Chapter 1: First Day
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Many thanks to reader ZeroDays for switching the dashes (-...-) dialogue notation for the quotation ("...") dialogue notation.

"You may now kiss the bride."

But no kiss came. The warmth of her hand suddenly vanishes, the feeling of standing on the stable ground switches to the stomach-churning pain of free-falling, and then my consciousness is severed.

 

"Lily…" I murmur.

My back hurts, my whole body feels like stone, nausea prevents me from trying to get up, and my nose is filled with the musky smell of nature. I finally realize I'm laying down with my eyes closed and my belly up.

Once nausea subsides, I decide to open my eyes, and I see huge trees that almost covers the entire sky. Like cracks on a wall, the crown shyness of the canopies let only small streaks of light pass through.

After regaining control of my body, I manage to sit and look at my surroundings. This is a forest with trees bigger and thicker than anything I have ever seen before; bushes prevent me from seeing too far; and the air is damp and hot.

I get up and notice my body feels weird. I look down and see I'm not wearing my tuxedo, but instead, I have a leather jacket lightly padded with a gambeson, a woolen white shirt, woolen black pants, and some rather uncomfortable leather shoes. On my waist, there's a belt where a sword and scabbard are hanging.

I draw the sword and notice that it's rather light. Oddly, I don't find it difficult to handle, and it's almost as my arm moves on its own as I swing it. Its blade is straight and double-edged, with about 90cm of length. There's space for only one hand on the hilt, which has a cross-shaped guard. The edge is sharp and can easily cut the bushes I swing at. This is not a prop.

"Am I in a renaissance fair?"

I can't remember getting here, did I hit my head? The last thing I remember is being at my wedding ceremony.

"Lily…!? LILY, WHERE ARE YOU!?" I scream in panic, but no response comes, I'm completely alone. After a few moments, I calm down and continue taking in my situation.

My body still feels weird. At least I'm not nauseous anymore, but now I'm starting to feel scared. I don't know where to go, because there are only trees as far as the eye can see. I also don't remember how I got here and in which direction I can go to find someone. I'm truly lost in the woods with no idea of what to do.

Besides, I've never seen a forest like this. I'm a Canadian living in the cold north where it should be winter and the trees are much smaller. Did I travel to a faraway place to the south, or is it summer and I simply forgot the passage of time?

Time passes while I think about what to do, and I start to feel an itch slowly growing inside my head. It's not on the outside, on my hair, but actually inside. Like when water gets on your ear and it gets uncomfortable. It feels like I can almost "touch" it, but it's barely out of reach.

I keep trying to "scratch it while shaking my head, and little by little it, feels I'm getting closer. Then, suddenly, I "reach it" and "scratch it," then a menu opens.

Like a light projection in front of me, I see various columns of black squares with white letters on them, similar to a touchscreen on a phone.

Now I feel like I'm going insane. There's no source of light or medium where the light hits to explain this as a mere projection. It's a floating object that passes through the bushes near me as if it's non-corporeal. It follows my torso but not my head.

Curious and scared, I use my finger to touch the square that says "Status".

A new black square opens and writing can be seen.

 

Info
Name: PRESS HERE TO CHOOSE Age: 16 Race:  Human 
HP: 100 MP: 100 Magic Power:  175
Level: 1 Experience: 0/100
 
Stats
Strength: 7 Endurance: 8 Dexterity: 9
Speed: 10 Intelligence: 20 Wisdom: 15
Willpower: 11 Charisma: 10 Piety: 0
Perception: 15 Sanity: 9
 
Other
Status Effects: NONE Titles: NONE
Affiliations: NONE
Companions: NONE
Crimes: NONE

 

I can't believe this. Mom told me this would happen but I didn't listen. I have now officially gone insane, I'm seeing a video game "status" in real life.

 

I start panicking a little. This situation isn't funny. Compounding on my loss of memory and waking up in an unknown place, now I'm seeing something impossible to explain: a ridiculous looking menu which makes me believe I'm into some ultra-realistic virtual reality game.

I can feel the pain in my body, smell the forest, and perfectly see everything around; I feel a slight hunger in my stomach; I can feel how uncomfortable these ridiculous clothes are; and I can taste my saliva inside my mouth. Just to make sure, I lick my hand and taste the salt of my cold sweat. All of my senses tell me that this is real.

Is this the future where I purposely erased part of my memory and entered this virtual reality just to feel like I have been transported to another world? This is the only logical explanation that does not involve a supernatural event. But if this has really happened, then there's a huge problem: I see no "Quit" or "Logout" button.

My heart beats like crazy, my vision loses focus, I feel like I can't breathe, my mind is filled with fear, my vision darkens. I'm having a panic attack.

 

I blink blankly, and I feel like I've just suddenly woken up. Somehow, I've managed to calm myself after the panic attack.

Apparently, I had lied down at one point, so I sit up and look around. I'm still in the same stupid forest as before.

Fuck.

I need to focus on my only ally here: logic. Logic is my friend, logic is my ally, and logic will help me get through the insanity and ridiculousness so that I can make a proper decision and not break down and starve in this horrible world.

First things first, I have to explore my options. There are more buttons to press on this menu, so let's just pull off the brakes on my skepticism of this fantasy.

On the left of the menu, there are buttons on a column, they are: "Status", "Items", "Skills", "Magic", "Notes" and "Messages".

"Messages" has an exclamation point near it, I assume it signifies that there's an unread message. I open it and there is only one message.

 

Sender: God.

"I'm sorry about this, but there's no way for you to go back."

 

Logic doesn't help when God fucks you over. My vision is darkening again, I'm having another breakdown.

I see my "Sanity" in my "Stats" window gong down a point.

 

This time, I forcefully bring myself back from the stupefied state I was in.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no~~! I can't get mad, this is a prank, someone is messing with me. A camera is hidden and soon someone will jump out of a bush and laugh at me. I have to keep calm so the entirety of the internet, and then the world, won't have a reason to point and laugh at my situation. It's okay, keep calm, it's all a prank.

Since this is a prank, why not use magic? I wanna see what kind of special effects they are going to use.

I press the "Magic" button and… a blank black box appears.

So, I guess I don't have any magic skills yet. Well, let's see how "Items" works. I don't have a backpack, so how are the items going to appear? Hah, it's gonna go *poof* and materialize from thin air or something?

I press the button and a list appears.

 

 Items
Item Name Quantity Item Name Quantity  Item Name Quantity 
Empty backpack 1 Spare clothes bundle 1 Rock bread 10
Dried meat 10 Deer waterskin 5 Sleeping bag 1
Flint 1 Kitchen knife 1 Skinning knife 1
Cooking pot 1 Whetstone Q100 2 Wool cloak 1
Firewood 10 Rose coin 1 Gold coin 10
Silver coin 50 Copper coin 100

 

"At least you gave me money, you shit stain of a god."

I press the "Sleeping Bag" button, the menu closes, and above my finger, a transparent sleeping bag hovers.

Scared at the sudden apparition of a ghost sleeping bag, I step back and pull my hand away, but the ghost follows my finger as if it's glued to it.

Trying to unglue it, I press my finger on my jacket, then, with a *poof*, the sleeping bag suddenly materializes in front of me and falls on my feet.

