Month: July 2020 (Page 1 of 2)

Chapter 79: Arrrrr

The train stops.

Francis, Delta and I are in position for a battle.

But… nothing comes.

In my experience, it is very concerning when nothing comes after an event like this. It means whatever threat may be out there… Is not charging forward with the brashness of a crazed animal. The threat is aware of how to conduct an attack, of how

Francis glances out at the window, to the Pacific Ocean, and loses his composure. (Not that his fighting stance was particularly steady anyway.) “Uh, dudes…”

“Dude… I never figured out what that word means,” I say. “But please enlighten me.”

He ignores my question for reasons I do not understand. “Look out the window,” he says. “It’s… uh, well…”

Delta and I look.



Are those pirate ships?

They are small boats of some sort, resting off the coast while men armed with rifles and scabbards hold the perimeter. It is like a makeshift army, if I do say so myself.

Then into our train car marches several other men and women of this same group. They immediately begin banging on the walls and shouting.

“Get out your valuables, everyone!” the seeming leader, a woman with an eyepatch, says. Almost clinically, the other passengers on the train begin digging out their purses and wallets and ruffling through for watches and wads of cash.

We look at the loot bag that is sitting on the seat behind us. The one that has the extremely valuable gold and other items (including a mana-infused goblin club, something much more precious in my opinion). The one that these mysterious pirates will most certainly want to take a look at.

“Shit!” I mutter. Wow, I’ve only been on Earth for about a week, but I am finally adapting my own language to Earth’s interesting terms and phrases.

Quickly, I dash back to the seat and poof the entire bag in my inventory. Unfortunately, that did not quite capture the items restin at the top of the bag, and the Orb of Ulric the Plainsmith, as well as a few stacks of playing cards, come falling to the ground. The orb hits the floor with a glassy thud and rolls far down the train car until it bumps right into the foot of one of these gun-toting men.

He looks right at me. He points to us.

“We got a few high rollers here, I can see,” the eyepatch wearing woman says. “What you got that we can’t have?”

“Um, nothing?” I try to be as convincingly naive as I can. Normally it is one of my greater skills. Here, though… they don’t seem to buy it for a second.

The man sticks his rifle into my stomach. “Yeah? You really got nothing to pay? No tribute to the king?” he asks. “Captain, what do we do with boys with no tax?”

“Well, we can’t just let him pass like that,” the woman, the captain, says. “It’d be highly unfitting. We might as well kill him.”

Just at this moment, Francis lets out a loud groan and then steps in front of me. He pushes the rifle out of the way and says to them, “Sorry about my friend here. He’s new to California. Here, take my—” he rummages through his pocket. “Phone?” His eyes open wide in horror as he realizes his precious device is now on the proverbial chopping block.

The captain takes it. Then she examines us closely and her single eye opens wide as well. “Wait a minute… You three are the Heroes of Paso Robles, aren’t you?”


“We heard all about it over the news wire,” she says. “A valiant rebellion against the aristocratic power of the wealthy landowners. Bruh, that’s sick. Pink hair here’s been commemorated as the Destiny Duelist, I hear.”

“The Destiny Duelist…”

“So yeah, don’t worry about us,” she says. “We’re just here to collect entry taxes for King Bodhi. We don’t need it from bonafide heroes.”

“Entry taxes… Wait, what is this place?” I ask. “I would very much like to know.”

“No, you wouldn’t,” says Delta.

“Well, you three have a good day,” says the captain. “I hope you enjoy your stay in Santa Barbara.”

Francis blinks a few times. “But we weren’t… Oh, no…”

The pirates move along, collecting more items from different passengers and putting them in bags.

Soon, the train moves again, but much more slowly, as it is being guided by the pirates themselves. We stop at Santa Barbara station, and are all forced off. The train is then commandeered by the pirates and taken to a facility somewhere off to do The Goddess know what.

“They take about three trains a week these days,” Delta says. “We just got unlucky.”

It’s nice to hear that word has spread of my heroism. But these pirates here? Our sudden diversion into a city I know nothing about? These things worry me… and excite me as well. Our next stage of adventure begins.

Chapter 78: So, Uh, Yeah

I’m still rummaging through my loot bag and examining its contents when I feel a tap at my shoulder. One thin pricking feeling against the fabric of my shirt.

I drop the Fangs of Surtur back into the bag and look behind me.

It’s Delta, who has just come back from the bathroom or something like that.

She looks… tired.

It makes sense; we’ve been through a lot these past few days, whether that be fighting the Persian Mob, fighting a cult, or even watching Chasing Amy. And the sleep we’ve gotten has been rough at best.

But this level of tired is still something I have never seen in Delta before. I have known her about one week now, and we have had almost constant contact since then, so I feel that I know her more deeply than most. And the look on her face is most certainly something that gives me pause.

“You,” she says quietly.


“You need to tell me about…” she looks to my side and sees Francis, who is busy playing and streaming Royals of Foreign Lands Mobile (Early Access) on his phone. His headphones are in, so he hasn’t even thought to glance in our direction. “About the thing.”

“About the gold? I know, you and Francis made sure I understood why you were so astounded. It sure does sound like a lot of money!”

“Not that thing.”

“Then what thing?”

“You know… THAT thing.”


“The baby thing.”

“Baby thing?” I ask. “Wait, oh, you mean from when we were being kidnapped. Yes, that baby! Your baby.”

We both eye Francis again and decide to take our conversation elsewhere in the train car, away from prying ears (not that Francis is nearly deviant enough to have actually been eavesdropping on us). Time to go to a much safer place… that little tiny space that links the train cars where you are supposed to board or disembark. It will be an annoying place once we reach the next stop, but for now it is serviceable enough.

As soon as we are in place here, Delta’s composure falls apart, much like a broken mirror would after being improperly glued back together. A new sense of vulnerability washes over her entire being. Completely unlike I’ve ever seen it before.

“Eryk, tell me it was a joke. Tell me it was some giant lie and you’ve gained the ability to fool people,” she says, her tone growing increasingly soft and anxious. She reaches out to me and puts both hands on my shoulders, as if she needs to lean on me for support.

“What is going on with you, Delta?” I ask. “You seem so serious all of a sudden.”

