Category: Arc 2 – Reborn… Again (Page 1 of 2)

Chapter 23: Breakfast & Classes & Parents

I must provide an update to my personal logs on just how advanced Earth is. In getting through the morning routine to groom myself, Francis has introduced me to so many new items of interest that I can hardly comprehend it.

He has shown me the wonders of the “shower room,” a place where, once you move some metal devices, hot water will pour out in a steady stream. No need to find a fresh body of water or to heat your bath with a fire underneath or even to use cleansing skills—this shower can clean you off with extreme ease. I must have stayed in that shower for thirty minutes, just because I was so happy to feel so warm.

There are also two magic electrical devices of intense utility I used. One is known as the “washing machine,” which, as the name suggests, washes things. But unlike the shower which washes people, the washing machine washes clothing items. In this case, I removed my clothing and armor, replaced that with a fresh outfit provided by Francis, and tossed my dirty items in the machine. Then, after they became fresh and washed, I threw them into the “dryer,” which is a shorthand for “drying machine” I believe. Somehow, through Earth’s vast magical enterprise, this machine takes wet things and removes the water. After just an hour’s time across these two devices, my clothes that were dirty and grimy became like brand-new. I shall adorn them tomorrow with great pride.

I have also been introduced to something known as a “clock.” It is in fact one of the most valuable pieces of technology I have ever seen, and one that is so commonplace on Earth that the Bacall household has dozens of them littered throughout the home. They are like sundials in that they tell the time. But unlike sundials, they work no matter where you are and do so with exact precision. You can know the exact minute, even the exact second that you currently reside in. On Mystix I had heard of cities with large towers whose bells struck every hour, but never something so exact, and certainly never something so ubiquitous it appeared en masse in a single humble home.

I groomed myself with an electrical hair drying device, a toothbrush that has a special teeth-cleaning sauce, and a cream that, when lathered across my face, makes my skin soft and shiny. I feel like a whole new man! It’s incredible!

After being utterly pampered in the life of luxury during my early morning grooming, I put on the outfit Francis gave me—an oversized shirt with a picture of a funny-looking man along with a pair of blue trousers with strange-feeling fabric and an incredibly tight waistline—and then I head downstairs to eat breakfast.

Waiting for me at the kitchen table are Francis and his two parents, sitting in front of plates filled with various meats and vegetables and fruits. I hope I haven’t left them impatient by my grooming.

“Earth life is so wonderful,” I say.

“Looking real handsome in that Cowboy Jack shirt,” Francis’s mother says. “Oh, Francis, you remember when you won that shirt? That was such a nice day. You’ve lost so much weight since then, too.”


“You tried so hard at that game! But that boy really whooped you good, didn’t he?”

“Mom, please…”

“What do you mean?” I ask, sitting down in front of my empty plate.

“Grab what you want,” Francis’s father tells me. I nod and take the entire plate of sausages. He gives me a disconcerted look, but I’m not sure why.

“Francis used to be so obsessed with his little Cowboy Jack video game,” his mother says. “He got so good at shooting the targets and doing the duels that he went to a big tournament when he was, oh, thirteen I think. It was so adorable.”

“That was… ugh, Mom, it’s so embarrassing.”

“And cute,” she adds. “You got to the semi-final round, the top four people playing the game, and then when you got beat you cried so hard the game people took you backstage and gave you a second free T-shirt just to calm you down.”

“Yeah, an XXXL size that I never could have even worn…”

“They thought I’d be a big man just because my son was a bit fat,” his father says. “They didn’t know I was a skinny fellow myself.”

Francis gives his father an angry glare.

“And so that oversized shirt is what I wear now?”

“No, you’re wearing the first one they gave me…” Francis says.

“You used to fit in this?” I ask. “At age thirteen?”

He nods slowly, his cheeks flushed red.

“My, you must have been a valiant warrior back then. I would like to have seen those days.”

He continues to blush, but he looks a little bit less upset now. I will admit I feigned ignorance in this situation to make him feel better. He seems extremely embarrassed by being overweight, and I want him not to feel upset about something like that. So pretending that I don’t understand the situation is probably the best way to move past this.

“Well… Cowboy Jack is still a really great game,” Francis says apparently to himself.

“I know not what a ‘Cowboy’ is, but I did know a few interesting women named Jac back on Mystix,” I say. “I had some really good time with the Jacs, actually.” I gulp down a few sausages, which are good, but not an unfamiliar enough food to elicit anything like a Destiny Point gain.

I continue: “Each of the Jacs were members of different races, one elf, one human, one hexen, one mermaid, one beaver, all controlled by a core Jac personality, a sphere of glowing energy known as a golem. Normally golems take inanimate objects to form a body, but this one instead took the minds of many sentient beings and used them as puppets of sort. However, their original selves were not erased fully, and so each Jac was actually a separate woman in a way. They were very fun ladies. We went on a nice adventure together, fighting the Resurrected Dragon God who had come to the mortal plane to fight us for his boredom. We defeated him, but it came at the cost of the elf and hexen Jacs. It was a tragic time.”

The entire table goes silent for about a minute.

“I really don’t understand these damn video games,” Francis’s father says.

“Oh, Arthur, be a little bit more understanding,” his wife says. “Your son and his, uh, new friend, are just interested in different stuff than we were.”

“We didn’t have time to be interested in this useless crap,” he says. “We were in medical school. Our son is just sitting at home playing video games all day and inviting over strange pink-haired men.”

“I’m right here, Dad…” Francis says.

“Listen, it’s perfectly fine that you’ve got a nice hobby, he tells him, “but one day you’ll have to bring home the bacon, Francis.”

“I made eight thousand dollars this month…” Francis mumbles. It does not appear that either of his parents heard him, or at least they have not acknowledged that fact.

“Y’know, you’d be a lot better off if you followed Delta. She’s got a college degree. She’s working at a nice company. She’s married. You know her dad told me they’re thinking about having a kid? What a nice couple.”

“Wait, Delta wants kids? She’s sure never told ME that!”

“Honey, she probably doesn’t want to embarrass you for how little you’ve progressed in life,” Francis’s mother says.

“I am doing just fine!” he shouts.

“Fine is subjective,” his father says. “Your mother and I are fine because we are eye doctors with considerable income who help people’s lives. You having a lot of fun shouting at a camera at two in the morning isn’t the same kind of fine.”

“I just wanted to have a nice family breakfast…”

I decide to sit here and eat without speaking a word. This is not a conversation I am meant to be in, and even though I am present, I am much better off pretending to be a ghost.

The scrambled eggs are quite good, however.

Soon, after breakfast is finished and the dishes have been washed (with a dish washing machine, even?!), there is a faint beeping sound from outside the house. It sounds a lot like the annoying alarm that woke me up this morning, but only beeps one time.

“There’s our girl,” Francis’s mother says.

“Sometimes I feel like you love Delta more than you love me…” Francis looks absolutely defeated. “C’mon, Eryk. Let’s go outside and start our trip.”

“Our trip for Destiny Points!”

“Oh, are you doing another adventure thing like when that Pokey Go thing was real popular?”

