Author: Thedude3445 (Page 1 of 12)

Chapter 102: I Show Off

I am Eryk Solbourne, C-Rank [Adventurer,] and I am about to crush my opponent in a mighty Surf-Off.

King Bodhi thinks she can win this. She thinks that her hegemony over this tyrannical Santa Barbaran government can last for generations as she grows into an adult and then an old lady, conquering the high seas and bringing back riches to her mighty city-state. Well, and I am flexing my vast Earth knowledge off here by making this comparison, Santa Barbara is no Monaco, and King Bodhi is no Prince Albert II. Everything she does here pales in comparison to those who reign far supreme.

As a secret [Demigod,] I can say that royalty isn’t all it’s made out to be, anyhow.

So with a whip of my surfboard and a dash across the waves, I resume our battle and charge right towards her.

She, too, charges right at me.

We’re two jousting knights, albeit with no horses but instead the mighty steeds of the ocean.

“Avast!” she shouts in an unrighteous fury.

Matt, my transmigrated spirit that hovers around me shoots blast after blast of fire, singing the waters around us and letting steam pool up around the entire arena. But each ball of flames that could collide with King Bodhi, she blocks with the sheer force of her palms.

Impossible, one might say for a human. Especially a systemless human!

“With one look in your eyes, I’d say you’d think that was impossible,” says King Bodhi, snickering while covering her mouth with her hand. “I’ll have you know that I trained with a wonderful teacher as a child. Master Keitou, down in Hollywood.”

“Master Keitou, eh? Sounds like a fine man,” I say. “I’d respect to have an encounter with such a man, and I may very well go out of my way to make that happen as well.”

“You won’t have the chance,” she tells me. “You’re about to be my slave.”

Matt shoots one more fireball at King Bodhi—she grabs it with her hands and sends it hurtling back at me—

I poof out my bow and arrows and volley it away with my bow just in time. (My bow is made from Dragon-steel, which means it is not only impervious to fire, but actually reflects it! Very useful information that I had not divulged until this very moment.)

The fireball then goes back to the girl, who uses her hidden technique to catch and send it my way once more. I slice it, and it flies in reverse to the girl. The fireball goes back and forth between the two of us as if it were a particularly sporting game of badminton, and all the while we are surfing the waves and doing as cool of tricks as possible in order to earn new points.

We do this for as long as we can before the crowd grows bored and starts openly demanding for us to move on. However, the fireball itself has only grown more and more powerful due to the magical absorption that fire naturally possesses as one of its properties; one of us is going to need to take the blow, or else it could impact the ocean, create a massive whirlpool in the waters, and cause the entire area to be engulfed in a mini-monsoon. As little as I care for the people of Santa Barbara, I feel it would be best to avoid a situation such as this.

Matt senses it too. He is merely my small imp companion, some poor fool from another world who has been transmigrated into this temporary form for a limited time, but his powers have grown immensely in these past five minutes. Were I or another to somehow break the time limit for the [Transmigrated Spirit] card, it would surely mean the destruction of the world in which they inhabited, if that spirit had even the slightest inklings of negative emotion.

And Matt, of course, is filled with negative emotions. He died so suddenly and tragically that it almost feels like he is the protagonist of one of those eesekeye novels Francis is always on about—in fact, he is crying right at this instant.

Crying, but also getting ready for the moment of his life.

He floats in front of my bow, blocking my ability to strike back the gigantic, meteor-sized ball of flames.

“Let me do this,” he says. “You’ve done so much for me, Eryk Solbourne. Thank you so much for helping me understand.”

“Understand what?” I ask.

“Now I know that life isn’t pointless. I’m doing a noble thing here, serving a master and fulfilling your destiny. I, too, have a destiny. And in just a minute my soul will be sent to some other world, ready to be reincarnated to a new world and become a stronger person.”

“You’re wiser than I,” I tell him. “Until the day I died, I thought The Goddess merely sorted departed souls into the various Hells and let us fade into the etherflow. Now, though, I know the truth about reincarnation and the beauty of our multifaceted existence.”

“Yes. Well, I hoped I could say goodbye to Alyse, to St. Louis, but I guess you’ll have to do it for me, won’t you buddy?” Matt asks.

“I’m not your buddy,” I correct. “I’m your master.”

“Oh… I kind of thought we were…”

“Don’t get the wrong idea. Especially when we are in the middle of a battle.”

“Haha… Yeah… Whatever.”

“So are you about to do your noble sacrifice, or not?”

“Sure, sure, yeah,” Matt says. “Coming right up.”