I think I'm starting to get used to the insanity. A sleeping bag materializes from absolutely nothing and I don't really feel anything.  Is this "shock"?

Now… how do I put it back?

I notice that there's an icon on the corner of the item screen that's animated. It shows a hand grabbing a sword, then bumping a button, and the sword disappears. This animation is on a loop.

I grab the sleeping bag, press the button shown in the animation, and *poof*, the sleeping bag disappears. On the item list appears an entry named "Sleeping bag".

So is there an item limit? Or a weight limit? Is it limited to things I can carry on one hand? Maybe I should write these on my notes and test them later, it should be a priority to understand this if I'm going to be stuck in this fantasy land.

Finally, let's see the "Skills" menu. It has a column with the writing "Skill Points: 10". Below it is written "Acquired Skills," and below that there is [Sword Use 1], which has a minus and a plus sign beside it. It seems I can increase or reduce the skill points at will. Beside this column, there are the following tabs: "Physical," "Magical," and "Miscellaneous." Each of these tabs has over an uncountable number of entries.

"Physical" has things like [Sword Use], [Axe Use], [Shield Use], [Block], [Parry], and [Bow Use]. Some of these look like they might be overlapping, so perhaps the benefits stack, but it sounds troublesome to test. There are others where the name isn't very descriptive, like [Antushi Style], probably related to martial arts schools. Then there are some like [Enhanced Reflexes], [Muscle Explosion], [Hawk Eyes], and [Battlefield Perception] which are interestingly named. There are also dozens of crafting skills like [General Blacksmithing], [Armor Smith], [Weapon Smith], [Jewel Crafting], [Woodwork], and [Bow Crafting]. And finally, there are some ridiculous ones like [Enhanced Sexual Stamina], [Oral Technique], [Enhanced Genital Control], and [Enhanced Semen Recharge].

"Magic" sounds extremely interesting to me. Starting with the standard elements, like [Electric Magic], Space, Light, Dark, Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, and Nature. Then there are the more exotic ones, like Spirit, Summoning, Conjuring, Blessing, Cursing, [Undead Creation], [Bloodwork], and many more. There's magic enhancements like [Mana Control], [Mana Efficiency], [Mana Recovery], [Mana Absorption], [Mana Reflection,] and [Reduced Mana Cost]. Mana seems to be the name of the source of magical power in this world, and MP could mean something like "Mana Points." There are resistances, like [Poison Resistance], [Fire Resistance], and so on. Then crafting, like [Armor Enchanting], [Weapon Enchanting], [Jewel Enchanting], [Alchemy], [Potion Brewing], [Magic Tool Carving], [Poison Brewing], and [Golemancy]. The last seems extremely interesting to me since I have a degree in robotics. And there are ridiculous ones too like, [Slavery Magic], [Sexual Charm], and [Sexual Metamorphosis].

"Miscellaneous" contains things like [Weapon Appraisal], [Jewel Appraisal], [Metal Appraisal], [Ore Appraisal], [Flute Playing], [Lute Playing], [Musical Improvisation], [Singing], [Oratory], [Acting], [Writing], [Housework], [Cleaning], [Washing], and even [Folding]. Then there are some interesting ones, like [Sense Presence], [Hide Presence], [Quiet Steps], [Quiet Action], [Intimidation], and [Charm]. There's even a bunch that's related to language proficiency, but I don't know which one to choose, so I will leave it for later. Some look like they belong into the "Physical" category, but with things like [Charm] and [Sense Presence], maybe they revolve around some weak form of magic, so they are a mix of both physical and magical skill.

Luckily, at the top, there's a search function, but typing on this menu is very awkward. Unlike a keyboard, where you can feel the feedback of pressing a key, this keyboard passes through the finger, so I don't feel anything when I press a button. The feedback is even worse than that of a smartphone.

"Notes" operates like an office computer software where you create and organize documents, and simply write things in them with an awkward, floating, non-corporeal keyboard.

 

Now that I have seen it all, I need to decide my next step. I have some food, and although something like "rock bread" doesn't sound appetizing, I don't think I will starve to death so soon. But still, if there's no civilization nearby, I need to secure a source of food and water. Perhaps conjuring will give me something to survive, but I'm not sure relying on magic to survive is a good idea. I have no idea what kind of nutrition magically created food has, and I also have no idea of the mana cost of conjuring, or how fast mana recovers. I will need to test it, but testing it now might cost me precious time.

Since I have no idea where to go, maybe it's best to find a vantage point where I can look over the surroundings and search for a river or a man-made structure.

I have an idea. Since I can add or remove skill points at will, I can see which magic gives which spell, so maybe there's something useful in there. Once I put one point into a magic school, it gives me at least one spell. Most magic schools require ten points until the next spell is unlocked, some require five. I don't know what's after level eleven since I don't have enough points.

Although [Golemancy] seems interesting, it doesn't look like it is useful right now. [Conjuring Magic] gives me a source of water, but I'll have to test it later for how much water it gives me. It might also be a good idea to have at least one offensive magic since I seemingly have good stats for magic if it's based on intelligence, like most RPGs.

I wanted some healing magic, but since my "Piety" is zero, I'm uncertain if it's a good idea since in plenty of games healing magic is tied to religion and piety. I'm starting to wish I wasn't an atheist. If this truly is a different world, then I better start believing in the divine seeing how supernatural things are happening around me.

After I look at [Summoning Magic] I get an excellent idea. The first spell for summoning is [Summon Small Bird], which might be my best way of finding my way around this forest, so I put a point in it, go to the "Magic" tab, and press the spell's button

For a second, I feel like my blood is being sucked out of my body through multiple places, then a ball of light appears in front of the finger that pressed the button.

Not knowing what to do, I decide to touch the ball. Gravity suddenly starts to apply on it, and it falls on the ground, then stops shining. Suddenly, I'm looking at the sky again.

 

When my head stops spinning, I understand that I fell on the ground. My vision has become distorted, on one side I can see the sky, and on the other can see the sole of my own boots; my body feels really weird while also light and energetic at the same time; and I feel like I have "grown" more limbs, yet I can't "control" them to understand what's going on; my hearing is noisy and much louder than before; I feel much hungrier than before, and my insides are churning at the same time.

After getting a little bit used to the situation, I raise my upper body. On one side of my vision, I see a small brown bird that looks like a fluffy ball, on the other side of I see… myself? I don't remember looking like this. I'm younger, much younger. This baby face that I didn't see for more than a decade is staring at… me?

After a minute, I manage to get over this mind-fuck. I understand now that this little bird in front of me is my summon and that  I'm "sharing" its senses. Things like sight, hearing, touch, taste, proprioception, heat, and maybe even more. There are so many that I'm getting a strong headache; my mind isn't ready for so much information.

I wish that I wasn't sharing all of those senses

Suddenly, the sharing stops, and I feel so sick that I almost puke.

 

A flush of information followed by a sudden cut is too much for me to handle. I have to spend a few minutes controlling my stomach so that I can keep whatever's in there.

After a while, I look at the bird and notice that it's still in the same spot, with its beady little eyes staring intensely at me.

If all I need is to wish for this "sense sharing" to stop, then I wish that I could only share the sight.

And now my vision is back to seeing two images.

