"...found it, it was just lying down. Its breath was forming a mist. We finished it off together. Then it turned into a shadow-like whoosh and disappeared. Next thing I know, we find all this stuff just lying around underneath." I heard Taro's animated voice as soon as I woke up. "Yeah, and soon as 'twas dead, I got a Class upgrade. Out of nowhere, I'm a competent Scout! And I got this cool dagger Skill as well. All better that I got more daggers." Carol continued. I got up and looked around. Everyone was awake, waiting for me. 'Nice of them,' I thought.
We didn't wait for long before starting our march ahead. We were still near the start of the bridge, and this one was slightly longer than all the previous ones. Our feet no longer dragged with the burden of our straining experience - instead, our stride held renewed determination. No doubt spurred by the new clothes, equipment, and Classes. Walking without having to worry about ambush made my mind wander. 'I'm a competent Mage now. But unlike others, I have no special Skills. So the only thing I got is the extra points? Surely not. Betty mentioned a qualitative change! By the way, why doesn't a Mage Class have any Skills?' I wondered.
¤ ¤ ¤
"Say, Betty, why don't Mage have Skills?" (Me)
"Skills for the Mage Class were deprecated 84 versions ago when a test subject caused anomalies in the test run." (Betty-the-wisp intoned)
"What anomalies?" (Me)
"I'm afraid I cannot answer that." (Betty)
'I see, so another programmer was kidnapped before me and they messed with the test somehow. The creators then decided to nerf the Class so no one else could take advantage similarly!'
"Why not just remove the Mage Class then?" (Me)
"Mage Class is one of the Base Classes of the simulation and deeply entrenched in the storyline. Removing it is infeasible." (Betty)
"Makes sense. But what about the test subjects who selected Mage is last 84 versions. How did they make it out of the tutorial?" (Me)
"They didn't." (Betty)
"So are mages limited similarly in the outer world as well?" (Me)
"No, the limitations apply only to test subjects." (Betty)
"What's the outer world like anyway?" (Me)
"I'm afraid I cannot answer that." (Betty)
'Of course, explore and experience'
"But what is the point of this test though? What is the aim? How does it end?" (Me)
"The main storyline will be explained by the characters when you arrive there." (Betty, moving away from me as if she didn't like my questions)
"What about the Class upgrade? Wasn't there supposed to be qualitative change? All I got were some extra points!" (Me, returning to a hopefully favorable topic)
"You have received a higher privilege level of interacting with the environment with the Class upgrade. It also raised the priority of resources allocated to you." (Betty)
"Care to explain more?" (Me)
"I'm afraid I cannot." (Betty, deadpanned)
'Of course, you can't. The creators must really hate programmers for whatever hell my predecessor raised. I guess I'll have to find out for myself.'
¤ ¤ ¤
So far, I had somehow made it with temperature-related spells. But that could only take me so far. 'First on my list is to increase my spell repo variety.' Also, I needed to find out what Betty meant by higher privilege and resource priority. A thought suddenly struck me as we were rounding a corner. Yeah, there was a turn on the bridge! I lifted my hand and pointed my palm towards Julie who was walking ahead of me. "Identify," I whispered. I noticed that I could intuitively feel what my range was, not having to test it out. "12 meters, looks like." Also, a new window opened up with Julie's status
'Whoa! I can see Skills now? Neat!'
I immediately cast 'Identify' on others. 'Somehow feels like I'm violating their privacy though.' Nobody stopped me but I decided not to cast it again without permission. That being said, I noticed everyone had at least 2 special effects and Skills. One of the effects was always Boost of some kind.
'I wonder what else has changed?'
As I was lost in my thoughts, the entrance to level 5 came up. We quickly decided to continue. No one wanted to stay in this place for more than necessary. This was no sightseeing trip. Not that there was much to see anyway. I shelved my unnecessary thoughts and decided to create a to-do list, in the repo itself.
todo = (echo "* Increase spell variety\n* Check changes from Class upgrade")
'todo sounds so very... normal. Since I'm here, might as well go all out!' I changed the function name from 'todo' to 'questlist'.
We were still near the entrance. Betty hadn't announced anything. I decided to do a quick check. Looking around to ensure there was no threat, I muttered under my breath - "questlist."
'Looks good! Lost 1 mana point as usual.' I closed the window, took a deep breath, and focused on the upcoming fight.