Matt lets the gigantic fireball collide with his tiny body. He absorbs the flames, the fire magic, the kinetic energy, the sheer momentum itself…

A bright blinding darkness—almost indescribable with human words—forms around him—

And then the fireball, and Matt, are a smoky wisp in the air.

Everything clears up. The sky becomes bright and sunny.

Thank you so much, Matt, for your noble sacrifice.

The remainder of the Surf-Off continues.

We zip around the waves and make striking blows at one another. We try as hard as we can to defeat each other in combat and end this far-too-long-running match. The audience surely loves a good fight, but this scene of fight has gone on for so long that it feels like it’s been three and a half months since it started.

Time to end it, I say.

And end it… in style.

We both skid to a stop on our boards and stare each other down. I poof away my bow and arrows, leaving only me, my fists, and my pink-eyed glare.

King Bodhi met it with one of the most intimidating looks I’ve ever seen, so I am far from outmatching her.

“It’s clear you’re the strongest opponent I’ve met on Earth,” I tell her. “No-one, not even Pablo Rosas of Paso Robles, has shown such power that I could honestly say I feel genuinely like I could lose this duel. I’m impressed.”

“You’re everything the Paso Roblites praised about,” she says in return. “Everything and more. You’ll make a fine addition to my Royal Guard, just as soon as we perm your hair and dye it blonde.”


This statement was beyond a “diss.”

It was an outrage!

A mockery!

“You fool. I am a NORTH SPIRAN, proud and true. Never in my life will my hair be anything but pink!” I shouted. “You take that back before I go full-on C-Rank on your ass!”

Instead of recanting, she merely laughs.

“That has it. I’m finishing this Surf-Off—NOW.”

I’m done with combat. I am a surfer, true and true, and I will finish all of this.

A large wave is coming our way, and I treat it like it truly is—a watery half-pipe just made to be surfed.

I blast up on my board and rocket off the wave’s surface. I spin around one full time, completing the famed 360 Varial Twist, and then land right on the edge of the wave. The audience goes nuts—but I’m not done.

Next, I grind all the way down the wave, turning its surface solid, I expend so much—SO MUCH heat that it actually freezes the wave as my board goes across it. Solid ice.

I do one small ollie to reposition myself and then do a lip trick, balancing my board on the edge of the wave just in time to perform a Hardflip BS Nosepicker. The sheer kinetic energy of the trick is enough that an electric shockwave pulses through the wave and stops it dead in its tracks. It no longer advances towards the shore, and all the water ahead of it recedes. The beach grows, permanently, another five hundred feet.

And for my final trick:

I surf down to the bottom of the wave and then ride it back up with as much intensity and force as possible. The board builds momentum, I kick my right foot up into the air, and—


Eryk Solbourne performs the first-ever airborne 900 spin on a surfboard spinning a complete three times in mid-air. He, and by he I mean me, lands perfectly on his feet a hundred feet below, and lets his board come to a gentle stop.

He—-I mean, I bow gracefully like a maestro who has just finished a wonderful piece.

The crowd knows who has won, and so do the judges.

King Bodhi, overwhelmed by the sheer coolness of it all, falls off her board and crashes into the water.


[+1 DP.]

[Total: 98 DP.]

The Surf-Off is over.

Chapter 101: Time to Increase My Rank!

It may be undeliverable that I am able to do all of these tremendous things while balancing and riding on top of a fragile surfboard in the middle of a high-wave ocean duel against the King of a foreign nation. But I, Eryk Solbourne, am about to rank up in the middle of a battle.

No-one on Mystix could ever recommend such a thing. No-one on Team Fanghook could ever look at me the same way for doing such a thing. But I am not on Mystix any longer. I am on Earth, where I am the only person with a system, and I get to break any rules that I wish.

Sometimes, in my heart of hearts, I wonder what it must be like to live in a world where everyone has a system EXCEPT for me. I have become so used to feeling special, like I am something worth everyone paying attention to, especially now that I have learned that I am indeed an extremely special person on Mystix, too. What if I was special in a way that was remarkably unspecial? That would be the best option, to me, or to a certain me at least. Everyone could have interesting, massive powers and systems and skills and lives. Everyone except for me. I could fade into the background with an unremarkable life and no abilities to speak of. I could finally stop my chase towards being the greatest hero the world (or worlds) has (have) ever seen. Or, perhaps, I could use that lack of abilities to my advantage in many great ways, becoming a superb hero even without what everyone else has been given. Either one of these options would have made for an interesting life, even a preferable one in some circumstances. Unfortunately I am stuck in this world, where I am a D-Rank [Adventurer] and secretly an A-Rank [Demigod] as well.

