As he stood with blood, both his own and from various other beasts, covering his body, he only had one thought in his head.
‘I need to survive’
He strengthened his grip on his weapons and charged forwards. He appeared before the beast and slashed down, cutting a gash in its neck while the beast swung its paw at his head. He teleported behind the beast, and even while coughing up more blood, he kept stabbing and slashing.
‘Survive. Survive. Survive’
As the single word repeated in an endless loop, he jumped on the back of the beast, which was already starting to become sluggish from blood loss. He stabbed down once again; however, his weapon broke on contact.
‘Survive. Survive. Survive.’
Even as he began losing his bearings from blood loss, he could only hear one word. He stuck his hands into the wound on the beast’s neck and ripped it open, sinking his teeth into its raw flesh.
‘Survive. Survive. Survive.’
He clawed, bit, and ate, and with the last bit of reasoning he maintained, he used the broken weapon to stab into the gaping hole in the beast’s neck. The beast fell to the floor, lifeless.
As he began to lose consciousness, he saw a holographic screen appear before his eyes.
[1st class obtained!]
As he drifted into unconsciousness, a smile began to form on his lips.
5 days earlier
In a hospital somewhere in Los Angeles, a young man could be seen sitting patiently beside a hospital bed. He was 17 years old, with shaggy black hair and amethyst eyes that looked almost hollow. Combined with his skinny build, he was someone who could’ve been extremely handsome if not for his unkempt condition.
On the bed was a middle-aged woman with similar features, evidently his kin.
“Mom, it’s been 6 years since the world changed, but I’m still okay. You don’t have to worry about anything; your son will make sure you can wake up and enjoy this new world as well. Just please fight on and stay alive.” Although he hoped to get even the slightest twitch as a response, he knew it’d be impossible.
The young man continued having idle chatter with his mother as he thought back to the incident that’s been coined as the “World Awakening”.
At that time, while he was just a freshman in high school, the world completely changed. As if they had been living in a certain Korean novel, mana awakened in the world, gates began opening, and a holographic screen showed up in front of the eyes of every human that outlined their “status”.
Each individual was given a talent to start with, ranging from simple abilities like enhanced eyesight to insane fantasy stuff like pyrokinesis; hell, there was even a story on the news about some guy who got Raisin manipulation.
And within this myriad of abilities, he awakened a spatial affinity with the skill “short-distance teleportation”. At first, he was excited, thinking about intense battles and gaining great power, but the reality was quick to shoot him down.
His ability only worked in the area 10 meters around himself, and his physical stats were insanely weak, leaving him tired after using his ability a couple of times. Due to this, he was never able to fight beasts and level up, only becoming level 5 through sheer coincidence and kill stealing.
To be honest, once he realized his own weakness, he never wanted to become a hunter and explore the mysterious gates. However, he was left without a choice. He had no useful skills for the changing world but was in desperate need of money.
When mana awakened, not everything was fantastical and cool, as there were many people whose bodies couldn’t adapt to the changing environment, leaving them hospitalized and comatose, his mother being one of them. There was no cure for this ailment yet, but even the costs for the hospital to simply keep the patient alive were thousands of dollars.
So he persisted. He joined the Guild Association, which manages hunters, and became a member of a collection team for the guild his best friend was a part of, keeping him relatively safe from attacks.
Sometimes he’d act as a porter and steal a kill or two, but after his stunt was discovered, even that stopped being allowed. And like that, 6 years passed. He never made any progress and barely made enough money to support his mother.
“Mr.Damien? Mr.Damien Void?” Suddenly he was snapped out of his thoughts by the call of a nurse. “Sir, we need to take care of the patient now, so we would appreciate it if you could wait outside for a few moments.”
Since he knew of this routine from his countless visits over the past 6 years, he nodded and left the room.
‘Damn. After that last raid, I haven’t been able to get a job in a while.’ He thought to himself.
‘If I don’t manage to join another raid in the next week, I probably won’t be able to afford to continue paying mom’s medical bills. No, I have to… No matter what, I won’t stop paying those. Even if I have to move out of my apartment and live on the streets for a while, I still have to pay her bills.’
“What am I even supposed to do with these weak-ass stats?” Damien thought out loud as he decided to check his status.
As soon as he thought the word, a holographic screen popped up right in front of his eyes.
Male – Age 17
Level 5 – [Classless]
Experience value: 0/100
Titles [???????, Bearer of the Void Physique]
Physique: Void Physique
Magic Power: 20
Skills: [Short Distance Teleportation Level 1], [Minor Telekinesis Level 1], [Minor Regeneration Level 1]
Damien heaved an exasperated sigh. ‘All my problems could be solved easily if I could just get stronger, but my physique seems to be stuck at this pathetic level no matter how much I try to improve.’
He thought back to the times when he would try his hardest to work out, even going so far as to use the One Punch Man and Solo Leveling workout routines to improve his body, but to no avail.
When he first awakened the system, he already had 2 titles. Thinking back to how much he bragged about it back in high school, he felt like crawling in a hole out of shame.
As it turned out, his first title, which was only represented by a series of dots, was absolutely useless. At first, he thought it would be like one of those novel tropes where the title was too powerful and therefore sealed, but after 6 years, he had given up that faint hope.
His second title was even worse. It wasn’t just useless; it was harmful. Instead of Void Physique being some kind of cheat power that granted him an easy understanding towards his spatial affinity, it just absorbed most of the nutrients and strength meant for his body like a black hole and converted it to magic power.
Due to this, he had a good amount of magic power for someone at his level, but that was redundant when his body couldn’t even handle the strain of teleporting too frequently.
‘Even my spatial affinity is one of the rarest and most challenging affinities to train. After all these years of constant effort, the only thing I’ve managed to achieve is the ability to float cups towards me.’ He thought as he sighed once more.
‘Seriously, it would be nice if I had some plot armor or something, at least that would randomly give me a way to cure Mom, and then why would I need to care about being a hunter? I could just live the peaceful life an ordinary citizen with shit luck like me should be living.’
As his thoughts continued to get more and more self-deprecating, the nurses finished their procedures with his mother. He went back into the room to bid her farewell before leaving.
“Don’t worry about this useless son of yours, mother. All you need to do is keep living. I’m sorry I couldn’t do more for you, and I’m sorry your son is so thin that he probably won’t be able to get a girlfriend before you wake up,” he chuckled slightly at his own joke as he continued,
“I’ll be leaving now. I promise I’ll bring you more stories of the gates and the crazy stuff that’s happening in the world next time I come. I heard that even that guy with the Raisin Manipulation has become famous. One day, this son of yours will stand at the top of the world and make sure you can live any life you desire.”
After leaving those words, he left the hospital. On his way out the door, however, he was abruptly tackled to the floor.