Four men advance towards me in this open field.
The many other armored beings around us turn to look. One of them shouts, “Look, honey. A fight!”
Geralt Swashbattle, apparently a foe of mine or something of that sort, is armed only with his fists, but the others carry blunt weapons in their arms. I’m not prepared to face them all on at once if they’re as skilled as their multi-colored hair would suggest.
I’ve aimed my sword in a defensive position, ready to strike in any direction they will attempt to pierce into. I worry about the main with a lance, but he is not in any formation yet, so I feel that I will be able to avoid him in time.
But four men at once will still be tough. I’m not ready for all of them at the same time.
I look to Francis, hoping he will explain this world’s system to me or just about anything about how to win in this battle. But instead, he doesn’t seem occupied at all by the engagement I have entered into. He is merely looking at the small square in his hand, cracking a smile as he looks at whatever the square may be showing him.
“Francis Bacall!” I shout. “Are you looking at this?”
“Huh? Oh, I was just tweeting—” Francis looks up and see what’s going on. “What the hell is going on?”
“These foes wish to strike me down,” I say. “I will defend myself with my life.”
Francis steps out in front of me, getting between me and the group. “Alright, break it up. No fighting at Comic Festivalia!”
The four stop. “Y-you’re...”
One gasps. “It’s Francis Bacall...”
The four rush up to Francis and begin chattering away about whatever. I take a step back, but I do not lower my guard. Whatever is going on, it is clear that Francis is a more valuable ally than I had expected. However, I do not trust his ability to keep them calm, no more than I can trust that Francis is a North Spiran, which he clearly is not despite his false pink hair.
I’m in deep trouble if the four rush me, unless I continue to guard as much as I can.
Actually... I wonder if it is only four.
My eyes dart around the field. I see no cosplays, or any small monsters for that matter, further confirming to me that this world’s systems and its enemies are invisible to my eye. But I do see many more humans dressed in the same kinds of outfits as the four men in front of me. Some not only have the same hair, the same outfits, but they look near-identical even down to facial structures. Two light-skinned, bright-yellow haired women with pointy noses and frilly outfits carry themselves regally and carry sword-scepters in their hands. They look the spitting image of the same light-skinned, bright-yellow haired man with a sword-scepter and a pointy nose that is part of the group led by Geralt.
So there is a chance, nay, a probability that these four are working with an even larger group who may be encircling me in a perimeter so they can ambush me the moment I least expect it. It is devious, as well as genius.
Again, I pull up my system HUD and look at the bottom of my field of vision, where I have six out of seven Destiny Card slots filled. Three are inventory, and three are Skills:
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 these will save me in a pinch, or make me more adept before the battle actually starts. The [Energy Sword] card is promising except that it is an unpredictable weapon and could be dangerous to any civilians nearby. Plus, if I use [Energy Sword] now, I won't be able to use it later if I come against even deadlier enemies...
Something like [Blaze Up] would be better, because I could gain a fire aura that would limit the ability for most people to get close enough to attack. They’d have to use long-range weapons like bows and arrows, but my reflexes are much better at fending those types of attacks off.
I don’t want to have to draw another Destiny Card, but... I’m too concerned with the problems at hand and the best bet may be to test my luck.
I open up the Destiny Deck, a swirling pit of black and purple representing the past, present, and future of my very soul. My essence compressed into a series of cards.
Actually, I say that I have opened up the Destiny Deck, but I can’t actually see it. It doesn’t physically appear in front of me or block my view of the four men and Francis in front of me. There is nothing I have to do to see the Destiny Deck—it is simply a part of me in the same way language or mathematics would be to someone well-educated. I am acutely aware that the Destiny Deck is a swirling vortex of darkness and fate, but I have never actually seen it before. It’s more like... a feeling.
But here it is, my Destiny Deck. I cannot see what the heart of the cards has in store for me, as I cannot take a peek into the future (at least without the [Foresight] skill).
I have 20 Destiny Points, but I want to save those for my next level-up. Level-ups for D-Rank heroes cost 25 DP, which is so close I can nearly taste it. For how often battling gains DP, it is possible this very battle, depending on its intensity, will push me past the edge.
So I will draw a Destiny Card with an alternate method: by sacrificing Life Points to draw one.
It is an ability that most classes have, including [Adventurers.] But it is not a recommended one, especially not for a D-Rank hero of any class; our LP cap is a mere 15,000, and since leveling up is the only way to fully heal, it can be extremely risky. You can draw a Destiny Card with your LP, but it will cost a randomized amount from 500 to 1,500. When you’re in the heat of battle, this could mean the difference between life or death.
But I have no other choice.
I draw a Destiny Card with the very force of my spirit.
Searing pain shoots through my veins, through my heart, through the very being of my soul.
I’m still well off, as long as I can level up in the near future. But let’s see what new card I have drawn:
Transmigrated Spirit: Rank 3. Summon an otherworldly spirit to assist for five minutes.
That is... not going to help me for this battle, at least not in any direct way. The skill [Transmigrated Spirit] is notoriously finicky and the summoning process is so convoluted that it is practically randomized itself.
Oh, well. I might as well give up with the idea that I’ll ever be lucky in this life. Time to make my own luck.
Activating... [Energy Sword!]
I let go of the sword from one hand and lower it to the ground. In my free hand, I feel a surge of power exuding, and a growing brightness that threatens to blind me.
A loud shocking sound blasts from my hand and then finally, the crackling, sparking energy sword forms fully in my grip. Logically, this should be shocking and killing me, but this is what magic is all about. A deadly weapon of electrocution that to me feels like a soothing, smooth slab of metal against my palm.
The four men and Francsis immediately turn around.
“I will not let you ambush me,” I say. “My life is not yours to control.”
All four men start backing away, and Francis moves to my side, ceasing to be a human shield for our coming brawl.
“Y...Y...” Geralt, once my fiery rival, now has nothing to say at all, it seems.
“You’ve never seen power like this,” I take it. “You’re fools, then. I wasted this skill on someone like you, who would threaten my life but with no effort to back it up.”
“As you once said, I will say back to you: Engarde.”
I slam the energy sword on the ground in front of me. A surge of electric power surrounds me, much like an aura of electricity, and the grass around me burns up and turns to ash. All that is left is the soft dirt below my feet.
By the time I have raised the sword back into the air, all four men have begun to run away. They have shown their true faces as cowards. And I will not let cowardice go unpunished. I hoist the sword up in the air, and a bolt of lighting goes from the sword into the air.
The sky darkens.
The bolt crackles down.
One of the two trees in the field, the one nearest to the four men, is struck, bursting into flames and crashing into a pile of embers and dust within seconds.
Every single person in the field is now running away from me. There are screams and I can even hear crying.
I’m starting to wonder if I have run into some misunderstandings, here.
Despite everything, though, Francis is still here. He stares at my energy sword, mouth agape.
He says nothing.
Neither do I, for a moment. I simply bask in the glory of the fight. Then, I suggest to him, “We should go back into the large building. I am quite famished.”
He still does not respond.