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“Druids are generally “neutral” or “good” in alignment in games… Aren’t they?... So they shouldn’t really be aggressive or try to kill me… Right?... ”

“Either way, I need to train myself. I can’t die a dog’s death now that I have this ability!”

“Fastest way is to level myself up, gain attack & defensive skills, and raise my base stats! Since this game is my life, I’ll have to double my emphasis: passive strength is better than a non-reliable skill!”

I sighed loudly as I cooked dinner for myself after a busy Monday at the engineering office. I was actually pretty sad that I still have not received a new skill. Despite using my <Identify> skill, it has pretty much stubbornly stopped at Intermediate - Lvl 9 - 9.99%. If my ability is in any way similar to Royal Road, then I’ll simply have to identify things with higher level-classes.

I hummed loudly as I focused my attention on the chopping board in front of me. Three vegetables lay in front of me: a large purple eggplant, four ripe tomatoes, and three yellow-fleshed potatoes. I chuckled humorously as I contemplated the age-old question: is tomato a fruit or a vegetable?

I brought out my Chinese cleaver, and quickly diced the eggplant and potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes, while I pitted and quartered the tomatoes.

“As an engineer, I’ve gotta dissect the real purpose of the question. Speaking as a member of the scientific community, a ripened tomato is the fruit of the tomato plant. But used in cooking, tomatoes are not sweet, nor are they regularly used as desserts. Therefore, tomatoes are technically the fruit of a plant, but vegetables in the culinary definition.”

I put all three ingredients into a large pot, and filled it with enough water to cover all three ingredients. I dumped several seconds’ worth of light soy sauce into the pot, and turned on the stove to high heat. (Please note: this is an actual vegetarian stew recipe! Feel free to try it!)

I loved this recipe as it was extremely simple, yet produced the most delicious stew after an hour of cooking. I chuckled as I sat down on the kitchen table, and brought out a sheet of paper.

List of Experiments
How do I get quests and initiate them?
Does physical exercise increase STR, DEX and CON?
Does reading books and solving puzzles increase INT and WIS?
What benefits does a gaining level give? Hit harder? More Health and Mana?
Does 1 point increase in STR actual equate to 10% increase in lifting power?
Does my face and body change in attractiveness if I invest in CHA stat?
Can I sustain bleeding damage despite having high amount of HEALTH remaining?




I quickly filled out several pages worth of notes, with the three basic principles of scientific deduction: question, hypothesis, and explanation.

I grinned wildly as the fragrant notes of tomato and eggplant filled the entire kitchen. I smacked my lips and unconsciously swallowed my saliva as I stared at the stewing pot, then quickly checked the clock. The stew had boiled for more than 45 minutes already, and I really could not wait anymore.

I quickly removed the pot from the heat, and filled myself a large bowl of stew. The moment the bowl touched the countertop, a window popped up in front of me.

Tiingg!!

Due to special action, you have gained the <Cooking> skill. The food that you cook nourishes both the body and the mind. May impart additional affects for using rare and exotic ingredients.


I stared at the window in awe, and then at the bowl of stew. I sighed loudly, as I noticed that this was the first time I cooked since I gained my abilities. I somehow knew that I would gain the other production-related skills if I simply used them.

I activated <Identify> on the bowl of stew to see its affects.

Bowl of hearty vegetarian stew
This delicious and healthy vegetarian stew consists of five simple ingredients: water, soy sauce, tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes. The healthy stew is mild in carbohydrates, but low in fat and protein. It is good for the overall health of the body.

Health +5
Mana +5
Vitality +1% for 30 minutes.


Tiingg!!

<Gamer’s Data> has increased to Advanced - Lvl 1 - 0.01%
You can now passively notice an aura around objects with magical properties. You have the option of using automatic Head Up Display for basic information.


I looked at the two pop-up windows before me, and nodded my head in silence. I was previous stuck on experience gains for <Gamer’s Data>, because I had only identified ordinary house-hold items. Since the food I cooked had magical properties, it qualified as a high-tier item, and thus gave more experience points.

“Hrm… Apparently, I do not gain any health when I eat food made by other people, but I do get them when it’s food made by myself. Maybe if an ordinary person eats my food, they would no longer need band aids and first-aid kits! Maybe an especially good dish would even cure acne and cancer??”

