Rising of the (You Choose) Isekai
A Choose Your Own Isekai Adventure
Now this little thing is going to be done in the vein of the classic CYOA books I grew up on. So, it’s now time to revisit our childhood, though in a somewhat different manner as we’re older now and far more merciless than back then. Also, it’s going to have a bit of a twist. And to make it easier, since this isn’t an actual book with pages to leaf through, the resulting destination of the choices will be largely closer together.
We’ll use Rising of the Shield Hero as a template, though we’re playing fast and loose with the story, so don’t complain ‘but that didn’t happen in the canon.’ That was a linear adventure and totally different. Also, these numeric paths might be fraught with wee bit more peril than you’re used to. You have been warned.
Oh yes, good luck on being able to identify all of the many references in this. I’m old and remember lots of culture back, when it was pop, decades ago.
I do not own the rights to Rising of the Shield Hero, CYOA, or any of the series or characters inspired by the following contents.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
All my stuff is stored at ff.net and a03 now.
Now, why don’t we jump in with both feet and find out if its knee-deep water, or the Mariana Trench? (That would be a ‘The End’ if you did take that path, just so you know.)
You find yourself deceased via truck. Not run over by one, which would be far too conventional, but rather by it falling upon you from fifty meters up, along with a host of other debris. Someone opened an interdimensional portal that picked up a bunch of odds and ends from Earth, intending it as a weapon of destruction. But as it turns out they failed to carry a decimal somewhere, triangulated the destination wrong, and it killed you instead of the evil overlord it was intended to splatter.
Luckily, death was not the final pit stop in the Daytona 500 of your life. Instead, your spirit has been grabbed by a ‘Summon Champion’ spell from a powerful wizard in another dimension. One who knows how to carry decimals correctly. A body identical to your original one, right down to that mole in that embarrassing spot you really would have preferred not be there, has been recreated. You also sense your new body has the same vulnerabilities as your previous one. That means go easy on the Mexican, because while it tastes great, you know what it does to your digestive tract.
The room you appear in is medieval in architecture. Carved stone, hand cut, and not many soft surfaces. Lots of circles and glyphs abound in the room. The wizard who summoned you is ‘Gandalf-ish,’ as in beards that awesome should be illegal. No pointy hat, though, so not every trope is present.
He makes his pitch. Luckily, you understand the language, no doubt through magic. It’s nice to know they think that far ahead.
“Brave hero, won’t you save us from evil? Our world is in danger, and we cast an ancient spell to summon cardinal heroes such as you. We teeter on the brink of annihilation, so please aid us.”
A: Agree. (Go to Page 3)
B: Tell the geriatric to pound sand. You’re not some sucker who’s going to be sent to the frontline of a war that has nothing to do with you and get turned into hamburger for a bunch of strangers. (Go to Page 2)
“Sorry, old fellow, but I’m a lover, not a fighter. I’m going to pass on the opportunity to get killed again.”
The mage looks at you in confusion. “But we need you to rescue us. We cannot do it ourselves, or we wouldn’t need to summon you.”
“Then you should have recruited a big Austrian with overlarge muscles. I’m a conscientious objector. For all I know, you’re a bunch of bad guys trying to scam me.” You shrug your shoulders helplessly, but firmly.
The mage’s own shoulders slump in defeat. “I understand. We were asking much of you. You are under no obligation to help us.”
“Better luck next berserker. I’ll be seeing you.” And you turn to leave through the nearby exit.
The wizard speaks again. “I’m sorry, but you see, it takes a great deal of magic to create bodies for travelers, such as yourself, to walk our world. A certain amount of magic is bound to that form, which we cannot reuse so long as it remains there. Since you’ll not be working for us, I’ll be taking it back. “
He makes an arcane gesture, and you feel your body begin to break down into whatever material components it had originally been created from. You’d tell him you’ve changed your mind, but your mouth was one of the first things to go. The rest of you rapidly joins it in a pile on the floor.
[Okay, if you don’t want to adventure, why in the hell did you choose a ‘choose your own adventure’ story? Keep up.]
“I’m your man. I should let you know I have no formal combat training, outside of a couple of karate classes. I got dumped on the old can a lot in that class, and decided it wasn’t for me.”
“Have no worries on that account. As you fight you will become more skilled, like all adventurers in our realm.”
“Experience point system. Got it.” You’re starting to get a grasp of this world quickly. Besides, who doesn’t want to be a hero in a sword and sorcery realm? You might not be a Conan, but surely you can manage a Tarl Cabot from ‘Gor’. You hope your Jack Palance in a Jiffy Pop-Up hat is as lightweight as that one was.
The wizard leads you to a table with four weapons on it.
“Since you’re the first champion we summoned, you get to choose from the selection of weapons first.”
“Groovy.” There’s always time to channel your inner Bruce Campbell. And if you choose that as your catchphrase, no one here can claim copyright infringement.
On the table are four weapons. You choose:
A: Shield. (Go to Page 4)
B: Sword. (Not eligible at this time)
C: Spear. (Not eligible at this time)
D: Bow and Arrow. (Not eligible at this time)
“Yes! All that Captain America cosplaying is about to pay off!”
“I am glad you are enthused about your selection,” the wizard says. “Most people would scoff at a shield being used as a weapon. Including myself. Seriously, shield bashing is not a particularly lethal tactic. I’m going to lose that bet with the apprentices about the shield being the last one there, and the final champion becoming depressed over having to use it. I had a lot of gold riding on that--.”
“All right! I got it! I got it!” You compose yourself. “I assume this thing can be thrown and come back, right?”
“Perhaps if you attain a high enough level?”
“Okay. That makes sense. No one gets all the cool attacks at first. I wouldn’t happen to get a dose of Super Soldier Serum thrown in by chance?”
“A chemical cocktail that makes you physically bigger and stronger.”
“Oh,” the wizard says. “No. The only cocktail I know that sounds like that is, called a ‘Potion of Heroism’. It’s served at pubs, but all it really is is a very alcoholic beverage that makes you inebriated enough to think you’re invincible. Many people have discovered the hard way it does not make them stab proof like they think.”
“Shucks. Looks like I’ll be grinding the days away killing enemy cannon fodder and small slimes.” You swing the shield around. It clearly is magical, as it feels weightless on your arm.
“First you must be introduced to the king.” The wizard leads you out of the inner recesses of what proves to be the castle that’s his base of operations. After travelling through numerous stone corridors, you end up in a throne room where the king resides. Clearly your arrival has been announced far and wide, as the room is packed with gaudily adorned nobles who look upon you in curiosity mixed with hope.
On a throne dominating the room is a kingly king. As in luxurious robes, neatly trimmed beard, and that look of inbreeding which most of them have. Royal trees? More like royal shrubbery.
The king intones in a deep, commanding voice. “Welcome, Hero of the… Shield. Whoa, seriously?” The king realizes his faux pas and clears his throat. “Truly you must be a hero of the highest caliber to have chosen such a difficult weapon to master.”
Someone in the crowd goes, “*cough* Shieldpussy *cough*.”
Titters of amusement run through the crowd.
A: Pretend not to hear it. (Go to page 5)
B: Teach the disrespectful punk how far a boot can go up their backside. (Go to page 6)
Mercy is the domain of the powerful and just. Also, you’re barely at first level. The guy could be a great swordsman and you could end up skewered before your adventure begins. Sure, you’re losing street cred with this crowd, but they’re rich snobs. It’s the common stock, like yourself, you’ll be chumming up to and having watch your back.
You add a mental note to inquire later about who told that ‘witty joke’ and add them to your ‘To Kill’ list. You’ve just decided that everyone who crosses you pays for it. Once you get a few levels, you can use him for shield throwing practice.
