I wake up with a knock on the door.
"The breakfast is ready," says a young male voice.
The nightmare didn't end. I'm still here, stuck on this world. My back hurts, I didn't sleep that well, but since I went to bed soon after sunset I must have slept a long time. One of my dreams was simply me staring at the goblin drowning on his own blood. That scene was way too brutal for me, it still creeps me out.
I look at my stats, my "Strength" increased by 1 (now 8). I guess yesterday's effort was rewarded.
My mouth feels horrible. I gotta buy a toothbrush, a hairbrush, some proper sleeping clothes, a better blanket and pillow, more spare clothes and underwear. I also gotta clean the bloody pants. I saw that there's a well outside for cleaning. I can buy soap from the bath attendant and she can also instantly dry my clothes with magic. Sounds convenient, but also not.
I put my clothes on and go downstairs to eat my breakfast. It's bean paste, which reminds me of home a little, roasted vegetables and a slightly sweet bread. I realize sugar might be expensive so this bread is actually high quality. As a sweet tooth and chocolate addict the only thing I can call this is "boring".
While eating I think about what I should do. The guard said to get an ID at the guilds, depending on what ID I have I don't need to pay tax. But first what exactly I wanna do on this world? I wanna go home, but to do it I need knowledge. I saw that there's a magic university here, perhaps they have a library that I can use, but I don't think it's going to be free. I think that historically, religious buildings like churches could have people knowledgeable about the world. So perhaps I could go to them for advice. The map shows a temple on this town.
Regardless, I'm going to need to find a job and acquire money for steady living. With my skill system I could start a crafting business, but factories in this age might not have good workers' rights laws. I'm also not good with manual labor, I'm more of a creative type. Perhaps I could bring technology from my world here, but that's risky and it's really going to call attention to me. If we are going to assume this is an adventure and role-playing game, the most straightforward method of acquiring money is killing monsters. The map shows that there's a dungeoneering and a monster hunter guild, so adventuring might be a risky but also valid way of work.
I also need experience to increase my level and get more skill points. I don't know how to acquire experience besides killing monsters. Perhaps there's another way to acquire skills like training or taking an apprenticeship, but I need connections and a proper career path for that.
So in the end, my first move should be to go to the monster hunter and dungeoneering guilds. But first let's buy a hair and tooth brush and brush my teeth.
Now that I'm rested and calmer I noticed that this city is bizarre but also kind of inspiring. The different architectures are all very interesting and even the contrast between styles has its own charm. The people also have their own sense of style, it's like this town is a hub for travelers from around the world and they all bring their own piece of home here. Some alleys are dark and ugly, others are comfortable and calming, some have vines and unidentified plants growing all over, others have lights and moving metal parts that remind me of steampunk. The people are all energetic and positive interactions abound. Maybe it's just that I'm in the good part of town or maybe I'm just feeling lonely. Yeah, let's go with lonely.
After some walking I get to the monster hunter guild. The building looks menacing. Fangs and bones decorate the protruding pillars, skins and scales of all kinds decorate the walls, an even bigger carnival of colors than the rest of town makes me question the sanity of the architect. A large skull with a long snout and huge teeth is hanging over the entrance. The teeth are stuck on the wall, as if the skull bit on the building itself.
I enter the large double doors that are open and I'm greeted by a large amount of people talking over tables decorated with the same ridiculous style as the building walls. There's plenty that are drinking unknown liquids from tankards, no way it's not alcoholic. We are in the morning, some of these people must drink alcohol like water.
The first floor of the building is one large hall filled with tables. Over one wall there's a large set of boards with pieces of paper stuck on them. If this follows the traditional game template, those are the bulletin boards and the papers are requests for extermination.
On another side of the wall there's a row of booths filled with men and women wearing a dark blue velvet uniform, some simple yellow embroidery to make it pretty and a fang and sword crossed over the chest. That's the symbol of this guild, it's the same one on the double doors.
I walk towards one of the booths.
"Welcome, how may I help you?" Says a middle-aged female attendant. A beautiful short-haired brunette that shows an air of experience.
"Hello, I'm a traveler and I just got into town. I came from a small village so I'm very ignorant of the things around here, can you explain this guild to me?" I answer.
The attendant opened her eyes in surprise. I guess this is also something that's not usual to ask.
"Well, this guild is very simple," her eyes gloss over and she begins speaking in a robotic voice, "This is a place for people that hunt monsters to gather, party up and trade or sell their spoils. The army does regular cullings to keep the monsters in check but they also employ hunters during the culling. Outside of the culling other parties can hire hunters to catch monsters for their ingredients that can be used to create valuable items, potions or food. Every once in a while a special and dangerous monsters appears and hunters specialized in tracking are then sent to hunt them down. In cases of emergency the hunters are also called and are forced to help defend either the city, or other people, or the buildings in the vicinity. Those are the main functions of hunters on this guild."
She takes a breath.
"On our side we buy any monster corpses or organs, intact or not, then we evaluate them and give out the proper rewards. The advantage of selling to us is that we have experts in dismantling and evaluation of monster parts. We do not haggle and only buy at a fixed and fair price. We also buy parts without the need for a buyer since we are able to stock parts. If you were to go to the merchant guilds you could sell for higher but you would need to wait for a proper buyer.
