Month: February 2020 (Page 2 of 2)

Chapter 3: I’m in a New World… What Is This Place?

On instinct I bring up my card stack—the seven Destiny Card slots that make up the whole of my combat ability.

I draw my new short sword from my inventory card and raise it in a defensive position. All of that in less than two seconds. But I have no time to waste. The Goddess has sent me to a new world, and nearly everyone around me is armed.


None of them are even looking in my direction.

Just within striking distance are a dozen warriors with oversized swords sheathed at their backs. Some of them in full armor, even.

But despite my sudden appearance into this world, they hadn’t even taken notice. I’m not a threat. I’m… less than nothing.

A D-Rank [Adventurer] must be nothing here.

And… I check my HUD just to be sure, and yes. I’m still the same rank, with the same stats, and still level 17. Despite everything The Goddess told me, I wasn’t reset, and my system wasn’t changed.

She said there was some sort of error, some sort of mess-up. Perhaps that was it?

Well… I don’t see any kaiju yet. No giant monsters of any sort. Just hundreds of people wandering around this large, ornate hall.

Most of them seem perfectly average, mostly human and mostly devoid of any obvious threat. Many sport fashion styles I have never seen in my life. What a strange new world this must be.

Their hair colors, too… Those are very odd. Some are various shades of brown and blonde and black. But other humans have blue hair. Green hair. I’ve never encountered such shades on a person before. These humans, these with the interesting hair colors, are the ones most likely to have a weapon on hand.

Perhaps this world has a ranking system where hair color determines one’s power. More natural hair colors are a reflection of average power. Or, even, natural hair color indicates that one has not yet accepted the system within oneself. And these red, yellow-haired humans are quite possibly the higher castes, the most powerful of the bunch.

But then that would not explain why they do not even seem to perceive I exist. My hair is pink, a far cry from anything else you’d find in Mystix, at least. My sword is drawn, still in a defensive position just in case someone attacks, but it genuinely seems like they do not consider me worth a glance.

I’m so weak I’m not even someone they will look at. I’m an ant among Gods.

The Goddess must have sent me here because she knew this would be the perfect place for me to improve. I can become more powerful and rank up by consorting with the best of the best. I have so much to improve on, so far to go, and every single person around me is a shining example of where I can be.

I keep my pose steady, but I lower my guard mentally. It appears to be safe. And if not, my instincts can keep me from an instant death, if that death is something someone as weak as me could ever prevent.

Up above, hanging from the ceiling so far away, is a large banner with the image of a large-breasted woman with yellow hair and a sword. That would indicate to me that my assumption about hair color status is correct. They revere, perhaps even worship these people.

I see a bright flash for a moment, and then I see someone holding a strange square device in their hands. They, too, have odd-colored hair, an aquamarine, and two yellow horns on their head. Not a human, but close.

“Sorry about that. Your costume is really nice,” they tell me. “Did you make it yourself?”

I don’t know how to respond to something like that. Is there even a satisfactory way to do so?

But… this person here is the first one to speak to me. Perhaps I can extract some info out of them.

“Might I inquire some information from you?” I ask.

“Oh, sure.” The way they flicker their eyes at me makes me think they hold some interest over me. My [Charisma] stat is not high, but I may be lucky here.

“What is the name of this world?” A simple question, for the beginning. “I only just arrived, you see.”

“Oh, great. A roleplayer.” Their expression flattens and they turn around to leave without answering even my very basic inquiry.

Perhaps this world is going to be tougher to enter into than I thought.

I lower my sword and begin surveying the area. This hall is gigantic, almost endless, and there are people everywhere. The floor is carpeted, there are magical self-moving stairs to a second floor, there are large contraptions that vend food and drink set up throughout the room; it is some of the most robust, exquisite design I have ever encountered. Wherever I have been sent, it is somewhere far beyond my standard of living. I’m almost overwhelmed.

But just beyond this hall is a room filled with flashing images against boxes that look similar to The Goddess’s head. People are gathered around them and cheering.

