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“Yeah,” he replied. “I was.”

Marcello looked over at the healer. She was above average height, with a slim figure and an attractive face. If he had to guess, he’d say that she was quite popular back on earth.

But this was a new world they lived in now, and that kind of information was not enough. Marcello used his Identify skill for the first time.

[Level 2 Human (alive)]

“I knew I remembered there was someone that looked like you waiting in front of the black door!” she said with a smile. “I’m Alice, by the way. I was a nurse back on earth,” she continued, extending her hand towards Marcello.

Her information adjusted immediately.

[Alice (alive) – Level 2]

“Marcello,” he replied, shaking her hand. Her hand was soft to the touch, and Marcello had to remind himself not to squeeze too hard. He was so used to shaking hands with men that he forgot that a handshake wasn’t always a contest of strength. “I was a senior in college, and I did some writing in my spare time.”

“Oh, that’s interesting! You know, I’m going into my third year of nursing,” Alice laughed. “You looked so unapproachable with those other people in front of the hard room that I never would’ve thought that you were just a student like me!”

“That’s good to hear, Alice. Healthcare is a good profession to go into, if it still matters after all of this. And yeah, I’m a lot nicer than I might’ve seemed.” Marcello managed to force a smile. He wouldn’t trust this girl until he knew her better, but there was no harm in chatting and sharing some information with other participants of the tutorial. And most importantly, his sense did not pick up any killing intent or ill will from her.

He had forgotten that not everyone was out to get him and there were normal people who got sucked into this deadly tutorial as well. Not everyone was like Michael, who sacrificed his teammates like it was the most normal thing in the world to do, or that hulk Agnis, who murdered that teenager with glasses like it was a casual greeting.

It was too bad that regular people like Alice would seriously have to adapt to their new surroundings and steel themselves, or face death sooner than they expected. Marcello sadly expected her to be one of the first to die when the challenges started to get tougher. Like seriously, she was only level 2 when he had already reached level 4.

“So, are you gonna tell me how the hard challenge room went?” Alice said with a smile. “My whole group was talking about it the entire time. We had to fight ten of these vicious goblins, and one of us nearly died! So we couldn’t imagine how bad the hard challenge must have been.”

Now it was Marcello’s turn to laugh, as he told Alice about how they had to fight far more goblins, and on top of that needed to take down a boss monster that was insanely strong compared to the goblins.

“One of our group’s warriors didn’t make it though,” Marcello added darkly. “He froze up when the goblins attacked us. Strong guy too, very muscular. Zack was his name. He said he was a professional swimmer.”

“I’m sorry to hear about that,” Alice replied, looking downcast. “May he rest in peace.”

Her expression brightened as she thought of something. “Maybe I just got lucky, my group was pretty capable!”

“Yep, you definitely lucked out if nobody died. Although I wouldn’t say it’s all down to luck,” Marcello replied. He felt his intuition kicking in, almost like it wanted to show off or something. “You’re one of the first groups to tackle and finish the challenge. That means the people in your group were probably made up of ambitious and physically fit people eager to face it, and were on the most part more capable than average. It’s just human nature that the people who thought themselves to be more likely to pass the trial joined earlier, while those who had less confidence in their ability to pass would hesitate, given the estimated 10% death rate. For example, the young and fit are probably far more willing to go in earlier than the elderly and weak. So your group is the young and fit group, so to speak.”

“Hm… if you put it that way, that does make sense,” Alice replied, placing her finger on her chin pensively. “Oh, by the way, how many points did you manage to score? Must be a lot since you beat the hard room, right?” she asked, nudging Marcello. “I ended up with seven hundred and sixty points, ha…”

“I got ten thousand two hundred and sixty three points.”

“T-ten THOUSAND?” she screamed. “That much?”

“Yeah, is it that weird?” Marcello replied, a bit baffled by her surprise.

“Of course that’s weird, you just got more points than my entire party of ten people combined! Since the survival rate was about half for the hard challenge compared to the easy challenge, I thought that you’d have maybe double our points, like two thousand or so. But you have ten thousand!!”

Marcello could only smile. “If you think about it another way, the rate of death for the easy challenge was 10%, while the rate of death for the hard door was 50%. So if points were linearly correlated and calculated in that way, then the hard challenge could generate five times as many points. All a matter of perspective.”