You approach the king and stand before him.
He announces, “It is in esteemed gratitude that we thank you for your service to the kingdom.”
A: Graciously accept his accolades. (Go to page 7)
B: Cut to the chase. You know how these stories work. This guy is corrupt, hated by the populous he’s oppressing, and you’re putting him in his place. (Go to page 8)
“Who said that?!”
Your roaring mode actually startles the crowd enough that everyone, without saying a word, looks to the speaker, even parting a bit from him. He looks scared at transforming from anonymous voice in the crowd to the center of a cardinal hero’s attention.
You walk up to him, ice in your eyes. You hold your hands out and say, “Right or left?”
He looks at you curiously.
“Right or left?” you repeat.
Finally, he timidly squeaks, “Right?”
Unfortunately for him, you’re right-handed, and that’s where the shield is. You make your first shield bash attack of your heroic career. While there are not many points of damage to it, there are even less health points in pudgy nobility jaws.
Snide ass slumps to the floor, knocked out, to the astonishment of the crowd.
You smugly turn to the king. “This noble—”
“My nephew,” he clarifies in an emotionless voice.
Crap. Change of plans. “—Was kind enough to help me reassure the crowd that contrary to appearances, you’re in good hands with the Shield Hero and his unassuming weapon, which is far more powerful than you might think. Let’s give a big hand for this courageous man who was willing to suffer a blow for the kingdom in order to put your minds at ease. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes.” You start clapping loudly at his unconscious body while simultaneously praying your bullshit attribute is maxed out.
You must have some points in it, as the crowd goes from slowly clapping to enthusiastically doing it. Everyone will be buying the guy drinks after this. Assuming his jaw doesn’t need wired shut.
The king doesn’t demand your decapitation, so it appears to have worked. You stand before him.
The king announces, “It is in esteemed gratitude that we thank you for your service to the kingdom.”
A: Graciously accept his accolades. (Go to page 7)
B: Cut to the chase. You know how these stories work. This guy is corrupt, hated by the populous he’s oppressing, and you’re putting him in his place. (Go to page 8)
You bow deeply. “I am at your command.”
More official pleasantries are exchanged. You’re regarded with some measure of respect by most of the nobility. It seems everyone wants to converse with one of the future heroes of the realm. After what feels like an eternity of platitudes, the party ends and you’re given a moment’s respite to collect your thoughts.
As you grab a drink of water, you are approached by a real hottie. She’s decked out in barely functional armor that shows off her feminine attributes, a sword that does look decent, and her cleavage. She’s also a redhead. Bonus points for that.
“Greetings, Shield Hero. I’m Malty.”
“Huge tracts of land.”
She looks at you in confusion. “I beg your pardon.”
“I wonder if the king will award me huge tracts of land when I succeed in fighting off the enemy forces.” Yes! You finally got to use that line on a woman and not get slapped for it. You’d been batting a solid 0.000 until now. The worst was that softball pitcher who went into a wind up before letting you have it. Your face was numb for the next three days.
That satisfies her. “You’re new to this realm. Why don’t we form a party together, and I can help show you the ropes?”
“If you’re going to be showing me the ropes, I have to let you know in advance the safety word is, ‘Oklahoma’.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t understand.”
“A safety word is used to let someone know a situation is not dangerous while keeping casual bystanders unaware you’re looking out for trouble.” You decide you’d better knock it off with the sexual innuendo. There is such a thing as tempting fate. But the opening to use a bondage pick up line was too good to pass up.
Once again, she is assuaged. “So how about it?”
A: Graciously accept her invitation. (Go to page 10)
B: Decline in the most offensive way you can imagine. (Go to page 9)
You summon up every ounce of boldness you have ever possessed. “Yo, listen up, Wee Willie Winkie. Everyone knows I’m going to be running the show by the time this fracas is over. So why don’t you just go ahead and step aside so I can fast track this nation with my brilliant, culturally advanced ideas as to how society should be run, and we can relegate these archaic, unjust rules of yours into the dustbin of history?”
For some peculiar reason, the king doesn’t abdicate despite your eloquent, well thought out, and rather obvious conclusions. Rather, he orders the guard to throw you in chains where you are carried off to the deepest, darkest dungeon in the castle. There you will dine on fetid water and stale bread, (with cold gruel being served on holidays. Joy.) In darkness you will wait until the forces of evil come to the kingdom and they are forced to let you do battle.
[Seriously, what the hell were you thinking?]
You puff up your chest. “Well now, it looks like you’re the first little filly that’s going to be in my harem of buxom beauties. And I’ll have you know you’ve already got the inside line at being my main squaw in it. By the way, you’re responsible for bringing the lube, if you know what I mean. Huzzah.” You shoot the most lascivious leer you can manage.
Your efforts succeed. She goes from shock to enraged in the span of a second. For a moment her hand starts to smolder, and you think you’re going to have to employ your first shield deflection, but then she reigns in the anger and storms off.
While you enjoy checking out that very cute backside, you also know there was something seriously off about that situation. You’ve never been the type to have the most attractive gal in the room sidle up and offer any kind of service to you. So, when her Supreme Hotness arbitrarily decides to hook herself up to your rising star… shield, there was something going on other than some rando wanting to render assistance to you. There is such a thing as ‘too good to be true,’ and she was it.
And if not, you can cry yourself to sleep later.
Now it’s time to go out and get some goods.
A: Go get some armor. You’re not a mage or monk for crying out loud (Page 16)
B: You’ve already got a shield. Time to kill some really weak creatures (Warning, grinding ahead. Page 19)
C: Take on some mid-level creatures. (Page 20)
D: Lightweight crap? Not for you. Track down the a hideously strong creature and level up super-fast. This shield has to be tough or you wouldn’t have been given it. (Page 25)
Hubba-hubba. It looks like you have the ability to attract women. Only the most useful ability ever. Maybe every hero gets that unlocked at first level. And if you land enough women, you get the additional ‘harem upgrade’. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
Naturally, some modicum of class must be maintained. You put on the airs of a gentleman and graciously accept Malty’s invitation. “I am at your service. What shall we do first?”
“Since you are already armed, albeit with a shield, we should get you armored as well. The king will provide you with a stipend for your services to the kingdom, so we’ll use that.”
The two of you leave the castle and enter the town. It’s like every classic western fantasy realm in every video game you’ve played. Except you smell lots and lots of manure from the numerous animals about. It seeps so deeply into your nose you’ll be smelling it for days. How did people function with that horrendous aroma hanging about?
You kick concerns about malodorous scents to the curb, and follow your new companion until you arrive at a reputable armor shop. You know it is since there’s a shingle with the name, ‘Reputable Armor Shop’ hanging above it. Also, you passed the ‘Disreputable Armor Shop’, the ‘Rusty Armor Armor Shoppe (free tetanus with every purchase),’ and the ‘Absolutely Not Shady Armor Shop (will buy armor, no questions asked. Bloodstains not an issue).’
You enter the shop and Malty askes the rather well-muscled armorer what he has in your size. After measuring you he offers you two different sets of armor. One rather standard issue chain mesh that looks quite protective, and one other which is leather with studs, and a mask which completely engulfs the face. There is a zipper over the mouth. It’s highly impractical.
Do you choose
A: The chain mail one (Page 14)
B: The gimp suit. (Page 11)
“I’ll take the rather risqué leather one.”
“He’s taking the chain mail.” Malty says.
“This isn’t a negotiation.”
[Looks like you’re going on to Page 14 after all]
You stand across the street from the four-armed alien. This is as much a snapshot of a wild west duel as you can envision. The desert winds actually blow a tumbleweed between you and your fellow duelist. How could that have been timed any better? The townspeople line the streets, packing each side, but are careful not to stand in the potential paths of your laser beams when you go for your guns. Lasers can go through more than one body, after all.
