It is bizarre to think that it is even possible to commit such an act in all of existence. Nearly unfathomable.
But here I am.
My hands on the object of my dreams. A big hunk of meat within my grasp.
I savor the taste. The succulent aroma, the pungent tang, the stinging overload of salt.
I have become one with the meat.
For the first time in my life, I have begun to eat something known as a “hamburger.” For the life of me, I cannot think of a single piece of food I have ever eaten that comes close to the flavor, the texture, the all-around quality of the item in my mouth at this exact moment. The Goddess, strike me down for saying this, but I believe this is as close to perfection as one can reach.
“You, uh, enjoying that burger?” Francis asks. He sits across from me in the booth to this extremely fancy restaurant, fittingly named Burger Box.
I do not reply, as I am currently devouring my sixth sandwich in a row. I simply cannot get enough, and my muscles are nearly literally thanking me for the meat. It is being absorbed into my body even as I eat.
“You’ve, um, got some ketchup on your armor there,” he says. “I’m just going to...” He takes a paper handkerchief and wipes the red liquid off my breastplate.
“Are we quite done?” Delta asks, sitting next to Francis and crossing her arms. It appears she is showing me a sign of weakness in deference to my abilities, but she has also suggested things that make me wonder if she is as polite and courteous to me as things seem. Quite a complicated fellow.
“I wish to continue savoring this delectable feast,” I say. “However, I know our time is short. So I must tell you what you wish to know.”
“Yes, please tell us how it is you ‘came to Earth,’” Delta says.
“Well, it is a special tale that will shock as much as it may delight. The tale of Eryk Solbourne, D-Rank [Adventurer] from the realm of Mystix, is a storied one, and it may be nothing like what you may find on Earth.”
“This sounds really cool,” says Francis. He grabs a “french fry” and dips it in the red, tangy sauce spread out on a paper handkerchief.
“It all starts in North Spire, a mystical region filled with large towering mountains and the people who live on them. We North Spirans are a simple folk, content to farm for haven roots and live a quiet life. We are often considered outcasts by the rest of human society, for our pink hair and pink eyes are a surefire sign of low intelligence and provincial naivety in the eyes of anyone who sees us.”
“Your hair and eyes are real?” Delta asks.
“Of course. Unlike the fool Francis here, I am the real thing. A real North Spiran, rather than a sick impostor.”
“I told you, I’m cosplaying Blaze Blitzer,” he says. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know your culture was some fantasy racial minority...”
“Are pink-haired beings common here?”
“No, we only have natural hair colors on Earth. Black and brown and blonde and gray and sometimes red. Anyone else has a wig, or they dyed their hair.”
“So all those people at the convention center...”
I can’t help but frown at that. My status as an outsider, not only on Mystix but on Earth as well... grows more obvious. “Well, I shall persevere.”
“Or you can dye your hair,” says Delta.
I continue with my history. “North Spire was a peaceful place until several years ago, during my childhood. The Slayers, a great force of mercenaries and monsters, attacked our land and made a martyr out of a great number of people. My family, my own people, attacked indiscriminately by savages. Ever since that day, I swore vengeance.
“I would become the first S-Rank hero in a millennium and defeat any who would defy peace and prosperity in Mystix. I would become the great protector of the realm and make sure no group like the Slayers ever came forth again.
“But it would be a tough path. From the moment I accepted the system, the moment I took the [Adventurer] class, I began a perilous journey that has been fraught with hardship. I joined Team Fanghook, an Adventurer’s Guild outfit that explored the world, resolved conflicts, and raided dungeons, and spent two years with them. I found companionship, I found combat, and most of all, I found love.”
Delta twitches at this. “You...” She does not continue her thought.
“It was on one final mission, where Team Fanghook fought a malevolent necromancer, where I finally left this world. Being only a D-Rank hero after two years, the other team members decided I should not advance into the lower levels of the dark dungeon and asked me to return to the surface to sell our loot so far at the nearby village.
“It was when I reached that village that I found children playing in the street as a speeding carriage came down the road in their direction. I had to act.
“I saved them, but... Not myself.
“When I awoke, The Goddess herself gave me the opportunity to be reborn again in a new world, with a new chance to become the hero I was meant to be. She told me that my memories would be reset and my system would be erased, but... Something happened. I ended up here on Earth, with everything intact, all the way down to my Destiny Cards the same. My Life Points had been restored to maximum, but that was it.”
“You...” Delta is still unable to say what she wishes, it seems.
“Wow, that’s story’s kind of...” Francis begins.
Then, in unison, they say, “You really do have an RPG origin.”
“Uh, nevermind,” Francis says. “So you arrived here on Earth after all that, and so you were very confused because the convention was probably the absolute worst place on the entire planet for you to be reborn, huh. Poor thing.”
“I adapted, thanks in large part to the two of you. Now, I know that costumes are very common here, and that cosplays are not monsters.”
“So, what the hell are Destiny Cards and all that?” Delta asks. “You keep mentioning them like they’re something we should know.”
“Ah, that would be more complicated to explain to someone not already integrated into the system,” I say. “But I shall do my best. You see, when you accept the system on my world, you gain the ability to level-up and improve your skills. You also have the ability to draw Destiny Cards from your Destiny Deck, gaining magical abilities, typically one-time use, that can provide you tremendous help in combat and elsewhere.
“But it all comes at the cost of Life Points. The cursed amalgamation of your entire essence. Every action you take, whether that be using a Destiny Card, fighting, or even simply breathing, drains Life Points from your total. If you hit zero... You die.”
