Age 749, Saturday, June 15, Central City, Palm Dojo
“So… When exactly were you going to tell me you were signing up for a tournament?” My mother’s voice was clipped. “Why did I have to hear about it from Kai?”
“Just now, mom.” I said nervously, adjusting the phone slightly to hear her better. “It was a spur of the moment thing, I didn’t even know there was one going on until Master Palm came out with the forms.”
“Oh.” She said, her momentum halted. “Still! You could have called me beforehand!”
She raised a good enough point, I thought with guilt on my mind.
“Sorry, mom.” I said, meaning it. “I just thought, since I was going to call you in the afternoon, that I wouldn’t do it twice… I won, though!”
“Yes, yes you did.” She replied in a deadpan voice, before muttering something about obstinate kids and how they’d be the death of her. I frowned at the wording, the encounter with Blue heavy in my mind.
Idly, I wondered if the Red Ribbon Army would try some shit with me, before shrugging the thought off. While what the older man had said was a little concerning, there was no reason for them to make an enemy out of me like that.
Hell, he seemed downright friendly, so I’d probably be looking at a recruitment attempt, if anything.
Though, I had no idea how they’d go about it. Would they simply make a friendly approach, or would they try to force me?
The thought of my mother held captive in a dark room while some pencil pushing executive in Red Ribbon ordered me around almost made me crush the phone in my grip, but I held my feelings at bay.
“I’ll be coming home soon, mom. I still have to research something here, but I’m coming back as soon as I can manage.” I promised.
“Aw, do you miss your mommy that badly? That’s so sweet of you, Ten!” I could tell she was smiling at the other end of the line. I snorted reflexively at the very thought.
“That’s me. Sweet.” I replied sarcastically. “Totally.”
“Sarcasm doesn’t suit you, dear.” Mother said in amusement. “Besides, I’m not the only one who thinks you’re sweet.”
“Huh?” I said, feeling a little confused. “What do you mean, mom?”
“Well, I have it on good authority that you’re a very sweet, and caring boy.” She said slyly. “Or, are you saying that Chichi is wrong?”
I felt the heat creep over my cheeks, and opened my mouth to reply— only for nothing to come out.
Why’d she have to bring Chichi up?
“I, uh…” I said intelligently.
“Uh huh.” My mom replied, her tone smug. “I thought so. So, when are you bringing her over? I’d like to meet the girl that actually made my little boy finally break out of his shell! Talking to her on the phone from time to time is nice, but I want you to bring her with you when you come back!”
“… Busy now, gotta go, bye!” I said quickly, hearing my mother’s laughter as I hung up the phone as quickly as I could.
I stared at the phone for a long moment.
What. The. Hell.
Bring Her Home To Mom
The dream girl; she’s responsible, reliable and has outstanding moral fiber. She’s intelligent, witty and has class. She’s beautiful, but never cheap or scandalous. And, she can kick your ass if you’re not careful!
So, how about you take her to South City to meet your mother?
Reward: Incredibly increased Rep with your mother, Ox-King and Chichi.
Failure Penalty: Decreased Rep with your mother, Ox-King and Chichi. Incessant nagging from mom to meet her.
Accept | Deny
Seriously, game? Can we not, right now?
I was going to call Chichi, but at that moment, I couldn’t handle it.
Age 749, Friday, June 28, Central City Archive
I’d gone through the entire historical section, but I finally managed to get information on the 7-Star Dragonball.
My [Speed Reading] level had gone through the roof due to massively grinding the skill while researching.
Speed Reading (Lv 41- 3%/Passive): You’re one of those people who want to go through books as fast as they can, and you’ve learned how to read diagonally, your eyes loosely scanning the general vicinity and direction, picking up on clues that provide context.
40% Increase in reading speed.
It was odd, though. The information had been presented in such a scattered and confusing way.
In one book from three centuries ago, the Dragonballs were mentioned as if it were a given that people knew what they were— and so, no definition was presented.
So, I went further back, only to find no mention whatsoever of them.
Unwilling to give up, I delved further and further, devouring book after book, my INT having risen a decent amount.
Point is, I had finally found it; a document within one of the older books in the library’s collection. Translating it had become ridiculously easy after the amount of practice I’d had.
Roughly speaking, it said:
Whosoever gathered all seven Dragonballs could speak the words and call forth the Dragon of legend, Shenron, to grant the summoner one wish.
I sat back in my chair, the librarian passing me with an annoyed look sent my way. I ignored it, the guy apparently didn’t like people messing around with old books— and I wasn’t being particularly gentle with them, I admitted.
The Dragon’s What?
You have leveled up three times!
