Month: October 2020 (Page 1 of 2)

Chapter 98: Before Sunrise

The sun is not yet fully up. As my bare feet mash against the soft wet sand, my eyes see that familiar dark-orange hue of dawn’s early light. My nose takes in the crisp and sharp, yet pungent odor of the ocean before me.

I am out here on the beaches of Santa Barbara early. Not to practice, but merely to meditate on my thoughts and myself.

So much has happened to me in this past week, these past few days of my personal experience. I’ve been integrated into a whole new world with its own systems and customs, its very own magic system known as electricity. I have faced many foes, none of them dangerous to me in any real way, and I have conquered all. Then, back on Mystix, I have traveled across continents as an apparition of sorts and discovered the brutal truth of my origins as an [Adventurer.]

I must prove myself worthy. I must prove that I am capable of being a hero beyond the machinations that others have set in motion. I must prove that I am not a pawn in someone’s game.

So this competition today is more than just a way to earn freedom for myself and my friends. It is a way to bring salvation to my existence. Whether or not I survive is irrelevant. I have suffered worse, after all.

The official ceremonies will begin soon. Already, there are onlookers, invariably blonde with curly hair, who step onto the grounds and find a good position to watch the competition to come. My opponent is not here, nor are my friends, but I expect them to arrive in good time. The competition does not start until dawn has fully broken, after all. Breaking Dawn is said to be a very important part of Santa Barbara, from what I can gather.

The final glimmerings of the moon fade as the sky comes into view. This new day is finally upon us.

A Royal procession marches onto the beach, and I begin to tense up. I fear nothing in particular, but maybe the sheer spectacle of the situation is starting to get to me. This, after all, is the most people I have ever had watching me at one time, other than the time Francis showed me off while he was streaming. And, of course, any forgotten memories I may have as my time as the leader of the cretinous Slayers faction.

Finally, King Bodhi arrives in full royal regalia. She has a crown made of sea shells, a skateboard strapped to her back, and a one-piece swimsuit with a skirt attached that goes all the way down to her ankles. She approaches me with a swaying swagger. Despite the top of her head barely coming up to my chest, she has a presence that outmatches mine by an order of magnitudes. The onlookers cheery wildly and chant something derogatory about shoobies.

The King begins doing some ritualistic recitations of the code of laws or something along those lines; I do not have the mental capacity to listen to it all and attempt to comprehend, in all honesty.

My mind is already fixated on the ocean before me.

The Surf Off to come.

The rules are simple: a panel of six expert judges, as well as the whole of Santa Barbaran society, will determine the winner, and the honor of these peoples is the only reassurance I have that they will not simply pick their own ruler out of loyalty. It is partly judged by style points, and partly judged by the combat we will engage in. There are a great number of moves we can use to try to gain more points, part of a regulated list of about fifteen hundred different maneuvers all catalogued in the code of laws which King Bodhi currently recites.

When Francis explained the rules to me yesterday, he told me, and I quote, that it is “pretty much just like Super Smash Brothers Melee’s Bonus mode, which nobody ever plays even though it’s still kinda fun sometimes.” I do not understand what any of that means.

Finally, the Surf Off is about to begin. I am given a board, colored with a solid, bright pink. King Bodhi’s, on the other hand, is glittering gold, so sparkling that the rising sun already makes it shimmer.

“I hope you prove to be a worthy opponent,” she says to me.

“And I hope the same for you,” I say. “Though if you are not worthy, that will merely make my job easier. So actually, I would prefer if you are unworthy, dishonorable as it may be.”

“You really didn’t have to tell me any of that.”

“Right, then. Let us begin our match as soon as we can,” I say.

King Bodhi walks off to confer with her economic advisor Brett about some matters. And just at this moment, Delta comes running onto the beach, sprinting with all her might.

“Eryk!” she shouts. She tries to skid and stop in front of me, but the wet sand is too slippery and she falls down on her face.

I pull her up and brush the clumps of sand off her face. “Delta, my dear friend, what is it?”

“Francis! I can’t find him anywhere,” she says.

“What? You mean after he ran off last night?”

“No, I found him then, and I calmed down. He even sort of understood about the, uh, you know, pregnancy thing.” This is the most panicked I’ve ever seen this woman. She’s like a completely new woman. “But since this morning, he’s completely vanished.”

“And you think he must have run away?”

“No… I think he was kidnapped.”


We both look around the beach, fruitlessly hoping that some of our fears will be alleviated.

“Francis may have been kidnapped…” I mutter to myself.

I look over to King Bodhi. Did she…?

No, surely… King Bodhi doesn’t LOOK dishonorable. She looks completely normal, except for the sense of regality she always brings to herself. So then… what?

What is going on here?

Chapter 97: My Sweet One

I awaken. Or, whatever the true term may be when I arrive in my conscious form here on Mystix.

Here, deep in the catacombs of North Spire. Here, within the Tomb of Eryk Solbourne. Where I was laid to rest, and where I am now a ghost.

It’s been a day since I last arrived here in my tomb, and I expected a continuation of the same chaotic events that filled my previous dream.

Instead, this place is just as empty as it was before. Moreso, considering that two of my three companions are now gone—Miss M is missing, and Rare is gone.

Only Malia, my one-time lover, aged well into her hundreds, faces me with that wrinkled, beautiful face of hers.

A beautiful, wonderful liar whose entire life was dedicated to deceiving me.

“Eryk,” she says when she notices me.

“You’re the one on guard duty?” I ask.

“Someone has to make sure you’re safe,” Malia tells me.

“I’m dead, you know.”

“Even so.”