It's not like my vision decreased, it "expanded," and now I can see much more, which puts a strain on my brain and makes me feel a little queasy. At least now I'm sure that this little guy is the perfect thing to help me find civilization.

I look at my status and see that my max MP was halved and that my current MP is now at fifteen points. It seems that either summoning is an advanced form of magic, or I'm just bad at magic even though I have good stats. Also, I didn't put any points into things like [Mana Control], [Mana Efficiency], or [Reduced Mana Cost], so maybe that's why this magic is so expensive. That was a mistake, I wasted a lot of mana points.

But it doesn't matter now. What I need to do is learn how to control this bird.

First, I try to wish for it to move like I wished to stop the sense sharing, but nothing happens. Perhaps it only works with voice commands, which makes it impossible to use it as a puppet.

"Sit on my hand," I order. I open my palm and it obeys.

Seeing the bird suddenly take flight makes me nauseous again, but I guess it's just a matter of getting used to it.

Now, with the bird closer to my face, I can finally see myself properly.

I'm truly much younger than before, I'm really sixteen again. Round face, protruding jaw, full cheeks, traces of pimples, a few characteristic freckles, complete lack of the stubble that made me look manly, and short black hair neatly combed to the side, now slightly disheveled. That's me, the young, baby-faced me. Considering how I'm seeing my younger self through the eyes of a little bird, I can feel my "Sanity" dropping another point.

 

I need to get a hold of myself. I'm not supposed to be affected by this anymore, and my safety is the top priority right now. If I really am into some sort of video game, then just by looking at the large number of combat skills I can assume that this is a dangerous world. Not only that, but I'm alone in the woods, which the most common place for enemies to appear, so I need to prepare myself and focus back on finding civilization.

While calming myself, I notice something odd inside my head. Like an itch, I recognize it's similar to the itch that I have to scratch to open and close the menu, so maybe this is related to the [Summoning Magic]? I feel like I don't have to make an effort to scratch it, so I will leave it like this, otherwise, it's possible that I could accidentally dismiss the summoned bird and lose the mana I'd already spent.

Finally, it's time to scout the area.

"Fly high in a circle and come back after two minutes," I order.

Hopefully, it knows what two minutes are. I also defined a time limit since I'm afraid that it won't come back unless I tell it to.

The bird quickly flies upwards and crosses the canopies, giving me a breathtaking view.

A sea of trees, that is how this place looks from above. There are some trees that are much taller, allowing you to see their trunks, and they show huge vines hanging from their branches. There are huge roots thicker than a house that twist around the ground and disappear among the trees. Blue, red, yellow, orange, white, and black patches of leaves paint the sea as if they were drops of paint on a green canvas. The sky is completely clear and blue, showing me that this isn't a completely alien world. The sunlight reflects on the leaves and creates beautiful twinkling lights as the bird flies around.

Based on the position of the sun, it looks like it's still a few hours before noon.

Far away, near the horizon, I can see a grassland, and beyond that, just on the edge of my view, I see something that makes my heart stop: multiple black lines stand on top of another black line. It kind of looks like towers behind a stone wall. It's definitely man-made, and not a mountain or a weird tree.

Finally, I have a direction to go. After the bird comes back, I'll order it to fly towards that to investigate more. But wait, that doesn't look like anything modern; it reminds me of drawings of medieval fantasy towns… Just another piece of evidence I'm not in a normal situation.

Suddenly, the bird's view gets shaky and blurry, and a shadow blocks part of it. The bird got captured by the claws of a large, scaled animal.

I don't know what happens if it gets killed, and I fear that a painful feedback could be sent to me if it gets killed, just like it happens in some games.

I immediately "scratch" the itch inside my brain, and the vision of the bird instantly gets blurry, then it slowly goes black. My field of view goes to normal and the discomfort of double view goes away. It seems that I just "unsummoned" my familiar.

 

This hits me like a bucket of cold water. It shows again that this world is dangerous and I need to prepare.

So far, I only have 1 point into [Summoning Magic] and [Sword Use], I still have 9 unused points so I better prepare.

First, I want healing magic. I bite the bullet and put 10 points in [Light Magic]. I have a suspicion it uses "Piety," and since I have zero in that stat, it might be useless to me.

I go to my "Magic" tab, press [Heal]…  and nothing happens.

I guess I was right. If zero "Piety" means that I can't cast it, then maybe it works like a multiplier. If I assume that "ten" is the normal value for the average person, then I might need at least that much "Piety" before it becomes cost-effective.

Well then, at least there's another healing spell I can use. I put five points in [Nature Magic], and it gives me two spells: [Constricting Vines] and [Regeneration]. Both seem very useful for someone like me that doesn't really want to fight. Then I put two in [Sense Presence] so I can detect enemies coming. I put one point in [Electric Magic] so I at least have one offensive spell: [Lightning Bolt]. I don't want to use [Fire Magic] in a forest since I'm not confident I won't start a forest fire. And the last point goes in [Sword Use] making it level 2.

Now, I have two more itches inside my head, with a total of four. Because of some sort of subconscious understanding, I can differentiate between these "itches." One is the "Menu," two are for the [Nature Magic] spells, one is the [Sense Presence] skill, and the last is the [Lightning Bolt] spell. With a little bit of familiarity, it seems that it'll be very easy to quickly use the one I want.

My mana is back to twenty, so  I think I'll rest some more until it's back to full.

 

While I wait, I focus on calming my heart so I can do what I need to do. My "Sanity" goes up one point so it's now at eight. I assume that the average is also ten, so being at eight isn't necessarily bad, but I believe this means that I have to work harder on keeping calm.

This is possibly a medieval fantasy world with swords and magic, which means that it's different from my society. I need to be mindful of things such as respecting the nobility, avoiding triggering the superstitions of locals, understanding local laws, adapting to the food and etiquette, understanding the economy, understanding the common sense, and dozens of other small things.

If I fail with this first contact, then I don't know if I can survive until I reach the next town. I can't bring attention to myself, so I should avoid things like [Slavery Magic], [Bloodwork], and [Necromancy Magic], which sound dangerous and potentially illegal. [Summoning Magic] also seems advanced and exotic, and it's best that people don't ask where I learned it, so I should hide it, too. Also, the skill system seems abusive, I could turn from a swordsman, to a mage, to an assassin, to a craftsman, and to a negotiator, all in a small amount of time. It doesn't seem normal for people to be able to do what I did with this skill system. Even the menu and things like "Items" could be abnormal here, so I have to cautious of that, too.

Now I'm starting to accept this might really be another world. "God" may have sent me a message that I can't go back, but there's no evidence of that, it's just the words of a suspicious being that I have never seen before. Perhaps I can go back, or perhaps not, but first, I need to search for knowledge about this world, about teleportation, and about other worlds, then I can truly decide if it's possible or not.

Even if this is truly a game, I can still feel a lot of pain, I can feel the pleasure of the wind, I can feel the hunger in stomach…

Now that I think about it, I feel like I should eat a piece of meat.

 

This "dried meat" is too salty for my taste, too hard to cut, and too rubbery to chew. I really want normal food now. I didn't even get to taste the buffet that I ordered for my wedding, and there were so many choices of chocolate candies that I never got to enjoy.

