiot...
But I was mentally scratching off my hair.
"Develop a mental visualization of the target", huh...
As if I understood what that meant, I slowly inched closer to the Goddess to get in the proper 10 meter range. I couldn’t actually see how far 10 meters was, but I somehow knew I needed to be a bit closer.
When I felt that I was within range, I closed my eyes. I had better not screw this up unless I wanted an enraged divinity to smite me. Yeah... I'd give it my best shot.
A humanoid shape that looked like it was made out of wet clay sprouted from my imagination. A beige pool in a sea of dark started to slowly form. Lines were accentuated and slowly it transformed into a beautiful woman. In under 9 seconds, I had a perfect replica of Lenea inside my head.
Simulate has grown to Lv.2!
The Goddess seemed to revolve, like on a spin-table, until I realized it was my mind that was looking around. Or maybe my brain faked the movement of a ‘camera’ by moving her? Either way, you probably don't care about that... The weird part was that when I opened my eyes, I could still somehow “see” Lenea in the simulation. Like I was looking at two different things at once, unlike the status window.
“I presume most of you have looked over your statuses?” Lenea said. “The title Chosen of Lenea is a blessing that only I can bestow. Please use it well.”
She didn’t explain more, seemingly done with her part. I suppose she wanted to allay the burden of informing the newbies about the painstaking details to the lower echelon, even though she had just showed us the very basics.
With a wave of her hand, a grey light flashed brightly and then receded. We found ourselves in a large throne room. All decoration in the hall was gold in color, no doubt to emphasize how holy this place was. From fantasy novels and movies, I knew that words like ‘holy’ and ‘official’ did not necessarily translate to ‘good’ and ‘honest’. Why that was my first thought upon meeting a King at level 1 was beyond me.
On the throne was an assumingly well-built man in golden armor. His gaze fell on each of us before he spoke:
“You have my greetings, Heroes.”
I was tempted to pull out my phone and take a selfie. You know those people that choose the most auspicious times to take one? I am one of them, despite being unsocial.
Thus, with much willpower, my phone remained in my pocket. I instead opted to keep him in my mind.
Instantly, the figure of the king manifested itself in my second simulation, which looked odd since he was sitting in the darkness without his throne. When I subconsciously thought that he would look better standing up, he promptly rose to his feet and stood mightily.
It was an awe-inspiring scene somehow.
Simulate has grown to Lv.3!
These developments made me realize I could control my simulation.
I suddenly thought of the goddess that was still in my first simulation. Trying not to think dirty thoughts, I made Lenea do a backflip.
Wow... okay… that was... really weird.
“I am King Otheus, ruler of Ilonya. I am sure you all have many questions. While you may ask me directly, I will also assign each and every one of you a servant that you may turn to for answers and for... other services.”
The king looked kindly at us before finishing:
“You will be briefed on our situation tomorrow morning at eleven. For now, please follow Queen Lafiya, who will lead you to the Heroes’ barracks to select a servant.”
A woman standing off to the side and dressed in white got our attention before turning around and walking through a set of double doors. Her dress trailed behind her even though she walked at a decently slow pace. We all followed without question, too nervous or scared to catch someone’s attention. Even Nathan, who addressed the Goddess Lenea, kept quiet. Apparently, a dreamy woman is less nerve-wracking than a stone castle with an army.
Along the way we could see the place’s architecture and wealth. Mostly in the form of rugs, paintings, and exquisite tapestries. A lot of the trims around doorways and the railings along staircases were carved with masterful designs. You could tell at a glance that this place was where the royalty of a huge country lived.
After maybe five minutes, we reached our destination. It was a large inner courtyard with many rooms along the inside. In the center was a training ground with two sets of bleachers next to each other on one side and a few training dummies on the other.
The place was beautiful, especially to the warrior in training. We could all see the crates under one of the bleachers with glittering practice swords. It was super exciting.
In the middle of the training ground was a man in leather armor sitting at a table laden with documents. He appeared concentrated as he shuffled through some papers, but looked up when he saw us approach.
“My Queen,” he said, standing up and bowing his head with a grin.
