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A transparent screen suddenly popped into Joe's vision like something out of virtual reality. The shock made him fall backward onto the stone floor with a thump. 'It really is a system,' Joe mused. He tried to grab the screen, but his hand harmlessly passed through the bluish screen.

Around the hall, similar scenes of people gasping in shock were being played out. Looks of amazement and horror could be seen on people's faces, each trying to comprehend what they saw. Joe looked around, but no other screens were visible apart from his own. 'Must be something that only the user can see,' he thought before turning to his own status menu.

Name: Joe Heraldson

Level: 1

Experience Points: 0/350

Race: Human (F)

Grade: Mortal

 

Blessings: Heaven's Chosen

 

Strength: 12

Vitality: 14

Agility: 12

Will: 13

Spirit: 15

 

Free Stats: 0

 

The design felt reminiscent of old-school RPG games. Joe looked over his status in detail. ‘Looks like my stats are relatively straightforward, although not quite sure what Will and Spirit are. Perhaps something similar to Intelligence and Wisdom? I can only assume Vitality is connected to health—strength to power and Agility to speed. No sign of health, mana, or stamina, so I have no idea if this is really like a game or not. Hmm, strength and Agility are my worst stats'. Joe looked down at his large gut and could guess the reason why. He didn't know what Spirit or Will did. 'If it's related to what the Angel did earlier, sign me up,' he thought.

Level and Exp were easy enough to interpret. He had played enough games over the years to guess that level would rise by gaining exp, which would, in turn, lead to additional attribute points. Though, how one acquires exp made him shudder with anxiety. 'If we're going to have to fight demons to earn exp, I'm screwed.'

Looking over the rest of his status did raise a couple of questions. The first was Grade, which was listed as Mortal. Did this represent a tier of power? Race and Blessings were also open question marks. Race defined him as human, which was pretty obvious. Yet the F grade against it left him scratching his head. Did humans have different ranks? What did those ranks do? He also wondered if there were other races out there. That alone would be a huge shock to discover humans were only one of many races out in the universe. Though, the discovery that Angels and Demons existed already proved that fact in hindsight. He couldn't help but notice that there was no line for class. Classes had always been a staple of a typical RPG, along with the classic stat screen. Did that mean classes like warrior, mage, and priest did not exist here?'.

Suddenly, thinking of an idea.

"Blessings," Joe said, hoping for an explanation of at least some of his questions and what they meant. Just as he wished, a new screen popped into his view.

Heavens Chosen: Conscripted to join the glorious armies of Heaven to fight the demon scourge. All stats +5

'Huh,' Joe curiously thought. If Blessings were rewarded for completing a task, other Blessings might be available. +5 to all stats was no small amount, especially when his base stats were so low. Considering this point, he soon realized that his base stats, excluding Spirit, would've all been under 10 before the Blessing kicked in.

"If base stats were 10 across the board, then my starting point is way below average. I need to find some way to survive this place." Joe muttered with apprehension. Those beings the Angel showed them were no joke. How was an overweight nerd like himself meant to survive the horrors waiting for them?

Joe quickly tried calling out the other terms from his status menu without success, causing his brows to crease in frustration. The system didn't provide any additional information apart from the simple status menu, leaving Joe with many unanswered questions. Over two minutes had passed since the Angel last spoke. It continued to hover above the crowd in complete stillness and majesty. Joe was tempted to call out and ask it questions but dreaded the consequences of angering it. Luckily, he wasn't the only one with such thoughts.

A suave-looking older man around 60 years old walked out from the crowd and approached the Angel. "Holy one, please, I have a company, employees, and family who depend on me. War is something for the younger generation. Surely there must be a mistake?" He expounded with his head lowered in subservience.

Joe's face scrunched up at the older man's comments. He was pretty bold to call out the injustice. Joe could respect that. Yet he frowned when he heard the man's argument. Did being a CEO make him more valuable than others? Don't other people here also have families? The man was some distance away, but Joe could see that he wore a nice three-piece suit with dress shoes. Not ideal for entering a life or death situation, but still better than what Joe was wearing, with only his brown-colored towel to keep his dignity intact.

The Angel directed his gaze towards the older man causing him to flinch back in fear. The Angel's expression, hidden behind its gold helmet, seemed to smirk as though laughing at the idea that being a CEO would be enough to persuade an Angel that his life was more important than the fate of the Heavens itself.

"Child, all here are equal under the eyes of Heaven. The Gods are merciful and have given you the strength to fight, regardless of age or gender." Ieshim responded with a gentle but commanding voice.