“The baby. Tell me about the baby.”

“Oh, well… I thought you would be angry if you ever knew that I learned about it,” I say. “I didn’t mean to find out. It was an accident, I swear.”

“Acc—what the hell are you talking about?”

“Yesterday, when we were still in the hot springs, I used my [Skill Check] skill to figure out the best way for us to leave the bath without Pablo Rosas catching us. And so I saw the stats that make up all of life on Earth… including the stats of the being growing inside of you.”

Delta’s shaking. “Inside of… Eryk, you are one hundred percent certain about this?”

“Of course. I would never jest about something like this. I apologize for not telling you sooner, but I figured you would want to keep this a secret, and you would be embarrassed that I learned of it using my Destiny Card skills.”

“Eryk, did you know that I’m married to a woman?” Delta asks, tightening her grip on my shoulders. “Did you know that I, too, am a woman?”


“Lesbians don’t just get pregnant out of nowhere!” she shouts in a whisper. A whispering shout… A very rare occurrence.

“But Francis told me about same sex reproduction and the methods in which to induce it,” I explain. “I simply figured that—”

“That is all VOLUNTARY. You can’t accidentally get an IVF!”

“A mystery pregnancy… You are with child, but I am the one who delivered the news to you… Oh, my, I’m so sorry.”

Delta begins to cry. “I don’t understand… I was going to get pregnant after the trip. How could this happen now? Who did this to me? How long have I been pregnant?”

I take her arms off my shoulders and give her a warm, hugging embrace. I pat the back of her head and say, “This is an impossible mystery, which means it is one we will solve together.”

“A mystery, huh… I fucking hate mysteries…”

“And I love them,” I say. “That’s why we will make a good team.”

“I’m going to have a baby. I didn’t even miss my period yet. How can I be ready for this?” Delta sighs and then lets go from me. She wipes the tears from her eyes. “Well, I guess that’ll be fun in seven or eight months. Julie is going to flip the hell out. I should probably tell her now, but…”

“Should we turn back and go home to San Fransisco?” I ask.

She shakes her head. “Not yet. Don’t worry about me. I’ll figure it out myself.”

“Understood. I shall support you in any way I can.”

“You already have,” she says. “You’ve helped me a lot here. Just… Wow. Your powers accidentally had relevance for once.”

“I will take that as a very high compliment,” I say.

So Delta has absolutely no idea why she is currently growing a living being inside of her. Defying all logic, only the illogical can possibly be an answer. I heavily suspect dimensional tampering to be at fault, but I refrain from making the suggestion now. I have dealt with pregnant women in my past, and I know how to deal with them in sensitive and understanding ways. I will be as supportive as I can be.

We finally go back to our seats on the train (Francis hasn’t moved whatsoever) and get on with our lives. Well, almost.

Delta shakes her head one last time and mutters, “In a year I’m going to be changing diapers and making baby food. I just can’t believe it…”

“It’s not incredibly difficult if you practice enough,” I say. “I know with my firstborn, it was damn near impossible, but by the third, I was caring for them without even thinking about it.”

Delta stares at me again. “What did you just say? Your what?”

Suddenly, the entire train car begins rattling. All three of us jump up into combat mode.

The train comes to a screeching halt and all of the luggage (and half the people) in the car are flung into the air, tumbling down from above or off of seats.

Somehow, I don’t think that this was entirely benign.

We ready ourselves for whatever battle is to come.

Chapter 77: Loot

Francis is finally awake. It sure has been long enough.

Delta has come back as well, though she seems to be brooding about something or another. I am not entirely sure what.

“I have something important to announce to you two friends of mine,” I say.

The looks they give me are glazed-over, to say the least. Neither one actually says anything to me.

“Well, the truth is,” I begin, “I leveled up this morning while you two were gone. I am now level 19.”

Delta shrugs. “Okay, cool.”

But Francis’s eyes light up. He quickly munches down a bagel, and all his normal energy that is typically sapped away by the black hole of being sleepy returns in a flash. “That’s amazing!” he exclaims. “That means you’re only one level away from reaching C-Rank, doesn’t it?”

“Well, technically, I will be given the option to rank up if I so choose, but since doing so will increase the curve for level ups and will make it more difficult for me to gain in stats, I may want to stay as a D-Rank [Adventurer] for the—”

“No way,” Francis interrupts. “Your goal is to reach S-Rank so you can be the first big hero in a million years or whatever, and stats aren’t part of that. Destiny Points are the only thing you need to worry about.”

“So I should ignore one of the fundamental aspects of the entire Destiny Deck System?”

“Optimally, yes,” he says, launching into full-on gamer lecture mode by this point. “Even the Destiny Cards you can draw are a detriment to your overall progress. If you want to be efficient and game the system to victory, you gotta be willing to sacrifice some of the little conveniences.”

“Wow, I… never really thought of it that way,” I respond.

“That’s because you’re not a pro gamer yet,” he says. “Trust me. Six hundred hours into Royals of Foreign Lands and you’ll start to look at game systems very differently. It’s all about the build. The min-max.”

The min-max…

That seems like a very important and official term. I should write that down somewhere.

The train that we are riding on goes over a bump of some sort.

We rattle for a moment, and I grip the seat as if something terrible is about to happen. But nothing does; it’s just a momentary passing issue.

It does remind me, though, that there is another issue that is certainly not momentary or passing that is of vital importance:

“You two must recall the fighting last night, where my inebriated clone began throwing random items out of a large bag.”

Francis and Delta give me another strange look.

“Uh…” Francis puts his finger to his bottom lip.

Delta shrugs. “A lot of stuff happened last night. It’s hard to remember.”

“Well, perhaps that ruins the build-up, then, but I wanted to remind you that I have… THIS!”

I poof out of my inventory a very special item: A large rucksack filled to the brim with assorted items.

“This is a loot bag from Mystix,” I say. “My clone discarded several items that could have been of good use, but it is still quite filled and extremely heavy. I’ve been meaning to show this loot bag for several days now, but it seems now is the most appropriate time, since we are in need of replacements for what we lost in Paso Robles.”

After I say that, the realization once again hits all three of us that we left behind almost the entirety of our belongings back in that hotel.