On one of these moving picture paintings are two characters fighting in some sort of duel, hitting each other with punches and magical blasts. Every blow, the crowd of people—mostly men—gives an upracious applause. Every block, and there’s reactions so visceral they almost seem like they themselves are being hurt.

“Get’em!” one man shouts.

How one can watch a moving painting with such interest… Not that I have ever seen a moving painting in my life, so this is something wondrous to me, but surely they are seeing something that has long since been etched into the annals of history. Art is meant to be studied and appreciated, not to be rallied with and roused by.

And then one of the two characters falls to the ground and a voice not unlike The Goddess’s herself shouts “Victory!”

A man in the front of the crowd stands up, throws some object in his hands to the side, and poses. The crowd acts like one would in a public execution. It makes no sense.

Is this going to be a battle of some sort?

Have I walked into war preparations for some clan of rich and wealthy warriors who hardly acknowledge my presence for how weak I am?

If they discover me and decide they don’t like me… I may be hopeless.

I have to check my Destiny Cards, just to see what exactly I could do.

Out of my seven card slots, one is empty, unfilled after I used my [Blinding Rush] skill to save those children back in Bellatrix.

Three skill cards I do have, though:

Energy Sword: Rank 2. Summon a temporary lightning sword that lasts for five minutes. Cost: 160 LP.
Minor Heal: Rank 2. Gain 1,000 LP. Cost: 0 LP.
Super Hearing: Rank 1. Increase sonic perception abilities dramatically for five minutes. Cost: 70 LP.

None of them are anything special enough for me to win in a fight or anything, but… in an emergency, I could survive.

Then my three inventory cards— One empty, one with a bow and arrows, and one with a rucksack of monster loot.

Oh… Oh my. Malia, Borguk, and the others… They won’t even know I’m dead if my body’s no longer around. They’ll just think I abandoned them for greener pastures and took their loot for myself.

Well, I’m done with that world. Even if Malia and I… There’s no looking back now. My Destiny is this new world.

And as for Destiny, I now must consider what to do about this crowd. It’s growing more wild by the second, and I don’t have the cards necessary to fend them off. Even if I used them, it’s a one-time only deal. They’ll disappear for good and leave me that much more vulnerable. I could draw another one from the Destiny Deck, but… Should I risk it?

I have twenty Destiny Points. Wait— no, it’s twenty-three now. I guess I did some good [Adventure]ing these past few minutes. So close to a level-up, though… Should I spend the DP now and hope for a good card?

Hmmm… I’ll put it off for later, because it looks like the man in front of the crowd is being greeted by another man in a ridiculous getup, dressed in a hood of sorts, but only the top half. What is he, a half-monk?

“That was a great match, wasn’t it everyone?” The hood-wearing man asks.

A roar of applause.

“And now we have a new winner. The Comic Festivalia Grand Champion: Rick McAllister!”

The other man, presumably this Rick McAllister man, dances like a fool in front of everyone. The moving painting behind them is still flashing the word “Victory!” in a stasis.

It seems like any moment, the crowd could erupt into some insane act of violence. I’m practically terrified. And yet—

A soothing sight graces my eyeballs.

I see a heavy-set man across the room, part of the excited crowed. There is precisely one thing that gives my heart an absolute explosion of joy.

Pink hair. Bright as the dew on a haven root stem.

Before I can even think about it, I am already dashing his way.

“My brother!” I shout. Another North Spiran, here! Another one of my people reincarnated in this same world!

He notices me, turns his head.

And then…

I see it.

A shocked expression on his face— and brown eyes.

What kind of sick, twisted world is this?

Chapter 2: My Life After Death

First, all white.

Then it fades into gray, then black.

Another flash—

And it goes white once again.

But a figure stands before me.

A pink figure. As bright as my hair, its eyes as glowing as mine.

A pink figure that looks like some sort of mechanical dwarven contraption, with a cube-shaped head with a blank black slab where its face should be.

I’m dead, aren’t I? Yes, that’s right. I was hit by a carriage trying to save those children, and now I’m in a Hell. Which one, though, I’m still not quite sure.

The blank black slab flickers, with shiny pink lights glowing in the shape of eyes and a mouth. This figure has seemingly grown a face out of nowhere.

