Chapter 63 – I was Robbed (1)
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[James Lu: Dungeon Explorer – Status Monitored

 Cleared 3rd Floor

 Points: 776

 STR: 59

 DEF: 6

 END: 4

 AGI: 54

 INT: 44


 Skills: Advanced Knife Throwing, Monster Taming, Basic Spearmanship, Basic Knife Combat,

            Basic Hammer Combat.

 Tamed Beasts: Leonardo the Bear (Leo)                                                                                                ]

“Well, it went up like it was supposed to,” said James as he looked at his card. “Except, my luck stat is as broken as ever. It’s just blank now.”

James sat in the training room with the beanie on his head. It had been two days since he first cleared the 3rd floor, and James had cleared it twice afterwards, getting one more Orb of Defense. Thus, his total defense stat was at 6. Clearing the 3rd floor again gave a reward of +1 for each stat. His lowest stat, endurance, which was at 4, was the only stat other than his intelligence for which he had not collected orbs for.

This meant he was growing, which was good. However, James faced a slight predicament. He needed to find a way to clear the 3rd floor reliably without injuring himself by exerting too much strength. The first time, he destroyed his arm and needed a medium tier potion to recover. The second time was like the first. During the third time around, James realized he was using a lot of medium tier potions, and tried to use low tier potions instead. But, he needed 5 of them to recover the same amount, not including the longer recovery time.

Medium potions were 100 points each, and 5 low tier potions would cost 50 points. That was quite a lot. James didn’t have unlimited points, and he would need to clear the 3rd floor many times.

Well, that was one part of it. The other part was that James was not a masochist and did not enjoy the feeling of destroying his own arm. Even doing it 3 times wasn’t something a normal person would do.

“Oh beanie, oh beanie, I prithee thee, giveth me thy wisdom.”

“Has’t thou tried becoming better?” The beanie’s deep, baritone voice echoed in James’ brain.

“No, I didn’t think of that.” James had asked the beanie already, but it had recommended going through the pain and would not offer any other advice.  If James had the points to spare, he might have done just that, since he didn’t see any other way. 

“Wait,” said James. “Do you know who Shakespeare is?”

“Shakespeare? Who is he?”

“He’s a famous playwright. When I just asked you that question, I spoke in a weird way, right? And you responded. Shakespeare was the one who popularized that sort of speech.”

“Ah. No, I don’t know who Shakespeare is. But, I was able to understand because I was using Dragontongue. It’s called the universal language because it conveys intent. To me, I actually heard the dialect of the Maryao tribe. I guess their way of talking is similar to that of Shakespeare’s. All fancy and mostly useless. They’re insufferable, but they make for some good jokes.”

James cocked his head. Dragontongue seemed to be a form of communication that allowed anybody to communicate with anybody. However, it appeared to use mana, which James had no control of, so James would have to wait.

“I need to learn how to use mana! I can sense it just fine, but I just can’t understand where this magic core is supposed to be!” James vented a bit of his frustration.

The beanie brought him back to his original topic.

“Well, I can’t help you with that, but I can help you elsewhere. I’ll teach you how to use your arms effectively. You’d be able to generate more force, reducing the need to inflict pain upon yourself.”

James perked up a bit. The beanie was finally going to teach him how to hit and stab things, instead of making him do leg exercises until he wanted to collapse. He knew the beanie was now probably going to make him do push ups until he wanted to collapse, but it was a nice change of pace.

“Hammer or knife first?” asked James as he got to his feet.

“Hammer first, since that’ll help you right now. Now, swing.”

James swung as he was told.

“Okay, that’s wrong in approximately 4 different ways, two of which are probably the reason you got injured so badly. First of all, your wrist...”

Ah, the trash talking beanie was back. James immediately knew he was in for a world of hurt.

====2 weeks later====

“Damn, James? Have you been beefing up?” James’ friend Jack joked and poked James’ arm during the study hall. The teacher in charge of the study hall couldn’t be bothered to try and control high school students, so he just let everybody talk and do what they wanted.