“Such a bummer…” Francis mutters.

“But have no fear! The loot bag will more than make up for it.”

“What’s in there?” Delta asks. “Anything ridiculous?”

“Well, the fun part is that I actually don’t know,” I say. “The bag contains assorted items from many travels with my Adventurer’s Guild group, Team Fanghook. We tried to sell many items at each town, but for, everything left over, we kept it in this bag for safekeeping.”

“So it’s just random assorted junk…”

“But it could be interesting junk! Let’s dig in any see what’s going on here…”

I reach into the bag, rummaging around the various items contained within. I feel hard metals, I feel soft organic materials, and most of all, I feel…

“Strider chitin!” I shout as I pull out a stack of sheets of thick, rough insectoid skin.

Several of the other passengers in the train car turn to me and give me suspicious glances. I should most likely refrain from yelling when I pull things out from now on. (Though I am a master of pulling out, that is for sure.)

“Is that… giant bug skin?” Delta shudders as she asks this.

“Yes. Striders are large insect creatures with psychic powers and super speed. They are very dangerous and almost impossible to kill. So their skin is very, very popular for clothing, armor, and snack foods.”

“Sn…” Delta declines to even question such a question as this. Do they not eat insects on Earth? I didn’t even think about that until just now. Huh, what a peculiar world this is.

“It may fetch a pretty penny for those who wish to weave it into armor, I think,” I say.

Now for my next item…

…A goblin eye!

This time, Delta shrieks.

“It’s the eye of a slain goblin,” I explain. Pretty neat, huh?”

“Why in God’s name do you have that?!” she whispers loudly, failing to keep her voice down. Passengers are now actively staring at us.

“These are said to have strong medicinal properties. I’m not quite sure myself.”

“It could be really cool to analyze the DNA,” Francis says.

“I have no idea what that means, but it sounds interesting.,” I say.

Okay, another item…

…A minature one-handed bow.

“Oh, wow, I could have used this all along,” I say. “This is a bow specially designed for just one-handed use. All this time, I’ve been having to use my special techniques, but I could have just loaded the arrows onto this machine and blasted away.”

“I think they call this a crossbow,” Francis says, “but crossbows are way lamer than your cool bow attack. Never stop that.”

“Aw, thanks.”

After that is…

…A gold bar.

“Oh, this may be useful,” I say. “It’s a gold ingot that has been smelted into a bar form. It can be traded on Mystix for the equivalent of one thousand gold coins, or melted down and turned into powerful weaponry. I don’t know if it is of any use on Earth, but—You two, why are you looking at me like that?”

Their jaws have dropped so far I’m worried that they are suffering a simultaneous mental breakdown. It honestly worries me more than a little bit to see them like this. Are they okay?

“I-I-I…Eryk…” Francis fails to speak a complete thought.

Delta is too stunned to even let a word out.

“I guess gold isn’t the most popular item here on Earth. Well then, that might be a bad thing, because…” I rummage through the loot bag and pull out more items. “…there’s two more where that came from. About six and a half pounds in total, if my weight judgment is accurate.”

Francis outright faints.

“Please put those away before anyone sees,” Delta whispers with a biting tone.

“Uh, okay…”

I promptly comply.

Wow, these people really must hate gold…

I continue my presentation, showing the two of them such interesting items as an artifact from the Yuletide Town Ruins, a Pterosaur quill, and a discarded mage’s tunic (Borguk had been gaining interest in fashion before we, um, parted ways). But no matter what I show them, nothing seems to make them any less tensed up than they were when I first showed the gold.

What the hells is up with that?

Chapter 76: The Simple Pleasures

Empathetic Link: Rank 7. Create a mental link with a target sentient being. Cost: 5500 LP.

What in blue blazes is this?

[Empathetic Link] is already a Rank 7 card, and clearly one of the most powerful that I have ever drawn. But this card… How is it even when I am a D-Rank [Adventurer,] somehow I can draw something this rare and powerful?

In fact, I have an extremely hard time accepting that a card like [Empathetic Link] could even have apppeared in my Destiny Deck to begin with. This card does not thematically fit with [Adventurer] at all. It doesn’t feel like some sort of general card that just happens to be in the Destiny Decks of all people who are powerful enough and lucky enough to receive it. It feels like a specialized card from some specific class, like, say, [Mage,] or perhaps [Supreme,] or maybe even [Lordess.]

But I have it now.

I… don’t know how to feel about this at all.

I do love that I have it, though. The description here is so vague that I’d need to test it out a little bit before getting a feel for it—which is impossible when it is so rare and costs over a third of my total Life Points pool—but I am willing to risk grave consequences in order to see what kinds of cool stuff it can do.

Well, that’s enough for now, since I won’t have an opportunity to use that anytime in the near future.

Now it is time… to level up!

Wait, actually, no.

First, I should do a quick overview of my Achivements Board, maybe see if there’s anything worth mentioning…


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 softwae.✓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!”Slay a Skeleton Army General.Kill an unarmed opponent.
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.Recite the Great Commandments of the Adventurers 5 times.
 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%)    

Wow! I completed the achievement:

Rescue a damsel in distress.

That means that, sometime in the last day, I was responsible for rescuing a damsel from a perilous fate.

That can only mean…

Delta. My saving Delta from the hands of Karen and her cult was what helped me achieve this new goal.

Or Francis, maybe. He could be a damsel, in a certain way.

Or myself. Is saving myself tantamount to saving a damsel? Am I a damsel?

Either way, let me claim the reward for this achievement:


[+3 DP.]

[63 DP.]

Amazing! Stupendous!

And now time to level up for the first time in several days… Here we come, Level 19!

I use 25 Destiny Points. They drain out of me and surround my spirit like a sparkling aura.

[-25 DP.]


I start to twinkle more brightly than even the fiery eyes of the cultists that tried to force me to become a Paso Robles follower.

And then…


[Full Heal!]

[15,000/15,000 LP.]

I am now a Level 18 [Adventurer,] at D-Rank. And let’s see what stat bonuses I’ve gained:

Strength27 (+7)
Speed6 (+1)
Wisdom6 (+1)
Charm20 (-1)
Viscosity3 (+1)
Manners30 (+12)
Power52 (+3)

Hmmm… Wow!

