[Author’s note: I noticed I’ve been trying to be too original in my fiction writing. This story is trash and so am I.]
My name is Murphy. I’ve been preparing for this day since I was born.
I just woke up in a new world.
I’m standing in line while a mean-looking dwarf shouted a standard training prep talk at us. Unity, courage, yadda, yadda, for the King!
Everything’s just like I expected. I’m standing in a line with four other boys. We’re covered with basic brown adventurer frocks, with wood clubs and swords hanging at our waists and small packs around our shoulders.
I can see stats floating over my arm like a fuzzy overlay. Basic noob stuff.
EQUIPPED: Wood Club (4 damage), Basic Rags.
My grin spreads from ear to ear. Thousands of hours of jRPGs all for this moment. Prepare to bow to the wiles of Dark Warlock Emperor Murphy, plebs!
The drill sergeant dwarf is sending us on our first training mission: a simple fetch quest.
“ – collect one thousand kobold ears.”
There’s no way out of the training grounds until we finish this ridiculous fetch quest. Stone-faced Level 10 soldiers stand guard at every entrance.
After taking a hopeless tour of the camp, I decide to grind out the kobolds. How long could this take?
Kobold Younglings spawn out of caves in the hillside, scurrying out every five minutes. The other boys have already claimed the closest caves to camp. I take over the last remaining one on the far side of the hill.
A Kobold Youngling (HP: 6⁄6) scrambles out of the cave and makes a run for it. I step forward and smack it on the head. It doesn’t die.
The mean little thing claws me across the forearm. I scramble back, and smack him again. He falls over and disappears in a puff, leaving behind a highlighted green ear. I snap that into my pack.
I look down at my left arm.
I’m no good with real blood!
I wake up that evening in my bunk. One of the other boys had dragged me away from the spawn point before another Kobold appeared.
At least I killed the Kobold before passing out at the sight of blood.
The other boys all have 9 ears each. Kobold Scratch deals 1 damage, and you only heal while sleeping, so we could only farm 9 a day. There’s no way to avoid getting scratched at least once per fight.
I do a quick mental calculation. This is going to be a long 112 days.
On the bright side, missing a day didn’t put me too far behind.
It’s time to conquer my fear of blood.
I unravel my bandage all at once. The three long gashes look way worse than 1 point of damage. Fresh blood is still oozing under the scab.
It’s another hour before I come to. The bandage is still unwrapped, but the blood has mostly congealed. I’m hit by waves of nausea but maintain consciousness.
I grit my teeth and peel back one of the scabs. My flesh is tender and pale underneath.
This is the feeling of gaining experience.
I calm my hyperventilation by imagining a gold XP bar slowly filling up, and take another peak.
Hey, it’s not so bad.
Growing bolder, I wiggle the scab and try to pick more off. It’s stuck. I keep pulling in frustration.
The whole scab tears off at once. Blood spurts.
The next morning, the boy on top bunk wakes me up for breakfast. I sit dazed, staring at him blankly. I’m still clutching a long chunk of dried blood in my right hand.
You might ask: why haven’t I mentioned the names of my fellow trainees? The reason is: a Dark Warlock Emperor can only meet so many Named Characters in his quest to ascension. They might be important later if I tell you their names now.
I’m saving Named Character slots for girls.
After shovelling down breakfast, the other boys go farm Kobolds and I retreat to the barracks to continue overcoming my fear of blood.
This time, I’m more methodical. Sure, I puke a little in my mouth, and I’m covered in cold sweat. But two hours later, I’m staring at blood flowing out of an open wound with only a slight dizziness.
Well, okay, the dizziness might just be blood loss.
It’s day 2 of training, and there’s not much to do. In the morning, we trainees go out to the Kobold caves after breakfast and collect 9 ears. But then we’re all scratched up at 1⁄10 HP. We spend the rest of the day chatting.
I expect the other boys to be suspicious that I don’t know jack shit, so I spin them a tale about foreign-born orphan on a slave ship that ran aground, only survivor yadda yadda. They look at me quizzically.
“What’s a ship?”
Apparently there aren’t oceans in this world.
Anyhow, now they just think I’m crazy. It’s probably for the best.
Turns out we’re in a Church-sponsored city-state called Beltine and we’re training to join the Alliance battlefront against the Demon King. Turns out every single one of these boys is a poor orphan who wants to be the next Ordained Hero. When they open their mouths, all I hear is *trope trope trope*.
I have to get out of here!