I slap my cheeks to get away from these idle thoughts.

Going back to the previous train of thought, I can feel the satisfaction of eating something, and everything that I should normally feel. For me, this is reality, not a game, so I don't want to live a poor and hard life. If I can basically do anything with this skill system, then maybe I can use it to my advantage and have a quiet, but fulfilling life while I search for knowledge about how to get back.

I sigh and lay back on the cold hard ground. I can see the sun on top of the canopies now, so I guess this is about noon. Also, my MP is now back to full; it took at least an hour of waiting.

I just wanted to hug you one more time Lily…

 

I try to eat a piece of "rock bread", but it's really as hard as a rock. Well, I guess this is why it won't spoil easily. I try to wet it with my saliva and it easily turns into mush. Bland, wet, white bread, delicious.

I have to test [Lightning Bolt], too. It's best to know your tools, even if I'm going to waste the mana right now by firing it at nothing.

I scratch the "itch" of [Lightning Bolt], and at the point of my left finger, I feel something getting hot. I also feel the sensation of blood leaving my body again, so it must be consuming charging with by consuming my mana

I look at my finger and see that it's shining faintly. I point it forward, and after two seconds of holding it still, a lightning bolt flashes from my finger towards a bush ahead.

After the flash and thunder, I see that the bush is completely carbonized and slightly burning.

I have no idea how to measure damage, but this spell feels dangerous. Maybe it could kill a person in one hit? But there's the status values and HP values, so maybe people can get resistance through "Endurance" or something.

I cast [Constricting Vines] on another bush. Where my finger is pointing at, green vines burst from the ground and wrap themselves around a bush. It takes a few seconds for them to wrap around it completely, so I don't think I can use this on an enemy that's moving.

These spells cost me around ¼ of my mana, so I only have four more uses or so of [Lighting Bolt].

I think I'll wait again until my mana is full. I also don't know what happens if I use all my mana. In some games, you can feel sick, faint, lose health, or even die, so I'm unwilling to test my mana to the limit.

Finally, after resting again, I get the motivation to move on. Now I need to walk into the direction of town and reach safety.

 

I walk with [Sense Presence] activated, but I realize it makes me very tense. I certainly would tire of keeping it on all the time. Maybe I will get used to it if I level up or put more points on it, or something like that.

I'm really tense, but I can still appreciate the environment. The trees are all ten to fifteen meters tall, with a girth that would require at least five people to make a human chain around it. The occasional huge root snaking around the trees, randomly going above or below the ground, makes me imagine if they're the roots of one huge tree.

There're also plenty of different bushes and small trees with fruits, mostly colorful berries and grapes. I try to put the fruits into "Items," but they all show a "??? fruit," so I'm not sure what they are or if they're even edible. They look quite appetizing, though.

Then, as I walk through a small patch of blue leaved trees with a white trunk, my [Sense Presence] picks up something different from the animals. Like a radar inside my mind, I feel something "red" a few meters away and to my right.

This skill creates a sort of small radar in my mind where I can "feel" small "dots." So far, I've only seen "white" dots, which are small animals, but this "red" dot feels like something "dangerous."

I suddenly feel a pain in my heart when I notice that the red dot is coming directly to me.

Did it notice me? Does it also have [Sense Presence]? I can't even see it because the bushes are on the way.

I hide behind a bush and crouch. If possible, I'd like to avoid combat. In games, killing monsters give experience, which will make me increase my "level," but I don't have confidence in my abilities, and I also don't even know what kind of "enemy" is coming.

The presence continues towards me. I notice the intercept route is a little off, so maybe it's just a coincidence that our paths would cross, but it'll still be very close. I can't afford to move and make a noise.

I put my hand on the hilt of my sword.

As I wait for the enemy to come closer, I start to hear footsteps. It seems that the red dot is a quadruped, so perhaps it's a dog? Then I hear the sound of someone sniffing the air. It's smelling me. There's no escape now that it caught my scent; it's going to come to me.

A bush in front starts to move, and out of it, a small wolf-like animal comes out. It has a long snout that gets thinner at the nose, fangs coming out of its closed mouth, and a round body with spines covered in moss. What's not covered in spines are covered in grey fur. It's certainly not an animal that I know.

I freeze for a moment, I'm still not used to the ridiculous things that happen to me, but that was a mistake.

The monster has noticed me, and it immediately bares his fangs, then lunges at me.

It's coming, it's gonna bite me, it wants to kill me, I'm going to die.

"AAAAAAAH," I scream in fear.

The fight or flight instinct kicks in, and this time, I decided to fight. When the monster gets close enough it jumps, aiming at my face.

While drawing my sword, I aim the blade at it, and it hits the monster on the side of its snout. This isn't a katana capable of Iaido, so I only manage to give it a mere scratch, but at least I deflected the tackle. It passes by my side and falls two meters away.

I turn immediately to face it, and the animal does a move that sends chills down my spine. It lifts the hind legs and lowers the front legs, then the spines move their pointy ends directly towards me and start to shake. In the next moment, they shoot out like arrows.

Through some incredible reflexes or luck, I lunge to the side, hiding behind the nearest tree, but it isn't a perfect dodge. The side of my legs are assaulted by a wave of pain as the mossy spines enter my skin.

I was already filled with adrenaline since a few seconds ago while anxiously waiting for the monster to come, so I manage to ignore the pain, but I'm still panicking, so decide to use my trump card, I start casting [Lightning Bolt].

I hear the footsteps of the monster rushing towards me. It has to go around the tree, so it doesn't reach me instantly, but its speed is still faster than I can cast.

I see it, and it jumps again, aiming towards my face, then the bolt flies.

The lightning roars and the animal screams. It tackles me, but it doesn't bite. I protect my face and manage to grab him by the snout. It isn't very heavy, so I manage to not fall back from the impact. Then I throw it to the ground.

Part of its fur is burned, smoke rises from its body, and its eyes are cloudy and possibly fried. It starts to convulse, but it's not dead yet.

Anger runs through my body and I pierce its head with my sword. It twitches for a few seconds, then it stops moving.

I killed something, I actually fucking killed something…but the feeling of my sword piercing through flesh is disgusting.

"You are now level two," says a female voice.

"W-what? Who's there?" I question and look around, but there's nobody around. After a while, I assume this voice is inside my head, like a video game announcer.

I stand still for some time, thinking about what just happened, but the adrenaline goes away and the pain of the spines piercing my skin starts to grow.

I quickly pull the spines out, but it just makes the pain worsen. Now, my skin trickles with blood and stains my clothes. I notice that four spines got stopped by the leather jacket.

I guess armor really is useful here.

I cast [Regeneration], and a ball of light appears, floating above my left palm. I touch my body with it and remain still for some time. I immediately start to feel calmer as the pain slowly subsides, and a slightly pleasurable feeling course through my body. It seems that this is a continuous spell.

It takes ten minutes, but the blood stops completely, then the wound starts closing, and the pain goes away completely. I guess this magic is not something you use during battle, but it remains in effect for a minute after I stop channeling it.

My mana is now at twenty. I guess I really need that [Mana Efficiency] skill.

 

While waiting for my mana to recharge, I look at my stats, but disappointingly, they didn't change. Perhaps, like "Sanity," stat values change based on training or other conditions instead of level.