“Mmmmm….” the figure groans with a strange, unnatural voice, one I can hardly even describe. Muffled like a golem’s, but vibrant like a human’s. It sounds like a strange creature waking from a deep slumber.

The figure’s glowing eyes look me up and down. Then I hear the voice again, deep and broad: “Huh? I ain’t pencil anyone in for today. Go home…”

“Excuse me. What’s happening here?” I ask.

The scene around me, stark white in all directions, seems to broaden at the edges, expanding into an even more endless blank land. The figure, without moving, gets further and further away, until they are but a blip.

“Go home. I’m sleepy today.”

“Is this a Hell?” I ask. “Is this the punishment that The Goddess has handed down?”

Suddenly, the figure and their bright pink eyes appear again right in front of me. “Oh, you died? I thought you were… OHHHHHH, I see.”

“You… see?”

The figure slaps themself on the head. “D’oh. I’m a right moron sometimes. You must be… Let me pull up the data… Ah, you’re Eryk Solbourne. You went and died, didn’t you?”

“I believe so.”

“Well, that was silly. Hit by a carriage? What kind of hero dies like that?”

“I’m… only a D-Rank hero. I’m nothing special.”

The figure tilts their head to the side. “…Remind me which world you come from?”

“We call the world Mystix, in my land. I come from North Spire, a valley filled with massive rock formations that are good for farming. My people are isolated and distinct, because of our pink hair and—”

“Ah, yeah, y’all are the Chosen Ones of Mystix. That’s the one with the Destiny Cards or all that malarkey? Oh yeah, you got yourself six cards on you now. Neat.”

“I’m sorry if I sound rude,” I say, “but could I ask you who you are?”

“Oh, I’m being mighty rude, ain’t I? My name is The Goddess. You can call me The Goddess.”

“The Goddess? That’s you?”

“Who else’d it be? The white space around us?”

“Well, I just thought that The Goddess would be, um…”


“I thought The Goddess was a woman. Hence the name…”

The Goddess raises both fists in a threatening motion. “Hey, now! I’m just as woman as woman gets!”

“Oh, I thought from your voice…”

“Tread carefully, Eryk.”

Foolishly, I add, “And your body isn’t exactly curvaceous or anything.”

“I’m fixing to wear you out! I’m a robot! I have the default settings!”

I have absolutely no clue what she is trying to tell me, but I apologize to The Goddess and she moves on. Whatever in the Hells is a robot? She never explains it.

“Oh, bless your heart,” The Goddess says to me. “I didn’t even know you was coming to visit me today. You caught me all off-guard and such. Sorry about that.”

“That’s fine, but why am I here? What is this?”

She laughs, her voice still strange and unpleasant to me. “I’m fixing to decide the fate of one Eryk Solbourne, that’s what this is.”

“My fate? Which Hell I will be sorted into?”

“Oh, no, sweetie pie. All y’all get reincarnated after you die. Hells ain’t a thing.”

“So my entire belief system about the afterlife is a lie.”

“Might could be. What was your belief system in, uh, Mystwhat’sit?”

“All beings on Mystix are taught that the world is divided into six planes of existence, each of them ruled by The Goddess and each with its own specific purpose. Our world is the fifth plane, the highest order before the heavens, and when we die, we go to the fourth, where each person is sorted into a Hell that is befitting of the path we took in our lives. Our Destinies are ours to control, but we also must follow the Heart of the Cards. And when we accept the system into our body we—”

“You’ve done gone and bored me. I can’t handle this. Just listen. Y’all die, then y’all go to a new life in a new world where y’all can get more powerful and hopefully a bit wiser too. If you was strong, you go to a world to help you learn stuffs. If you was smart, you go to a world to help you get stronger. All depends on what you wanted and what you needed.”

“So the Hells were just different worlds all along…”

“Uh, maybe. I don’t know.”

“So what world will I go to? Will I be able to rank up to become an S-Rank Hero? It’s been my dream ever since North Spire was attacked by—”

“Oh, yeah, you’re one of them Chosen People. Pink hair and pink eyes. Means you have a different path. Guess that’s why I gotta handle you myself. A touch odd, but that’s alright. So, tell me, you wanna work as an angel?”