“No, Mom, this is…” He sighs and stops speaking.

“I am quite excited,” I say. “We shall have an adventure like no other.”

“You better keep Francis in line,” his father says. “If he ends up like Taylor, I’m gonna blame you and personally come and kick your ass.”

“I do not fully understand, but I will accept your threat as promise,” I tell him. “I shall do my best.”

We leave the house and find a white car idling on the road in front of the yard. Inside, Delta is waiting.

Francis yells, “Shotgun,” and hops in the front seat. I take the back and sit next to large cube.

“What is this?” I ask.

“A cooler,” Delta says. “Lots of water. We’ll need it. Trust me.”

“Man, nice rental,” Francis says. “So much leather everywhere… it even smells fancy.”

“I’m just happy Julie uses the bus,” Delta says, very little emotion coming from her voice. “I can return this car when we’re done for today.”

“Yeah, it’s a good thing San Fransisco has good public transportation.” Francis nods in agreement with himself. “If we lived in most cities in America, a car is so necessary that a wreck like yours would ruin a family for weeks, especially if the insurance parts don’t come out favorably. Here, though, there’s enough buses and trains that you can get where you need to go without having to worry too much. I’m really glad for that. Maybe one day the rest of America will have public transportation that isn’t terrible.”

“I’m not quite sure why you are saying any of this,” Delta says.

“I as well do not understand,” I say. “Are we going to begin our journey?”

“Yep,” Delta says. “Buckle up.”

We obviously do, after what happened last time we drove.

And now… the adventure for Destiny Points begins!

I look at my Life Points:

[12,860/15,000 LP.]

The sundial is flowing, and my Life Points tick away. May we accomplish great things today in our discoveries.

Chapter 22: Haunting


I feel like I’m so much lighter than ever before.

I’m floating off the ground, like my [Agility] stat has gotten so high that I can outright defy gravity. As much as I attempt to ground myself, my legs refuse to move.

This is strange.

My body responds only vaguely to my actions. I want to move forward, and I move, but it’s more like I’m pushing myself that way, not making the effort myself.

Right now, I am in some sort of unfamiliar wood house. The fireplace is smoldering and a full set of dinnerware is laid out on a small dining table, but there is no-one here.

I walk past the dining table and keep going. I try to stop myself, but it isn’t working. I’m about to hit the wall, run right smack into it—

—but for some reason, now I am outside, safe and unharmed.

It is nighttime. I am in a small wooded area, just trees and forest critters skirting about. I am paid no mind even by the squirrels right by me. It’s as if they don’t even know I’m here.

In fact, I’m not sure I know I’m here, either.

My mind boggles. Where am I? What am I doing here? Who am I?

The sky is dimming, turning from sunset to dusk, the colors around me fading into dark. But now is the first time I notice that I can see everything. I mean everything. In a full 360-degree turn, my eyes show all sides around me at once.

Just taking in this view makes my skin crawl. Or it would, but I can’t seem to feel anything right now. Why am I seeing such a vivid image of the world around me? Why am I near this small wooden house and this small wooded forest? What kind of person am I supposed to be?

A wolf passes me by, growling. Behind her are several small pups that she guards with great care, nearly in attack mode at whatever is nearby. It seems to be aware of my proximity, but it cannot see me. Cannot smell me. It barks and snarls, lunges in a random direction, but does not take heed that I am standing—floating—right next to her.

I go deeper into the forest. Perhaps my answers will be found in here. With the night sky coming into itself and the moons rising, the forest has become like a cave. It draws me in with its pitch-black essence, its foreboding sense of dread.

The further I go, the less I can see. The full-circle view around me becomes so dark I can make little to nothing out. And the night predators do not stalk, do not attack. My body continues to move unheeded by even the tree roots sticking out of the ground.

What is happening here…?

Suddenly, I realize something very important.

I have no HUD.

No health bar to show my Life Points. No skill list. No achievements board. I cannot even pull up the Destiny Deck.

Whoever I am, I’m not me.






What is that infernal racket?


I sit up off the mat I slept on, wide awake.

My HUD is here. I’m in Francis’s bedroom. Light beams in through the window.

It was all a dream. That makes sense. It felt so vivid and lifelike, but it was probably merely a result of all of the horrible deaths I have been through in the last day.

Still… I don’t know. I am going to have to wake up a little bit more before I can let these feelings pass.

Beside me on the bed rests Francis, who looks more comfortable than I’ve ever seen anyone in my life. He truly looks like he’s gotten the best sleep of any human to have ever lived.


“Marky Mark, stop, you’ll…” Francis mumbles something in his sleep.


“Francis, what is that sound? It woke me up very suddenly.”

“Huh… I…” Francis snaps awake. “Oh! Eryk!”


“Sorry!” He hops out of bed and rushes over to his computer desk, where his phone is currently charging with the magic of electricity.


The annoying sound cuts out.

“That was my alarm,” he says. “Sorry for not warning you. I guess you don’t have alarms in your world. Or clocks.”

“A what?”

“Oh, boy, I really need to figure out what you have in your world…”

Whatever a clock is, it sounds like something I should be embarrassed about not knowing.

“Anyway, it’s time to get ready and eat some breakfast,” he says. “We’ve got a long day ahead of us!”

That we indeed have. And despite the very disturbingly vivid dream I had, I have no less excitement for the trials we shall endure. I will earn as many Destiny Points as possible!

Special: Royals of Foreign Lands

This is a description of Francis Bacall’s streaming session on the night of Thursday, June 8th, 2023:

Francis looks back at his newfound friend, Eryk Solbourne, who sleeps peacefully on a roll-out mat next to the bed. It must be late, maybe past midnight or even one in the morning. Francis feels the weight of his lower eyelids sagging down, the glaze of his computer’s blue glow passing through him like cosmic rays.

It’s been hours since he started streaming Royals of Foreign Lands. He has participated in sixteen ranked matches and gotten up to Star Platinum Class. Just four more and he can unlock this month’s new skin. And yet he’s lost eight of the last ten matches. He’s too tired to continue.

His mouse hovers over the “end recording” button. After all, he promised to help Eryk in the morning. He and Delta are going to help him figure out how to earn new RPG points in this decidedly un-RPG world. A good night’s sleep’s exactly what he needs to keep himself going.

And even as he thinks these things, his mouse has already returned to the primary monitor. His face has morphed into a pleasant, inoffensive happy shape, into whatever his viewers will like for him to appear as. After all, the Francis Bacall of Bac-Nation is not the Francis Bacall who is Eryk’s friend. He is still in his streamer mode, and so he can let that mode subsist while the rest of him takes a nice rest.

He will rest and let his streamer side coast on sheer personality. No skill, no thoughts, just a bad sleep schedule and a faint smile.

“Hey Bac-Nation,” Francis says to the tens of thousands still watching the stream even this late into the night. To them, he is a friend. He is a valued ally in the night, helping them through insomnia, through turmoil, through the waves of blue feelings that stain cheeks, stain brains. Francis doesn’t know them, doesn’t really connect with them. He’s never alone, and yet he’s never been so far apart from everyone he knows. But these people trust him, follow him, stay with him in the wee hours as he cures blue feelings with blue light.

