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Once the two NPCs left my room, I remembered to lock the door. I called up my player status screen again. I looked at the Experience line and confirmed that it now reads: "100/1,000." I believed this meant that whenever I reach 1,000 experience points, I will advance to Level 2. I wondered what the experience progression table looked like. Will Level 3 require a doubling of the 1,000 XP? Or will it cost more than that? I was anxious to find out the answer because it would either simplify my mission or make it much more difficult.
I laid down on my bed for the first time and looked up at the unfamiliar ceiling. I tried to recall the game mechanics from the Merlin game. It sucked royally that I didn't get a player manual when I was transported to this RPG world. While I played enough of these types of games to have a decent idea of how to increase my level and therefore, my odds of survival, I had to move very carefully at Level 1. I already made an enemy out of Ebenthal and perhaps, the human and two elves sitting with him, too.
Thus, my second priority, after getting a pocket watch, was to either hire a bodyguard to keep myself alive or to train in the noble art of self-defense. The first option would cost more money in the long run but required a minimal time commitment from me. The second option would save money but require me to train rather than do something else with my precious time. Since I was a reliable self-starter (yeah, right!) . . . let me rephrase that . . . since I was too cheap to hire a bodyguard, I should take up Kalistra's offer and train in her dojo.
If my recall of the game mechanics was accurate, I should be able to gain experience while training in swordsmanship. The theory behind this phenomenon was that the proficiency gain in skills would be approximated via experience points, which was a measure of one’s ability to interact with the world-at-large. Also, whenever I gain the next 900 XP required to progress to Level 2, I should be getting a few points to distribute among my personal attributes along with a bump in my health points, too. The attribute scores were an approximation for the uniqueness of each individual and his underlying strengths and weaknesses.
Hopefully, the human race would get more points than the other races in this gaming world because that was the original appeal of choosing to play a human rather than another race such as elf; other races had racial bonuses to attributes and also racial abilities, too. Furthermore, humans were like the tabula rasa; the race had the greatest adaptability and this was reflected in the many attribute points available, usually five points per level increase, to distribute. Other races had two, three or four points available per level increase. Thus, for a gamer who preferred a jack-of-all-trades style of play, the human race was the most suitable character race for me. Hopefully, this gaming world will follow the same script and provide me with five attribute points upon reaching level two.
Having decided on my immediate plan of action (pocket watch, then sword training), I got off my bed and quickly left my room. When I reached the common room, I saw that the place was still mobbed by the lunch time crowd. I also noticed that Ebenthal was still sitting with the two elves and the other human. I quickly left the inn, hoping that the unsavory man didn't see me.
Once I exited the inn, I looked around and tried to familiarize myself with the street and the nearby shops so that I would be able to return to The Noble Lady without the hassle of asking people for directions. That being said, I did not hesitate to ask a passerby for directions to a watchmaker shop.
The worker, who stank of sweat and wore muddied clothes, directed me to go two blocks north and three blocks west. He said, "The shop you're looking for is called, 'Longson's Clockmaker Shop.'" He quickly bowed because he realized that he was speaking to a nobleman.
I thanked the man and started walking north. However, I felt a tingle in the back of my neck and turned around. Right behind me, with his left hand reaching for my waist, was Ebenthal! Realizing that he was trying to pickpocket me, I immediately yelled out on the street. "Help! Thief!"
Ebenthal punched me in the jaw to shut me up.
A pop-up read, "-4 Health." I felt the coppery taste of blood in my mouth.
My attacker pulled out his long sword and jabbed the tip of its blade directly at my heart!
I frantically tried to back away from the blade as I realized that my health was probably too low to survive even one hit from that sword. Suddenly, I heard dice rattling inside my mind. When the rattling stopped, a pop-up appeared and it read, "Dexterity saving throw MADE. +50 XP, -9 Health, -25% Attack." I looked down at my avatar and saw that the blade had cut deep into my right shoulder. Even worse, I had only 26 Health total and I was already down by half!
With the blade stuck in my shoulder and the attacker's body still close to me, I instinctively kicked my right knee and smashed into Ebenthal's guts. I followed up with a headbutt into his nose. Two pop-ups appeared. The first one read," -3 Damage." The second one read, "Critical hit! -10 Damage, +50 XP." YES! Purely on reflex, I tried to pump my right fist to celebrate the critical hit and the accompanying XP bonus. The blade, which still stuck in my shoulder, made it hard to move my arm.
Unfortunately, my arm movement loosened the blade and the ruffian finally managed to pull his sword free. Ebenthal grabbed the sword handle with both hands, wounded his arms back and readied to behead me in a single power sweep!