"This sucks!" Aqua said loudly. "How could we lose to a bunch of stupid toads?"
Kazuma sighed. She'd bathed and was no longer covered in slime or smelling like day old vomit. She was also no longer bawling her eyes out and crying like a child. It was as if she'd forgotten she'd been swallowed whole. Twice.
"Look, they're just too tough for low levels like us. And the pay isn't even that great, we make about as much at our construction jobs without putting our lives in danger. Let's just quit and look for something we can actually handle."
"No way!" She slammed her fists on the table. "I'm a goddess! Do you think I can be defeated by a bunch of smelly toads?"
"Depends. Does getting eaten count as being defeated?"
Her face blanched and for a second she seemed to actually remember what a disaster the day had been. Her moment of clarity faded quickly though. "We just need a stronger team! If we just recruit-"
"Aqua-sama? Is that you?"
Both of them turned in their seats to look at a blond-haired young man in fancy blue plate armor. A couple pretty girls were hanging back a couple steps behind him.
"Uhm, hello, have we met?"
The guy stumbled and nearly fell on his face. "It's… it's me, Kyouya Mitsurugi! After I died you sent me to this world to be its champion and to defeat the Devil King. You promised me that if I succeeded you would grant me any one wish no matter what it might be!" He held out a massive sword to her. "You gave me the magical blade Gram!"
Kazuma saw her blank expression and the way she was blinking. She has no idea who this guy is, he thought. Poor bastard, she probably convinced him he was the chosen one. He probably has no clue he was just part of the herd.
"Oh, of course! It took me a second there but naturally I remember you! It's wonderful to see you again, Mizuki."
"Isn't that what I said?"
The poor guy stood there with his mouth hanging open, but shook it off. "Ah, I want you to know I've been working very hard and getting stronger. I will definitely succeed in beating the Devil King and saving this world!"
"That's great!" She said brightly.
"Aqua-sama, what are you doing here?"
Kazuma noticed Aqua pause to look the guy over. His armor and clothes all looked really expensive. Tied at his hip was a bulging leather purse. His demeanor was confident and screamed success. A sly grin crossed her lips and Kazuma got a very bad feeling.
"Oh, it's all this guy's fault," she pointed a finger right at his face.
"His name is Kazuma and he's a shut in NEET. When I offered him the chance to come to this world and save it he got to pick any one magical item or ability, same as with you." She clasped her hands together and looked on the verge of tears. "He picked me! So I got dragged down here from heaven and I can't go back until the Devil King is defeated! I can't tell you how horrible its been! No one here believes I'm a goddess! I have to do menial labor just so I can eat. I sleep in a dirty stable! It's been hooooorible!" She buried her face in her hands and the fake water works started.
"Hey! What are you saying?" Kazuma stood to yell at her, but Mitsurugi grabbed him by the collar.
"You! How dare you abuse Aqua-sama like that! What kind of monster are you?!"
"It's not like that! Since we arrived we've been partners and I've done everything I could to protect her!"
"I got eaten by giant toads today."
That did it. Mitsurugi threw him halfway across the guild hall to the raucous laughter of almost everyone. He was lying on a heap as Mitsurugi extended a hand to that blue haired traitor.
"Please, Aqua-sama, join my party. I promise to treat you the way you deserve and keep you safe until we can beat the Devil King!"
"Thank you, Minato. I feel so safe now!"
"Ah, my name is Mitsurugi."
"That's what I said."
"Heh, right, I must have misheard. Well, let me introduce you to my teammates and we can have dinner together, whatever you want my lady."
Kazuma got to his feet. "Hey, Aqua! We're supposed to be a team remember? You can't just abandon me!"
She looked over at him and shrugged. "It's your own fault for bringing me here in the first place. I just have to defeat the Devil King in order to go home, it doesn't matter who I do it with. And I like my odds better with Minaka here than with a shut in NEET like you."
With that Aqua left with the jerk and his two teammates.
I should have just picked the magical wand instead of that worthless goddess!