“Arthur, please see to our Heroes,” she said, also smiling. “And no need for honorifics.”
He straightened up.
“As you command,” he answered. “Each of you, please look through these papers and find yourselves a suitable servant. You should try to synergize with their skills and personalities as much as possible, since they will be your guides and allies for the time being. You may ask me any questions related to your statuses.”
He started handing out papers to us.
“If you have a damage-dealing class, you should consider looking into a support-oriented servant and vice-versa to fill in the gaps in your party. After the briefing tomorrow, we'll be heading out to a level 1 dungeon. I’m Arthur, by the way.”
He looked around for a moment with a glint in his eye.
“I’m in charge of training Heroes. Nice to meet all of you.”
Level 46 Human Female
Body: Toned, slim
Hair: Light brown
Traits: Proud, kind, honest, wise, hard-working
Likes: Honesty, hard work, mana treats
Dislikes: Scum, ginger
This paper’s information stood out to me. If Paladins were both tanks and healers at the same time, wouldn’t she be able to keep me safe? Apparently, level 46 at such a young age was very good, so she must have trained all her life. I wondered if she had done so all for the sake of one day serving a Hero.
In the end, I decided to pick Feya. Although we might not be perfectly alike, at least I was sure she wouldn’t stab me in my sleep. Talk about a bonus.
I handed in the paper and Arthur’s assistant went off to fetch my soon-to-be servant. It was pretty depressing how they put so much emphasis on physical description. Shouldn't servants be called party members, partners, or even mentors? Did they really expect us to choose based on sex preference?
A few minutes later, I could hear the shuffling of boots on stone. A young woman appeared from a doorway and skimmed through the courtyard. She noticed me and came over in an impressive display of speed.
“Thank you for choosing me, Master!” she said in a hurry, bowing down low.
"Okay... you are not calling me that."
She looked up with frowning green eyes. “Pardon me, Master?”
“My name is Cade.”
“... Cade,” she repeated hesitantly.
“Thanks. It's nice to meet you, Feya," I said. "I like what you did with your hair."
"Oh... thank you. It is nice to meet you as well."
I smiled to her. "So what now?"
Feya scanned the yard.
“It appears we should talk to Sir Arthur to get assigned a room.”
"You just got all that from looking around?"
"That is correct."
“That's really cool... and Arthur's a Sir, huh…”
"He is," said Feya. “However, Heroes are not required to use honorifics. Addressing him as Arthur is quite alright.”
I was the one to frown this time.
“What's up with this 'Hero' gig? I get that the ‘Goddess Lenea’ has summoned us and everything, but all we have is an experience boost, right? So how are we supposed to help you in your 'time of need'?”
"You possess greater potential than what you accredit yourself. The first Heroes were summoned over four hundred years ago to protect us from the druids, who were mercilessly burning our homes and slaughtening our families. In the beginning, the Heroes were nothing special... but given time, they had become a force to be reckoned with, ultimately repelling the druids and bringing a golden age to the Kingdom."
"Then you've welcomed Heroes before?" I asked, to which she nodded.
"But forces much stronger than ourselves are menacing to defeat us once more. That is why we must rely upon the new Heroes of old and hope for a second miracle. I am afraid much rests on your shoulders now, Cade. I truly am sorry."
"So... you guys will be training us as fast as you can so we can help protect humanity in this world?"
"That is the essence of it, yes."
"That is... pardon?"
"That's awesome!" I repeated. "You'll bring me along on adventures, right? I'm so excited! But one year isn't a lot of time to train us, is it?"
Her face betrayed her surprise at my reaction.
“Indeed, it is not. We had five years to train the earlier Heroes, and truth be told, we only managed to repel the druids because one of the Heroes possessed the Hero class. The Hero left behind many tales that we still share today. That’s also why we call you Heroes.”
“Wait… you said you only won because you had a ‘Hero’? What makes you think there will be one this time? We didn't ask around for one?”
She looked sheepish.
“Asking about a person's class is frowned upon, especially to a Hero. We can only hope for another miracle.”
