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So he exited his ‘Dream World’, letting the world around him freeze and morph into a cacophony of blobs and smudges. Opening his eyes, he found himself to be back in the sewer. The rancid stench and icy temperature of the place made Edward lurch and wince. His ‘Dream World’ was muddy, wet, and cold, but the icy sewer, built under what looked like a snowy and mountainous environment, was even colder. But despite that, his smile wouldn’t come down.

Edward woke Charlotte up and explained his ‘Dream Touch’ ability to her and Richard. She smiled at his explanation and her eyes sparkled. “That’s amazing!” Charlotte said. “How many people at a time?”

“Only one at a time,” Edward said with a frown. “Once I use the ability, it’ll become locked. Only when the person I put in the dream world leaves, will it become unlocked.”

“That’s great then.” Richard crossed his arms and shook his head. “So I don’t have to do it then.”

“Of course you fucking do.” Charlotte turned and glared at him. “You have a rare class, you have a duty to become as strong as you possibly can.”

“Did you even see just how rapidly his HP changed whilst he was in his little ‘Dream World’?”

“I admit, fighting monsters in my ‘Dream World’ is dangerous,” Edward said. “But being weak is even more dangerous.”

“I’m not even saying that it’s dangerous for you. I’m saying it’s dangerous for me! I have 3 strength and 2 defense! You started with 8 and you currently have 18 and 17! If I go in there, I’ll die!”

“Are you blind?” Charlotte said. “You have 3 and 2 in strength and defense because you have a fucking 9 in magic.”

“What am I gonna do with that? Beat them to death with some lights!?”

Edward groaned, shook his head, and beckoned Charlotte to sit down against the wall. “Suit yourself, we’re getting nowhere.” He crouched next to her and put his hand on her shoulder. “Charlotte will level up in my ‘Dream World’ first, and after that, you’ll level up next.”

“Why!?” Richard slammed the wall. “Have you not listened to a word I’ve said!?”

“I have, and I get it. You’re afraid of dying. But if Charlotte, someone with a lower-ranked class than you, survives in the ‘Dream World’ and easily levels up, then you’ll have no excuses.”

“We’ll see.” Richard rolled his eyes and slumped down on the floor.

“What sort of items do you think you’ll get from the Dream Quest?” Charlotte asked, smiling at Edward.

“I’m not sure,” He shrugged."Hopefully a magical weapon of some sort. Maybe some armour. But preferably food."

“Yeah,” she snorted. “Some pasta would be good.”

“Eugh!” Richard groaned. “Pasta’s disgusting!”

“No one asked!” Charlotte shouted.

“How is that even possible?” Edward cocked his head and pondered, genuinely confused.

“Anyway, there’s something I want more than food,” Charlotte said.

“Like what?”

“If the reward is a set of clothes, could you give it to me?” She glanced down at her naked body and grimaced. “The sooner I can cover up, the better.”

Edward bristled. Because of the stress of the situation, he completely forgot the fact that all three of them were stark naked in front of each other. And she just had to bring that to his attention, didn’t she? His face grew hot at the fact that his...

*ahhem*

...reproductive organs were swaying side to side, half a metre next to Charlotte’s face. And for some reason, in that moment, it felt like an anchor tried to pull his gaze down from her eyes. Too far down. But he was a good man, and his gaze stayed level and appropriate. Why wouldn’t it? He had a girlfriend back in the real world. There was nothing to see down there.

But after seeing Charlotte’s face scrunch into a scowl, and shift towards Richard, who’s eyes seemed to find it a bit harder to pull up against the weight of the anchor of indecency, and ended up falling to inappropriate depths and locations, Edward was glad that he had the mental fortitude to pull up that anchor.

That feeling of gladness only grew in intensity at the sight of Charlotte hopping to her feet and rushing towards a quivering Richard. She flung her foot at his face, lifted him off his feet, and spun him through the air till he tumbled onto the stone of the sewer walkway.

Edward sighed in relief at the fact that he wasn’t Richard. But his sense of relief was cut short by Charlotte spinning, glaring at Edward with reddening cheeks, and shooting a fist at his head. “Wait!” Edward said as he flung his hands in front of his face and watched her knuckles blur and devour his vision. “I didn’t even loo-“

Charlotte’s fist slapped against his face. His cheek rippled.

But that’s all.

“What the fuck!?” Charlotte lurched, jumped backwards, and repeatedly shook her sore hand, squealing in agony. “Why is your face made of fucking steel!?”