It was the next morning and he was still furious at the way he'd been screwed over. From the moment they arrived in this new world he'd realized Aqua was almost completely useless. She did have magic and was a good healer if nothing else. She was also the only person in this entire world he could (sort of) rely on. Now that she'd just dumped him he was completely on his own. He was a level 2 adventurer with no equipment other than a run of the mill sword. He had no magic, no skills, no party, and a grand total of 3,000 eris to his name.
He was so screwed.
Returning the guild hall he was trying to decide what he should do. He still had a job to eliminate three more giant toads by the end of tomorrow. From yesterday he knew the toads weren't that tough and he figured he could probably deal with one solo. But if a second one showed up he was going to get eaten. He couldn't complete the job alone. He could cancel it, but the problem there was that if you failed to complete a mission or gave up on it, the guild would not allow you to accept another one for two full weeks.
He could always go back to working construction. It was exhausting and didn't pay much, but at least he wasn't in mortal danger and it paid enough for food and a pen in the stable. He could just do that until he saved up enough to buy better equipment and try again. Kazuma knew that made sense, but how long would that take? And it felt kind of like admitting defeat to give up on the very first adventure he'd ever taken.
That was probably what he would have to do, but first he would at least see if he could recruit someone to work with him. He didn't think there was much hope. Why would anyone want to work with a level 2 adventurer with no gear? But he wanted to at least try it before going up to the desk and cancelling the toad extermination quest.
He was at a table filling out a notice asking for a party member when a cute voice interrupted him.
He looked up to see a curious looking silver haired girl with a scar on her cheek. "Uh, hello."
She flashed him a friendly smile. "My name is Chris, I'm a thief and fellow member of the guild."
He nodded. "I'm Kazuma, my job is adventurer."
Without an invitation she sat down at the table across from him. "I was here last night when your partner left you." The girl gave a sad shake of her head. "That was awful. She should not have done that to you."
Kazuma gave a depressed sigh. "Yeah, well it sucks for me, but I guess I can understand why she did it. We were in a tough spot and that guy was offering to take care of her."
"It doesn't matter," Chris said firmly. "Some promises have to be kept even when it's difficult. No, especially when its difficult. I think your friend is going to regret her decision. Deeply."
"What do you mean?"
The girl gave him a wink and put a finger to her lips. "It's a secret."
Kazuma immediately liked her. She was very cute and it was obvious she was a whole lot kinder than a certain lush of a goddess. Her chest was a lot smaller than he preferred, but her pretty face and sweet nature more than made up for it.
"I don't suppose you're looking for a party by any chance are you?"
To his disappointment she shook her head. "I like the independent lifestyle and don't belong to a single party. I'll offer my services when they're needed, thief skills are always in high demand and I'm not always available."
"Figures, well it was worth asking."
She glanced at the note he was working on. "You in need of some help right now?"
"Yeah, I took a quest and have to kill three giant toads. I'm on my own though and that's more than I can handle."
"Tell you what," she said with a wide smile. "I've got some free time. Buy me breakfast and I'll help you out."
"That's all? Seriously? Don't you want half the reward?"
"Nah. Just the meal is enough."
He was suddenly a little suspicious. "Why would you help out someone you don't even know?"
She again gave him the most adorable wink and put a finger to her lips. "It's a secret."
Kazuma decided she had to be the cutest girl in this or any other world. He ordered breakfast for the both of them.
The two of them visited the same field he and Aqua had been to yesterday. There they found a snow white toad just sitting there croaking.
"There are two more," Chris told him and pointed. "One is hiding behind that hill." She then pointed in a different direction. "Another is lying beneath the ground."
"How do you know that?"
"I have the thief ability, 'Detect Enemy.'"
"Wow. That would come in pretty handy."
"Yeah, a lot of thief skills do. Come on, let's take care of the one out in then open before his friends show up. Bind!"
From out of nowhere ropes magically appeared and wrapped around the legs of the startled toad and caused it to fall over.
"Kazuma, you kill it. In this world you gain experience through killing enemies and monsters. I want you to gain as many as you can."