But it is no real matter what hypotheticals may have in store for me. I can only focus on the here and now. And right here, right now, I am dueling King Bodhi, and losing. I have made a mighty wager on this battle, and no amount of one-handed bow strikes will be able to win this if I do not improve.

The A-Rank [Demigod] inside of me, wherever it is, must help me.

I have 122 Destiny Points at my disposal, and I only need 25 to level up.

Therefore… I shall do exactly that!

It has been only a short time since my last level-up, but somehow it feels like it has been months and months. Perhaps my ever-present ghost dreams are the cause in a way.

I am level 19 now.

With one large burst, I decide to expend 25 Destiny Points—

They float around me like swirling twinkling orbs that go silver and pink and back to silver. My entire aura shines as I ride my surfboard across a wave, almost mechanically for how little I am paying attention to it.

Here it is….



And here is my final stat update for D-Rank…

Strength38 (+11)
Speed5 (-1)
Defense14 (+2)
Charm16 (-4)
Viscosity7 (+4)
Deftness17 (+1)
Manners31 (+1)
Power59 (+7)

I am down to 97 Destiny Points, but I am up to 15,000/15,000 Life Points once again. I had almost forgotten about the dangers I could have faced with that; I had stopped paying attention for the most part.

None of this even matters, though. I need none of it because I am already about to do it again.

This time… with a RANK UP!

I reach deep within the HUD of my Destiny Spirit and summon the greatest of willpower.

It is time…

Colors swirl around me in a vibrant rainbow that covers the whole seaside.

A full rainbow engulfs me and changes the hue of my whole body temporarily.

Onlookers gasp and cheer, some of them shouting about how prideful they are, presumably having great pride in my decision to rank up.

King Bodhi is so surprised by all of this that she ceases attacking. She ceases surfing altogether and remains floating atop her board.

Then a flash of brightness, and all of that rainbow is gone.

I am now a Rank C [Adventurer.]

If there was ever a time for triumphant music to play in the background of my life, this moment would be it.

I have been a higher rank than this, apparently, but I do not recall it. Therefore, this is the proudest moment of my life so far. I am one step closer to finally being an S-Rank Hero like I’ve always been reaching for!

Here are my C-Rank Rewards:

1. Two new Destiny Card slots – Total: 9

2. Card Trade – Unlock the ability to trade cards with other heroes ranked C and higher.

3. Card Crafting – Unlock the ability to craft any card you have previously encountered using elementals.

4. 20,000 Life Points pool!

Holy The Goddess! This is all wonderful!

…I’ll have to puzzle through some of it later, but for now I am just astounded utterly at the possibility that the Destiny Deck System has presented me with.

Most importantly, I now have NINE Destiny Card slots in my hand. I have so many new cards to draw!

Empathetic Link: Rank 7. Create a Mental Link with a target sentient being. Cost: 5500 LP.
Drop: Rank 1. Make someone fall over. Cost: 80 LP.
Inventory Slot: Rank 4. Store an item here to retrieve for future use. Current item: Satchel (Size: Extra Large).
Inventory Slot: Rank 4. Store an item here to retrieve for future use. Current item: (Empty)
Inventory Slot: Rank 4. Store an item here to retrieve for future use. Current item: Bow and arrow.

There are four whole empty slots for me to fill when the time is right.

However, I sadly do not have time to draw those four cards, because I am in the middle of a duel.

But with increased stats, increased abilities, and a whole new perspective on life, I’m ready to win this very easily.

King Bodhi gazes upon me with a sense of trepidation. I keep my face serene and determined.

This is where the fun begins.

Chapter 100: The Surf-Off

King Bodhi and I hop on our surfboards and begin our greatest duel.

I am clearly superior in fighting skills. My physical strength outmatches almost anything that the humans of Earth can muster. But this—this is a completely different battlefield. It is a battlefield of style and grace, of water and waves.

It is the Surf Off.

Thanks to my high [Viscosity] stat, my board and I remain affixed to the water so long as I wish to remain so. I can perform any number of tricks, such as the ollie, or the kick flip. I perform moves that send the crowd cheering and booing simultaneously, as they are not only impressed by my skill, but horrified and shocked to see a pink-haired man like me holding his own against their beloved monarch.

However, King Bodhi is clearly winning the Surf Off so far. Due to my own efforts, I cannot fully focus on her as she darts across the waves and slides gracefully through the little loopy areas. But it is obvious to me that she takes to the waters like an otter. Her powers are so immense that it is as if the sunrise light beams off her board and back into the sky, creating a wholly new source of light to brighten the match.

