Age 749, Friday, June 14, Central City
Ah, the familiar smell of smog— I did not miss you.
It had been over a month since I’d left Fry Pan Mountain.
I’d stayed to help the Ox-King and Chichi rebuild their kingdom for a while— more out of a selfish want to hang out with Chichi rather than the goodness of my heart— before taking off on my own quest.
As much as I would have loved to stay, the benefits to my training had slowed to a point where I barely noticed them, and my two persistent quests were always weighing on my mind.
Find out why you received the power of The Gamer!
Reward: 5,000,000 XP, ?
Failure penalty: Death. Possible destruction of the universe.
Figure out what a Dragonball is, as well as its purpose!
Reward: 60,000 XP, ?
The first quest’s reward had even changed. I wasn’t aware the system could even adjust quests like that.
But, it did.
So, I went travelling.
Saying my goodbyes was harder than I had anticipated— I had trouble denying Chichi’s requests at the best of times.
Leaving had been one of the toughest things I’d ever done, but it had been necessary.
I made my way through the wilderness north of Fry Pan Mountain, moving steadily northwest in the direction of Central City, or as we sometimes referred to it, King’s City. This was where King Furry lived, a man— rather, dog-man— of few words.
I figured, as the most important city in the world, it likely had access to the biggest library.
This would allow me to do some proper research on old legends and folklore.
I had tried using the internet on the Ox-King’s computer, but it yielded absolutely no results.
Well, other than some disgusting pornography, at least.
Of course, I should have expected something like that when searching a term related to an animal’s balls.
With a shake of my head, I passed by the Central City’s welcome sign, which said:
Welcome to Central City!
The Heartland of the World!
I blinked, that really was a lot of people.
I stared ahead at the sprawling landscape— nothing but a concrete jungle as far as the eye could see.
And I thought South City’s 2,000,000 was a lot. This was just ridiculous.
Idly fingering the 7-Star Dragonball in one of my voluminous pockets— flashes of a black haired girl making me smile like an idiot— I wandered aimlessly for the next few hours, simply taking in the sights and getting a feel for the great city.
I adjusted my backpack as I turned another corner, hearing the sound of fighting to the side.
I heard the sound of fists smacking against flesh and tensed.
It was a false alarm, as it only seemed to be students at a dojo, meticulously practicing their technique.
I watched the students practice various moves, from punches and kicks to takedown moves, as well as grappling and dodging maneuvers.
I smiled, remembering the lessons I took with my previous master Kai.
I heard an appreciative chuckle from behind me.
“You like what you see, lad?”
I turned to see an older man, probably in his fifties judging from his losing battle against his greying, balding hair.
Quite the tall man, he would have struck an imposing figure if I wasn’t so used fighting the Ox-King so much.
Karate Dojo Master
Palm – Lv 22
“It just reminded me of a dojo I used to study at.” I smiled, staring back at the kids. They’d taken note of us, but resumed their practicing.
“Is that so?” The man said in interest, stroking his goatee as he leaned forward slightly. “And which dojo is that?”
“Ah..” I palmed my forehead, before turning and bowing slightly to the older man. “Where are my manners? My name’s Ten. I studied at Kai’s Tiger Dojo in South City.”
He seemed to recognize the name, nodding to himself.
“I’m the master of this dojo.” He said, giving a short bow of his own. “I go by Palm. We teach Karate, here.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir.” I said, staying polite.
“Likewise.” The man looked me over. “I have kept correspondence with Master Kai— we martial artists know very few people who are truly interested in the arts besides what it can bring them in life. He has spoken of an exceptional student he’d had the pleasure to teach.”
I smiled at that, happy that one of my former teachers spoke highly of me.
“I take it from your expression, that’s you?” The older man chuckled.
“I think so.” I waved it off. “There’s still much I have to learn.”
Palm boomed out a laugh. “Well said! Would you care to test your skills against my students, then?”
I gave Palm a long look, wondering why he’d suggested that.
“Not to sound disrespectful, sir; but, why?” I asked in confusion. “I don’t practice your style.”
“That’s exactly why you’re perfect for the job.” The man nodded.
“My students have never fought anyone outside of this school of martial arts— Karate is a very popular style in these parts. How are they supposed to increase in skill if they do not encounter a variety of different styles?”
“…Good point.” I allowed, still not quite sure about the whole situation.
“Ah, do not worry, Mr. Ten.” The man tried to give a reassuring smile. “You will be compensated for your time, of course.”
A Battle of Styles
Show the Palm Karate Dojo students the fierceness of the Tiger Style.
Objective: Defeat 5 students.