“An… angel? What’s an angel?”

“Fly around with wings and all that, help me out, be a messenger to the heathens below, organize my files? Like a secretary with magic. Not real fun, but that’s what Chosen Peoples are supposed to do.”

I don’t understand, but this doesn’t sound like I’m going to be getting any stronger. All this because I’m a “chosen person?” This is not at all what I want. What in the Hells is The Goddess trying to pull? I start to back up and figure out how to get out of here, or if I even can.

But I’m dead. Where do I have to go, anyway?

She notices me trying to escape her grasp and shakes her head. “Not possible. Sorry. It’s a right sorry path, but that’s what y’all are for. It’s in your heart of cards or whatever. Be my angel.”

“I… I can’t! I need to become stronger. I need to become an S-Rank Hero.”

“What does that even mean?”


The Goddess shrugs. “I created y’all for a reason. To live a fulfilling life of boring nothingness so you can prepare for a new life helping me out with the multiverse. Ain’t so hard to understand, right? Or maybe it was, if you were a dumb yahoo out in the sticks.”

“Multiverse…?” I shake off the terminology she keeps throwing around to try and confuse me and focus myself. “No. I don’t want any part of your help. I want to be reborn in a new world where I can become a hero and get strong enough to prove myself. I need to be the strongest!”


“Because that’s what I want to achieve!”

“Fair enough. Okay. I’ll do it.”

“No! You don’t understand. It’s been my—Okay? Oh. Well, uh, thanks.”

“Yeah, sure. I created your entire race for the sole purpose of helping me, but it ain’t like a single one of y’all’s ever accepted my offer. Not once.” Her glowing smile turns into a deep frown. “So you wanna be stronger? The strongest? Let me find a world in need…”

She waves her fingers around and a large array of images pop up around us, showing dozens, maybe even a hundred different worlds. I see armies of orcs and humans doing battle. A group of women standing before a multi-colored orb. A young human fighting more strange “robots,” the human with a bored expression on their face. A snowy mountain with bug-like creatures attacking an elf and his companion. Giant cylindrical structures dotting an empty planet. Floating sky ships with armored werewolves pursuing a large flying creature. Any one of these I could end up in. Any one of these could be my new home.

Wow. For all my life, I thought that Mystix was my ultimate home. A place where the system controlled all except the fate of our Destinies. Now I know it’s just one small part in a vast stream of a “multiverse.” Whatever this could be, I don’t know if I want to know more. But I definitely want to become stronger.

“Ah, here’s one that might be a good fit,” The Goddess says, finally.

“A world for me?”

“Yes. Desgination-XJ55-C, as I call it. It too has a system, one you might find interesting. I designed it myself, after all. It’s a world filled with huge monsters known as kaiju. The various smaller races coexist with them, but their lives are often threatened, so they live in towering caravans of moving cities that walk the planet. The only way to truly win is, of course, to destroy the kaiju before they consume all the resources on the planet and wipe out all life. But the only way to do that is for the strongest heroes to band together, level up, and take them down.”

“That sounds amazing,” I say. “But will all of my progress on Mystix be reset? Will it carry over?”

“Designation-XJ55-C has a completely different system, so yes, you’d be back at Rank One or whatever it is you call it.”

“Rank F.”

“Okay. ‘Rank F.’ Either way, this new world operates on the laws of conservation on a more strict level. All magic is pooled in a finite resource, except for in the kaiju, who are the only ones who create new magic, but they also destroy more than they create, lately. The humans and kells and gorgons all have to level up to get stronger, but as each person dies, the total amount of magic available is lost forever, unless you kill or capture a kaiju. So yeah.”

“Can I go?”

“Yep. I’m fixing to send you there right now. I wanna get back to sleeping.”

My heart races. “I’m so nervous. I’ve never been reborn before.”

“Sure you have. You just don’t remember it.”

“Wait—I’ll lose my memories? So nothing I did in my previous life mattered at all? So I won’t be able to continue my path to becoming the strongest?”

