Month: May 2020

Chapter 61: Being Naked and Examining My Achievements Board

So I guess it’s time I explained the Achievements Board to Delta and Eryk, something I have been putting off for a very long time.

“So I guess it’s time I explain the Achievements Board to you two,” I say. “This is something I have been putting off for a very long time.”

“No shit,” Delta says.

“It has never proven to be incredibly relevant… Until now, I guess.”

The three of us are still taking a hot mineral bath together in the Yuletide Lounge, a hot spring that overlooks a magnificent vineyard termed the Great Grape Gardens. It is the single greatest moment of my time in Paso Robles so far, and I am enjoying it with great stride.

“So what is it?” Francis asks. He’s still cuddling up to Delta, who currently has her arm around his shoulder. “What exactly is the achievement system in your, uh, system?”

“The Achievements Board is a list of one hundred different tasks that grant rewards when completed,” I explain. “These rewards are often trivial or silly, such as weapons that are usually outdated, or ceremonial trinkets. Sometimes the rewards can be greater, but it is unknown what will be rewarded until you trigger the achievement, because the exact reward varies depending on your rank, level, and race.”

“So it’s a dynamically scaling loot system, essentially…” Francis seems absorbed in thought, like he has pondered this very design even longer than I have.

“It’s really no big deal,” I say. “It’s one of the many minor features of the Destiny Deck System that I have mostly deemed unnecessary.”

“Features you haven’t told us anything about until it’s convenient?” Delta asks.

“Well… I’m sorry. I should have given a more thorough explanation of my entire system. It would be easier if I were simply able to find a Sorting Scepter and bring it to Earth to grant the two of you the ability to choose your own class, though. You’d gain access to the system and would quickly understand everything that I already do.”

“And we’d be tied to the whole Life Points thing that will slowly kill us,” she adds.

“Well… Yes.”

“But wait, you just got an achievement for… what?” Francis asks. “Soaking in the hot springs?”

“Yes, apparently,” I say. “I cannot see all one hundred achievements; the only ones visible to me are those I have completed, and those adjacent to the completed. This one I succeeded at all on its own: ‘Soak in fifteen hot springs.’”

“What a weirdly specific achievement.”

“That’s the fun of it,” I tell him. “The whole Achievements Board is a bonus to help ease new users into the Destiny Deck System, by giving them concrete and sometimes lofty goals to reach for. Each board is geared towards its specific class, and so my [Adventurer] board is filled with tasks to help me succeed at exploring, fighting monsters, and trying new things.”

“Can we… see it?”

“Uh, not that I know of. But I guess I can list the whole board to you…?”

Well, here it goes:

Level up for the first time.✓Join the Adventuer’s Guild.✓Draw a Rank 8 card.   Eat a food with a Quality Rating of at least 850.   
Obtain your first map.✓Duel another System user.Sleep at 10 inns.✓Customize your HUD. Pray to The Goddess every day for a week.(Progress: 0/7)Gain 10 DP in one day.✓Unlock and use the Costume Changer.  
Complete the tutorial software.✓Travel over 100,000 miles.(Progress: 65%)Sleep at 125 inns.(Progress: 44%) Defeat a member of royalty in battle.Kill your first monster.✓Fight a B Rank opponent.   
Defeat the boss of an Apex Lair.Uncover buried treasure.Adjust the System Personality settings.✓Use the Wedding function and marry another System user.Become drunk to the point of passing out. Keep going.Draw a Rank 5 card.✓Frighten a goblin away from its gold.Perform a stunt so impressive that a bystander shouts “Superb!”  
Kiss someone while underneath a waterfall.Reach E Rank.✓Access your Sorting Scepter to assess your options.  Reach the Top 16 of the Grand Tournament.Sail over 10,000 miles. (Progress: 92%)Soak at 15 hot springs.✓Rescue a damsel in distress. 
 Reach C Rank.     Defeat a [Toxin.]Make love under the twilight moon.✓ 
        Obtain six Inventory Slot cards. 
       Perform a triple jump.Discover a new location for the first time.✓Figure out a terrifying secret.
    Obtain a Dragon skull.   Defeat 100 enemies in a single day. 
   Draw 1000 cards.(Progress: 65%)Draw 100 cards.✓Draw 10,000 cards.(Progress: 6.5%)    

“That really is a lot of achievements,” Delta says. “Some of those aren’t even possible to complete on Earth, either. Most of them maybe.”

