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A note from argusthecat

Reprised author's note:

So, this is a little experiment of mine to try writing more of a 'pure litrpg'.  It was kinda fun to write, I hope it's a bit fun to read, I might write more in the future.  Please direct all questions to the comments section.

 

My first sign that the world had ended was a notification in my field of vision.  [Congratulations!  The world has ended!]  I was informed.

[You have been assigned the following stats to get you started:  
Stat unlocked : Strength.  Test your might.  Strength rated at 4
Stat unlocked : Speed.  Push your limits.  Speed rated at 3
Stat unlocked : Intelligence. Grow your mind.  Intelligence rated at 6
Further assessment and unlocks will occur over the next 24:01 hours]

"I have... concerns..."  I started to say, before another window popped up.

[Geography will begin shifting in 1:00 hours.  Quests become active in 2:00 hours. Monsters will begin spawning in 3:30 hours.  Events will begin occuring in 12:00 hours.  Secondary status upgrades become available in 28:30 hours.  The first dungeon will activate in 48:00 hours.  These times will be kept accurate.  Good luck, and enjoy your apocalypse!]

This had, in every meaningful way, ruined my coffee.  "Nope."  I said, setting the cup down on the table.  "Nope nope nope.  Not happening."  It was too stupid.  It was also too real to be a visual hallucination.  Which meant that the worst was really about to come to pass, and the webfiction apocalypse was here.  "Nope!"  I repeated.  It was really inconvenient.  Not to mention, would probably cause a serious interruption in certain things, like my ability to get coffee, or ever have a hope of accessing the internet again.  "Nope nope!"  I shouted.

[Ability Set Unlocked : Chanting.  Speak the will of the world.
Ability unlocked : Cadance of Denial.  Reject the falsehood of nature.
Chant slots used: 1/4
Stat improved : Intelligence +1]

"Okay, this is already getting silly."  I muttered.  Looking around the coffee shop I was in, I could see a wave of panic already starting to sweep over people.  The barista behind the register was frantically shoving cash into her pockets while another one was sweeping all their croissant sandwiches into a backpack.  Customers were getting up and dashing out, with one man tripping over nothing while swatting at the air.  It took me about half a second to realize that he was trying to slap away his own windows.

[Skill set unlocked : Observation.  Take a good look around.
Skill unlocked : Observation - Deduction.  All things leave ripples.
Stat unlocked : Perception.  See what is.  Perception rated at 5.]

"..."  I didn't even have the words for this.  Though, it did give me a good chance to practice getting the windows to close.  Or at least moving them around a bit.  I took a deep breath and focused on removing most of them, but leaving the one with the timer open in the corner of my vision.

[Skill unlocked : Meditation.  Focus your mind to perfection.
Stat unlocked : Willpower.  Be as you are.  Willpower rated at 2.
Resource opened : Calm.  Reserves run deep and strong.  Calm rated at 2/14]

"I'm unbelievably offended that the end of the world has decided I have a willpower of fucking *two*."  I muttered, mostly to myself, as I leaned back in my chair.  Closing the windows worked, though, and I could now more clearly observe what was going on around me.  Honestly, most if not all of the chaos looked to be entierly caused by other people.  The sky was still a pleasant blue, and it was a beautiful summer day.  But it looked like everyone outside the shop was now running around in a bit of a hectic mess.  There were at least two car crashes already just that I could see on the street, and multiple fights were breaking out.  I heard sirens firing up in the background, and not fading away.

It took me about four seconds to make the decision that staying here, relaxing, and drinking my coffee until things died down was the right call.

[Skill unlocked : Planning.  Stick to the plan.
Skill unlocked : Observation - Forethought.  Think three steps ahead.
Skill improved : Meditation +1
Stat improved : Willpower +1
Pool improved : Calm +3]

This was getting rediculous.  Perhaps it would be better to go home.  I could wait for everything to get a little less chaotic, let the police start detaining the more dangerous looters and brawlers out there, and then head back to my apartment.  Maybe give it fifteen minutes.  I didn't want to spend too much time dallying; if there was one thing that *was* still fresh in my mind, it was the timer in the corner of my eye.  :47 hours until 'geography was shifted'.  That was ominous at best, and when it happened, I wanted to at least be in my own home.  If for no other reason than I didn't want to lose my guitar, or the awesome Pikachu quilt my partner had bought for me last New Years.