The Goddess stares at me for a good ten, fifteen seconds in silence. She waves her fingers again, and then the images around us disappear. In its place, a magical portal, swirling with blue energy, forms beside us.

“You drive a hard bargain, Eryk Solbourne,” The Goddess says. “But you know what? I like you. I’ll give you a trigger to unlock your memories again once you reach a certain level. You’ll remember this conversation and suddenly the rest of your life will change. All I have to do is seal them away with a press of this button.”

She points in the air, poking some invisible switch, and then her face disappears for a moment.

“This… button.”

Nothing happens.

Her face reappears and now looks significantly more panicked. “Shiiiiiiiit!” Shit! Shit! Shit! That’s not the right one!”


“I forgot how to switch the world portals! How do I even do that? Agh, curse my stupid memory!”

“Wh… What?”

“No, no no no… The portal’s going to close automatically in like thirty seconds. Eryk, you have to enter or else you’ll be stuck in this room with me for like, six years. Hurry!”


“No time to explain! I messed up and everything’s going to go to shit. Plan’s changed.”

Without any further warning, she shoves me into the portal.

The room of white is replaced by flashing blue and black going faster than I could have ever imagined.

I’m about to be reborn.

But… I have a very bad feeling about what’s coming next.

And that feeling is confirmed about eight seconds later when I appear on the other side of the portal— surrounded by hundreds of people on all sides.

And most of them are holding weapons.

Chapter 1: Against a Necromancer

I trip and fall backwards, right on my ass.

But my grip on my sword is still tight as ever. It’s a death grip on the only thing keeping me from death. And when I look up, it appears everything I did was exactly as planned–

The snarl-hound splits in half at the torso and falls to the ground in two pieces.

It takes me a minute to catch my breath before I can finally drop my sword and let out a massive sigh.

A familiar ding goes off. Another Destiny Point in the bank.

I look around me and see the battle dying down. The other snarl-hounds are being chased away, while the necromancer’s horde has mostly been vanquished. Borguk is still tangling with a skeleton mauler, but Malia has already lowered her bow and the others have similarly relaxed.

Malia herself rushes over to me and withdraws a healing potion from her inventory, but I push it away before she can pour it on me.

“I’m alright,” I say. “I’ve still got eight thousand LP.”

She looks at me with those hazy elven eyes, some mixture of sadness and relief, and helps me back on my feet. “I’m glad you’re okay, Eryk,” she says.

I pick my sword back up and poof it back into my third inventory slot. I won’t be needing that the rest of the day. Hopefully.

The battle ends the moment the necromancer’s body fades into ashes… and the moment the smell of his flesh hits my nose.

“Dear Goddess,” I mutter. “Couldn’t you warn us before you do that?”

Our impish former Demon Queen, Miss M, giggles like a farm girl. “It would not be an iota as fun if I did not have an element of pain to inflict on all around me.”

“Why do we keep her around…?” Thalia still over to the side of the arena reading from her spell book, asks.

I shrug. “She did kill the necromancer. Didn’t you, Miss M?” I lean down and pinch her on the cheek. She bites my hand.


That actually cost me 3 LP. That actually physically hurt me enough to drain my Life Points.

I guess I’ve learned never to tease a demon queen, even if she’s three feet tall at the moment…

Well, it doesn’t take long for us to wrap things up here in the dungeon arena. Borguk loots through the dead bodies for scraps to sell, while Thalia seals the mana traps off. Malia and I discuss how things went, while Miss M tries to butt in on our conversation at any given moment.

It’s been a great life for me here with Team Fanghook. Two years spent with my four teammates, traveling the Great Continents and raiding any dungeon that looks promising. We’ve fought pirates, captured giant beasts, settled political disputes… It’s all been a really fun time.

Really fun, but… Why am I still here?

Not “here” as in this necromancer’s lair. Team Fanghook came here to assassinate the resident rogue mage who has been causing a ruckus in the nearby towns with his skeleton hordes, and by the looks of the arena here, we did a pretty bang-up job.