So, now I look into my skills. I have four new points to spend. I use two for the [Mana Efficiency] skill and two for [Sword Use]. Even though I barely used the sword, it was because I made a mistake and kept it sheathed before the battle. The monster was fast and magic has a short delay to cast, so I need to defend myself with a weapon if I get into melee.

I know that there's a [Dismantling] skill, so the corpse of monsters might be valuable. Because of that, I put it into my "Items," and it shows as "Hedge-wolf? monster corpse." I don't understand why there's a "?" there. Maybe it's like the fruits and the naming is based on my knowledge, so it picked the most appropriate name I could think.

I also change my pants since the smell of blood could attract more monsters. The bloodied pants are put into "Items" and get named as "bloody black woolen pants." 

I take out the "spare clothes bundle." It's a neat stack of clothes tied by a small cord. Maybe it needs to be like this so that it can "stack" and be considered as one item instead of each piece of clothing being separate. The bundle also has some linen underwear, which is the same as the one I'm wearing. It's loose-fitting and a little uncomfortable for me.

Now I start to think about this world. It's clear that there are monsters different from animals, and that they are hostile. Unfortunately, this one found me by smell, I believe, so even if I was completely silent, it wouldn't have helped. Maybe there's some magic that erases scent somewhere.

I need to fight and I need to kill what I fight, there's no other way to survive here.

 

After recharging my mana, I start moving again. Now I feel a little more confident since I calmed my heart, but I'm still feeling rather stressed. The [Sense Presence] skill is taking its toll on me.

After walking what seems like half an hour, I get another hit on my radar. The red dot feels "different" this time, and it's not coming directly towards me.

I hide behind a bush with a good vision ahead and wait until I can see it. After a minute or so, a bush moves and the monster comes out of it.

It's a skinny, little green man with an ugly, oversized bald head full of wrinkles, a large, pointy ear, and a curved nose. It's a goblin, a standard enemy of fantasy worlds. It's completely naked, and its disgusting genital is dangling around, waving as he moves. He's also wounded, and I can see bruises and cuts that are lightly bleeding. In his left hand, he is dragging a long, thin dagger, probably used for piercing.

This is a golden opportunity. A single Hedge-wolf gave me one hundred and ten experience points and let me level up, now I need two hundred points, but every single point counts.

Just a single level in [Electric Magic] was enough to be the difference between life and death, or at least life and a nasty bite on my face. If I want to survive, I need to kill this goblin. The chance of success on this is high unless I'm mistaking the strength of this little green thing. He's not even a meter tall, he should be weak.

Yes, that's it, I'm charging.

I draw my sword and dash towards him, holding it high above my head. The goblin barely has a chance to react before I'm into range, and I slash downwards.

The goblin has experience in fighting and tries to deflect my sword with his dagger, but it's not enough. He's not fast or strong enough to parry, but he still moves my sword sideways a bit. What was supposed to be a single hit kill by a chop to the head becomes a deadly wound as the tip of my sword sinks into his shoulder. It passes through flesh and bone, entering his chest, then it gets stuck.

"GYEEEEEH!" The goblin screams. A nasty scream so loud that it hurts my ears.

With this, the color drains from my face. He could be calling for allies. I believe I'm in trouble now.

With anger fueling my movements I free my sword from its body, then bring it back and chop horizontally. I decapitate him, and his head rolls away. This is an awfully sharp sword.

I don't have time to be stunned by the bloody scene. If a wounded goblin appeared, maybe there are others who just finished fighting. Even if they are wounded, I have no confidence in fighting more than one enemy, especially if they can just throw things at me, like spears.

I quickly add the goblin's body, head, and knife to my "Items," then I dash into a right angle from where the goblin came from to maximize my distance from where I killed it.

After a minute or so, I slow down and catch my breath. I look at the sword in my hand and realize I forgot to clean it. This is bad because other monsters could follow the smell of blood.

I pull the already bloodied pants from "Items" and use it to remove the blood, then I resume moving towards my destination.

This goblin gave me one hundred and eighty experience points, now I only need ten more for the next level. This is good progress.

Just two more points into [Sword Use] allowed me to properly swing the sword twice and get a kill, so, soon I'll be able to increase the skill some more. Though it was a surprise attack against a small monster armed only with a knife, so I hope I don't find anything worse.

But I do, find what that goblin had fought.

 

After another hour, I get another hit on my radar. This hit sends chills down my spine. I feel that this red rod is considerably larger than the previous ones, and I estimate that its body size is as big as me, but much longer and thick.

I immediately crouch behind a bush and hide in fear.

The monster is just going to pass nearby, and there's no risk of it getting too close. It's slowly strolling around, and it seems like it doesn't even have a fixed destination, so I assume that it's not searching for me, specifically.

After two minutes, I start to hear the monster walking. it's another quadruped with a very heavy body. Then I hear a small growl, an unmistakable bear growl.

I start sweating cold. Even in my world, a bear is not something you fight with just a sword and a party trick spell.

The bear suddenly stops.

Did it notice me? How? I can't hear it trying to smell the air.

Then I hear it turn in my direction. I wait for a few seconds, my heart in my mouth, then it growls again, and this time, it sounds angry.

Yeah, it noticed me.

I should have walked away. I should have taken [Quiet Steps] so that I can walk away from any dangerous encounter, but I didn't think this would happen, I didn't expect that it could so easily detect my presence. I thought the Hedge-wolf was an exception, but I was naive.

Now, what do I do, flee? I'm getting tired, the bear is in the way of my destination, and I'm not sure if I can outrun a bear. Maybe I should fight and test the waters, then flee if the situation gets worse. The problem is, if I get hit once, then maybe I'm dead, so there's no room for a mistake here.

I need to at least look at what kind of enemy this is. The hedge-wolf was just bizarre, but maybe I can see something that'll help me defeat it.

I get up and peek from behind the bush. The enemy is truly a bear, a frightening bear staring at me like a ravenous beast. It has five claws the size of my hand on each paw, fangs the size of my head protruding from its open, salivating mouth, grey fur covering its body. It's wounded, though; I can see multiple pieces of what seems to be spears stuck to its body, there's blood dripping from its face, one eye is closed, and there are multiple bloodstains on its grey fur. It's heavily wounded, so perhaps it's probably what the previous goblin was fighting. I think that there's a chance of victory, but I can't get hit. If I do, I'm dead, so I have to use everything I can to win.

I draw my sword and start casting [Lighting Bolt], the bear immediately starts charging. I don't want to use [Constricting Vines] because it's too slow, I also have a feeling that simple vines won't stop the charge of something that big.

He's fast, but so is my casting, I manage to cast my bolt twice before he gets into melee range. The spells slow him down enough so that he can't trample me, and the smell of burnt flesh fills the air.

He gets on his hind legs and tries to use his huge paws to swipe at me. They're too slow, so I jump backward and cast again, making him roar in anger.

Now he's angry. With a sudden burst of speed, he waddles a little closer and swipes with a speed that catches me by surprise. All I can do is defend myself with the sword as the claws hit the blade and the massive strength sends me flying.

I hit a tree and air leaves my lungs, then I feel immense pain in my back.