Reward: 500 XP per student defeated. 1000 Zeni per student.
Additional Objective: Defeat 5 extra students.
Reward: 600 XP per extra student defeated. 1000 Zeni per extra student. ? (available only if you defeat all five)
Money.. That sounded quite good. I still had quite a few rations in my supply, but I was sick of eating such bland food all the time.
My campfire cooking was also quite lackluster, considering the skill was at quite the low level.
I needed something nice, and juicy— like a medium rare steak with mashed potatoes. I felt my mouth water at the very thought of such a meal.
I did the math in my head, if I simply did the basic quest, I’d have enough for a nice meal.
Not to mention that odd reward at the end, there. It might be something good.
“I think I’ll take you up on that.” I finally said, watching as quest got accepted. That was another trick, you could voice command accept these quests. “When would you like me to come?”
“No time like the present, eh?” Palm laughed and walked inside, beckoning me to follow. “Come!”
The courtyard cleared up quickly as the master of the dojo made his way inside, standing beside a statue of a man.
The sculpture was a work of art, chiseled to perfection, depicting the man as throwing a kick at some unseen enemy.
There was a plaque at the bottom of it, but I couldn’t read what it said from where I was.
“Form a circle. Seiza.” Palm ordered and his students complied, forming the circle and kneeling in the seiza position— a good number of them looking quite uncomfortable as they knelt on the unforgiving stone courtyard.
Palm nodded for me to take my position.
I nodded back, placing my backpack at one of the corners, taking my shoes off and moving near the center of the circle.
Palm barked out a name, telling him to take his position.
It was a kid around my age, with an orange belt. I resolved to hold back— I didn’t want to kill anyone today.
Kota – Lv 6
The boy grinned and sauntered over to his position like he owned the place.
Ah, so it was that kind of student.
I looked towards the teacher, trying to figure out how he wanted me to deal with this.
Palm simply waved me off, as if to say “go nuts.”
I smiled slightly, and assumed my stance, fingers tensed and curled like a tiger’s claws, feet spread apart, keeping my center of gravity low.
The other boy assumed his own stance with an arrogant sneer.
I didn’t even get time to examine it, as he quickly made his way to me, throwing a punch so telegraphed I wanted to palm my own face in embarrassment.
I moved back slightly, brushing it aside with an almost casual disregard, shooting my foot out and sweeping him off his feet in one clean move, backing away slightly as he hit the harsh stone floor with a grunt.
I sighed as he got back to his feet, his face a rictus of anger.
The kids surrounding us sounded amused, but a sharp look from their master shut them all up.
The boy rushed me once more, throwing a series of kicks in the hopes of knocking me quickly out of the fight.
I dodged them all with ease, before grabbing his foot in midair and squeezed, driving my fingers slightly into his flesh.
He flinched at the feeling of pain, but attempted to kick me in the face, using his captured leg to lift himself up.
I caught that foot as well, killing his momentum completely. The boy had enough wherewithal to raise his head, placing his hands behind his skull just in time for it to hit the floor, mitigating the damage he took considerably.
Still, that must’ve hurt like a bitch.
I let go of his legs, stepping back slightly and re-assuming my initial stance.
“What a disappointment.” Palm growled at his downed student. “If you had only applied yourself to the lessons instead of trying to brag and showboat, you might have gotten somewhere! Rejoin the circle.”
As the humiliated and chastised boy scurried off back to his original position, Palm barked out another name.
And so it went. He sent student after student, gradually raising the difficulty by having me fight against his more advanced students.
Not that it really got them anywhere. My training had put me head and shoulders above them all combined.
I eventually made it to the point where I’d beaten nine of his students, meaning I was already set on making 4900 XP and 9000 Zeni.
I hadn’t even broken a sweat!
Traveling the wilderness, fighting against the Ox-King and Chichi for so long— it had put me in a completely different league compared to the fighters of this dojo.
“You’ve truly impressed me, Ten!” The master said jovially. “To think a boy of such talent walks among us today. I have one last fighter for you to face. Are you able to continue?”
I took a long breath, and assumed my stance once more as an answer.
“Mark!” He called, and one of the nearby kids stood, taking his position in front of me.
I stared at him for a moment, his appearance throwing me off slightly.
While the other kids looked clean and crisp, with neatly trimmed hair, this guy looked to be wearing rags for clothes.
His curly hair was set in a clumsy afro style, with sideburns reaching his jaw. His lips pursed in concentration, showing the slight fuzz growing above it as he gave me a determined look.
