CRUNCH! May’s fist connected, crushing the man’s nose.
He screamed in pain, struggling to break free, but it was futile – there was no escaping May.
“I-I’m s-swoorry! Aaaaak!! Stop, pweaseee!”
In a last-ditch attempt to save himself, he thrust out his finger, pointing in the direction of his table.
“Th-They made me do it! It was them! Not me! I swear!”
Everyone at the table whipped their heads around.
“Listen to this bastard!”
“May, teach that kid a lesson!”
His comrades instantly abandoned him and joined the crowd cheering May on.
“You don’t need to tell me!”
“Aaaaak!! S-Stop! Pleeeease!”
The man cried out in agony as May pummeled his face, which was quickly becoming unrecognizable. Finally, someone from May’s table intervened.
"That's enough, May!”
May didn’t look up as she smashed her fist into the man’s bloody face again.
“I’m not done yet, Scott! Just a few more hits and-!”
“I said enough!”
Scott stomped his foot on the ground, causing the surrounding tables to quake.
May clicked her tongue, dropping the man.
The room roared in excitement, and everyone raised their glasses in appreciation of the free entertainment.
“Just a few more, and I would'a…”
Grumbling to herself, May stomped her feet as she headed back to her seat.
Scott approached Liam and held out his hand, helping Liam up.
“Yeah, I’m fine… Thanks.”
Scott looked at Liam’s clothes, nodding to himself.
“Oh, did you just come out of the tutorial?”
Liam tilted his head. He hadn’t heard that word used once since he arrived in Orbis. In fact, the Host was insistent that this wasn’t a game.
“Ah, sorry. It’s what we call that abandoned city and castle. You know, the one you just came from.”
Considering the game-like status window, Liam wasn’t surprising people ended up referring to it as the tutorial.
“I see… Yeah, I just came out today.”
“Well, by the looks of it, you had one hell of a time… Why don’t you come over and sit with us? I’ll buy you a drink as a welcome to Kelm.”
Scott gave a warm smile and pointed towards the table with May and three others. Liam shook his head, glancing at the receptionist sleeping in the back of the room.
“Thanks, but I’ll pass. I’m only here to get some information.”
Following Liam’s gaze, Scott chuckled.
“Hahaha… Don’t bother with the Association; they won’t help you at all. I’ll tell you what you need to know, so come on over and have a drink!”
Liam took one look at the receptionist before following Scott. She was sound asleep with drool running out the side of her mouth. He didn’t get the feeling she would be of much help.
Scott sat down, clearing a spot for Liam.
“Scott, who’s the kid!?”
May put down her drink and aggressively thrust out her hand, pointing at Liam, like a wild animal confronting an intruder who entered her territory.
Scott shook his head at May, who was glaring at Liam.
“He’s a newbie. Got here today.”
“Eh? Since, when did you care about newbies?”
As if it never existed, May’s hostility was gone, replaced by curiosity.
Scott gave her a sharp glance.
“I’m treating him to some drinks because of a certain someone who likes to cause trouble.
May tilted her head, utterly oblivious to Scott’s subtle remark.
“Huh? Who’s that?”
Scott held his head, feeling the onset of a headache.
“May, why don’t you focus on your beer. Here, I’ll even buy you another.”
Scott pulled out some copper coins to give May, but she wasn’t paying attention; she had found something more interesting than alcohol.
Smirking, May placed her elbows on the table and held her chin in her hands.
“Listen, kid... I bet you thought the tutorial was scary, right? That shit was easy compared to Orbis. Man-eating monsters, cannibals, giant insects and there are even monsters that will capture you and-”
Suddenly, a handsome, clean-shaven man wearing leather armor interrupted her.
“May, stop trying to scare the kid. Don’t listen to her. She’s an idiot. What’s your name?”
“Ryan, you bastard! I was just getting to the good part!”
May slammed the table, but no one was paying attention to her anymore.
“Newbie, you better not ignore me!”
May balled up her hand into a fist and prepared to lung across the table at Liam. However, a burly man in plate armor grabbed May’s shoulder, stopping her. Towering over her, he stared down and silently shook his head.
May tilted her head before unleashing her frustration on everyone at the table.
“Rick? Damn, what’s with you guys today!?”
May looked around and saw everyone avoiding her gaze.
