When Dustin asked his mother for money to join the gym she couldn't have accepted quicker. Whilst she had no proof, his episode the previous morning, and his wish to buff up, made her suspect some kind of rejection, or bullying.
She tried asking him, but he was adamant he wasn't getting bullied, but she did get mixed signals about the rejection.
She cheered him on internally, and offered to get him a personal trainer. He refused, which was understandable, he was probably very embarrassed about it.
The very next day he had come home, pale and hunched over from over-exerting himself. She scolded him, but felt a bit of pride for her son.
Dustin meanwhile, could feel the anger within him boiling. He had barely made it through a tenth of the warm up he had memorized, which was vital for survival.
It didn't take a genius to work out where Dustin would work towards. He already possessed an above average intelligence, giving him the natural edge as a mage.
Dustin had played plenty of video games before he entered university, min/maxing a character was usually not worth it unless one found satisfaction in doing so.
But when it came to survival, any edge over the opposition could increase the gap between dead, and alive. His gym membership was only a part of the routine, he needed to make up a diet that would make him a bit bulkier. He didn't need to be lifting boulders, but enough that he could take on another adult human comfortably.
The idea of killing something did not scare Dustin in the slightest, it was the absence of care that scared him the most. He had never killed anyone, at least not yet. Was he really supposed to be OK with a career in mass murder?
Times would change, at least as far as his memories were concerned. It wouldn't matter if the idea of killing scare him or not, he would die if he didn't adapt.
Everyone would die.
It wasn't a lie to say that the survival of the human race weighed heavily on his shoulders. If, or when, the shop came out, he would have to push himself harder than he had before, making up the time spent toiling that could have given humanity the edge they needed in defending earth.
Trying to pull his head out of the cycle of despair, he put his thoughts towards the initial goals he set.
Whilst he was incredibly intelligent, he hadn't held a job since he worked part time at an ice cream parlor, and that was for a mere four months. He had next to no experience when it came to the job market, giving him little options when it came to earning.
He decided to ask his mother for help, a far cry from the independence of leading a group himself. She almost had another heart attack when he asked the question, hurriedly being sit down whilst she made calls to her friends, trying to find if anyone needed a part time or casual worker.
Dustin could technically work full time, considering his university degree was pointless. But he planned on taking extra classes for material he didn't know, which would fill up the time. He didn't need to go to any of his regular classes as the information, and exam questions, were already in his head.
He didn't tell his mother of his plans beyond the gym and finding a part time job, she already looked shocked enough at his sudden lifestyle change.
Whilst the job hunt went underway, Dustin looked up medieval weapons and armour to see if there were any nearby selling. It was a lot harder to find a suit of armour than it was to find a sword. Plenty of people were selling knock off swords that they had bought and eventually grew out of, but they were generally not a good idea to use in an actual fight.
A regular short sword would do fine, able to parry a lot easier, and less fragile.
When it came to armour, there were a couple of places that offered bits and pieces, but it would cost a fair amount to get it posted since they weren't close by, not to mention the price of the armour itself.
Dustin pushed away from the computer and looked up at the ceiling, feeling like the room was about to collapse and crush him under its weight.
He had managed to grasp the information in his head and start to file it away when needed, saving his sanity from the overload and worry.
What he couldn't work out was why he would have it in the first place. If it was true that everything was going to happen, and he was destined to die at the hands of the oversize walking volcano, what had sent these memories back?
Dustin had no idea if the party succeeded or not, he could remember up to the wave of embers, which was deceptively harmless.
He had inhaled one, and his insides began to burn. His last spell had been to sacrifice his own health, clearing all ailments afflicting party members. The health lost was enough to kill him, sending him crashing to the ground.
Whatever happened after that, he had no idea.
After a couple of weeks of training, Dustin had managed to get his warm up routine down before collapsing. He already noticed the difference in energy as he felt more awake.
His mother had almost cried seeing him up and working, receiving raving feedback from her work mate that had put him up in a part time position.
He was hard working as a kitchen hand, cleaning up the dishes and clearing tables like a tornado. With the spare cash he earned on the side, he almost emptied his bank account each week buying things.
He had books for subjects he wanted to learn, going through at least one each week. Rather than straight up buying a sword, he found a club that practised sword fighting, half of it was japanese sword fighting, Kenjutsu, and other half classic medieval style fighting.
It was to his surprise when he showed interest in it that Ben also agreed to go, signing up to the showcase where they did their recruiting.
The last shift in focus Dustin did was joining clubs, which included a short story club, where they would share short stories with each other.
He had little interest in writing short stories, it was the speaking in front of a crowd that would help boost his charisma.
In the same vein he joined the drama club, applying for roles that played a minor part, but would still get him up in front of lots of people, doing something he was uncomfortable with. All the while he kept an eye on his stat sheet, adding to it when he felt he felt more comfortable doing something.
He increased his strength and agility numbers as he worked through the workout routine, growing closer to completing the whole thing in one session.
His intelligence and wisdom were increased slower as he already possessed a high number, but he continued to study other subjects, including history and warfare.
He felt more confident from acting in plays, and speaking in front of crowds that he increased his charisma slightly, but felt that it was still a far cry from what he apparently needed.
Constitution was the last stat, and the one that seemed to benefit from anything he did. He grew more active, from both hobbies, learning how to fight, and going to the gym, that he bumped it up to an acceptable level.
