Uhh, Reincarnation Goddess? You Forgot to Give Me the System

Month: February 2021

Beginning of an Era – Chapter 7

We followed the river along its course for the next ten or so minutes, as it snaked its way from the depths of forest-land to the shallows of… elsewhere-in-the-forest-land. Hey, I can’t always be a poet.

Keeping my balance on the waterhopper was a lot easier than I expected it to be. I would have thought that ten minutes of uninterrupted T-posing would have been a pain, that I might lose my balance at some point and tilt too far in one direction and send myself crashing into a riverbank, but no. I briefly wondered if magic was helping me stay perfectly balanced.

Or maybe I just had a better sense of balance than I thought. It’s not like my corporate desk job gave me many opportunities to see how long I could stand straight up with my feet together. So on we went down the river, Master T and T-pprentice, unwitting maestros of mobility.

It still looked dumb as hell, though. I loved every second of it.

“So why are these called waterhoppers?” I asked. “We’re not exactly hopping across the water, here.”

A few feet ahead of me, Bohriam shrugged. “I dunno. It was catchy? Also, ‘waterglider’ was already taken.”

I was about to ask what the hell a waterglider was when I heard a disturbing sizzly sound at my feet. The pale yellow static discharges that my waterhopper had been giving off were now a pale shade of orange, and getting darker by the second. “Uhh, Boh? Is the waterhopper supposed to do that?”

Boh glanced over his shoulder at my feet, careful not to rotate his body too much. “Hmm? Yeah, that just means it’s running out of charge. Don’t worry; we’ll be there soon.”

Normally I would have been fine taking his assurance at face value, but I have a bad habit of worrying about things when people tell me not to. “What’ll happen if it runs out of power before we get there?”

“Then it’ll drop and you’ll fall into waist-deep water…”


“… Full of creatures you couldn’t possibly imagine…”


“… Mostly harmless fish species you probably don’t have on Earth.”

“You’re just fucking with me now, aren’t you?”

Bohriam twirled around and tilted backward to keep advancing. “I swear, I’m telling the truth. This river really has things like trout and salmon.” He was trying really hard to keep a straight face, and utterly failing.

“Fuck off,” I said, smiling just as hard.

A minute later, the town of Gostrey was finally within sight. As we left the thick foliage of the forest behind us, I could see that the river opened up ahead into a lake in the middle of some wide-reaching grasslands. The town stretched around the left side of the lake, a mile or two of houses and I guess whatever else a lakeside town on Era would have. Businesses? Movie theaters? Okay, probably not movie theaters.

The fields on the right side of the lake (and extending along the river) looked like they were mostly farmland, considering how uniform the flora over there looked compared to the rest of the plains. Also, there were a couple barn-ish looking buildings. That helped give it away.

I wondered why it didn’t look like anyone was living on the farm side of the lake. At least on Earth, I was under the impression that old school farmers would live in the middle of or right next to their farmland, so they could be out and working it as quickly as possible every day. But  maybe that wasn’t as important in a world where you could just hoverboard yourself across the lake every morning.

All in all, it looked like a quaint little RPG starting town—not that its inhabitants would think of it in those terms, probably. More than anything, I was looking forward to having a real place to rest for the night and—hopefully—get something to eat.

Bohriam piloted his waterhopper to the town-side edge of the river and stepped off it, onto dry land. I followed his lead. Goodbye, Master T.

“We can walk the rest of the way from here,” Bohriam said. “It shouldn’t be too long.”

“I’m starting to think sentences like ‘It shouldn’t be too long’ and ‘We’ll be there soon’ mean something completely different in Beleric than what they mean in English,” I said, rolling my eyes.

“I take it you’re not a fan of traveling?”

“More like, I’m not a fan of walking. On Earth, humans have invented all sorts of machines to help us get from one place to another faster.” Honestly, my legs were still a little sore from our escape from Speedy before. I was kind of amazed that Bohriam still had the energy to keep going.

