Buff 3.1


Again, this wasn't smart.

Greg was sure of it.

Yet, here he was doing it anyway.

Story of my life. Greg shook his head.

Through critical self-analysis, you have gained 1 WIS point.

Thank you for confirming that this is a stupid move, power.

"Great," Greg muttered under his breath as he slowly shut the back door behind him, taking care not to make any sound. "It's bad enough I talk to myself, now I'm talking to my power."

New Abilities Gained!

Sneaking Lv 1
Ugh… stealth missions suck.
Allows for quieter movement while trying not to be heard.

Cold Resistance Lv 3
The cold never stopped bothering you.
Increases resistance to cold temperature by 3%

"Is it just me or should those both be higher?" Greg shook his head, letting out a huff of visible breath into the cold night air as he shivered. "Whatever. Doesn't matter." He took several steps forward, creeping towards the center of the backyard, before suddenly tilting his head up to stare at a darkened window.

Okay, mom's light is still off. I'm good. Greg smiled tightly and continued to make his way to the front yard. If his mom had been awake, he wasn't sure how he would have explained away his actions. Hey, mom. Just going for a midnight jog dressed in a black hoodie and a hockey mask. Nothing suspicious here at all. Greg shook his head, rolling his eyes underneath his mask. Yeah, she'd just eat that up.

– o – o – o – o – o – o – o –
– o – o – o – o – o – o – o –

The last two days had been a noted departure from his usual relationship with his mom. Before, the two of them had been pretty close, their relationship almost as happy as it had been before the divorce. The previous night and the one before that had been drastically different, their normally talkative home time replaced by long periods of uncomfortable silence between the two of them. Dinner these past two days hadn't even been a thing between them, Greg eating his meal in the basement to hasten his workout while his mother sat at the dinner table alone.

Apart from some throat-clearing and muttered apologies on Greg's part when they passed each other in the hallway, tonight had continued along the same quiet vein as the previous one.

It was, in Greg's mind, somewhat of a break from the nearly half-hour-long yelling spree his mom had subjected him to that Tuesday night. She had gone on about pregnancy, STDs - especially herpes- and the dangers of getting into a relationship while young. Greg actually listened closely, despite having heard all this a hundred times before and in a much calmer environment.

In a way, Greg actually preferred the yelling to the silence. At least when his mother was yelling, he knew she was angry because she cared. All the silent treatment did was leave him feeling empty, making him feel like he had disappointed her somehow. It didn't help his guilty feelings that he couldn't get his mind off of Emma, thoughts of the redhead filling his spare moments and even invading his dreams. It only made his confusion with his mom's moodiness even worse, really.

He didn't even get why she was so angry!

At least... not really.

It wasn't like the whole situation was his fault. He didn't invite Emma; he had said as much to his mom. He wasn't even the one to kiss Emma. What was so wrong with just… you know..., letting it happen?

It wasn't like Emma was a bad person, anyway. She was just a girl who liked him. Why couldn't his mom understand that? What, did his mom expect him to never want to talk or to be around girls?

Sadly, his mom hadn't really taken kindly to those arguments. In her rush to punish him, Greg found himself without a phone, his laptop and desktop computer already previously been confiscated. He hadn't said much as she took his things, packing all of the electronics into the trunk of her car and leaving his room empty with nothing but posters, cape paraphernalia and a rarely-used television to fill the void.

Honestly, Greg hadn't complained… much. Sure, there was the token resistance that his mom would've expected but he didn't really fight it. He knew that his mom was obviously hoping that losing his games and electronics would make him behave but even if the events of the last few days were all his fault, Greg doubted it would work anyway.

After two days of training, Greg was beginning to find that he didn't necessarily crave video games as much as he did just the week before. He knew it was a bit odd but he'd rather intermittently stab and bludgeon himself with a kitchen knife and a hammer for an hour and a half (+ 2 Slashing Resistance, + 6 Piercing Resistance, + 2 Blunt Force Resistance, + 3 VIT) - including the time spent waiting for his HP to regen before doing it again - just for the sheer joy of watching his XP numbers rise as opposed to spending his time playing Space Opera, Vice Squad or Trip Murphy: Undefeated. It was a bit odd but Greg didn't find himself questioning the change, simply throwing himself into his "daily grind."

With his mom gone all day for work, that still left him time to work on his stats. Now, that would have made the whole situation better if it wasn't for one big problem bringing his mood down.

There wasn't much actual working out to be done.

It wasn't that Greg wasn't trying, either. No, quite the opposite. He was, in fact, trying as hard as he had that first day, putting his all into his workout. The problem lay in the fact that his gains were slowing down. That first Tuesday had allowed him to train his STR, SPD and INT all the way up by seven points after eight hours of constant exercise, albeit with the help of a series of "potions" to boost his Will. Then today, the same exercise with the same amount of time spent on it only increased those three stats by four points.

A forty percent drop in gains. That's what he was looking at. Forty percent! That was basically half. Greg wasn't sure if that meant each increase in the stat lowered the effectiveness of his training by almost six percent or if it was an overall type of thing. Either way, it still sucked.

He knew that he was stronger, obviously. He felt stronger, faster too. Hell, he felt lighter! Greg didn't even have to struggle as much to lift the weights, the drain on his Will much less from running with them but still… what was he supposed to do better?