"On the second floor you can use the meeting rooms to discuss things with your allies. We guarantee a [Silent Room] spell on each room. On the third floor there is the administration personnel that you can consult for more serious matters. Behind this building there's a training ground, for 10 copper you can use it and train with our instructors for a full period."
I assume period means from morning till noon or from noon till dusk.
"We are a sister guild to the dungeoneering guild. We hold the organization and management of hunters and we help assess risks and ability level of hunters to minimize death or harm. The dungeoneering guild holds all records of dungeons, monsters and they help acquire the tools used in expeditions.
"People who register at the dungeoneering guild are called explorers, those that have registered at both guilds are called adventurers. Finally registering at either or both of the guilds allows you to enter or leave any town without paying tax as long as you don't hold any export good on you or in your [Item Box]. If you acquire the favor from the guildmaster you can pass the gate without having the contents of your [Item Box] read," the woman takes another breath.
She looked surprised at my question but she was able to answer it perfectly. I guess they are prepared for ignorant people like me, it's just that I'm a rare find.
"Hmm... So how do I register?"
"Two silver coins, a drop of your blood and we give you your crystal ID tablet. Also, during registration and afterwards we periodically ask to inspect your tablet. This is to make sure no criminals and no person who learned forbidden skills is using our facilities."
I knew there was something like this.
"[Necromancy Magic], [Bloodwork] and [Undead Creation] are the only ones whose names we are allowed to mention. [Slavery Magic] and [Blood Magic] are also forbidden unless if you are registered."
So slavery is also sanctioned in this world.
"Alright, I would like to register."
The guard already saw my ID when I entered so there's no problem here. But I need to be careful of which skill I choose or I might accidentally pick something forbidden. There's tons of skills with dangerous or suspicious names.
I turn around and fiddle a bit with my skills. I put one point into [Space Magic] so my usage of "Items" is less suspicious.
I pay the price then the attendant gets a transparent crystal tablet and a needle from below the table. She pinches my finger with dexterity and lets a drop of blood fall on the tablet. She picks it up, looks at it and then turns to me.
"I will register this at our books. Please wait here for a while," she says and leaves.
I turn around just in time to see a fight break out. Two drunk looking men start punching each other. Immediately two large attendants with swords at their waists jump in and forcefully break the fight. They hold the men in position while they scream abuse at each other. Then after a minute or two they tire and the attendants drop them in place. They both fall down on the floor like boards and the hall resounds with laughter.
This is a very ruthless but surprisingly friendly atmosphere. I don't really feel comfortable here.
Soon the attendant came back and gave me the tablet, it is small and fits well in the hand. I will just put it into a chest pocket for now and then later I will store it into my "Items".
"How do I register at the dungeoneering guild?" I ask.
"Just show your tablet and they will write your name for free."
"What, if it's free then why do I also need to register there? Can't it be done automatically?"
"Not every hunter and dungeoneering guild is integrated, it depends on the town."
"Oh I see... Well then, now I wanna sell some monsters I killed."
"Oh? You already killed something? Well then, please follow me to the disassembling room."
I made a mistake, I forgot my "Items" is a special thing. I know that [Item Box] probably works similarly but I have never actually seen it in use. I quickly think about removing all my points and putting it into space magic to see if I get an [Item Box] so I can examine its behavior.
When we go into the next room there are multiple cushioned chairs and a closed door with a sign "In use" is hung.
"There's someone disassembling a monster. Wait here and when they are finished you will be called," he attendant says and immediately turns around.
I just got a life jacket. I put all my points into [Space Magic]. The first point gives me [Telekinesis], at 10 points I get [Gravity Crush] and finally at 20 points I get [Item Box].
I cast it. A little mana goes away and it opens the exact same menu as "Items", but now there's nothing inside of it.
Well then, at least now I know the truth. So I put back all my points to how they were.
After a good 30 minutes the door opens and a big, bald and burly man with a bloody apron and gloves greets me with a smile.
"Good morning, young man. Are you here for dismantling?"
"Yes, I am."
"I'm Gordon, I'm the chief butcher. Now please come in, I'm all ready now. Sorry for the wait."
The room I entered is cooled. There is a large amount of metal tables, a few are bloodied. There's another person with a bloody apron and gloves that is scrubbing the dirty ones.
"Now pull out on the table anything you want to sell."
I pull them out one by one. I notice that they are still warm and bleeding, so this means that whatever is in the [Item Box] or my "Items" gets frozen in time. When I pull out the bear the two men feeze with their mouths open.
The assistant stops scrubbing and mutters, "Wow."
"Yo, call Sonny. This one is valuable," says Gordon with a smile on his face.
Ignoring the other monsters Gordon materializes a large knife on his hand and starts removing the pelt of the bear.
"You killed this one alone?" He asks.
"No, I found him weakened. I think he was fighting the goblins that I killed."
"Hahahah, now that's a jackpot. You see, this one also has a bounty on him, so when we get Sonny here you will get a bonus. Also, did you kill him by stabbing through the eye? that's some really creative method you got there," he says with a bloody smile as some bear blood gushed on his cheek.
Do they have poker here?