I turn my head to my miniature [Transmigrated Spirit] companion, Matt, who has rested gently on my shoulder this entire Surf Off up to this point. “Is there any way for you to do something like that?” I ask.

“I… I have no idea,” says Matt. He leaves the comfort of my shoulder and begins floating around my head. I am surprised he has the speed necessary to keep up with my body and my board. “What should I do? Boil the water around you and make a cool steamy thing?”

“Yes! That sounds like an excellent idea indeed.”

Matt raises both of his tiny hands and bursts of flames erupt from the water below. Being water, of course, it all evaporates and extinguishes the flames, which causes an eruption of steam that surrounds my every move. It’s a dazzling sight that few could truly comprehend but most will surely enjoy.

But then King Bodhi, still on the other side of our tumultuous arena, does the exact same thing without the help of any sort of magic. She leaps in the air with such a force that her board goes spinning like one of those “helicopter” monstrosities I have seen in the sky on occasion. It moves with such rapid force that a whirlpool forms, and then settles out as the water begins to steam up, just like it did for me.

She lands on the board, taking immediate control of the spinning until it slows and stops.

I need to top this. And I do so with my next move: I climb up to the top of a new wave, circle around a few times by spinning my board, and then leap onto the edge of the wave. I grind railing this makeshift railing, hopping on and off my board in extravagant poses as I continue to rack up style points as best as I can.

And then, halfway through my grinding attempt—

An arrow whizzes past my face.

King Bodhi lowers her weapon and grimaces. She missed.

“You gonna be alright with that chick?” Matt asks.

“Have no worries,” I say. “She cannot adequately maneuver with her two-handed grip. She is like a sitting beaver ripe for me to pluck off.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean… I will use my ONE-handed grip.” I poof my bow and arrows out of my inventory, and using only one hand to both reload and fire, I zoom across the waves in attack mode.

At the same time, my spirit companion shoots small fireballs in the same direction. Often, we combine these two into a fire arrow attack.

King Bodhi zips and ducks around, dodging the attacks, but so long as she is forced to avoid being hit, she cannot draw her own bow or else lose her balance.

I, on the other hand, have a whole free hand to utilize. I am nearly invincible!

But… this isn’t working. Both Matt and I can see it. King Bodhi is too strong. Too fast. Too quick, too nimble when she needs to be. It’s almost as if can float through the air and climb up invisible trees. When the people chose her, they did not choose wrong; with a skip and a hop she’s one cool King.

No matter how many frontside pop shuvits I can blow off, it won’t be enough to stop her, not in this current state.

“I can’t do this,” I say mostly to myself, as I lower my bow and poof it back into my inventory.

Matt does not respond, as he is too busy shooting fireballs as fast as he can.

“The only way I can defeat King Bodhi…. is to Rank Up!”

Chapter 99: A Great Summoning

Francis may or may not be kidnapped, but I don’t care.

No, wait, my apologies. I would like to correct myself on my prior statement.

I do care about Francis and his well-being. That much should be considered an incontrovertible fact. He is the man who graced me first when I came to Earth as just a confused man who thought cosplayers were a type of monster. He is the man who gave me a home to stay in and took me into his loving arms with the tender care of a good friend. He is the man who, along with Delta, set on a trip designed to help me improve and gain as many Destiny Points as possible. Yes, the trip was secretly also about working out some unresolved issues between Francis and Delta, but I cannot blame him for anything like that. No, I can only blame him for being less transparent than would be optimal… Except that I myself have been FAR less than transparent in my own existence.

In fact, I most likely would admit I care about Francis a great deal more now that I have gone and upset him. I avoided telling him about my life as a ghost on Mystix for so long, and his upset reaction about it is what caused him to run away! If I had simply been honest, then he may not be kidnapped right now. So I am far less upset about his lack of transparency than I am about my own.

But… none of that is actually relevant to the moment.

Thus, I don’t care.

Regardless of Francis’s fate, it will not be a kind one if I lose the Surf-Off against King Bodhi. I cannot allow myself to fall prey to any sorts of emotions that would disrupt my surfing abilities. To win this battle, I plan on reaching the peak of nirvana, a hallowed concept talked about often in surfing circles on Mystix. If I attain the calmest of calms, the surest of sures, I will certainly succeed, I am certain.

Here on this beach, with the raging waves matched with soft sand, I believe I can achieve surfing nirvana easily.

As long as I don’t think about Francis at all for the next hour or so.

Therefore… I will purge him from my mind outright.

And, in his place, I will make my next move—Using a Destiny Card to make sure I win!

[Transmigrated Spirit!]

Transmigrated Spirit: Rank 3. Summon an otherworldly spirit to assist for five minutes. Cost: 444 LP.