“Here” as in, why am I still such a lowly member of the Adventurer’s Guild, working on minor cases of mercenary action as a D-Rank [Adventurer], instead of performing true heroism to save the world?

Seemingly sensing my thoughts just through my expression, Malia puts a hand on my shoulder and gives me another one of those trademark mixed expressions. “You did a good job today,” she reassures.

“I literally fell on my ass,” I say.

“You’re getting better every day. What’s your level now?”


“You’ll rank up in no time,” Malia says. She lets go of my shoulder and poofs out a large, overfilled rucksack from her inventory. “Help me set up camp, will you?”

“We’re not leaving to collect the bounty?”

Malia keeps her smile, but her pointed ears droop ever so slightly. “Let’s let Borguk tell us about it later.”

I look over to Borguk, still wrestling his meaty green arms all over every single downed skeleton in the lair. Then I look back at Malia. “Alright.”


With a campfire started and the tents set up, Team Fanghook takes a short rest deep in the necromancer’s dungeon lair.

Borguk, never one to waste an opportunity for his old [Chef] class abilities to shine, is cooking the remains of each and every slain snarl-hound. I’ve never really considered chowing down on a ravenous oversized wolf beast before, but it turns out snarl-hounds are a fairly decent meal when you need it to be. It is not too far from venison.

Malia sits down next to me with a whole chunk of meat on a stick in her hand. She scoots up close to me and brushes her hip against mine. Elves can come across cold, they say, but Malia’s got little but warmth, in my experience. I scoot even closer in return, so now our shoulders rub up against each other.

Off to the side in our smallest tent, Miss M snores loudly. Poor girl’s got to go to sleep early. She tires very easily, even if she’s supposedly a three thousand year old demon queen–imp bodies have a very fast metabolism.

Borguk finishes roasting a snarl-hound torso and takes the whole thing himself. He sits down next to Thalia (who is still reading her spell book rather than eating) and bites in. It does appear he is eating the entire thing himself. That would have shocked me just two years ago. But then again, we don’t have orcs where I’m from.

“So, Borguk,” I say. “I liked the way you clobbered that Mawstopper earlier. Is that a new technique?”

He flashes a grin with his meat-filled teeth, and proceeds to say, “Hells yeah it is. I call it the ‘Clean Kick Stomp.'”

“Perhaps you should reconsider the name,” I say.

Malia’s silent thanks to chewing through a chunk of snarl-hound, but I can tell she wants to say something. She looks at me like I should know what–ah, yes.

I turn again to Borguk and ask, “So, you have some explanation for why we’re not returning to town yet?”

He trades glances with Malia, and then with Thalia, who manages to lift her gaze from the page just long enough to shift her glasses and stare at me.

“Eryk,” Borguk begins. “We’ve found clues that this lair goes deeper than this floor. Even deeper than anywhere we’ve been since Team Fanghook was founded.”

“We’re already sixteen floors deep…”

“Exactly.” He finishes his bite of snarl-hound and places the meat to the side. “We think this lair has a dragon at the bottom. A Maw Dragon, to be precise.”

I gasp.

He continues. “We don’t know any of this for sure, but if find some secret door on this floor, we’re going to keep going all the way to the bottom. And…”

Malia swallows and puts her hand on my lap, like she’s trying to win me over for something. “You’ve been really great on our team, Eryk. Truly.”


“If we find a secret door and descend further in the lair,” Borgurk says, “We want you to return to town without us. Take all the loot and cash in our quest with the guild authorities.”

…What? “…What?”

“It’s a group decision,” Malia says. “You’re a valuable ally, but you’re still a D-rank [Adventurer.] You don’t have the skills or abilities we need to fight a Maw Dragon. You’ll just get yourself hurt, and we can’t have that.”

“But… we’re Team Fanghook!” I exclaim. “We don’t split the party. We know never to split the party.”

“We can’t let a Maw Dragon roam free, if it exists,” Bogurk says, “But we can’t let you anywhere near a monster that dangerous. There will be no further discussion.”

I try to respond–

But nothing comes out.

The words don’t find themselves.