Francis is a streamer, and his job isn’t something he can simply quit on.

Knowing that, knowing what he means to these people, knowing what those people mean to him, he clicks the giant green button and hops into his next ROFL session.

Royals of Foreign Lands is a truly interesting game. Once, a long time ago, it started as a 4X strategy title known as Foreign Lands. You build a kingdom, control its destiny, and clash against the other kingdoms that wish to control a hegemony in this vast world. The game was popular in a niche community but never grew too far beyond that.

That was, until someone created a certain mod. One where you directly play as the heroes of your kingdom. It put a new spin on the genre, combining the excitement of action and combat with the strategy and tension of grand strategy. With these concepts married, a fuse was lit.

Now, just a few short years after that mod, the entire Kingdom Battle genre has exploded into its own. The developers turned it into an official release and released it as Royals of the Foreign Lands, where you play as a kingdom in a vast, near-limitless world and expand your reach and influence by doing battle. When you enter combat, you go into a battle arena where you control one Royal of choice and lead your armies to victory.

The game’s vast single player campaigns can eat up hundreds of hours at a time, with dozens of Royals to hone and master and deep, intricate strategy necessary to play through the story. But, fortunately for Francis, the main draw of this title is its massive multiplayer component. In the story, kingdoms from various realms enter a shared subspace where they do battle, trade resources, and join forces to fight in co-op missions. In the game, this means your 4X kingdom in the single player mode is merely a training ground for the real gameplay.

Francis’s favorite part of ROFL is the Royal Royale mode. You work with two teams of a hundred players and all their armies combined, but once your hero dies, you are out for good. No respawns. With battles this massive, the most powerful computers on the planet are required for victory. With most of the planet far too underpowered to enjoy the mode in at its full extent, it’s up to streamers and their powerful setups to save the day.

Royal Royale is host to two hundred players per match, and in any given game, up to a hundred, even a hundred and twenty of them are streamers. Spectators can watch a battle from a dozen different viewpoints at once, get insight that none of the players have, and truly experience what it is like to watch a battle unfold.

The appeal is strong, and the money is big. Royals of Foreign Lands has become Francis’s iconic game, and he won’t stop playing until his fans stop paying.

Maybe that will happen someday.

But right now, they’re cheering him on like a hero.

The chat still pops with messages from dozens of people at once. It’s hard enough to follow that he has a second feed next to it that shows only the messages from trusted friends or longtime followers, and even then he has to look closely or he will miss the conversation entirely.

“shifter sucks,” writes The_True_Hudson_Hawk. “hes a piece if sh** and heths way hotter”

“I don’t like Heth,” Francis says. “The rope chain thing is weird, yo.”

“who was that blaze blitzer guy at the start,” asks Annoying_Staircase_of_Enlightenment.

“Blaze Blitzer guy? What—” It hits him that he’s been streaming so long that Eryk was still awake when he first started playing. It’s been a long night. “Oh. That’s my friend. I met him at Comic Festivalia today.”

“hot bf,” writes Lunar_Spectral.

“super hot,” adds Emperor_Zodhead

Instead of taking the bait, Francis decides to pretend he didn’t see those messages. Since when were his chat followers getting as annoying as his parents?

“heyy sup gang,” writes Late2theParti. “whats around here fam a lams”

“I was thinking about wrapping up for the night soon,” says Francis. “But I think I’ll play one more round. Gonna be Vexarian this time.”

“Vex sucks,” writes The_True_Hudson_Hawk.

“u mean vex sux,” chimes in NotAUniverseCop

“I like Vex!” Francis exclaims. “He’s hella cool. Three swords. That’s one more than two!”


“u just like playing on easy mode”

“vex x heth”

“stop shipping in the chat”

“shipping = ban”

“francis x thehawk”

“Hahahaha, oh you guys,” Francis says. “Okay, I’m dropping in.”

Francis starts the session, his last for the night. His character Vexarian, a tri-swordsman sits in the Mighty Airship which floats over the battlefield. His character is next to ninety-nine others which will choose when they want to hop off and land into the fray.

There is only one shot at victory. No respawns, no do-overs. He has only one chance for his team to win and reap all the EXP benefits.

As the airship flies over the town near the mid-lane called 2Nite, Francis decides to hop off.

“Here we go my bois,” Francis says.

2Nite is a casino town that minions love to get in big fights at when the battle starts pushing them off from the main lanes. Players love to spend time there grinding out money by ransacking the shops and making sports bets, but things can quickly get out of hand if too many playes from opposite teams arrive.

And that’s why Francis loves it so much. It always descends into chaos, which is why it’s so popular in streams. In fact, streamers drop here so often that games sometimes descend fully into 2Nite control battles.

That’s what will certainly happen here. When Francis lands, he is accompanied by two Blue Team comrades— A Heth player called Haven_Custos and an Alter Sky player named Williamson2020. All three land with great haste and immediately start blowing up the casino buildings.

The minions haven’t even arrived yet and they’re already clashing with Red Team’s feistiest Royals. It’s an all-out duel.

“Help me! Help me!” shouts Haven_Custos, who is already being ganked by an enemy Shifter.

“I’ll help you,” Francis says— but the poor Haven_Custos is already dead by the time he reaches them. “They were a valuable ally. We will lament our loss.”

Red Team has seventy players left, and the first turrets have fallen. Blue Team still has ninety-six players. The battle is going poorly even just as it’s begun.

“Aight, fam,” Francis tells his streamer audience. “We gonna go out swords a blazing.”

“gl francis,” writes The_True_Hudson_Hawk.

Along with his remark, there are many, many messages that contain simply the letter “F.”

Francis raises all three of his characters’ swords and attacks blindly into the mid-lane.

He dies in about fifteen seconds, but it’s a fun run. He loses a rank, but it’s a fun run.

“That was lit,” Francis says, faking panting. “Royals of Foreign Lands is the best. K, I’m heading off to beddy-bye. So beddy-good-bye to you.”

He turns the computer screen off. What a waste of time.

But as long as he entertained his followers, that is good enough for Francis.

He turns off his computer, gets up from his chair, and heads off to bed. Taking extra care to step over Eryk, not on him, he hops into bed and drifts off to sleep.

One day he will do something better than be a streamer. But for now it’s okay.

Chapter 21: Streaming

Francis sits in his overly large “gaming chair” while I sit in a smaller but still extremely comfortable chair next to him.

His “computer setup,” whatever that means, has three screens, one of them a giant rectangle at the top, and two smaller ones below it—one is vertical, and the other is horizontal. I’m not sure whether it is actually impressive or not, but I will admit that it looks extremely interesting to me.

Computers, or computing, perhaps, seem to be a magical service that allows for connectivity in a dynamic and near-instant way. You can meet with someone from “France” or “Taiwan” or “the Maldives,” wherever any of those places are, and then you can send them messages, or even talk to them and hear their voice. It appears to be powered by a series of intricate and complicated spells known as “electric power,” something closely related to lightning abilities but harnessed in a much more delicate way.