We look at each other for a while, just trying to understand the other through expression alone. We spent years together. We should be able to know everything the other is ever thinking. But I realize that my assumption here is almost completely flawed. I know less than nothing about Malia, about what she truly may be feeling at this very moment.

She has lived four of my lifetimes. She has had many lovers, many companions, many roles in society. I cannot fathom her, cannot understand the things that surely must be swirling in her head right now.

And yet, despite all of that, I am left with absolutely no surprise when the first thing out of Malia’s mouth is, “I’m sorry, Eryk. I should have been better.”

“I cannot forgive you,” I say, “but I can sympathize for your guilt.” I look around the Tomb of Eryk Solbourne, and ask, “Where are the others?”

“Fighting the New Slayers,” she tells me. “They are giving everything they’ve got to preserve your existence.”

“But only because Rare wants me for their insidious plans to overthrow The Goddess?”

Malia shakes her head. “Because they love you. You’re their brother.”

“I’ve known Rare for many years, and I cannot gain such a sense from them,” I say. “They are far too focused on their plans to understand something as unproductive as love.”

“You are foolish indeed, Eryk Solbourne.” Malia laughs in that way only someone who has lived the aged existence of countless decades can. “That must be why I loved you so.”

A silence sets over us the moment after she lets those words loose from her lips.

“You truly loved me,” I say. “It wasn’t merely an illusion.”

Malia scoffs. “I wasn’t given a task to seduce you, if that’s what you mean! I fell for you of my own accord. You were simply that charming. And yet… I regret it.”

“I see.”

“Not because of you,” she says. “Because of me. Because of our power imbalance. I knew your secret past, and I used that to gain your heart. I had a lifetime of experience in age while you were a young, memory-free [Adventurer] with a pure heart. I took advantage of you. Our relationship revealed the depths to which I could sink.”

“All of that is true. Except for one thing—you have sunken to no depths at all.”

“I am a monster,” she says.

“You’re wrong,” I say. “You’re wrong. An amazing woman like you shouldn’t be so wrong.”

Malia mutters something in that Ancient Elven tongue that I can only partially parse. She mutters swears at herself, and then says something disparaging to me. I take it in stride. “I’m not worth loving anymore, Eryk.”

“I never said I still loved you.”

“Yes you did. you said it with your eyes.”

I blink a few times, or whatever the ghostly approximation of such a reflex may be. “I…”

“I don’t love you anymore, Eryk. You may be the same man you were when you died, but I have lived another eighty years. I’ve been married since then. I’ve had children. Grandchildren. You and I were together only a few cycles of our world around its sun. It was good while it lasted, but it was not an everlasting love.”

“And yet…”

At this, Malia blushes.

“Perhaps I don’t love you anymore, either,” I say. “Perhaps there is someone on Earth who is more worth loving. Someone who I can spend the rest of my mortal life with.” There is not, but I want to make her jealous just by insinuating that notion.

“Then be with them,” she says. “We need nothing more than to be comrades in this final task.”

“And yet…”

One more utterance, and she’s back to her normal self. Eighty years older, and she’s just as ravishing as ever.

“Malia, shall we make love one last time? A keepsake of our time together?”

My proposition succeeds. “Eryk, I would like nothing more,” she says.

“There is only one problem,” I say.


“I’m a ghost.”

“No matter. We shall make it work anyway.”

Her clothes are on the dusty floor by the time I can truly even consider this notion.

We do, in fact, make it work.

This will be our last time together, I already know. But I am simply glad to be with a friend I used to love.

Special: Two Best Friends

Francis… Francis, where are you?

Delta looks all over the castle, dim except for the moonlight peeking through the window panes. Everything is shrouded in deep blue.

Wherever that guy went off to, he went fast. Delta hasn’t been able to see or hear him, even though she was only a few seconds behind. Oh, Francis, why did you have to pick now to practice your jogging skills?

She hears some sort of sulking sound off in the distance, but she can’t tell if it’s him or if it’s just King Bodhi in her teen emo phase (one look at her face, and Delta knew that girl is going through some stuff emotionally). She also can’t tell the origin of the sound. Wherever it might be coming from, she can’t figure out.

That gives her time to bask in the quiet darkness of Castle Barbara. Paintings of famous skateboarders and snowboarders and other extreme sportsmen (almost entirely men) adorn the walls. A suit of armor stands proudly in the corner of the hall, but it is posed in such a way that it is hanging ten off a metal surfboard.

All of it honestly creeps her out. Such slavish devotion to sports and iconic figures, as if they hold any relevance in reality… No wonder nobody’s tried to conquer Santa Barbara since it gained independence; nobody cares. Soon they’ll kick every stupid sport fan out of the U.S. and send them here, and the world will be a better place for it. They’ll have to call it the Exile Games after that.

Assuming Delta truly is pregnant and is going to have a baby (which still seems like a dream to her), she is going to make every attempt she can to make this baby despise sports. They will be the ultimate sports-hating scholar.

Finally, Delta turns a corner and sees Francis, staring out a window and watching the moon. He isn’t sulking (which means that King Bodhi certainly was), but he has a sad look on his face.

She approaches him and sets a hand on his shoulder. He brushes it off.

“Francis, what’s gotten into you?” Delta asks.

He looks at you, and without speaking, communicates everything you need to know.

It’s Eryk. He’s head over heels for him, and it’s obvious. Absolutely smitten for that pink-haired wonder boy, and everyone sees it except for he himself. Even Eryk is finally starting to understand, but Francis is still a moron about it. He’s in love, but love is too complicated for guys whose experience begins and ends with their favorite waifu.