I sit by the campfire and continue to eat. The rest of the team chats idly about battle strategy and Thalia trades barbs with a newly-awake Miss M, but I remain silent for the rest of the evening.


Malia lays her head against me and runs her fingers through my chest hair. I hold her bare back in my arms and feel her steady breaths.

With the fire doused, the lair has already gotten quite cold. The blankets are barely enough to tide us over–our shared body heat must do the rest.

“How many Destiny Points do you have now, Eryk?” Malia asks me.

“Let me check.” With Malia’s beautiful face in my view, I pull up the HUD to my system interface and find the DP icon at the top right corner of my line of sight. “Twenty.”

“Five away from a level-up,” she says. “Isn’t that nice?”

“Unless I spend the DP on more card pulls.”

“You and your card hunting… You know, you’d be a B-rank by now if you just spent your DP more wisely.”

“I’d be the weakest B-rank [Adventurer] North Spire ever produced, that’s for sure,” I say. I pull up my stat sheet and look at my current stats:


“Do you think someone who spends their Destiny Points badly would have a [Power] stat of 46? Do you?”

Malia laughs. “I just don’t understand that… How in the Goddess’s name could you have gotten such a stupidly lopsided skill chart?”

“I’m still at 5 for my [Speed] stat, even after two whole years…”

“Well, don’t worry about that,” Malia says. “I joined the system sixty-eight years ago. It took until six years ago for my [Charm] stat to pass 20. Some people grow differently. And after Rank C, things really speed up. You’ll be fine.”

“How… old are you, again?” I ask. “Is that a rude question?”

“For humans, perhaps.” Malia raises her head from my chest and kisses my cheek. “I am one hundred and three. That puts me at about forty in your human lifespan, doesn’t it?”

“I was never good at math.”

“No, you pink-haired fools never are. You just know all about eating strange roots and farming on giant rocks.”

“You have summed up the North Spire better than I ever could have…”

Malia and I lay together for a while longer before we fall asleep.

We never broach the topic of my returning to town. We don’t want to get into a fight in the middle of a quest.


The sun hits my eyes for the first time in a day and a half, and for a moment I truly think I’ve gone blind this time. What a painful sensation!

Well, I’ve escaped the necromancer’s lair.

The others found a secret door, indeed. From Thalia’s best estimates, there are thirty-six sub-floors to this dungeon, and the chances of a Maw Dragon are close to a hundred percent.

Without any further argument, I took our loot and returned to the surface. It’s all I’m good for so far, I guess.

I’ve killed more monsters, felled more goblins, pacified more barbarian camps than any kid from North Spire ever could have hoped to do, but I’m still a D-rank [Adventurer] with weak stats. I’m still not good enough.

When the Slayers attacked North Spire all those years ago, I swore to myself, to the Goddess herself, that I would avenge my friends and neighbors who died that day. I would become the strongest hero that the Mystix had ever seen. The first S-Rank hero in a millennium.

The day I accepted the system and began to level up, I started on that journey.

And I’m still in that journey’s prologue, I think…

I walk back to town–not sure what the town is called, just that it’s the ones that hired us out for this necromancer mission–and return the necromancer’s soul gem to the Adventurer’s Guild branch office.

“Quest cleared,” the secretary says. “But where’s your friends?”

“They’re going deeper into the lair. They think there could be more, um, treasure.” I’m not sure if they’d like to keep it a secret that there is probably a Maw Dragon at the bottom, in case word leaks and a whole war party descends to try and farm DP off the battle. Treasure isn’t too good of a lie, though, either…

“Alright, then. Have a nice day here in Bellatrix. The weather is great today.”

Bellatrix. So that’s the name of the town.

I exit the Adventurer’s Guild branch office and start looking for some food. The southern peninsula here is known for their excellent noodles, but we’ve been fighting so much since we got here that I’ve hardly gotten a chance to stop and eat some.

The town of Bellatrix is more bustling than I’d expect for a place terrorized by a necromancer for several consecutive months. We only just killed the damn guy, so I don’t expect they should all know about it just yet. They sure are living a peaceful life like this.