“Well, unless you’re about to invent a landhopper, we need to do this the old-fashioned way,” Bohriam said. “Which to us in Beleria, is the current-fashioned way.”

“Fiiine,” I sighed.

“I could always pick you up again and carry you the rest of the way,” Bohriam sarcastically suggested.

I actually thought about it. “Would it make you look more heroic to your townsfolk? And is it good to look heroic here?”

Bohriam simply shook his head and sighed. “We better hurry if we want to make it before nightfall.”

He manifested his lightning sword again and touched its electrified tip to the waterhoppers on the edge of the river, recharging them in an instant. Their static sparks became pale yellow again, and they started hovering back down the river in the direction we came from. “Waterhoppers are usually scripted to return to their point of origin after you’re done with them,” Bohriam explained. “It’s good courtesy to send them back for future travelers.”

And so we started the next leg of our journey, on our own four legs. I opted not to further interrogate Bohriam about life on Era for now; I was too exhausted. To our right, the sun was finally receding behind distant eastern mountains—snow covered peaks against a backdrop of deep sunset pink. For a second, I regretted spending so much of my life on Earth indoors and in the dark. How much beauty like this did I shun on Earth in favor of spending yet another evening playing video games that didn’t matter?

Maybe that was something else I could fix with this second chance.

Bohriam also opted not to ask me further questions about Earth yet, though I could tell he had plenty. I didn’t know Boh very well, but I had the feeling he was distracted thinking about something a lot more serious. Whatever it was, I decided it probably wasn’t my place to intrude.

With the full departure of the sun over the horizon, a series of bright lights ignited on the top of the mountain chain. Three different lights on three different peaks, each one a different color: red, green, and purple. At this distance I couldn’t tell whether the lights were from magic beacons or magic fires or even just plain colored LEDs—but that didn’t stop me from snickering to myself and thinking Heh, Gondor is calling for aid.

Then a bunch of lights turned on in the river right beside me—and they were moving!

“Looks like the phosfish are waking up,” Bohriam said, casually glancing at the river. “Do you have those on Earth?”

I looked more closely into the water, and now I could see that each of the little white lights was actually a fish, merrily swimming up- or down-stream. Each fish emanated a soft white glow from its fins, scales, its entire body. “Phosphorescent fish? No, I don’t think we do.” I watched as one of the little tykes swam around aimlessly, guided by the light of all its neighbors. It was pretty cool.

“They only glow like this a couple weeks of the year,” Bohriam said. “The rest of the time, they’re absorbing sunlight and biding their time before the next, uh…” Bohriam trailed off, looking away awkwardly.

“… The next mating season?” I guessed out loud. Bohriam’s bashful reddening of the face was enough to tell me that I guessed right. Aww, Boh was shy about biology around girls. How cute. “It’s okay dude, I’m a big girl. I know all about the birds and the bees.”

The color drained from Boh’s face and he suppressed a shiver. “Well I’m glad you’re not entirely unprepared for the wildlife on Era.” He forced himself to look ahead and focus on our destination once more.

… Umm. What the fuck was the deal with birds and bees on this planet?

After another minute or two of walking, we finally—seriously, FINALLY—made it to the edge of town. It’s not like there was a fancy entrance archway we were able to walk under and suddenly be in Gostrey; it was more that the grass we were walking on slowly turned into dirt, and then into stone, and then we started passing the most outlying buildings.

Part of me was disappointed that there was no special fanfare to herald our arrival. The rest of me thought well, that’s only logical. Everyone in town is probably getting ready for bed right now. But still, this was my first RPG town! Couldn’t I at least get a small overview cutscene when I walked in?

As if on cue, a villager came running down from a side street and turned toward us, his expression simultaneously awash in both relief and urgency. “Bohriam!” he shouted as he ran. To my side, Bohriam did nothing to indicate that this unnamed villager was a threat, so following his lead, I calmly waited for the villager to reach us. As calmly as I could, at least.