My vision becomes blurry, but I manage to cast again. The spell hits the bear on the snout, then it stops its attack and starts convulsing.

An opportunity! I could run away, but now bloodlust clouds my mind. Anger makes me move forward, and the sweet deal of getting a large amount of experience fills my thoughts with greed. I charge forward.

How long are his convulsions going to last? I don't know, but since this is low-level magic, it's likely to be short, so I start casting again.

A strong headache attacks me, so I think this is the last spell I can cast before getting drained.

The bear stops convulsing, then he looks at me and roars again. I finish my cast at point-blank range.

The bear flinches in pain from the spell, then I thrust with my sword and it goes through his eye, hitting the back of his skull. The bear twitches a little, and his body gives up then falls limp on the ground.

"You are now level five," says the female announcer again.

I look at my stats, my MP is at minus four. A massive headache flares and my vision goes black.

 

I slowly recover my consciousness. My back hurts a lot, I'm shivering, I have difficulty to breathe, and my head hurts so much I don't think I can even stand.

While laying down, I look into my stats and see that my MP is at ten but my HP is at ninety.

Even though I blocked the attack I got damaged. Scary.

My "Magic Power" grew by five and my maximum MP by ten. I now have twelve new skill points, so I put them all on [Mana Efficiency] and cast [Regeneration] on myself.

It takes another ten minutes, and I heal until I only have one MP left. It helps with the back pain, but the headache worsens, and I'm still feeling very tired.

I simply rest on the ground until my MP reaches twenty, then I use [Regeneration] again and the back pain subsides enough to let me stand.

I look around and see that the bear is dead with my sword sticking out of its eye.

I did it, I fucking killed a huge bear, a monstrously large bear. Fucking hell.

I take the sword out and clean it on the bear's own fur, then I grab a paw and store the bear on "Items. Now I need to properly distribute my points.

 

I have thirty-one points total, so I put them like this:

 

PRESS HERE TO CHOOSE Skill Report
Physical
Skill Name Level Skill Name Level Skill Name Level
Sword Use 5 Dodge 3 Quiet Steps 5
Sense Presence 3
 
Magical
Skill Name Level Skill Name Level Skill Name Level
Mana Efficiency 3 Mana Recovery 2 Electric Magic 4
Nature Magic 5 Summoning Magic 1
 
Miscellaneous

 

I should at least be able to use [Lightning Bolt] five times without fainting, perhaps one more and then fainting. I don't know which is more efficient, [Mana Efficiency] or [Reduced Mana Cost] so I'm just gonna bet on efficiency. I don't have time to test them since it's way past noon now, and I need to keep moving. I also prefer to spread out my capabilities instead of focusing on only one thing. I need to be versatile and adaptive here.

With unsteady steps, I start moving again. I'm still hurting, my HP is at ninety-eight and after another rest, my MP is at forty.

The range of [Sense Presence] a bit with two more points and it makes me less tense, which is good since I still have a headache.

I can see my MP gradually going up even while moving, so [Mana Recovery] is a good investment. I heal myself again while walking, then the headache and back pain finally stops, but I'm still feeling very tired.

 

After another hour, I get another hit. This time, I know it's another goblin.

I don't want to fight anymore, I'm too tired, but I need to test [Quiet Steps] and how close I can get before he notices me.

Usually, in games, goblins usually attack in numbers to compensate for their lack of intelligence or equipment, so finding a single goblin is lucky. Maybe not so lucky since I also met what made them scatter, but still, this situation is a lucky find.

I activate [Quiet Steps] and start moving. My footsteps are much quieter now. It seems that the skill isn't straight-up magic, it seems to only give me a very strong intuition on where and how to step so that I don't make a sound.

I notice that the goblin is standing still. I manage to catch a glimpse of him, and he's looking downwards, so I circle around to get behind him and continue approaching.

From an opening in a bush, I notice he's treating himself. He has a nasty cut on his shoulder, and he's wiping it with a seemingly clean cloth.

How smart is he?

Then I notice that he's wearing a small leather jacket and that he has a wooden spear with a shining metal tip next to him. He's not the same as the other goblin, this one is more experienced and seemingly much smarter. He also has better equipment. I need to kill him with one attack.

I carefully approach, inching closer, little by little.

I must have patience.

He's barely within reach of my sword.

"Gah?" He leaks a sound and looks behind, but it's too late.

I lunge forward and my sword stabs his throat.

I pull the sword out and he pressures the wound as he writhes on the ground. All he can do is garble some words and gasp for air while slowly dying from drowning in his own blood.

He stares at me intensely. His beady little eyes don't contain anger but only surprise. Maybe he's surprised he got attacked, or just surprised he's going to die.

I'm feeling nauseous at this scene. He's way too human for me to just watch this.

Perhaps I made a mistake. Perhaps he's conscious and a person who belongs to a community in this world. Perhaps I committed a crime. I never allowed those two goblins to attack first; I surprise attacked them both.

I can't look at this anymore, so I decapitate the goblin.

Shit, I feel even worse now.

He gave more experience than the last goblin, but it's not enough to level up again. I look at my status and see that my "Crimes" section is still saying "NONE." This gives me a little comfort, but only a little.

I put him and his spear in my "Items," then I turn back to keep going towards my objective again and see something frightening.

A human skull, multiple bones, and a skeleton torso are laying at the foot of a huge tree. The bones are small, but they are definitely human, or at least I think they are. Goblin heads are seemingly much larger than this skull.

Then I see something besides the skeleton, a ruined backpack. 

I now remember that the goblin's equipment was rather dusty and old looking. The spear was clean, but it was chipped. It seems that the owner of this equipment was the skeleton remains. The goblin had just found it by chance.

When I look inside the backpack, I see a small ruined notebook. I open it, and while it's mushy and the words are blurred, I can still discern some foreign characters every once in a while, so I remove one point from [Sword Use] and start adding it to each of the language skills in my "Miscellaneous" tab.

After a few minutes, I finally find the language this notebook was written in, it's Norvok.

I have to put five points in the language for me to be able to make sense of what's written. Also, it seems that the maximum for language is ten.

This notebook is a diary. A dwarven young man was traveling to the other side of the continent and writing about his travels. There are tellings of what was eaten, killed, who he talked to, and minor random details. I can't absorb anything from the culture just by reading this, but it helps me discover the language used by the locals, it's called Andraste.

There's no identification, so I don't know the name of this dwarf. I feel like I should bury him, but I don't have a shovel and neither the energy nor the time to waste here, so I just put all his bones in a pile and continue on towards my objective.

 

After another hour of walking, and I finally see something glittering beyond the trees. It's grass, grass touched by the sun. I have finally reached the border of the forest.

I start to run. I don't care if I find another monster, I just want to see what's ahead. If it's really a town, then the last stretch of my journey is close, and with that, comes safety.

The view opens up, and the forest finally ends. I'm now in a grassland, and I see a beautiful sight. The tall grass reaches my waist and waves with the wind, the green is painted with the gold of the reflected sunlight. It's a calming picturesque view that makes me wish to just lay down and relax, but the most beautiful sight is beyond the grassland.

I see the stone wall, around twenty meters tall, with towers double its size behind it. Very far away, to the left of where the wall ends I can see something resembling wagons behind a chest-high cobble wall, then I people walking between the wagons.