“Fuck you guys!”
May tilted back her mug, downing the rest of her beer and drowning her sorrows. Everyone ignored May’s theatrical reaction; apparently, this wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.
Scott pointed at Liam’s bandaged arm.
“I see you didn’t get treated by the priests, any reason why?”
“It was a rip-off.”
Liam frowned, just remembering the disgustingly high price they tried to charge soured his mood.
“Huh, how much did they want? For a flesh wound like yours, it should be under ten nickel. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not cheap by any means, but it’s far from what I’d call a rip-off.”
Liam shook his head.
“No, it wasn’t my shoulder. It was the frostbite on my feet.”
“Ah, I see, makes sense. Those priests always charge more for the injuries that won’t heal themselves. Hmmm…”
Scott held his chin, contemplating something, before turning to a beautiful woman sitting across the table.
“Kayla, heal him.”
Kayla flipped her wavy chestnut brown hair to the side and snorted.
“Why should I?”
“Come on, don’t be like that. I know you remember how tough it was for us at the start. Plus, we’re done for today, so you don’t need to save your spells.”
Hearing Kayla’s groan, May made a snarky remark while taking a swig from a fresh mug of beer.
“Just do it. It’s all your good for anyways.”
A glint of amusement appeared in Kayla’s eye, and her lips rose into a slight smirk.
“Oh, what was that? Sorry, I don’t speak gorilla. I’m afraid I couldn’t understand you.”
May’s eyebrows twitched as she pushed herself up, cracking her knuckles.
“Wanna go, bitch? I’ll be sure to fix that smile of yours when I’m rearranging your face. Don’t worry. We’re comrades, so I’ll do it for free. No extra charge.”
Kala batted her long eyelashes and covered her mouth, suppressing a giggle.
“Pfft… it’s soooo typical of a beast to try and solve everything with violence.”
May was about to lung over the table when Scott slammed his fist down, causing the plates and glasses to clatter.
“That’s enough! Drop it, both of you! I’m not going to deal with another one of your messes!”
Both May and Kayla whined at the same time.
“Scott, just give me two minutes and-!”
“But she’s the one that-!”
“I don’t care! May sit the fuck down and drink your beer! And Kayla, heal the fucking kid already! Goddamnit, I swear, between the two of you, it’s like I’m running a daycare.”
May begrudgingly, planted her butt back in her seat while Kayla pushed herself up and walked over to Liam.
“I’ll do it, but it won’t be free.”
Hearing Scott’s low growl, Kayla defiantly crossed her arms.
“Scott, I can’t do it for free! Don’t you realize that if I do it for free, then everyone’s going to come to me begging for healing!”
“Don’t test me right now, Kayla.”
Scott’s eyes narrowed on Kayla, causing her to fall silent. Instead of arguing, she glared at Liam with a look of, ‘See what you’ve done? I hope you know this is all your fault.’ Liam didn’t care and quietly presented his injuries to her; he wasn’t going to turn down free treatment just because she was mad, especially when it would save his feet.
Kayla mumbled a chant and held out her hands. A white light formed around her hands and was transferred to Liam’s body. He immediately noticed the effects as feeling returned to his toes, and the pain in his shoulder vanished. After a few minutes, his injuries had almost completely healed. A wound that modern medicine was unable to cure had been healed in mere minutes; magic was a fantastic thing to experience.
‘Why couldn’t I be a Mage…’
It felt unfair that other classes had powerful, supernatural abilities while he had none. He could only hope that the Magic Power stat meant that one day, he too would be able to use magic.
“There, done. Happy now?
Kayla slide in a snide remark before returning to her seat.
As the evening continued, the table eventually settled down. Once Liam got to talking with everyone, he realized that, despite some poor first impressions, they were all friendly. Scott’s group had arrived in Orbis four months ago. In the tutorial, they had all awoken in the same room, and they had been together ever since. In their group of five, Ryan was a Ranger, Kayla was a Cleric, and Scott, May, and Rick were all Warriors.
One of the first things Liam inquired about was the tutorial. Unfortunately, they didn’t know much except that a new one occurred every other month, for a total of six times a year. He asked various other questions about Orbis, the Gods, and the reason they were brought here, but again, they didn’t know anything.