And, naturally, when he actually speaks, his words reflect none of that. “I feel like a bad leader,” he tells her. “I want to help everyone, but it feels like all I’ve been doing is messing everything up… Nobody ever tells me anything!”

“Oh, Francis, don’t worry about that. You’re just fine.”

“But Eryk… he didn’t even trust me enough to tell me his secrets.”

“He probably thought you’d be worried if you knew the truth. He just cares about you.”

“But he doesn’t trust me.”

“Well, that’s because he’s an asshole.”

“And I’m not?” Francis asks.

Delta shakes her head. “Not in the slightest. You’re my best friend.”

The two of them hug it out.

Francis calms down a little bit. “Thanks, Delta. I don’t know where I’d be without you.”

“Nowhere good, that’s for sure,” she says.

“As long as we’re open and honest with each other, we’ll keep being the best of friends,” Francis says. “Right, Delta?”

Delta gulps.


She is still hugging Francis, but she loosens her grip a little bit, in case she needs to squirm free. “So, uh, Francis. Are you good?”

“Yeah, why?”

“I kinda have a big secret too,” she admits.

Francis’s face glazes over.

Explaining Delta’s secret does not go over very well.

Chapter 96: One Night of Training

“You moron!”

“I really can’t believe you, Eryk.”

“You stupid idiot!”

“Seriously, Eryk. Why did you do this?”

“You absolute pea-brained fool!”

“Couldn’t you have consulted us, like, a little bit?”

“We’re going to become slaves because of you!”

Two scolding voices—one shouting, one calm.

I normally would assume that the shouts come from Delta, but in this case, she is the one berating me with cold words. Francis is the one whose emotions have flared up here.

In the middle of the night, on a deserted beach near Castle Barbara, I practice surfing while discussing today’s events with my closest friends who stand on the sand.

“Surfing” is a bit of a misnomer, considering it is low tide. Moreso, I am practicing board balance and practicing the use of my viscosity skills to manipulate the water around me.

“Discussing” is also a bit of a misnomer, considering that my friends have not let me speak much at all as they continue to insult my intelligence and wisdom.

“Whatever’s gotten into you,” Delta says, “clearly it’s making you a lot dumber than usual.”

“Extremely dumb!” Francis adds. “I don’t want to stream for the rest of my life! Especially not as a slave! Augh!”

“I don’t wish to explain my reasoning to you,” I tell them. “It is far too complicated.”

Delta looks at me pointedly. “Shoot.”


“I mean, explain yourself.”

“I just said…”

“You think we’re simpletons who don’t understand poor old Eryk Solbourne. You think we don’t notice you’ve suddenly become brash and assertive and overall kind of a prick. So you’ll keep things a secret from us like some edgy anime character. Right? That’s what you mean?”


“Just tell us what’s going on, dude!” Francis exclaims.

Oh well. I might as well inform them of everything. It’s been long enough, at least, that I may credibly accused of being untrustworthy.

“I’ve been having dreams,” I say. “Dreams where I am back on Mystix. Where I am back home just where I died. But they are not dreams, in fact. They are actual, real life, and I can gain Destiny Points there just the same as here. But, on Mystix I am a ghost. I died on that world, but due to some complicated magical spells, my spiritual residue remains.

“I have worked with former teammates to uncover the secrets behind this mystery, and I even reunited with my long-lost sibling Rare, who had hidden away for decades. But it turns out that I was lied to.

“I was never simply a D-Rank [Adventurer,] like I have been led to believe. All along, I was a [Demigod] whose mind had been wiped. For years I was a heinous villain, a member of the notorious army known as the Slayers. But I can remember none of it. All I have are false memories of being a happy explorer and having a lover who would embrace me each night.

“Knowing that your destiny, your ultimate fate, has been misleading all along… You wouldn’t understand. My entire path to becoming an S-Rank Hero may be simply the strategy of my chessmaster sibling, or of some Slayer villains I am not aware of. I cannot fathom that I may be fulfilling a villain’s goals simply by achieving my own.

“So… I have decided to forge my path on my own terms. No more complicated plots. No more dictators telling me what to do. I’m going to be an S-Rank Hero and nobody can stop me or use me. Especially not some small little girl who thinks I can be her slave.”

And that is my speech to my friends.

They are flabbergasted. Naturally. I would be too, were I in their circumstance. Does anything I say make any sense to someone who has grown up all their life in the normal, systemless world of Earth? Likely no.

When I was reborn on a systemless Earth… with a system, I first thought it wonderful that I could be in such a wide open place as the first [Adventurer] to ever discover so many places and things. But now I see it as a curse of sorts. I’m tied forever to my past, whatever that past may be. I can never become truly independent because I am stuck like this, in a strange limbo of worlds.

“I can’t believe you never told me any of this…” Francis says. “I thought we were friends…”

“I’m sorry, Francis,” I say. “I didn’t want to overwhelm you or Delta. I knew you are under a lot of pressure, especially with helping me, so I decided to keep all of this Mystix ghost tomfoolery away from you. And if you decide to hate me now, then I will accept it. I deserve your hatred, after all.”

Francis, without speaking, turns around and runs away, back towards the castle.

Delta looks at me, then over to Francis, then back to me. She nods at me and scrunches her mouth. Then she runs off to follow Francis away.

Leaving me alone to deal with all my anger and frustration.

I deal with it by ignoring it, just as I always do.

Chapter 95: Another Audience Allowed, Allelujah


Two guards go flying in opposite directions and smash into two marble columns at the exact same second.

There’s two dings and a pop-up notification, but I’m far too angry to care.