My [Strength] and [Power] stats have both seen a major boost. I’m stronger than ever, and ready more than ever to face whatever opponents may wish to strike me down.

I also received a massive increase in my [Manners] stat, thanks presumably to my better understanding of Earth culture.

I am disappointed that my [Charm] stat went down, but sometimes that does happen. I just hope that it does not continue to do so, because my [Charm] is one of my healthiest and most helpful aspects.

Still, I am just one level away from being eligible to rank up, and that excites me a lot. I would do it right now, except that I want to do it in a more dramatic place and time. Francis isn’t even awake, and Delta is off somewhere else doing something I am currently unaware of, so the dramatic element is completely gone.

Instead, I wll focus my efforts on one more area that I have been neglecting for a very long time…


I find the breakfast bar a few train cars down and grab myself some cold foods. Cereals, bagels, iced coffee, and a tiny pack of something called raisins.

I’m not sure what a lot of the foods I am taking actually are, but they are delicious. I get extra food for Francis when he wakes up (that is just what good friends do for one another), and now my hands are completely full carrying all of these items.

It’s been a tiring hour or so, sorting through all my stats and cards and achievements. But now I can enjoy the finer side of life: looking out the window to see the California seaside, eating a breakfast, and enjoying the quiet atmosphere of an Amtrak train.

Ahh… It’s very nice.

Very… simple, even.

It reminds me of the times when I wanted to run off with Malia, back when I was still younger and fresher in my life as an [Adventurer.] A life with no ambition towards a final goal, no progression to fantasize about, no constant churn of Life Points… It could have been a good life had I run into Malia, the love of my life, outside of the context of the constant peril and combat and stressful management situations that comes with being in the Destiny Deck System on Mystix.

Here on Earth? It’s almost too good to be true.


[+3 DP.]

From breakfast and from our brief stop at a beautiful resort town station, I receive a total of three Destiny Points, bringing my total up to 41 DP.

I love Earth.

It’s just too bad that this peacefulness surely will not last.

Chapter 75: Awake With My Destiny

I’m… I’m awake?

What the…


With Francis resting on my shoulder and my head resting atop his, I find myself back on the Amtrak train headed towards the fabled mystical city of Los Angeles.

But just seconds ago, I was on Mystix still. I was with Rare, my long-lost sibling who had not yet to even begin explaining what had happened to them and how they gained such immense magical powers. I was with Miss M and Malia, the last surviving members of Team Fanghook after nearly one hundred years had passed since I died.

We were about to enter the Tomb of Eryk Solbourne, and…


Now I’m awake all of a sudden.

Back on Earth.

This is some pretty disconcerting stuff. I don’t recall any specific moment waking up. Nothing dramatic happening to propel me away from Mystix and making my ghostly figure dissipate.

I was just in the catacombs, and now I am here again.

For a normal dream, this would be completely understandable, even typical. But when I have such dramatic stakes such as the fate of my own existence, it throws me off completely and makes me extremely upset.


I genuinely hate this.

Why must I be catapulted between worlds in such a haphazard and annoying fashion? It is a constant and distressing situation that I am growing to despise.

I need a drink.

For the fact that it is currently the middle of the morning, by my understanding of the way the Earth’s sun rises and sets, I probably should not be drinking any alcohol at this time of day. What a sorrowful life I must live until then.

What Rare said…

They told me that Earth was fake. That it was my imagination. Some sort of illusion created by The Goddess to fool me into staying trapped without my full power. I don’t understand what they were trying to say, but it makes no sense. Why in The Goddess’s name would I—Oh, perhaps it is not appropriate to use The Goddess’s name in vain in a situation like this. Let me try again.

Why in the world would I conjure up with my own thoughts a world where I fight almost nothing, where such things as video games and snack foods exist, where I am joined by a woman-loving woman who has no interest in me, and by an energetic man who lives his life as a stramer? I simply cannot fathom how any of this could be fake or fiction.

My mind is unsettled, and I decide not to think on these things anymore, especially since there is nothing I can do about it until the next time I dream.

Instead… perhaps I should think about my status as a hero. Specifically, my Destiny Deck System and all of those things I have been neglecting for some time.

First, let’s look at my Life Points:

[5866/15,000 LP.]

Oh, wow, that’s getting pretty low. I could coast for approximately a day and a half before that gets dangerously low, but I do know that I have quite a lot of Destiny Points at the moment—57 DP, to be quite exact. Now may be the right time to level up.

But do I really need a full heal just yet? It almost feels like a waste when a level up would only award me something around nine thousand Life Points.

I know what this calls for… Destiny Card drawing! Yeah! I love drawing Destiny Cards so much!

Let’s look at my hand right now:

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: (Empty)
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.


Three empty slots. That’s not a lot to work with if I get in a dicey situation, such as being ambushed during this very train trip. Just a few days ago, those South African Secret Service people did that exact thing, so I mustn’t be too careful. [Transmigrated Spirit] is a powerful card worth saving, but it is also far too unpredictable to be the only card I can actively use.

And furthermore, my second inventory slot is empty! I lost my gun in the fight with Pablo Rosas, whose olive oil diet turned him into a speedy fighting machine. Such a powerful weapon, and it fell out of my grasp almost immediately. What a horrible situation…

Well, anyway, I guess I very much should be summoning some new Destiny Cards. And while I have plenty of Destiny Points to do that with, I still want to save those so I can level up anytime I need. I’m so close to Rank C at this point that I am honestly a fool for not blowing all my Destiny Points in a mad rush to reach that point.

Continuing to be a mad fool, I decide to draw three cards with my Life Points—


[-670 LP.]

[-1480 LP.]

[-737 LP.]

Well, there goes my life spirit.

[2979/15,000 LP.]

Drop: Rank 1. Make someone fall over. Cost: 80 LP.
Parch: Rank 2. Drain someone/thing of fluid and absorb it to become less thirsty. (It would take a few minutes of sustained parching to suck all fluid from a human and kill them, in case you were wondering.) Cost: 350 LP.
Geochange: Rank 2. Change the matter type of one 10-foot cube of land.

Oh, these are… Some pretty odd cards.