When the man did reach us, he paused for a couple seconds to catch his breath. The way he hyperventilated after that sprint, I wondered if he was related to Bohriam. Or maybe heavy breathing after running was more common in this world, as a side effect of whatever the Seven Sevens System did to people’s bodies. Or maybe—

“Thank Kelenor,” the villager said between breaths. “I came as soon as Rikaine said she saw you from the watchtower. Are you okay? Where’s the rest of the Aegis? And who’s this?”

“My name is Ash,” I said. “I’m from another world. Your friend Bohriam saved my life.”

The villager looked back and forth between me and Bohriam, astonished. I couldn’t tell whether he didn’t believe me or whether he was surprised that weak Stone-rank Boh was able to save anyone. Either way, I counted it as a victory in my “score Bohriam some cheap hero points” personal quest—because I knew what came next wouldn’t be easy for him.

Bohriam cut through the villager’s bewilderment with grim conciseness. “Sollimer, send for Elder Hammond immediately. There’s no easy way to say this, but… Everyone in the Aegis is dead.”

Characters: Ash, Bohriam, Sollimer

Beginning of an Era – Chapter 6

Bohriam and I set out at a much less strenuous pace in the direction he claimed was north. Curiously, planet Era appeared to rotate in the opposite direction as Earth—the sun was setting in the east instead of the west. (And yes, I did make sure with Bohriam that the Beleric terms for north/south/east/west all meant the same directions as in English. Although, I guess there was still the simple possibility that my new buddy Boh was actually just a moron. Hmm.)

During the silence that ensued, I put some more thought into my predicament. I was in a world with a System, and I had the feeling that everyone on the planet was enrolled in that System—everyone except me. I was a lowly human in a world full of gods and wizards and monsters the likes of which I couldn’t imagine.

Or at least, until proven otherwise, that’s what I was going to assume this world was full of. I hadn’t played many RPGs or read many LitRPGs back on Earth. I was more of a science fiction and puzzle game gal, to be honest. I bet you never would have guessed that, right?

So, here I was, a literal statistical anomaly in a world where people had literal stats. So far, I had heard references to STR, AGI, MAG, and ATT. Strength, Agility, Magic, and… Attack? Or maybe it was something like Attention—Bohriam had mentioned the ATT stat in the context of skill with magic, and it was a common enough trope back on Earth that fantasy magic required hella concentration.

Four stats so far, with who knew how many more to go. And then there were the Classes, and the Ranks, and who knew how many more components this System had. Okay, literally everyone else on the planet knew, but I was having fun so far trying to figure out all the blanks on my own. It was a good way to pass the time while my aspiring hero guided me silently through the wilderness.

“I think it’s my turn to ask questions, by the way,” Bohriam announced. “You said before that I would have to wait until later.” He looked up into the sky, pointing to an empty spot where the sun was about an hour ago. He dragged his finger exaggeratedly in an arc until it was pointing at the sun. “Well, it’s later.”

Ugh, I really didn’t want to answer all of Boh’s random wacky Earth questions. I had so many other things to do with my brain right now instead. But… “Ugh, you’re right, I did say that. So… Ask away, I guess. But don’t get too personal—I really don’t like talking about myself.”

I’m a very private person by default, unlike the typical stereotype of a young adult American woman. I even consider it a point of pride that nobody knows the “real me,” not even my parents. And I don’t mean in that edgy emo way—I just like keeping my business to myself. Although, my therapist would say that’s why I don’t have any friends.

(That’s a joke. But if I did have a therapist, I bet they would say that.)

Bohriam’s face lit up like a kid on Christmas morning. “Okay, first question. Are you really from another world?”

… In retrospect, I don’t know why I was worried about personal privacy.

“Yes, I am. Is that really so hard to believe?” Maybe I was being hard on him. It’s not like anyone on Earth believed in other worlds that harbored human life. A few hours ago, I would have been just as incredulous.