Edward chuckled and exhaled a long held in breath. “Have you not checked my stats in a while?”

She turned and glared at him like a wild beast. Then her eyes snapped wide, and a grin flickered on her face. She smirked down at his body. Too far down. She then ran towards him.

Edward was confused at what she was trying to do, and therefore just stood there, waiting for her to hurt her hand again. But then everything clicked. Whilst his defense stat protected his face, would it protect down below as well?

A glacial sweat trickled down his face, but it stampeded down the place below. He tried to turn and run, but it was too late. She was already upon him. She already swung his foot at his crotch.

He yelled, fell to the floor, and writhed across the sewage. She slumped down on the wall beside him and sat. “Come on, let’s get back to training.” She patted the space next to her, smirking with a raised chin. “Hopefully, the Dream Quest reward will give you a new set of balls.”

Edward shook his head and snorted, still groaning in agony. Hoping to get rid of the pain, he tapped her foot, and activated the ‘Dream Touch’ ability.

Her eyes closed. He then activated the ‘Dream World’ ability.

The world swirled into a blob of incoherent colours. Opening his eyes, he found himself inside the Feral Forest. And despite transporting himself into the Dream World, pain still rumbled up his body. Instead of writhing and moaning in the sewage, he whined in the mud and grass.

Eventually, he found his way to his feet. He still felt the stinging pain, but he could stand at least. Looking around him, he didn’t see Charlotte.

Worry wormed up his stomach at the thought of Charlotte being left alone in the middle of that field of slime. He doubted she’d be able to handle a Level 1 slime there, let alone a level 2 or 3.

So Edward sprinted out of the Feral Forest, into the plains, and scoured the hills, trees, and boulders for Charlotte.

Sighing in relief, he found her running out from behind a clump of trees. But panic cut the feeling of relief short.

Wounds covered her body, and blood splattered on the ground in her path. She had 30% HP left. A Level 1 slime rushed at her from behind. Edward ran over to them.

He leapt in between the slime and Charlotte. It focused on him, shooting its core at his chest.

The hit barely made him twitch. It dropped his HP down to 99%. So, whilst the slime repeatedly hit him, he turned to Charlotte. She fell to her knees and panted in agony.

“I’ll jog around for a bit, in order to keep the Level 1 slime near us and focused on me,” Edward said. “Whilst I do that, you should sit and rest. But afterwards, I’ll stand still in the middle of a patch of tall grass, and you should sneak up on it from behind.”

She nodded and grimaced at the ground. But then she clenched her fists. “Why do I have to be so fucking weak?” She muttered. She jumped to her feet and ran at the slime.

“Wait!” Edward shouted at her. “What’re you doing!?”

Edward ran at Charlotte and reached out to stop her. But when he did, the slime switched its focus away from Edward. It focused on her. It hopped towards Charlotte. Its core lurched.

But before the core could launch at her, she slammed her foot against it, smashed her fist against the cracks, and shot the sole of her foot at it, splattering black shards onto the grass.

Three hits wasn’t enough to kill it. Her strength stat wasn’t high enough. So the slime’s core rushed towards her. Edward’s eyes snapped wide. His eyes burned. Slamming his foot on the ground, mud and grass exploded behind him. He leapt towards them, swinging his fist at the slime’s core.

He wasn’t fast enough.

But Charlotte was. She ducked and let the slime’s core plunge through her flapping hair. She dodged the slime’s attack. Pushing off the ground, she flung her foot up at the core, spreading the cracks wide. She smashed her knuckles against the gaping cracks, showering the grass with black shards. Spinning and twisting her body, she slapped her shin against the core.

Her leg plunged through it. The core exploded and scattered across the ground. The slime flattened and pooled in the mud.

Edward sighed in relief, but furrowed his brows at Charlotte. “It’d help you to learn a lesson or two from Richard and be a bit more cautious, don’t you think?”

“No,” Charlotte shook her head, falling to her knees again and panting. “I can fight the slimes on my own.”

“Yeah, by getting lucky and dodging the slime’s attack.”

“Dodging attacks isn’t luck; It’s a basic combat technique. I also have higher agility than it, so why wouldn’t I be able to dodge it?”

Edward stared up and away from Charlotte and rubbed his nape, embarrassed that she dodged a monster’s attack in her first fight and he never did in the many hours he spent training in the Dream World. “I’m just saying that you shouldn’t rely on it.”