"Creative? How are you supposed to kill him normally?"
"Crushing the head. His skin is too hard normally to kill with a sword or spear, magic ruins too much of the pelt and meat. I see you used something like [Electric Magic], yeah? That's good to stun him without damaging the pelt very much but it still burns some of it."
After that exchange Sonny came. He is a small man with yellow eyes, white hair, pasty white skin and white spiral horns on his head. When he saw the bear his eyes shined behind his oval glasses.
"Ooooh, excellent," says Sonny.
Thankfully, he ignores me and goes to the side of Gordon. He examines his work and keeps talking to him. The assistant butcher comes back and helps Gordon.
After Gordon finished the bear, now named Grey Berserker, Sonny said the reward for killing him is 2 gold pieces while the body is worth another 7. If the hide was more well preserved it goes up to 10. Each goblin is worth 40 copper. The "hedge-wolf", now named Mossy Fangpine, is worth 1 silver coin. Since the money isn't excessive they give it to me immediately, otherwise it is necessary to wait for the money to be transferred to the guild.
"So this is your first hunt, eh? Starting your tally with a surprise. But don't let other parties use you, now. They might be too easily impressed by a lucky kill on the Grey Berserker," says Sonny.
"Well I don't plan on bragging about it so nobody will know."
"Oh no. We publish hunt results, so people will know your name pretty soon."
"Argh... Is that so?" I wince, even that I have to be careful about so I don't stand out.
"Heheheh, you don't want fame? What kinda hunter are you?" Says Gordon.
"It's kinda troublesome to be too famous too quick."
"Hahah, the boy got the right head on his shoulders."
"Alright then, I will be waiting for your next surprise," says Sonny and he gives a small bow.
Sonny seems to be a delicate man. He moves with measured movements that give him an air of dignity.
I said my goodbyes and left. Now I need to go to the dungeoneering guild, they might have some interesting information.
The dungeoneering guild also boasts an extravagant facade. Black bricks that reflect little dots of light when the sun shines upon it, moving blades swing along the wall and exposed clockworks show a very familiar clock above the double door. The clock is exactly the same as the ones on Earth. Maybe I can buy a pocket watch somewhere and cosplay as a Victorian steampunk British noble.
On the door there's a gear and an upside-down bardiche. The symbol represents the cliche of a trap of swinging blades on a corridor being activated by a mechanism. The color code of the uniforms is the same as the hunters guild except for the symbol.
The door is on a corner of the building so when you enter you are faced with a rather small hall with a few cushioned chairs and tables. The rest of the building is separated with a chest-high wall. On the other side of the wall you can see rows and rows of bookcases and tables and chairs where a considerable number of people are studying. It seems you have to put a coin on a booth to enter the library. The architecture is much more refined than one of the hunters guild, there are only a few very small windows and you could hardly hear a sound. The atmosphere is of calmness and seriousness.
I approach a booth and ask to register. The attendant takes my tablet away and comes back a few minutes later.
"How do I enter the library?" I ask.
"You have to put a deposit of one gold coin. If you damage a book your deposit is forfeit. A single use toll of 2 copper coins is also required,"the attendant answers in a low tone.
"What kind of books are there here?"
"Strictly magic, traps, dungeons, monsters and artifacts. Anything else you need to go to the temple or the university."
"Rare magical items with dangerous uses."
"I also heard you sell supplies for expeditions."
"The item shop is through that door," and he points to a closed simple door.
I'm not interested in buying items right now so I just leave. Next I plan to go to the temple.
The temple is on the middle of the town, it takes quite a while to walk there. I better go there first because the university is on the opposite side of the town so I have to be efficient with the use of my time.
It might be a few hours before noon but the temporary food stalls are opening around me and the smell of simple roasted or fried food fills my nose. I'm actually kinda hungry so I buy a cheap goblin meat stick. I'm too curious to pass by this chance so I had to buy it. A single copper coin for this amount of meat makes me anxious, it's probably pretty bad tasting meat that the poor eat.
I bite into it. I'm not surprised, it's really bland. The only real flavor is the spices being used, a mix of garlic and oregano with salt. Still, I thought spices would be expensive for a middle-ages society, to see it wasted on this meat stick gives me a little hope for the future.
I arrive at the temple. It's a gigantic half-sphere made of what seems to be white marble. Four thin towers rise out of the corners of the temple lot, I can see a clock on each tower, each clock is pointed outwards. There's four entrances, they divide the square lot in 4 sectors with the temple in the middle. 2 sectors have buildings on them, looks like living quarters. One of those sectors is full of children, perhaps it's an orphanage. The other 2 sectors are a grass garden with a dirt field and the last is a small plantation. The temple itself doesn't seem to have any sort of special decoration, it seems everything is very practical.
Once I enter the building I see a huge hall, the entirety of the first floor seems to be a place for prayer. On the outer wall I can see 16 statues, each statue a different humanoid being is depicted and in the center of the hall a single statue depicting a sphere can be seen, this statue is the biggest of them all. The prayer space is divided in two rings. The outer ring there are benches spread all over that point towards the outer statues. The inner ring the benches are pointed towards the inner statue.