“Your system has a personality?” Francis asks.

“I turned it off,” I say. “Trust me. It was not something you would want on all the time. It can speak out loud all on its own…”

“But it’d be a new friend! We’d be a team of four interesting quirky folk, not just three!”

“I really have to agree with Eryk on this one,” says Delta. “Please never turn this system personality thing back on.”

So next for me is to claim the reward for achieving the hot springs achievement. I wonder what it could be?

Here it goes…


[+3 DP.]

[51 DP total.]

“I heard a ding!” Francis shouts.

“Yes, and by The Goddess’s name was it a ding!” I exclaim. “Three Destiny Points awarded to me. Wow.”

“So we’ve been sitting on a possible Destiny Points goldmine this whole time and you never even told us,” Francis says. “On one hand that makes me mad at you and we’re going to talk after this. On the other, holy crap, we have a whole new set of tasks to strive for!”

“Indeed, indeed,” I say. I don’t want Francis to be mad at me, though… I really should have told him about some of the features the system gives me, it’s just… I never really thought about some of them. The most the Achievements Board has given me is a single gold bar for reaching E Rank back in the day. There wasn’t even an achievement for reaching D Rank, for some reason…

Well, anyway, for now we can continue relaxing in the bath with absolutely zero interr—

Knock knock.

“Hello, Mr. Bacall and party?” a voice asks, one belonging to the woman from the front desk who put me at a noticeable unease. We don’t answer immediately, but she doesn’t hesitate to continue. “There is one Pablo out here asking to join you in the bath. He is quite nice. Shall I let him in?”

Pablo Rosas is here…

Chapter 60: A Nice Hotsprings Bath (Fanservice Chapter)

I throw off my shirt and pants and underwear in one fell swoop, so fast that the clothes haven’t even hit the ground by the time I’ve grabbed a towel and wrapped it around myself. Delta sneers at me, but Francis stares in amazement.

Francis attempts the same maneuver, but then trips over his feet trying to get his pants off.

I put away my clothes and belongings (which so far include just my phone, a granola bar, and a ziploc bag with paper currency) into a bin and slide it into a shelf. There appear to be no protective measures against someone stealing these items if they so wished, though I assume the Yuletide Lounge has other security measures that can prevent theft. At least, I hope so. Otherwise I will have overestimated the intelligence of the people of Earth even further. Don’t they know gremlins or other such non-sentient beasts could enter and take all the items in an instant?

“I’ll be the first to enter,” I say, “since if there are any heinous villains or vile traps, I will be the one to fend them off before letting you come to harm.”

“Okay,” Delta says. “Just don’t cannonball into the bath please.”


“Never mind.”

“Uh, very well then.”

I enter the bath room, which consists of a few buckets of water to wash oneself off with, a pleasant blue tile floor, and steam permeating every inch of the air. There is a wide glass-free window-like opening. I’m not quite sure if it counts as a window if there is no glass. But either way, right in front of the bath is a window that lets out all the steam and also allows a great wide look at the Great Grape Gardens of Paso Robles, the same vast vineyard I viewed a few minutes earlier in the front entrance.

This is not quite a natural hot springs like I would have wished for, though the creepy woman at front promised that the water is from a natural hot springs and the building was simply designed around it. But I must say I prefer a bath built from rocks, one where the calming sense of nature surrounds you completely. One of the downsides of Earth’s magnificent societal advancements is that the path to nature is quite a lot harder. Even the vineyard out there is man-made, as beautiful as it may be. It gives me some sense of longing, but one I can’t quite describe.

Well, a bath is a bath, especially one with the enriching properties of scalding hot mineral water. If it is as powerful a bath as the ones I sometimes partook in back on Mystix, soaking for long enough will give me the [Soothed] status effect, which will slow my non-combat Life Points drain for around a day. That’s great!