Even if he did the same workout the next morning, he'd be lucky to manage a two-point average increase across the board. This was just insane. How was he supposed to make any real gains like that?

Deciding to find a fix to the situation later, Greg was forced to spend even more time on grinding his other skills, only to hit an even worse roadblock. After three entire hours in the basement practicing what rudimentary martial arts knowledge he had, both his [Basic Fighting] and [Basic Footwork] had leveled up to - as well as refused to budge one percentage past - Level 10, while [Brawling] became MAX at a shockingly low Level 5.

While Greg had been super excited about this already, what came next nearly made him cheer at the top of his lungs.

[Basic Fighting] at Level 10.
[Basic Footwork] at Level 10.
[Brawling] at Level 5
Combine to Unlock [Beginner Combat]?
[Yes] [No]

Progress. He was making progress, moving up in the world! Or, at least… the game. Which meant… eventually, the world.

His immediate response was to tap the [Yes] that hovered in front of his face, and he did it without hesitation. What came next proved to be the major annoyance of the day.

Cannot unlock [Beginner Combat]
Must defeat user of [Beginner Combat] or above to unlock
Must be Level 5 to unlock

The pop-up had sent his spirits to the ground. Honestly, it was enough to make someone scream in frustration.

Why? Greg had thought to himself, fingers in his hair. Why shake it in front of my face if I can't unlock it yet? How am I supposed to get to level 5 without a quest? Fuck you, game!

The 'ping' sound went off in the back of his head a moment later.

Repeatable Quest Created!

First Blood II: Even Bloodier!
Details: Head out into the city and defeat fifteen Archer's Bridge Merchants.
Success: Highly increased reputation with the Empire 88, +6500 XP, + 1 Stat Points, [Enemy] reputation with the Merchants
Failure: None
Time Limit: Sunrise
Cooldown: 7 days
Bonus: Encounter a cape.

Greg had been torn between groaning and smiling at this new pop-up.

A quest after several days without one? Awesome!

Enough XP to possibly hit Level 6? Amazing!

A free Stat Point? Incredible!

Fighting fifteen Merchants? Horrible.

An [Enemy] reputation with the Merchants? Also Horrible.

Having to finish the quest before sunrise? Hellish.

It was both the answer to his prayers and a hassle he didn't feel like dealing with. Although, the whole increased reputation with the Empire thing was something he could live with if he was honest with himself. After all, he knew what he looked like. He doubted the Empire would have hated him in the first place.

In the end, though, what choice did he really have?

– o – o – o – o – o – o – o –
– o – o – o – o – o – o – o –

So, here he was. Standing next to his house at just past midnight, inventory full of Gatorade "potions", protein bars and every weapon-like item he could think to grab from the garage and basement.

Greg didn't even have it in him to give up now. He wasn't sure what he would do or say if his mom found out he left the house overnight but he wasn't about to lose out on a big-time quest like this.

Besides, I'm already double grounded, Greg mused, actually thinking it over. What's mom gonna do? Triple ground me? Greg actually smiled slightly at the thought. He loved his mom but right now, the only real thing he was focused on right now was clearing this game.

Greg frowned at the thought he just had. Is clearing the right word? How would I clear the game of my life? He shook his head slightly, brushing off the thought. This feels like a philosophical type of thing. Just focus on leveling for now, Greg. "[Inventory: Equipment]."

As he called out the words, the screen appeared and Greg once again found himself staring at his body represented in a 3D rendering of the Vitruvian - Vesuvian? Vaudevillian? One of those - man. His equipment items were represented as well, from the Friday the 13th-esque hockey mask he wore to the running shoes on his feet.


Jason Voorhees Hockey Mask
His name was Jason... and today is his birthday.

+ 4 to [Bladed Weapons] ability
+ 4 to [Intimidate] ability
+ 1 to [Hockey] ability

Durability: 100/100

Thick Hoodie

+ 10 to HP

Durability: 71/100

Pretentious Scarf
Wearing this long scarf will make you want to recite poetry and speak Latin.
You can't do either but you can try.

+ 3 to [Latin]
+ 3 to [Poetry]
+ 2 to [Bullshitting]
+ 2 to [Feinting]

Durability: 98/100

Nike Zoom JST
Dad's old running shoes. Just another thing he left behind.
You're not bitter, though. Honestly.

+ 1 to SPD
+ 10% reduction in Will cost from running.
+ 10% reduction in Will cost of [Power Sprint]

Durability: 84/100

Oh, shut up. Greg ignored the obvious jibe the description of the shoes threw at him, shoving down the flare of annoyance he usually felt in reference to his father and quickly ignoring it to look over what he wore. What kind of game hates the player, anyway?

In addition to all of that, he also wore the kickboxing gloves, deciding to let go of the toeless shoes in exchange for the speed bonii the sneakers offered. "Well, I'm all decked out." Arching his back and pushing his arms outward in an unneeded stretch, Greg turned to face his location.

He grinned behind his mask."Let's do this. [Power Sprint]."

Moving just above the speed limit for a school zone, Greg took off down the street, his body intermittently glowing a bright yellow as he headed towards Merchant territory.


Spoiler: STATUS

About the author


  • Lover of All Things Worm


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