Break the World Book I: New Operating System Installed
Author’s Notes: Second of the potential web novels, took me longer than I thought it would to get this transcribed, need to learn to do it faster.
Prologue: Overwriting Save Game
There are always stories told, again and again with ever changing players. Stories with archetypes, where everyone has their job to do, a role to follow, apart to play. Tales of adventure and romance that inspires us, make us consider what our dreams and desires should be.
What happens when our desires, our hungers and want for such tales, to live such tales becomes so great as to take shape in our lives?
Miracle? Nightmare? Both?
What happens when a world finds out?
The world had been a steady stream of clicking keys and a seat of distant voices for Evan March as he sat in his cubicle. But, that was life at any IT center, people all around him, but none of them talking to one another as someone yet again turned up the volume of the TV in the break room to the point he could hear it from his desk in the corner… Trying to work while having the pseudo-journalist sensationalism spewing out emotionally manipulative commentary was… trying, even at the best of times.
During others, he was surprised that he hadn’t done something crazy like put someone’s head through that TV screen. It was one of the big, old ones with thick, heavy glass and lots of plastic after all. Still, such fantasies never lasted long before reality reasserted and he remembered how much he preferred not being in jail, even if they had it coming.
Sighing, he finished the ticket he’d been working on and was just about to start on the next when it suddenly happened.
World overwrite has been approved.
Evan stared, mouth suddenly hanging open as the screen appeared in the air in front of him. He was only vaguely aware of the sounds of surprise and exclamation echoing through the room in general. Instead, he focused on the next text below the message.
Your world has been selected to have its underlying principals overwritten. This was determined by REDACTED and the newer system is now in the process of being installed. Some of you will flourish, many of you will not.
In the meantime, rejoice, for once more shall heroes walk the Earth. Though, in their shadows, so too shall monsters.
That, thought Evan, was entirely too ominous. He glanced around his corner, before it was like the world had been shattered with a horrible sound like nothing he could describe. In that moment, reality became something he could not comprehend, a void that wasn’t, filled with swirling chunks of reality broken into shapes not previously possible.
Just as suddenly the world was put back together.
Red Cap <Lvl 1>
It was short, with a bulbous nose, spikey, unkempt beard. On its head was a dirty red cap, the color of dried, clotting blood. But, most importantly, there was a wicked looking knife made out of what looked to be sharpened bone, and a twisted, sadistic grin curled over its lips.
The smile was what made Evan react. The dark look of menace, the cold promise of pain, the anticipation. It had him lashing out with a kick that smashed the little fey’s head into the wall.
The feeling of the thing’s head smashing like a stiff, wet melon made him jerk back, his boot looking bright red. The wall was caved in, the drywall rumpled to the metal stud buried in the wall. What was left of the little would-be killer was dripping blood down the wall.
Then, an instant later, there was a puff of smoke and the creature’s body was replaced by a small chest and a floating crystal above it.
One Shot Flash Victory! First Kill! Compound Bonus!
Evan took a slow deep breath, fighting down the icy grip of panic surging inside of him. Then came a momentary feeling of sickness at the realization he had just killed something. He barely had the time to process things before another message appeared.
Job: Initiate has been unlocked.
As you have not other jobs it has automatically been equipped
That… He stared, then he looked at the crystal and the chest. It was… He remember the earlier messages and froze. “… Oh, Fuck.”
World overwrite. New system installed. Like a program. Like a video game.
With a trembling hand, he reached out and touched the crystal.
Crystal contains Passive Skill: The Sight
Would you like to Learn?
“… Yes?” It only made him hesitate for a moment. Typically, The Sight was supposed to be both blessing and curse, but he’d take any advantage he could get right now as he could hear a scream near him before suddenly cutting off with a gurgle.
The crystal vanished with a flash of light before another message appeared.
Passive skill: The Sight learned.
As you have no other passive skills it has automatically been equipped.
Suddenly, he could see glowing outlines of figures roughly the same size as the red cap he’d killed through the cubicle walls all around him. With a sickening realization, he suddenly understood exactly what he was seeing them doing. Killing his coworkers.
He needed a weapon. Well, what he really needed was an army, but here and now? He needed a weapon and some armor.
His eyes turned towards the chest still lingering from where the little monster had died. That was at least a possibility. With little to lose and necessity guiding him, he reached out and placed a hand on the chest
Bonus Chest Opened!
<Ironwood> Dagger Obtained
<Redcap> Cap Obtained
<Common><Conquered> Fey Blood x2 obtained
<Minor> Heal Potion x3 obtained
Ok! It wasn’t much, but at least it was something. Now he could fight back!