All kinds of people can be seen praying in all kinds of manners to all statues. Some are on their knees, some have their hands up in the air, some are holding themselves, some are clasping their hands and have their eyes closed. I could even see a few people crying, those were accompanied by a person wearing a loose white robe with a colored vertical line on the side of the arms and legs, those seem to be the priests. In a clockwise manner besides each entrance there's a stair that runs along the circular wall and leads to the second floor.
This scene stuns me for a few seconds. It seems this is a polytheistic world, it might be a good idea to learn about the gods and choose one to pray. Since "Piety" exists as a stat, might as well use it. I'm very pragmatic, there's no benefit in staying an atheist.
I look around and reach for the closest priest that's not doing anything. It's a woman, tied black hair, tanned skin, full lips. On Earth she could be called a "Latina".
"I'm a traveler. I just came to this town from a small village where I could barely learn about the world. Could you spare a moment and teach me about these statues?"
She looks at me with a mix of confusion and amusement
"Ohoh, a curious person, that is good. Let's go to the second floor, there are plenty for rooms for private consultations. My name is Ciel, what is yours?" She says to me and smiles.
"Pleasure to meet you Mr. Ryder. Follow me, then."
Mr. Ryder? Feels weird to hear that.
The second floor seems to have consultation rooms along the outer walls while administration rooms are on the center. Small holes in the ceiling and shining crystals keep the light on this building. On a corridor that leads to the center of this floor I can see a spiral stair to the third floor.
We enter a room. Like everything on the inside of this temple, it is made of white marble slabs, between each slab a black cement holds them together. This room has a few chairs and a table. Ciel sits on the other side of the table and signals me to sit on a chair.
"Now then what would you like to know?," She asks.
"Well... Could you start from the beginning, like, the beginning of the world?"
She looks at me with a surprised face.
"I think what I know is full of holes so let's start from the beginning like this so I don't miss anything important."
She chuckles and smiles at me, honestly her smile is quite charming.
"Understood. Let's see... The Tale of Creation starts like this."
"The Overseer is the most powerful god that has ever been. But even with all his power, he desired 'something'. He, with his immortality, did not know what it was to live and die, he always existed. To observe how it would be to not be immortal, he created 'something'. To govern that 'something' while he observed he created 2 gods, the God of Beginning, and the God of the End. And so that 'something' would be born, live and die.
"But that wasn't enough. It was a waste to let it die and disappear, the Overseer thought. So he created 10 gods that would serve as a 'base'. That 'something' lived and died on one of the 'base' gods then move on to the next god and so on and so forth. Thus that "something" wasn't wasted and lived on a cycle.
"But that wasn't enough. The cycle repeated and didn't change, the same thing would always happen, so the Overseer created the God of Change. This god would change that 'something' little by little, making it different every time, thus making sure the cycle wasn't always the same thing. But that was dangerous, the God of Change didn't know restraint, he could break the cycle with the way he was acting. So the Overseer created the God of Order, whose purpose was to restrain the God of Change and to prevent him from breaking the cycle.
"But that wasn't enough. The cycle was changing and secured, but there was only one cycle, one "something", now even the God of Change wanted something new. So the God of Change created a new subordinate god, the God of Creation. This new god would create new cycles so the amount of things the God of Change could act upon would increase. Since the new god was a subordinate he didn't have the power to interfere with the original cycle, so the new god was allowed to do as he pleased.
"But that wasn't allowed. The God of Order was displeased with the new creations, so he copied the God of Change and created a new subordinate god, the God of Destruction, whose only purpose was to stop the God of Creation. And so, the 4 gods kept battling for an incalculable amount of time. With this battle slowly the 'base' gods were changed by the God of Change into the elements we have today, the elements of light, darkness, earth, water, wind, fire, electricity, nature, space and spirit. During the battle, the gods used these elements on each other, creating our land, our sea, our skies, our plants, our sun and our night. The 'something' was slowly changed into 'power', we call it 'mana'. In essence, their battle created our world.
"But that wasn't enough. The God of Creation wanted to copy his superior god, he wanted to create something that would create things and change the flow of battle. After much thought, he realized he couldn't create something powerful, like changing the "base" gods into elements. So instead he created something intelligent and self-conscious, with a potential to go far beyond its original purpose. He created humans and the God of Existence to watch over us.
"But that wasn't allowed. The God of Destruction created humanity's worst enemy, the monsters. They are specialized in killing us, their only purpose is being to grow and kill. In response the God of Creation changed humans into different forms to act against the monsters. He created the halflings, elves, dwarves, gnomes, pixies, beastfolk, wereanimals, merfolk, dragonkin, chimeras and finally the demon race.
"But that wasn't enough. The people he created were smart but they couldn't grow fast enough to counter the monsters. During this period, all intelligent life almost died out. This was called the Age of Oppression. To save our people the God of Creation gave us the power of improving our soul, by killing monsters and absorbing part of their soul. With those pieces we could eventually grow a bigger soul and with a bigger soul we could grow more and faster. The amount of extra pieces on our soul is called a 'level'.
"But that wasn't allowed. The God of Destruction then cursed the land, he made it so that the mana on the land would be used to create monsters. Making so any sort of abandoned land would greatly increase the amount of monsters which lead to the monsters flooding the civilized world.
