Need an Extra Life

Stage One - Liberi Fatali

…. Scott Pilgrim had it easy. There was no clear start for me from the get-go… so I had to take a step back and go through the tutorial stages. I always thought that leveling up was the point… didn't really get much else out of the game… I was Level 10 and still going through tutorials though, so I guess the game finally said, "You know what?! Screw it. That guy must be farming experience… Kill his tutor!" …. Aaaand that ended training, for the most part.

So. Level 10, a late but good start… I could now look at this World and see what it truly held for me… I saw others roaming in random, predestined directions, each on quests they had to follow… rules of this world were pretty much set in stone - It was amazing that it took so long for me to realize what this place was, but… I really didn't invest much into my Intellect points. Better to be wise than smart, I guess? …. didn't think there was much of a difference.

Well, I needed to start exploring, but I wasn't going to do that alone - I needed a group… This is where my story begins.

I walked to the edge of the driveway and stared blankly across the road. A winter chill made breathing kind of aggravating, sending chills up my spine and chapping my sinuses. I stood bored, playing with my breath - pretending I was some sort of Frost Dragon… something so hard to kill, I'll probably never see one in my lifetime… waaaay too elite.

"First day?"

I look over my shoulder to see a friendly male character walk up next to me. His hair was buzzed and he had a toothy grin to him. Confident, and straight in stature… I liked that about him. Either he was levels higher than me, or… he had a good Bluff skill.

"Yeah," I sighed, irritably, "Wish it were warmer… I hate going out on days like this." I brushed my own brown hair out of my eyes and over my ear. I scanned the environment behind him - the way I had come was mostly forest and housing, with a lone sandy path parting it in two, leading to a grand open field and sand dune in the distance… I could even see a marsh beyond that. In the immediate foreground though, was a small wooden shack - a young boy stood there, peering from within. A woman was with him.

Too many people, I thought. As the man who approached me gestured to follow, and turned to his group, I started to cast some magic… a low level spell, I called "Scan". I targeted the man first…

Player Name - Casey Ginn : Lv. 10 - HP(108/108) Alignment - Chaotic Neutral

And then the boy…

Player Name - Tony Cleveland : Lv.08 - HP(64/64) Alignment - Chaotic Good

And finally the girl.

Player Name - Valerie Cleveland : Lv.10 - HP(76/76) Alightment - Pure Neutral

I guessed the two in the shack were brother and sister, judging the last names. None of them were Evil, so I figured things would be alright… I followed, and introduced myself before sitting down. Tony, the boy, had very short hair. He was incredibly spunky-looking, and to say he was full of energy would be an understatement. The kid was practically bouncing. The girl, Val, was looking rather irritable, like me. She kept her distance, so I paid her less mind that I really wanted to… but it was a premade group that Casey had brought me to. If there was anyone I could trust in this world, I was hoping I could start with them.

"Here's the shuttle, guys," Casey said with that same toothy smile as before, "See you when we get back…"

"Wait," I interrupted, as both Tony and Valerie left the shack, "We're not travelling together?"

Casey looked at me kind of like I had something on my face and he couldn't quite make out what it was, but then responded kindly, "We go on the shuttle together, and come back together… but when we arrive at our destination, we part ways until the afternoon." He then explained to me that people questing together at the same level was the best way to gain experience… but I really didn't understand exactly why that was.

I continued to ask questions on the shuttle, trying to learn as best I can, before being shoved away by a brutish hand - Minutes were passing by without me even realizing it, and the shuttle stopped to let more players on.

The assailant told me to 'move it', which I complied. This struck the shuttle with some laughter, to more of my puzzlement, and the man, and his larger counterpart, passed. I cast a quick Scan to try to get some information…

Player Name: Zack Copp : Lv.12 - Alignment: Neutral Evil

Player Name: Matt Copp : Lv.10 - Alignment: Chaotic Evil

"Jerks…" Casey muttered under his breath.

Matt stood up quickly, having passed a listen check - Zack oblivious for a moment until seeing his brother take action, "What did you call us?"

"Pipe down," I called out, "No one wants to hear any of it."

By now, Zack had heard, and I caught the aggro of both of them. Thankfully, the shuttle stopped before they could round on me, and the driver, some Level 50 or so, eyed them maliciously and they sat back down.

A young man walked on board along with several others… I cast Scan once more, catching Casey's attention.