That’s just how it goes in this world. This world where someone pissed off Eryk Solbourne, (apparently) the strongest [Demigod] to ever live. But for now, he’s just a lowly D-Rank [Adventurer] and one who’s going to make sure these nasty surfer pirates pay for holding him back.

[12,001/15,000 LP.] If I am ambushed too heavily by soldiers, I probably won’t survive. The level-up process takes a bit of time, up to a minute under certain circumstances, and I’d likely perish before I could manage to complete one. Even if I have 83 Destiny Points and can level up more than three times as well as class up, it won’t be enough to heal my way out.

But I don’t expect to be ambushed, because King Bodhi sits on the throne in front of me, as calm as ever.

“You can’t leave Santa Barbara,” is the first thing out of her mouth when she sees me.

Then, another three guards make their leap, each from a different direction—


[+3 DP.]

[96 DP.]

I guess I was ambushed, albeit in the weakest possible way.

“We are not your slaves,” I say. “We are passers by on an adventure much more important than the life here.”

Francis and Delta are not here with me. They were stopped at the gate by soldiers (I jumped over them, of course, and then pummeled my way through the crowds of others). So I am all alone in this.

“You must realize what it means to have such heroes like yourselves on the side of Santa Barbara,” she says. “We have a culture, and we have an economy. But we do not have the military might to defend ourselves against the United States of America if it sends the full force of its armies towards us. We need a symbol to help our strength, and you can be that symbol.”

“I refuse.”

She ignores me. “And Francis Bacall… our very first celebrity video game streamer! I can’t wait. You are our guests of honor, and you will bring more glory than even the Great Barbara Games.”

I’m simmering with fury.

But I am not sure what I can do. All the power in my body wants to simply dash up to her with [Kaio Blast] and evaporate her from existence. I’ve probably done it before, ending the lives countless willing leaders who fought against the hordes of the Slayers. But I know I cannot do it without facing tremendous consequences.

Then, I guess, the best I can do is use my honorable side.

At this same moment, Francis and Delta, both in handcuffs and escorted by many guards, are brought into the throne room behind me.

“Eryk, what the hell’s getting into you?” Delta asks.

“I’ll explain later. Or not. I don’t care.”

She scoffs, but I make no attempt to correct myself.

“Listen, King Bodhi,” I say. “Francis is not going to become your streamer, Delta is not going to become your wife, and I am not going to become your warlord. I’ve done it before, and I’m not planning to do it again.”

“Who said anything about… what?” Delta starts to say, but she shakes her head and decides not to talk any further.

King Bodhi shakes her head as well. “You have been welcomed into my city as heroes, and that is what you shall be. Even if I have to beat and torture loyalty into you, you WILL be Santa Barbarans.”

“So then, you are no better than the cultists at Paso Robles,” I say.

“Why you—! We are revolutionaries!” she exclaims. “Paso Robles was elitists who want to keep the status quo and oppress radicals! We in Santa Barbara are the very notion of rad!”

“Am I really alive right now?” Francis asks. “Is this all just a dream?”

“This is far from a dream,” King Bodhi says, “except that you will soon be granted the greatest accomodations possible. You will become the most popular streamer on the planet.”

He gulps.

“No!” I shout.


“I won’t let it happen… because I challenge you!”


“I, Eryk Solbourne, D-Rank [Adventurer,] challenge you, King Bodhi of the Kingdom of Santa Barbara, to a contest of skill and gusto. Right here at the peak of the Great Barbara Games. I will defeat you in a surf-off.”

She giggles. “Oh, really? And what is the wager?”

“The Kingdom. The entire Kingdom.”

“And for your side?”

“And for my side, I will wager our freedom. I will be a permanent slave of the Kingdom. Francis can become your valuable streamer for life, as well. I only ask that you leave Delta and her little one to return to San Francisco in peace.”

“Hardly a wager,” King Bodhi says. “You are already here, with no realistic option of escape. And while this Delta woman is useless to me, she can help provide valuable labor to help meet our first five-year mission.”

Now, I laugh. “You cannot truly rule, little girl, if you live in fear of your power being contested. Forefeiting my challenge means admitting that I am much stronger than you ever could be. Because I am.”

At this moment, I activate my ultimate gambit—

Kaio Blast: Rank 3. Doubles combat stats for 2 minutes. Cost: 500 LP. Holographic.


[-500 LP.]

[11,494/15,000 LP.]

A giant sparkling, glittering light surrounds me, and so does a burst of energy.

Faster than the human eye can process, I systematically assault and beat to the ground every single guard in the room, all sixteen of them. These shirtless surfboard-carrying men are now littered on the floor, unconscious.

Dings echo through the room relentlessly as I make my way up to [122 DP.]

King Bodhi looks at me with far more trepidation than earlier.

And I smile.

She accepts my challenge; we will begin our surf-off tomorrow at dawn.

Chapter 94: I Show Off a Little

I’m angry! I’m angry and ready to unleash that on the nearest target.

Everything that’s happened to me these past few days… everything that’s been revealed to me. I just can’t stand it!

Without a word to either Francis or Delta, I march down past the train station and back onto the beach, where practice and warm-ups for the Great Barbara Games are currently ongoing.

One cannot say that my life has been treated fairly, especially recently. I’ve been lied to, misled not only about the true nature of this trip—to help mend the friendship of these two people who I have come to call my allies—but misled about my entire life under the Destiny Deck System. I’m being used by everyone around me! I’m a single piece in a large board game whose shape and goals I know not a single detail of.