"Seeing the power of the 'levels' the God of Creation gave us a way to share knowledge, a way to quickly grow our greatest gift, our intelligence. So he created 'skills', a way to quickly learn what others already learned if we trained our bodies in similar ways. This was the decisive move and the monsters were pushed back. With that the land was safe and the Age of Glory started."
Share the knowledge? Then the skills aren't decided by the gods, but instead by society? Since they are decided by the gods the skills should allow to some growth and change for society. If the skills never changed then society could be too dependent on them and stop their progress.
"But that wasn't allowed. The God of Destruction took his time, but he managed to create something that would rival the power of civilization. The immortal Monster King, a copy of a humanoid that has intelligence, the capacity of growth and the power to command monsters at his will. With this, civilization was pushed back again and the battle with the Monster King continues to this day. Currently the battle is in a stalemate, we keep the monsters in check while the Monster King pushes us back whenever we get some ground."
In the stories I read this type of villain would be called Demon King, but since there's already a demon race it wouldn't be fair to them, right?
"The creation of the Monster King started Age of Discord where the races fought each other all over the realm as they couldn't agree on a way to unite and fight the Monster King. Then came the first emperor of Avgi, Ajax Doxa, who united our continent, Gilios. After his death he ascended and became the first Humanoid God, the God of The Sun. Thus he started the Age of the Sun."
"As a response to the creation of the Monster King, the God of Creation enabled the birth of dungeons, sky fortresses and monster ships. When the mana gets too thick in a single point a storm is born, its destructive power does nothing but help the God of Destruction. Thus to control that the God of Creation blessed the land so that whenever a mana storm would occur a dungeon would be created. If it happened below ground it would be called a dungeon, if in the sky, it would be called a sky fortress and if below the sea it's called a monster ship."
And finally, the most standard element of any fantasy story, the dungeon, has finally shown its face coupled with the reason it exists. I suppress a smile.
"These dungeons are manifestations of our culture coupled with the power of the nearby monsters. This would contain the power of the storm with the drawback of creating powerful monsters. But considering how dungeons are limited spaces, they in turn turned into perfect training grounds for civilization. With the creation of the monster hunter guild and the dungeoneering guild we can manage the monsters and the dungeons so we can acquire power and items in a way we never could before."
"After that the God of Creation left this realm and created other realms and cycles. This realm is called Rupegia, our realm shares a cycle with other realms. Our cycle is called Reigurando."
"Wait, what? Can you explain a bit more what realms and cycles are?" I interject.
"Well... See it this way, a different realm is a place where laws of the world are different than ours. Perhaps it's a land where you don't have a ground to fall to, perhaps it's a land where you fall up instead of down, perhaps it's a land where monsters and people changed places. Do you understand this?"
So in essence, it's a different "reality".
"Yeah, I think so. And what about cycles?" I answer.
"Cycles are the path of mana. When things are destroyed, like our spirit, the earth, the flame of a spell or anything else, the mana doesn't 'dissipate' like some would believe. The mana leaves our realm and is changed into something else on that new realm, this is what a cycle is."
"You say there are different cycles, how do we know this? How do we know there are other realms? Can we move between realms?" I ask excitedly.
"Woah, calm down, that is coming on the next part of the tale."
"Ah, oh... Sorry. Please continue."
"After the God of Creation left certain humanoids started to acquire immense power, they were called heroes during their lives, but their lives eventually ended like all things should. The God of Creation took notice of such souls passing through the cycle, he didn't want to waste such valuable souls that achieved so much. To solve this he turned those souls into subordinate gods, thus the gods worshiped on this temple can be seen. We know of 16 humanoid gods so far.
"These gods give us blessings and messages to us when necessary. This is how we know about the other realms. The humanoid gods can see them and told us about it, but even they can't move between realms. We think there are other cycles because it fits the teachings of the God of Creation to always grow and expand. Also, the humanoid gods tell us the God of Creation is not currently in any realm of this cycle. Which fortunately means that the God of Destruction is also not here, bringing stability to our realm.
"That's the total of the Tale of Creation," she says with a smile. She pours water from a jug into a cup of water and drinks.
"Wow, that's a lot of information. Is this written on a book? Do you have other books with tales about this world that I could read?"
"You know how to read? Well, we do have books but they require special permission. If you join the temple anyone can read them though."
"What do you mean by joining the temple?"
"Working as a priest. There's always the need for more people helping in the orphanage, or cooking the meals, or spreading the word on the streets."
That doesn't sound like easy work, or work that pays a lot. I need to acquire money for research and to get some power so I can live an easier life. I don't think I will get either by working here.
"Hmmm... I don't think I wanna become a priest. Is there any other library that I can access?"
"If you help maybe you can catch the attention of the chief priest, he's the only one capable of giving special permission, but our books are rather limited. Besides that you can try the library of the magic university, it has a much wider variety but it costs a lot just to enter and the books available to non-members are also limited... You know, are a scholar or something? By your clothes you look just like another commoner or starting adventurer, but you are way too smart to be either. You can read and your curiosity is astonishing. I am a bit impressed."
Well, I guess this was unavoidable. I needed information and there was no other way besides stumbling in the dark. Time to lie a little.