At first, Liam didn’t understand and assumed they were hiding something from him. How could everyone in the town be so clueless about the rest of Orbis? But when he learned that an expansive mountain range encircled Kelm, everything made sense.
The mountains isolated Kelm from the rest of the world, making it the ideal place to summon the Earthlings. The Association oversaw managing the town and controlled the inflow of information from the outside, letting only the top officials access it. If he wanted to know more, he’d have to wait until he left Kelm.
Finally, Liam asked about the status window…
“Ah, so, you want to raise your stats?”
Scott leaned back in his chair, looking up at the ceiling.
“Is it impossible?”
Liam couldn’t help but feel a little concerned. If his stats remained as bad as they were now, he wouldn’t survive long in this world.
“No, not at all. There are a lot of ways to raise them. It’s just that you should probably focus on other things right now.”
Liam couldn’t think of what might be more important than his stats; after the tutorial, he was aware of how important they were.
“I’m guessing the Host didn’t explain much. Sure, stats are important, but most people’s stats aren’t above C grade. It’s rare to have one or two B grade stats, let alone an A grade stat. Your rank is a lot more important than your stats. A rank two will always be stronger than a rank one. Stats only make a difference if you have a lot of A or B grade stats, but since that rarely happens, you shouldn’t worry about it. Honestly, skills make a bigger difference…”
That made sense to Liam; if rank was equivalent to levels in a game, a level one couldn't kill a level one hundred no matter their stats and skills.
“…Of course, in the end, it comes down to the individual. If your just plain bad, no number of stats, rank, or skills will make up for it. Instead, you should learn how to fight and use weapons.”
Scott’s words hit Liam hard; he felt stupid. Why was he so focused on his status? This wasn’t a game. Just because he was a Ranger, didn’t mean he could suddenly shoot a bow or track an enemy. Technique and battle skills weren’t something that a person got instantaneously; they required practice.
Ryan broke into the conversation.
“But that’s not the only reason you shouldn’t worry about stats, kid. Your stats will gradually improve as you fight monsters and train. Hey Scott, do they still do that thing, you know the Association training program for new Earthlings?”
“Yeah, it should start soon. Liam, you might want to consider it. Normally, the Association is useless, but the training class is surprisingly good. It’s a bit expensive, though.”
After emptying her mug of beer, May slammed it down and shouted.
“Scott, it’s only good because Earthlings run it!”
Pretending to be impressed, Kayla clapped her hands together, widening her eyes.
“Wow. So, you do have a brain.”
Before May could finish, Scott held up his hand.
“Calm down, both of you.”
He looked at everyone, a subtle grin spreading on his face.
“I know it’s rare, but even May can say something smart every once in a while.”
The table burst into laughter. May clenched her fists and cried.
“Fuck you, Scott! Damnit! Why does everyone treat me like this!?”
By the time Liam left the Association, it was already dark outside. The group had to drag the drunken May back to their inn.
Liam was able to learn a lot. After having the training program explained to him, he gained another piece of crucial information. Earthlings were only allowed to stay in Kelm for a year. Most Earthlings obeyed, but of course, some didn’t. It wasn’t much of a problem, since the Association controlled all the work for Earthlings in Kelm, disobeying meant not making money, so most the rebels gave up quick. The ones that didn’t were dealt with in other ways.
Liam had asked what the purpose of this rule was, and there were two reasons. The first was obvious. There was an unknown need for Earthlings in Orbis, so they couldn’t have them staying in Kelm forever. The second was a bullshit excuse. The Association claimed that with new Earthlings arriving in Kelm every other month, the town would become overpopulated.
For the remainder of the night, they had told Liam important information about Orbis and recounted stories of their battles. They ended the evening, saying goodbye and parting ways.
As Liam was on his way to an inn, someone called out to him from behind.
“Kid, wait up!”
Liam turned around to see a man running down the street after him.
When Ryan reached him, he pulled out a piece of paper from his bag.
“I forgot to give you this.”
Ryan handed Liam the crumpled piece of paper.
“It’s a map. I marked a weapons shop that’s good. If you go there and tell the old man that Ryan Fores sent you, he’ll treat you well.”
“No problem, kid! Try not to die!”
Ryan turned around and ran off, waving at Liam.
Liam shoved the map into his pocket and continued walking in the direction of an inn.