“Ah, yeah, you told me about that before,” Francis says. “It’s like HP, Stamina, and Magic all pooled into one stat. Isn’t that a pretty interesting system, Delta?”
“Maybe for gamers.”
“Yes, I still do not quite know what those terms mean, but it is certainly like a pooled source of all our energies put together. And we can only heal in two ways—one, by drawing Destiny Cards with a heal power, which is a rare occurrence, or by leveling up, which raises one’s LP back to full.”
“And your Life Points right now?” Delta asks.
“Out of a total of fifteen thousand, my Life Points right now are at...” I look at the top of my HUD to see the current total. “13,065,” I say.
“Just a little bit over nine days left,” Francis says, “assuming you don’t do anything but sit there and breathe in and out and don’t get too hungry or anything.”
“Correct. I have little over a week to level up.”
“And how do you do that?” Delta asks. For some peculiar reason, despite her cold expression towards me, she seems to be somewhat interested in my situation. She sure is asking plenty of questions, at least.
“To level-up, I must collect and spend 25 Destiny Points. At D-Rank, that is. The number will increase if I increase to C-Rank someday.”
“And to get these point things...?”
“Ah, that is more complicated. Gaining Destiny Points is a somewhat unknown aspect of the entire system, still not fully researched even by our top [Mages.] We know that it is heavily correlated with something we call Class Actions, or the fulfillment of the destinies of the class we choose. As an [Adventurer,] my class actions consist of combat, exploration, and discovery. The more monsters I defeat, the more places I discover, the more I shall gain Destiny Points.”
“And so if you don’t kill a lot of stuff, you’re going to die in like a week.” Delta shakes her head. “You’re shit out of luck on Earth, then. Indiscriminate fighting isn’t exactly accepted these days.”
“Well, the Class Actions for [Adventurer] are indeed somewhat vague as far as research has shown. Fighting may not be the primary method, as much as it may be other things. Indeed, in my time at the convention center, I gained three Destiny Points without truly attempting it.”
“One was for discovering the delicacy known as combos. The other two are mysterious, but they came to me upon successfully evading capture by those blue-uniformed fellows.”
Delta shakes her head, as is her habit, I have discerned by now. “Wow, just... wow.”
“I have twenty-three Destiny Points now, so I only need two to be able to level-up.”
“So we need to cart you around the country, getting you involved in mayhem and fights over and over again until you miraculously get these points just to keep yourself from dying?” Delta suggests.
“That’s a terrible idea, Delta,” Francis says. “We can’t just let Eryk get arrested. What will they do with him? Probably as soon as they find out he’s some fantasy magic guy the government spooks will come around and dissect him like he’s E.T.! We don’t want that to happen to Eryk, now do we?”
“I was being sarcastic.”
“I can offset the Life Points drain somewhat for now,” I say, “with use of one of my cards known as [Minor Heal.] I had been saving it for an emergency, but... This may be one.”
I activate the [Minor Heal] card. A blue glow swirls around me for a brief moment, then enters through my heart.
The two of them must have seen the card activation, because their eyes are wide open in surprise.
“He really isn’t bullshitting,” Delta mutters.
“Told you,” replies Francis.
“Now, because of that, I have one empty slot in my Destiny Card hand,” I say. “My hand has seven slots in total, but three are in use as inventory slots, and three more have cards in them already. I shall list them for you.”
Transmigrated Spirit: Rank 3. Summon an otherworldly spirit to assist for five minutes.
Super Hearing: Rank 1. Increase sonic perception abilities dramatically for five minutes. Cost: 70 LP.
Absorb: Rank 5. A healing attack that drains LP from the target. Must have direct contact. Cost: 0 LP.
“A rank 5 card is one of the rarest you can acquire, so I hope you know the sheer value that [Absorb] adds to my repertoire,” I say.
Francis is elated to hear these. “So you have those three, plus that heal thing you just did, plus that energy sword thing you did way back in the park. You have so many cool powers! You’re like the world’s most versatile superhero.”
“You may say that, but with these cards being one-time use, it is highly difficult to keep a consistent set of abilities on-hand. Literally.”
“Then draw another one,” Delta says.
“I do have an empty slot, but there are only two ways to draw a card from my Destiny Deck. One, the traditional method, is by spending 5 Destiny Points. I have 23, so that is not impossible. However, I do wish to level up soon, so I do not want to take the risk. Two is the less traditional method, accomplished by sacrificing one’s own Life Points to summon a new card. This is randomized between 500 and 1,500 Life Points, and in the upper bounds can be extremely costly, especially if you draw a lower-rank card.”
“But you should still do it,” Delta repeats.
“I do have a fondness for keeping my Destiny Deck at maximum cards, even at the cost of my Life Points, so I will indulge your request.”
Here it goes...
That was far too many points! That was even more than the [Minor Heal] card I just used!
Regardless, here is the new card I have drawn:
Minor Heal: Rank 2. Gain 1,000 LP. Cost: 0 LP.
“Well, what was it?” Francis asks. “Something cool?”
“It was.. erm, another [Minor Heal] card.”
“Is that good?”
“Well, considering I spent 1,211 Life Points to draw it...” I sigh.
So does Delta. “So we really need to find you a way to level up before you end up killing yourself, huh?”
“Perhaps that is the best course of action.”
I do not know how the course of my path to heroism will continue. It should fill me with great anxiety, and yet it does not. The only thing it fills me with is anticipation, happiness, and... hunger.
“May I order another of your ‘hamburgers?’”
Francis takes out some coins and hands them to me. “Yeah, sure thing..."