“Well… let me go get a room.”
She quickly stopped me from leaving. If I was actually paying attention and she hadn't displayed it ealier, her speed would have probably scared me.
“I will get it! I am your servant, after all…”
“If you insist... I’ll wait here, then.”
Her agility must be monstrous...
She seemed happy to be relied on as she left to go talk to Arthur.
Less than a minute passed before she came back and led the way to my new home for the time being.
As I followed her, I brought her up in my mind’s eye, careful not to crash into her if she suddenly stopped walking.
Feya wasn’t wearing armor. Instead, she was in cotton pants, a blouse and laced leather boots. After observing Lenea too, I realized that this world’s ladies did not care for hiding their upper bodies with thick clothing. Is this a permanent no bra day that my little eye spies? Although I say that, I’m too awkward to peeve on women even if they are only in my head. I know: knock me over the head...
“Here is our room, Cade.”
Next to the oak door was a number 14 in bright golden lettering. Even the entrance to my new home was extremely fancy. I figured I could live with it, even if dying was on the agenda a year from now.
She looked at me strangely.
“Of course. I am no longer a servant-in-training. I will go fetch my things straight away! I had left in a hurry before…”
And with that, she was gone from sight.
But she was still in my simulation, her hips swaying as she raced away.
My room was a lavish five-star appartment. Greeting us inside was a large entrance hall with stairs climbing up to a second floor balcony. Cozy chairs was placed around a coffee table in front of the fireplace to our right. On our left was an archway leading to our new kitchen. Underneath the stairs were Feya's servant bedroom and the guest bathroom. At the top of the balcony was my master bedroom, complete with a king-sized bed and its own bathroom. There was even a tub made out of wood.
Feya came back as I was exiting the bathroom. I looked around some more before coming to the delightful conclusion that the place was incredible.
“Of course, Cade. These rooms were built for heroes! I will be in the servant’s room if you need me.”
She hurried into a side room from the hall. I followed her since it was the only room I hadn’t visited yet.
She looked surprised at first but continued about, unpacking her things. It was a normal room that you’d find in a $100 hotel, minus the television and the phone. The servant's room didn't have direct access to a bathroom either. Feya would be using the guest bathroom in the main hall.
“Although your room is very acceptable, I almost feel bad for you…” I told Feya, who laughed.
“This room is very similar to my old one at the military school. The only thing that’s better is that here I can take a bath with a man…”
She not-so-subtly rose a major flag. My unsocial self could tolerate having one person around, but having a naked girl around?
“Is that really an improvement?” I asked her.
“Yes. I want to try and bathe with Master.”
“Why would you want to try that?” I inquired.
She looked at me before looking down at the ground.
“Servants are expected to. While giving birth to a Hero’s bloodline is a great honor, the opposite is also true if we do not succeed in bedding our Master.”
“Talk about euphemism…”
“Not your fault,” I said. “And I'd rather you be honest about it. I suppose that means we’re in the same boat, huh? Maybe it would be nice to start a family...”
Her face turned crimson in a matter of seconds. Joking has always made my awkwardness go away.
“Indeed,” she answered.
I chuckled. “Are you done unpacking? Need any help?”
“But I feel like helping.”
She didn’t answer for a few seconds.
“Then that bag, can you…”
Five minutes later, we were leaving for the castle stores to get some clothes and a weapon for myself. The Capital had plenty of shops in the shopping district, but just walking there took almost an hour. Besides, I could tolerate Feya paying for my stuff, but not when I could find the same quality items for free.
The castle stores was a warehouse for everything the castle needed. It was an area that everyone with access to the castle could come and go, unlike the castle treasury which only a few important figures could enter. That said, you were still required to sign a sheet of paper as well as prove your identity to take anything out.
“I’m Cade Hall, one of the newly Summoned. I’m here to get a weapon and some clothes.”
“My name is Feya Wulfric, Hero Cade’s servant. I have come to assist him in getting his starter kit.”
We both scribbled our names on the ledger and went inside. The place was fascinating to me. Most of the huge room was for food and clothes, with smaller sections for weapons, armor and living necessities like soap, paper and oil.