On computers, it appears you can use the screens available to you not only to communicate others, but to read books, watch moving paintings, share your own paintings that you instantaneously capture with something known as a “camera,” and most importantly for Francis’s career, you can also play video games, which are moving painting that are also interactive.

Apparently people like to watch other people play video games, which means it is no longer interactive and becomes a normal moving painting experience again. This is called streaming, and has nothing to do with undersized rivers or creeks as I had once assumed. It doesn’t make any sense to me, but then again I am still not integrated into Earth culture as much as I’d like.

Francis has been narrating this entire experience to me so far, which has been very helpful to my understanding. He is about to begin streaming. “Logging into Y-Cast… But first, gonna go on Discord. Gotta make sure my peeps are all good before I do anything else, you know?”


“My homies, the bois, the exclusively male set of friends I know solely through the meme group chats we are in together,” he explains. “I call them peeps because of a funny inside joke. It was last Easter when we were talking about when k-storm69 lost his virginity at Wal-mart thanks to—I just realized that you aren’t going to understand any of this.”

“Don’t worry. I’m letting all of this simply wash over me,” I say. “Someday I will understand and will look back at my time here with fond memories.”

“Good on you.” Francis gives a bright smile. “Um, in real life I don’t really do any of this, but when I stream and go on Discord and stuff, I turn into kind of a bro.”


“Like, you probably had some rival adventurer groups where there were guys who thought they were alpha male jerks who got drunk and were constantly loud and boasting about their successes and stuff, right? That’s a bro.”

“I actually understand that completely,” I say. “Almost half of the adventurers I met, at least the human ones, were excactly this ‘bro’ type you have described. I despised them with every fiber of my being. The world would improve if they were to have never existed, in my opinion.”

“Oh, um. Well, in this case, I’m just doing it on streams because it makes more people watch. So, sorry if I come off a bit of an abrasive asshole, okay?”

“As long as you are not an abrasive asshole to me.”

“I want to promise, but I can’t,” Francis says with a lopsided smile. “I kind of get into it sometimes…”

“Be careful not to offend my sensibilites,” I say. “I still have my [Transmigrated Spirit] card if you do.”


“It was a joke.”

“Ha… ha?”

“Also, I realize I probably should draw another card to fill the empty slot in my deck, but I have been debating on whether to draw from my current 27 Destiny Points, thus leaving me with less than the number I need to level up later, or to draw from my Life Points, which will cut down my survival time down by up to a day and a half at its maximum rate. What do you think?”


“Oh, sorry, I was just looking at Discord,” he says. “I just started a sponsorship thing with them, so this server is getting a lot more activity lately. Lots of new peeps sharing the latest memes. You were saying?”

“I was wondering about the method I should use to draw my next Destiny Card, since I have an empty slot, and that is tactically disadvantageous in case of any further danger. Drawing with Destiny Points will prevent me from leveling up, but drawing with Life Points can be a big risk depending on the randomized cost. It is something of a conundrum that I have not yet figured out.”

“Yeah, you… Yeah, do that.”

“You seem distracted again,” I say.

“Sorry! There’s an update with an ex of mine who’s going around causing drama in the happygirl13 server.”

“Please! This is a very serious matter.”

“I, uh, do the second option,” Francis says, clearly trying to cover up the fact he was not listening enough to even know what I was talking about.

“Fine. But if I end up with a high Life Point cost for this, the blood will be on your hands. But not literally, because the damage is to my soul only, not to any physical part of my body.”

I open up the Destiny Deck in my HUD and—


“Francis, I’m trying to do something important!” I exclaim.

“Memes are important too, you know.”

“Show me this ‘meme.’ I wish to know and understand what you believe is such a vital part of life that it is more worthy of your time than letting me draw a Destiny Card in peace.”

“Uh, fine, but I don’t think you’ll…”

He shows me an image, a painting of some sort that depicts a masked man with no shirt saying, “For you,” and then below it, a plain-looking man, with three identical copies behind him, saying, “Four mes.” Then below that the shirtless masked man is depicted in a disturbing manner with a blurry visual, saying, “Ouch, your joke burned me! I’m really hurt! Owie!”

“So, the joke is a play on words, and then humiliation caused by it,” I say. “I see, but I do not understand its source of humor.”

“It’s funny because it’s not funny at all,” Francis says.

“Your words were understandable, but their meaning has utterly passed me by.”

“I realize that. Um, sorry for being loud. I’ll be quiet.”

“Thank you.”

I go back to my Destiny Deck and make a Life Points sacrifice to draw a new card.

Searing pain—

[-980 LP.]

[13,400/15,000 LP.]

—and the new card in my deck emerges.

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

That is a quite useful card! The Life Points cost is staggeringly high for its use, but it is one of the best emergency cards destiny can draw for an [Adventurer.] I bless The Goddess for smiling down on me.

“What’d you get?” Francis asks, still staring at the bright white screen showing a “discord,” which I take is the name to something rather than an actual discordant element in his life.

“[Kaio Blast,]” I say. “It is an incredibly powerful attack skill because it doubles all combat stats, but because of its cost I will only use it in dire circumstances.”

“That’s nice.” He isn’t paying much attention anymore. “Welp, guess I’ll start streaming now,” he says.

“I wish to see what video game you will partake in.”

“Well, the main game I’m playing now is Royals of Foreign Lands, this awesome strategy-MOBA-4X-royale multiplayer game that’s been crazy popular these days.”

“Francis, please…”

“I’ll explain it later,” he says. “For now, it’s time to stream!” He hits a button next to his computer keyboard and seemingly shifts his entire being.

“Sup, my dudes!!!!!!!” he screams. “Welcome to the Fran Zone, and it’s time for another stream of RoyFor! Yeah, I see you on the chat, Bac-Nation. C’mon and give daddy a kiss!”

There is banging from the floor below us.

But this time, Francis refuses to keep it down.

“So, let’s get in the Mighty Airship and drop down on the battlefield,” Francis says. “My dudes, who we playing today?”

He examines the chat which is displayed in this lefthand vertically oriented screen. “Frackel? Nah, fam, he lame.”

What happened to Francis’s speech patterns? I am still getting used to the way others talk in this new Earth, but Francis has seemingly shifted into another person…

“Forever Soldier’s real tight, but I’m thinking more… Yeah boi, let’s go Shifter. Time for Shifter! Boarding the Mighty Airship now. Oh, thanks for the hearts, Commodore_Perry1995. Means a lot. Heartsies back.” He makes the symbol of a heart with his fingers and shows it to the camera hoisted at the top of his screen.

“This is a bit odd,” I say.

“Oh yeah, my boi right here, Eryk Solbourne, yeah he’s here with me today. Nah he’s not a gamer. He’s just here to—yeah, looks just like Blaze Blitzer, doesn’t he? My homeboi’s not a gamer, trust me. C’mon, Eryk, let’s say hi to the chat.”

“Hello, chat.” I wave. “Greetings. My name is Eryk Solbourne, and though I cannot see you, I wish to give my most powerfully positive feelings towards you. Thank you for giving your support to my friend Francis Bacall.”

