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The moment he pressed confirm, an inexplicable feeling of cosmic rearrangement began to permeate Marcello’s body. He felt as if his entire body was being scrambled and whisked and doused in crème fraîche like a Gordon Ramsay breakfast egg staple, before being tossed side to side like a pancake before finally getting set down on a plate for consumption.

Of all things, Marcello never expected class promotion to be such a disorienting experience. But a moment later, it hit him. It was as if knowledge had been downloaded into his head without his consent. The knowledge was not comprehensive, in fact it was far from it, but it encompassed everything from thief skill knowledge to the strangest tidbits about health point and mana point regeneration.

You see, all of a sudden, Marcello now knew of the fact that health and mana could be regenerated by eating and sleeping, and that potions had a cooldown period of two hours between use, and…

Huh?

As fast as the knowledge entered his system, it also dissipated. Not totally, though. He could still recall the basics. As for the nuances of the system, he could still feel some of them instinctively but he might have to do some additional testing later on to figure out the exact parameters of everything.

The knowledge dump was definitely not a comprehensive or exhaustive list. He didn’t receive an iota of information about mana, to say the least. Nor did he receive any additional information about the tutorial other than an inexplicable feeling of excitement.

His head was not the only thing that changed. As Marcello looked down, he realized that the gray prisoner uniform he previously had on was transformed into a black thief cloak, with a sturdy leather brigandine underneath. On his back was a shortbow and quiver, and to his side was a short sword and a very small but stout dagger.

In other words, his body was fitted with thief class weapons and armor. Kind of cool.

*Ding*

There were a bunch of notifications on his status screen, which he must have missed during that deluge of information that just got downloaded into his brain from the heavens.

He hurriedly opened up the tabs.

Status

Name: Marcello Vivaldi

Current status: Waiting Room Participant

Class: Thief

Profession: None

Race: Human (alive)

Health: 80/80

Mana: 50/50

Stats

Strength: 8

Constitution: 8

Agility: 9

Endurance: 7

Vitality: 8

Perception: 9

Intelligence: 7

Wisdom: 7

Presence: 1

Skills

None

Titles

None

Marcello scanned down his status screen and nodded. His highest stats were agility and perception at nine points each, as strength and constitution followed suit at 8. It wasn’t a surprise to him that intelligence and wisdom were lowest, since he did not choose a magic based class. Overall, it looked like a standard distribution of stats for a thief, with one strange exception.

The very last stat, which was called presence, sat defiantly at 1. Marcello had no idea what that stat did, but he did find it a bit strange that all the other stats ranged from 7-9 but this particular one was at the lowest value possible. Hm. He’d worry about that later.

As he glanced further up the status screen, he stared at the race status for a moment. The existence of a race tag had to mean that other races existed, Marcello thought. He wondered what those other races were. Suddenly a tooltip popped up, as if he had just hovered over the word with his cursor and it was now showing an advanced description.

Humans are a well rounded race and are common residents of the universe. They have balanced growths and can pursue both physical and magical combat classes, although they do not necessarily excel at any particular thing. This race does not have a natural mana affinity.

Marcello was okay with that. Being a member of a more balanced race meant that there were more tactical and developmental options open to him, and having more options could never hurt. He was a bit curious about this mana affinity thing that the system alluded to, but that could wait for later. He was also curious about that (alive) tag after human in his status screen. It felt a bit redundant, at least to him.

His eyes darted further down to the stats, hovering over strength. Soon, a tooltip popped up, but it was a bit different from what he’d expected. It was more of a general tooltip about stats rather than an advanced description of strength itself.

Important notice about stats– While values for stats such as strength and vitality are displayed in alphanumeric form, these numeric representations are not linearly correlated with actual performance. For example, 20 strength does not make a player four times stronger than 5 strength, nor is an increase from 20 to 25 strength necessarily the same for two players who experience the same increase. Alphanumeric display is a crude estimate of growth, rather than an absolute. Every participant’s development is different. Strength is not quantifiable. Keep this in mind.

Stat growth is a key to progress and survival, but do not blindly rely on stats.

Marcello kind of understood where the system was coming from. To put it simply, the system was making it clear that the stat numbers were attempts to estimate a value for a particular attribute, but by no means were they completely accurate representations since their underlying attributes were far more complex than a mere number.

Nevertheless, stats could be useful as a general guideline to gauge strength. The system did explicitly warn him not to blindly rely on stat growth, though. He wondered what it meant by that.

Marcello scanned each of the stats to get a better understanding of what they meant.

Strength increases physical might and allows one to perform feats of physical strength.

Constitution determines your health and robustness against enemy attacks.