"Okay, right!" He already knew that a giant toad's hide was not especially tough and that his sword could cut deep. He had also discovered that he could kill when he needed to. He hurried up to the helpless creature and drove his blade into its head all the way to the hilt.
Almost as soon as that was done the ground shook as a pink toad hopped into view. Chris pulled out a long dagger that had a silvery glow to it.
"Kazuma, I want you to distract it so I can get in a free attack."
He nodded and readied his now bloodied sword. "I can do that."
"Vanish." Chris disappeared from sight.
Whoa! Kazuma thought. Those thief abilities are awesome!. Gathering his courage he charged at the toad yelling as loud as he could. The toad was hopping in his direction. He didn't get too close as he didn't want to get swallowed. Without warning it gave a sudden, booming croak and fell over. Chris appeared on its back, casually wiping her dagger clean.
"Its not dead yet. You deliver the finishing blow. The person who actually kills the monster gets all of its xp."
"Shouldn't you take it? You did most of the work."
She shook her head. "You need the xp more than I do."
"You've got to be the nicest thief I've ever met."
Chris laughed as Kazuma killed the giant pink toad.
When the last monster, a giant lemon yellow toad, emerged from the ground Chris and Kazuma were standing there waiting for it. The two of them quickly dispatched it, with Kazuma once again landing the killing blow. And just like that, Kazuma had successfully completed his first adventure and earned another 15,000 eris.
On the way back to town Chris asked to see Kazuma's adventurer's card.
"You've gotten all the way up to level 4, congratulations. You've also earned five skill points." She handed the card back to him.
"Really?" He looked at his card to confirm it. Sure enough he was now a level four adventurer. "Three levels in just two days, not too shabby."
She smirked at him. "Don't get too excited, Kazuma. The level requirements at the beginning are always low, so everyone can normally get up to say six or eight pretty easily. But the higher you go the more xp it takes."
Kazuma nodded, that was how every RPG worked. Even so, it was kind of exciting to see himself making progress. Looking at his card he noticed something new.
"Hey, what are these? Enemy Detection, Bind, Vanish, Backstab?"
"Those are all the skills you saw me use. Seeing a skill demonstrated means you can automatically learn it if you have enough skill points and if your class allows it."
"Does that mean I can learn all of them?!"
She nodded and pointed to the number after each skill, they were all followed by a 1. "That's right. All you have to do is select the skill you want to learn and apply the necessary skill points, after that it's yours."
"Sweet!" He immediately ran his finger over the different listed skills and willed the point to be transferred. Kazuma felt a surge of warmth flow through him and in his mind he had a sudden understanding of his new abilities. "This is great! Thief skills are always in demand, right?"
"That's right. You know Kazuma, a lot of people make fun of the adventurer class and think it's kind of pointless. Mainly because you're restricted to only learning basic skills and magics. But what people don't get is that versatility is its own strength. There are no restrictions on what you can learn and no xp penalties. The majority of classes limit you to spells and abilities from within your specialty and if you can learn something outside of it there's usually a massive cost. For instance, a wizard wouldn't be allowed to learn any sort of clerical magic. And if they wanted to learn something from say the warrior class it would cost them three times as many skill points as a warrior and they'd be limited to only basic skills. You, on the other hand, can learn any basic skill or magic at the base cost. Most parties will only have three or four members, so having someone who can do almost anything is incredibly valuable."
Kazuma thought about it. "So, I'm a jack of all trades but master of none?"
"Hmmm, you know, you're right. That's not a bad thing. And I bet plenty of parties would want a member with the right skills."
"They certainly will. Since you still have one skill point available would you like me to teach you Steal? It's a must for all thieves and my personal favorite. All it will cost you is lunch."
"Sure! Man, I'm lucky that all the skills you used today were basic ones I could learn." As they continued walking something occurred to him. "Hey, wait a second. You're obviously a really capable thief. I bet you have plenty of intermediate and advanced skills. Did you deliberately only use basic ones so I could copy them?"
Chris gave him a playful wink and put a finger to her lips. "It's a secret!"
Yeah, she was definitely the nicest thief he'd ever met.