[-444 LP.]

[9,999/15,000 LP.]

There it is. The blue fire of a summoning circle appears on the sand in front of me. It swirls and bellows smoke in a dramatic fashion.

In the meantime, I look at my Destiny Card hand and make sure to memorize exactly what options I have:

Empathetic Link: Rank 7. Create a Mental Link with a target sentient being. Cost: 5500 LP.
Drop: Rank 1. Make someone fall over. Cost: 80 LP.
Inventory Slot: Rank 4. Store an item here to retrieve for future use. Current item: Satchel (Size: Extra Large).
Inventory Slot: Rank 4. Store an item here to retrieve for future use. Current item: Boomerang Scythe
Inventory Slot: Rank 4. Store an item here to retrieve for future use. Current item: Bow and arrow.

The cards I have will not be incredibly useful for this Surf-Off. [Drop] would be dishonorable to use on an opponent in such a contest, while [Empathetic Link] would prove mostly useless. I could draw two more cards with either my Destiny Points, currently 122 in quantity, or with my Life Points, currently less than ten thousand in excess.

But I do not think I will need them. No, I will be absolutely nirvanic without the use of any non-[Transmigrated Spirit] cards.

And, finally, out of the summoning circle of blue fire comes, as expected and hoped for, a Fire Elemental.

A glowing blue devil-like figure peers at me with trepidatory yellow eyes. It holds a pitchfork and has a pointy tail.

“Hello?” I ask.

“…What the hell is this?” the devil asks with a pitchy, masculine voice. “Where am I?”

“You are a being, a spirit, that I have summoned from another distant world to serve me in surfing combat. I have transmigrated you to a world known as Earth. What is your name?”

“Uh, Matt,” the spirit says. “I’m so confused…” He looks around frantically at everything around him.

“Ah, yes, you must not be aware of your own circumstances,” I say. “Do not worry. I have encountered the same thing as you. What is the last thing you remember?” Calming and consoling recently transmigrated spirits is all part of the process. Time consuming and often annoying, but perfectly normal if you have summoned a recently arrival among the spirit catalog.

The devil takes the opportunity to indulge far more than he needed to. “Well, I was just walking home after my girlfriend dumped me—you see, we were at a bar in St. Louis to celebrate our second anniversary, and we had a hotel to spend the night, but she took the keys, and we didn’t drive because we’d be drinking. After the big fight I was just walking around to blow off some steam, but then I realized I missed the last bus back to Ballwin and I’d need to call an Uber. So when I went to a spot for the driver to see me—the street lights were out on account of the riot after the basketball game last weekend—I went on the crosswalk, and I heard a loud honking sound and some headlights, and… now I’m here. I have no idea what happened.”

“What was her name?”

“My girlfriend? Alyse.”

“I am sorry to hear it. Heartbreak often leads to disastrous consequences,” I say. “But now you are here, and you will be graced with the ability to serve me on my path towards becoming an S-Rank Hero for the first time in several millennium.”


“For the next five minutes, before you leave this realm and your spirit either cycles through the [Transmigrated Spirit] roster or you are reincarnated into some other form, I, Eryk Solbourne, D-Rank [Adventurer,] will be your master. You will do my bidding.”

“Sp…spirit? You mean…”

“You’re dead, Matt. You were hit by a truck and killed.”

“I was WHAT?!”

“You died in an accident, one that will remain a mystery to many of the people you are survived by. Your girlfriend Alyse will likely fall into deep sadness as she regrets the things she said to you and the ways she made you feel. But you will never see her again.”

It is tough to say these things, especially when they did not prove true to me, but this is the primary tactic used to master the spirits you control.

“I… Yes.” Like expected, Matt’s demeanor shifts and a calm sets over him. “I will do your bidding, Eryk Solbourne.”

“Good. Then let us win a Surf Off!”

“Yes, let’s.”

The spirit extinguishes his summoning circle and then floats alongside me as we step to meet King Bodhi. She glances at Matt, but does not acknowledge him in any way. She is much more interested in how I seem.”

“May the best surfer win,” she says.

“I am the best surfer, so I will win.”

“We shall see about that.” She gives one nod and then begins walking to the ocean. I do the same.

An announcer bellows some exciting proclamations: “And now it’s time for the Great Barbara Games’ Special Event: An Honorable Surf-Off Challenge! The Hero of Paso Robles, Eryk Solbourne, faces off against our very own King Bodhi herself! Who will win? Who will thrive? We will find out immediately! Because the contest starts… NOW!”

A gunshot into the air.

I hop on my board, and the Surf-Off commences.

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.

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