[Drop] is one of those nearly useless basic cards that do little but suck up your inventory space and prove amusing in some hilarious situation down the line. It is only nominally more useful than [Fireball,] and that’s the most important and common card that a low-rank [Adventurer] can receive.

[Parch] is… Well, it’s pretty obvious what [Parch] is. And it’s not very useful in any situation outside of deserts and covert assassinations, neither of which I have any plans to be in in the near future.

So actually, I’m scrapping that one right now. Goodbye,[Parch.] Now to say hello to half of your DP cost, rounded down to the nearest whole number. Wait, that’s still 1.

[+1 DP.]

[58 DP.]

Time to sacrifice my Life Points for yet another card, then….


[-887 DP.]

[2090/15,000 LP.]

Major Heal: Rank 4. Gain 3,000 LP. Cost: 0 LP.

You know what…

I really dislike that is is the card I received.

Sure, getting three thousand more Life Points would allow me to spend even more on new cards and that would be fun, but it would basically compel me to scrap more of these cards I have received in order to make good use of the extra points I received.

Therefore, my path is actually…

Just scrapping this card as well.

Goodbye, [Major Heal.]

[+2 DP.]

[60 DP.]

Now time to draw yet one more card with my Life Points!

[-501 LP.]

[1588/15,000 LP.]

Here it… is……?

Empathetic Link: Rank 7. Create a Mental Link with a target sentient being. Cost: 5500 LP.

What in blue blazes is this?

Special: A Train-Bound Life (Feat. Delta)

Delta is tired.

So very, very tired.

So then, why is she unable to sleep?

Francis and Eryk over on the other side of the seats are resting away happily, their heads leaned on each other. It is adorable enough that Delta has trouble not shipping them together, as much as she hates the idea of it.

They went through all the same horrible things as her. So why is she still wide awake?

She rubs her eyes and decides to get up from her seat.

It’s the middle of the morning now. Seven or eight by the looks of the light and the growing number of passengers boarding with each new stop.

It seems everyone’s headed to Los Angeles these days. Some for very different reasons than others…

Delta was kidnapped today. She was tortured by a Chamber of Commerce Cult run by a middle aged wine mom. And for some reason, that barely even makes an impression on her current worries.

Her worries are much more on the present moment.

No, she doesn’t regret the trip, not yet. It is true that Delta only went along with all of this insanity because she wanted to spend more time with Francis before their adult lives inevitably got in the way of their friendship together, and somewhat because Eryk, for as idiotic as he is, is actually something of a cool guy once you get to know him.

Delta will never, ever say that out loud. She will carry that thought to her grave and beyond. She does not believe in ghosts or anything remotely like that, but even if she did somehow respawn in a new form, she would make a pact with herself never to reveal that she made a compliment towards Eryk Solbourne.

One last trip with her oldest friend and her newest, um, companion. After that, she’s back to her career in marketing and back to domestic life with her dear wife.

A domestic life that includes…

Having a baby…

She looks back at Eryk and… Oh my God, that mouth on him.

She knows, deep down inside, that he wasn’t joking when he said what he did. She knows he genuinely thinks she is pregnant. And with his ridiculous card-based superpowers, who knows, maybe he’s actually right.

Somehow… What the hell is going on with her? Of course she’s not pregnant. Lesbians, at least the ones who are cisgender and married to another cisgender woman, have a zero percent chance of conceiving a baby by accident. It’s not some sort of miniscule possibility. It isn’t a case of the Chicago Bears winning the World Series. It isn’t even the case of the Undertaker losing in WrestleMania (don’t ask why Delta knows about these things). This is zero percent. 0.0000%.

Absolutely ridiculous to even think that Eryk would be saying anything other than a fanciful fabrication from his overactive imagination. He probably thinks that Delta’s cell phone counts as a sentient being. He probably doesn’t even know how to make a baby.

Yep. That’s what Delta is going with right now.

Damn, she needs a drink…

Delta goes a few train cars up to where the bar is located. It’s empty, being seven in the morning and all, but there’s still a self-serve station for whatever reason. And it gives her exactly the peace and quiet she needs to reflect on everything.

She goes over to the self-serve station, takes a long look at it, and wonders what drink she should try. Whiskey, rum, gin…

And then…

She realizes she’s holding her hands to her abdomen and groans to herself. That stupid Solbourne and his infectious ideas.

Delta sits down at the bar, but doesn’t take a drink. It’s for the best, anyway. Getting drunk the middle of the morning when you had just been knocked out and kidnapped less than a day prior is probably not a solid idea to begin with.


So much sighing this morning.

Suddenly, Delta’s phone vibrates.

Thanks to having to leave Paso Robles in such a hurry, Delta no longer has any clothes, any toiletries, any of her vibrators, anything but what’s on her person at this exact moment. Just her current outfit, her wallet, and her phone. Not even a charger, and this thing’s already down to 60% battery.

She would turn the thing off to conserve, but she sees the text message she just received—

And her heart goes cold.

No, this is not another message from Julie. She’s already exchanged a few texts with her since the Paso Robles incident, mostly to reassure her that everything is okay and to blatantly lie about her past two days.

This message is from…


“Hey. Heard you might be stopping by soon. I await the arrival of my bethrothed! ;)”


Just… ugh.

Why in the hell are they actually headed to Los Angeles?

Francis surely knows what is going to happen. Taylor, his quite stupid younger sister, is going to take over everything completely and cause an infinite amount of drama. Delta knows it. Eryk probably knows it and he doesn’t even know who Taylor is.

And even after all these years, she can’t get over the fact that she was Delta’s “first kiss,” as if that means anything. Delta was nine years old! Taylor was six! This woman, one of the most aggressively heterosexual women that Delta has ever met, refuses to let that go and thinks it’s actually funny.

It’s… not. Delta does not find it funny. Though Julie sort of does for some reason. She thinks it’s because Delta had annoying siblings too. Delta was just an only child all her life, unless you count living with Francis and the Bacalls in high school.

Delta deletes Taylor’s message. She’ll deal with that when it actually comes. It would probably be wise to tell Francis about this, too, but he has had a lot on his mind lately, so… Probably not.

