“So you’re like... not from around here...”
“You are correct. I am not from around here. I am from Mystix.”
“It’s... not just a roleplaying thing? I thought you were just...”
“I do not understand what a roleplaying is.”
“Can I... touch it?”
“You would be electrocuted.”
“But it’s so shiny.”
This is essentially the way my conversation with Francis goes for the next several minutes.
When I activated my [Energy Sword] skill card and summoned a weapon made of pure electricity, I almost immediately scared off the cowardly foes who had attempted to intimidate and attack me just seconds earlier. However, I also scared off all of the innocent civilians around me as well, and caused something of a mass panic.
In the end, the energy sword was good for little more than burning a tree to the ground and mentally scarring people for life. In only a few minutes, the weapon fades from my hand and its bolts fade back into the ether from whence they came.
But this energy sword did seem to accomplish one major thing—it finally gained the attention of one Francis Bacall, who up until now had apparently been taking everything I said as... a joke? No, I don’t understand it either.
What a strange man.
We leave the cosplay field, where it turns out there is no such thing as “a cosplay,” as in a being referred to as a cosplay that exists as a low-level monster to grind up levels with. It was something of a misunderstanding. As are several more things I have encountered in these past few hours in this brand-new world. Perhaps my haste to increase my rankings and become a powerful hero were not advisable when I did not know the nature of the world to which I had been transported.
In fact.. I knew practically nothing about this place.
“Francis, what is the name of this world?” I ask.
“I, uh... Wow, you really aren’t from around here.”
“No. My world’s name is Mystix. It is a land of adventure, with a dozen continents and half a dozen wars going on at any given time. From chaos breeds heroism, as the ancients say.”
“Well, this place is called Earth. We only have six continents, or seven if you count Europe, but we definitely have more than half a dozen wars going on. We’re kind of bad at this whole humanity thing.” Francis chuckles nervously. “I just stick to video games, mostly.”
“Earth... Earth. That’s an interesting name,” I say. “What does it mean?”
“It means dirt, I think. What does, uh, Mystic mean?” Francis darts his eyes around as if he felt suspicious at himself simply for asking that.
“Mystix? It means ‘Hall of the Great Heroes’ in the Elven tongue.”
“Oh indeed. Earth and Mystix. Just two worlds among thousands ruled on by The Goddess.”
“The great deity who rules all and decides the fates of all mortals. You know, The Goddess.”
“Never heard of her. Here on Earth we talk about God and Jesus and Buddha and stuff.”
“Well, uh, none of that’s real,” I explain. “I literally met The Goddess and she sent me to Earth for some reason.”
Francis remains silent for a moment, and then says, “So my entire belief system about the afterlife is a lie.”
“Might could be,” I say with a certain dignified condescension, as if my own entire belief system hadn’t been shattered just hours earlier.
We reenter the large building, whose name is the Miller Lite Memorial Convention Center, I have now learned. My grasp at this world, this Earth, is improving every moment. Soon I’ll even learn what a Convention Center is.
Our first problem arises the moment we try to step past the gate. A portly man in a blue uniform and hands in his pockets eyes us up and down with a disgruntled snarl. Then he steps closer to me and gazes at the sword at my side.
“Let me see that.”
“I apologize, but I cannot hand that to you,” I say. “This is my sword, my trusted weapon. Any time that danger is near, I will need to wield this sword to fend it off. It is very important.”
The man looks at me, then at Francis, then off to the side. He mumbles, “Fucking convention season.”
“I’m sorry, officer,” Francis says. “He’s still too deep into roleplaying mode.”
“Well, tell him to let me see the prop sword and check if it’s safe, or he doesn’t get back in.”
Francis’s eyes go wide. He looks at me with an obvious panic that I don’t quite understand.
Well, if we must get in...
I hand the sword to the man for his inspection. As soon as he feels it, his eyes, too, go wide.
“What the hell... Kid, are you bringing a real-ass sword into a convention center? What are you doing?”
He gives the sword back to me and takes out a cubic device of some sort. “This is Officer Blake, over. We have a kid with a real sword here. What do I do with him? Over.”
A voice appears, coming apparently from the cube itself. “Did you take the sword from him? Over.”
“Uh, no I did not. Uh, over.”
“Well, take it! Over.”
I realize what may happen here, and, with the sword still in my hands, I do the easiest thing to resolve all of this issue—
I poof the sword back into my empty inventory slot.
There. No more sword to be a hassle to anyone. It reduces my defensive powers tenfold, but it allows us to reenter the convention center, at least.