Player Name: Thaddeus Walk : Lv.10 - Alignment: Lawful Good

"You know, you really should tone down that magic use…" Casey muttered, "Strictly speaking, we're not allowed to do magic."

The line stayed with me a moment…

It took a good half-hour before the shuttle was full, and we were on our way to our questing hub. The group was huge… players between Level 7 - 14… it was an incredible sight. I had never seen so many people like this. I followed behind Valerie, getting off the transport, and found myself surrounded by a large group of Level 10 Players. Valerie had already merged with a group, having no room for a spare - the players all piled into the dungeon we were supposed to go into, except for a straggling few… none of them with groups.


It was that Thaddeus character I had scanned from my shuttle group…

"Me and my friend need one more to join.. you want in?" His smile was goofy, but it had a nice charm to it. His hair was dyed a lighter brown than it was naturally,and seemed like it had filled with static, each strand trying to leave his head, yet clinging desperately to stay on at the same time. He was lanky, but had the physique of a great runner - arm muscles seemed non-existent compared to his leg muscles.

I had one more scan spell in me… I looked to his friend and no question, had to think it thoroughly over… Tad's companion was a damned giant! His hair was bigger than his head, and he must've been standing a whole two feet taller than me! I nodded hesitantly and used the rest of my magic on one last spell.

Player Name: Justin Barker : Lv.10 - Alignment: Neutral Good

"This… will be an experience to remember."

Stage Complete!
EXP: +500

Your Scan Spell leveled up!
Lv.2 Scan - Reveals more information than previously.

You learned a new Spell!
Lv.1 Fortitude - Rapidly regenerates your endurance for a few seconds. Very costly in MP.

Stage Two - Balamb Garden

I felt safe with my new companions around… but I could only feel so safe with all the dirty looks the other adventurers gave me. It was as if I had some predestined fate to piss them off, so they were getting even now. All in all, though, the dungeon was rather cheery looking - not something I'd expect from a place made out to be Ifrit's Cauldron.

Our dungeon guide was a Level 40, whom we were supposed to call, "The Professor." It was a she, and 'she' wanted us to believe she was Level 40. I tried to hand her a complement as say that she looked ten levels higher, and I almost got removed from the instance… strange. So much for the considerate thought.

"Today, class, you will be learning how to multiply…" She went on… I looked at my companions, pen and paper on both their desks. I looked back at the board and took mental notes, wondering what in the world she could be talking about… the numbers seemed to be increasing two-fold… sometimes three-fold… turning a mediocre amount into something immense… after a while, I began to understand the method, and did a few mental exercises in my head, checking the board to see if I was correct… but the Professor had other plans.

"Let's see…. Ian!" She called to me, "Ian, you have no notes. Let's see if you understand the material, or prefer to just not pay attention in class?" She had a scolding look on her… probably with the complement I made to her before in mind.

On the board was a series of problems, each one expectant of a different answer - The objective was to deal damage equal to that answer to the corresponding targets: Each needed to be a precise one-shot! No damage wasted, nor lacking. I stood from my seat and felt Tad's hand pat my back - I was to do this alone, but my group cheered me on all the same… felt good to get some positive reinforcement.

~Story Encounter!~

My time limit for the battle was a minute… six seconds per problem. I glanced to the first problem and went along with my theory. Six groups of five made thirty… I went with it and struck the board - hearing the approving Professor behind me. I went for a second strike, dealing 27 damage to a nearby 9x3 problem - No particular order, now… I swung the chalk at the closest foe that stood out.

Ten seconds had passed.

"7x4 = 28" , "2x9 = 18" , "6x8 = 48" , "1x5 = 5", Each question fell to the eraser after each correct response, the professor actually panting, trying to get around me - Two problems hadn't faded away after defeat because of my speed. Mumbling in the back of the class made me think either I was putting on quite a show, or Tad and Justin were beginning to brag having invited me.

Twenty seconds had passed.

The trick questions came next… I dealt with the doubles first: "4x4 = 16" - I paused a moment to let the Professor catch up, and smiled eagerly as she struck the problem from the board. I glanced over and one of the last problems on the right of the board and spotted a double digit… after pausing to contemplate, I felt it was as easy as it's predecessors… just another problem dealing with a one: "10x7 = 70"

Thirty seconds had passed.

