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“Now that I am no longer hungry, I can prevent any extra loss of Life Points.”

“You’re going to have to explain that one to me,” Francis says. “What are life points?”

“What... That is very difficult to explain. Do you not have a similar system in your world? Your ‘Earth,’ as you call it?”

Francis and I make our way through this convention center building, entering something that is apparently called the Vendor’s Hall. A vast array of sellers tout their wares and push upon consumers as many products as possible. My senses, not yet attuned to the Earth’s interesting culture elements, are having a tough time soaking in everything around me. It is so overwhelming that I can hardly notice any one thing in particular.

In general, though... I can say there is a lot of artwork on display at these various vendor booths. Most of this artwork is of women, and most have sizeable bosoms. Some even greater than sizable—they are downright large.

“We have no ‘system,’ on Earth,” Francis tells me. “We are not an RPG.”

“So you do not grow in skill or strength? The beings here simply stay static your entire lives?”

“Well, no...”

I scoff. “Then surely you have a system. On Mystix, we have to accept the system ourselves to gain control of our HUD and our class system, but everyone who lives, regardless of accepting the system or not, is still under its control and influence. Otherwise the [Inspect] ability would be useless in giving the user stat charts.”

“I don’t know what to tell you. We don’t have that stuff.”

“Nonsense.”

“Well, we don’t have Life Points or whatever, and that’s a fact. What are they?”

“They are... the stat that make up every being’s entire self. They tell us how much of our essence, our health remains. Every action we take or receive, whether that is a magic skill or an injury, a nice nap or even just breathing, will affect the amount of Life Points that remain. D-Rank [Adventurers] have a cap of fifteen thousand Life Points, and so we must be very careful to conserve ourselves.”

“Ah, that makes sense. It’s like HP, Stamina, and Magic all rolled into one. Sounds like a nice modernization for a streamlined battle system.”

“Uh, perhaps. Life Points do indeed take from our stamina when we overexert ourselves, and are subtracted each time we use a Destiny Card, which is a type of magic.”

“How do you heal, you just eat some tasty snacks?”

“No. We can only heal by leveling up, which restores us to full Life Points, or by drawing a Destiny Card that heals, but that one is slightly rare and not a recommended strategy.”

“Fascinating. It’s like someone deliberately designed your system to work on a balance of give-and-take... Say, what’s your Life Point stat at now?”

“Right now? I have 13,820/15,000 LP. I lose about one point per minute from breathing, but so far I have not exerted myself except for the actions I performed during my combat against Geralt Swashbattle.”

“That wasn’t a combat. And also, you lose a point every minute? Dang.” Francis looks into the air and holds up fingers. I believe he is attempting to perform math equations. “So you have like, ten days to live if you don’t level up. Pretty harsh.”

“Approximately. I’m impressed you figured that.”

“I did major in computer science. My arithmetic skills are superb.”

“Indeed they are.”

In front of us is a booth that sells what appear to be more moving paintings, like the characters fighting each other that I saw earlier in the day. Several boxes display these moving paintings, with images going around on their own, jumping and flashing with bright colors.

“What are these things, these moving paintings?” I ask.

“Moving—Oh, man, you really do come from a fantasy world. These are video games. Or, as people in the streaming business like to call them, money makers.” He giggles at his own joke. Or, joke is what I assume that last sentence was supposed to be. I don’t understand it.

“Video games. So they are a game.”

“Yes.”

“A game... And you can play it. I see.”

“Yes. You see that controller there?” He points to a square with several buttons on it, one shaped like a cross. I pick it up. “You can use this controller to move the character on the screen. Press A.”

I press A.

The character in the video game jumps!

Wow!

“And you can move left or right. I’m glad you’re starting off with a simple one. I was always a big fan of the Howdy Hot Dog series. Tight platforming, great graphics.”

I continue to play this game, this “Howdy Hot Dog.” I do so for a longer time than I can track, because it feels to me the longer I play this game, the slower everything around me goes. Five minutes in the game is like twenty seconds in the real world.

It’s like I’ve been transported into yet another new world, just by playing a game. Is this what transmigration truly feels like?

After some unknown period of time playing the game, jumping over characters and throwing bowties at foes, Francis taps me on the shoulder. He is carrying a bag on his arm, and is now wearing a hat over his fake pink hair. The hat has a logo on it that I do not recognize.

“About ready to go?” he asks.

“I have not vanquished this video game yet, so I am not ready.”

“Yeah, but I already finished buying all the rare import games I need for my segment next week, so we are going. We need to head out before Delta gets to the convention center to pick us up.”

“Come again?”

“Oh, I guess I haven’t been too... Sorry about that! These past couple hours have been so overwhelming,” he says. “I haven’t told you about my whole plan, even though it involves you. See, if you’re really brand-new to this world, there’s gonna be a lot of stuff to sort out, and I want to help you out. So I want you to come with me when my ride gets here.”

“You wish to help me.”

“Of course, Eryk. No cute, confused young man deserves to go it alone in this harsh world we call modern life.”

“Indeed. If ever I were to have a wise mentor, I would be honored if it were such a—”

Agh!

Before I can react with my mind, my fist has already blown off a head. Another fist shatters a body completely.

And then I see what I attacked so fiercely...

A skeleton!

Does that mean... a necromancer, here?

But wait. This skeleton looks a bit odd, despite being human-sized. And it is not made of bone. It came apart into a billion pieces so easily that it couldn’t have been any material harder than... paper?

“My Skeletor standee!” a man shouts. “You asshole!”

Francis stares at me. “Again?”

“What?”

Several blue uniformed men, like the one from the entrance I met earlier, come into the Vendor Hall just seconds later. They are running towards us, in fact.

“Stop right here!” one yells. “You two with the pink hair!”

“I have a feeling we should run,” I say.

“Good feeling.”



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A note from Thedude3445

I will have you know, Howdy Hot Dog was the hottest platformer-RPG hybrid of 1989, but it languished in obscurity thanks to its sparse localization. Only Super Howdy Hot Dog II for the Super NES was ever released in the United States. The rest were exclusive to Japan and Europe.


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About the author

Thedude3445

Bio: I like to watch movies.

Avatar art by Mikayla Buan https://twitter.com/mikayla_buan

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