You stand ready, fingers hovering over the laser pistol in its holster at your waist. “I’m going to give you one last chance to take back what you said.” You spit a loogie in his general direction, because you’re not stupid enough to chew tobacco. That stuff’s gross.
Your opponent grumbles in a rumbling tone. “Why? Sarsaparilla does taste like platypus urine.”
You gave him a chance. Now he pays. “Countdown 3 to 1. As soon as I start to say 1, we draw. So, 3…2…1.”
To your credit, your gun clears the holster even as you’re struck simultaneously by four lasers fired from each of the pistols in the alien’s hands. It turns out he really is faster than you with every hand.
[Yeah, there are no choices that led you to this page. You’re just reading through this page by page. That defeats the entire purpose of a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Adventure. Putz.]
The injustice is more than you can bear. Pun intended. You give a feral growl and lunge toward the diminutive warrior, intent on mauling the munchkin.
A wizard waves her hand at you and shouts, “Toil and Bubble!”
Instantly your internal organs boil in your body. This causes you to drop to the ground well short of your goal, the pain unimaginable.
A number of the Legion, as well as the Bearzerker, look down on your twitching form. The wizard says, “Harem Envy. It’s a form of psychotic break. You can see it in their eyes. Poor bastards go homicidal. Rabid dogs are less vicious. It was far more humane to put him down.”
You would contend that boiling someone’s internal organs, while they are inside them, is about the least humane thing you could do to a living creature, but it only comes out as gurgling incoherence. Luckily, it ends thirty seconds later since this is
[Isekai Rule #9: Never come between a hero and his harem.]
You buy the chain mail one. Because staying alive isn’t just a song, it’s a way of life here. It fits you liked a chain mail glove, which means it’s a bit heavy. But you soldier on and leave with Malty, who suggests the two of you go tavern for a meal and accommodations. You can pick up the rest of your supplies tomorrow.
What happens next is a delightful meal with a charming, beautiful female of the species who flirts with you over your food and drinks. It’s way better than the dating sims you played all the time. True, you had a way with 2-D girls, but their chests don’t compare to the 3-D one currently in front of you. And if you play your cards right, you might get to find out if they are as plush as a body pillow. And you’ve dropped a lot of cash on plush body pillows.
Night falls and Malty suggests going up to your room to retire. So far so good, as she hasn’t secured accommodations for herself. It seems she’ll be spending the night.
You arrive at the room and remove your armor while Malty gets something out of the bag at her waist. You see it’s a bottle which she opens. She then pulls out a cloth and puts some of the liquid in the bottle on it. She holds it out in your direction.
“It’s a new perfume I want to try out. Tell me what you think about it.”
A: Get this over with as quick as you can. You’ve got some red-hot monkey loving to get to. (Page 15)
B: Decline (Page 18)
You hold the cloth up to your face and breathe deeply. The scent makes you heady.
“Whud u call dis?” For some reason your tongue seems to have become thicker.
“Oh.” And you fall to the wooden floor of the room, unconscious.
When you come to it’s high noon and you’re traveling in the back of a wagon with bars all around you. As you reorient yourself, you see there are two very fearsome-looking men with large muscles, and even larger weapons, driving the team of four horse-like animals pulling it.
“Sleeping beauty wakes,” one of them says, amusement lacing his voice.
Alas, looking around reveals no sleeping beauties, just you. “What’s going on?”
“You’re being sold to the Prince of Pernia. He is a collector of slaves. His assortment is the most varied in all the land. He wants one of every type. To date his collection lacks one very key piece: that of a person from another world. He is paying a large fortune for such an individual. Since you fit this bill rather perfectly, we are absconding with you in order to accept his remuneration. Did I mention it is a considerable sum?”
You slump against the bars, depressed. It looks like the adventure is over, and you’re going to be part of someone else’s proverbial harem. Maybe you can entertain him like Scheherazade to keep him from doing anything untoward with you. Luckily, you’ve got tons of stories you can tell thanks to the massive manga collection you own. You’ve going to pass on all the isekai though. They brought nothing but trouble. And dear god no hentai. You don’t want to give him ideas.
[Seriously? You fell for the ‘does this smell like chloroform’ trick? No one falls for that. You deserve your terrible ending. Moron.]
You look around until you arrive at a reputable armor shop. You know it is since there’s a shingle with the name, ‘Reputable Armor Shop’ hanging above it. Also, you passed the ‘Disreputable Armor Shop’, the Rusty Armor Armor Shoppe (free tetanus with every purchase),’ and the ‘Absolutely Not Shady Armor Shop (will buy armor, no questions asked. Bloodstains not an issue).’
You enter the shop and ask the rather well-muscled armorer what he has in your size. After measuring you he offers you two different sets of armor. One rather standard issue chain mesh that looks quite protective, and one other which is leather with studs, and a mask which completely engulfs the face. There is a zipper over the mouth. It’s highly impractical.
Do you choose
A: The chain mail one (Page 24)
B: The gimp suit. (Page 22)
“Hell no, you blind putz. Better lift up that grill or you’ll be walking into walls next.”
“It’s not that. Sometimes goblins use disguises. They are unexpectedly clever creatures that learn quickly. I am Goblin Slayer.”
A man who has so devoted his life to his profession he’s the titular character in his own tale. Or is that eponymous? You tell him who you are and why you are here.
“Since you wish to dispatch as many goblins as you can, perhaps we should unite our efforts in order to kill them faster,” Goblin Slayer suggests.
The idea is sound, so you form a party and enter Goblin Ridden Bog. Upon arrival, you quickly discover it’s also mosquito ridden bog. You have enough education in environmental studies to know bogs have their own ecosystems. And that humans don’t live in bogs for the simple reason they aren’t well designed for them. You make good food for the local inhabitants, though.
Sadly, a small band of goblins doesn’t rush out to greet you, bearing weapons in their hands. It appears you’ll have to look around for them. Bogs are famous for being wet, muddy, and overgrown. Dungeons don’t have these problems. Your opponents are either in halls or behind doors to evenly sized rooms, with the dimensions always ending in a zero of some kind. If the goblins have any loot, hopefully it won’t fall into the bog and be lost forever.
Goblin Slayer suggests you split up, hollering if you spot a goblin. So, you tromp through the bog, most of your steps resulting in treading through muck that comes up to your ankles. Your flesh might bond with mud if this keeps up.
You enter a small clearing. On the other side of the clearing is a small figure with long blonde hair huddled with its back to you. Sniffles arise from it.
A: Help the girl out. After all, this could be the first member of your harem. If she’s cute. (Page 23)
B: Something about this stinks. And it’s not from the pile of alligator turd you just stepped in (Page 32)
You walk up to her and accept the cloth. Just as you touch it you give a loud, “Achoo!”, then thrust the cloth into her face. Reflexively, she breathes deeply before backing away, her eyes wide in shock. She gives out a drifting, “Youuu,” wavers, then collapses to the ground.
Seriously? She actually tried the ‘Does this smell like chloroform trick?’ A brain damaged monkey wouldn’t fall for that. Sadly, it shows she had some scheme up her sleeve in claiming to want to help you. Something that involved you being unconscious, and probably not being covered in whip cream with a cherry on top while being tied up for a horizontal mambo.