Looking at the second to last problem, I blinked, trying to understand it correctly: "3x0 = …." How could you crit something that couldn't be crit at all? I hadn't dealt with something like this before. I argued to myself, though Tad and Justin were now vocally cheering me on - I had the time to spare on thought, but I had been on such a roll… I was stuck on the three for a moment until I realized that you could crit nothing… that wouldn't change the fact though, it would still be nothing! "3x0 = 0" - The problem vanished from sight.

All that was left was one final problem: The boss… "12x12 = …" My way around this was really a technique I would see much much later in my dungeoneering career… but I took the problem one step at a time by setting the problem into four steps, and foiling the boss problem, once and for all. "1x1 = 1, 1x2 + 1x2 = 4, 2x2 = 4… 12x12= 144"

Forty seconds had passed… and the problem didn't erase - The professor was open mouthed - I had shown this particular problem without showing my work, and to come up with the number off the top of my head… It left an eerie pause and caused me to second guess myself. She snapped to, and erased the problem.

"Very… very good, Ian. You may return to your seat."

I smiled widely, the alliance of teams clapping as I passed - I sat down and Tad elbowed me in the ribs, "I knew you were something special! great job up there!"

After the dungeon, we were called outside to regroup, possibly relax or RP or something… but the professor stopped me afterward and dragged me over to her desk.

"Ian… I noticed you finished that last problem without much scratchwork… you did that in a record time, too…" She paused and glared at me, "You didn't cheat, did you?"

I shrugged, having no clue what the word meant, "It just came naturally to me, I saw the problem, I solved it. I'll admit it did throw me off, but…" I smiled back to her, trailing off by that point. She furrowed her brow and waved her hand for me to follow.

"Take a look at this, then." She showed me a book of advanced problems, and I stared quizzically down at them - were those problems for someone her level?! They were insane…!

"Do a few." She handed me a pen and I stared incredulously at her - there were twenty-five problems! (I could tell! there were five rows and five columns.. 5x5 = 25…) Well, I checked for any that stood out among the crowd, but they all kind of did… each screaming some taunting version of, 'you can't solve me~!'. I saw one that looked like the boss problem from before, and to her surprise, I began to work on one of the few she expected me to stray from… "131x141 = ?"

It took a while, but I walked her through my thought process, and with her guiding, and five minutes later, i engraved into my memory the answer… it was DEFINITELY over the damage cap. "131x141= 18471"

She looked at me for a few seconds before sighing, "I have to sent word to Sally… You're somethin' else, kid. You've got a talent for this sort of thing…"

From that point forward, I had to solo math… I ran Heroic Math - for the Gifted and Talented.

(After quite some time…)

Level up!!

Player Level: 13
HP: 120/120
MP: 29/29
STR - 12 : DEX - 16 : CON - 16
INT - 11 : WIS - 16 : CHR - 14

EXP: +3750

Learned: Critical Strike!
- can now strike opponents for a multiplier for damage. Has only a chance to happen.

Resistance: Math +1
- Math now harms for less, as the subject is growing resilient against it!

Learned: Magic!
- can now access the Magic command, and summon creatures and artifacts, as well as cast enchantments, instant-cast spells and other sorceries. Only effective on those who can also use the Magic command.

Empathic Link
- able to channel conversations between the Player and him via an empathic link. The player has identified to the character only as "Sagga".

Stage Three - Dollet City

Battles continued on a near-daily basis. My party members, Tad and Justin - they offered assistance where they could, but the Copp boys were also taking notice of my progress… and they wanted to stop it. Over the next several moons, the boys recruited, where I sat, in comparison, idly by. My current dungeon guide, Mr. Bogh, though still young to be a guide, provided excellent support in combatting most of the attacking issues: history, english, science - all except math. That, I remained specially trained to fight alone. Finally, the Garden had a Mathematics specialist.

Of all the encounters , I never expected though my first REAL Boss Fight would come from one of my own - rather, someone in the Garden itself.

Player Name: Ryan Steele : Lv.13 - Chaotic Neutral (Hostile) - Resistance to Physical, Weak against Females
Ryan Steele: Notable Allies - Zach Copp (Hostile), Matt Copp (Hostile), Justin Barker (Ally), Thaddeus Walk (Ally)

Why would Ryan and Justin and Tad all be friends, yet be an enemy to me? In fact, having met him only briefly before not too long ago, he wasn't hostile to me then… So why…? Had his allegiance switched over to the Copps and my allies not realized their betrayal? Regardless… this was our last fight together: my backstory would be coming back to haunt me soon in the way of my mother taking me from

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