So I take off my towel and set it on a rack, and then wash myself off with the shower to rid myself of the germs and gunk accumulated over the day. And then when I am ready, I stand up and—

Oh, Francis is in here now.

We meet eyes.

And then I look down instinctively and back up at him.

Francis is completely naked, and so am I. His body is curvy and soft, just like I always expected, but much hairier in the chest and elsewhere. He has the figure of a hearty lumberjack after a winter’s break, more powerful than a video game player should be. And… While I can never say I have felt this way in my life before… I am somewhat uncomfortable. Also I haven’t taken my eyes off him in upwards of fifteen seconds.

He blinks a few times in response to my staring and steps into the bath without washing off first.

I gather my bearings and do the same.

The water is extremely hot—

Ouch, for a second. I’ll have to acclimate myself and step in slowly—



Amazing. Just fantastic. If baths counted as a Class Action for [Adventurers,] I’d probably gain two Destiny Points right here on the spot (this is a joke; one cannot gain two Destiny Points for the same action in almost any case.)

My body heats up and relaxes in exactly the way it always needed. It’s been approximately one week since I came to Earth and I’m incredibly tired to say the least. This is a much-deserved break from the rough and tumble world of the Destiny Deck System. No Dragons here. No Persian Mob. No disconcerting Paso Robles fans. No wondering about the mysteries of what Miss M was trying to bring me to. Just sitting (laying?) in this large pool of mineral water.

Francis gives me a weird look, probably from how I was acting earlier. I try not to meet his eyes.


I blame Delta for all of this.

She’s the one who told me that whole spiel about how Francis thinks extremely highly of me and considers me a great friend, or even a “sweetheart” or whatever. She used the word “crush,” but I’m still a bit unsure of the meaning behind that. Either way, now I have to wonder…

Wait minute, why did he not stare at me when he saw my naked body? What, am I not chiseled and muscular enough to warrant an emotional response from my appearance alone? Does he not appreciate the fine form of the human body as much as I do? If so, that is a sad case. The human body is beautiful in all shapes and sizes. It is our own artwork which we carry around with us, and I will not—

I see Delta enter the bath room. She, of course, removes her towel and shows off her naked, nearly completely hairless body. With a flat chest, prominent abs, and wide hips, Delta is picturesque in the classical sense—I have seen few paintings that have captured the essence of feminine beauty in such a way as her. I stare at her and take in the art that The Goddess crafted before she steps into the bath and her features disappear below the murky water.

She glares at me harder than I’ve ever seen her do before.

“You have literally not even a speck of decency in that shriveled up cranium of yours,” Delta says.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“You know exactly what you mean, you pervert,” she says.

“Pervert? What did I do to offend you so?”

“You’re gawking me like a real creeper,” she says flatly. “I thought we… you know, after Chasing Amy…”

“Chasing Amy? Francis asks.

My face lights up with the distinct burn of a blushing face. “Ah, yes, that’s right… Chasing Amy…”

“Yeah, so…”

“My apologies,” I say. “I did not mean to imply—Well, I will admit I find you very physically attractive—that I was examining you for lewd behaviors. I was simply taking in your physical form, which is at the peak of womanhood. You deserve to have your likeness sculpted into a statue and put on display in a gallery.”

She sighs, and leans back at the edge of the bath, putting her arms behind the back of her head and looking slightly upwards. “I get it. You’re from a different world and all, so it’s not quite the same. It’s super fucking weird, but I’ll take the compliment.”

“Maybe I’m desensitized from seeing Delta naked like a billion times since we were six,” Francis says, “but I really don’t see where you’re coming from with all this.”

“Hey!” Delta shouts.

“Just kidding.” He giggles.

“I have doubts about that…”

Francis scoots across the bath and gets up right next to Delta, resting his head on her elbow. “Isn’t this great?” he asks. “It’s so relaxing.”

“Besides Eryk being here, yeah I guess so.”

He lets out a long, pleasant sigh, completely unlike the one Delta just gave towards me. “This was a good choice, Delta. I’m really starting to feel better.”

“…Are you?”

“Yeah. Being with you, just spending time hanging out with my bestie. It’s been forever since we could just… You know, have fun.”