He continued speaking while picking up a few health potions off of the velvet covered wooden stand. “But I don’t think that’s how things work in terms of points. This tutorial is meant to push our limits, so having a disproportionate payout for higher risk taken seems in line with the intentions of whoever designed this system.”

Please confirm purchase of 10 Health Potions (low-grade).

Purchase confirmed. 200 points deducted from your balance. Your remaining balance is 10062 points.

None of his skills required mana so far, so he didn’t feel the need to pick up any mana potions.

Eh, actually it was probably good to grab a few of them in case any mage or healer teammates needed them.

Please confirm purchase of 10 Mana Potions (low-grade).

Purchase confirmed. 200 points deducted from your balance. Your remaining balance is 9862 points.

He ended up buying the maximum amount of health and mana potions possible, which was ten per area. Tch, maybe he fell for the oldest trick in the book, when stores limited stock to encourage customers to purchase more than they normally would. Oh well, he still had a huge amount of points left to spend.

“Hmm… you might be right about that. By the way, you seem really good at this whole tutorial thing. Do you mind if I tag along with you?” asked Alice. “I saw that you guys went in without a full party, so I’m sure you guys have extra space right~”

It was a fail proof proposition, since their squad needed as much manpower as possible, and Alice knew that.

Marcello decided to revise his impression of the blonde healer. At first he thought that she was just another normal person, a likeable one for sure by earth standards, but probably one of the first of many dead initiates who failed to acclimate to the new difficulty standards of life as the tutorial got harder. But now, he wasn’t so sure if his assessment of her as mere cannon fodder was accurate.

Alice not only recognized him from the first area, but also managed to strike up a conversation with him and buttered him up with her feminine charms to the point that she gained enough information to change her view about the merits of taking the easy challenge over the hard challenge. Finding out information about the hard challenge was her goal from the very beginning of their interaction, and she was certainly upfront about it, which Marcello appreciated.

“Yeah sure, you can join me,” Marcello replied. “But I need to make a few things clear before you choose to join me.”

“Number one, I don’t trust you. I know that you’re a girl. I understand that you’re probably used to people trusting you from the get-go because you have a pretty face and a nice smile, but this world is different now. Survival is not going to be easy, and don’t expect me to come save you if you get yourself in a mess that was preventable.”

“Two, you suck at fighting. Don’t ask me how, but I can sense that your combat sense is terrible. Just hang in the back and heal us when we're wounded, and try not to get yourself killed. Observe how we fight and learn everyone’s fighting patterns and the movement patterns of the enemy. Then you will know how to position yourself better in a fight as a healer. Pay attention to Emma, that girl’s a natural.”

Alice nodded furiously as she took down notes in the air, trying to remember everything that Marcello was saying mentally. “Yes, got it boss.”

Marcello suddenly remembered their party’s healer Sarah getting chased around by two goblins defenselessly. “You’ll want to buy a melee weapon or something from this shop to defend yourself in case we’re unable to help you. Sarah nearly died in our last trial because all she had was her staff.”

“I’ll do that right now,” Alice replied with a quick nod, dashing to the weapons racks to pick out a suitable weapon.

With her gone, Marcello went back to check out his own status. He was curious how leveling had affected his stats.

Status

Name: Marcello Vivaldi

Current status: Tutorial initiate

Class: Thief (level 4)

Profession: None

Race: Human (alive) (level 4)

Health: 95/95

Mana: 56/56

Stats

Strength: 8.3

Constitution: 8.3

Agility: 9.6

Endurance: 7.3

Vitality: 8.3

Perception: 9.3

Intelligence: 7.3

Wisdom: 7.3

Presence: 11

Sense: 100

Skills

Despair Intuition (inheritance), Identify (unique), Quiet Footsteps (basic), Bear Trap (basic).

Titles

None

The most glaring standout was the fact that his stats were all decimals now. Digging up his older notifications, he found that he received +0.1 to all basic stats per level due to his race, the balanced human race. His thief class gave him +0.1 agility every level up, which seemed nearly inconsequential compared to his base stat increases from his race. With some quick calculations, Marcello concluded that health increased by five hp per level, and mana increased by two mp per level.