------------------

After work the next day, I quickly went to the local gym and gotten a free-trial pass for a week. I sighed loudly as I strongly disliked the part in front of me. Physical exercise in royal road gives the player increases in physical stat, while reading books gives INT and WIS. I warmed up, then did a full-body circuit with bicep curls, squats, push-ups and pull-ups. I needed to record the base capabilities when I have 10 strength. Once I have my benchmark data, I can then compare it when I level up, and when I put more points into strength.

After the strength bench-mark circuit, I proceeded to do the same for dexterity: as I timed my 100 meter sprint speed. My vitality / constitution bench-mark is done through an endurance run at the top speed of a tread-mill – 10 miles / hour.

The weekdays quickly passed, and as I have correctly assumed, continued exercise did give me stats. Eventually, I managed to evenly raise my stats to 20 STR, 20 DEX and 20 CON. It took approximately 1 hour of continued effort to gain a single physical stat. At the end of the week, I compared my physical abilities to that of myself a week later: I was able to lift twice the weight than when I started, run twice as fast, react to things twice as quickly, and endure twice as long on my tread-mill. Although I gained these stats quite quickly, my original athletic abilities were quite weak. With a rough estimate, I am probably the same strength as Thalo now. Unfortunately, I believed that just like Royal Road, physical enhancements through exercise had a maximum limit.

The human body physically cannot lift an elephant, no matter how much training the body underwent. There was a pre-defined limit based on anatomy and genetics, and that determined how strong, quick and healthy I can be. The question remains: what is my limit?

------------------

“There are two ways to level-up in Royal Road: complete quests and defeat opponents”

“I have no idea how to get a quest, and defeating opponents is rather difficult to do. Unless I somehow find myself back with those zombies, I’d have to spar with opponents. Even then, I’m not sure I can gain a level. Maybe a proper fighting match in Thal’s gym would award me experience and levels?”

“I really don’t think I can gain levels from killing rabbits. Heck, there ain’t many live rabbits in the city. Maybe I can get live caged chickens… But then I’ll be officially crazy. Killing chickens with a meat cleaver while they run around clucking… Definitely not a good idea…”

I mulled over these thoughts over and over again, as I joined Thalo at the bar. It was our general routine to unwind after a stressful work-week, and act like the idiotic hooligans that we used to be in our younger days.

“So what happened to the hot red-head from last week?” I subtly prodded while I sipped on my beer. I wanted to get the druidess’ phone number and talk to her, and perhaps she would know more about the crazy world: the zombies, my super-foods, and everything else in general. In the end, I simply did not believe that a druidess was “evil”. Although I was sure that she could break me like a twig if she were inclined to do so.

Thalo stared back at me, as if I had hit a sore spot, “What a messed up woman. Playing around with me after I saved her from the drunk!”

I calmly raised my eyebrows as I replied, “So you did call her then…”

“No. I finally decided to give her a call yesterday, but noticed that what she gave me was just a blank piece of paper. No email address, no phone number. Just a blank piece of paper.”

“Mind if I take a look? She did say to call her, and I doubt she’d go for a stupidly short con.” I wanted to look at the paper, and see if I could get any clues. I desperately needed more information, and Druidess Arami sounded like the much better option than that creepy well-dressed man.

Thalo quickly opened his wallet and threw the note at me, “I wasn’t even sure why I kept it, since it was just a blank piece of paper. Have at her, ya stupid nerd!”

I immediately noticed the warm-yellow glow around the piece of paper, and knew that it had some kind of magical property. I silently activated <Identify> and the familiar window popped up.

A folded piece of paper
This piece of paper looks ordinary to the naked eye, but its content is shielded by a basic invisibility spell.
<Gamer’s Data> has a sufficiently high level to diffuse the spell.

Do you wish to remove the spell? [Yes / No]


I grinned back at his friendly insult, and quickly countered, “This nerd is here to the rescue! I’ll figure this out and unite the hero with the hot princess!”

I quickly pocketed the paper, and changed the subject. I had absolutely ZERO intention to let Thalo get involved in this dangerous business. He’s finally on the way to a good life, and I don’t want to ruin it for him.

By the end of the night, both of Thalo and I were quite buzzed. Although I did not have a “drunken” status yet, I had that energetic buzz that wanted to make me do stupid stuff. We exited from the bar and were suddenly approached by a small group of people. I quickly remembered the drunkard that Thalo had embarrassed last week, and felt a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Before I could do anything, a person appeared behind us, and smashed a 2x4 on Thalo’s head. Thalo quickly slumped onto the ground, and was rendered unconscious. I drew a 4ft long steel pipe from my inventory, and launched a kick in the gut of Thalo’s attacker. I raised my weapon to strike as everyone else in the small group drew their own weapons.