Finally, civilization.

I remove [Quiet Steps] and [Summoning Magic]; reduce [Sense Presence], [Dodge], and [Electric Magic]; then put ten points in [Andraste Language]. With preparations done, I start running towards the wagons.

 

As I run, I manage to take in the sights, and I see the top of other buildings beyond the wall. They have odd, crooked shapes, they're made of a mix of dark and light wood, and white and dark blue cobblestone.

It's like someone partially demolished a cobble building, then used whatever wood it had to rebuild it. They don't look hastily made, though, as both the stone and wood are full of relief, details, and decorations. Some buildings increase in diameter with every floor, and some have an assortment of statues and other decorations on the supporting pillars. Truly an odd town.

Beyond the chest-high cobblestone wall, I see plantations, so they must be farms.

As I approach the wall, I attract attention from the people ahead, and some men with cloaks wait for me behind the chest-high wall.

With that, my energy runs out. I realize I haven't thought of a story to tell them yet. Even if I can communicate, it's best that I don't tell them I came from another world, or tell a lie, like I lost my memories or something similar. There's a probability that I will be taken advantage of if I do that, so I need to decide on a believable story.

I kneel and try to hide under the waist-high grass, then I take out my backpack from "Items" and fit a few things on it, like the sleeping bag, cooking pot, change of clothes, pieces of food, knives, and some coins. Now, my backpack is full and heavy, so I continue moving forward. I hope nobody noticed I didn't have it on me before.

As I get closer, I notice the men looking at me are wearing a hauberk with a grey tabard, and a mail coif. Swords hang from their waists and they have kite shields strapped to their arms. The tabards are black with a simple white kite in the middle, which has a golden sword and a rose crossed over it. This must be the heraldry of the town's lord.

Is this really Earth? It looks like I'm a medieval fantasy world.

 

When I get close enough, I count four men and two women soldiers watching me.

"Ooi, are you okay?! Are you an adventurer?!" Shouts one of the men.

Adventurer? No, that sounds dangerous, I'm just a traveler.

Their speech sounds really odd to me. I hear foreign words, but in my mind, I perfectly understand what they mean. This must be the effect of the language skill.

"N-no, I'm just a traveler. I got lost in the woods and got attacked!" I answer.

The soldiers start murmuring with each other. They seem friendly but surprised.

Once I get close enough to properly see their faces, one of them starts talking.

"Wow, you look really young. You're also really lucky, just two days ago a culling was done in the forest, so there are barely any monsters about, but still, you need some skill to survive all by yourself. Anyway, are you going to enter the town?" He casually asks.

"Yes, please. I'm tired, I really need some rest," I answer.

Lucky? Pff. If that's being lucky, then please wake me up from this nightmare.

"Alright, I'll process your entry, come with me. Now everybody, back to your stations!" The man barks as he glares at the other soldiers, and they all disperse immediately. I notice that this man wears a golden armband on both arms, so perhaps he's the leader of the watch.

I could only look at them for a short time, but these men and women are all tall, burly, and have attractive faces. I'm rather surprised they aren't uglier.

I jump over the wall and fall on a raised cobblestone road, then I follow the leader. We pass by two stopped wagons, each has another soldier writing something with a… pen? It looks like a thin metallic cylinder with a very small jewel at the tip.

Both the civilians the guards are talking to have some finely embroidered woolen clothing that makes my clothes look like rags. One even has a beautiful silk cloak. I guess they must be merchants.

We walk through a long, wooden bridge lowered across a moat, then we pass through a huge portcullis, and we finally enter the town.

Ahead of us, there's a short row of boring and bland buildings. After that, the spectacle of crooked, bizarre, and beautiful buildings starts. Perhaps the boring ones are barracks.

The man leads me into a small office stuck on the wall. Inside, I see a few simple wooden chairs around a wooden table with has a few sealed scrolls on top of it.

"Alright, sit." He casually orders and motions to the chair. Once I obey, he continues, "Do you have any identification?"

I sweat a bit. I don't even know what this "identification" is, so I need to lie here.

"No, I lost it when I got attacked. I had another bag, but it got torn," I answer, doing my best to keep a poker face.

He lazily raises an eyebrow. "Right. Well, will just use the Inspection Crystal, then. Is that alright with you?" He asks, and for some reason, that last part was said in a very stern tone.

I have no idea what this "Inspection Crystal" is so I'm just gonna go with the flow.

"It's ok," I calmly answer.

"Then wait here. Let me grab it in the other room," he says and leaves without waiting for an answer.

Perhaps this stone will see my status window. The name is obviously suggestive.

When I open it, I notice I haven't written my name yet, so I hastily try to awkwardly write down my own name on the floating, touchless keyboard.

Wait no, my name sucks, it's time to choose a cool name my parents were too boring to pick for me.

I choose "Wolf Ryder."

 

The man comes back with a simple box where a crystal ball and tablet are cushioned. Looks slightly expensive.

"Alright, put your hand on the ball and keep it there until I say otherwise," he says.

I obey, and when I touch the ball, the transparent crystal tablet changes color to black, and white letters start to appear. I see that the letters are in Andraste.

The man reads the tablet, and from the short time that I could see it, I noticed the first thing written was my new name. I'm glad I took the time to write it.

He knits his eyebrows and says with a worried tone, "Hmm… there's nothing wrong here, but you're awfully low level for someone of your age, and what's up with those skills? No Conjuring, Fire, Space, or even [Light Magic]? Also, no [Farming] or [Housework] or any other life skill here. Pff, haha, what kind of sheltered child are you?" He raises his eyes towards me and smiles bemusedly.

"Well… uh, I’m…" I try to answer and look away.

Well, he's not lying. My life on Earth could seem sheltered in comparison to the people of this world. I could come up with an excuse, but that would just give more rope to the conversation. Even if he looks down on me, I shouldn't speak carelessly.

"I'm a bit sheltered, yes," I respond and blush in embarrassment.

"Hah! it's kind of a miracle you survived the Sea of Trees… Well anyway, go to the monster hunter guild or the dungeoneering guild if you want to survive here. You might have some skill in combat, but it's useless if you die out there alone," he talks down at me like I'm a kid, which he knows I am since he saw my age in my "Status." "Now, let me see what's in your backpack," he continues, and his stern tone returns.

The way he said Sea of Trees makes me think this is the true name of that forest.

I open my backpack and show all the things that I have inside.

"Alright. The ball says you don't have an [Item Box], so the tax is just gonna be one silver coin for entry, and five copper for using the status stone."

[Item Box]? Perhaps it's different from my "Items" ability. There was something called [Space Magic], so perhaps [Item Box] could be found there?

I silently pay him the amount.

He advises me like one advises your little brother, "Go look for a guild and make your identification there. You don't need to pay tax depending on which ID you show." A subtle glint appears in his eyes. "Also, is this your first time here? I can sell you a map for 10 copper coins." He grins showing a set of very white teeth.

"Alright, I’ll take one."

I pay him and he hands me a sealed scroll made from a roughly textured paper.

He shows a business smile and says with a practiced tone, "Then that's all. Welcome to Rabanara, the great fortress on the shore of the Sea of Trees."