… If he could figure out how he was supposed to pull it out from wherever it went.
And there it was, a list of slots for various equipment.
Head, neck, shoulders, chest, back, arms, hands, waist, legs, feet, fingers and grips.
It took him a moment to realize that grips were for weapons, but once he did it was only a moment to bring up the dagger from the chest.
A simple dagger made from fey grown ironwood. As strong as iron but it holds an edge easier. Rarely needs sharpening.
That… would have to do. He moved the dagger to his right grip and felt the weapon materialize in his hand, far heavier than he had been expecting. A quick glance at the cap revealed a few choice bits of information.
<Red Cap> Cap
Fey cap for putting atop your head. When doused in blood, grants you increased damage against creatures who share the same type as the blood used.
It could be really useful he noted as he remembered the blood he’d obtained from the drop. But, right now… right now he had to get up and get moving. Slowly, he stood up, making sure to hunch slightly forward, keeping his over 6’ frame from appearing over the edges of the cubicle walls.
He didn’t think they’d be jumping about like that, but he could only see in so many angles at once and he didn’t want to take any chances.
His thoughts were quickly derailed when he immediately found a bouncing, visibly irritated red cap in the empty cubicle next to his instead of on the other side of the divide like he’d originally thought. Apparently The Sight had a few quirks too it he would have to get used to. The realization made his thoughts stumbled as the unexpected tripped him up.
Red Cap <Lvl 1>
For that moment, he couldn’t think about what to do. Then the moment passed and the red cap noticed him.
Unlike Evan, the red cap didn’t pause or hesitate. It immediately lunged at him, heading straight for his throat. Instinct finally kicked in and he desperately threw himself back, rising from his crouch just before he felt a line of pain lance across his chest as another ironwood blade raked across his sternum instead of his throat.
Pain awoke him fully from his stupor and instinct roared to life as he clutched his own weapon defensively in his hand and watched his would be killer with wary eyes. The thing grinned back at him, at terrible thing of demented bloodlust and kill crazed hunger. He swallowed reflexively, before he clumsily swung at the little monster.
The thing darted away with a mocking chittering sound, before stabbing at him again, this time managing to open up a bloody line on his arm that obviously excited the little creature even further into its bloodlust.
It immediately flung itself at Evan once more, this time, actually leaping into the air straight for his throat. Evan responded by slashing out at the flying ball of death and murder with his own dagger. When he felt the impact, it shocked them both. The thing only had a moment to scream a gurgling, shrill sound before Evan’s wild, desperate swipe flung it off of his knife and into the hallway.
He realized, reflexively, that the action had been stupid and likely dangerous, but the fey monster only bounced a moment past the hallway, away from any potentially passing monsters, rolling into another row of cubicles.
Instantly, he held his breath, feeling a sudden worry as he focused completely on where the monster slowly picked itself up and glared back at him. One sloppy, desperate blow was apparently not going to be enough to stop it. Then, a second red cap joined the one he had wounded, this one with a cap that glistened beneath the florescent lights.
Bloody Red Cap <Lvl 2>
Evan fought down the urge to curse. This was not looking good.
Chapter 1: The Red Cap Menace
They started with the Bloody Red Cap jumping at him while the injured one attempted to rush at his legs. Acting out the now frighteningly familiar desperation, Evan grabbed the office chair from the unused cubicle and managed to put it between him and the red caps. It only worked for a moment as the Bloody Red Cap hit the back of the chair’s back and immediately began crawling up it by stabbing its dagger into the fabric and plastic for purchase.
It did manage to force the injured one to move around the sudden obstacle. That in turn gave him the precious moments to slash out at the stronger one just as it crested the back of the chair.
The creature shrieked in pain and fell back down as the edge of his blade slashed it’s cheek and nose and promptly fell back down onto the chair. Evan then kicked the seat, rolling it forward just a bit before it toppled and spelled the screeching monster onto the ground. That left the limping level 1 red cap as the more immediate threat.
So, he took a moment to look for something he could use to keep it further away from him. What he found was the keyboard on the desk of the unoccupied cubicle. Grabbing hold of it, he pulled hard, ignoring the sharp snap of resistance as he ripped the cord from its port on the desktop itself.
It was unwieldy and relatively flimsy, but, it had one important strength over the dagger: reach. That was a fact that the red cap learned as it found its face smashed by the number pad of the keyboard.