“Wait,” Charlotte glared up at him. “Don’t fucking tell me you never dodged any of the slime’s attacks whilst hunting them?”

“What are you talking about? Of course I…” Edward flushed. He sighed. “I didn’t.”

Charlotte’s face slapped in her palm. “I thought coming here would get me away from Richard, but alas, his incompetency will haunt me everywhere I go.”

“I have high defense stats! I’m a Dream Knight! Knights don’t run away from their enemies! I’m supposed to take their attacks head on!”

“Just stop, I can feel my brain cells dying by the millions” Charlotte’s face continued to rest in her palm, but her fingers rubbed her forehead as if she was trying to push back a migraine. She sighed, stood up, walked towards him, and then stood, holding up her fists in front of her face, and bending her knees in a fighter’s stance. “Did you do any martial arts in the real world?”

Edward shook his head.

“Well, you’re gonna do some now.”

Edward nodded, finally understanding why she was able to dodge the slime and he wasn't. The difference between them must've been her fighting and martial arts experience in the real world teaching her how to stand in order to dodge and react quickly during a fight. Having her teach him would be useful, but how much time would it take? Didn't it take years to learn this kinda stuff? “Is it really necessary? Wouldn’t levelling up our stats be a better use of our time?”

Her leg blurred up from the ground and up towards the bottom of his torso. Her foot smashed against his still stinging crotch. It burned. He lurched. He yelled, and he fell to the floor once again. “Why the fuck did you do that for!?” He croaked as he writhed on the mud and grass.

“It’s because you’re pathetic.” Charlotte crossed her arms and glared down at him. “Your agility is more than double mine, but you couldn’t even dodge a kick. There’s no point in increasing the agility stat if you’re not gonna even bother to dodge. There’s no point in increasing the strength stat if you’re not gonna bother to use the right stance and form. There’s no point in increasing your defense stats if you’re not gonna bother to block. And finally, there’s no point in having a brain if you’re not gonna use it.”

“Ok, ok, I get,” Edward winced and chuckled as he staggered back up to his feet. “I’ll learn some martial arts, then. We’ll do it whilst you recover your HP in between fights with slimes.”

She dropped back into her fighting stance, bending her legs and raising her fists in front of her face. “Copy my stance.”

Edward nodded. He raised his fists in front of his face and bent his legs. “Is this alrig-“

Charlotte swung her foot at him. He lurched. He pushed his feet on the ground and tried to dash away bu-

Pain surged up his body. He froze. Groaning in agony, he fell to the grass. “Couldn’t you just tell me what was wrong!?” He yelled, rolling on the mud.

“You need to bend your legs more.” She smiled. “But I saw you tried to dodge, at least. You’re improving. But you still couldn’t dodge because your legs were too straight, limiting movement. Let’s try again.”

Wincing and groaning, he nodded and staggered to his feet again. He rose his fists in front of his chin and bent his knees lower than he did before. “How abo-“

She thrust her hand at his face. His knuckles rose to her wrist, but the long and sharp nail of her index finger plunged past his hand and poked his eyelid.

Edward lurched, yelled, staggered backwards, and rubbed his face. “What did I do wrong this time!?”

“If you copied my stance and rose your fists higher, then you would’ve been able to block my attack.”

“Is poking my eye out really part of the learning process?” He staggered up to his feet and shook his head.

“Pain is the best teacher.”

“If you say so,” He snorted, rose his fists up to his face till his knuckles were just below his eyes, and bent his knees as low as he did last time. “This has to be correct, ri-“

“Dodge.” She flung her foot off of the grass and swung it at his nec-

His legs felt unusually light and free. They were bent, so he could simply bend them some more to duck and watch her leg fly over the top of his head. A smile spread across his face. He could finally do it! But then she snapped her foot back down to the ground, spun, and lunged towards him, plunging her fist at his fa-

His knuckles tapped her wrist. Her hand thrust a centimetre away from his ear, splattering the rain that fell beside it. Snapping her fist back, she swung her other fist. Before it could even lurch away from her torso, Edward already rose his other hand to block i-

As soon as he rose that hand up to his face, she yanked her fist back to her torso. It was a fake. None of her fists moved. But his eyes snapped wide when her leg blurred. They spread even wider when a familiar stinging and burning sensation surged up his hips and torso.

He fell to the grass, clutching his crotch and yelling in agony. He thought he’d get used to it, but it hurt even more each time. “That wasn’t fair at all!”