I ask for an inn recommendation within the middle price range, and he tells me to go to the Resting Spring's Inn, then makes a dismissive gesture with his hand.

 

The map is quite crude and lacks beauty, but it gives the location of all the important locations. The Bazaar, the Flea Market, the Farmer's Market, the Guild's Corridors, the Crafter's Corner, the Gambling Den, the Theater, the Carnival Field, the Colosseum, the slums, the commoners' area, the Nobles' quarters, the multitudes of inns, and the brothel district. After some searching, I found the Resting Springs.

As I walk through the streets, I see a large amount of weird-looking people. People with animal ears, tails, claws, snouts, patches of fur, animal looking digitigrade feet, and hands that almost look like paws in any sort of combination imaginable. People with horns, tails, wings, and plenty of other weird body parts. Skin colors of all the colors of the rainbow. Most wearing very revealing clothing, and plenty are floating around or flying slowly. Their clothes go from delicate togas and kimonos, to rough and boring medieval clothes, some even use straight-up animal pelts. A carnival of people with mismatched armor and weapons. With body types ranging from big, burly, and tough, to small, cute, and scrawny.

All those things in combination with the bizarre architecture makes me feel like I'm actually the normal and well-dressed one. I see even a few small animals that look a bit human-like in their behavior. They run around like children, appearing and disappearing out of thin air.

Surprisingly, the town looks clean and doesn't smell. Behind nearly every wagon, there is a floating yellow broom that sweeps the floor by itself without even lifting dust, like it just disappears. Perhaps these are spells that keep the roads clean.

 

The inn is close by. There's still a few hours until sunset but my body and mind are exhausted. All I want is to rest for a little while.

The inn is a large building. It isn't as crooked as the other one, and it's made entirely out of cobblestone. It has three floors and gives off a rustic feeling. There's no spring, though.

Once I enter, a middle-aged man with a small chin, brown hair, and small circle glasses greets me from behind a desk while he writes in a book with an ink quill.

"Welcome to the Resting Springs Inn. Would you like a room?" He asks with a kind tone and a gentle smile.

"Yes, please. What kind of rooms do you have?" I respond.

"We have a few single-bed rooms on the third floor. On the second floor, there's still space in the communal room."

The communal bed might be one cheap room where multiple people sleep together. No, thank you.

"Single bed, please," I ask.

"That'll be one silver a day, would you like to reserve the room for multiple days?"

Uh… my brain is not working properly.

"Ten days…" I guess.

He nods and smiles again. "We also give breakfast and dinner, five copper for each meal. During dinner, the public bathhouse is open, and the bath is included with the meal. You can reserve a room for bathing for ten copper. There's also a magician responsible for the bath that you can rent personally for fifteen copper at any time."

"I would like both meals for each day. Also, what's the exchange rate for silver and copper coins?"

He stares blankly for a moment, likely surprised at my question, then he recomposes himself and answers in his usual gentle tone, "Avgi silver coins are equal to ninety copper coins."

Perhaps this is not something people normally ask him. Also, now that he said "Avgi coins" I notice that there's something written in the coins. It's written in the [Andraste Language], but it's only a few letters and some numbers, so perhaps it's some identification?

I pay the innkeeper and he gives me a key with the number 304 on it, and a smaller black key.

He assumes a practiced tone and says, "Here it is, room four on the third floor. The smaller key opens a safe. Once you leave, give me the room key, but keep the safe key, and don't leave anything valuable outside of the safe. The safe can only be opened by us after your stay ends. Finally, would you like to be called for breakfast and dinner?" He gives me a business smile.

I don't have a watch or an alarm clock. I'll never get up at the right time without them.

"Yes," I awkwardly respond with a nod.

He turns the book around and hands me his ink quill, then points to a blank line. "Please write your name here," he asks.

I start to write my name and my hand just moves by itself. It's a very odd feeling, like I'm doing things by reflex only. I don't really know what I'm writing until it is done and the language skill tells me that I've written "Wolf Ryder." The squished characters are a bit difficult to tell apart, but something tells me that my calligraphy is perfect.

 "Thank you for your patronage," he says and bows slightly. I nod and walk towards the stairs.

The inside of the inn is made entirely of light brown wood. It's simple and a little small, but perhaps they just want to maximize the number of rooms. I notice that shining jewels on the ceiling are illuminating the inn; they're basically weak light bulbs.

I enter my room and lock the door, then I take my sword belt, boots, and jacket off. I sigh in relief, then I drop on the bed and fall asleep.

 

I dream of the unpleasant sensation of cutting flesh with my sword.

 

A knock on the door wakes me up.

"The dinner is ready, the bath is hot," says the voice of a young woman.

I don't know what the bed is made of. It's not hard, but it's not really good for my back. I might need to search for a proper bed if I'm going to stay here for a while.

I put my clothes back on and go downstairs.

On the first floor, there's a communal hall with a few square tables and chairs. A small number of commoners are sitting about, waiting for the food, and I see more people are coming down the stairs.

I sit and wait, and soon, a plate comes to me. Vegetable stew, a piece of roasted mutton with spice and herbs, and a piece of fluffy, white bread. It tastes okay, the stew lacks some spice, but the mutton is well done. Perhaps due to the number of woolen clothing sheep are the common staple.

After eating, I go through the back door and reach the baths. Contrary to every single fucking medieval novel, baths aren't that rare. The Romans loved baths, you know, bathhouses were a thing throughout history, you know.

I ask the attendant at the front how it works. It uses the heat of the kitchen, coupled with the help of a mage, to heat the water of the bath, so that's the source of the mist coming out of the doors ahead. It makes me quite happy that I'll be able to get some hot water to sink in, and not just a towel bath.

For four pieces of copper, I'll get a towel, a very small piece of rough soap, and a sponge. The bath is divided into three parts: men, women, and mixed. Using the men or women's costs another piece of copper. Curiosity got the best of me and I enter the mixed, which is free for the patrons of the inn.

Let's say that some light prostitution is going on over there. I immediately leave and pay for the men's bath. I'm not a puritan, but seeing sex live is too stimulating for me right now.

The etiquette is that you first gather a bucket of water, then use it to wash away all the dirt with the sponge and soap, then you're allowed to relax in the pool of hot water.

So I start washing, but I start to feel conscious of my body. Most men here are somewhat handsome. I'm not ugly and I have a cute baby face, but damn, are all the people in this world at least somewhat attractive?

When I get out of the bath, it's already night, and the people are either going to bed or to a tavern to drink. I don't really drink, so I go to bed early today.

I lay down on my not so comfortable bed and spend some time reflecting on what happened today. I got sucked out of my wedding into a painful, dangerous, magical, insane, and ridiculous world. I killed two humanoid beings in a very gory way, I killed a bizarre animal, and I killed a huge bear that almost killed me. If not for [Regeneration], I think I would be dead now.

What kind of god would throw me here at this precise timing? Fuck you, God. Or help me, help me because I want to go home, I want to see my wife, I want to hug her, kiss her, and have sex with her, then have her fall asleep in my arms and wake up seeing her smile. Fuck this world. Or help me, please. God, help me.

I feel something "change" inside of me. I open my "Menu" and see my "Status." My "Piety" increased to two.

I break down and cry myself to sleep.

 

 

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