“It does feel nice,” she says. “But are you sure you’re…” she trails off, apparently not to directly bring up how upset Francis was yesterday after something he didn’t want to tell us about.

“Yep, for sure,” he replies. “Rest, relaxation, and adventuring across the United States.”

“Or at least California. I don’t know if we should go all the way out past LA, should we?”

“And not let Eryk see the Grand Friggin’ Canyon?”

“True, true,” she says. “I haven’t even seen the Grand Canyon.”

My mind puzzles with the possibilities of what such a grand canyon could be like that it’s become its own proper noun. That interests me a lot.

“Well then, it’s decided,” he says.

“I guess it is, Francis.”

The two continue leaning back and soaking in the steamy atmosphere of the hot springs.

I watch them and a small smile grows on my face. It’s starting to become clear to me why they were so eager to help me, why they were so happy to go on this big adventure with me. Sure, I’m in great need of help and they are the ones who will bring me into becoming the first S-Rank Hero in generations. But I think they just wanted to escape the pressures of Earth’s stressful adult life and hang out with each other.

I really respect that.

Hanging out is really fun, after all. Taking a nice relaxing bath with your friends in a mineral water pool and—


[Achivement Unlocked! Soak in 15 hot springs.]


[Visit the Achievements Board to collect your reward.]

“I did it!” I exclaim. “I got a new achievement!”

Both of them look at me with absolute confusion and speak in unison: “Achievement?”

Chapter 59: Entering the Hot Springs, I Notice Something…

“I just don’t believe it…” Francis groans.

“Why not? It has most certainly happened. I can verify it. I have now 52 Destiny Points.” (It’s a lie, since I only have 47, but I’m playing coy about that extra card I drew at the hotel.)

“But it’s just so…”

“So what?” I ask.

“So stuuuuuupiiiiiid….” Francis groans. “Video games are not supposed to be any sort of substitute for real life. They’re a distraction, like entertainment. That’s the exact opposite of adventuring!” He throws his hands up in the air.

“Tough talk for someone whose entire life revolves around playing games,” Delta tells him.

We are outside the entrance to the Yuletide Lounge, a world-famous hot springs that sits right in front of a vast grape vineyard. People from all over the realm flock to visit and soak in the warm baths. However, today it seems relatively empty, which is either a good thing for our attempt to hide from Pablo Rosas, or a bad thing because it makes us a lot easier to spot.

Now that I think of it… there really have not been many people in Paso Robles these past couple days. I’m not sure how I feel about that, now that I think about it…

“I’m just saying, this adventure is utterly pointless if we could have just kept Eryk at home playing games. I could have made a ton of money off teaching a dude from medeival times how to play games and recording it all.”

“You would really use me as such a cheap vessel for monetary gain?” I ask.

“Yeah, probably… Sorry, Eryk, but you’d make so much money as a streamer. Especially if you used a spell every now and then.”

“Perhaps… But, Francis, how are young people donating their disposable income to you when you are here with us on this trip, rather than at home on your computer setup?”

Francis flashes a smile. “Well, I do got a super special secret: Sometimes, I stream mobile games! Like Boys Frontline and Star Wars: Girls’ Love Idol Team and Jelly Joy, that sort of thing. Not as many people watch, and I can’t stream my voice or face very much, but it still attracts a few viewers somehow. Kids really wanna watch me play games.”

Delta glares at him. “Completely and utterly defeating the purpose of a vacation, you continue to work. That’s my explanation for it.”

He puts his arm behind his shoulders and rubs the back of his head. “Well, I love video games, what’s a guy gonna do…”

“I think video games are potentially a quite interesting medium of entertainment, especially if they reward me Destiny Points,” I say. “Perhaps I should be the one playing mobile games in my spare time.”

“When we finish setting up your phone, maybe we can,” Francis says. “But anyway, let’s stop talking shop and enter this shop!”

“It’s not a shop, it’s a hot springs,” Delta says.

We finally enter the Yuletide Lounge hot springs. It seems to be a normal office building akin to anything else I’ve seen on Earth; there is a small, fake tree in the corner with seating against the walls and clean tile floor. A woman in a suit looks on with vague happiness while standing behind a counter that has some papers and pens on it.