The older man stood there in hesitation, clearly wanting to argue at the unfairness. He wasn't wrong. Many here had families, wives, husbands, children, parents. None of whom they would see again if they were sent to war. Even Joe couldn't help thinking about his parents and younger brother. He hoped none of them had also been caught up in the machinations of the "so-called" Heavens.

"This isn't right. You can't do this '. The older man's outburst shocked Joe and those around him. Many slowly began to inch away, fear of suffering any repercussions. However, a few others in the crowd nodded and joined in, demanding to be sent home. Even the pious seemed unsure at being sent off to fight in a death tower.

"Enough!" Ieshim flicked his wrist, causing a strong spiritual pressure to spread across the hall. Those yelling fell to the floor, unable to move or speak. Those unaffected like Joe could sense a foreboding force around them, threatening to crush him the moment he rebelled.

"Heaven's will is absolute! While the Gods are merciful, I am not. You do not wish to test my patience." Ieshims deep voice reverberated across the hall with divine might.

Ieshim hovered above in absolute dominance, ensuring his point had been made. With another flick of his wrist, the pressure was gone. The older man lay on the floor. His brows were dripping with sweat. Realizing the Angel meant business, he scrambled back into the crowd with his head down, unwilling to further argue his case. It wasn't hard to blame him.

Ieshim continued his sermon. "Now… let us continue. The heavens have seen fit to bless each of you with three gifts. The first is Heavens Mark, providing you the system to interact with the Heavens and control your fate.

The second, Heaven's Chosen, is a blessing that the Gods have gifted to help you overcome the challenges you are about to face. Those who complete incredible feats will have the opportunity to obtain more blessings in the future.

Finally, the Divine Shop is a store unique to the Empyrean Tower. The shop will provide you with the skills, clothes, and tools needed to survive the Tower. You will have the chance to access the store while here in the Halls of Beginnings and at later points in the Tower."

The chance to potentially buy some clothes was music to Joe's ears. The feeling of cold hard stone against his feet was already causing him to grab his arms to stop shivering. However, while tools were self-explanatory, what incited greater excitement among the younger members of the crowd was the mention of skills. Most had played enough games and read enough books to know what magical skills were. How there was such a close connection between Earth's culture and Heaven's system was a question Joe pushed to the back of his mind for a later time.

"To access the store, you only need to place your hand on one of the altars located around the hall. The altars are interfaces that give you access to the store. To purchase anything, you must use Divine Points. You have already received Divine points based on Heaven's assessment of your potential and life achievements. Consider this recompense for the task heaven has set you. You may view your points when using the store. Do not fear! You will all have the opportunity to earn more as you progress through the Tower."

Everyone looked toward the statues and altars. The set-up finally made some semblance of sense. Many had looks of anticipation and excitement. Perhaps the concept of shopping brought a sense of normalcy. After all, who didn't love shopping for superpowers.

"Be aware that the divine shop is only accessible in the Tower. Once you leave, you will need to find your own opportunities to grow, " The Angels' last warning brought everyone back from their reverie. Joe clenched his fists, making a silent promise that he wouldn't die in this place. He had a home and family to get back to.

"Once you are ready, you will find three gates at the end of the hall that will lead you into the Tower. Each gate will take you across floors with varying levels of difficulty. The blue portal level is normal, the red portal level is hard, and finally, black is Impossible. I strongly advise you to consider carefully should you choose to select the black portal. Hubris can lead to one's destruction if left unchecked. If you wish to know more, reach the 4th floor of the Tower. All will be made clear to you then."

"—my final word of advice. Remember! Only the truly virtuous will walk the path of ascension."

With his speech given, the air around the Ieshim twisted, inducing a gust of wind that blew across the hall. Light engulfed the Angel, and just as soon as he had arrived, he was gone.

The departure of the Angel caused the room to burst into a flurry of activity. Many stood still, transfixed by the reality that they were stuck in a tower of death, others by the fact that they had just met a God-like being. The only truth they knew for sure was that this was all to prepare for war beyond biblical proportion.

Joe wasted no time marching towards a statue where the closest altar was located. Hopes of learning more, or at least being able to buy a pair of pants, drove him forward with zeal. If he had to be pitted against nightmarish creatures, he would at least be fully clothed. Many others, having the same idea, began to make their way to the various altars located around the hall. There must have been over a thousand humans packed into the hall. The rush of activity gave off a similar vibe to a store during Black Friday.

Joe soon found himself at the base of a statue. The statue depicted a man in full armor, equipped with a mighty shield and spear, kneeling in subservience to the heavens. Joe could only guess these statues were placed here to inspire awe and a sense of piousness into the new recruits.

After spending a second admiring the sculpture, Joe queued up behind a few others that had also decided to benefit from a first-mover advantage.

A kid around 18 years in age walked up and placed his hand on the altar. Joe recognized another gamer when he saw one.