"Well, I'm from a very far away land, I had to give up a lot just to come here. But I'm no scholar, I'm just a naturally curious person."
Half-truths. It may sound mysterious but I don't have the knowledge required to craft a well-built lie where I give information such as birth-place, family names and etc.
"Hm? Hahah..." She smiles awkwardly, "Well sorry for trying to pry into your business, but I can say one thing for certain, you are an interesting person."
It seems she understood I don't want to talk about my origins in detail. A person who hides his past is suspicious and untrustworthy, but I think I acquired enough goodwill that she can just let this pass.
This talk gives me a little more comfort, perhaps I can keep coming here and asking more questions. It seems the God of Creation really encourages the sharing of knowledge so I can ask questions more freely than I would imagine. Right now I have heard enough, I want to go back into the dungeoneering guild and look for info about the monsters here. I have decided I will carefully hunt as a primary way of making money until I'm more accustomed with crafting and the laws. I'm not a fighter but I also know very little about trade and economy so I will need much more knowledge to get into that area, fighting is easier in comparison.
"Well then, I think I heard enough for now. Thank you for your time, I really enjoyed this talk. Can I come back another day and ask for more?"
"It is part of our job to inform those who listen. I would enjoy talking to you again. If I'm not on the temple just ask for any other priest that's on standby."
"Well if it's not too much can I continue talking to you specifically?"
I would rather not talk to different people, and if it's pretty a woman then it's even better.
"O-okay, that's not a problem. During the morning I either help the clinic or the orphanage and I prepare the lunch and dinner during most days. Every two days I'm resting on the afternoon so I'm not everyday on the temple."
"Alright then. I don't know when I'm coming back but it's going to be soon. See you until then."
"Goodbye, Mr. Ryder," she says and smiles again.
"Goodbye, Miss Ciel."
Since it's almost noon I look for some cheap food. It seems it's the bean season so most are selling some form of bean dishes. I enter a restaurant and eat green bean soup that reminds me of green peas. In this place all they had was goblin meat, I felt my inn was expensive, but after tasting this meat I feel like the price is justified.
I will postpone going to the university for a while until I have a better grasp of magic and the life around here. I will go to the dungeoneering guild to gain more knowledge of the area. I still feel it's dangerous to say I'm from another world. There's knowledge of realms but no history of moving between them so I have little evidence I'm from another world.
As I'm walking back to the dungeoneering guild I have some time to reflect on what I learned. Ciel said that the humanoid gods give blessings and messages, so there's really no question about the presence of gods here, being an atheist is just idiotic. I saw that there are 16 gods, maybe I should learn more about them and start praying to one. Since they also communicate and they were once people of this world maybe they are reasonable. It gives me a little comfort in knowing there's a being that could help me if I give a little faith.
I notice something change in me. I open my stats and see that my "Piety" has increased by 1 (it's now 3).
I enter the dungeoneering guild and ask for the section with information on monsters and dungeons around this area. The attendant guides me to the second floor and shows me a section with groups of repeated books. This seems to be a common inquiry around here so the guild prepared a large amount of copies of three books, they are "Monsters of Rabanara", "Dungeons of Rabanara" and "Advice for new Explorers". The creativity in naming is heartwarming.
I learned I'm really one lucky motherfucker. Grey Berserker is the most powerful monster of the region. There's always a large bounty on them because they are smart enough to avoid the culling, so they are always a danger in the forest. The advised strategy to defeat it is a group of at least 3 fully armored people and one healer. By using blunt weapons the aim is to break the bear's bones since they are much more fragile than the hide, which makes most cutting or piercing weapons useless.
Goblins are like in any other game. They grow like weeds and require constant care so they don't choke your plants, which means your life. They give little rewards but bringing a corpse could give some considerable money. The problem is most people don't have enough carrying capacity to carry a large amount of corpses. Goblin meat is tasteless and sinewy but it's the base meat for the poor so they always sell. Most hunters only bring a proof of extermination, in this case it's the right ear.
Mossy Fangpine is another dangerous enemy. There's a chance the mossy spines will poison the person, another evidence I'm actually lucky. They hunt in packs of 3 or more, the one I fought was alone because of the culling. The strategy is to hide behind a shield and wear at least leather armor, then counter stab him in the face after he jumps to bite. Or just use magic, they are vulnerable to it. Arrows are okay to use but they are fast and the spines can deflect arrows if you are unlucky. They have an extraordinary sensing capability, they will likely appear after you start killing monsters on the Sea of Trees.
Another enemy is the Rabid Rabbit. This one is like the Fangpine that only charges and bites. The bunny acts alone and is extremely vicious, the bites are poisonous and can make a person go berserk. The meat tastes good and the saliva glands are used in potions so this monster is always hunted, making it hard to find.
In the sky there's the Dragolite, a small dragon that cannot use fire breath. Their meat is somewhat hard to cook and has a strong taste but it's still valuable. The farmers hate them since they like to kidnap the sheep around here. They don't kidnap the children but just try to kill them, so children around here are trained in archery since they are little. This fact shocked me a little, this really is a brutal world. Also, this is the enemy that captured my summoned bird.