This man was so unlike the rest of the students I couldn’t help but take notice. And his level…
Mark – Lv 15
Curious, I cast [Observe].
“Mr. Hercule Satan”
Mark – Lv 15
Race – Human
Age – 13
HP – 2,600
Ki – 500 [Dormant]
Rep – 0/10,000 Neutral
Description: Mark is a boy who’s lived a troubled life. His father having left at a young age, he has shouldered the burden of helping his mother make ends meet, doing odd jobs here and there for strangers kind enough to take pity.
Recently, he’s begun to make a name for himself as a street brawler under the alias known as “Hercule Satan”. His dream is to make it big as a martial artist, and never have to worry about money ever again.
He is currently preparing himself for the most challenging fight of his life.
Battle Power: 44
That was… Impressive.
The only other kid my age I’d met with a battle power anywhere near mine had been Chichi— and she’d been trained by the Ox-King from the day she could walk!
This guy.. He had nothing. He’d clawed his way up to earning his strength.
I watched as he gave me a short bow of respect, which I returned, giving him an encouraging nod.
He looked surprised for a moment, before his features turned determined once more.
“Begin!” Master Palm barked, and the fight was on.
Mark rushed towards me, giving it his all right from the get-go, punching and kicking at a speed and strength beyond any of the other students there.
If this had been months ago, before I’d begun my journey, he would have been a real threat.
Still, I thought as I parried his kick, its sheer momentum pushing me back slightly, the boy was a powerhouse in the making.
I moved forward, aiming to sweep his foot off, but he scurried back to dodge before planting his foot on the stone floor, dashing to me with a straight punch that went past my guard, slamming into my cheek with all the strength he could muster.
I staggered back, dazed; he didn’t stop there, rushing towards me with a hunger for blood only a street brawler could match, sending punches to any weak spots he could reach.
By the time I’d begun to regain my footing, I’d already taken another three hits; two to my side and one to my face.
With a loud cry, he made to kick me again, but I was ready for it this time, dashing into his guard and slamming my body into his.
He was unable to cope with the sudden momentum I’d imparted into him as he was standing on one foot— I watched him fly back slightly, rolling uncontrollably on the stone floor until he hit his fellow students with a loud meaty smack.
“Ah crap.” I swore, wincing in sympathy. “I didn’t hold back as much with that one.”
A moment of silent passed as the boy got back to his feet, his tattered gi looking even worse.
“Shit, are you okay, man?” I asked, feeling slightly concerned as Mark took his initial position, sinking into his dojo stance.
His HP said it all.
At least I hadn’t caused any permanent damage. The boy tried to speak, but found himself falling to one knee, having completely lost control of his faculties.
“I would say that settles that.” Master Palm called out. “Ten,-“
“No!” Mark shouted, interrupting whatever Palm was about to say. “Master, I can still fight!”
“Nonsense, my boy.” Palm waved what he said off, walking to his student and placing his hand on his shoulder. “You look like you can barely stand, let alone fight!”
A moment passed as Mark slowly began to realize his predicament.
He looked at me in awe, likely having noticed that, despite his onslaught of moves, I was still completely fine, whereas he was almost completely defeated in a single move.
“B-But…” He said, before lowering his head in defeat. “I understand. My apologies, Master Palm.”
“None of that, now.” Palm said, patting the boy on the back. “You’ve done quite well, Mark. None of the others even managed to land a single hit on the lad! Learn from this moment, improve yourself as a martial artist. You’ve yet to reach your full potential.”
“Yes, master. Thank you for this experience.” The words came automatically from Mark’s mouth, but it was obvious he meant every single one.
He turned to me.
“What’s your name?” He asked.
“Ten.” I put my hands together and gave him a bow of respect. “Thank you for the match. I look forward to fighting you again when you’ve improved.”
He looked surprised at the gesture, not having expected it. His face split into a grin as he returned it.
“I’m Mark. I promise I’ll beat you next time!” He said with confidence.
I smiled back.
Who knew a research trip would’ve gone this way?
“Now that your overdramatic promises have been made, all of you should go back to your practicing— except you, Mark.” Master Palm said, an air of amusement flitting about. “If you’re going to make such bold claims, then I’ll be increasing your training regimen to match. Go on, get out of here. I’ll have everything ready by tomorrow.”
“Yes, master!” He bowed, and went to get his backpack, giving us one last glance and bowing once more as he exited the dojo grounds.
“Now, as to your payment…” Palm turned to me, nodding towards the inside of his dojo. “I have it in my office. If you’ll follow me…”
I smiled and complied, grabbing my backpack quickly and following him inside. We passed through a short series of hallways, before I found myself in a small office.