And the woman stares at us with a vague sort of pleasantness.

“Welcome to the Yuletide Lounge Hot Springs,” she says. “We are so glad for you to have come to Paso Robles today to visit this spot in particular. Will you be enjoying a nice hot bath today?”

“Yep, that’s the plan,” Francis says.

I keep looking at her, though she never looks my way. “…”

“Will you want a public bath or a private one? How many? Would you like complimentary olive oil?”

“Private bath, and uh, just one,” he says. “No thank you to the olive oil.”

She doesn’t respond for a moment. Her expression remains unchanged. “Very well, then,” she says, finally. “Sign in and we can get you paid and set up for a nice bath in a room overlooking the Great Grape Gardens of Paso Robles.”

“The Great Grape Gardens…?” I ask.

She beckons a hand. “Yes, look out that window. You can see one of the world’s most beautiful grape farms. We use this to make wine. We use wine to bring visitors. We are a very happy city.”

I look out the window and see a vast vineyard stretching out as far as the eye can see, all the way to the mountains in the distance. By The Goddess’s name, that’s beautiful.


[+1 DP.]

Oh, I have 48 DP now. As Earth people like to say, sweet! I pump my fist lightly.

The woman notices me and tilts her head to the side, expression unchanged.

But as my two Earth friends seem not to be saying…. very un-sweet.

She’s… a little bit unsettling.

This whole place is very unsettling.

It has that sort of atmosphere of… I don’t know. A cave full of treasure, but also full of mimics? It feels calm and peaceful, but my guard is up at all times. I’m even instinctively checking my Destiny Card hand just out of habit:

Skill Check: Rank 1. Examine the variables around you. (There is a small chance that your next action will go exceedingly well or exceedingly poorly.) Cost: 50 LP.
Blinding Rush: Rank 1. Doubles speed and agility. Cost: 215 LP.
Clone: Rank 3. Make a clone for 5 minutes. Cost: 1000 LP.
Inventory Slot: Rank 4. Store an item here to retrieve for future use. Current item: Satchel (Size: Extra Large).
Inventory Slot: Rank 4. Store an item here to retrieve for future use. Current item: Pistol.
Inventory Slot: Rank 4. Store an item here to retrieve for future use. Current item: Bow and arrow.
Transmigrated Spirit: Rank 3. Summon an otherworldly spirit to assist for five minutes. Cost: 444 LP.

There are a great many strategies I can take at a moment’s notice, especially with a card as versatile as [Blinding Rush,] but I do not feel like I should be going around and wasting these cards, sometimes I quite often say.

Why even have these Destiny Cards if I’m just going to sit on them for long periods of time? Well… You never know when you will get in a combat situation so perilous that you end up using four cards at once.

I don’t necessarily suspect that today will go like that, but…

“Okay, your bath is in Room 20C. Enjoy at your leisure.” The lady clasps her hands together like she is fawning over the fact that we are deeming this place of business worthy of partaking in.

I look at Delta, and she keeps a neutral face, but I can tell she’s thinking many of the same things I am.

I look at Francis, and he’s got his tongue stuck out. “Woo-hoo!” he shouts. “Let’s get naked and take a piping hot bath!”

Is that how I look to other people whenever I become foolhardy?

Chapter 58: I Ponder My Worries; Delta’s Secret is Revealed

After what seems like an eternity of waiting, we take action.

Yes, I know that I, Eryk Solbourne, am not someone who is typically seen as a cautious person. In just the past few days, I have done certain things that one could charitably consider “hasty.”

For example, within hours of my arrival on Earth, I had acted with zero hesitation with an assumption that this was a world where kaiju roamed freely and the humans on the planet were relegated to living on giant moving cities. I fought and nearly killed innocent cosplayers in the thought that they were aiding a monster invisible to my system.

For example, shortly after meeting Francis Bacall, my dear friend, I destroyed a cardboard skeleton standee, fled from the San Fransisco Police Department, set fire to a convention center seller hall, and beat up a man named Buddy because he said mean things about my friends.