What does Rare truly want me for? Are they being honest about wanting me to overthrow The Goddess herself? It sounds so brazen, so foolish, so idiotic, that I can’t possibly accept that as the truth.

No-one ever tells me the truth, and it has built my rage up into levels that I had no idea if I was capable.

It is a good thing, then, that my system has no capability to track my anger stats. If it did, then I would be getting some sort of annoying, beeping warning telling me that my anger levels are too high and I need to calm down. And that would prompt me to, of course, bash my head against walls in order to get the sound to stop. That’s how furious I am.

But I am at least calm enough to focus this rage into something less destructive than violently beating up every passer by I encounter. I am far too strong on Earth to be resorting to something like that; I would injure far too many innocents that way.

Instead, I injure only one innocent; I punch a random surfer dude (+1 DP, total 82) and steal his surfboard before he even realizes what has hit him (my fist is what hit him).

Everyone stares at me. Yeah, that’s right, stare away.

Pink haired fools with low intelligence, that’s all we North Spirans are. Sure, one of us took over the Slayers and conquered entire nations, but most of us are just country simpletons, bumpkins of the highest order. These people here on the beach have every right to stare. Nobody this stupid should be attempting a dangerous surfing maneuver, should they?

That is surely what everyone is thinking as they watch me pace towards the ocean tides. They surely expect me to crash and burn and fail, because I am apparently only good when being manipulated by others.

King Bodhi wants me to be her pawn too, now. I can feel the manipulation from that young woman before she’s even said the words out loud.

But you know what? I am not going to take it.

I hop on the surfboard and shred the waves.

Literally shred them. Quite literally, the waves are cut in half, down to the molecular level. The intensity of my board-riding is at that sheer level of precision.

If, underneath the suit of my disguise, I am truly a [Demigod,] then this should be a small feat indeed. And I prove it to be so by jumping up in the air, doing a spin, and landing back on my board just as it braces up against a gentle wave.

A bigger one comes my way.

I want to blow it up. I want to destroy it like everyone has tried to destroy me. But instead, I decide to show off a little.

A [Demigod] does not only destroy. A [Demigod] also captivates. And that is what I do. I flip and jump across the wave just as it hits its peak, and I even perform a fabled Wave Ollie move. Then, at the perfect moment, I use my high [Viscosity] stat to hang onto the wave like it is a half-pipe. I hold up a peace sign and flash everyone a smile.

Back on Mystix, they call this move the “Airwalk.”

“Amazing!” one of the onlookers shouts. “Holy shit!”

“How is he doing that?!”


“Mom, is this guy gonna surf tomorrow?”

“King Bodhi’s gonna love this guy.”

The chatter of the onlookers is encouraging. It shows my true heroism in spite of everything else that has gone wrong for me. In a way, I feel vindicated.

[Achievement Unlocked!]


[Perform a stunt so impressive that a bystander shouts “Superb!”]

Well, what do you know…

I finish surfing a few minutes later and throw the surfboard back to the man I beat up previously.

I am a Very Important Dude. I cannot let myself forget that.

The slack-jawed Francis and Delta join me silently, unable to respond to what they just saw. and I’m perfectly OK with that. I don’t need compliments. I only need backup, because I’m not letting myself be trapped in a heinous city like this.

I’m going to make King Bodhi pay for trying to trap us here.

Chapter 93: That Was Fun. Let’s Head Back.

I’m not actually an [Adventurer,] you know.

From what Rare told me, for the first year of my life with the Destiny Deck System, I was actually a [Demigod,] the most powerful and most deadly class in the entire list. There is no one who has ever controlled these powers and lived to tell the tale… Except for me, apparently.

So I was a [Demigod,] but thanks to a sealing spell by Miss M (Mestopholees) and Malia, my powers were trapped and my memory was erased. Due to some complicated methods that are hard to explain, I was able to live again in physical form via an astral projection. But that projection was given the [Adventurer] class.

When I was killed by a carriage, The Goddess reincarnated me on Earth, and that took not only my astral projection, but my original body as well. You would expect that I would revert to my original [Demigod] class, but instead I kept my [Adventurer] class.

I wonder what that means. I wonder what my powers truly are if I have some sort of second layer [Demigod] class hidden underneath.

And… I absolutely, certainly will not tell Francis or Delta. This is not something for them to know, not until I have all the answers. Francis, in particular, would freak out far too much to handle.

I learned a terrible truth.

Oh, and that reminds me: I unlocked a new achievement. I wonder what that will give me?

I look once more at my Achievements Board:

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.Go undetected by ten opponents for five minutes.
       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.Travel over 1,000 miles in one day.
   Draw 1000 cards.(Progress: 65%)Draw 100 cards.✓Draw 10,000 cards.(Progress: 6.5%)    

The new achievement: Now that I have figured out a terrifying secret, I get a new reward! Though some might say that knowledge itself is its own reward.

But the true reward for this achievement is…

A boomerang scythe?!

In The Goddess’s name, I got a brand-new cool item!

It appears right in my hands, which of course freaks out all of the people around me.

Luckily, I have an empty inventory slot, so I can poof it away very quickly.

However, Delta gets a good enough glimpse to get extremely suspicious.

By the way, we had a great time exploring the city of Santa Barbara today. It was not anything spectacularly new, but it was some interesting sights, with several gained, and 81 Destiny Points in total.

The zoo in particular was extremely fun. I met a whole tribe of otters who seemed extremely interesting. When I greeted them it caused a ruckus with the zookeepers, but I sorted things out fairly well. At least, I didn’t get in any fights. That would have been unbecoming for a Very Important Dude.