Of course, Delta has just as much on her mind, too. That’s why she’s here at the bar at seven in the morning, drinking a paper cup of water and thinking about the absolute certainty that she is not pregnant. What a life she’s living right now…

…Maybe she should do something drastic and just reinvent herself. Bring back the gothic lolita look, maybe. She wouldn’t want to give off a bad impression and attract a bunch of straight boys, but she also really does want to attract a bunch of straight boys and lead them on. It’s a tough quandry.

Reinvent herself mid-adventure and come back to Julie as a brand-new woman? Sounds pretty good.

With that sudden clarity in mind, she finishes up in the bar and goes back to her seat. She falls asleep almost immediately.

Chapter 74: War in the Pocket 2: Electric Boogaloo


Rare, Miss M, and Malia are circled around in a formation, holding up their weapons—a staff, a dragonsword, and a bow and arrow—to an enemy shrouded in darkness.

“What the hells?”

“Shit!” Miss M shouts. “Not this again!”

“You know,” I say, “I really wish we could better understand the link between my spirit and the dragonsword. The fact that we continue to be mixed up when it comes to the ethereal nature of the inventory system is quite strange to—Oh, what is that?”

A gigantic spider-like creature approaches our circle, and all three of my teammaates tense up. Every step the monster takes shakes the ground.

And then, two more appear from different sides.

“Is there any way I could—”


“—help with anything?” I ask.

We are now in a large conference room. A seven-foot-tall human person dressed in chrome armor leads a presentation.

Or, rather, they were leading a presentation up until the moment I appeared.

“This is what we mean,” Miss M says. “This is why we have to reach North Spire immediately.”

The armored person gulps. “North Spire…” they begin. “You can’t be serious. This, this thing… Surely if the New Slayers got their hands on it…”

“That is irrelevant,” Rare says, “because that will absolutely not happen.”

“The New Slayers are not to be trifled with,” the armored person says. “I beg you to reconsider. We are having enough trouble with the Beaver Empire as it is. Why would we make an obvious sacrifice to our forces in the way of engaging a foe that is not currently—”

Malia slams her fist on the table. “This isn’t about your geopolitical bullshit. This is about saving Mystix from the ultimate threat.”

They back away. “Do with our forces what you please. You proved your worth in the Battle of West Timor.”

“Damn right we did,” says Miss M.

“Um, may I intrude and ask what is going on here?” I raise my ghostly hand. Nobody responds, though. All of them except for the clearly freaked out armored person ignore me as if I do not exist.

“I really hate this,” I add. “You are always doing this to me! Leaving me in the dark about everything, having me run around like a blind man searching for some answer to a puzzle, when I don’t even have the first clue of the nature of my task to begin with! It’s a real drag on my spirit, and I can’t fathom why you continue—”


“—to make me confused about every—”

“Shut up, Eryk,” says Rare.

Now, the three of them are standing before a large wall made of stone and with spikes at the top.

“No, I won’t shut up,” I say. “Stop bullying me around or we won’t fix the special plan or whatever because I’m going to wake up and go back to Earth and you will have to be content to wait on me to come back. Because if I am so important, then you have to let me have some say in this.”

Rare sighs. “Eryk, this ‘Earth’ of yours isn’t real,” they say. “It is merely a fabrication of your sleeping mind. On the other side of this wall is North Spire, and then soon the catacombs where your comatose body has been laying for the past century or more, protected from the perils of life and aging.”

“A fabrication…”

They nod, slowly and deliberately as if they are making an effort to shield my feelings from shattering. “Whatever The Goddess did to you, it is not some sort of fancy reincarnation. You are not living as a powerful being on another world. Miss M told me all about your supposed adventures, and I can say with certainty that you are simply having fanciful fits of fantasy. You are a powerful being on this world, and your entire life as an [Adventurer] has been a lie created by none other than yourself.”

“You’re telling me that… What? I cannot bring myself to understand your words.”

“I want to tell you the truth so that you don’t feel betrayed once we reach your body, Eryk,” they say. “You are not a ghost. You are not living in a world without elves or beavers. What you are experiencing right now is something called ‘paramnesia.’ Your inability to separate fantasy from reality is the reason that you are unable to unlock your true powers… and it seems The Goddess has gone out of her way to make sure that you never did so.”

“But wait… The Goddess couldn’t have—it’s not possible.”

“You are just a pawn in a larger game, Eryk Solbourne. But you are the most powerful pawn the entire game possesses.”

“Like a top-tier character in Royals of Foreign Legends,” I say. “Francis told me all about it.”

“There is no Francis,” Rare says. “But soon you shall understand just how important you really are. You will be given a chance to remember all you have forgotten. And you will help us bring down the terror of The Goddess once and for all.”

I… I’m too baffled to figure out how to respond to anything they are saying right now.

“All we have to do is get through eight hundred thousand New Slayers soldiers,” Miss M says. “And if I die, Eryk’s ghost dies with me.”

“Well then, let us get started,” Rare says.

“Got it, boss.”



—examine my surroundings once more, and the three companions I have are now bloodied and bruised. Malia in particular looks like she has gone through absolute hell. A two hundred year old woman in battle is not likely to end up very well, after all.

We are in the deep catacombs of the North Spire. I have never been in a place like this before. Buried graves and tombs and hidden treasure from so many eons past that some of it probably predates the first-ever S-Rank Hero.

Miss M’s glowing fiery hair (a new sight from her that is probably a sign that she has regained a large portion of her original powers as a demon queen) gives a faint glow to this pit, but everything else is shrouded in darkness. My friends on Mystix sure do enjoy living their lives in dark caverns sometimes.

“And here we shall find your body,” Rare says. “According to my records, it was stored… here.” They point and a hidden door opens all on its own.

And we enter the Tomb of Eryk Solbourne.

Chapter 73: A Rare Occassion

It is a weird feeling, being particles of dust floating around in the air.

Even in a world where I am a ghost, a spirit left behind after my body evaporated into dust, it baffles me to an immense degree to fathom the fact that I am no longer a cohesive being in any form. My spirit exists in tiny dots all across this blank white room. After a while, perhaps, my particles will settle on the floor and I may reform back into more of a being, but it does not look to be anytime in the near future.