The really wealthy stuff like enchanted swords would be in the treasury so we could practically pick anything we wanted from the storehouse, so long as the check-out guards allowed us to leave. Feya doubted that they would disapprove of anything I picked out, though.
A few garments looked noble-like and attractive, but I opted for simple sets of clothes. A few pairs of brown pants, a couple shirts, some soft leather boots and a tunic belt because Feya thought I looked good with it on. Strange world customs, don’t look at me.
It finally came time to look for a weapon. Feya had told me that asking someone’s class in this world was taboo. It was much worse than, say, asking a woman’s age on Earth. Hence, no one, including Feya, knew what class I had. They had probably assumed I was a squishy class. Now that I took the time to think about it, I had absolutely no idea what fighting type I was. ‘I can close my eyes to remember my opponent’ is not a proper fighting ability.
But regardless, now was the time to choose a weapon.
Feya’s voice was heard over the clamour of the storehouse:
“What kind of weapon would you like?” she asked as she closed her eyes and frowned.
“I have a strange class, so I don't know,” I said as I watched Feya run around in my mental simulation. “I’m a Gamemaster.”
She blinked again.
“So what does it do?” she asked. Go figure.
“I’m not sure... Maybe I get to deal some cards?”
“Please stop joking. There has never been a Hero that did not have a powerful class for combat. I have simply never heard of a Gamemaster before.”
She said that but she looked worried.
“Maybe you have the new ‘Hero’ class?” she asked with hope in her eyes.
“Maybe… anyways, a sword would do for now. Check it out! It looks like black steel!”
She shook off her earlier concern. “That is normal iron.”
The sword was very good-looking despite its simple design. I loved it immediately for some reason. My brain loves simple things, I suppose.
I tried feeling the weight of the sword, but I almost broke my arm when Feya handed it to me. Thankfully, I could still hold it, the weight was just unexpected.
“Tomorrow we will be heading to Starfall Ruins to exterminate some goblins so that you can get some levels. Every level gained earns you two stat points that you can allocate into three stats. Don’t worry about it for now, okay?”
She probably had seen my awkward expression.
“What do those stats do?” I asked, ignoring her.
She still patiently explained:
“Strength increases one's physical power and vitality. Each point invested adds ten health, or HP, and boosts the immune system. You will also find yourself recovering from your wounds quicker.”
“So it’s a physical body boost?”
“Fighters concentrate on Strength and Agility while spellcasters strive for Intelligence. Intelligence improves the mind and sharpens the senses. Each point invested adds ten mana, or MP, and increases the power of abilities. You will also find yourself learning quicker and remembering memories more accurately.
“Agility, on the other hand, governs no apparent stat. It enhances movement speed and motor coordination. Agility may also negate damage when being hit. This is usually called Defense.”
“I don’t remember a Defense stat?” I asked, mostly to know if I’d missed it somehow. I quickly checked my status in case I was being an idiot like usual.
“It does not appear in the status. There are multitudes of stats that are not allocatable. They change behind the scenes, like health and mana regeneration.”
Feya’s figure seemed to shine in the gloomy storehouse, so I asked:
“Is it wrong to ask about a person’s abilities?
“Not if they have a lower social status. You could inquire about mine without a problem, but, for example, the King no doubt avoided asking you your class on your first day here for fear of overly rushing you.”
“Right… well, do you have any healing abilities?”
Healing Sprite Lv.6
Summon a healing light to aid you and your party. Heals 10 HP/ability level every second to everyone under the light. Costs 6 MP/ability level every second.
“That’s… very powerful isn’t it? You can full heal me every second.”
“For now, it is. I also have a stronger cast heal for 450 HP once we get that far.”
Feya was about to power level me so hard.
I sat on my bed to relax a bit when we returned to our room because I was starting to feel the overwhelmingness of the day’s events. Feya was instead excited so she stayed with me. We spoke of this world and of Earth, though I tried not to brag too much since they were living in a game. I’d spent many nights wishing for a chance such as this.