Peaceful, and very busy. Several carriages stroll down the main road, and children play precariously close to them. I’d rather they not. I want to get noodles, not risk my neck scolding a bunch of dumb kids before their parents come to yell at me.

But first, if I already have the quest reward on me…

I enter the local equipment store. The door jingles as I enter, and a middle aged woman pops her head from behind an aisle to greet me. “Well, how do you–Oh, my.”


The woman comes up next to me and stares at me like I’m a carnival exhibit. “Pink hair, pink eyes… My Goddess, you’re a North Spiran.”

“Uh, yes.”

Her face goes so bright that I’d say her skin has turned from dark brown to full-on candy red. “A North Spiran, all the way in Bellatrix. Why I never.”

“Yes, I’m part of the Adventurer’s Guild,” I say. “Team Fanghook. We’ve killed your necromancer.”

“That’s just delightful,” she says. “You know, I knew a girl from North Spire, a long time ago. She and I… Oh, boy, she and I. You don’t get much like that in your life.”


“Is it true, about you folk?”


“That all those haven roots you eat turn your hair and eyes pink?”

“No, that’s not true. Haven roots are pink, and we farm haven roots, and we happen to be pink, but it’s a coincidence, really. We had a big study from a mage’s college once to test it out. No correlation. The roots are just normal roots, and our hair just normal hair.”

The number of times I’ve had to tell people that is… I lost count a year ago. Their reactions never change. Hokey farmers with low intelligence, strange music, commendable bedroom abilities, and most of all, pink hair. That just about sums my entire people up if you want to make a terrible stereotype out of us.

And the woman doesn’t seem to have understood what I told her, anyway.

I sigh, but try to carry on. “Um, ma’am, I wanted to see about your swords. Do you have many in stock?”

She switches into business mode quickly. “Of course, of course. What are you looking for?”

I poof out my current sword from my inventory slot and show her. “This one’s a bit too heavy for me. I’m looking for something smaller and lighter.” Anything that will prevent me from falling on my ass when I swing really hard is good to me. I don’t say that to her.

“Ah, you want to trade that in for a nice short sword?”

“Not a short sword, just a… shorter sword. Er. Yeah.”

The woman gives me that look people always give North Spirans. I hate this.


So after some haggling, trading in some of the loot I was carrying, and trying out several weapons, I found a new sword to help me in my adventures.

I probably could have gotten rid of the sword outright and left my third inventory slot open for something else. In fact, Malia always tells me that three inventory slots is a mighty big overkill for a D-rank [Adventurer,] since it leaves me with just four open card slots at any given time. But I like the extra security. One slot for my bow and arrows. One slot for my rucksack, currently filled with monster loot. And one slot for my trusty, or soon-to-be-trusty, new sword.

Now time for some noodles.

I take a look around the city square. This town is small, but it is very compact, and so anything of note should surely be in a close walking distance. There don’t appear to be any noodle shops in the near vicinity, but I’m confident I’ll find one soon.

Though, if this keeps up, I may not find anything until after the others have killed the Maw Dragon and come back up to meet me.

I wonder what floor they’re on by now. Sub-floor twenty-five? Twenty-eight? I hope they’re doing okay without me. Even if I’m only a D-Rank hero, I still have the–

Loud, shrill shrieks.

I turn to see what the commotion is, and it’s three children, no older than six or seven, playing in the middle of the road and tossing wooden balls back and forth. Oh, children, why do you have to shriek all the time? I thought you were in danger from–

My senses lock up for a brief moment as I hear the growing sound of hooves against dirt. I look ahead in the road.

A carriage stampeding its way through town.

Right in this direction.

Right in the path of these idiot kids.

Only five, ten seconds before it reaches here.

Without thinking, I activate my skill card [Blinding Rush.]

[-215 LP.]

I zoom ahead, grab the kids, and literally push them onto the ground, out of the road.

But I’m not fast enough for me. They’re safe, and I’m not.

The carriage is right in front of me, and–

The last thing I see is the sky.

Wow. The weather really is beautiful today. I hope Malia and the others can see it. Because I can’t see anything anymore.

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