The portly man looks at me like I’m a ghost. (Technically, I am one. Let’s not get into that, though.)
“Nevermind. Situation resolved, over.”
“Sorry about that, over.”
“You’re okay, over.”
Francis and I walk into the convention center again and I am immediately greeted by countless people of all shapes, sizes, and hair colors. My eyes have trouble keeping up with all of this.
“Back there,” Francis says. “With the police guy. What did you do with your sword?”
“Oh, that. To resolve a tense situation peacefully, I removed my sword from the active plane by storing it in my empty inventory slot.”
“You have, um, inventory slots.”
“Yes. In my world’s system, as a D-Rank hero, you are allowed to have up to seven Destiny Cards on your person at any given time. Most of those cards are a one-time skill or ability that expires after use, but I am lucky to have inventory cards that allow me to store items for future use without having to carry them on me. I think that is one of the most useful abilities an [Adventurer] can have, so I keep three inventory cards with me at all times.”
“Okay, I need to stop you there for an important clarification,” Francis says. “You said ‘my world’s system.’ And what you seem to be describing is some sort of video game stuff.”
“I do not know what ‘video game stuff’ means.”
“Are you talking, like, RPG system?”
“What does RPG mean?”
“Um, like, do you have stats and levels and all of that?”
“Yes, of course. Obviously. I’m in the [Adventurer] class, Rank D. My current level is 17, very close to being able to rank up to C and gaining the [Inspect] ability. As for my current build, My [Power] stat is currently 46, due to some leveling flukes I experienced back when I was an E-Rank hero. Most of my other stats are underwhelming, I am sorry to admit.”
“Okay, so you’re like, a character from a LitRPG,” Francis says. “I’m sorry, what was your full name again, Eric?”
“My name is Eryk Solbourne.”
“Eric Soulborn. Like, ‘born from a soul.’”
“No, Eryk Solbourne, meaning, ‘The boundary of the sun.’ It is a common surname for the people of the North Spire, due to our proximity to the sun.”
“I’m just... Wow, just wow.” Francis bursts out laughing. “And it’s all real, too.”
“Yes, of course?”
Francis takes that square from his pocket and puts it up to his ear.
“What is that infernal contraption, anyway?” I ask.
“This? It’s a phone. Oh, sorry, Eryk. Just a sec.” He turns away from me and seems to conentrate deeply on the “phone” at his ear. He says to no-one in particular, “Oh, hello. Are you off work yet? Yeah, I’m still there. Yep, I got both of them. Yep, like sixty times. Okay, that’s just rude.”
“Francis, are you okay?” I ask.
He raises a hand up to motion for me to shut up. “Yeah, the reason I called is because I need you to pick me up. I have someone and—yes, he’s a he. You don’t—okay, you said it.” Francis rolls his eyes. “Listen, you won’t believe anything I’m saying right now so I’ll just show you when you get here. Thank you so much. Kisses and hugs. Bye-bye.”
He lowers the phone again and slides it into his trouser pocket.
“Sorry,” he says. “I was calling someone on my phone. But I guess you’ve never seen a phone before, have you?”
“I know not what a phone is.”
“It’s a device where you can send messages or call people anywhere in the world. Nifty, huh?”
“Seems fake to me. An illusion, surely.” I turn from Francis and set my eyes on the row of large contraptions that appear to vend food and drink, most standing together on the other side of this grand hall. “One thing that is not an illusion is my hunger. My Life Points will drain much more quickly if I am hungry, so I wish to procure nourishment.”
“You got any cash?” Francis asks. “Of course not. Here, I’ll give you a dollar. Or... Okay, I have no cash. I’ll swipe my card for you...”
I look at these machines. These machines that vend items. Vending machines. They contain so many items that look not at all familiar to me. What is a “coca-cola?” Some sort of red potion? And in another vending machine, A clear bag with extremely tiny pastries inside. The packaging labels these pastries as “Combos.”
Actually, these look quite interesting. Whether or not they are any good remains to be seen, but I think I will try some.
I reach to retrieve the combo package—
And cannot do so because there is glass in the way. What a strange inconvenience. A very confusing one, actually. Why would they put such an irrelevant barrier in between my reach and the food item? For freshness, perhaps?
So I punch through the glass and take it. A waste of perfectly good glass, but, oh well.
I tilt my head to the side. “What’s wrong?”
“You just...” He does not continue his thoughts.
Whatever he is upset about, I imagine it will pass in due time. I open the package of combo micro-pastries and eat a few of them.
[Ding! Destiny Point.]
And that delectable taste counts as a Class Action, too.
This day is turning out to be amazing.