Now, of course, with lots of shopping done and lots of sights finished, it is about time for the three of us to depart Santa Barbara and continue our trip down to the fabled land of Los Angeles, where many legendary events await. That is why we are approaching the Amtrak station once again.

Francis is busy streaming a game called Chibi-Robo Park Patrol on his 3DS. Delta is busy side-eyeing all the people also going to the Amtrak station. They almost all appear to be tourists.

“I don’t like the looks of this,” she says to me. “If all these other people are trying to leave too, customs is going to be a nightmare. I doubt we’ll leave before nightfall.”

“What is customs?” I ask.

“Hell, pretty much. Just waiting in offices and being bored and then being slightly stressed out.”

“That does indeed sound like Hell, though The Goddess herself confirmed that Hell, in fact, does not exist.”

“Oh yeah, that.” Delta rolls her eyes.

We reach the front of the line pretty soon afterwards, as it appears that people disperse very quickly from this customs place. It must not be as difficult as Delta says.

A blonde, shirtless man with nasty look in his eyes stops us dead in our tracks. He says nothing.

We wait for him to speak, either to berate us or to ask us to buy a ticket or do some blackmail-filled demand for our possessions, but he does none of that.

“Hello,” I say. “We would like to depart from Santa Barbara city so that we can be on our way with our journeys.” I would like to have seen the Great Barbara Games a little bit more, but we must be getting on our way so that we can reach closer to Los Angeles, our ultimate goal for the time being.

“No,” the man says.


He shakes his head. “No trains out until next week.”


The man takes a closer look at me. “Listen, Mister… Solbourne, wasn’t it? You are King Bodhi’s Guest of Honor. Her Very Important Dude. Bro, if you missed the Great Babrara Games… That’d be the opposite of gnarly.”

I sigh, but only internally.

Yes, I could easily defeat this man and most of the soldiers of Santa Barbara who would come to face me. But that would still leave us with little progress and stuck in a hostile nation. I’d run out of Life Points sooner or later, as long as they sent enough men my way.

So I take the threat with solace and decide we’ll be staying here for a little bit longer. I am extremely “pissed off,” as Delta would say, and I am not going to do much about it.

But I’m not going to take it sitting down. Nor will I take it merely standing up. I’m not some sort of passive being to be pushed around—I’m Eryk Solbourne, future hero of Earth! And nobody’s going to stop me!

Special: The Santa Barbara Zoo (The Otter Chapter)

This is the story of an otter.

It is not like the beavers on Mystix. It does not have a history and a culture, let alone a Great Dam War to mourn over. It is simply an otter. No magical powers, no language.

Its full scientific name is Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Mustelidae Lutrinae Lontra canadensis, but it is more commonly referred to as the North American river otter, or simply the common otter. It is not altogether a special animal, as it is abundant and in no real danger of extinction anytime in the near future.

Otters are a mighty species with few natural predators, at least in their North American variety. In the water, they are nearly invincible; while animals like alligators and orcas can hunt and kill them, they rarely intersect and thus the river otter remains supreme. On land, they are sometimes hunted by wolves, bears, dogs, and even bobcats. But they are crafty and quick creatures that do not easily fall prey to predators.

Except for humanity, of course. Natives living on the land in the past considered otters to be royal creatures in some places, and to be foreboding spectral figures in other places. They were hunted for their meat, or it was a taboo for them to be harmed. It depended on the location. The Cherokee have folktales about the trickster animal named Otter, who often played with fellow trickster Rabbit.

Then… Trappers from France came later on and hunted the otters down for their fur. Humans love fur. Humans can make clothing and fabric out of fur. They do not have much fur themselves, so they need to take from other animals to warm themselves. Trapping and hunting became so common for the otter that their numbers dwindled quickly.

Then came the oil spills, the coal acid, the mercury in the water, the too-warm winters… Otters are sensitive creatures, and what humans have done to this world hurts them every day. But, fortunately, they are also strong creatures. They have powers far beyond what humans can expect, in tenacity and adaptation. They make every effort to survive, every day, and they will fight against the poison and overhunting in the only way they know how—by living their lives.

The otter here knows none of that, though. Otters on Earth are not sapient beings. They cannot perceive of a world beyond their own and do not really care what goes on beyond their sphere of vision. This otter, in particular, is being held in captivity at a zoo. The Santa Barbara Zoo, in particular.

Its entire family has lived in exactly this way going back dozens of generations. In captivity, river otters can live for as many as twenty years, and this otter here has known its current life, with great pleasure, for the past twelve. It has grown fat in its years and loves that it brings more attention to it from zookeepers and parkgoers. People love to feed it even more.

Today, this otter, who has no idea what goes on beyond the walls of its enclosure, is busy basking in the sun to dry off its wet fur. Such fur would have been priceless to a trapper two hundred years ago. Such fur is priceless now to the otter it belongs to now.

When it raises its head to look outside its enclosure, it sees interesting new faces. It is immediately attracted by an unnaturally bright pink color that approaches. Therefore it hops up onto its feet and scampers up to get a better view.

From up above the mighty enclosure walls are three human beings, one of whom is a pink-haired, pink-eyed male with a pleasant face. His name is Eryk Solbourne, and he is absolutely delighted to see an otter here on Earth, especially one so rotund and beautiful. But the otter does not know any of that. It simply thinks that the visual stimuli of this interesting individual is worth checking out.

They stare at each other for some time, as the other two humans say things that the otter cannot comprehend. Pink eyes agains black, meeting each other with intent, intense immensity.

And then, the pink human leaps over the enclosure wall and lands right in front of the otter.

The otter jumps back.

All of the other otters stop what they’re doing and approach the pink human—but not too closely.