The wounded monster was knocked to the side into the wall, not enough to really do much damage, but, enough to stun it for a moment. That was long enough for him to throw a small rolling cabinet onto it. Thankfully, for all its vicious danger, the little monster couldn’t quite get itself out from under the piece of paper filled furniture.
A moment later, he was dealing with the second, stronger red cap again, with its bloody face furious and its attacks flying wildly in his direction. And the little bastard was fast. Fortunately, while it had speed, it lacked reach or strength.
It still had its sharp, ironwood dagger though, and an angry look in its eyes. He could see the bloody lust there in its gaze as it hacked away at the already broken keyboard he’d picked back up to use as a makeshift shield. Unfortunately, the plastic already broken piece of plastic equipment did not make a very good shield against an iron hard dagger.
Still, not very good ended up being just barely enough to weather the storm of attacks that left the blood thirsty monster rather exhausted. Exhausted enough for him to slash with his own dagger across the thing’s chest as it managed to bounced out of the way to avoid anything fatal. It drew blood, but that was about it.
Evan also ended up close enough for the red cap to get in a stab of its own on his arm. It was a sharp tug that he barely noticed at first before he pulled back and saw the line of crimson running down towards his wrist. That left the both of them bloodied.
The red cap made a chittering sound, full of eager, growing bloodlust. When it reared back, ready to lunge at him again, he had run out of things to throw at it that were within easy reach. But, the thing was tired, that made it slow and sloppy. Not that Evan was that much better off.
When it lunged again, he had thought he was ready. His fist swung, intending to punch the side of the thing while it was vulnerable. Only, he misjudged how fast the little monster was flying. Instead, he ended up pulling the thing into his shoulder.
A hiss of pain turned into a barely strangled scream as he could feel it, stabbing into his the meat of his flesh and tried to bite him. He hand, fortunately, pulled the creature in to him, turning its body away from where it could easily stab anything vital, but it continued to try to slash and stab as hard as it could.
Something in Evan snapped then as he suddenly used his other hand to stabbing at the little killer in the neck, ignoring the hot splash of we blood pouring back onto him. Then, suddenly, the body went still and motionless. When he released it, its body fell lifeless to the ground.
Staggering bloodily to his feet, he blearily looked around before noticing the fearful chittering of the remaining red cap. Glaring at the trapped source of his troubles, he fumbled for a moment with the knife, it kept slipping in his bloody grip.
Acting more on instinct than anything, he pulled off the cap from his head, smearing his own blood onto it before wrapping the bloody handle of the dagger in it, and grasping it again.
With a brutal, methodical motion, he stabbed into the things throat from the side and then sliced back until he hit bone, then pull it out with a spurt of blood. Then, he collapsed against the wall as the pain from his wounds started to seep in. He could see a window, blearily in front of him, but ignored it as he looked around, doing his best to make sure there weren’t any more monsters near him.
When he was, he quickly tried to access the healing potions. It took him a moment to not only figure out how to bring up his inventory, but how to get a bottle out. After a moment, he managed to finally get it out, and after a moment’s hesitation, he would bring it to his lips and take his first sip. It was bitter, but neither repugnantly nor pleasantly so as an earthen smell hit his nose.
Still, he could feel the way the throbbing pain began to subside as his wounds began to heal. Finally, he was able to turn his attention to the notification window.
Alchemy Recipe Discovered: Primal Bloodbound Bane Weapon
Profession Unlocked! Alchemist Variant: Hunter Alchemist
No Profession detected, auto-equipped.
Evan stared at that. Job, profession… What were the differences? When nothing popped up to explain things, he sighed.
Looking over, he could see a pair of chests where the red caps had fallen, and keeping an eye out with The Sight, he opened them.
Bonus Chest Opened!
<Common> Conquered Fey Blood x 1 obtained
<Common> Healing Potion x 2 obtained
Ok, he was good on healing for the time being at least.
And he wanted to recover his stamina a bit more before he tried to continue, which lead to him making a very purposeful thought.
Immediately a small figured appeared on a blue screen with a name and description beneath it
Beginning class. Enables the job tree and accumulation of EXP and AP. Allows job unlock based on actions and accomplishments. Below average stat growth in all areas. Recommended job change as soon as available.
The implications intrigued him as apparently his job wasn’t a static thing. So that wasn’t the typical thing with games. He didn’t know if that was a good or bad thing yet though.
The screen that popped up was almost identical to the first and also had a single figure.
An alchemist that works best with ingredients they’ve freshly harvested themselves. Gains additional benefits from items made this way and greater chance for ingredients to drop.
