The man in front of my has pink hair, the same distinctive shade as any North Spiran would have. The Goddess’s own Chosen People, as she told me.
And yet his eyes are brown.
North Spirans don’t have brown eyes. Their eyes are the same shade as their hair. I’ve never seen anyone even remotely have such eyes and such hair. North Spirans who marry outside of the region will not pass on their hair or eye color, nor their taste for haven roots.
Who is this man?
He looks surprised, even frightened. He certainly is no warrior, being a head shorter than me and not a bit of muscle on him. But then one moment later his surprises dies down and he resumes a cheerful smile. “Oh, why, hey there,” he says.
The man looks at me like I am an old friend.
I’m speechless. I don’t understand what’s going on.
He notices my stunned reaction and gives me a look. The crowd around is is still cheering wildly for the conclusion of the moving painting show we witnessed minutes ago, but for every word he speaks, I can hear them clearly. “I said, hello there. Did you see the match? So awesome, right?”
He chuckles. “Don’t worry, I won’t bite.”
I back up and grip my sword tighter.
Then he steps up to me and puts his arm around my shoulder. He hoists up a small square in his hand and raises it into the air above us both.
“C’mon, let’s do a goofy pose. Say, ‘Bac-Nation!’”
“Bac... What? Pardon?”
He indeed makes a goofy pose, but I am too dumbfounded to do anything but stare blankly at him.
When he finishes posing, he looks at the square—
Which has captured an intricately detailed painting of the two of us, just as we were.
I gasp. “What kind of sorcery is this?!”
“Bro, you gotta enjoy yourself,” he says. “It’s Comic Festivalia! Relax and have some fun. Looks like you could use some. Haha, just kidding. I’mma go back to the food court, actually. Wanna join me? I sure do love my Bac-Nation—”
“How did you create such a small painting with such accuracy? Tell me. Please.”
“Oh, you’re, uh, roleplaying, aren’t you?” he asks. “Yeah, I mean, I guess Blaze Blitzer wouldn’t know what a phone is either. Props for the dedication, as annoying as it is.” He says this with a wide, cheery smile.
“Blaze Blitzer? Who is that? Is he a foe?”
“Oh, I thought you were... Are you not cosplaying as Blaze right now?” he asks.
“I do not understand.” I raise my sword and point it in the man’s direction. “But I need information, and I want it now.” Never in my life would I hurt a defenseless man like this, but just the threat alone is sure to give me
It doesn’t appear to phase him whatsoever. “The information desk is right by the front entrance.” When I don’t change my expression, he adds, “Are you okay? Do I need to worry?”
“I am new to this world and I don’t understand its rules. What is the name of this place? What are its rules?”
“This is Comic Festivalia,” he says. “As for rules, you’re, uh, supposed to have a lot of fun. Buy merchandise of your favorite characters. Don’t smoke except in the designated areas. Uh, pointing your prop swords at people is probably not OK either. But I won’t tell if you don’t.” He closes one eye and then opens it back. I am even more confused.
“And who are you? Are you not... from North Spire?”
At this, I’m just starting to get annoyed. Every single minute, my Life Points drain a little bit more. Every single minute, I literally waste my life away while I could be climbing the ranks to become a powerful legendary hero.
This man is not a North Spiran. He may have pink hair, but he is not a denizen of Mystix. He is not one of The Goddess’s Chosen People. He is a fraud and of no use to me.
“Anyway, my name is Francis,” he says. “Francis Bacall. Maybe you’ve heard of me...?”
“I only just arrived here, I apologize.”
“C’mon, man... Two hundred thousand subscribers... Surely you’ve seen...” He begins mumbling something I cannot make out, though it is doubtful I would understand anyway.
“Well then, Francis Bacall, my name is Eryk Solbourne. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“But I’m... Everybody’s heard of me...”
“I wish to ask again, what system do you have?”
Francis’s answer is about what I expected. “Well, these days I mostly play on PC. I guess I have a Wii, but I don’t use it that much anymore except when my friends come over for Fortune Street.”
It is very expected for him to say things that I don’t comprehend whatsoever. I feel like this may become a running trend here.
“Well, my system is called the Destiny Deck,” I say. “In my world, everyone with a system is able to level up using Destiny Points they gain from their class. We gain Destiny Cards, one-time-use skills that can be used for all sorts of purposes, and we can gain new permanent skills as we climb the ranks as well. My class is [Adventurer,] so I can level up by fighting and by exploring. But leveling up is the only reliable way to heal my Life Points, and I wish to ensure that I can do so.”
“Oh, you’re into D&D and stuff? Me too. Y’know, as weird as you are, you’re kinda... I don’t know, man. I kinda dig your style. The pink contacts and everything really seals the deal. Love the suit too. You make it yourself?”
“You see, Life Points are a pool of all energy I possess, Rank D heroes have 15,000 LP, and it decreases automatically by one per minute from vital life functions. More if I’m fighting, using skill cards, or injured. Right now, it looks like I am still at 14,950, so I will be good for a while, but if your world has any dangerous foes to face, I doubt I could fight too many of them.”
He nods, but he does not respond. I am not sure if he is listening. In fact, now he has pulled out that square and has begun staring at it.
“The short of it is, I would like to face some easy combat situations to grind up my Destiny Points. Do you know of a place wherein I may do this?”
“You wanna fight?” he asks, clearly distracted by something. “Yeah, just go out to the cosplay area in the park outside.”
“Cosplay... Is that a type of monster? Where do I find this park?”
He chuckles and shakes his head slowly. “I shouldn’t be doing this, but... C’mon. I’ll show you there. You can get a lot of nice photos from people this way. Then maybe you’ll finally get bored of this roleplaying thing.”
“Lead the way.”
I have almost no clue what this Francis man has been saying for the past few minutes, but he is apparently leading me to an area where I can slay low-power monsters and soon gain the 25 Destiny Points I need to level up.
Cosplay... Whatever creature this refers to, I will slay many, many cosplays.