Now you need to decide what to do with her. While you’d been dining in the tavern you heard talk about slaves being sold somewhere. While selling Malty off sounds appealing, and you could use the money, you have no idea if there’s a market for, ‘Hot Backstabbing Witches’. Okay, and it *is* slavery. You probably shouldn’t encourage the system of bartering flesh off by participating in it. Maybe you’ll get a chance to crush it when you knock off whatever evil overlord they expect you to destroy, then take over the kingdom and run it like your personal kingdom. Except it won’t be despotic since you’ll be the one in charge. It’s only despotism when others engage in it.
The banning of all black jellybeans will be your first act. Banning slavery will probably be the second. Harems will still be legal though. Definitely a keeper. There’s nothing wrong with multiple healthy people engaging in multiple healthy relationships. Some folks were just way too uptight about those things back home.
But there are other considerations first. Since you want to keep her off your tail for a while, and make life difficult for her, you strip her of both weapons and clothing. You’re totally not being pervy. Naked chicks don’t like screaming for attention since that means being seen naked. And the whole idea is she keeps quiet for a while. Nice mole there….
You grab every other piece of fabric and remove them from the room so she has nothing to cover up with. Sure, she could try a chair, but there’s a reason fashion designers don’t incorporate furniture into clothing designs. You collect all of your belongings and head out the door.
It’s time to get on your mission. That means leveling up. There are a number of means to do it.
A: Attack really weak creatures (Warning, grinding ahead. Page 19)
B: Take on some mid-level creatures. (Page 20)
C: Lightweight crap? Not for you. Track down the a hideously strong creature and level up super-fast. This shield has to be tough or you wouldn’t have been given it. (Page 25)
You decide to play it smart and take it slow. No one said there’s a time limit on your quest to challenge whatever horrific thing they want you to kill, but it’s sure to be tough, which means you need to get tougher. So, it’s off to slaughter whatever passes for low level fodder in these here parts.
Asking around gets people to direct you to a place on the outskirts of the city. Sure enough, right at the edge of town there is a sign declaring, “Low Level Rubber Monster Balls’, with an arrow pointing to the south. You follow the arrows until you arrive at a field of tall grass where much rustling is apparent. It’s like an open invitation to grind.
You go to one of the areas of denser movement. As you approach the creatures bounce into view: tiny orange balls with sharp teeth aplenty. They reek of ‘looks bad, but isn’t, and not worth much’. As you stand there formulating a strategy, one of the rubber ball monsters takes exception to your existence and hurls itself at you, snarling. You strike it with the edge of your shield, making it pop as though it had been filled with air like a balloon. It even leaves tattered remains behind. Two more are dispatched in similar fashion. You’re clearly getting the hang of this. Shield bashing is kind of fun.
You decide to get fancy. One launches itself and you smack it up, then down with the flat of the shield. With the next you strike perfectly using the edge of your shield. It feels like a game tutorial but with some cardiovascular effort. Or maybe this is what exercise is like.
An orange attacker comes at your head, and you go for an airborne deflection in a precise direction. You misjudge its trajectory and miss completely. It’s going to hit your poor old noggin. Time to lose your first hit point.
It connects with your head. Unfortunately, there’s a critical hit table in this universe. Normally with such a low-level creature what additional damage inflicted would be minimal, but it rolls the equivalent of a ‘100’, on 2D10’s. That means it moves up to the next critical hit table, which is understandably more potent. It somehow rolls another 100: the only fatal result.
It fractures your skull just enough to send a tiny shard of bone into the right spot of your brain so it kills you.
When your body is discovered, and that it was a Rubber Monster Ball that killed you, you are the butt of jokes for years to come as ‘The Hero that was One Shotted by a Rubber Ball.’
[Honestly, you made a solid choice there. This was simply bad luck]
[Retry: If you ever actually played a MERP game and used their critical hit table, go back and choose again. Old gamers got to give each other a break.]
You decide to go for the middle ground and target some mid-level opponents. Grinding is a chore, but there’s a reason when you game you don’t make a beeline toward bosses either. You ask around and someone says Goblin Ridden Bog sounds like what you’re looking for. So, you set off on your destination.
The weather remains ideal with sunny skies and a pleasant temperature that is neither too hot nor too cold. An ideal climate to kill in, to be certain.
You arrive at a crossroads and see a person decked out in a suit of ragtag, but very functional, armor. He wears a full helmet with a grill, so you’re unable to see his face. You greet him.
“Is this the right direction to Goblin Ridden Bog?” you ask.
“Why do you want to go there? Are you a goblin?” he asks in a tinny voice.
A: Deny it, of course. (Page 17)
B: Mock the blind twit by claiming you are. (Page 38)
You know, there is something about that name that beckons you. Probably because it sounds a lot like one that was in some online MMORPG or something. So, you set out in that direction. There is some distance to cover, and you are accosted by a handful of low-level bandits that only add to your experience, before going through the magic wood which surrounds the place.
The forest is dark, and you don’t just mean the actual number of lumens in the place. It’s loaded with evil ickiness which seeps into the pores. Like when you’re involved in a court case, being tortured by lawyers while they overbill you for it.
You hope the Tomb is populated solely by lawyers. That would be an awesome force of evil you’d enjoy dispatching.
After traveling through dark paths of despair, you enter a clearing where a rather large mausoleum type building is at the center of circles of pillars. There are a number of marble statues around it. The set up doesn’t look very imposing, but that’s probably because the majority of it is underground.
You expect there to be resistance, but there isn’t any. The front door to the structure is open, so you walk in, shield at the ready. You’ve learned lots of tricks with this baby. Time to make it work for you.
Upon entry to this tomb, you follow the main corridor deeper into the structure. You eventually come to a room that has actual occupants. A pale girl in a red dress with a hoop skirt. Her red eyes and white hair have you thinking vampire. You look down at your shield and allow it to send an ID pulse through the room, and sure enough, undead. Well, you’ve boosted enough for your shield to prevent life draining attacks on your person. You can still be torn limb from limb, but you’ve a few ideas on how to deal with that.
Just as you’re about to posture before your foe, three maids enter the room. As in maid uniforms from your world, not this one. There is something about this situation that is seriously familiar. It’s right on the tip of your tongue.
The vampire speaks. “It’s been a while since someone has been foolish enough to invade Nazarick. Usually it’s in groups, since even the most arrogant aren’t suicidal enough to trespass here alone. I’m trying to decide if I should kill you for this affront, or toy with you just to see if you can make things slightly interesting before I slowly, tortuously kill you.”
Time to be bold back. “I’m here to take down the evil overlord that runs this place. Since you’ve got, ‘I’m a guard dog’ vibes, I want to know the name of the guy I’m going to take down.”
She laughs in that loli type way some guys like. Not you though, “So it will be the slow torturous route for a gross insult like that. Since I am honored to serve at my master’s right hand, I will grace the air with the sound of his name: Ainz Ooal Gown.”
And that’s when it all comes together. “Wait, I know that name. Sort of. You’re telling me the guy running this place is going by that handle?”
“Yes. It is the most glorious name in existence.”
“What’s he look like?”
“Since you will not be blessed with laying eyes upon him, I shall inform you. He wears robes of darkest night, a body composed of bone, and a soul meant to rule the world. Now it’s time for your skin peeling. We’ll do it slowly and in small bits to make it last. I would prefer screams of ag--.”
“You could have just said lich,” you grumble. More loudly you say, “He’s going to want to see me.” If you guess correctly. If not, it’s going to get messy because you’d rather not deal with a lich and his minions, in his base of operations, at your current level.
The vampire looks cross at being interrupted. “The master does not lower himself to deal with rabble such as you. Unless he’s bored. Then he will employ any of the hundreds of spells at his disposal to end your existence, and add you to the ranks of the undead guarding this place. It is the greatest honor one as low as yourself can attain.”