He really wished he understood what alchemy was supposed to be though. Sighing, he closed his eye a moment before trying a few other things.
Status. Character. Stats.
That got it.
Job: <Novice> Initiate
Profession: <Novice> Hunter Alchemist
Strength Progression: a
Vitality Progression: a
Dexterity Progression: a+
Intellect Progression: a+
Spirit Progression: a+
Fortune Progression: a (Special)
<Secondary>- Ingredient Drop Potency
Extra-1 – <Novice> The Sight
Extra-2 – None-
Frowning a moment, he realized he didn’t understand even half of what everything meant. So he tried see if he could trigger some form of knowledge dump.
Assistance. Customer Care. Wiki. FAQ.
Not a damned thing.
Evan sighed as he failed ot make any progress then tried a different route
Initiate – Progress – b
Equip – All – Max
Aptitude – All – Max
History- Personal – ?
Loot+ – Personal – y
Path – Personal- ?
Boost – Personal – Ω
??? – ??? – ?
Hunter Alchemist – Progress – a
Primal Alchemy – a
Primal Harvest – Ω
A quick glance through things showed him a list of primal alchemy recipes that he had to choose from, few of which he could actually see. Mostly what he found was a few beginner recipes and the one he had discovered on his own. Information on them gave him a brief explanation of how alchemy worked.
Primal Alchemy at least. Primal Alchemy worked by using fresh, unrefined ingredients to imbue their properties to things with the appropriate catalyst. Typically, the death whatever he was using the last ingredient of.
It was crude, unrefined and limited in what it could create, but what it could create was powerful. He was just going to have to gather more ingredients together to test things out. And if it meant sacrificing more of these damned red caps, well…
But, he needed fresh ingredients from what he could tell. Which were combined in some more obvious ways. Though, it did leave him curious about why he had the common conquered fey blood. If he could get a staff or a spire or a club, he’d be happy. Daggers were for those that could and would get in close.
Now he just needed to figure out what to make of the stats. All letters, no numbers, and why would some of them have had the “+” next to them? Too many questions, no enough answer. Sighing, he shook his head before taking a slow, deep breath.
Right, he could figure it out later.
Again he examined the dagger he had obtained previously before his accident.
<Ironwood> Dagger – Bloodbound, Fey Bane
This time, there was a bit more of a description beneath it.
Cut and shaped by a fey weapon crafter, it is made of Ironwood, a particularly dense wood capable of holding an edge. Primal alchemy has since been applied to it, using blood and sacrifice to transfer the properties of a Red Cap’s bloody bane cape to the weapon, allowing it to seek out blood like that it tasted from the sacrificial victim. In addition, the alchemist sacrificed his own blood to help bind the weapon so it can never be used against him.
That was potentially useful. So, blood bound didn’t restrict the weapon to his use, it protected him from it.
Slowly, he groaned as his attention caught the cap’s new description. Blood drenched cap. Nothing else. So, whatever it was that was used as an ingredient apparently sacrificed its special abilities along with it.
Primal Alchemy indeed.
He could work with that. But first he had to figure out exactly what was happening to everyone else and kill off as many of the damned little monsters as he could.
He really just wished he had something with more reach to deal with the little killers. He would make do though. He had to make do.
Standing up to his full height, he glanced around the 5’ walls and was fortunate enough to not find himself facing off against any more of the little monsters. Not immediately at least. So far, he didn’t see any potential problems. He could still see the vague outlines and glows of the creatures through the cubicle walls, letting him know more precisely where they were.
And just because he couldn’t see any potential problems, doesn’t mean there weren’t actually any. He’s already learned that lesson once. Not paying attention to his surroundings had cost him once, he wasn’t eager to have it cost him again.
Taking a deep breath, he noted that all the items he had “won” had vanished. A check of his inventory showed it there, which was something at least. Automatic transfer of loot to his inventory meant that he didn’t need to worry about tripping over it or picking it up.
Equipping his new feybane knife, he cautiously advanced down the corridor of cubicles as he verified that he couldn’t see any of the red caps patrolling along it. At least not currently. At the first cubicle, he found himself relieved to find a distinct lack of a body waiting for him as he returned to the area the bloody red cap had been in.
Serena’s desk he reminded himself, a generally helpful woman with two daughters and… there was nothing left but blood. So much blood. He almost fell over as he realized just whose blood it was before straightening his back. No. He could freak out later.