With my inflated stats, I felt as if I am my Royal Road avatar. I swung the steel pipe and smashed it into the ribs of the first attacker. He screamed and doubled over, while I promptly slammed my weapon over his head. The force of the hit loudly smacked into his skull, and he dropped onto the ground as if a puppet was cut from its strings. I calmly back-stepped and dragged Thalo to rest against a side wall. I silently activated <Identify> and saw an abbreviated ID bar top of each person’s head. The group originally had four people, while the hidden attacker was on the floor and his health less than 40%. They were either Lvl 2 or Lvl 3, which meant that they were just a bunch of rough hooligans and lacked proper training.

I didn’t even bother to talk to them, as I rushed to the left-most opponent. With a body that was about twice as fast and strong as a normal person, he was not ready for the flurry of attacks I unleashed upon him. Three attacks: left-temple, right forearm, left wrist, and I knew he was no longer a threat. His arm and wrist hung limply, as he kneeled on the floor, dazed. I jumped back and returned to Thalo’s side, as the remaining three men spread out in front of me. One of them held a baseball bat, while the other two had sharp cooking knives. They came here ready to cause trouble, so I did not hold back at all.

The man with the baseball bat stepped into my zone with his bat held above his head, while I kept my steel pipe extended in the middle. As he brought down his bat onto my head, I stepped forward to the right and extended my steel pipe toward his head. I took the strike on my shoulder, and felt as if my collar-bone took a major hit. In retaliation, I swiftly jabbed my right hand, and introduced my steel pipe into the man’s throat. As he flinched from the attack, I brought my steel pipe up above my head, and slammed it into the middle of his head. Immediately, he crumpled onto the ground, and I stared at his health bar. I gave a large sigh of relief as his health did not drop below 15%. This is self defense, but that did not mean I wanted to kill anyone.

I thought of my “health”, and noticed my health and mana bar float across my vision. I still had 85% of health remaining, so I proceeded to give pressure to the two remaining men. They were clearly shaken, as they watched the three men on the ground. I no longer had the advantage of surprise, so if they decided to attack me at once, it would be a hard to survive this encounter without major wounds.

“Get outta here before I call the cops! Drag yer buddies and don’t let me see you again!” I shouted loudly. “Don’t even think about it! Even if you gang-up on me, I will drag both of you down with me! Ever thought about a life where you’ll never use your hands again?!”

Although the streets were dark and empty, Thalo and I had only walked a few dozen paces from the bar. The two men looked at each other nervously, before they nodded. They sheathed their knives behind their back, and each person dragged an unconscious buddy into a dark alleyway. The man with the broken arm and wrist was eventually able to stand up, and he slowly limped away while he cradled his arms.

Tiingg!!

You have gained a level!
You have gained a level!


Tiingg!!

Due to special action, you have gained the stat <Fighting Spirit>.


Tiingg!!

Due to special action, you have gained the skill <Intimidate>. Cha +1


As the attackers disappeared into a nearby alleyway, I turned back to see Thalo behind me. He stood and leaned against the wall, as if he waited for me to finish. His childish grin was exactly as I expected, and I simply gave him a large sigh. The strike to the head must have been serious, but then again, I have never seen him being sick or with a physical injury. Just as I was about to go up to him, I noticed a row of words above his head:

<Thalo Lvl 9>
<<Mixed-Strike Successor>>


I stared at him, unable to comprehend for a moment. I did not think that regular training could achieve such a high level, and Thalo's title didn't make me feel better either. I nervously held onto my steel pipe and stood quite a large distance away from him. He smirked softly and nodded, but I was still wary and was ready to run away.

“Why do you look so afraid? I’ve been yer best bud for the past countless years, and then I suddenly see you create weapons out of thin air and destroy three people. Shouldn’t I be the one who’s scared? Hah… Well. I guess I’m at fault too, to never tell you anything…”

“… Are… Are ya alright?”

“Quit stumbling like an idiot. That’s not like you. Where’s your sharp come-back??”

“…”

“Put that steel pipe away~ We gotta get outta here before the cops come. Even if it's self defense, ain' nothing better than not getting caught.”
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araret

  • Ima Pain-guin!

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