Marcello honestly didn’t feel all too different after gaining four levels, but he now realized that the statistical gains from levels were far more subtle than he was used to in games. In games, a level one warrior would have trouble killing a level 3 pig, but that same warrior twenty levels later could probably one shot that level 3 pig with a kick to the belly. Here, the concept was similar but that level twenty-something warrior would probably need a few swings instead of just a kick.

Checking his stats only made him realize just how absurd the +10 all stats when the end is near effect from his inheritance was. That single effect had the same potency as 100 levels of stats from his base human race modifier.

Oh yeah, Marcello forgot that the system’s numbers were a bit screwy and not completely accurate representations of power levels. He’d have to go test some things out later to find out how things really worked.

Marcello continued to browse the next section of the store as Alice looked for her weapon. Honestly, the majority of the stuff felt kind of lackluster since it was only the second area so far. He saw a lot of basic survival gear, and he didn’t mean the (basic) tag.

[Flint]: A hard gray rock consisting of nearly pure chert, occurring chiefly as nodules in chalk. Used for lighting fires. 10 points.

[Rope]: A group of yarns, plies, fibers or strands that are twisted or braided together into a larger and stronger form. Can be used for dragging, lifting, binding, and throwing. 10 points.

Yeah, he got the point after browsing through to a hammer and a sleeping bag. He honestly didn’t understand why there was so much wilderness survival gear in the survival store. Honestly none of the stuff interested him right now, and he wasn’t about to waste a bunch of points on the off chance that he needed a crowbar for some reason.

The next section was a hell of a lot more interesting. This shop had bona fide magic scrolls!

[Tutorial Scroll of Pathfinding]: Points an arrow towards the [Exit] of a trial. 600 points.

[Tutorial Scroll of Leg Binding]: Binds a target’s legs together with a tree vine. Increases in power from the caster’s intelligence and wisdom. Resisted by target’s agility and strength stat. 600 points.

There were a dozen or more tutorial scrolls available for sale. Marcello checked them all out, but honestly there was not anything that he particularly wanted. Many of their effects were too niche to use, and most of them scaled based on the caster’s stats compared to the target’s stats. Marcello knew that his trial enemies were more likely than not going to be higher level than him, so that made the effectiveness of those scrolls questionable at best.

At the very end of the bookshelf was a single scroll encased in a glass box. Marcello activated Identify and checked out what that was all about.

[Scroll of Summon Ice Elemental]: Summons an elemental being of tremendous power. Lasts for a predetermined amount of time. 8000 points.

This was the first scroll that Marcello saw that did not have the [Tutorial Scroll] prefix. But my god was that price exorbitant. Eight thousand points was nearly the remainder of his entire pool of points. He could buy four hundred health potions with that!

Marcello checked the rest of the store out first, heading over to Alice.

“I’m going to buy a spear and a dagger,” Alice said confidently. “That and some health and mana potions, and that’s going to be it. I don’t see anything else that’s particularly good in the store right now.”

“The spear is so I can keep goblins away if they slip past the rest of our teammates, and the dagger is just for emergencies.”

Marcello nodded, although he found it funny that she was already referring to the black room squad as our teammates. “That sounds good. You can go on ahead without me, I need to take a look around the shop once more.”

“It’s okay,” Alice replied. “I’ll just stick with you here.”

“You sure?” Marcello asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Yeah! What if I can’t find you afterwards? That would be so awkward!” Alice protested.

“Alright, alright,” Marcello replied. “Since you’re going to be here, why don’t you fill me in about the store?”

“Sure,” Alice replied, pointing at different parts of the store. “You’ve already been to the consumable area over there, so that place is the…”

Marcello walked alongside Alice as she explained the different parts of the store and the items available for sale, chatting and making comments about the wares as they went. Marcello listened patiently, but to be honest, he couldn’t see anything that was useful to him. There was an amulet in the amulet section that increased mana regeneration, but he didn’t need mana right now.

After a few circles around the store, Marcello ended up back in front of one particular temptingly expensive scroll. Eight thousand fucking points. Maybe he was gonna regret this.

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A note from HereBeTreasure

Just took a 1.5 rating to the knee. GUH! It'll probably recover though when the story picks up. 


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HereBeTreasure

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