“Bro, chill the hell out, hahahahahaha,” Francis says.

“Okay, time to drop on the battlefield. Let’s gear up and harvest some minions. Break into shift mode and…”

From then on, I kind of zone out for a while. I suddenly am stricken with the distinct sense that Earth is even more different than I could have possibly imagined. I may not be a royal, but this video game’s title is very accurate in regards to my life: I truly am in a foreign land.

Chapter 20: A Plan to Push Power to the Plimit

“Pass me the chips,” Francis says.

“With pleasure. I cannot say they were very enjoyable to me, to be honest,” I tell him.

We now sit back in his bedroom, with Francis showing a “computer” screen being projected onto his empty wall. There are many notes written on this projection, and somehow Francis can touch a “keyboard” and new words magically appear. It’s some quite incredible stuff, if I do say so myself.

“You don’t like Lay’s?” he asks.

“Is that the name of these chips? If so, no, not at all. My hands require a handkerchief, my mouth is filled with salt, and I have seemingly cut the roof of my mouth simply by chewing. Is this truly food, or have you fooled me by making me eat baked glass?”

“Huh, I never… Okay, maybe I don’t really need any chips.” Francis looks off pensively for a few moments, as if his entire life has been realigned thanks to these words. “Well, anyway, here are the notes we have so far.”

Written on the computer projection are these items:

figure out what adventure class actions work on earth – wtf is up w food

get a big action plan for leveling up, card strategies

set up like a real working science model thing

go to kumar’s band gig????

talk to julie about possible plans, please rehearse first

stream hiatus? channel shift? idk discuss w fans

buy sword or other weapons

explain to dad about eric, just a friend, dont explain system stuff

stop buying so much junk food

“I do not understand a few of these, but I assume your shorthand is mostly for self-reference and I do not need to know them.”

“Uh, yeah, sorry. This is just my complete to-do list for the next couple days. Though I guess these are all pretty important so we can keep you from running out of Life Points. Uh, besides the last two. You can ignore those.”

“I see, I see. We technically have about nine days to accomplish these things, although with over 14,500 Life Points and the ability to level up and heal in emergencies, we may have a whole lot of leeway. If I keep gaining Destiny Points simply by eating new foods and discovering new places, I imagine we won’t have a huge issue.”

“For now, that is,” Francis says. “In the short term, just by keeping you healthy and trying new things every now and then, we can probably get you to last another couple months with no effort. But what about after that? Eventually you might run out of interesting new foods, and eventually you might get sick. Say you catch the flu when that comes around in the fall. I bet you’ll be losing more than one point a minute if you’re throwing up and have a fever all day, right?”

“Correct. Illness is a major detriment to the system’s capabilities. We must operate at maximum capacity to reach our full potential.”

“So then my big sciency hypothesis is that you’re OK for now, but you’re in huge danger in the long term. Speaking that, did you get any points for eating those chips?”

“Now that you mention it, no I did not,” I say.

“And… how about this?” He throws me a brown rectangular object in a clear wrapping.

I catch it and examine the item. It is some sort of confectionery food, brown with multi-colored dots on top. “What is this?” I ask.

“A cosmic brownie,” he says. “Try it.”

I do.



Ding! [+1 DP.]

“How on Mystix could anyone ever create a food so scrumptious?!” I scream.

“Ah-ha! I was right!” Francis exclaims.

There is a tapping sound coming from beneath us.

“Oh, Dad’s mad,” Francis says. “Let’s keep it down…”

“What were you right about?” I ask.

“You got a Destiny Point when you ate the brownie. That means you only get points when you eat foods you really enjoy!”

“Oh my, you’re right. It’s so strange, though. I most certainly did not earn any Destiny Points when I ate new foods on Mystix. It’s almost as if—Wait, how did you know I earned a Destiny Point?”

“I heard the ding.”

“You heard the ding?!”

“Yeah, I heard the ding.”

“You’re not supposed to hear the ding. Why did you hear the ding?”

“I don’t know why I heard the ding. I just heard it.”

“How did you know the ding was for Destiny Points?”

“What else in the world could it be for?”

“True… But that feels so… private. It’s embarrassing that anyone heard my ding.”

“Better than hearing your dong.”


“Nothing, I’m twelve years old is all.”

“I thought you were twenty-two.”


“Psy? Why did you say psy? What psychic abilities even exist on Earth, anyway?”

“Let’s get back on focus.”

“What focus? About how people can hear my Destiny Point ding? Because on Mystix that CERTAINLY isn’t the case. I’m almost offended to learn that people on Earth can hear my ding. But alas, such malfunctions are to be expected when one transports their system to another world, especially one that is systemless.”

“No, I mean focus as in, how to keep you alive. But you appear to be exactly the opposite of focused right now.”

“I’m just so annoyed by my ding, now…”


“Did you hear my ding all along and just never say anything?”

“Eryk, I—Well, not until we were at the dinner table. I guess I never had a chance to notice it before then. My parents thought it was just your phone going off, I think.”

“What are these ‘phone’ things, anyway? How do they work? Can I receive one?”

“Oh, they…”

Instead of continuing, Francis writes another note that is projected onto the wall:

10. explain phones and also maybe buy one for eric

“Also,” I say, “My name is actually Eryk with a Y and a K. ‘E-R-Y-K.’”

“Eryk, can we please get back on track with the important stuff?”

“My name is extremely important…”

“Okay, but we need to discuss the plan for how to get a bunch of Destiny Points really fast so you won’t die. What are the strategies for that on Mystix?”

“Fight as many monsters as possible,” I answer instantly. It’s so simple a systemless child could explain it. Fighting begets victories. Victories beget points. Points beget glory.

“Well, maybe… not fighting is better than fighting on Earth.”

“What do you do besides fight? What in life is there besides fighting, for an [Adventurer?]”

“Uh, watch movies and hang out, read books, go to work…”

“I don’t know about this one…”

“Hmmm.” Francis is deep in thought. “I think tomorrow, when Delta comes by, we’re going to try out some experiments to see how your system really works. All this ‘class action’ stuff is so vague and confusing that it’s a big risk to your health until we understand it very well.”

“That seems like the rational thing to do, exploring the system and finding its ins and outs. In my two years with the system on Mystix, I had so much fighting and dungeon delving to do that I dared not direct my decisions to deathless depths of distant dreams.”


“As long as I fought, I got Destiny Points. That was all that concerned me.”

“It’s a bit weird to me, as a gamer,” Francis says, “that it doesn’t really seem like anyone you knew had figured out how to mess with the system and max out your stats.”

“What do you mean…?”

“You never stopped to wonder, ‘What’s the most efficient way to level-up so I can do the least amount of work for the maximum results?’”

“Not even once. I’m struggling to even comprehend your words.”

“Hm. Maybe laziness and efficiency are Earth things.”

“Still, I do think, if this is a world where fighting is rare, some experimentation may be needed to find the correct methods for my class action requirements. Exploring and fighting are the only tasks I explicitly have as an [Adventurer,] so surely Earth will have plenty in store for me.”