The maids have moved into attack positions as well. Fending off everyone will be a challenge. This had better work. “Tell him this. ‘There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but when you suck hard, there are only dead pilots.’ And if after you tell him he doesn’t want to see me, I’ll let you kill me.”
This confuses her momentarily since that was her plan from the start, so it doesn’t really matter if you willingly go along with it or not. But there is something in the conviction in your voice which seems to sway her. She orders one of the maids to deliver the message. As you wait, you try to make small talk. “My, you’re as pale as an Irishwoman. Been a vampire long? Can you juggle? Because I figure if you’re immortal, everyone eventually gets bored enough to learn juggling.”
Your efforts at small talk manage to tip her over the edge. She’s clearly about to kill you when a lich in flowing black robes teleports into the room. He turns his attention to the vampire girl. “Where is the one who said that?”
You save her the time. “Yo, Bone Butt. You’re too skinny. Quit being anorexic and eat a cheeseburger, damnit.”
“Momonga! How the hell did you end up in this world?”
“I decided to stay in the game until the end. When it shut down, I found myself magically transported here, unable to escape. How did you arrive? I thought you quit playing the game because you’re a loser.”
“If you ain’t pretend killing things while operating a machine, you ain’t playing a thing. I had a truck dumped on me from a hundred feet up. Splattaroony. Then I got summoned here via magic.”
“You’re not going to let me kill him, are you?” the vampire asks mournfully.
“I should say not. He’s an old friend,” Ainz turns his attention to you. “I can’t believe I finally found someone from our world here at last. You need to join my team so we can hang out and maybe figure a way out of this world. Also, my minions won’t have to constantly curb their impulse to kill you if you officially become a member.”
“No. That's not going to help,” the vampire grumbles.
“Heck yeah. So, you built up a harem?”
“It sort of came with the place,” Ainz sheepishly admits.
What a surprising twist. It’s about time things worked out for you. It’s great to run into an old bud, and you have no reservations in agreeing to join team Ainz. Except for Shalltear wanting to kill you really, really badly.
[Congratulations. You’re now aligned with a legitimate evil overlord, which is the exact inverse of what constitutes being a hero. You’re now officially the ‘Shield Villain.’ At least Malty will respect you as an almost equal now.]
You don’t care if you get kink shamed: that suit is yours. It’s also a bit cheaper than the other one. Nothing like saving a few coppers when you’re on a fixed income. You’re in it for the long haul and need every coin you can get. You might even take a ‘bargaining’ slot when you get a high enough level.
You don the regalia and it fits like a latex glove. You proudly emerge into the light of day and begin walking down the street.
As you pass by an alleyway, you encounter a group of rather brutish looking individuals. They take one look at your and their entire body postures change.
One of them serves as spokesman. “You there. How’d you like to earn a lot of gold really fast?”
Gold? That’s magic to your ears. It’s not like you aren’t armed, so you have nothing to fear. You agree and the men lead you down the alley. You travel down a network of them until you arrive at a rather nice-looking mansion. You are ushered inside and meet the actual leader of the organization these fine lads are a part of.
To make a long story short, you agree to join his gang for a significant sum of gold. The way it works is the gang gather individuals from time to time, and occasionally you’re called in for rather… specialized tasks. You get to meet a lot of… interesting people and engage in… stuff.
But hey, it’s a living. One you’re not likely to get killed at. And you don’t.
[The less we talk about this choice, the better. What happens in Shield World, stays in Shield World.]
Helping Damsels in Distress is your middle name. Well, not really. That would be silly. But you should do the noble thing and help her out.
You walk towards her. You make it five steps before the ground sucks you down up to your waist. Quicksand! And it’s threatening to pull you down ever further.
“Miss, I need help!”
The blonde turns around and reveals itself as a goblin in a wig. It dances a mocking jig—surprisingly well-- at you for being stupid enough to fall for such a transparent ploy.
You decide to try one of your own. “Oh no. The massive amount of gold in my belt will be unrecoverable if it’s at the bottom of a bog. Whatever shall I do?”
The goblin’s eyes widen, then it runs off. By the time it returns with a lasso the quicksand is up to your head. Yes! It worked. It begins swinging it around above its head, building up velocity until it will easily reach you.
Then it stops twirling to point and laugh at you. Not only did it see through your own transparent ploy, it fed you false hope while you continued to sink.
Its laughter stops as there is a loud crash of something heavy coming from the direction you emerged from. While you can’t turn your head any longer, you know it has to be Goblin Slayer here to save the day. You thank whatever gods are in this realm for your salvation.
And then Goblin Slayer leaps across the quicksand, using your head as a stepping stone since he has target fixation on the goblin and is unaware of the specifics to his environment. The weight sinks you totally under the bog, the last thing you see is Goblin Slayer burying his spear into the goblin’s skull.
As you drown under the quicksand, Goblin Slayer looks around wondering where you got off to. It occurs to him you were probably dispatched by a goblin, since you didn’t look particularly bright. But by that time you’re too dead to be insulted.
[That was rather ignominious. A goblin in a wig. Is it possible to roll a negative on a perception check?]
You buy the chain mail one. Because staying alive isn’t just a song, it’s a way of life here. It fits you like a chain mail glove, so is a bit heavy. But you soldier on and leave. You purchase other supplies, then go to a tavern for a meal and accommodations. After a good night’s sleep, you decide it’s time to gain some XP and level up.
A: Attack really weak creatures. (Warning, grinding ahead. Page 19)
B: Take on some mid-level creatures. (Page 20)
C: Lightweight crap? Not for you. Track down the a hideously strong creature and level up super-fast. This shield has to be tough or you wouldn’t have been given it. (Page 25)
You have no time to waste. It‘s risky, but isn’t that the point of shortcuts? Everyone would take them if they weren’t risky and grinding wouldn’t be a thing. You ask around until someone tells you of ‘The Deep Dungeon’, a place where only high-level adventurers dare to tread. But you’re the Hero of the Shield. That’s like being the MC in a land of NPCs. You have access to abilities the rabble don’t. You’ll be fine.
You arrive at the entrance to the subterranean dungeon. You note it’s dark down there. It’ll be pitch black ten steps in.
A: Light a torch. (Page 28)
B: Say to hell with it. Torches cost money. You’ll take your chances blind fighting. (Page 30)
You hold your hands up in surrender. “I give up!”
Zodd looks at you in confusion. “Really? You look like the type that’s deluded enough to think you can defeat me.”
“My only weapons are a shield and my wits. And I failed most of my classes last semester.”
“Whoa, that is pretty terrible,” Zodd admits. “While I find cowardice revolting, I gave you the option to surrender and you have. Retire from the battlefield. It looks like the rest of your party is up for a fight.”
They do, and given the looks of anger they shoot you, you run off as fast as you can before they decided surrender is the same thing as traitor. Luckily for you, Zodd gives them something more important to worry about. The clash of arms eventually dwindles off into the distance.
Having decided actually fighting really powerful beings, and not being able to respawn, is too scary, you take up a trade as a blacksmith. It turns out you’re pretty good and make a decent living, and you open up a business, find a wife, raise five kids, only one of which turns into a disappointment.
The evil overlord conquers the realm, but it turns out he’s good at making the trains run on time, and isn’t given to orgies of death and destruction. He’s not nice by any means, but once he has no more vistas to conquer, he mostly sits on a throne all day and lets others who know how to administrate do their jobs.
[Well, okay. Sometimes at the moment of truth, things become really clear and you set off on a different track]
The bear cub heads toward you. You prep your shield to fend off the little fellow if he gets too close. Wouldn’t want Momma Bear to feel threatened. The cub emerges….
And it proves to be a kid in a bear outfit. A cute kid. He looks like an oversized teddy bear.