This is the first time something like this has ever happened. The otters simply do not understand what to expect.

Even when the zookeepers rush out to contain the situation, shouting words incomprehensible to animal ears, the otters stay interested.

Whoever this pink human is, he is truly a remarkable person. The otters know that extremely well. If the zookeepers cannot see it, that is because they are merely human. The animals of the world who survive and adapt to growing danger and inhospitable conditions—they are the ones who know a hero when they see one.

Chapter 92: Jump Ultimate Stars for the Nintendo DS


It is a bit odd to eat breakfast at a grand dining hall when only three people occupy the entire table. There is room for dozens, but for now it is only us three.

Apparently, King Bodhi was going to make a morning greeting to her Very Important Dudes, but she and most of her guard had to leave early. At this very moment, they are aboard a pirate ship, raiding a cruise ship that got too close to Santa Barbaran waters.

So they are in a war, while we are sitting here twiddling our thumbs and eating breakfast. Later today we will travel to the Santa Barbara Zoo to take a look at the interesting animals as well as other nearby sights, but for now we are simply eating in relative silence. The members of the guard who remain here are very much the quiet type, and do not wish to converse with us.

To be fair, though, this breakfast is quite good. Poached eggs and orange slices, which are good, but the truly amazing food here is something called oatmeal. It is oats and grains mashed up into tiny pieces and then with milk brought to life in a sort of soupy way.

It’s rich, with a cinnamon-esque flavor to it.

It’s so good that I must say… I love it!


[+1 DP. Total 74 DP.]

Wow, I am so glad that I always love Earth food. If I loved it any less, that would probably be somewhat tragic, because all these new Destiny Points are amazing.

What is not amazing is the fact that every Destiny Point I gain could lead me one step closer to falling into someone’s master plan and being used as a tool for nefarious deeds.

Someone, somewhere, wanted me dead enough to kill me on Mystix as an astral projection and do whatever complicated stuff that resulted in. Rare, on Mystix, openly wants me to return to overthrow The Goddess herself. And here on Earth, I was told by those two South African Secret Service agents that I need to keep as low a profile as possible or else people may find and capture me.

Everywhere I go, I am always involved in stupid plots! I hate it almost enough not to want to gain Destiny Points anymore. But… the allure is very strong. I very much want to have more progress in my goal.

Despite everything, I still want to become an S-Rank hero. Despite all the horrible stuff I learned in my dream last night. Despite learning that I was lied to and manipulated, both to become a villain and to join Team Fanghook all that time ago. Somehow, that does not hamper my quest here on Earth, and I do not know why.

But maybe seeing Francis’s smiling face beaming at me is the reason.

“Hey, Eryk, when you’re finished with your breakfast, come over to this side of the table. I wanna show you a new game. Er, an old game, but a new game that I bought yesterday. You know what I mean.”

“A new game? Is this a fighting game to help my Destiny Points? If so, I will bound over there immediately!” I engulf the last few bites of oatmeal and leap over the dining hall table. For style I do a few flips in the air before I land on the other side with a graceful finish.

It’s impressive enough that Delta claps afterwards. Or that is part of her patented sarcasm. I am not sure.

I sit down next to Francis and he presents to me his 3DS. “This is a game called Jump Ultimate Stars,” he says. “It’s like a big crossover of a bunch of anime and manga characters, but from almost twenty years ago so everything is pretty outdated. Don’t worry, I don’t know any of the characters either. The short of it though is that you get to play as all these weird dudes with powers and you jump around platforms fighting other weird dudes with powers. You get it?”

“No, but I will try my best.” I take the game from him.

“So pick whatever character looks the best.”

“I like this funny man with the yellow hair and big muscles,” I say. “He reminds me of myself, despite the lack of pink. I think I will choose him. His name is… Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo? I don’t understand.”

“Neither do I. Maybe he was in some popular show from—wait a minute, how did you read that? This game is in Japanese.”

“The symbols? They are Elven runes,” I explain. “I thought you knew this.”

He shakes his head and tries to ignore what I just said. “Okay, Eryk, now start the battle. I guess if you can read the menus then you know what to do.”

I shrug. “I don’t see what all your fussing is about. Okay, battle started.”

The game has simplistic graphics with moving artwork that is not as advanced as what I have seen on the televisions or computer screens around my travels. It is even primitive compared to the graphics I have seen on my own phone. But the style is nice and I am quite fond of it, overall.

I lose my first few battles; the controls are very tight and it is very difficult to fight against the power of this Goku fellow who seems to be wiping the floor with every player.

But beside me, helping me out, is my friend Francis.

I love my friends.

Oh, I finally win a match! I defeated the mighty Goku! I even destroyed his companion Bejita! Yay!

[+1 DP. Total 75 DP.]

“I did it! Huzzah!” I exclaim.

“You’re the best!” Francis exclaims back.

“Do I have time for another round before we visit the zoo?” I ask.

“Well, it’s a portable game, so you have as much time as you want.”

“Oh, right. But… Just one more match before we go. I have 75 Destiny Points, which is just one away from three consecutive level-ups. I want to achieve this!”

“Oh, alright.”

I win one more match, and then we wrap everything up so that we can go on our newest adventure into Santa Barbara. Today is going to be a great day.

And yes, I get that nice-sounding ding giving me my 76th Destiny Point. I love it so much.

Chapter 91: Systemless

It was me.

I was the one who attacked North Spire and destroyed many of its towns and villages. I am the one responsible for all the pain and suffering my people have endured over these last few years.

All because I wanted to become an S-Rank [Demigod.]