“Yes, it is,” Bohriam said. “I’ve been the laughingstock of my village for years for thinking other worlds existed. Other worlds with other people. People who might know as little about Era as we know about them. But… they had to exist. Otherwise my Personal Quest would have been a joke, just like everyone said.”

I blinked in surprise. “Oh yeah, you mentioned something before about a Stone Quest or something… What’s that all about?”

Bohriam smirked at me. “Nope; you’re gonna have to wait until it’s your turn again.”

Damn. He was becoming more powerful every second. My own snark-tongue had better watch its pompous ass.

While trying to dissociate from the accidental thought of tongues in asses, Bohriam hit me with his next set of questions. “Anyway, you said your world doesn’t have the Seven Sevens System? And it doesn’t have magic? Like, at all?”

I shrugged. “Nope. On Earth, magic is just a thing that exists in stories and fairy tales. A long time ago, we used to call anything we didn’t understand ‘magic,’ but then we got pretty good at figuring out how the world really works. Physics, gravity, biology, all that jazz.”

“Oh, so you do have magic; you just call it by its academic names and stuff. The aetheric field, gravitational plane manipulation, Rank-Alchemy Theory.”

“Wrong, wrong, and wrong. My world doesn’t have any of that. And we don’t have the Seven Sevens System to begin with, so none of us have Stats or Ranks or whatever else the System gives you. All we have is our bodies and our brains.” I was very pleased though to hear that Era had some form of academic science already. If I was lucky, I might be able to find a university to hole up in while I learned everything I needed in order to survive here.

Bohriam looked at me curiously. “So what things did your people used to call ‘magic’ that they don’t anymore?”

“Mostly things like… You know how lightning bolts can come from the sky during a bad storm? Ancient humans were all like, ‘What are these mystical beams that strike from the heavens? Must be magic, I guess.’ But now we know that it’s actually just from energy building up in the clouds and such.”

There was a long moment of silence. Then Bohriam said, “No offense, but people from Earth sound kind of stupid.”

“That’s what I’ve been saying my entire life.”

“On that note,” Bohriam said, “earlier you told Grennick that you died on Earth and were reincarnated here. Is that true?”

“Yes, it’s true that I said it, and yes, what I said is true.” Honestly, I still didn’t quite know how to feel about that. Of course I was glad to still be alive—that much should go without saying. But I mean, the fact that an afterlife existed for me and not necessarily for everyone else. Seriphen did say I was one of the “lucky few” who get to be reborn… I don’t know. It just seemed kind of unfair.

“How did you die?” Bohriam asked.

My face reddened and I looked off to the side. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Oh, um, sorry,” Bohriam said. “A different question, then. If Earth doesn’t have stats, how do you tell when you’re getting stronger? Or faster?”

“By keeping track from one month to the next how much weight you’re able to lift, or how quickly you can run a certain distance.”

“That seems awfully boring.”

“It is. People on Earth don’t really keep track of how strong or fast they are, unless they’re professional athletes.”

It was getting late in the day. The eastern sun looked like it was about an hour away from setting. The sky in that direction was a crisp baby blue with hints of sunset salmon and orange. I wondered briefly if we would have to camp out in this forest, or if Boh’s town would be just through the next thicket of trees.

After a few more minutes of trivial Earth questions, we came upon a river cutting through the forest and blocking our path. It wasn’t strong—it flowed like a gentle stream, with zero turbulence or foam. But it was wide, at least 25 or 30 feet from one side to the other, and I really didn’t feel like going for a swim.

“Please tell me there’s a bridge somewhere nearby.” If there wasn’t, my next request was going to be Please throw me to the other side.

“Oh, I guess you don’t have waterhoppers on Earth either.”

“If it’s the water-elemental form of the insect known as the grasshopper, then no, we do not.”