Your head darts left and right, as though your life depends on it. Surely this is a distraction and you’re about to be flanked. But no one else appears. Shield at the ready, because this is all sorts of wrong, you ask, “Who are you?”
The youth proudly states. “I am Honey Haninozuka, but you can call me… The Bearzerker. All who would stand against me will come to an untimely demise. Grrr.” And he strikes what you think is supposed to be an intimidating pose with his arms outstretched before him while he growls. It makes him look absurd.
“Sure kid.” If you didn’t know better, you’d swear this was a Candid Camera thing. If they hadn’t gone out of business decades ago. And operated in another dimension.
“And who might you be?” he asks.
You tell him and what you are doing here. His eyes light up.
“I am on a quest to take on the Dreadlord of Dread as well. Let’s team up.”
A: Accept his kind offer. (Page 35)
B: You’re not going into combat with a teddy bear. And if a teddy bear is the best this Dreadlord can manage, you’re going to head toward the Great Tomb of Nazarick where a real foe undoubtable awaits. (Page 21)
You light a torch. Because everyone knows what happens when you try walking in the dark more than two turns.
The entrance is quite large, and you wander along the stone passages of this sprawling labyrinth system deep within the earth. Curiously, you don’t encounter anything for the first four levels. This is the opposite of usual games, where there’s a shambling mound around one corner and a fire salamander around another. There’s also a distinct lack of perfect ten foot by ten-foot rooms with chests just sitting in the middle of them. It barely qualifies as a dungeon at all.
The corridors take on a pleasant glow, the walls themselves providing illumination. How thoughtful of whoever built it. You snuff your torch and keep walking. The peace continues to last and you start to get bored. You thought you’d have at least 3 or 4 levels by now, but all you’re getting is boredom and flat feet. Hell, you might even lose a few levels that way, if having them drained by monotony was possible.
Upon turning a corner, your boredom issue is violently taken away by your first encounter: roughly twelve feet and seven hundred pounds of pure minotaur muscle rounds the corner. There is a nasty-looking battle axe in its hand, one drenched in dried blood. It turns pupilless red eyes upon you, and you can sense your impending mortality in them. As in if your life was a check, he is about to cash it for a sweet payday.
You stand no chance and run for it. Sadly, you panic and head right into a dead end. Before you can leave the minotaur blocks the passageway. You hold your shield high overhead, but instinctively you sense that while the shield might not break from the impact, your arm holding it up will. This is the end.
It brings the axe back. You close your eyes and hear a loud growl which you interpret as “Dinner.”
This is followed up with being splashed by something wet. You open your eyes and discover its blood. More importantly, it’s not yours. Because you don’t think you have that much in you, and have no desire to discover if that is so.
There is a thud, like seven hundred pounds of muscle hitting the floor. You look and see the minotaur lies dead from a number of slashes so deep you can see well into the beast’s body. A beautiful blonde woman with a slender blade and… minimally functional armor, stands next to the corpse. Blood decorates the weapon.
“Are you all right?” she asks.
Your response is instant as you fall to your knees and bow. “Oh god, please take me under your wing! I need training if I’m to become a hero to save this world from some horrible fate! I have no idea of what it is, since no one told me, but I have to do it!” You’d bow lower if you could, but then you’d go through the stone floor itself and be more underground than you already are.
She looks you over. “You are armed with a shield. I use a sword.”
“We can team up! Backstabbing is for cowards and magic is for wusses! Sword and Board is the best way to go through life!”
She holds her hand to her chin in thought. “There is something to what you say. With you at my side as my partner, you could be my defense and allow me to focus solely on offence. I have heard of that magic shield, and it is possibly the most powerful of its type in existence. It occurs to me that each of our greatest strengths is the other’s greatest weakness. In theory, if you become well trained enough, we could make a nigh unbeatable team.”
“While I’d prefer straight up unbeatable, nigh works for me,” you say.
“Agreed. We have a covenant.” She introduces herself as Ais Wallenstein.
As the two of you leave the dungeon, she says, “I would inform you that since we now have a covenant, and I am the superior in it, I will require you to serve my needs, which are many.”
You’re so grateful, you’ll agree to anything. “Like doing your laundry? Scrubbing the floors? Cleaning the chamber pots?”
“I mean sex. Lots and lots of sex.”
…There should be another foot to drop with that, because it sounds too good to be true. *Really* too good to be true. You wait for whatever the nightmarish catch is, but your concerns are all for naught. It turns out there is no catch and everything is as she states. You level up through dedication and hard effort. You also increase your cardio, which is a must for those other needs she spoke off. The woman is energetic. But through dedication and hard effort, you level up in that as well.
When you become powerful enough as a warrior, you start coordinating your moves as a team. Soon you know what each other is going to do almost before your partner does. Two individuals moving as one body. She even cleans out the chamber pots, though you are thoughtful and do the laundry.
And when enough times passes, you do become a nigh-unbeatable team ready to take on the greatest evils the realm has ever known.
[Congrats. Your seemingly dumb choice led to a rather idea ending. Lucky bastard.]
“Do you demand I…KNEEL BEFORE ZODD?!” you say in overly dramatic Shakespearean/Kryptonian fashion. Because Stamp left that indelibly etched on everyone’s mind.
“You don’t have to shout. You’re only five feet away. And no, you can just say, ‘I give up’.”
You know how they say, “Something that big shouldn’t be able to move so fast?” That’s what he does. Only weeks of goblin slaying hone your reflexes so that you bring your shield up and use its ‘disperse force’ ability to work its magic. Which is a good thing since this guy is so strong, if you hadn’t distributed it away from you, your arm would have been shattered.
He is taken aback by your seemingly effortless resistance to his blow. It would have buckled any regular magical shield, and outright mangled a normal one.
Before you can return the serve the Bearzerker leaps into action. You assume he’s suicidal—this is a human teddy bear up against an actual demon with beyond superhuman strength—but instead his kick impossibly knocks Zodd off the ox that serves as his steed and to the ground.
His troops stare in shock at the blur of fur that leaps about, striking Zodd all about his body and causing him to snarl in pain. You have no idea how the diminutive warrior is pulling it off, other than he’s using some intense martial arts that would make the Shaw Brothers commit suicide in envy.
You think it would only take one blow for someone as powerful as Zodd to win, but it doesn’t matter if you can’t land one. His weapon is rendered equally useless, first through its harmlessly cutting through the air, to it falling to the ground when Honey breaks both his hands.
To Zodd’s testament, it takes one hundred and forty of his bones to break, some in multiple pieces, before he is defeated.
Seeing their field commander brought low by a cherubic bear cub shakes even this mighty army’s resolve. When the Legion of Lethal Ladies enters the fray, the battle quickly turns into a rout. The Battle of Something Or Other Plain ends in victory.
Or so you think as a loud cry from above catches your attention. It comes from… you dub it ‘Flying Pterodactyl Mini Dragon’. Or FPMD. Someone clearly likes mashing flying creatures together. Perhaps it’s the fellow flying on the creature’s back with the reigns in his hands. He wears really evil looking black armor. And an evil looking cloak. And he has an evil flail and sword at his side. And his face looks like he’s both dead and alive at the same time. And he has an evil stare with glowing white eyes.
Basically, he’s evil.
He lands and dismounts, drawing both weapons. Despite his outnumbered status, he struts as though he is the one who was victorious on this battlefield.
He announces in a hollowed voice reeking of, you guessed it, pure evil, “I am the Dreadlord of Dread. Your actions have forced me to take the field of battle, which has earned my ire. The whole point in me recruiting an army and a powerful demonic lieutenant was so they would take care of things and I wouldn’t have to resort to sullying my hands with you weaklings. I just know I’m going to get blood all over my armor. I hate that. My squires always miss a spot somewhere, so the next time I don it, there it is, a little fleck of rust on what should be an ornamental showpiece.”