It was an overly simple affair, the sort that would fit an old martial arts master who cared more about his students than raking in the money.
A few file cabinets to the side, a functional, but cheap desk, and a few small, but not uncomfortable chairs on both sides.
Master Palm went towards his desk, fiddling with something underneath it.
I heard the sound of a lock click, before a small door opened— ah, he had a safe under the desk.
“Hmm… Let’s see. 10,000 Zeni sound all right to you?” The older man asked as he held a stack of bills in his hands.
“Yes, that seems fair.” I nodded. “The only student that actually made me work for it was Mark. The rest were.. Um…”
“Unimpressive?” Palm finished, smirking at my slightly shocked look. “I do not take your words as a slight. They are indeed unimpressive— they attend the classes for shallow reasons, whether their parents wanted them to learn basic self defence, or whether they would like to show off at school.”
I nodded, taking the stack of bills with a nod of gratitude.
“Say no more.” I knew their kind, that sort of person had taken some twisted pleasure out of bullying me before I had my Gamer powers.
A Battle of Styles
You’ve taken on the Palm Karate Dojo students, defeating them with the power and skill of your Tiger Style! You’ve also made a friend in Mark! Good job!
Reward: 5,500 XP! 10,000 Zeni!
Additional Reward: Having defeated all ten students, you’ve had quite a bit of time to observe all of their fighting moves, and as such, you’ve learned the Palm Karate Style!
Occupation: The Gamer
Level: 14 (7,600/15,000 XP)
STR: 48 (75.84)
VIT: 62 (97.96)
AGI: 45 (71.1)
INT: 35 (45.15)
WIS: 37 (47.73)
Battle Power: 81.6
Martial Arts (Lv 28 – 41%/Passive): Many ages ago, the first people watched animals in nature, marveling at their different methods of catching prey; the ferociousness of the tiger, the patience of the mantis, and so on. Naturally, they began to emulate their movements and taught others to follow these same movements. Passively increases STR, VIT and AGI by 29%.
Known Styles: Tiger Style, Palm Karate Style
I felt the information flood in my brain— the basic stances, moves I’d seen the students use such as as the straight punch, the uppercut, the knife-hand, elbow strike, and back fist.
I now knew them all, as well as the kicks and blocks the students had shown me.
This ability was the most unfair, broken thing in existence.
“Are you alright there, my boy?” Master Palm said, his tone slightly concerned. “Perhaps you’ve worn yourself out from fighting so many opponents…”
“No, no!” I denied, coming back to reality and dismissing the windows with a thought. “I just spaced out for a second, that’s all.”
He looked unconvinced, but let it go as I pushed the bills into my pocket. “Might I ask what you’ll be doing now?”
“Oh, um.” I started, collecting my thoughts for a moment before replying. “Well, I was going to go get something to eat— like a steak— before finding a place to sleep. I’ve been travelling through the wilderness for too long— a bed sounds amazing right about now.”
The man smiled in reply. “I know just the place— they serve the best steak in this district. As for your lodgings, you are welcome to stay the night here, as further recompense for the favor you’ve done me.”
“Oh— no, no; I don’t want to impose…” I waved his words away. “You’ve already paid me for it, any more and I’d be taking advantage.”
“Nonsense!” He said with a grin. “What you gave me today is worth more than simple money! Purpose, a drive to get better! I haven’t seen Mark this enthusiastic since his first days here!”
I stopped at his words, considering them.
“Okay.” I relented finally. “I’ll stay the night.”
“Splendid.” He grinned, happy that he got his way. “I will show you around so you don’t get lost.”
Thus the next ten minutes were spent with the old master walking me through his complex, showing me a few practice rooms, the bathroom, as well as a few guest bedrooms meant for traveling martial artists.
“No one’s used the guest room in quite a while.” Palm said sadly, frowning. “I hope you don’t mind the state of it— so few traveling martial artists these days. The world’s heading into a new era.”
He grumbled for a few moments before I gave my answer.
“It looks great, sir.” I gave him a short bow. “Thank you.”
And I meant it; after a month of traipsing around in the wilderness, warding off the night chills and fighting off animals trying to eat me, a warm bed looked magnificent.
“The last thing you need to know is that we close the dojo gates at eleven PM.” He said as we made our way back outside, past the still practicing students and to the sidewalk. “I trust that won’t be a problem?”
“That sounds fine, yes.” I nodded, before my eyes lit up. “Now, about the ‘best restaurant in the district’…”
Master Palm chuckled and rattled out some directions, watching me leave his premises for the time being.
Dinner, here I come!