“Nothing like that,” Boh said. He started scanning the shoreline on our side of the river. “Let’s see… Aha, there.” He pointed at something half buried in the dirt near the water. I followed him over to it.

It was a circular metal disc about as wide as a Frisbee, and about half a centimeter thick. Bohriam plucked it out of the ground and wiped off a layer of dirt and dust, revealing a polished smooth surface. “Oh, good, there’s more than one.” He pointed again. I followed his finger to a second and third disc wedged into the ground. Following his command, I grabbed one of them.

The discs looked the same on either side: perfectly flat and smooth. They didn’t look like they would glide very far like an actual Frisbee, but if thrown at the right angle, they looked like they’d do great at skipping on the water. “So how do these work?” I asked. “Do we throw them to the other side of the river, and then they magically teleport us to where they landed?”

Bohriam shook his head. “Just follow my lead.”

He placed his waterhopper on the edge of the river, halfway into the water, and I did the same. Then he manifested his kickass lightning sword again, revved it up (or gently poured some mana into it, I don’t know) until it had a good aura of static about it, and then he touched the tip of the sword to each waterhopper disc, one after the other.

The discs became infused with electrical energy and rose up a couple centimeters from the ground like we were in full-on maglev territory. Bohriam casually stepped onto his disc, and it supported his weight effortlessly without sinking back down.

There was a time in my life when such a display would have blown my mind the fuck open. Dude just used a sword as a battery for a magic levitating trash can lid. But I have only so much capacity to be surprised, and I had already hit my limit for the day. So when Bohriam said “Hop on,” I just rolled with it and hopped onto my waterhopper, mentally adding waterhoppers to my List of Things to Think “What the Fuck” About Later. It was a pretty long list already.

But then Bohriam T-posed and began piloting his disc around by leaning forward like on a Segway. Limit broken.

“What the fuck are you doing?” I asked.

Bohriam tilted his arms to turn back around to me. “You need to hold your arms up like this to move it. Basic waterhopper Artifacts read your posture and intent to know how to move.”

Seriously?” I didn’t know whether to laugh or be dumbfounded. Inventing an entirely new emotion was starting to look like a good option, too.

“Well, with these models, yeah. If you’re a racer you can get one with the posture safety-lock turned off, but for amateurs like us, it’s just easier this way. Come on, Gostrey is only a few minutes downstream.” He arm-tilted his way back around, and I realized it looked like he was pretending to be an airplane, and my reaction to waterhoppers instantly fell squarely on the laugh side.

But you know what? I was a stranger in a strange land. Whatever customs and culture I knew clearly did not apply here. If this was an acceptable mode of transportation for these people, I could roll with it. I bit back on my laughter and raised my arms like Bohriam. I willed myself forward, and the waterhopper brought me out onto the water.

And lo, I followed my T-posing savior down the River Styx, standing atop my magic levitating telepathic trash can lid.

Characters: Ash, Bohriam

Beginning of an Era – Chapter 5

“I hate it, but not as much as I hate the alternatives,” I said. T-minus fifteen seconds until slaughter. The soldier was close enough now for me to make out the features on his face. He was one that I hadn’t nicknamed yet. Black hair and thick beard, face covered in dirt and sweat and blood. I now christened him Speedy.

Bohriam un-manifested his sword back into whatever pocket dimension whence it came. “Alrighty then,” he said nervously. “I hope we have enough AGI for this. Follow me.” And in as much time as it would have taken for me to blink, he pivoted 180 degrees and took off in a sprint in the exact opposite direction of Speedy.

As soon as my mental reflexes caught up to me, I took off running after him.

I poured all the energy I had into my legs. They were still sore from earlier, but I pushed through the pain with all the adrenaline-fueled instinct of a deer running for its life from a wolf. Except this time, there were no metaphorical headlights to stop me.

It had gone down to T-minus ten seconds until impact, and I had no idea whether I was gaining or losing ground against Speedy. I had no way of knowing without turning around to look, and turning around to look was a surefire way to get myself killed. My world had only one direction: forward. The forest behind me was an unknowable abyss, and for once in my life I had to be okay with that.