“That or you need to join the Marines or something.”


“Just a joke.” Francis got up from his chair and sat down on his bed. “Honestly, I’m kind of excited by all this. It’s really cool.”

“I do not feel that my impending death is ‘cool,’ as you have termed it, but I do hold some strange sense of anticipation for our upcoming activities. I am glad to have met you, Francis Bacall, rather than someone with a less favorable disposition.”

“Aw, thanks,” he says. “Well, it’s getting late. Do you want to get to sleep?”

“Perhaps. Sleep is a great way to slow my passive Life Point drain, so sleeping for at least eight hours a day is paramount for all who have accepted the system.”

“Are you a light sleeper?” he asks.

“Hardly. I have once slept through a major battle, back during the Beaver Wars. It was a necesity rather than a desire, but I found myself quite capable of it.”

“Great,” he says. “Then I think I’ll do some streaming while you’re asleep, if that’s okay.”

“What exactly is streaming?”

“Well, I play video games, you know, like the ones you played at the convention earlier.”

“The moving paintings, yes. ‘Video games’ as you call them.”

“And, yeah, I just kind of talk over them and people like to watch me play. I’m usually on Y-Cast, but these days I’ve been shopping around to some of the other streaming sites. GoGoGames is offering me an exclusive contract if I can reach a million followers on Netnect. Only have two hundred thousand now, but man it’s a really ripe field out there. I—You don’t want to hear any of this. Sorry.”

“People watch you play games… And you receive compensation for it?”


“This is fascinating. May I watch you play? Or must I compensate you first?”

He laughs. “No, you don’t have to pay. Yeah, you can watch.” He turns off the projection to his wall and goes over the ‘recording studio’ half of his room. “Bring that chair over and I’ll show you my real job!”

Streaming… Playing games… Destiny Points. So many things swirling around in my mind, and yet one thing is clear: I love my new life on Earth.

Chapter 19: Finally, Another Set of People to Meet and Experiences to Have

As soon as we enter Francis’s home, the sweet aroma of baked goods hits my nose. It is like the essence of a lovely scented candle that permeates every fabric in the room, but instead of lavender or spice, it is the smell of… cookies. I love cookies.

A round woman steps out of a kitchen and into the living room where Francis and I have entered. Her eyes light up the moment they see me.

“Oh, honey! You’re home!” she exclaims. “Did you have fun at the little get-together? I see you have a friend. Who’s this handsome fellow?”

“Mom… It wasn’t a ‘get-together,’ it was Comic Festivalia,” Francis whines. “I was there for work, I told you.” Then he takes a step back and presents me. “And this here is my friend Eryk. Eryk Solbourne.”

“Oh, nice to meet you, Eryk!” the woman, Francis’s mother, says. “You look really dashing in your little cartoon outfit.”

“No, this is not a ‘cartoon’ by any measure, whatever that is. This is the traditional battle uni—”

Francis begins shoving me away from his mother. “Anyway, we’ve got to get upstairs to unpack and all. Eryk’s going to stay here a couple days, if that’s alright.”

“Anything’s alright with us, you know that,” his mother says. “Have fun and stay safe.”

Stay safe? Is he leading me into danger? I only have 14,880 Life Points, I hope he knows. Just kidding, I’d kill to get in a fight with some monsters right about now. Fighting is amazing, and precisely the reason I chose the [Adventurer] class above all else.

We go upstairs and into Francis’s own bedroom.

“Welcome to my humble abode,” he says.

“By The Goddess’s name, this room is gigantic.” I gasp. I cannot help it.

“Well, it used to be two rooms, but we collapsed the wall to my little sister’s room after she moved out so I can use it as a recording studio. Do you see the cool setup I have over there?”

“I… cannot understand anything about what that is.”

“It’s where we make the Bac-Nation happen, baby!” Francis shouts. “Uh, sorry. I’ll explain it to you later. It’s probably a bit difficult to understand if you aren’t already into internet culture stuff.”

“One day I’ll figure out what sorts of magic and mayhem exists on Earth, and I shall stop being so confused all the time.”

“Well, for now, just set all your stuff down and I’ll go get the roll-out mat. You can sleep on my bed, since I’m sure you’ve had a way tougher couple days than me.”

“Yes, this time yesterday I was fighting a necromancer and his minions,” I say. “But I would prefer the roll-out mat, actually. I do not care for the softer aspects of bed sleeping. It has been a pervasive problem for me since childhood.”

“Uh, alright then, weirdo.”

“Do not be rude. My preference for sleeping on harder surfaces is not one to make fun of.”

“Oh, sorry, I meant… Never mind.”

Francis leaves his bedroom and I am now alone in here to examine his wares. Despite the size, it is quite quaint. There is a bookshelf containing strange cases of items that certainly are not books, and several crafted figures stand atop it in decoration. He has a few art pieces up on the walls depicting illustrated young women with large busts, but most of the room is empty and dimly lit with mysterious magical ever-burning candles.

I find one lamp with one of these ever-burning candles and examine it closely. It radiates light, but at a very soft glow that helps little but set a calming mood. One could not read a book or make love in lighting this low. Perhaps if Francis has a girl of his fancy over to his room he should light a second candle. That is what Malia and I tended to do on our more special of nights.

It is quite curious how this object works, though. No flame, no wax… I touch it, and as I expect, it burns me—

[-2 LP.]

—but I feel its surface just long enough to discern… this ever-burning candle is made of glass. What a peculiar discovery I have made.

The technology here on Earth never ceases to amaze me. Ever-burning candles, horseless carriages, moving, interactive paintings, machines that vend food and drink… I could live here forever.

And, in fact, my goal is to live here forever. I will become the hero Earth needs and achieve the status of its very first S-Rank Hero.

In fact, I’m already its first D-Rank Hero, if The Goddess’s word is to be believed. I would not exactly count that as an achievement, though…

You know, I haven’t checked my achievement scoreboard in a while. I wonder if I’ve claimed any new rewards that—

“I’m back,” Francis says. “Did you unpack yet?”

“I have nothing to unpack.”

“Oh, right. You have an inventory.”

“And not only an inventory,” I say, “but an empty slot on account of my sword being destroyed. I will forever be haunted by the image of that oversized car running it over.”

“I can’t believe that eighteen wheeler didn’t pop a tire from that,” Francis says. “We’ll have to find you a new sword before you can fight monsters and stuff, huh?”

“Perhaps. I am proficient in many weapons, although the sword is my best weapon by far.”

“I’ll put it down on my checklist.” He taps his phone. “’Get… sword, or another weapon.’ There. Maybe we can do that in a couple days.”


“First, though, let’s go down for supper! Mom’s got garlic bread in the oven and baked spaghetti cooling off on the table. It’s gonna be a delicious meal.”

“Then we can eat cookies as well,” I say. “I very much want cookies. They are restorative to my spirit.”

“Like, they refill your Life Points?”

“No, but they come very close to doing so.”

“Ah, I get you. They do the same thing to me!” He giggles and then sets the roll-out mat down. “Let’s go get dinner!”

