Clyde felt himself flush with a tiny amount of rage but kept it together. He was wasting his time here. Without any further words, he hurried out the door.
He thought he was free of her, but Naomi suddenly chased him, rage in her eyes.
"Why are you chasing me?" Clyde said, deciding to keep up his run. Then it dawned on him, like the shittiest revolution ever. Except the girl was cute; nothing unusual for an anime girl. "Universe, if you're ever listening to me, help me out this once." A prompt appeared.
[Quest: befriend Naomi. This quest is mandatory and cannot be refused. Reward: unknown]
He stopped, eyes widened a little, baffled at how much of a dick the system was. The girl gave him a skeptical glare when he turned to her.
"Are you hungry?"
"Good. Lunch now. No objections."
Somehow, the confused Naomi was unable to object. The two stopped at a nearby sushi restaurant and ordered.
"Ah, students at that academy over there? Don't worry about today's bill." The chef grinned. "Since you're first timers, your order will be billed to them. Here, have some more food. Bet those arrogant bastards don't advertise this. I'll show them." He muttered a stream of colorful insults directed at the academy as he walked away.
Naomi looked thrilled as she tore into her lunch. Clyde actually found it a bit adorable and unsettling. A reflection of real life. Broke college student. Nothing new here. He'd stop referring his own world as "real life" and think of it as earth. This place was simply another dimension, probably created by some god that loved anime. Twisted observers that apparently had nothing better to do than kidnap random earthlings.
"Um," Naomi said.
"Oh, yeah." Clyde held out a hand. "I'm Clyde."
The green-haired girl blushed faintly, then accepted his hand.
"I'm Naomi," she said.
"Sorry for before," Clyde said. "That was the hunger thinking. Didn't mean to be a douche back there. So, what do you cover in your newspaper? It looks interesting."
And just like that, Naomi relaxed, and they had a great conversation. They got to know each other, even cracked jokes. At the end of the hour, the two even exchanged numbers.
[Your relationship with Naomi has changed from neutral to friend. Good job! Kindness bonus: 150 EXP. $40.]
[Quest completed. Reward: 150 EXP. $100. Random ability is now being leveled up. Congratulations. Hostile detection has reached level 2!]
[Congratulations, you have reached level 6! Stats increased! You have learned Precise Slash 1!]
Clyde was thrilled. Suddenly, making friends sounded like the best idea ever. It…also saddened him a bit too. This type of power is one of the clichés he hated the most. Why…. just why the power of friendship. He wanted to find Mortem and choke his brains out. This game or whatever was sounded like a huge joke at his expense. He…would end up winning with the power of friendship.
After crafting class, something interesting happened. Something that he had waited patiently for.
[Congratulations, you have unlocked Crafting 1. Using your interface, you may use objects and materials to craft items that may be useful to you. The higher the crafting level, the higher your success rate. Your crafting speed increases with level and practice.]
He needed to put this to use right away, but before he could go, his phone buzzed. He replied to Chika's text with a witty comment. They were going back and forth on a joke, which started in Sciences class. He knew this only increased relationship with her, but she was impossible to ignore.
Before heading home, Clyde stopped at the dojo to watch students practice. The instructors were happy to show off, hoping to gain a new customer. Potential money kept everyone happy, Clyde supposed.
[You have reached basic combat level 2! You sense a new style coming to mind soon.]
How did Harumi train, Clyde thought. Maybe her friend taught her some forms before leaving. As Clyde neared a clothing store, someone called out to him.
The voice felt like honey and comfort and happiness when it touched his ears.
[You have been captivated by Maxed Charisma]
Clyde's body involuntarily turned to a smiling girl. And not just any smile. It kind of reminded him of Gin's smile from an old anime he used to watch, called Bleach. Alarm bells rang in the back of his mind, but the girl felt angelic.
"Do you have time to listen to a hungry girl chat?"
"Sure," Clyde said, involuntarily. He tried to analyze her but something strange happened. A notification appeared in his mind's eye.
[Your skills have been temporarily disabled].
Clyde fumed deep inside. Maxed charisma did this? Charisma…. this stat. It didn't show up on his system menu.
[You've unveiled the hidden stat, charisma. Good luck.]
The girl who looked like she attended the academy went on and on with a story, throwing Clyde seductive looks, flirting words, and a binding that he couldn't escape. He could listen to her smooth talk all day long.
"So if you could help me out, I'd be very grateful. You'll receive this cloth." She held up a blue silk rag. "It will bring you good luck and fortune."
"I will give you all of my money," Clyde said involuntarily. "Anything to help your cause."
Clyde screamed in his head. This was bullshit. He worked so hard to get so close to the three hundred dollars he needed for the damn printer. The girl grinned, as if hearing his inner thoughts. She caressed his chest seductively, tightening the hold.
"Oh sir, you don't have to." She smiled innocently.
"I insist," Clyde involuntarily said, his soul crying. His wallet spouted curses at him as he slowly pulled it out and reach for the cash. This was it. Everything he worked hard for would be gone, just like that. And people with maxed charisma can do this anytime. As he pulled out the cash to hand over to the mouth-watering evil girl, a prompt appeared in his mind's eye.
[Heart protection has activated. Heart protection has reached level 2!]
Control flooded back to him, so much that Clyde wasn't sure to grin or frown at the girl. So instead, he went with a classic.
"Sike." He grinned condescendingly at the reddening girl as he shoved his wallet back into his pocket. "You may want start running. And I'm telling everyone about this. So if you show your face—"
The girl ran away screaming. Clyde saved face by calling after her. "And the next time you try to scam me, tell a more convincing story."
He shook his head. That was a close one. He checked his newly ranked skill.
[Heart Protection 2: you're 28% less affected by unwanted mental magic or skills from enemies. You gain a 13% bonus to your ability to convince others to do anything that would protect their hearts. [Passive]. 5% chance to break from any magic or charismatic hold.]
Only a five percent chance… Pure luck saved his money. He couldn't take any chances being out here longer—what if another charisma freak came along? Clyde hoped that he wouldn't see that girl again, but knew he'd be naïve to think anime would spare him.
Clyde sighed then turned to the angry blue-haired, green-eyed girl staring back at him. His hostile detection flared as he prepared to analyze her. Red aura outline. "You were quite mean to that girl who poured her heart out. Someone who knows about power levels should never abuse it. I'm going to teach you a lesson in the name of truth, love, justice, and friendship."
The girl suddenly glowed. She shouted, "magi love-love, transformation."
Clyde's eyes widened as her school uniform transformed into a blast of pinks, hearts, and flowers. Standing before him was a magical girl, ready to kick his ass.
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