There's also the Giant Dragonfly. It uses its legs as spears and attacks with high speed. The easiest strategy is to just use a spear longer than their legs. They are weak but annoying to deal with because they are agile, it's difficult to dodge or escape them. So it's always advised for hunters to always carry a simple long spear in their [Item Box]. Due to their nature they appear mostly along rivers or lakes, they don't fly too well among the trees so that's why I haven't met one. Their wings and eyes are valuable crafting items so they sell quite well.
The occasional migrating flock of wyverns is a threat. Wyverns have wings on their arms while dragons have separate wings on their back. Wyverns also look more like velociraptors with wings, while dragons are lizards with wings. Wyverns attacks are the most common threat on this settlement, sooner or later I will be called to defend the town against wyverns. They only fly as a way of long distance movement, their huge bodies and low magical capability makes flying awkward for them. Unlike dragons that manipulate the wind with ease, wyverns tire easily if they have to be agile during flight. So fighting against a wyvern is done on the ground, making the best way to fight them being with shield walls, pikes and ranged attacks. Finding and destroying wyvern nests is heavily rewarded since this means the attacks on the town reduce in frequency.
These are the common monsters that are born here. The thing is that migrating monsters are extremely common, so the chance of meeting a random monster is quite high. You really need to read a lot about monsters to be prepared for anything, this discouraged me a little about hunting monsters in the forest for money. I also have little experience in tracking, so I think that looking at the nearby dungeons might be a better choice for now.
Dungeons have quite some variety. There are some that are maze-like who expand to many times the size of a town on a single floor. Others are large underground fields where monsters roam around ruins or forests, they even have artificial lights and could sustain some form of plant-life. Others are mere dimensional doors to some unknown space, they can change their form or throw parties at random places upon entry. The most popular are the small labyrinths, specially the ones that create a floor exclusively for a single party, which guarantees that no other party will influence your progress, unfortunately they are much rarer. Nearly half have an "elevator", which allows you to move to any floor you previously explored.
Dungeons increase in depth the more they are allowed to remain undisturbed. Damaging the core forces the dungeon to reduce in depth to repair itself, while destroying the core makes it fall apart. The nobility is the one responsible for culling the forests and managing the dungeon depth. In the book it is implied that a noble that does not fight does not deserve his title. Sounds interesting, I need to ask more about this later.
It's quite tiring and time consuming to keep reading all this information, so I don't really have time to go out of town today. I decided to go to a nearby dungeon tomorrow, Royd's Kerfuffle. The adventurer that discovers a dungeon gets the right to name it, so quite a lot have some ridiculous names. This dungeon is not that popular since the monsters there do not reward much but it could be a perfect training ground for me. It's a labyrinthine dimensional door dungeon that does not throw you randomly, it also has an "elevator". At the lower levels I just need to look for floor traps, they teleport you into a random place on the same floor, things only start to become problematic after the 10th floor. The floor traps are always at the same place so it's easy to avoid them.
Right now I still have some free time until sunset so I decide to go look for the hunters training grounds.
The training grounds is a large dirt field. There's a large area for sparring, an archery range, a big long and secluded place where I can see some magicians throwing some flashy magic, a place where a few freakish pieces of armor float and fight some people, a small building with barred windows and a small fountain. Is that fountain magical or is there plumbing on this town?
I pay the toll to enter and approach one of the idle men wearing a piece of leather armor with the hunters guild symbol engraved on the chest.
"H-hello, I'm new around here. Could you tell me how I can use this place?" I ask the man.
He is not big or burly but he has a menacing gaze. He sports a buzz cut, his skin and face is full of small scars and his posture is intimidating. How does one get scars on a world with magical healing?
"Hm? Well the archery range is free, we can lend you a bow and arrow, but you will pay if you break it. The magic range is free too but you have to work with the manager so you don't hurt other people. The living armors are rented, the manager also deals with that. I'm an instructor and I can give you training, but you can't monopolize me. So most of the time we have the students spar with one another once you are at a proper level."
His gaze is unwavering, it makes me want to spontaneously look away, but I resist it for now.
"Then, could you teach me the sword?"
"Alright, let's spar so I can measure your skill. Put away your sword and I will give you a wooden one." He goes into the single building on this place while I put my sword on "Items".
He comes back with two wooden swords, it seems that building is a warehouse. He throws a sword at me.
"What's your name?" He asks.
Now that I have said again, I think I made a mistake. This name certainly does not suit me, my parents were right, my original name was better.
"I'm Toga. You make the first move, I will start attacking after a while."
So I start my session. I rush and attack, I have no idea what I'm doing but due to the skill system I'm at least confident that I know how to slash and thrust. Toga effortlessly blocks, parries and dodges my attacks. It feels like I'm a child throwing a tantrum while he holds back my head.
Then he starts attacking and in 3 strikes my sword falls out of my hand.
"Well your technique is a mess, who taught you the sword?"
"Self-taught," I answer meekly.
"Mystery solved," he says and laughs.
"You know how to attack but you are lacking in the flow, it's easy to find openings to counterattack. The first thing you should learn is how to defend yourself. Now, do you want to train the proper way or the easy way?"
I get a chill when I hear that, I know what's coming. It's gonna be painful but this is the opportunity to see what true sword fighting is like, what kind of man or boy would say no to that?