Occupation: The Gamer
Level: 19 (13,300/20,000 XP)
STR: 48 (80.18)
VIT: 62 (103.54)
AGI: 49 (81.83)
INT: 54 (69.66)
WIS: 45 (58.05)
Battle Power: 88.5
Due to your INT reaching 50, you have gained the following skill!
Magic Affinity I: 10% Increase to MP. 10% Increase to Magic Damage.
I stared at the window for a second, momentarily distracted by the new skill. My eye focused on my stats for a second— they were all so close to 50.
I had wanted to wait until after I’d trained with Master Roshi, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to put a few points and get all of my stats at least to 50.
A measly 2 STR increase would likely not hurt my training.
And so, I assigned the points— 2 into STR, 1 into AGI, and 5 into WIS.
Occupation: The Gamer
Level: 19 (13,300/20,000 XP)
STR: 50 (83.5)
VIT: 62 (103.54)
AGI: 50 (83.5)
INT: 54 (69.66)
WIS: 50 (64.5)
Battle Power: 90.2
Due to having increased your STR to 50, you have gained the following skill!
Fighter I: All Physical Damage increased by 10%. Ki strikes do 10% more damage!
Due to your AGI reaching 50, you have gained the following skill!
Quickness I: 10% Increase to overall movement speed.
Due to your WIS reaching 50, you have gained the following skill!
Wise One I: 5% Decrease to Magic Damage received. MP Regen is now at 1%/min!
For raising every stat to 50, you have gained the following skill!
All-Rounder I: 10% Increase to HP/MP/Ki. 5% Increase to overall movement speed. 5% Increase to overall damage.
Holy… With a stat sheet and skills like that, I would’ve had a much better time fighting against Blue. I might’ve not even needed to wear him down, beforehand!
I shook my head and dismissed all of the windows that had popped up, focusing back on what had given me all these level-ups, in the first place.
Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out the 7-Star Dragonball, casting [Observe] on it.
The 7-Star Dragonball
Item: Wish-granting Ball
Description: Referred to as the 7-Star Dragonball due to the number of stars engraved within it, this Dragonball is the final part in a set of seven, used to summon Shenron the Eternal Dragon, so that it can grant the summoner one wish
I nodded, having expected the item description to change after all that research. Still, I thought as I stared at the orange ball.
Any wish I wanted?
This thing was probably more broken than my Gamer powe— that’s it! I could gather all seven and wish for the dragon to reveal the secret behind my power!
That way, I can finally understand why I got this thing.
Twenty Questions— Well, More Like One
You learned what the Dragonballs are capable of accomplishing when you gather all seven. Yet, in your infinite wisdom, you’ve decided you want to gather these magic wish-granting balls to ask the Eternal Dragon a question, rather than wishing for, say… a billion Zeni.
Failure penalty: Nothing.
Accept | Deny
My mouth quirked as I pressed on Accept, the quest window disappearing, leaving me to my thoughts in the quiet library.
A quick check of the time told me that I was set to meet with Mark in about forty five minutes.
I closed the book, and returned it to its proper position, the librarian giving me a dirty look as I put it in its proper place.
I rolled my eyes, resisting the urge to wave jauntily at the guy, simply exiting the premises as fast as I could.
I closed my eyes slightly, adjusting to the sunlight shining down on me.
Before I gained my powers, if you’d asked me if I enjoyed the feeling of the sunlight against my skin or the gentle caress of the breeze, I would have replied with an emphatic “no”.
Now, I luxuriated in the feeling.
I stared at the endless sky above me, a light blue with a few fluffy blobs of light gray, gently making their way into the horizon.
Who knew real life could be so fun?
I ended up running late to the meeting with Mark, but he was too busy exercising to notice.
Master Palm stood by the boy, scrutinizing him intently as he went through the motions of one of the more advanced kata of his Karate style.
The older man gave me a silent nod as I entered the premises and took my shoes off, making my way to the both of them, throwing an [Observe] at the younger boy, who still had not noticed me just yet.
Mr. Hercule Satan
Mark – Lv 19
Race – Human
Age – 13
Rep: 5,000/10,000 Liked
Description: Mark is a boy who’s lived a troubled life. His father having left at a young age, he has been forced to give up on his education to help his mother make ends meet, often taking up the role of prizefighter on the streets.
His dream is to make it big as a martial artist, as well as be able to go toe-to-toe with his friend, Ten.
He is currently training.
Battle Power: 56
The boy had come far since the day we’d met. Unsurprising, really; all it took was a few days of meditation and concentration, and he’d unlocked his Ki.
He would have likely done it himself, given enough time.
“Well done, Mark.” Palm clapped once, giving a jovial grin. “You’ve got all of the forms down. Now, it’s all a matter of further practice.”