Before being summoned, I was going to pursue game development. It was the field that suited me best, since I also enjoyed playing video games (not unlike any other boy with a lot of free time).
Eventually, that pursuit lead me to programming. I tried a few programs to learn some languages, but I can’t say I remembered much except for the technical aspect side of it.
What I'm getting at is that I had practically trained for this moment my whole life. I didn’t want to die now that life was giving me strawberries instead of lemons. I was going to do my very best.
By the way, I also dabbled in visual arts and music creation.
Morning came and my face felt sludgy. I needed a shower, and quick.
My footfalls heavy, I headed towards my master bathroom. I might have looked dejected when I realized I had to take a bath instead of a shower, but it was nothing compared to when I learned that there was no tap water to prepare it.
The master bedroom door could be heard opening and closing. I wasn’t naked, but no one should have to witness me after getting up so please go away…
“Good morning, Cade!” Feya said as she carried a bucket of hot water in each hand. She was dressed in her usual cotton clothes.
“Are you serious?” I asked as I watched her emptying them in the bath.
“This is normal for servants. Be quiet and watch.”
Using her high agility, she could carry about fourteen buckets per minute. Apparently, Mages were heating up barrels of water outside in the courtyard.
Such teamwork warmed my heart, though that might have been due to the bathwater.
I was awkwardly lying in the bath when Feya finished up. Although I wasn’t naked with a girl around very often, I didn’t feel particularly nervous. Was it because of all the bubbles?
“Do you want me to help you wash?”
“I’ll be fine, thanks.”
Although I said that, I eventually I had to call her back:
“How do I wash my hair with this?” I asked her, holding up a black shiny rock.
She ended up helping me after all.
The sun shone bright over the horizon. In my previous world, getting up this early would have been an impressive feat for me. Now it was just something I did subconsciously so that I wouldn’t piss off a king.
“I trust you all have a weapon?” Otheus asked before explaining. “I shall be taking over Arthur’s training this morning.”
All twenty of us were standing with our servants on the training ground. I finally noticed that everyone had a servant of the opposite sex. Arthur, you dirty man…
I also saw that everyone had a weapon on their person. My own sword was currently being carried by Feya. Maybe I should have gotten a weapon that I could wield…
“Later you shall head to Starfall Ruins to hunt weak goblins. You are not expected to learn how to fight in a single day. This expedition is solely aimed at exposing you to death, so learn to handle your emotions.”
He looked around before continuing:
“Those with a sword, come with me. For short blades and blunt weapons, follow Sir Arthur. If you have a projectile weapon, go to Hendrix over there.” He pointed at a man with a bow off to the side. “Mages, please see to Reinfeld, our court wizard.”
Because I had picked up a sword in the storehouse, I followed King Otheus. I was slightly scared to be done in by the King. Last night, Feya had told me that he was one of the most powerful figures in the Holy Church.
The sword users, myself included, grouped up and looked at the King. He stood proudly with his sword at his waist.
“I have two hours to teach you the basics of swordsmanship. Pay attention.”
Feya was with me and had her eyes wide open. I guess Otheus really was a professional…
“The first step is footwork. Anyone can swing a sword and do damage, but anyone can look like an idiot swinging a sword without proper foot technique. Watch carefully…”
Otheus took out his sword and asked Nathan to help him demonstrate. I don’t think he knew if he should be happy or not to be picked.
The King proceeded to fake some swings at Nathan while keeping his feet in order. He stepped in and out to allay power from his hips to his sword. Mighty blows rung out, but none ever scratched Nathan, who was white from fear since the beginning of the demonstration.
We all watched his feet move and his coordination. It seemed like a far-fetched idea to even simulate a bit of what he did, but I was suddenly enlightened.
In my mind, I tried to recreate what Otheus was demonstrating. Soon enough, Otheus’ body was moving around in my head, demonstrating each of his moves. When I tried to imitate him, my feet moved on their own to rendition his actions. Except that my speed was incredibly sub-par.
When he caught sight of me doing his movements, albeit at a slower pace, he stopped demonstrating. I barely noticed as I simply kept going, practicing Otheus’ master footwork.