I am very much wondering why my sibling Rare did that.

Or why they are here inside this vault-like room sealed up and hidden away so well that, apparently, it took Miss M eighty years to open it.

“Why did you blast him…” Miss M whines. “I just got him here and you’re already getting violent.”

I would speak, but apparently I am not currently able to do so.

“I know what you must be thinking,” Rare tells me. “I’ve grown out my hair.”

Once again, I can’t respond to them. I don’t know why in the world they are making witty comments like that to me.

Their hair is much longer, though. And their skin has faded with the passing of time. No longer are they my kid sibling who went off to war with my brother Vince. They are refined and almost regal in a sense, sporting fashionable robes and sharp eyes.

Wait a minute… it’s been eighty-four years since I last saw Malia. Which means it’s been, well, eighty-four years since I died. That means Rare should be well over a hundred years old… right? Then why do they look, well, not ancient? Old sure, but their hair is still a light white-pink and their spirit is still youthful enough that they can easily cast a high level magic spell without blinking.

A North Spiran through and through with that level of power… but North Spirans are just like any other normal human when it comes to aging. That means… Rare has some sort of powers beyond what I can even dream of. Perhaps it has something to do with them being in this room, this realm, this whatever it may be?

“You are correct,” Rare says. “My powers have grown immensely as I trained here in this room. I can even read your mind. Or, rather, I can sense your aura. And that aura is what allows me to understand what you are thinking at any given time.”

Please. Why are they talking to me like this when I am unable to say anything…

“And I guess I should explain some other things, to shed more light and context,” they continue. “For instance, what this place is. I imagine that Miss M has neglected to inform you of much of anything. That is the most likely outcome of trusting someone as careless as her with a task as important as delivering my brother to me, but I foresaw it anyway.”

Miss M gives a hmph and folds her arms.

“This room is known as the Usurper’s Hall,” Rare says. “It is a place designed in all respects to mimic the setting and status effects of The Goddess’s own place of residence. It is a forgery meant to train one’s powers in the harshest and loneliest conditions possible. Every hour that passes in this room is like two weeks out in the real world. But your body feels all of that pain and strength of those two weeks all at once.”

Malia asks, “Shouldn’t we be leaving this room soon, then?”

“No need,” they say. “While the door is open, the effects are minimized. We should not feel much of any time difference so long as we do not make a day of it. Also, I believe Eryk is utilizing this room to his advantage, it seems.”

I have trouble momentarily figuring out what Rare means by that, until I look at myself again. The particles of dust that my ghostly form was transfigured into have already begun to reform. The outline of my non-body is already formed and assembling itself automatically. I can feel the magical energies coursing through me.

“Rare…” I can use my voice again, and finally I am able to say what I wish. “Rare, I missed you so much.”

They lower their head. They do not respond.

“So are we starting this plan or not?” Miss M asks. “I want to become a demon queen again. I miss my suit and tie and medium-sized breasts.”

“Don’t you worry your pretty little head,” Rare says. “You will have your power renewed soon enough. For this ‘ghost’ of my brother is exactly what I needed. We can finally awaken Eryk Solbourne once and for all.”

“No! If you wake him up, he’ll just disappear again and go back to Earth.”

“He’ll… what?”

“Rare, I was killed,” I say. “But The Goddess reincarnated me on a new planet. One with no system. No creatures other than humans and sometimes bears. My ghost here is the true anomaly here.”

They growl. “The Goddess… Her tyranny knows no bounds. She must have known what we were planning and made a move to curtail things as best as she could.”

“So we must act quickly,” Malia says. “No more waiting around for eighty years.”

“My training here in the Usurper’s Hall has given me incredible abilities, Rare says. “But it is still nothing compared to Eryk’s power once he wakes up. And I don’t mean some fake body on a different planet. I mean the true, real Eryk Solbourne, who lays hidden deep within North Spire even at this very moment.”

Malia gulps. “Rare, you can’t tell him—no, please… You told us to keep this from him. We did our best, but if you keep talking…”

“Silence,” they say. “Eryk, let’s go see your real body. The one that has been asleep in the Hero’s Chamber for one hundred years. Miss M, you know what to do. I will teleport us out once we are ready.”

“You got it, boss,” Miss M says.

I try to figure out what anyone is saying but—

I’m poofed into Miss M’s inventory once again.

Chapter 72: I’m Dreaming Again

…I’m back in the dream.

Back on Mystix.

Back in my ghostly body.

Back in the cave, where two figures stand in front of me.

One is Miss M, hair short and height now perilously tall for someone I always knew as a pudgy runt.

The other…

The other…

“Hiya,” is all I can say.

It’s Malia, standing here before me just as I always knew her. Gorgeous in every way, radiating with her elven energy…


She’s also…

Kind of old looking now.

Her hair is gray. Her face is covered in wrinkles. She’s grown shorter over the years, and the fire in her spirit has faded more than a little bit.

Miss M looks down and refuses to make eye contact with me. She knows exactly how I am feeling right now, so she doesn’t need to say anything.

“Hello, Eryk,” Malia says. Her voice is now deeper and more crackly than it ever was before.

Even elves age, it seems like. I may be the first human to have ever lived the lifespan to see an elf age all the way into elder times.

“So, how long has it been?” I ask.

“Eighty-four years,” she answers. “It’s been eighty-four years.”

“And you still came for me.”

She nods slowly. “I came for my duty to you.”

“Your love, you mean.” I walk up to her and put my hand on her cheek—wait that doesn’t work because I’m a ghost. Damn.

Malia shakes her head. “Not for love, Eryk,” she says. “For duty. Truly, for duty.”

Miss M folds her arms. “We’ve been hiding something from you,” she says. “And it is the exact reason that I brought you here on my journey.”

“An eight-decade journey…”

“Yeah. It’s a bit of a big deal,” she says. “In fact… Let’s go down that hallway and take a look.”

We finally go together. After all these days (in my eyes), I’m finally going to discover what it is.

But at what cost?

Malia is now an elderly woman at nearly two hundred years of age. Miss M has had much of her demon queen powers restored. I’m a ghost with no physical form. So much has changed between us, and we don’t even have Borguk or Thalia by our side.