Mark nodded, looking pleased with himself before finally noticing me. He smirked, giving me a gruff nod of greeting, which I returned.
“Looks like your training’s paying off.” I said by way of greeting. “You could probably give that Pamput a run for his money, already.”
“Really?” Mark looked surprised for a moment.
“At the very least in terms of sheer ability.” I nodded. “With a bit more training, you’ll easily exceed the guy— that’s without even learning how to use [Enhancement].”
Mark winced at the mention of that.
It was a skill I’d developed a few days after Central’s Martial Arts Games. Between Batara, Suruna and Blue all using Ki to enhance their defenses or attacks, I figured I’d do something similar.
I couldn’t quite figure out how to reinforce just my fingers using Ki— I supposed I needed a good deal of training to achieve something like that.
However, I was nothing if not resourceful.
In a burst of inspiration, I’d used the principle behind my [Mana Shield], applying it to my fingertips, making them into claws.
Tiger Claw (Lv 11- 65%/Active): You couldn’t truly call it the Tiger Style if you didn’t actually have claws to rake your opponents with. Well, now you do! Be careful though, your strikes may prove to be lethal.
Cost: 900 MP/min/hand.
Damage: Varies depending upon where the target is struck. 20% Chance of inflicting a Critical Strike. Adds the [Bleeding] effect on your enemy, which can stack up to 5 times.
Bleeding: HP decreases at 0.5%/min for 3 minutes.
Of course, the skill’s cost was ridiculous. I had been continually training in its use— at Lv 1, it cost me 1000 MP/min to use, per hand. Hopefully, with my increased MP and MP Regeneration, it’d be much easier to grind the skill up.
Speaking of skills, the other skill was [Enhancement], a move I created in an attempt to emulate the fighters in the tournament, as well as Roshi’s strange method of powering up.
Roshi had been able to increase his power by 50%, I remembered. He’d gone from a Battle Power of 150 to one of 225, a straight 50% increase.
How far did I get, after weeks of training at it?
Enhancement (Lv 4- 5%/Active): Your own base strength, stamina and speed weren’t enough for you, so you decided to enhance your body through Ki!
Cost: 400 Ki/min
Effect: 3% Increase to Battle Power. 1.5% Increase to Physical Defense
Weeks of training, for barely any increase. This was a skill that would likely require months— if not years training to get it to a point in which it’d be useful.
Still, the results would eventually speak for themselves, I noted as Mark muttered an apology.
“It really is hard to learn.” He admitted. “I did manage to condense my Ki into a ball yesterday, though! Just like you showed me.”
“Oh?” I leaned forward in interest. “Let’s see it, then.”
Mark gave a nod of determination, holding both hands together, frowning in an extreme act of concentration.
Palm and I stared in surprise as a yellow ball of Ki slowly began to form— smaller than a mote of light, at first, but growing in size until it was about even with my Dragonball.
And then, it popped out of existence— the boy’s concentration had faltered.
“Marvelous!” Palm looked excited as he clapped his student on the shoulder. “You never said you managed to do it!”
“Ah, I wasn’t 100% sure I could manage it again, Master.” Mark admitted, frowning. “It’s really hard to bring it out.”
I frowned as well. Perhaps the system made it easier for me to control my energy.
Or maybe, his mom’s constant disapproval of his obsession with martial arts, as well as the derision aimed at the ‘light tricks’ seen in the World Martial Arts Tournament played a factor in it.
Perhaps Ki, in part, required an aspect of belief to it? It made sense, in a way; you needed to meditate to truly feel your energy.
If you didn’t believe it was there, then you probably wouldn’t have found anything.
That’s why fighters like Pamput didn’t even have Ki listed in their stats, I realized.
It was a sobering thought; so many fighters with untapped potential, simply because they didn’t believe that their latent power even existed.
Maybe not all was lost, though; Batara was able to use Ki, and so was Suruna. Still, I’d never even heard of either fighters.
Sure, they made appearances in tournaments, but you couldn’t find them, otherwise.
I’d taken a few hours to look both up online, but there were only offhand mentions— no contact information, no offers of training, nothing.
There was no real advertised school of training that produced relatively strong fighters— well, aside from the Crane school, I supposed.
But, who wanted to be a part of those turds? I’d met a Crane disciple once; he was the biggest douche I’d ever met.
Sure, he’d beat all of Kai’s disciples; including me— I’d just been starting my training. But, what was the point of talking down to everyone?
His Master, an old man wearing sunglasses and a black bird hat, was even more snobbish. He had a chat with mine, eventually leaving the premises, muttering about the dojo being a complete waste of his time.
“I’m sure if you keep at it, your skill with it will definitely get better.” I assured the boy. “Think of it like one of your kata; the first time you went through the motions, you made plenty of mistakes, the movements were hard to adhere to, and so on.”