His eyes seemed to sparkle as he told the other 39 to keep their eyes on him.
I suddenly woke up from the rush of practice to learn that I had missed the rest of the training, or more specifically, the swordplay part of it.
“What?! How am I going to kill goblins, then?”
"You may behead them."
"Do not worry. I will be impressed even if you do not manage to kill a goblin today. It takes more than swords to become strong. Killing something, even a monster, takes a great deal of willpower. They say that only a third of the original Heroes were able to kill on their first day, and of those, half of them had a psychological breakdown afterwards.”
“Is killing really that... hard?”
“But know that monsters are not sapient. They are born with fabricated memories from dungeons. They follow their monstrous instincts, such as to 'kill' and 'devour'. They truly are deserving of death. I should warn you about human monsters as well. Never show mercy to dungeon-born humans, especially bandits. They will cut out your throat in the blink of an eye.”
“Wait… ‘cut out my throat’? I thought I had a health stat?”
“Throats are one of the many critical hit areas. Armpit, solar plexus, temple, jugular artery, those are some of the soft spots that will multiply damage dealt.”
I thought that information over. Couldn’t I die if Feya stepped on my foot once?
“We are leaving in one hour, so let us go grab some breakfast,” she said.
“I totally forgot about breakfast… please, lead the way.”
With an apple, a baked pastry and a cup of grape juice in our hands, we made our way back to our room. The kitchen, in addition to cooking appliances and countertops, had a dining table. It was clearly not meant to host a lot of company, but was perfect for a master and a servant.
The kitchen pantry had no food since Feya hadn’t had the chance to stock it yet. We settled at the table. Although I could narrate my tales to others with ease, I was an introvert at heart. I'd rather eat with Feya in our room than outside at the picnic with the others. That said, the real reason we went to our room to eat was because Feya needed her armor for the dungeon delve.
“This thing tastes amazing…” I said as I took a bite out of the pastry.
“That is a Lv.4 Mana Treat. They taste good all around, but the higher-leveled ones are wondrous!”
Feya had her eyes closed and seemed to be enjoying hers.
I could feel the energy wafting into my mouth, but I couldn’t absorb any of it since my mana was full.
Otheus was still moving inside my head. I seemed to be able to concentrate on all of my simulations at once subconsciously. It was a strange feeling when I thought about one of them specifically. Kind of like when you daze a bit and realize you’re actually at that party, or enjoying the Mexican beach with a pina colada in your hand.
I wasn’t about to question my simulations too much, though. I don’t bother with most things, so if you meet a unanswered question along the way, I’m sorry.
“I’ll go get ready, then,” she said, excusing herself with a smile.
We stood outside a broken stone tower. The ruins of an old city laid before us. The place was eerie. There would be complete silence if not for the occasional goblin howl. Were weregoblins a thing now? Hopefully not.
Arthur was in the front, obviously unafraid of a level 1 dungeon. He was a Knight, a melee combatant that used a variety of weapons, while Otheus, who hadn't come with us on this expedition, was a Paladin who specialized in the sword. The Hero trainer spoke out loud enough for us to hear:
“Goblins are not very strong, nor do they have exceptional instincts. Servants, as the finest youths in the Holy Kingdom, keep your masters safe. We’ll form back up here in three hours. Good luck.”
I followed Feya’s familiar back. We walked through the oh-so-romantic city in search of goblins. She was the acting tank of the party, but I was supposed to try the frontlines too. Only Feya knew that my class had no actual combat capability except for being able to copy Otheus’ footwork and Feya’s hip sway, though I hadn't told her about that last one.
It was like the actions of the person I was simulating were processed exactly like my own were. I wanted to lift my arm up and wave? Otheus could lift his arm up and wave. Except the opposite was also true, and Otheus could become a kind of puppet that I could program for doing my actions for me. Did that make sense?
The probable purpose of the ability was to recreate the physical object and its behaviors perfectly. I tried simulating my apple that morning and it worked. I could even make the apple rot in my mind, but because it was not a human behavior, I wasn’t able to reproduce it with my body. However, because I could literally recreate Otheus’ actions in my mind, I could use the same knowledge to affect my body instead.