“Wait a minute…” I begin.

“Borguk and Thalia have long since passed away,” says Malia, knowing exactly what I was going to ask before I even opened my spectral mouth.

“Do they have ghosts, too?”

She shakes her head. “Eryk Solbourne, you’re a complete mystery, and you should know that. Nobody knows why you’re a ghost. Well… Not nobody.”

In front of us lies a massive door with red carpeting poking out from underneath. A grand hall lies before us, I can tell.

Miss M poofs out three items from her inventory. One is the trusty dragon sword that she kept accidentally mixing me up with during her solo adventures. Another is the Lost Book of the Four Trinities, and the third is the Yellowstone Rune. I hardly know a thing about any of these, but they seem important.

First, Miss M places the Yellowstone Rune into a slot on the door. Then she does the same with the sword. Lastly, she opens up the Lost Book of the Four Trinities and recites something in a demon tongue, something I can’t even begin to decipher.

Soon, the door activates many symbols and begins to shudder and shake. The whole room vibrates, though I cannot feel any of it. Malia and Miss M hold onto each other to keep balance.

The door opens.

We enter.

There is indeed a red carpet on the floor, rolled out like it is here to welcome us in as heroes. But that’s all there is.

Quite literally, there is nothing in the room but this carpet. Everything else is blank and white. Pure white.


[+1 DP.]

[57 DP.]

It’s almost like…

The Goddess’s room…?

Wait a minute, that’s—

“We’re here,” Miss M says to the figure who has suddenly appeared before us. “We brought him as soon as he was ready, just like you asked. But, as you can see, we’ve run into some major issues. Like, he died.”

“Death is nothing for a man like Eryk Solbourne,” the figure says. “I should know. He’s my brother, after all.”

This aged, white-haired person is none other than Rare Solbourne, my long-lost sibling.

I reach out my ghostly hand to greet them with as much a hug as I can give—but they blast me with a powerful spell—

My form dissipates into dust.

Chapter 71: The 5:55

We are forced to stop the car and get out when the road in downtown Paso Robles is completely blocked up. Barricaded up by wreckage and overturned vehicles.

The downtown, just like the winery we left minutes ago, is ablaze.

“This can’t be right,” Francis says. “How did the fire…”

“It’s not the same fire,” Delta says.

“So then… What… is going on?”

Downtown Paso Robles, a place we visited just half a day ago, is burning to the ground before our very eyes. The mall where I received my very first phone will no longer exist in a matter of hours.

Who could have done this? My first guess is to, like Francis, blame Clone Eryk and not myself, but there is no possible way the fire has spread so many miles already.

It must truly be something, or someone else.

Francis shrugs. “I mean, California has a lot of wildfires, but…”

Then we see it. A group of ten or twenty people banded together, each wearing makeshift helmets with colored cloths wrapped around their necks. They hold up weapons and chant something I can’t quite make out at the moment.

“Hello!” I shout. “Who might you fellows be?”

They stop their chant and immediately charge at us in unison. One young man holds a pitchfork and the others have various axes and anime swords.

“Wait, stop! We mean no harm, unless that is you are allied with Karen! Then we definitely do mean harm!”

They all stop, also in unsion. One young man with a hunting rifle greets us. “You are against Karen as well?” he asks.

“Yes, we are,” I say. “Let us introduce ourselves. We are Team Systemless, a group of explorers from the land of San Francisco. We stumbled upon Paso Robles in our journeys, and we were recently held captive by Karen and her cult of wine loving mothers.”

“Then the rumors were true,” he mutters, half to himself. “They really are moving onto Phase Three of their plan. The time is right, then. We were in the right.”

“In the right?” Delta asks. “Please don’t tell me you are the ones who…”

“We are the Paso Robles Liberation Army!” the young man shouts.

“Libre Paso!” those behind him shout in unison.

So there was an entire rebellion movement underneath the surface that we had no idea about. All along, the rebels were here, ready to strike. And our efforts in the winery were the spark that lit the fire that will destroy the Wine Order.

“I am Miguel Santiago,” he says, “And Karen’s cult tortured me for two weeks. Kidnapped my family, all because I didn’t meet the olive oil quota for the year.”

“All they want is to keep their power,” someone else says. “But we won’t let them take control!”

“Yes,” Miguel says. “We heard that the winery burned down, so we took to the streets and joined in the battle. Karen’s top lieutenants have been arrested, and we will soon take full control of the city.”

“Finally, democracy in our time,” someone in the back says.

I nod. “All of this sounds tremendous,” I tell them. “I am proud of you for your excellent work in all of this.”

“And will you stay to help the transition away from the cult dictatorship? To help pick up the pieces after the ashes have cooled?” Miguel asks.

I shake my head. “We must depart as soon as we can. We have aided in your battle as best as we were able. Do you know if the hotel…”

Miguel shakes his head. “Fighting is too fierce there. If you are not a combatant, you must leave, now.”

I look at Francis and Delta. And we nod together, solemnly. “Thank you, Paso Robles Liberation Army. I hope you see happiness in your lifetimes.”

We run as fast as we can before the warfare continues, cultists fighting rebels and explosions going off in the distance.

We rush to the Amtrak station and arrive just in time to buy tickets for the 5:55. The very first train of the morning, headed south down to Los Angeles and beyond.

When we finally board, we sit down on in our seats, relax our postures, and each let out a deep sigh.

Delta soon gives a frown. “I left a bomb-ass dress in my suitcase…”

“My PS5 was in there…” Francis adds.

“We can buy new clothes and consumer electronics,” I say. “What we cannot buy is more time to complete our journey. If we ran into serious harm back there… Well, let us be glad we didn’t.”

I only have [6,200/15,000 LP] left at the moment, but I won’t let them know about that now.

“Man, bro, Eryk, that was so cool what you did with the clone and all that,” says Francis. “You were like pow, bam, kboom, fireball! And you tricked them all into thinking Delta was pregnant just to mess with them? Genius!”

Delta glances at me but I try to avoid eye contact. Too tired to get into that, either.

In fact… I’m too tired to do much of anything at all…

I rest my head on Francis’s shoulder and fall asleep within the minute.

It is a peaceful sleep.

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