Gripping even tighter on the hilt of his dagger, he approached the final cubicle on the row. He could see the silhouette of another red cap highlighted against the wall. Taking a slow, quiet breath, he prepared himself for a fight. Especially as one of the new contractors was supposed to sit there, which likely meant another bloody red cap.
Rushing around the cubicle wall, he found himself facing a surprised looking red cap, cap dull brown, dry and unbloodied. A red cap he promptly stabbed straight in the throat. As soon as he felt the blade hit true, he almost reflexively pulled across it, like cutting a piece of meat.
An eruption of blood followed that caught him right in the face, blinding him temporarily and preventing him from stabbing again. A moment later, he could feel a stabbing pain in his arm. Wiping the blood out of his eyes, he could see the look of angry defiance on the dying features of the red cap. Pulling back, he scowled at the creature as he pulled out one of his healing potions and opened it to drink.
Then, he looked down at his bleeding arm, and then at the dying red cap. Deliberatly glaring back at the murderous, spiteful creature, a dark part of his mind considered using the potion on the monster, just to kill it again. A thought he quickly squashed down, distracting him from the way his blood tricked down his arm into the potion.
He missed the addition of his blood to the potion, but, he didn’t miss the fey giving one last, gurgling gasp and again spray its blood at him. This time though, it failed to hit his face. But, it didn’t miss dribbling several gleaming drops into the potion.
Nor did he miss the way that with the last exhale, a faint mist left the monster’s mouth, coiling in the air for a moment, before flowing into the mouth of the open bottle.
Alchemy Recipe Discovered! Primal Alchemy Bound Fey Rebirth Potion!
Frowning, he examined the potion now in his hands.
<Rare> Bound Fey Rebirth potion
The potion to cheat death, at least partially. If given to the weak and/or dying, they are given the choice of being healed and reborn as a lowly fey in the service of the potion’s creator.
Evan grimaced. That wasn’t the kind of potion he really wanted/needed. And how did he even…
Reading through the recipe, he noted a couple of unfamiliar terms, or at least unfamiliar in how they related to what happened. From what he could tell, somehow he’d harvested the creature’s dying breath. He just wasn’t sure how he’d done it, or how he could reproduce it.
Shaking his head, he did notice that this time, nothing dropped from the creature’s corpse when it vanished.
Based on what he was reading, the process of harvesting the creature’s dying breath was used to absorb the creature’s essence. Something he couldn’t do again until the moon went from new to full again. He really wished he had some kind of tutorial for all this.
Deciding not to waste the potion now, he corked it again and put it back in his inventory before grimacing at his bloody arm. As the adrenal rush wore off, the pain was starting to set in. A bit of makeshift medicine and he had a half roll of paper towels wrapped about the wound and secured with a generous helping of tape. Best to save the potions for actually serious damage, at least until he had more of them.
Finally taking stock of the cubicle he’d just killed the red cap in, he was glad to note that there wasn’t any pool of blood, at least one less person dead. Taking a slow, deep breath, Evan steadied himself then ventured back into the aisles. He still had to hopefully find some survivors. Someone, anyone really.
Back in the aisle, he was lucky enough to catch a patrolling red cap off guard, and stabbed the little monster in the back, this time making sure to put his dagger into it over and over again until it stopped moving.
When its corpse disappeared, instead of a drop, a window popped up.
[Essence theft still in effect, 9 more Red Caps remaining to clear]
He stared as his mind caught up to the information on the screen. So, on top of not knowing how he did it, he was now penalized for it.
Evan groaned, that meant he was down to only 3 healing potions for 9 more kills at least. That was not good. How was he supposed to…?
He glanced the spot the last monster had been killed.
If he was quiet, if he was careful…
Maybe, just maybe he could do it. There were plenty of red caps all around him, but, he couldn’t see any of them grouped together near him. Gripping tightly onto his dagger, he went to work.
The first one he tried to ambush got him first and he’d been forced to apply another makeshift bandage. The second had been even worse and at the end of it, he’d been forced to use another potion. But, he’d learned.
His third had died with a surprised gurgle. The fourth managed a scratch. Then he’d heard the scream.
Three red caps were banging on the door of one of the small meeting rooms situated around the cubicles.
He swallowed at that. Two of the little monsters had almost killed him before. Now, there were 3…
Then, he heard the terrified scream again.
Gritting his teeth, he weighed his options before ducking back into the cubicle he’d just cleared. The only things… growling he grabbed the mini-tower PC case and almost ripped out the cables from it before he took the mouse and the power cable.
They weren’t much, but they’d do.
They’d have to.