Should I just call it a system-assist, an auto-pilot or a bot?
I'm sure that was a confusing explanation, but here we are. In any case, I had a strange ability. Why was it so sophisticated? Who knew? Couldn’t it have just been called Copy or something?
Anyway, after five minutes of loud armor banging from Feya trying to attract the buggers, we met with our first match. Three little humanoid creatures with greyish green skin confronted us while a fourth went around to catch us from the back.
Feya activated Healing Sprite Lv.6 and I instantly felt better. Assuming the movements from Otheus and grabbing my sword from Feya’s hip, I eagerly dashed forward in a swirl and beheaded the first goblin. Simulation Lv.3 took over my body like I was breathing. I felt Otheus’ every move and my mind expanded to fit all the motor information that was being processed.
My spin ended and I almost broke my arm as I swung the sword forward again like a spring. It landed heavily on the second goblin’s neck cavity and split right down to its lung. I noticed Feya watching over me from the corner of my eye.
The third goblin sent a jab with a chiv at my ribs, but I stepped away and with another whirl, decapitated this one as well.
Seeing their lifeless bodies fall to the ground, I remembered Feya’s earlier words: ‘Know that monsters are not spient'. I wondered if it truly mattered if I killed them. It wasn't very different from the countless monsters I had killed in my head.
“You weren’t lying when you said these were… artificial lifeforms, right?”
“I was not lying,” she answered.
I nodded and let my simulation take over. My feet floated towards the last goblin fifteen meters away. It was left stunned from the deaths of its companions, but looked at me with wide eyes when I approached. It only had a moment to remember its short-lived existence before being savagely cut down by my sword.
Level 2 Human Male
EXP: 15 / 20
Titles: Chosen of Lorea
Stat Points: 2
“Well done,” said Feya as she deactivated her ability. “I will show you how the looting system works.”
She bent down over one of the goblin corpses and waved her hand at it. The body started to dissolve, soon disappearing completely and leaving behind a linen pouch.
“Monsters inside dungeons can be looted to receive rewards after killing them. Boss monsters have greater rewards than the other common ones, since they are harder to kill. Better to stay away from the first boss here for now.”
She picked up the loot pouch and put her hand inside. She pulled out a few coins, which also dissolved into particles of light.
“Those were coins. My status received them when I concentrated on them.”
The coins reappeared in her palm.
“You may then take them out again. Status coins would be useless if you could not take them out. Here,” she said as she threw me a coin. “Try it.”
Instead of catching it neatly, I fumbled and almost dropped it. Straightening up, I concentrated. The coin easily dissolved.
I checked my status and sure enough, there was a single coin.
“One coin, or one copper coin, is the base value for currency. Iron, silver and gold are the other three common coins and have values of 100, 10,000 and 1,000,000 coins respectively. While there are thousands of other coins, you won’t be able to produce those from your status. An example of a special coin is the blue Draconic coin, which has a value of 185,459 coins and is only available to Draconic royalty.”
“Um... okay... What else can we get from loot bags?”
“Items like potions, equipment and sometimes even ability books,” she answered.
A few awkward seconds passed before Feya suddenly expressed herself:
"I find your adaptability incredible, even though you told me that my world had similarities with your video games."
“Is that so... I've always had a penchant for video games. This isn't exactly a nightmare for me.”
I noticed that all the blood staining my shirt was gone. I assumed that it was a by-product of dissolving the monsters with looting.
We had looted the other three goblins and earned a modest 14 coins before returning to hunting. Also, I put my two attribute points into strength because I wanted to wield my sword properly without hurting my arms.
“You should not have picked a sword that required 7 strength.”
“Huh? How do you know the sword’s requirements?”
“With everything happening, I must have forgotten to tell you! My apologies! Think of the word ‘inspect’ while looking at an object. And while we are at it, there exists an ability called Storage that allows you to store items in a virtual space. Everyone receives it at level 5.”
“It’s all good. Anyways… we’d better hurry if I want to make level 5 today!”