“Stop whining and get up,” she snickered down at him. “Your high agility is the thing that’s truly unfair.”

“Touche.”

They continued training for thirty minutes, and eventually her HP and stamina rose to 100%. By then, he could dodge ten attacks in a row, a few of them being preceded by fakes. Whilst that was an improvement, neither were impressed considering how high his agility stats were. But he kept trying; everyone had to start from somewhere.

So when her HP and stamina rose to 100%, she set off to fight slimes. She started off by running up to a group of trees. He followed her, wondering what she was doing. She then began squeezing and trying to snap one of the thick and long branches.

“What’re you doing?” Edward asked, walking up to her.

She rolled her eyes, still clenching and pushing against the branch. “You didn’t even bother trying to use one of these branches as a weapon?”

“My fists are probably harder than branches by now.”

“Yeah, I know they are now, but before it would’ve been very useful.”

"I had 8 Strength at the beginning. That's 16 times stronger than a regular person in this world, if what you said before was correct. How could a branch help someone like that?"

"Well, not all of us started off with 8 strength. I don't have a Legendary class, remember?" She grimaced down at the branch, strangling it. “Why can’t I snap this thing!?”

“Let me try.” Edward walked up to the branch after she stepped away. He strangled it, grimaced and pushed both sides together, trying to snap it. It bent, but he couldn't break it. He let go of it and quizzically cocked his head at it. “What’s up with this tree?”

“Have you tried breaking any of the trees in this Dream World before?”

“Not really.” He cupped his chin with his palm and pondered. “Actually, I jumped between the trees via the branches quite a lot. And despite some of them being quite thin, I didn’t snap any when I landed on them. They only wobbled.”

“We probably can’t break the trees in this Dream World, then.” She turned away from the trees and glanced around the plains. Focusing on a distant boulder, she jogged towards it.

“What’re you thinking now?”

“Whilst we can’t use the branches as weapons, we could use the rocks.”

“Not a bad idea,” He nodded. “That could actually be useful for you.”

“It’d be useful for you as well.”

“I don’t think it would. I’m at the level of strength now where I could probably crack the rocks with my bare hand-“

“If the branches can’t be snapped, what makes you think the rocks can cracked?”

“I see,” Edward smiled as they reached the boulder. Whilst Charlotte picked up one of the loose rocks, turned it over in her hand, and looked all around it, Edward dropped into a fighting stance in front of the boulder. He swung his fist at it an-

The boulder exploded into thousands of fragments, filling the grass and scattering all across the plains.

He turned and smirked at Charlotte, who flushed, crossed her arms and turned away. “If the branches can’t be snapped, what makes you think the rocks can be cracked?” He said with a smirk and in a high-pitched voice.

A furious vein popped on her forehead. She furrowed her brows at him. She rushed at him, flinging her foot at his cro-

Dropping into his fighting stance, he pivoted to the side, letting her foot splatter the rain in front of him. “You shouldn’t have taught me how to dodge,” He chuckled.

“Who cares about some rocks, anyway?” She growled, snatched a large rock off the floor, kicked at the dirt, and stomped away. “Just go back to cracking the skulls of puppies with your over-sized muscles, and leave me to level up on my own.”

“Wait a second,” Edward walked up to her back and grabbed her shoulder. “I’m not leaving you to hunt slimes on your own.”

“Why?” She glared back at him, shrugging his hand off her shoulder. “I can hunt them on my own, and you’ve got teddie bears to de-capitate.”

“You may have good martial-arts skills, but the plains are still dangerous for a level 1 with stats such as yours. I got ambushed plenty of times whilst training here.”

“Whilst you may be a dumbass, our lives or deaths rest on your shoulders.” She grimaced at the ground. “I have an uncommon class. My levels don’t matter. I don’t want to burden you by keeping you from leveling up. So you should leave. When your HP drops, come find me and we can continue training your martial arts skills. Other than that, there’s not much I can do.”

“Don’t worry about that.” He rested his palm on her shoulder. “The most important thing to me is that you survive. And in order to achieve that, it’s not only me that should get stronger. All of us should be.”

“But you can’t deny that I’m just being a burden.”

“You need to stop saying that kinda stuff.” He grasped her chin and pulled her head around towards his, forcing her to look at his smile. “You’re not being a burden. What I’m doing is entirely selfish. I don’t want to suffer seeing you die, so I’m selfishly demanding you to act against your own wishes. You should try to be a bit more selfish as well. How about that?”