Before you can speak, the Bearzerker beats you to it. Where does he get off acting like he’s the isekai anyway?
“Dreadlord of Dread, your days of savaging the realms are over. I am the Bearzerker. All who--.”
The Dreadlord of Dread interrupts, a serious faux pas since no one interrupted his monologue. He is uncouth as well as evil. “Let me save you time, kid. I have a prophecy attached to me. ‘No mortal man can kill the Dreadlord of Dread’. So… you want to just give up?”
A: Of course you give up. You’re a mortal man and he has the prophecy thing going. You stand zero percent chance of success. (Page 34)
B: You’re the Shield Hero. They wouldn’t have grabbed you if failure was preordained. Probably. (Page 31)
It takes fifteen steps before things turn as black as being covered in tar in a coal mine. You suddenly feel uneasy. Rather than go back you press onward one more turn.
And end up eaten by a grue.
[Potential reload to previous choice point: If you were ever actually eaten by a grue in a text-based computer game, you can go back and choose again. Us first generation video game folks have to stick together. C64’s and 8-inch floppies forever!]
Before you can shout words of defiance, one of the Lethal Ladies comes forward, drawing her blade and pointing it at him as she announces, “I have bad news, windbag. I am no mortal man.”
He smashes her flat with the flail. Blood and viscera everywhere. You had your mouth open and you think you might have inadvertently swallowed a bit of her grey matter.
He flicks the flail to get some of the chunkier bits off the blades protruding from it. “To clarify, when I said, ‘Mortal man’ it actually means mortal anything. I was just saying man because that’s how the saying goes. It covers women and animals, too. Diseases included. Trying to cough the plague on me doesn’t work either. I made sure when I asked the prophet who said it that was what he meant. Everything is under that umbrella.”
This looks grim, but to give Honey credit, it’s clear he hasn’t given up hope. He shouts, “How about a Bearzerker?” and leaps at the villain.
Rather than attacking with his weapons, he casts them aside and crouches. You think it’s to duck under the kick, but just as Honey draws within range, he shouts, “Shoryuken!” and punches the human martial arts teddy bear away.
As everyone stares dumbfounded, the Dreadlord of Dread shouts, “Ha! I never thought I’d get to use that class I took in street fighting. I’m in a good mood now. I’ll let you flee with your lives.”
But you’ll have none of it. You walk up to the villain, intent on living up to your isekai destiny. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for.
The Dreadlord of Dread is decidedly unimpressed. He sees your weapon and snickers. “What do you intend to do fool? Hit me in the face with a shield?! HAHAHAH--.”
The laughing ends abruptly as that is exactly what you do. He draws back, clearly in pain and stunned.
“Wait, that shouldn’t have happ--.”
You interrupt his rambling --in revenge for his cutting off Honey before-- by smashing him in the face again. It draws… yellowish fluid. Probably whatever passes for blood in him.
“This can’t be--.”
Smash. This time you knock out teeth. Cool. He’s proving himself a pushover.
Again and again your shield mashes into his face. You hear bones break. You see his head shrink, reduced in size and compacted. You keep going until about half of his skull is now decorating your shield. When you finally stop, you realize despite his claims, the evil overlord has been finally stopped as well.
Triumphant, you shout, “The Dreadlord of Dread is dead. I am the True Shield Hero, savior of whatever the hell this realm is! I could have died like twenty times on my way to killing this dude! I earned some hurrahs for this! Also, I’m calling afterparty at the local inn. I expect to be comped for this. And yes, I have a very open mind when it comes to relationships if anyone has any questions about that. Now someone grab the bear kid and let’s get this show on the road and the party started.
[Congratulations. You defeated the villain, became a hero, and managed to stay alive to get to this ending. Probably through a lot of trial and error.
Oh yes, it turns out the prophet that told the Dreadlord of Dread nothing could kill him, there was one exception. Turns out he was vulnerable to shield bashing to the face. But the prophet figured it was such a silly means of attack no one would ever do it anyway, so why let the guy know since he was in such a good mood? Besides, if he told the Dreadlord of Dread he was vulnerable to shield bashes to the face, he might have ordered everyone with a shield killed. Which would have made people wonder why he was afraid of shields. And then they might try to attack him with them. Then he’d be killed by one and it would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, the prophet figured, ignorance is bliss.
Lucky thing you chose that shield, huh?]
What are the odds of a poor little girl being in the middle of an enemy filled swamp? Exactly. You call out. “I’m not falling for it.”
The goblin turns around, enraged. It throws down the wig and hurls guttural, unintelligible insults at you. It puts up its fists and dares you to come at him.
Sighing, you pick up a rock and throw it into the area between you and the goblin. It sinks out of sight: quicksand.
“Would you mind grabbing that for me?”
For a moment it looks like it will, then comes to its senses and makes yet another obscene gesture in your direction.
A thrown spear takes it in the skull. Wow! That’s grotesque. It actually sticks through it like one of those gag arrows people put on their head to make it look like they got shot by one. Except there’s actually brain splattered everywhere.
Goblin Slayer already has his sword out in case there’s more. He approached you. “I see you flushed one out. Excellent work. Teaming up was a good idea since, while the goblins focus on one of us, the other can get the drop on them. Let’s discuss tactics.”
And so you do. With that the campaign to eradicate the vermin from Goblin Ridden Bog begins. It lasts longer than you would realize, for the bog is truly ridden with goblins of many shapes, sizes, and a varying of intelligence. Your shield skills are continuously bolstered with the influx of experience points form dispatching the goblins. By the time the campaign is over, there isn’t a goblin to be found. They did contribute to the ecology of the bog with their decomposing bodies. Also, the mosquitos overrun the area even more insanely than before. You wager they’ve taken twice the amount of blood the human body can hold, out of you, over the weeks it takes to empty the bog out. Sadly, your shield does not have a bug repellent setting at any level.
When it comes time to part ways, Goblin Slayer makes a proposal. “Why don’t we continue to scourge the realm of these foul creatures?”
“Flattered, but I need to kill some evil overlord. It’s why I was brought here. Even if I don’t know which one I’m supposed to kill.”
Goblin Slayer considers that. “I am aware of two evil conquerors. During my research into goblin lairs, I stumbled upon them. Since they had no goblins amongst their ranks, they are meaningless to me. One is located in the Great Tomb of Nazarick, though I know not what being rules there. Only that they are powerful. The other is named the Dreadlord of Dread. He lurks with his army in the hills of Rutan Clane.”
Finally, you have an objective. And given your current level, it’s time to hit the evil lord with the proverbial soup bone upside their head. Or shield in your case.
A: Head toward the Great Tomb of Nazarick (Page 21)
B: Seek out the Dreadlord of Dread (Page 36)
You shout out, ‘Dinner time!” and charge toward the bear. You bring your shield back, intent on caving its skull in with one blow.
Before you can launch your blow, the small fur covered creature shoots out, landing a leap kick into your ribs, which would be shattered had you not leveled up. As it is they are bruised and you’re going to be sore for a good while.
Your attacker falls into a martial arts stance. It is then you discover he is not, in fact a Dire Bear cub, but rather a small boy in a bear outfit.
“Werebear!” you shout.
That brings him up straight. “Yes, I am wearing a bear, so to speak. It is the skin of an animal I slew. It is appropriate since it goes with my title: The Bearzerker.” He strikes what is supposed to be an intimidating pose with his arms outstretched before him. He even growls.
You’d laugh, but your ribs hurt too much. “I’m really not going to turn into a bear with a human face poking out of the mouth?”