A moment passed as he absorbed my comment.
“Yes, you’re right.” He said with a nod, and another frown of concentration, bringing his hands together once more. “One more time.”
Hours later, I left the dojo, heading towards the same restaurant that I’d visited weeks ago.
The owner, a lady in her mid thirties, seemed to recognize me as the winner of the tournament— I had to stifle a sigh of annoyance.
I really hadn’t expected to gain notoriety after winning the tournament.
It should’ve been obvious, of course. I remembered watching previous tournaments. I even had a few King Chappa action figures back home— he had been one of my favorite fighters.
For a moment, I wondered how strong the man truly was. He’d already won a previous world tournament, so he probably had enough power to make him a threat.
At least, I assumed as much.
Dinner went by a little awkwardly— the people at the table next to me were whispering about me quite loudly.
Two girls around my age, I noted; their family seemed dismayed and uncomfortable, having realized that I could hear every word.
Still, I didn’t let it get to me, digging into my meal with gusto, relishing in the taste and relaxing in my chair.
“H-hey mister Ten?” A young, high pitched voice broke through my haze of pleasure.
I blinked, turning in my chair to see a little boy, about half my age if I had to guess, nervously holding a picture of me.
Ah, it must’ve been a fan. The Central Martial Arts Games called me in a few days after I’d won, giving me an additional 50,000 Zeni.
Apparently I was popular among the kids here— so much that they’d made a substantial amount of profit from just selling my photo.
They’d also said that, if I put on a good showing in the World Martial Arts Tournament, they’d start selling action figures in my likeness— with my permission and a cut of the profits, of course.
The kid’s parent, a stocky looking fellow in his thirties, was looking down at his boy with an encouraging smile.
“Hello.” I replied. “What’s your name?”
“I’m K-Koga.” The boy, Koga, said nervously, fidgeting in place. “C-can I have your autograph?”
I had suspected it was something like that. I thought I’d be annoyed, but I wasn’t.
Maybe it was the fact that this kid hadn’t been as obnoxious as the girls who were currently giving annoyed glances to Koga for daring to come close to me.
“Sure, Koga.” I smiled, taking the photo as well as a pen his father produced, signing my name at the bottom and handing it back.
“Th-thank you!” The boy grinned at me. I smiled back and shook the boy’s hand, making him smile even brighter.
“I think you just made his month.” Koga’s dad chuckled, giving me a nod of gratitude and dragging his kid away. “Thanks for that. Come along now, Koga. We’ve taken enough of Mr Ten’s time.”
I stared at the two retreating figures for a long moment, before going back to my food, my mood incredibly lightened from the encounter.
The Sun was already setting by the time I was done eating, painting the sky in orange and red.
I wandered the streets for a while, walking off the feeling of fullness I got from my meal.
Mental intrusion detected.
[Gamer’s Mind] rebuffed attempt.
I reflexively sank into my tiger stance, searching my surroundings with a critical eye.
There was nothing here. Frowning, I climbed a nearby tree, standing on one of its branches to get a better view of the area.
I was hoping the better perspective would’ve helped, but there was still no one here.
I stayed that way for a few tense moments, until a raven landed in front of me, staring at me with almost too intelligent eyes.
I cast [Observe] on it out of sheer paranoia.
Raven – Lv 10
Race – Bird
Age – 2
Description: A messenger bird trained to find anyone, anywhere by sending mental probes. There is a letter attached to its foot.
It is currently waiting for you to take it.
Battle Power: 6
So this was the source of the attack, I thought as the bird leapt at my arm, almost startling me off the tree.
The raven extended its leg to me, the letter somehow attached to it without the use of strings.
Curious, I grabbed the letter, and pulled, feeling a resistance as I did so.
I frowned, feeling some form of power holding the letter to the bird’s foot. It felt a bit like that damned cloud, as well as the Dragonball.
The letter was stuck to the bird through magic, I faintly realized as I finally pulled it off.
The raven stared at me for another moment, before flying away silently.
Eerily, I realized it hadn’t sent a single one of its cries the entire time it was around me.
Cautiously opening the letter, I read through its contents, eyebrows raising the further and further I read into it.
“Uranai Baba, huh?” I tore my gaze off the letter, watching the raven fly off into the distance.
Unlock the hidden power of your father’s old bracelet and learn of your father’s history.
-Find the fortune-teller’s palace to the far west.
Reward: 20 AGI, 10 All Stats, Closure
Failure Penalty: Nothing
I stared at the quest for a long moment, before dismissing it with a huff.
“How much could she really know…?” I muttered and jumped off the tree, landing easily on the sidewalk.
I supposed I was heading back home sooner than I thought.