"The... proper way," I answer.
"Then defend yourself like your life depends on it, because it does," he grins evilly.
He beat me up.
My body is bruised and bloody. I didn't imagine that a wooden sword could make such a cut. Toga crushed me and he's barely out of breath. He's certainly a scary man, did I choose the worst instructor by any chance?
While I'm sprawled on the ground Toga calls someone, another instructor comes by and touches my arm. He starts singing something like a prayer, then my body stops hurting little by little. I see the bruises return to normal color and the cuts stop bleeding and close, all this in a few seconds. This must be healing magic, much faster than my [Regeneration] spell.
Oh wait, was that a chant? Do you need to normally sing something so the spell activates? I don't know anything about that but it's a common trope in video games to balance magic, powerful magic takes a long time to chant.
I get up and notice there's a small amount of people watching me, quite a few of them are grinning. Sudden shame fills my body and I blush. What's so funny?
"Good job surviving, boy," says one of the grinning men.
I try to stop my smile. They are making of fun me getting beaten up, but I just can't deny it must have been a spectacle.
"Your body is weak and your technique is poor, but you got the willpower. Keep coming and you will be a proper swordsman in due time," says Toga, I notice a hint of kindness on his words.
"Thank you for the session, teacher. I'm way too tired for now, so I'm going to retire."
I'm not sure what's the etiquette on dealing with the instructors here so I just called him "teacher" instead of saying his name.
"Goodbye," he says.
I had noticed people greet each other with a clear nod so I mimicked that and turned around. Then I washed my face in the fountain and drunk a little then left. Now I'm just gonna pass by the hunters guild for a quick look.
Near the entrance I notice something I ignored on the first time due to nervousness, on a wall there are two large black boards where you can see something written. On the top of the first one is written "Notable Hunts", below it there's a scrolling list of hunter names and monster names on the side. I get a chill when I see my name there while on the side "Grey Berserker" is written. The second board says "Confirmed Kills" on top. It scrolls much faster and has a list of the hunter name coupled with the number of monsters killed. I guess the second one is made by counting the proofs of extermination you sell to them.
Then I walk towards the notice board. Most are prices for the bounties and corpses of the common kills around here, like the goblins or Dragolites or monsters from the dungeons. The rest are bounties on specific monsters sighted. Some contain a rough drawing, but they all contain the name, the last seen location, a short description and a threat level.
From what I understood by reading monster books the threat level goes from 0 to 10, the numbers have the following meaning: 0 = harmless, 1 = capable of killing a child, 2 = capable of killing an untrained adult, 3 = capable of killing the common soldier, 4 = capable of killing a soldier squad, 5 = capable of killing a knight squad, 6 = capable of killing veteran hunters, 7 = capable of killing a soldiers company (100 men), 8 = capable of killing a division (10,000 men), 9 = capable of destroying a fortress, 10 = unkillable.
Why are knights ranked lower than veteran hunters? Is it a matter of specialization? I see that there's a permanent bounty on the Grey Berserker, his threat level is 4. Dragolites are threat level 1 and Mossy Fangpines are threat level 2.
When I decide to leave I notice there are a few people looking at me. I recognize that at least two people were here during the morning when I sold the bear. Do these people do nothing besides sit here and drink?
It's probably what Sonny said, other parties will be interested in me since I killed a Grey Berserker by myself. It doesn't matter that it was half-dead, they don't know that. So I decide to quickly leave and go back to the inn for rest.
Dinner is red bean paste with minced meat and spices that you put on bread. Feels like it's spiced with paprika and cumin, now it just needs some spicy pepper for it to be like chilli.
After dinner and a bath I go back to my room and reflect upon today. I look at my skills and see that they all have a "plus" sign on their level, [Sword Use], [Dodge], [Parry], [Block] have a 1 on the right side of the plus. Does this mean trained skills are different than the ones assigned with the system? I try to remove [Parry] but it doesn't allow me, I guess this means that I can't learn [Parry] then remove the skill then learn it again and repeat as a way to accumulate skill points, no exploits on this game eh?
This is how my skills are right now.
Wolf Ryder Skill Report
Skill Name: Level | Skill Name: Level | Skill Name: Level
Sword Use: 5+1 | Dodge: 3+1 | Parry: 0+1
Skill Name: Level | Skill Name: Level | Skill Name: Level
Mana Efficiency: 3+0 | Mana Recovery: 1+0 | Electric Magic: 4+0
Nature Magic: 5+0
Skill Name: Level
Andraste Language 10+0
After that I almost dozed off thinking about the Tale of Creation. The name "Reigurando" reminds me of something familiar. Then something hit me. The japanese language lacks some things required for them to pronounce foreign words properly, the way around it creates an accent that some even find funny. After a while you notice the patterns in their speech and manage to understand what word they are trying to say.
The japanese way of pronouncing the english word "Playground" is "Pureigurando". RPG, Role-Playing-Game is pronounced "Arupegi", incrediblly similar to Rupegia. I'm truly stuck into a fantasy video game, and it's made by the japanese. "Demon King" is also a common trope for japanese stories.
I'm an "Isekai" protagonist...
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