Forged by an unknown blacksmith, this black-colored blade was once wielded by the Swordsman dungeoneer Yusil.
Requirements: 7 strength
“That’s the last of them…” I said.
“You learn fast,” Feya complimented.
I put the worn belt in my storage.
Level 5 Human Male
EXP: 35 / 125
Titles: Chosen of Lorea
Stat Points: 0
Call upon a virtual space to store items. Items are limited to objects gained from monsters and abilities. Storage space of 1 meter/ability level.
The ability required me to reach forward to grab an item, which would solidify in my grasp in a shower of particles. The ability did not use mana and it wasn’t restricted to out-of-combat use, so I could store my sword in it as often as I wanted. But there was a catch. Items took well over a second to materialize in your outstretched hand, leaving you vulnerable to attacks. Relying only on stored potions wasn't recommended, so warriors would often hang a few from their belt.
The progress for abilities was hidden, so unfortunately, you couldn’t know when their levels would go up. Each ability had their own speed at leveling up. Storage was considered an extremely slow one, but it cost nothing to use. The cast time was the only thing protecting the ability from growing too fast.
The three hour we had been allowed to hunt for were soon exhausted and my sword’s blade was chipped. According to Feya, blacksmiths had abilities that could restore the durability of weapons and armor while tailors could do the same for clothes and boots. I’d need to visit the castle smithy when we got back.
Following a path that lead out of the ruins, Feya spotted a hidden treasure. It was a typical fantasy-looking chest half-buried behind a cobblestone wall. Feya was confident that level 1 chests could not be trapped.
“You found it, so you open it,” I told her.
She obviously wasn’t that excited, considering the level difference, but she still radiated childish joy from discovering what was inside.
She carefully opened the top of the chest and pulled out its contents. In her hands were a few coins and an amulet. The amulet looked good, but it had next to no stats with a measly +1 to Intelligence. Regardless, I put it on underneath my shirt since it was seriously under-leveled for Feya.
The rest of the way went by without incident, since we had cleared this area and this particular dungeon did not respawn its monsters until the next day.
As we neared Arthur and the group of Heroes, he called out to us:
“A bit late, Hero Cade. We were about to leave without the two of you.”
“Ah… sorry, Arthur. We found a chest last minute.”
“That’s fine. Well then... let’s be off.”
I found myself lounging on my bed while Feya went to get groceries. Leaving the woman to do such a thing slightly hurt my pride as a man, but I was exhausted from the day and she stopped me from coming along using force.
I hadn’t realized until now that even after only a day, I was already used to having her around. I didn't even get socially awkward around her for some reason.
You know when you hang out with someone too much and you just want to get away? That was exactly what I didn't feel. Maybe because of the series of events that happened, or maybe because she was interesting or pretty, I wanted her by my side all the time. And by that I meant the real her, not the simulated one. Was I just desperate to get a girl?
Eventually, I passed out on the bed and napped. When Feya found me, she woke me up, telling me that if I slept now, my sleeping schedule would be all messed up. It was probably around 6 in the evening, so although I was slightly grumpy about it, I couldn't help but agree.
I followed her to the kitchen, where she started to take things out from her Storage. Some of the ingredients were left on the counter while the rest was stored in the pantry. Once everything was put away, Feya tied her hair in a tail and started cooking.
She found a metal pan in one of the cupboards, placed it on a stovetop and poured some oil in it. She then produced a few carrots and potatoes and cut them into bite-sized pieces in a matter of seconds. High agility was truly not to be underestimated. She quickly sent the vegetables into the pan.
The kitchen had a barbecue-style grill. Feya threw a slab of meat on a cutting board and cut into it with a butchering knife. The steak was placed on the grill and then seasoned.
“I am not a great cook, but I can handle myself.”
She silently poked the meat for a few minutes before flipping each steak over, then went over the vegetables and moved them around until they were properly stirred.
Five more minutes was all it took for her to finish up. We ate carrots, potatoes and medium steak. It tasted great and ‘down-to-Earth’ after such a wonderfully strange day.