We go back downstairs and enter the kitchen. Francis’s mother is still preparing the food and getting everything ready, but an older man, presumably his father, is sitting hunched over in a chair while reading a book.

The man sees us, gives me a look, and then returns to his book.

“Oh, Francis,” his father says, “you finally brought a boy home for dinner. I thought I’d never see the day.”

“Shut up, Dad.”

“Don’t speak to your father like that,” his mother says. “He’s just trying to be supportive.”

“But I’m not… Ugh, sometimes you two…”

“Hello, sir,” I say to Francis’s father. “I do not believe we have had the pleasure of meeting thus far. My name is Eryk Solbourne.” I bow deeply and with great respect.

He looks at me incredulously and says, “I take it back, Greta, he’s going to make this house a lot livelier.”

“My aim is to give your home the utmost care I can muster,” I say. “I do not know the customs of Earth quite as well as I would like, so if I make any breach of etiquette or taste, please do not hesitate to let me know.”

He sets his book down, facing its pages down and spine up, and stands from his chair. “You better be glad the Bacalls are the nicest family in town, because if we weren’t, you’d really be on your ass right now.” He walks past me and bumps against my shoulder.

Francis shakes his head and whispers to me, “Don’t worry about my dad. He’s just doing his alpha male thing because he’s overprotective.”

“Overprotective? Of you? Why on Mystix would he care about… hmmm.”

“It’s because my little sister, when she—ah, not worth going into that spiel. Just ignore my dad and you’ll be fine.”

“I will do whatever you ask of me, as you saved me, but I do not think ignoring anyone will help matters.”

“I don’t mean literally ignore him, just—Oh, whatever. Let’s eat supper as one big happy family. And also you.”

“Yeah, we always eat family dinner,” his mother says. “It helps Francis get off his little computer with all his funny friends.”

“Mom, it’s a real job… I make so much money from this thing and you just…” Francis cuts himself off and sighs.

The four of us soon eat our evening meal together, sharing mild conversation and getting to know one another better. I find that Francis’s parents are quite interesting individuals with their own hopes and dreams and interests and hidden fears. They are quite the unique couple, too, given their very memorable story about how they began their romantic relationship.

However, the highlight of the evening is the baked spaghetti. It is the most delicious thing I have ever eaten, and I’ve eaten combos.


[+1 DP.]

And eating delicious food counts as exploring, which is perfectly acceptable in my book.

Chapter 18: Delta Momma Blues

The [Uber] drops us off in front of a quaint little home on a hilly street. For all the gigantic, towering fortresses that made up the skyline of this San Fransisco, it felt fitting, and yet sad that a man like Francis would own only one small house.

In his defense, I was a hero who traveled the continents and made plenty of money, but I never once had any structure to call my own. There was no permanent mark of my existence on Mystix, not beyond the family registers of my clan in North Spire.

“Thanks for letting me drop off those pizzas,” the man tells us. “See you at the gig on Saturday, Francis?”

“Hahaha, we’ll see,” Francis replies.

“Oh! There’s a Monsterbattle Go stop near here! Gotta jet or someone’ll get that Huffenpuller!”

The three of us leave the car and it speeds away.

I remain completely ignorant to the vast majority of things he discussed with us, but he was a nice fellow anyway.

Delta taps something on that black rectangle known as a square, and then grimaces like I’ve never seen anyone do.

“What’s the word?” Francis asks.

“Broccoli casserole’s still on,” Delta says. “My better half’s expecting me. I guess I’ll be off.”

“You’re leaving so soon?” I ask.

“Yeah, I got stuff to do,” she says. “Or more like someone to do, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.” What she is saying seems like it is supposed to be a joke, but not only do I not understand, her tone is so flat and soft that it is ruining any humor she could have given.

“Oh, Delta…” Francis hugs her and tears up. “I’m just glad you’re safe. That’s all we should care about.”

Delta remains as emotionless as ever. “I would be a lot more glad if my car weren’t obliterated by a maniac.”

“Well, Eryk saved us, so we’re okay!”

“Even so…” She wriggles herself away from Francis’s hold and brushes herself off like he had contaminated her. “There are going to be some major domestic repercussions for what happened today. I expect to be sleeping in the dog kennel for a week.”

“Aw, you’re too hard on yourself,” Francis says. “Also you don’t even have a yard, let alone a kennel.”

“What’s a dog?” I ask.

They stare at me for a minute, but never answer my question.

“Well, if I’m still alive, and I very well may not be, I’ll pick you two up in the morn—” Delta grimaces again. “I’ll meet you here in the morning and we can figure out how to deal with Eryk. Understood?”

“Roger,” Francis says. “Yes sir!” He salutes her.

Is that a normal custom? Oh no, I didn’t know it. I salute her too.

Delta walks off.

“So she is headed home?” I ask. “Why did she follow us here, then?”

“Oh, Delta lives like three blocks from here,” Francis says. “Um, a block is like a big square and all cities are kinda made up into these big squares all on a grid.”

“I see, I see,” I say. “Quite interesting. I didn’t know how well-acquainted you were with city planning principles. I actually studied all about that in my years at the North Spirian College.”

“You went to college?!” Francis’s jaw drops. “That’s amazing! I didn’t even know they had colleges in medieval fantasy worlds.”

“I do not know what medieval fantasy world means, but yes, there are a few colleges scattered across the continent, and North Spire has one. Even so, we are considered a backwards and uneducated people… It is quite a perplexing contradiction.”

“I never went to college… I dropped out to do streaming full-time.”

I look off to Delta, whose image has disappeared over my line of sight. This city is so hilly and steep that it is difficult to see anything unless you are at the top of an incline. “That girl… She is an interesting fellow.”

“Delta? Oh yeah, she definitely is. She’s been my best friend since we were in kindergarten.”

“When is—You mean since early childhood, I assume. Earth language is very tough…”

“Sorry, yeah, it must be.”

“But Delta seems even tougher.”

“Hahaha, yeah. She’s always been that way. I always thought she’d lighten up when she became an adult but she’s about the same as ever. Real battle-hardened, that one.”

“Did she fight in a war?”

“No, but—well, it’s not my place to talk about her life. Ask her yourself. If you dare… haha.”

“Anyway, I rather think she’s taken a fancy to me, don’t you think?” I put my hands on my hips to bask in the glory of myself.

“I don’t think she likes you very much, to be honest…”

“She may not prefer me as a friend, but I can see the interest she takes in me. Beyond friendship, if you know what I mean. Alas, I already possess a bethrothed who I do not wish—”

“No,” Francis says.


“No, she doesn’t have any interest in you. Delta’s married.”

“Wh… What? Since when?”

“Since like, three years ago. I guess you misunderstood what she meant when she said she was going home for broccoli casserole, but I don’t know why you thought she was… Eryk, you don’t like her, do you?”

“Not one bit. But I was sure she had some eyes for me. The way she looked at me…”

“That was animosity, not infatuation,” Francis tells me. “Please never, ever mention this to her. She will literally kill you and bury you under her house.”

At first, I think he is joking. But his expression tells of no humorous intent.

I gulp.