“You’re right,” said Mo, James’ other best friend. “He doesn't look like a stick anymore. Now he looks like a very thin branch.”

His friends were messing around with him, but they were also speaking the truth. James wasn’t sure if it was due to the physical training he’d started doing recently, or if it was due to the orbs that increased his strength, but James had gained some bulk recently. He went from being ridiculously skinny to being acceptably skinny. It was something.

“James, do you reckon you could deadlift 4 pounds now?”

“Mo. You look beefier than me, but are barely any stronger than me. You have no right to talk.”

“Do I have the right to talk?” asked Jack.

“You’re ripped, man. Shredded.”

While the 3 boys were messing around, Leah was asleep on her desk next to James.

James glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. He didn’t really understand why she wanted to attend a school in America if she was just going to conk out, but he let her be. After all, the experience of sleeping in class was special. The idea that you are successfully avoiding work makes it even more satisfying and refreshing.

When James thought about it, it had been a while since he had actually gone to bed. While he was in the dungeon every night, his body got sleep, but his mind never fell asleep. He did give himselfs breaks every night, so his mind didn’t get extremely tired, but he felt that he should take a nap sometime soon. Even if it was just to remember what it was like to sleep. 

Later that day, as James was walking home from school, he was attacked. He’d noticed the man tailing him for a while before, but ignored him since he maintained a constant distance from him. He didn’t think someone would try to mug him in broad daylight. He simply started walking a bit faster. However, James eventually got stuck at a red light and had to wait. As the man got closer, James noticed that the man reeked of alcohol, so he put himself on guard.

The man stumbled over and leaned on the small traffic light.

James thought to himself, “He’s drunk. Or...pretending to be drunk.” James saw what looked like the handle of a knife sticking out of the man’s back pocket. 

As the traffic light turned green, James crossed the small street, with the man stumbling behind him. He continued walking down the path until he approached a small gap between two buildings. As soon he stepped forwards, the man let out a cry.

The shout was definitely a signal. 4 other men came out of that small gap, holding knives and wearing ski masks. One of them pointed his knife at James.

“Money! Now!”

James stared at them in disbelief. Were they really planning to rob him here? In broad daylight, next to the street? There were plenty of witnesses around on the sidewalk, not counting those in the cars. James was pretty sure that there were cameras around the area too, although he wasn’t sure where exactly they were aimed at. At the very least, the “drunk” man, who wasn’t wearing a mask, would be caught.

He shrugged and brought out his wallet, handing the man a twenty dollar bill and some ones.

“Is that it?” the man barked at him.

James turned his wallet upside down and shook it. Nothing but a few coins fell out. The men probably chose James as a target because he looked like a frail high school student. But how much did you expect such a person to have on him?

“Fuck! I expected him to have more. Search his shit!”

These guys are idiots, he thought. Despite being amused, James held a stone cold countenance on his face as he watched the men take off his bag, search through it, and find nothing but calculus and chemistry papers. James had checked, and didn’t see any strap lines on the men - they didn’t have firearms. That meant that none of the men were a threat to James.

Across the street, a few people were already running over to help James. He signed inwardly. He didn’t know what these people were doing.

Even as the robbers had finished their search and not found anything, James didn’t move. 

“Shit,” the man in the lead shouted as he flung James’ bag onto the ground, spilling binders and papers everywhere. Oh, I might be able to get away with not doing my homework tonight, thought James. 

“Why doesn’t he have anything?”

“We gotta go,” said another one of the robbers.

“Wait, we didn’t pat him down!”

The men grabbed his collar and slammed him against the wall roughly. James drew the line there. Originally, he’d wanted this to be settled without violence. After all, what was 20 dollars to James? He could make 100 bucks within 20 seconds. But, he wasn’t going to lie down and let himself get run over, especially if he knew he would win the fight that would ensue.

“I suggest you let me go,” he said, his voice hard.

“What do you mean? We have knives, and you don’t.”

“Let. Me. Go.”

James’ eyes, which were normally a warm brown, stared into the man. There was no trace of warmth in them.