Agility increases your speed and reflexes, useful for darting in and out of combat.

Endurance determines stamina regeneration rate, reducing the need for rest.

Vitality increases your resistance to diseases and harmful conditions, whether they be poisons or afflictions.

Perception allows you to see and feel your surroundings more clearly, giving you early warning in case things go south.

Intelligence influences the might of your spells and size of your mana pool, and is a staple for mages.

Wisdom determines mana regeneration rate, reducing the need for mana replenishment.

He went down the list and confirmed that all of the stats functioned more or less the way he expected them to, until he got to presence.

For some reason, no tooltip came up when he tried to search for presence. Marcello squinted his eyes and focused as hard as he could on the word for a minute straight, to no avail. Whatever the reason was, the system simply would not generate a tooltip for presence.

Not that it mattered too much right now. The stats that he cared about the most at the moment were probably strength and constitution, which would probably determine the bulk of his encounters during the beginning stages of the tutorial.

Finally, he moved onto skills. There were just two notifications remaining in his inbox. Marcello crossed his fingers and prayed that this would be a good one, to justify his gamble by taking the thief class over the warrior class.

*New Skill obtained*: [Quiet Footsteps (Basic)] – A thief must travel quietly to complete his tasks. Lessens the noise made by walking and running, and makes the thief’s presence harder to detect.

There was that word again, presence. But Marcello had a hunch that the meaning was a bit different in this context. He read the skill description again. Honestly, it wasn’t all that great, it just made it a bit easier to sneak around. He noticed that it was a basic rated skill, which he assumed was the lowest rarity rating for a skill. He felt a bit overwhelmed with its functionality, but he’d save his judgment about the thief class as there was still one last notification to get to.

The last notification was a bit different from the previous skill notification.

*Choose a Skill below*

[Backstab (Basic)] – A thief delivers a debilitating blow to the back of an unsuspecting enemy. Deals 10% additional damage.

[Bear Trap (Basic)] – Traps are an essential part of a thief’s arsenal. Allows the thief to summon and arm a bear trap, which deals damage proportional to the strength used to crank the trap.

He was given the option to choose one of the two skills. Backstab seemed like a decent ability, but the basic rarity of the skill meant that the damage bonus was kind of low. 10% didn’t seem like all too much of a buff.

Meanwhile, bear trap was a summonable trap that didn’t put him in any danger to use. And it gave him the flexibility to vary his engagement style. It gave additional utility and was the first summonable ability that Marcello came across, which made him quite curious.

If he had to weigh the two skills against each other, curiosity aside, bear trap was the clear winner.

You have selected Bear Trap (basic) as your choice. Confirm?

Yes.

Selection confirmed.

*New Skill obtained*: [Bear Trap (Basic)] – Traps are an essential part of a thief’s arsenal. Allows the thief to summon and arm a bear trap, which deals damage proportional to the strength used to crank the trap.

He was definitely excited to try this new ability out.

The next thing Marcello checked was his inventory and equipment tab. He wanted to know what kind of stuff he got equipped with.

[Black Thief’s Cloak (basic)]

[Light Brigandine (basic)]

[Shortbow (basic)]

[Refillable Quiver (basic)]

[Cloth pants (basic)]

[Leather boots (basic)]

[Shortsword (basic)]

[Dagger (basic)]

The equipment descriptions of the basic items were not particularly interesting with the exception of the quiver.

[Refillable Quiver (basic)] A refillable quiver given to combatants in the tutorial. Holds fifty arrows. Additional arrows will automatically refill over time.

It was a self refilling quiver. Nice. Marcello could put that to use, even with his exceedingly mediocre aim.

System Notice: Waiting Room period will end in two minutes.

Right on time. Looking over his equipment one more time before the waiting period expired, Marcello steeled himself for the trials and tribulations that would await in the near future.

System Message: The tutorial is intended to be a grueling experience. Do your best to survive. Good luck, initiates.

The system message was ominous to say the least, but Marcello’s mouth formed a wide smile. As strange as it was to say, the thrill of the challenge was possibly even more alluring than his own survival. Some might say that Marcello was insane, but others would understand. For the thrill-seeking, there was no real point in leading a boring life.

After all, what was life without a bit of a challenge?

The two minutes of the final waiting period passed by quickly.

Greetings, initiate. Your waiting room period has ended.

You will now be transported to the tutorial area.

Just like before, Marcello began to feel a bout of dizziness, followed by his surroundings fading to black.

Regaining his senses after a moment, he found himself inside a large artificial dome. One giant dome shaped torture chamber, where he got the sense that he and the hundred or so other people that just teleported in were the lab rats.

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HereBeTreasure

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