All I did know, running forward at top speed, eyes centered on Bohriam’s back, was that I was losing ground against Bohriam. Shit. I redoubled my efforts to go as fast as humanly possible. And then I tried to go even further beyond, because I knew that was physically possible in this world.

A gruff shout from behind me. “Fireball!” A quick whooshing noise. And then a blast of fire hit the tree to my left and it exploded in flames.

Again. “Fireball!” This time, a tree to my right. The fireball crashed against the thin trunk of the tree, hitting it with enough force to snap it in half and send the flaming, decapitated treetop toppling toward the ground. Come on, that’s not even fair!

I veered left, dodging what I could of the firestorm of leaves and branches. The head of the tree smashed into the ground with a heavy crack that echoed throughout the forest and shook the ground enough to almost knock me off balance.

I wasn’t going to be able to keep this up for much longer. The muscles in my legs were shrieking in agony, overworked to the point that they already felt like they were on fire. I had to think fast, pun not intended, to come up with a way to survive this.

I mentally blitzed through everything I knew so far. I was in a world of stats, magic, and RPG mechanics. I was Level 1 or 0, if I even had a level at all, and my aggressor was probably a lot higher than that. Speedy had access to fire magic by merely invoking the name of—aha. Maybe I could fight fire with fire.

Still looking straight forward at the distant Bohriam, I tried aiming my hand behind me, fingers spread apart, and I shouted. “Fireball!”

… And nothing happened.

Shit. I tried again. This time with feeling. “FIREBALL!!!” And again, nothing happened except I felt like I was shooting up in the Darwin Award leaderboards.

“Fireball!” That time it was Speedy. His magic missile hit the ground just behind my feet, exploding in a blast of heat and flame that lifted me ten feet into the air and sent me spinning out of control. I screamed. This was how I was going to end.

Ahead of me, Bohriam skidded himself to a stop, turning around while manifesting his lightning sword again. He started running toward me, toward Speedy, raising his electrified blade and roaring like he was charging up to go Super Saiyan and then he brought his sword down in a definitive slash even though he was still at least fifty feet away from Speedy and the slashing sword unleashed a literal lightning bolt of energy that arced parallel to the ground and hit Speedy square in the chest.

That was what I saw in bits and pieces during the chaotic few seconds when I was tumbling through the air. And then Bohriam caught me. “Gotcha!”

It was far from a graceful landing, and even further from painless. I only had a split second to find my bearings again before Bohriam threw me over his shoulder and got back to running. I screamed again.

For a second I tried to think of a good joke about Bohriam being a literal pick-up artist, but then I saw that Speedy was still hot on our tail. Whatever damage Boh’s lightning bolt did, it wasn’t enough to seal the deal.

With his free arm, Bohriam held up a wooden bow for me. “Take it!”

“Where the fuck did this come from?!”


Oh, right. Magical hammerspace. I took the bow, then he held up a couple arrows to go along with it. I took those too.

“Don’t aim for the head,” Boh shouted. “Too small a target.”

Normally I would have been perfectly okay with not shooting to kill, but this situation was anything but normal. I was being carried over the shoulder of a fantasy hero who was apparently a weak one even though he could  shoot lightning bolts out of his sword. This was the craziest day of my life, by at least a dozen orders of magnitude. I wondered if for Boh and Speedy this was just Tuesday.

Focus, Ash. You’re not out of the woods yet. I tried aiming the bow and arrow at Speedy, which was a lot harder than it already would have been, thanks to being slung over a shoulder that was already moving at top speed over uneven terrain. It would’ve been real nice if this bow had some crosshairs.

I aimed. I pulled back. My puny arm struggled against the tension of the bowstring. I fired. The arrow hurtled through the air, missing Speedy entirely. It hit the base of a tree far behind him, lodging itself into the tree’s bark with little fanfare. Damn. I was hoping it would at least explode or something.