For example, I was given the chance to be resurrected back on Mystix and to potentially reuinte with my lost love, my own elf lover Malia, and instead decided to go back to Earth where my life was constantly at risk and my system gnawed away at my very being.

For example, I eagerly wrestled a bear into submission the moment it threatened me without any regard to etiquette or care.

For example, without any regard to the way people perceive me, I entered an underground fighting ring and handily disposed of every single contender in the entire building, then defeated mobsters from a far-off land known as Persia.

For example, I…

Well, I think it’s obvious. I am a hasty person, and one that sometimes commits actions that do not have the optimal outcome thanks to my not thinking things through. Sometimes I feel that this may be my charm, that people are attracted to someone they can rely on to always be prepared for large-scale and dynamic action, but someone who also must be looked after and protected. It is part of what makes Eryk Solbourne the man he is.

So then, knowing all of this, it must come as a surprise that I am feeling heavy trepidation right now, that I am the one in my trio of friends who is urging caution and wanting to stay back.

In this twisted, possibly sinister city of Paso Robles, even someone like Eryk Solbourne can become a worrisome figure. That fact alone should give some pause.

But I am not the one leading the charge in this hasty endeavor. It is instead my dear friend Francis.

Using our best collective sneak skills (and sadly because I am an [Adventurer] rather than a [Butler,] I do not have the access to Destiny Cards that would give all of us amazing stealth abilities), we exit our hotel room. We do not take our things, for reasons I am currently not quite sure about. It VERY MUCH seems to me like the best course of action would be to take our next train ride out of Paso Robles and leave this creepy place behind!

But no. Instead, we climb aboard a public bus, tap our IC Cards (these are magical cards, similar to the hotel room key cards, that store money and can be used to pay for transportation and even vending machines), and go off on our next day’s adventure.

“I am not quite certain this is the best course of action…” I say.

“Don’t worry,” Francis says. “We’re going to get our money’s worth out of this trip! I promise! You’re going to get so many friggin’ Destiny Points.”

“But the amount we had to sneak just to get around that Pablo Rosas man… it’s some pretty unsettling feelings I am having right now.”

“I kinda feel it too,” Delta adds. “I’m really not sure we should do it. But… We can’t leave yet. Not right now when the heat’s still high. So might as well enjoy our trip. I’m looking forward to the hot springs, anyway.”

“As am I,” I say. “I have not enjoyed a hot springs in a very long time! It excites me.”

“Good on you,” she says. “Me neither, so this might be fun.”

“You know, Delta, you’ve changed,” Francis says.


“You sound a lot more chill lately,” he tells her.

I can see the very pores of her face start to shift. Her relaxed expression morphs into the same stern, angry scowl that Delta Rafati is famous for. In an instant, she is anything but “chill.”

Francis shrugs. “I’m just saying… You’re starting to be back to your old self a little bit.”

“My old self… Fuck off.”

“Did you know Delta used to be cutesy and happy all the time?” Francis asks me. “When we were teens she always dressed in gothic lolita fashion and listened to pop music all the time. Absolutely an adorable human being. Super chill about everything.”

“Really?!” I exclaim so loud it makes other people on the bus look back at us. “Delta was cute? I can hardly fathom it.”

“The cutest little lesbian you’ve ever seen,” he says. “Just by being around her back then I met almost every girlfriend I ever had. Some of them dumped me for her though.”

Delta growls. “Everything Francis is saying is a complete lie, Eryk. Don’t listen to him.”

“It seems extremely plausible, I must say.” I rub my chin and try to picture in my mind’s eye a younger version of Delta, one where her bangs are cut short and she has a frilly pastel dress (yes, I know what gothic lolita is—we have that fashion style on Mystix too). It’s very difficult for me to imagine it being real, I must admit.

“Well it’s not, and I hate Francis forever,” she says. She crosses her arm and looks out the window, ignoring the two of us for the rest of the bus ride. Francis continues to snicker quietly for the entire time as well.

I for one am still extremely nervous about our trip to the hot springs. Yes, it will be something that is absolutely relaxing in a way I have not felt in years, but… must we really stay in Paso Robles another day? Is this truly a wise decision?

We’ll have to see…