“Selfish was not the way I’d describe you.” She chuckled. “But you’ve done a good job of changing that around now. You really are a devil.” She smiled at him and laughed.

So she let him follow her as she searched for more Level 1 slimes.

Edward stayed with her as she crept into patches of tall grass, sneaked behind Level 1 slimes, hit them three times with a rock, dodge their attacks, and killed them by whacking them another three times.

They did this for an hour, and during which, Edward disposed of a few Level 3, 4, and 5 Slimes, that tried to attack them from behind boulders and trees, convincing Charlotte that him staying with her was a good idea.

Occasionally, Charlotte failed to dodge a Level 1 slime’s attack, and the ambushing Level 3, 4, and 5 slimes would occasionally hit her, causing them to have to spend some time resting and waiting for her HP and stamina to regenerate. During which, Charlotte continued teaching him how to dodge.

After an hour of hunting slimes, resting, and training, Edward could dodge twenty attacks in a row, half of them being preceded by fakes, before getting hit, bringing a smile to his face and Charlotte’s.

She levelled up to Level 2, inspiring them both to jump in the air and punch the rain. But Edward frowned when she told him that the level up only gave her a mere 1 skill point.

Charlotte frowned even deeper, fell to her knees, and punched the grass in frustration. The system was ridiculously unfair. But they had no choice but to live with it. So she put a point into strength, raising it from 6 to 7, and they continued hunting and training.

After five hours of training, Edward could dodge thirty of Charlotte’s attacks, most of them preceded by fakes, before getting hit. By then, Charlotte thought it was time to teach him to punch and kick with proper form.

But he could only land two hits on her during their training, disappointing the both of them. But what disappointed them the most was Edward’s inability to control his strength. After waiting ages for her HP to regenerate, it finally reached 90%, just for Edward to drop it back down to 20% by accidentally hitting her in the face with too much force, bloodying her nose, panicking Edward, and wrinkling her face into a scowl.

But regardless, the five hours of slime hunting ended with smiles. Because she levelled up three times. She placed two points into strength, raising it from 7 to 9, and put one point into agility, raising it from 7 to 8. Once she reached Level 5, she jumped for joy at receiving a new ability. It was called ‘Basic Hunting’.

It was a passive and continuous ability that filled her mind with knowledge relating to hunting. She suddenly knew how to do various basic hunting related things like forage, hunt animals, skin them, and cook them. Feeling his stomach rumble, Edward wondered if that’d come in handy when she eventually began fighting the direwolves and arctotheriums. Charlotte seemed to think similarly, because her stomach growled as she read out her ability’s description and glanced at the Feral Forest in the distance.

But Edward refused to take her there. If a pack of direwolves or an arctotherium ambushed them, he didn’t know if he’d be able to protect her. So Charlotte hesitantly continued hunting slimes.

After another two hours, Edward could dodge forty attacks in a row, all of them being fakes. Charlotte shivered and watched each of Edward’s attacks with wobbling eyes spread wide, but each of Edward’s punches were gentle taps. At one point, he could land ten attacks on her in a row, impressing them both.

She also reached Level 6. She put another point into agility, raising it from 8 to 9. When she got to Level 6, Charlotte insisted he left her to train on her own. Edward’s resistance was weak and quickly crumbled, because he thought she seemed ready to hunt slimes by herself.

“Whilst I wished you left me by myself since the beginning.” She hugged him and smiled up at him. “I appreciate the sentiment, at least. Thanks.”

“No need to thank me.” Edward hugged her back. “Like I said, I’m the devil.”

“Yeah, yeah.” She chuckled and pulled away from him. “You’re even more wretched than Wickancis.”

He pulled away as well and turned to the Feral Forest. “Just make sure to be careful.”

She snorted. “Considering what you said laid within the Feral Forest, that should be my line.”

Edward nodded and shuddered, remembering the burning pain of the direwolve’s claws and the sharp stinging of the arctotherium’s cracking of ribs. But despite those sweat dripping and knees trembling memories, Edward marched into the Feral Forest with a smile on his face. Considering what Charlotte taught him, it wouldn’t be the same as before.

Clenching his fists, he vowed to destroy them.

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A note from Jonsoon

Shoutout to users James Kohos, why_n0t's, and Goat Man for providing constructive criticism and helping me come up with ideas for this chapter! :D


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Jonsoon

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