The power such a class would provide is immense. Everyone knows this. But [Demigod] class system users almost always die within their first year alive. They consume much more in Life Points per minute than the average class users, and their Destiny Card skills are much more powerful and costly than anyone else’s.

To say that I myself possessed such power, and not only did not die, but thrived… I cannot fathom it.

I was already A-Rank… I was so close to my goal already. But in the process I had become a villain. My conquest for power was such that it consumed entire nations, that it had cost the lives of countless innocents.

But that isn’t a part of me now. I do not feel that same drive. I cannot, because I am not a bad person. Right?


I am not a bad person, but I am despicable. I am a monster in the clothing of a docile sheet ghost. I’d give a Gnoll’s eye to erase what I did. But alas, only my memory could be erased.

I am a monster—but Rare looks at me with the widest of grins. They are pleased to have finally revealed all this to me, as if it were some sort of game.

“How could you keep all this from me?” I ask, my voice cracking. “How could you erase my guilt and expect me to accept it with gladness?”

“It’s not your fault, Eryk,” they say. “You were used by the Slayers as a tool. They manipulated you into joining them and then made you their leader.”

“I could have stopped at any time. And because I didn’t, my brother Vince is dead, and my homeland was attacked.”

“Yes, those are indeed consequences of your foolishness, but that is because of your foolish nature. You are too quick to trust and too slow to understand when those around you have ulterior motives to their actions.”

Like the long vacation trip that Delta and Francis and I have been taking for the past several days. It is ostensibly to help me gain more Destiny Points more quickly, but it has also become clear that the trip was a last chance for Delta and Francis to fix their friendship and deal with their family issues before adulthood inevitably pushes them apart. I was simply the catalyst for it.

But I recognized that fact quite quickly. I am smarter than I look. Calling me a fool is itself a fool’s work!

“Then how can I trust any of you, who have kept information from me and lied to me for years of my life?” I ask.

Rare shakes their head. “You can’t. Because we have ulterior motives as well.” They beckon to Miss M. “All Miss M wants is her original powers and title back.” Then they beckon to Malia. “And this love-struck elf just wants to see you happy, no matter the cost. You were not happy when you left the Slayers, and you most certainly will not be happy now that you know all this.”

“That… That time has long passed, Rare, and you know it,” Malia says. “All I want now is to atone for my mistakes.”

“And atone you have.”

“What about you, dear sibling Rare?” I ask. “What is your ulterior motive?”

“Well, at first my motive was simply my oath to keep you safe and protected at all costs,” they say. “But once I saw the horrors wreaked upon you by the Destiny Deck System, once I opened my eyes to the greater world of Mystix… that all changed.”

They clasp their hands together. “The system is a scam by The Goddess. All beings on Mystix can use magic if they know the right methods. But this invader, this ontological parasite gifts us “stats” and “skills” by leeching off our very life force and has captured our entire society. It builds and thrives thanks to its nature of progression, and none of us have been the wiser… until now.

“Eryk Solbourne, we need your power. We need an S-Rank hero who can help us overthrow The Goddess and restore the true magic. You must come back to Mystix in full. I do not know the way. I do not know the methods required to transmigrate you back here. But somehow, some way, we will make it happen. Because we have to destroy the monster who has ruined our world. The Goddess must fall.”

“You know, I really must correct you on something,” I say to Rare. “You continue to mention that The Goddess is a nefarious villain of sorts, but… I am not quite so sure you are right about that. I have met The Goddess, after all. She has a funny appearance, something like a ‘robot’ that you might see on Earth, with a TV head.”

“What are you… You’ve met The Goddess?!”

“Of course. That is how I was reborn on Earth. She let me go and kept my powers and system. Though I believe it may have been an accident.”

Rare shakes their head. “You must be mistaken. But do not worry. We will bring you back to Mystix as soon as we can.”

“I… see.”

Rare seems absolutely dead-set on this plan. I do not think they are taking the idea of being wrong very well. They truly seemed convinced that I was not reincarnated on Earth… But I most definitely was.

“Well then, I guess we have a plan. But that means that we have a promise to fulfill.” Rare turns to Miss M. “Mestopholees, you have completed your end of our bargain.”

“Yeah, and it only took a hundred damn years,” she snarks.

“I will grant you the final bits of your power back to allow you to return to your demon queen status. From then on, your life is free.”

They hold their hand over her head and a wave of energy builds around them both.

A snapping sound rings out.

Miss M grows six inches in height, and her hair grows much longer, much more fiery. With a black suit and red tie, and breasts of an impressive size, it is clear that this woman truly is the royalty of demonhood.

She gives a toothy grin and her hair flows around like the wind is blowing harshly (there is no wind, obviously). “I am Queen Mestopholees, and you are all peons! Yes!” she screams.

Miss M—er, Mestopholees, blasts a beam of energy into the ceiling and explodes the next three floors up.

“That felt so good,” she says. “I’m finally back.”

“And you are free to return to your domain, if you so wish,” Rare says.

“Nah. I like you three. Plus, we’ve got a big battle ahead of us.” She places her hand to the side of her head and scrunches her eyes shut. “Yes. The New Slayers are sending in a new force. An entire army of [Toxins] are headed this way. They will reach the Tomb of Eryk Solbourne within the hour.”

“Well then, we must fend them off,” says Malia.

“I’m real excited,” Mestopholees says.

“And I as well,” Rare says.

The battle is about to—



Oh, I woke up…

Francis and Delta are both cuddling up to me and pressing their faces against mine. They are so very warm.

This bed is so soft and comfortable, and so are my friends.

But then, why do I feel such horror?

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