Intelligence - 17
Strength - 7
Agility - 7
Wisdom - 9
Charisma - 6
Constitution - 8
It began to look well rounded the more he worked on it, despite being numbers he made up in his head.
The due date for the opening of the Dos shop, and therefore the dungeons, was fast approaching. He knew of only a single dungeon that would be accessible, responsible for the disappearance of twelve students.
A room inside the arts faculty at the university Dustin attended was turned into a dungeon. He made plans to bring in his newly acquired leather armour set, and his sword, as props for a play he had worked on.
The class was for a screenwriting class, of which he planned to be nearby when it turned, pretending like he wished to ask the lecturer something.
He had met the lecturer previously, as she attended the plays and had chatted with him briefly. Since he worked on the scripts and his own role within the latest play, she tried convincing him to sign up for screenwriting classes, telling him he had a real talent in it.
There was bound to be some kind of questions asked if they emerged alive from the dungeon, revealing their existence before others could.
The world would take time to adjust to the new changes, making it impossible to throw himself into dungeons without drawing some attention.
Two months after the Dos shop opened was when the first dungeons were discovered. Some discovered as the people inside emerged victorious, but terrified and covered in blood.
Others were discovered as investigations into the tons of missing people ended up around dungeons, revealing the areas where people simply disappeared once inside.
At the back of his mind, Dustin could feel the growing concern over not just his own safety, but his friends and families. He knew when, and where, his mother had died. He had hope that he could prevent that, being in the right place to stop her from entering the dungeon, or being inside and destroying it before she could enter it accidentally.
Others, he was less confident about. With university becoming irrelevant when the world turned to shit, he had lost contact with Ben, unable to find him, and add him to the shops friends list. It was a given that he had died at some point, like his other friends.
The difference now was that Ben had attended the sword fighting lessons with him, giving hope to the fact that Ben could hold his own.
Others he worried about were those less prevalent in his life, like his step-sister, who left to start her own family after their father had died, a product of his first marriage before Dustin was born.
He had no idea about what they went through, and had fond memories of his time with them. Part of him knew that to save humanity, sacrifices were necessary, but even accepting the fact that others had to die for him to succeed gave him a bad feeling.
The day of the Dos shop opening made Dustin extremely nervous. He felt sickened at himself for almost wishing that it did open, saving his sanity from the plethora of memories that bombarded him. He didn't know what he was going to do if it didn't happen.
He had to stick to his plan, forgoing the worries of what might happen. He said goodbye to his mother in the morning, pushing down the urge to tell her to stay home, and drove to university.
He didn't have any classes today, but took in his leather armour in a large shoulder bag, with his sheathed sword as well. Some people asked about the sword as he passed, including some worried staff.
He played it off as drama props, and approached the arts faculty building that would be the beginning of his journey, one way or another.
He looked down at the watch he had bought with the money from his part time job and checked the time. Ten minutes left till midday.
He walked slowly towards the classroom, wanting for the time to hit just after he entered the room. There were a few curious glances as he carried the large bag and sword towards the class, but given his position in the drama club and interests, it wasn't unusual to see people moving props around.
Dustin could see the door to the class just down the hall and breathed in deeply, keeping himself calm. His legs felt heavy the closer he got, up until his hand reached for the doorknob and he froze.
He looked through the glass window, confirming that the screenwriting lecturer was in, and forced himself to knock.
The classes finished five minutes before the hour, and he was let in.
"Hi Sam, have you got a minute to talk about the course?" He asked, putting the heavy bag at his feet, but keeping it pressed to him.
Anything not touching the person when they were transported was left behind, which would go against the entire point of him bringing it. The students inside were packing up, a couple of them waved at Dustin, his acquaintances from the drama club.
"No problem! I've got about ten minutes to get to the next class, what do you want to know?"
Dustin looked down at the watch again, counting the single digit seconds until it happened.
"Mostly how it would fit into my current subject load I-"
Dustin froze, he felt the twisted feelings churning as relief, and dread, washed over him simultaneously, swirling together into an emotion that made him sick to the stomach.
The class looked up in front of their eyes as well, alarmed at the floating window of text.
[Transfer complete. Welcome to Dos.]
As the shop window opened up in front of him, the scenery also began to change. The classroom faded away, causing some of the students to panic. Dustin watched as their surroundings quickly became green, placing them on the edge of a forest.
Checking his feet, Dustin sighed in relief as his bag of armour had come along as well.
Despite the shop window being open, its colours faded to grey, and any previous options became unavailable.
Once set up was complete, the shop and accompanying functions could be used within the dungeons. Unfortunately for those who were unlucky enough to find themselves inside a dungeon before the setup could be completed, they were locked out from its functions.
Unless one was armed like Dustin, it would be a death sentence. They couldn't buy weapons or armour from the shop, they had no access to skills, and even the party function was disabled.
Dustin instinctively closed the shop and felt a renewed vigor inside of him. He wasn't crazy, and his memories had so far been correct. He didn't know how, or when, but he had somehow gone back in time at least fifteen years.
The rest of the class was understandably freaking out, no longer indoors, but standing on a grassy hill adjacent to a forest. Some of them tentatively touched the floor, confirming their worst fear that this was real.
"Did we just get abducted by aliens?"