I had one more arrow. I strung it back as far as I could, holding myself as steady as I could on this bumpy terrain, knowing how completely the odds were stacked against me. But if there was one thing I knew from years of anime and Terry Pratchett, it was that a one in a million shot was just dramatically improbable enough to be a near guaranteed success. Come on, literary clichés. Don’t let me down now. I launched the arrow.

It flew through the forest wind faster than I could see. And it hit… nothing. I lost sight of it completely. I had no idea where the arrow went, except that it clearly hadn’t hit Speedy, who was still chasing after us with all the intensity of a medieval Usain Bolt.

“Out of arrows,” I shouted at Bohriam.

“Me too,” Boh shouted back.

I resisted the urge to admonish him—what kind of poor excuse for an RPG protagonist only leaves home with two arrows? Then I realized he had probably used all his arrows up in the battle with the Gray Guard that I crashed. Then I realized he also probably wasn’t the protagonist of this adventure. At risk of sounding way too egomaniacal with my newfound cosmic destiny, that honor probably belonged to me.

“Do you have any more of those lightning grenades?” I asked.

“The what?”

“The thing you used back on the battlefield!”

“Oh, the Kineosphere,” Bohriam said. “Only one, but I’ve been saving it for a special occasion.”

“It would be a pretty damn special occasion if we survived this! Use it!”

Bohriam hesitated for another few seconds before manifesting the Kineosphere out from his Inventory and into his hand. It was a ball of dark gray metal a couple inches wide, covered with about a dozen short cylindrical rounded spikes. It kind of reminded me of the mines from the old Windows Minesweeper game, except a lot sillier. Bohriam dropped the Kineosphere onto the ground below us.

“What are you doing?!”

“Wait for it…”

I waited for it. I watched as the Kineosphere receded into the distance, camouflaged among fallen branches and dead leaves from bygone years. Speedy didn’t seem to have noticed the dropped sphere, his furious eyes focused only on me. Eep.

And then he reached our landmine.

The Kineosphere burst up from the ground at just the right time to slam straight up into Speedy’s chin, immediately exploding into a beam of lightning that engulfed his skull and shoulders, blasting through the trees and into the sky and who knows how far beyond that. The beam’s luminosity seared my vision, forcing me to close my eyes lest I be rendered temporarily blind by the afterimage.

When I was finally able to open my eyes again, Speedy was no longer following us. His body lay on its back on the forest floor, feet limply pointing up. I couldn’t tell if he was dead or alive, or whether he even still had his head. Honestly, that was okay with me. I wasn’t sure which possibility would have been worse—that I had just taken part in a murder, or that the people of this world could survive lightning bolts to the face.

“He’s down,” I said.

Bohriam slowed his run to a walk and then to a staggering halt. “Thank Magann.” He dropped to his hands and knees. I politely dismounted, noting that Magann was a much more reasonable name for a local deity.

“Well that wasn’t fun,” I said. “Let’s never do it again.”

“It could’ve gone a lot worse,” Bohriam replied. “Luckily he tried using fireballs on you.”


“I mean, I knew we had a chance as soon as I heard him verbalize his magic. Only people with really low MAG and ATT need to do that. Does Earth really not have the Seven Sevens?”

“Dude, I once again have no idea what you’re talking about, so I’m gonna guess no, we don’t. And I’m also gonna guess that, whatever system of sweet magic you have on this planet, I don’t have it, considering my own attempts at verbalized fireballs went up in smoke. Uhh, in no smoke, that is.” At least now I knew what Seriphen’s fuck-up was. (Hint: It was me, as it always is.)

Bohriam nodded, deep in thought. “Well, we can worry about that later. For now, we need to get back to my town—a couple miles north of here. I need to tell them that they don’t have an army anymore.”

Characters: Ash, Bohriam, Speedy

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