“You’re insane, aren’t you?”
“Does the kid dressed up like a giant teddy bear get to criticize anyone?”
Apparently, he does, and is offended at the idea he cannot. He launches himself at you again, this time the ribs do buckle. You’re only semi-conscious as he stomps off, looking horribly cute while doing it. Someone’s name just got added to the ‘To Kill’ list.
You slump against a tree stump, going in and out of consciousness. You’re just starting to come around again when a shadow darkens the ground around you. You look up and it’s a bear face.
“So, who are you tucked in there? Winnie the Slaughterer?”
The bear opens its mouth. Rather than a face, there is a bunch of teeth, a tongue, and you get a good look at an uvula. It occurs to you, just as the mouth engulfs the top of your head, this is really a bear.
And that’s the last thought you have as the jaws clamp down and shatter your skull.
[Being turned into bear chow is actually kind of dignified compared to some of the other stupid deaths you’ve suffered from]
You shout, “I give up, Oh Mighty Future Conqueror of all the Realms.” And fall to your knees before him.
The Dreadlord of Dread radiates satisfaction. “See? A sensible hero. You should follow his example.”
Since you’re already in the future leader of the world’s good graces, you go for broke. “Since you have an opening for field officer, I humbly request a chance to fill the vacancy.”
The others look on in shock at your betrayal and eager capitulation. The Dreadlord of Dread is even more delighted. “A go getter, I like that in a subordinate. What abilities do you have?”
You boldly proclaim, “I am a Master of the Shield!” and hold your weapon just as boldly forward, ready to enjoy his accolades.
“Useless idiot!” The Dreadlord of Dread brings his giant flail down with such force your body is pulverized. As in it looks like it came out of the business end of a sausage grinder.
[My, you’re chock full of terrible life choices today, aren’t you?]
You agree to work with the diminutive beastly warrior. Or mad man. Or both. Lots of powerful people are insane, after all. But not you. The only time you ran through the woods naked and howling at the moon was when you dropped the brown acid. Which everyone told you not to do, and it turned out, with good reason. Drug induced hallucinations do not count as insanity.
As you ponder your next course of action, hoping he doesn’t ask you to don a matching bear outfit, the sound of many people moving through the foliage reaches your ears. A moment later a large party of females, at least fifty, emerge. To a woman they are adventurers, coming in all shapes and sizes. Wait, is that one just wearing suspenders as her top? Surely if she turns too quickly, she’s going to spring free. Your attention is riveted to what happens next. Perhaps you should stand off to the side then make a loud noise so she’ll turn quickly. You need to know if proper physics apply in this case.
A warrior in a chain mail bikini, who fills it out in all the right places, spots your new comrade in arms. Her eyes light up. “Honey… I mean Bearzerker, Greatest Champion of Justice, don’t wander off on your own. You know you are too valuable to our cause to have anything untoward happen to you. We don’t know what we’d do without you.”
The rest of the women express a similar sentiment, with hearts in their eyes as they gaze upon the human teddy bear.
“Worry not. I am the Maestro of Violence. I have nothing to fear with my skills in the administration of martial discipline. Grrr.” He strikes a pose which makes him look insufferably stupid.
Which to the women clearly retranslates into ‘Insufferably Cute.’ They actually swoon over him.
Having asserted his dominance through cherubic delight, he looks toward you again. “Allow me to introduce you to my entourage, this is my Legion of Lethal Ladies.”
And that is when it fully hits you: he has a harem. An actual massive harem. And you realize as long as you remain in his presence, you’ll never get a harem of your own. Or a girlfriend. Hell, you’ll be lucky if any woman that is willing to speak to you wants anything other than how to join The Human Furry’s already massive harem.
A: Cry quietly behind a bush, accepting this as your lot in life. (Page 37)
B: Kill him and take possession of the harem (Page 13)
With a name like Dreadlord of Dread, he has to be the guy you’re looking for. It’s pure ‘Isekai target’. So, you set off in the direction Goblin Slayer indicated. The weather is fine and you make good time over the next two days. Eventually you have a choice of staying on the roads, which will take longer, or cutting overland through the nearest woods. You’ve lived in a bog for a few weeks; a mere normal forest won’t be a problem.
You travel through the brush, paying close attention to your surroundings since it is fairly densely packed and you can’t see far. You freeze mid-step, though aren’t sure why. It’s almost like a second sense kicked in. As you remain motionless, listening to everything and anything, you hear a rustling from some bushes nearby. Soon you see the very top of a small furry head with ears on top. You recognize it as a bear, and a really small one. Clearly a cub of some kind.
A: How nice, lunch has appeared and you have a hearty appetite. Kill the critter and light up the cook fires (Page 33)
B: Butcher a poor young animal? What are you, a sociopath? Eat an ursine Bambi? Never! (Page 27)
You have a good sob session. It’s therapeutic. The others wait for your crying bout to pass before moving on. As you travel with the group, you begin to think maybe the situation isn’t as bad as it appears. There’s no way the little runt can satisfy this many women. Surely some of them will decide to hang with you once he exhausts himself. Even if he has the proportional stamina of a bear… actually are they known for their sexual stamina? Rabbits? Sure. Platypuses? Better hide the women. Ursidae? Don’t think so. Heck, maybe he hibernates for prolonged periods of time afterwards. That will give you the opportunity to turn on the charm and woo a few of these dazzling damsels. You can’t strike out with every woman you meet. Even though that is exactly what has happened to you not just before you died, but afterward as well.
Being an isekai is not what you were led to believe.
Your group emerges from the woods onto a plain. You see surprise is not your ally, for there is a small army of rather fierce looking warriors, numbering at least a couple hundred, awaiting you. They are on horseback and in line, waiting patiently while radiating potential violence. They smell of blood and conquest. It’s a good thing you leveled. This lot you can handle.
Their leader, on the other hand, is a different story. He’s only vaguely human. Looks to be about five hundred pounds of solid muscle, and has sharpened teeth. Arms shouldn’t come in that size. Red eyes say might be demonic. Just an all-around bad ass. He has a rather sizeable sword on his back.
But hey, you’re the Shield Hero. Time to live up to the name. You approach the leader before the human teddy bear steals the glory. “So, Dreadlord of Dread, it falls to me, the Shield Hero, to deal with this situation. I must break you.” The last is said in an exaggerated Soviet accent, since no one here ever saw a Rocky movie and thus can’t claim you stole it.
“I am not the Dreadlord of Dread. I am Zodd, his subordinate. Will you fight, or yield?”
A: Give it up and kneel before Zodd. (Page 31)
B: Mock him of course. You kneel to no one. (Page 29)
Anyone whose vision is this bad has it coming. “Yeah, a Green Goblin. As in totally Spider Man’s number one villain. “ What a maroon.
The man has his sword out in a flash and decapitates you in one clean blow. Seriously, it is *that* perfectly delivered.
[Here’s a hint. Don’t lie to the obsessive genocidal sword guy about being what he wants to obsessively genocide.]
What’s this? No more choices? Well, what do you know? This is the end of the Choose Your Own Isekai Adventure Story. If you ever actually owned a book such as that, I hope you enjoyed this. Sure, it’s no ‘By Balloon to the Sahara,’ but it has a whiff of nostalgia about it.
Also, there were 14 endings to this (and one fake one). All in one story. Hope you kept track of your path through this so you didn’t become hopelessly lost. And out of curiosity, how many times did you meet a miserable end before getting the ideal one?
And to clarify, Honey the Bearzerker was in a previous story and is an isekai as well. He got a couple of upgrades as a bonus in his arrival.
And a No Prize if you can point out every reference I made. There were a lot.