On instinct I bring up my card stack—the seven Destiny Card slots that make up the whole of my combat ability.
I draw my new short sword from my inventory card and raise it in a defensive position. All of that in less than two seconds. But I have no time to waste. The Goddess has sent me to a new world, and nearly everyone around me is armed.
None of them are even looking in my direction.
Just within striking distance are a dozen warriors with oversized swords sheathed at their backs. Some of them in full armor, even.
But despite my sudden appearance into this world, they hadn’t even taken notice. I’m not a threat. I’m... less than nothing.
A D-Rank [Adventurer] must be nothing here.
And... I check my HUD just to be sure, and yes. I’m still the same rank, with the same stats, and still level 17. Despite everything The Goddess told me, I wasn’t reset, and my system wasn’t changed.
She said there was some sort of error, some sort of mess-up. Perhaps that was it?
Well... I don’t see any kaiju yet. No giant monsters of any sort. Just hundreds of people wandering around this large, ornate hall.
Most of them seem perfectly average, mostly human and mostly devoid of any obvious threat. Many sport fashion styles I have never seen in my life. What a strange new world this must be.
Their hair colors, too... Those are very odd. Some are various shades of brown and blonde and black. But other humans have blue hair. Green hair. I’ve never encountered such shades on a person before. These humans, these with the interesting hair colors, are the ones most likely to have a weapon on hand.
Perhaps this world has a ranking system where hair color determines one’s power. More natural hair colors are a reflection of average power. Or, even, natural hair color indicates that one has not yet accepted the system within oneself. And these red, yellow-haired humans are quite possibly the higher castes, the most powerful of the bunch.
But then that would not explain why they do not even seem to perceive I exist. My hair is pink, a far cry from anything else you’d find in Mystix, at least. My sword is drawn, still in a defensive position just in case someone attacks, but it genuinely seems like they do not consider me worth a glance.
I’m so weak I’m not even someone they will look at. I’m an ant among Gods.
The Goddess must have sent me here because she knew this would be the perfect place for me to improve. I can become more powerful and rank up by consorting with the best of the best. I have so much to improve on, so far to go, and every single person around me is a shining example of where I can be.
I keep my pose steady, but I lower my guard mentally. It appears to be safe. And if not, my instincts can keep me from an instant death, if that death is something someone as weak as me could ever prevent.
Up above, hanging from the ceiling so far away, is a large banner with the image of a large-breasted woman with yellow hair and a sword. That would indicate to me that my assumption about hair color status is correct. They revere, perhaps even worship these people.
I see a bright flash for a moment, and then I see someone holding a strange square device in their hands. They, too, have odd-colored hair, an aquamarine, and two yellow horns on their head. Not a human, but close.
“Sorry about that. Your costume is really nice,” they tell me. “Did you make it yourself?”
I don’t know how to respond to something like that. Is there even a satisfactory way to do so?
But... this person here is the first one to speak to me. Perhaps I can extract some info out of them.
“Might I inquire some information from you?” I ask.
“Oh, sure.” The way they flicker their eyes at me makes me think they hold some interest over me. My [Charisma] stat is not high, but I may be lucky here.
“What is the name of this world?” A simple question, for the beginning. “I only just arrived, you see.”
“Oh, great. A roleplayer.” Their expression flattens and they turn around to leave without answering even my very basic inquiry.
Perhaps this world is going to be tougher to enter into than I thought.
I lower my sword and begin surveying the area. This hall is gigantic, almost endless, and there are people everywhere. The floor is carpeted, there are magical self-moving stairs to a second floor, there are large contraptions that vend food and drink set up throughout the room; it is some of the most robust, exquisite design I have ever encountered. Wherever I have been sent, it is somewhere far beyond my standard of living. I’m almost overwhelmed.
But just beyond this hall is a room filled with flashing images against boxes that look similar to The Goddess’s head. People are gathered around them and cheering.
On one of these moving picture paintings are two characters fighting in some sort of duel, hitting each other with punches and magical blasts. Every blow, the crowd of people—mostly men—gives an upracious applause. Every block, and there’s reactions so visceral they almost seem like they themselves are being hurt.
“Get’em!” one man shouts.
How one can watch a moving painting with such interest... Not that I have ever seen a moving painting in my life, so this is something wondrous to me, but surely they are seeing something that has long since been etched into the annals of history. Art is meant to be studied and appreciated, not to be rallied with and roused by.
And then one of the two characters falls to the ground and a voice not unlike The Goddess’s herself shouts “Victory!”
A man in the front of the crowd stands up, throws some object in his hands to the side, and poses. The crowd acts like one would in a public execution. It makes no sense.
Is this going to be a battle of some sort?
Have I walked into war preparations for some clan of rich and wealthy warriors who hardly acknowledge my presence for how weak I am?
If they discover me and decide they don’t like me... I may be hopeless.
I have to check my Destiny Cards, just to see what exactly I could do.
Out of my seven card slots, one is empty, unfilled after I used my [Blinding Rush] skill to save those children back in Bellatrix.
Three skill cards I do have, though:
Energy Sword: Rank 2. Summon a temporary lightning sword that lasts for five minutes. Cost: 160 LP.
Minor Heal: Rank 2. Gain 1,000 LP. Cost: 0 LP.
Super Hearing: Rank 1. Increase sonic perception abilities dramatically for five minutes. Cost: 70 LP.
None of them are anything special enough for me to win in a fight or anything, but... in an emergency, I could survive.
Then my three inventory cards— One empty, one with a bow and arrows, and one with a rucksack of monster loot.
Oh... Oh my. Malia, Borguk, and the others... They won’t even know I’m dead if my body’s no longer around. They’ll just think I abandoned them for greener pastures and took their loot for myself.
Well, I’m done with that world. Even if Malia and I... There’s no looking back now. My Destiny is this new world.
And as for Destiny, I now must consider what to do about this crowd. It’s growing more wild by the second, and I don’t have the cards necessary to fend them off. Even if I used them, it's a one-time only deal. They'll disappear for good and leave me that much more vulnerable. I could draw another one from the Destiny Deck, but... Should I risk it?
I have twenty Destiny Points. Wait— no, it’s twenty-three now. I guess I did some good [Adventure]ing these past few minutes. So close to a level-up, though... Should I spend the DP now and hope for a good card?
Hmmm... I’ll put it off for later, because it looks like the man in front of the crowd is being greeted by another man in a ridiculous getup, dressed in a hood of sorts, but only the top half. What is he, a half-monk?
“That was a great match, wasn’t it everyone?” The hood-wearing man asks.
A roar of applause.
“And now we have a new winner. The Comic Festivalia Grand Champion: Rick McAllister!”
The other man, presumably this Rick McAllister man, dances like a fool in front of everyone. The moving painting behind them is still flashing the word “Victory!” in a stasis.
It seems like any moment, the crowd could erupt into some insane act of violence. I’m practically terrified. And yet—
A soothing sight graces my eyeballs.
I see a heavy-set man across the room, part of the excited crowed. There is precisely one thing that gives my heart an absolute explosion of joy.
Pink hair. Bright as the dew on a haven root stem.
Before I can even think about it, I am already dashing his way.
“My brother!” I shout. Another North Spiran, here! Another one of my people reincarnated in this same world!
He notices me, turns his head.
I see it.
A shocked expression on his face— and brown eyes.
What kind of sick, twisted world is this?