The kid buzzed with excitement at the prospect of becoming a mighty protagonist, slaying demons for lunch, and saving the world by dinner. As for Joe, no, thank you, he knew enough about reality to know that even a simple bullet could put an end to any self-respecting hero. His first and foremost priority would be survivability.

The moment the young man placed his hand on the altar, a pulse of light materialized around him causing him to disappear as if he had been vaporized.

The same scene occurred across the hall as individuals touched the altar and disappeared in a flash of white. People gasped in shock, but eventually everyone gathered their resolve and followed behind.

Soon, it was finally Joe's turn to approach the pedestal. Rubbing his sweaty palms on his towel, Joe walked up to the altar and placed his hand on the crystals surface. At fist, nothing happened until suddenly Joe heard a voice in his head.

‘Ding’ ‘Do you wish to enter the Divine Store’

'Yes,' The second he responded, the world around him abruptly went dark.

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DA_Origins

Bio: Welcome potential reader. Let me introduce myself. I am DA Origins (DAO) for short. If you saw the connection then congratulations, you are a true aficionado like myself. I’m a long time reader and lurker turned aspiring author. My dream is to create a story that pulls people in, taking them on a journey that leaves them wanting more. Come check my story out

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Alt41 ago

Edit suggestions:

Must be something that only the user can only see,'

PistolWords ago

i don't remember ever reading a Litrpg where the protag was fat. Average weight or a bit chunby, yeah but def not 200lb. interesting...

Chabu ago

Like, surviving a couple of potentially lethal robberies, plus having a high education should yield a decent amount of points.

Lord Rune ago

Emm i hope he isn't overwhelmingly underpowered with like 23 points that would be disappointing

Aerilo ago

It's a bit offsetting that the angel kept them there under the pretext that all are equal, and then later said that points were given out based on some assessment, but it's probably still too early to judge.

    VoidAutarch ago

    The hypocrisy of the angel was too self evident. No divine beings that wish to inspire piousness from the mortal population would act like this angel/ Besides conscripting people is something i thought demons or devils would do rather than angels. Looks like we have a bunch of self righteous heavenly beings with all the wordly desires any mortal would have and now they're abusing their power and status to force unwilling people to fight their war. Additionally calling everyone equal under heaven and then not a having everyone having the same starting point. Its kind of a turn off. I was looking forward to an angel requesting aid from mortals and also assuring those selected that thier families would be safe. That would have made things more palatable .

Skoonting ago

Edit suggestions:

Holy one, Pplease, I have a company

Heaven's Chosen: Conscripted to join the (speaking of which, your chapter title is incorrect)

The first is Heaven's Mark

Reaper Hex ago

There is quite a few logic holes with all this but I'm going to read past it because it won't matter in a few chapters anyways.

    VoidAutarch ago

    Indeed , there is too much hypocrisy here considering the developments in this chapter. Heaven's will is absolute lol. You are just turning mortals into fodder so that you self righteous pricks sitting up above all high and mighty can take a break. There is nothing about folks being equally treated under the heavens when a good chunk of the people there are starting with lower points. What more amazing about the folks conscripted here is that they haven't thrown any significant tantrum despite getting this sort of garbage treatment from the heavens. Am i the only one who wants to see this leshim's tushy spanked super hard and then thrown right in front of the very demons he conscripting people to fight. I mean he's already talking how many will survive and how many will die ? Is that something denizens of the heavens should even be doing ? All i see heaven being run by a bunch of capitalist heavenly pricks. They certainly don't look like worship material to me. It might be hard to root for the heavens here. Although the demons are worse alternative inspite of heaven's hypocrisy. What do you think ?

      Reaper Hex ago

      That's also assuming anything the angel said was the truth. All we know for certain is they have done it many times and a lot die. For all they know demons could be the good guys or at the very least it's only a partial truth and both sides are evil. It wouldn't be very surprising if the immortals on both sides abducted and conscripted people to fight as proxies in their war treating them like game pieces. It would partially explain the lack of information or training given before they get thrown into the meat grinder. The tower could also be some entertainment before getting shipped off to war. That might explain why random people are chosen instead of fighters and they are given different points as well.

      VoidAutarch ago

      That does make a whole lot of sense . I did like to see a vengeance arc against both the demons and the heavens by the very unwilling mortals they kidnapped and conscripted while smirking all the way..  It would do well for both sides on how to treat people properly and learn humility in the process . Also leshim just might not actually be all that strong in the long term considering he always stays cooped up in there being condescending and nasty fo all the mortals . He did say only the most virtuous can ascend.  Talk about uttering nonsense 🙄  The angel needs to look at itself in the mirror before talking crap to the mortals. 

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