[Skill improved : Planning +1]

"Stop.  Stop it.  Just stop."  I growled around my mocha.

[Ability improved : Cadance of Denial +1]

Dammit.

Okay, time to go.  I drained the last of my coffee, and stood up, feeling fairly refreshed.  Everyone else had already abandoned the shop, so I took a moment to appreciate the quiet.  More than a few people had left bags or laptops out on tables when they'd run in such a hurry.  It wouldn't have been too hard to just snag up some of them, but I didn't want to be another asshole who just started randomly stealing just because the world was ending.  Besides, they might be back for them, and that would be the ultimate insult on top of the having everything you knew torn apart.  I could feel the weight of the decision in my mind as I walked to the door and passed a laptop left open to what looked like someone's college dissertation.  I know, if I ever lost something like this, I'd be crushed.  So I sure wasn't going to heap more crap on someone elses day; people deserved better.  

[Spell set unlocked : Compassionurgy.  Kindness is not its own reward, it is the fuel for another's.
Spell unlocked : Lost and Found.  Find your way home.
Spell unlocked : Lorwyn's Smile.  Show the world your heart.
Compassionurgy slots used : 2/3.
Stat unlocked : Magic.  Understand that which is beyond us.  Magic rated at 9.
Resource opened : Kindness.  The might of the kind is unknown and grand.  Kindness rated at 19/19]

Fuck it.  May as well try to make use of some of this.  I reached out, and flexed a part of me that I would have sworn didn't exist before.  It took only a half of a breath to cast Lost and Found on the laptop.  It was such a strange feeling, to have a resource pool drain into a cost.  I could actually feel the amount of kindness I had in my mind start to pour into the spell; and then snap away with a burst of soft light.  The laptop and other small personal effects near it glowed lightly for a second, and then, were just gone.  I would have been worried, but I somehow just knew that they'd find their way back to their owner.

I smiled for a second, before being interrupted again.

[Spell improved : Lost and Found +1
Stat improved : Intelligence +1]

My smile faltered a bit, but I shook it off.  If the world was going to end in a blaze of bad RPG mechanics, then fuck it.  I refused to go out on any terms other than my own.  I was going to keep doing random acts of good until someone stopped me.  No need to let the upheavel of humanity make us lose what made humans great in the first place.

That said, I did grab the danish that the guy had on his plate.  That one, I didn't think he'd miss.

With a few bites of the pastry, I made my way outside, and unlocked my bycicle from the stand where I'd chained it up earlier.  Checked the timer, and saw :41 hours until I had to be home.  Not too hard, since it was only a ten minute bike ride away, so I could take it slow.  Which was important, since it looked like there were at least four separate car collisions, still with people yelling at each other, probably because of windows popping up.  I shuddered as I imagined those stupid boxes interrupting someone flying a plane, or working with explosives.  Not a great line of thinking, and I tried to shut it down as I finished the pastry.

[Skill Unlocked : Taste.  Understand the finer things in life.]

Rolling my eyes passionately, and without any more reason to stall, I swung a leg over the bike, and started making my way through the streets, doing my best to aim away from anything that looked like it was going to be trouble.

[Skill unlocked : Bike
Stat altered : Speed becomes Balance and Agility
Balance set to 4.  Set your feet.
Agility set to 3.  See your target.]

Fine, sure.  I dismissed the window, and made a long curve through the road to avoid a part of the sidewalk where it looked like a brawl was about to break out between two groups of shouting people.  The group of teenagers seemed like they were just having a blast with everything going on, which was unsurprising, while a few older persons in the standard Mormon uniform of white shirt, tie, bike, and holy book, looked like they were screaming about demon worship or something.  I often ended up biking alongside Mormons during my morning ride to work, but I never really engaged with them; it always seemed more polite to just nod, and let them go their own way.

[Knowledge set unlocked : Religion
Knowledge topic unlocked : Mormon
Stat improved : intelligence +1]

I'll take it.  But right now, it was important to keep pedaling, and get home before anything serious stopped me.  So I kept moving.  As I biked on, I saw people breaking into cars and businesses in the downtown area.  The police were out in force, but it looked like they were having just as hard a time as everyone else, and I'd be willing to bet a fair number of them had abandoned their jobs to go to their families.  A priority I wish I had the option of taking, but, alas.

[Skill improved : Observation - Deduction +1]

As I passed a park, I saw a few young kids on the jungle gym.  I paused there to grab a drink of water from my bottle, and catch my breath.  It was easier than I expected, and patterns of breathing just sort of clicked in my head, making it a lot easier to slow my breath down to what I was comfortable with.  Skills in action, I suppose.   I took the time to smile as I watched one of the kids call to the other two, before she took a running jump at the monkey bars.  My smile turned into one of stunned amazement as her leap took her halfway across the metal bars.  She caught the one in the middle, and almost instantly arrested her forward motion, yanking herself upward hard enough to gain air above the play structure.  Then, with perfect balance, she alighted on the small metal bar she had previously grabbed.

[Stat improved : Perception +1]

The other two kids cheered the girl, and I couldn't help but throw a round of applause her way as well.  She grinned wildly and waved at me, and I waved back before kicking back on my bike, and moving on.  Skills, eh?  That was going to be the future of humanity right there.  And if kids like that kept it up, they'd be at the forefront of it.

[Philosophy Unlocked : Optimism
Pool improved : Kindness +6
Magic set improved : Compassionurgy +3
Stat improved : Willpower +2]

The other option was that everyone was going to blind themselves with windows before anything could get done, I thought with my own small smile as I kept biking down the road home.  It was a winding residential road, plenty of trees, with the sun filtering in through the leaves and casting beams of light and shadow across the ground.  It really was a beautiful day; and I wasn't sure if that made the apocalpyse better or worse.

[Skill improved : Bike +1]

I was getting into the hang of quickly dismissing the notifications when I had stuff to do.  It certainly made it safer to bike, to just shove everything over to the right so that only the edges were visible, and then worry about it later.  As I pulled up to my apartment building, and swung myself off the bike, I got one last note. 

[Skill improved : Bike +1
Stat improved : Agility +1]

And then I was up the stairs and back inside, sticking my trusty bike out on the back porch.  Some jackass had left the AC on, so the apartment was delightfully cool and crisp compared to the somewhat muggey warmth outside.  I heard shouting from one of the apartments near me, dogs barking from my downstairs neighbors, and sirens off in the distance.  But despite all that, I had a strange hope in my chest; the feeling that this might finally give us the tools to fix the world, if only enough people could keep the assholes from destroying it first.

[Philosophy improved : Optimism +1
Pool improved : Kindness +2
Magic set improved : Compassionurgy +1
Path unlocked : The Way of Compassion]

That last one was one I hadn't seen before.  A lot of this was, honestly, going totally unexplained.  Perhaps I should have asked for... oh, actually... "Tutorial?"  I said out loud, expectantly.  Nothing happened.  Well, it was worth a shot.  What about... "Status?"  That did it.  A big window, with too many tabs, and more numbers than I was comfortable with already.  It didn't feel good to know that I was going to be adding more to this jumbled mess already.  At least it had good UI.

[
|| Resources ||
Calm : 8/17
Kindness : 10/27

|| Stats ||
Strength : 4
Balance : 4
Agility : 4
Intelligence : 9
Perception : 6
Willpower : 5
Magic : 9

|| Skills ||
Observation : 1
-Deduction : 2
-Forethought : 1
Planning : 2
Bike : 3
Meditation : 2
Taste : 1

|| Abilities ||
Chanting : 1
-Cadance of Denial : 2
-
-
-

|| Magic ||
Compassionurgy : 5
-Lost and Found : 2
-Lorwyn's Smile : 1
-

|| Philosophies ||
Optimism : 2

|| Knowledge ||
Religion : 1
-Mormon : 1

|| Paths ||
The Way of Compassion : 0/25
]

This might take me a minute to actually decide what to do with this information.

[Skill improved : Observation - Forethought +1]

I felt my eye twitch a bit.  Just a bit.

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argusthecat

Bio: I write stuff, and have a lot of thoughts about narrative structure and tropes. Some of the stuff I write is here, the rest can be found over on Reddit on my r/hfy author page. Feel free to message me if you want to talk about ideas, or just have questions about anything I made!

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