“Let’s go inside,” Francis says. “I’ll introduce you to my family and then we can get settled on all this Destiny Point stuff!”

“Oh, right. Destiny Points. I almost forgot those existed.”

The image of Delta pops up in my head one more time. The way she stared at me…

I no longer want to bask in the feelings of glory. I want to cower in the feelings of fear.

Chapter 17: The Longest Ride

It has been a long and quiet ride so far in this new car of ours.

I’m not quite sure why.

We were victorious; we vanquished Buddy, the car dealership mogul who destroyed Delta’s own vehicle. I gained enough Destiny Points that I can level up anytime I wish.

And yet we have been nearly silent since we began our trip.

It is a very nice interior that we are sitting in, though it is quite cramped. All three of us sit in the back, and the middle seat, occupied by Delta, has much less space than those by the windows. I have accidentally jabbed her side with my elbow about four times now, and seemingly no amount of apologies will lighten her mood afterwards.

Both Delta and Francis seem fixated on those black rectangular boxes of theirs. So tiny, so fragile, and yet they treat them as if they were a source of divinity.

Perhaps this world thrives on a source of magic that comes from small portable shrines that display moving images and provide energy through tactile interaction. I do not currently understand the magical ins and outs of Earth, though it is something I wish to explore deeply. What powers do the people on Earth have? It is a planet where humans are not only the dominant race, but the only one—surely they have magicks that go far beyond anything I can imagine from my experiences on a lowly world like Mystix.

The driver is much kinder to us than I would have expected from my friends’ reactions. After my fight with Buddy, Delta summoned this man with the power of her likely magical box, and he arrived not fifteen minutes later. Delta and Francis referred to him as an “Uber,” which in the tongue of the North Spirans means a super special individual, a powerful person who is at least a B-Rank Hero, if not higher. I know there are no stat-based systems on Earth, at least according to what my friends have told me, but even so, out of respect for a man as seemingly revered as him, I will refer to him as an [Uber] class hero.

In accordance with this, I decide to ask the [Uber] about himself. He has been very quiet as well so far, with only the faintest of music playing only at the front of the car. “Hello, my friend,” I greet. “I would like to inquire your name. Mine is Eryk Solbourne. What is yours?”

He doesn’t respond. Francis and Delta both look away from me, as well.

Hmm. I must have breached some sort of ettiquite issue that I was previously unaware of… Perhaps I did not practice enough humility for such a man as deserving as an [Uber.] “My apologies,” I say. “I have never met an [Uber] before. Your work is one of great valiance, I shall say. You have saved us lowly commoners time and time again, despite no need to do so.”

He finally responds. “Eh, I kinda do need it these days,” he says. “In this economy? A gig’s a gig, but Uber’s a real gig. Especially in San Fran.”

“San Fran…” Delta mutters.

“What is a ‘gig?’” I ask. “Some kind of dance?”

“A dance? Oh yeah, you know how it is,” the [Uber] replies. “Got you three in the back, but I got some SpeedyEats pizzas in the back too, gonna drop those off on the way if you don’t mind.”

“We mind,” says Delta.

He chuckles and plays it off as a joke. “Y’know, with that con at the convention center this weekend, I’ve been running around San Fran nonstop. I guess you three are coming from there, huh?”

“Yes we are, in fact,” I say. “How did you know? Do you possess psychic abilities?”

“Nah, fam,” the [Uber] says. “Just seeing your pink hair is all.”

“Oh! This hair is not part of a costume, or ‘cosplay’ as you may term it. In fact, it is my natural hair thanks to my heritage of North Spire. You don’t know it, though.”

“I hear you, I hear you,” he says.

“Are you sure?” Delta mutters.

“Mine’s a wig though,” Francis says. He takes the wig off, revealing his dark brown natural hair.

“Y’know,” the [Uber] continues, “I also tour around San Fran with my pop punk outfit on the weekends. I’m on guitar usually, but recently I’ve been doing keyboard more. Merch really helps make the ends meet.”

“I do not understand most of the words you said,” I reply.

“What’s the band called?” Francis asks.

“Good/Probably. We’re at Riff’s Cafe this Saturday night if you wanna come and check us—Wait a minute, you’re Francis Bacall, aren’t you?”

“Hehehe, yeah,” Francis says. He starts blushing.

“Bro, I loved your video on Genesis Crush 3! So friggin’ funny, yo.” While still driving the car, the [Uber] turns around and extends his hand back to Francis. “My name’s Kumar. Nice to meet you.”

Francis shakes it as fast as possible so Kumar can turn around. “Yeah, yeah, Genesis Crush was pretty, um… So, how close are we to the house?”

Kumar quickly turns back around and looks at the tiny moving map at the front. “About twenty minutes. Traffic’s a bitch. So, about my band. Do you have Spotify? Good/Probably is on there if you want to look.”


“Well, between gigs and gigs and gigs, it’s a real working life here in San Fran,” Kumar says. “But I got a lot of stuff going on and that makes me happy. I’m a lot like you, Francis.”

“Aw, please, I don’t work hard at all. I just like having fun.” Delta rolls her eyes.

“Streaming is serious business!” Kumar yells without a hint of humor. “Don’t denigrate yourself!”

“Oh… Uh, I was only being modest.”

“Modesty is for plebs.”

“I do not really understand what’s being discussed right now, but I would like to add that I was once part of a band myself,” I say. “My band of warriors known as Team Fanghook was hailed as one of the up and coming groups all across the continent.”

“Ah, Team Fanghook?” Kumar snickers. “I think I heard them in Reno once after a really long rideshare trip. I got a real big tip that day, if you know what I mean.” He snickers again.

“I don’t know what you—”

Delta pats me on the shoulder and mouths, “Leave it. Please.”

I decide to leave it.

From then on, once again our car ride is extremely quiet.

Earth certainly is a peculiar place.

Chapter 16: Big Bout with Buddy

I stand in the middle of two lanes of highway space. Behind me are Francis and Delta next to the wreckage of an upside-down car. Buddy stands at the other side of the road, in front of a vehicle known apparently as a “hummer.”

My sword is in my hands. And with all my might, I charge.

Unlike the other battles I have gotten into, Buddy does not run away at the mere sight of my strength. Instead, he pumps his fists and snarls.

I lower my sword into a jabbing position. I close in on Buddy and—

Whomp. He punches me so hard in the face I fall to the ground. My grip on my sword disappears and my weapon goes flying away. It lands in the middle of the highway, too far to reach even if I make a run for it.

[-280 LP.]

[11,999/15,000 LP.]

Ow. Owie ouch ow. I’ve tasted bone hurting juice that felt better than that punch. Who is this man that he can punch this hard?

“You’re looking at four years in the Air National Guard, kid,” said Buddy. “Two tours in Moldova.”

Buddy is a military veteran. One with combat experience and everything And I’m just a D-Rank [Adventurer] with too big of an ego on his shoulders.

How can I avenge my friends, myself, if I go down in just one punch?

Well, I won’t go down. That’s how I’ll do it. Other than the going down that just happened, of course.

With a shove of my feet, I kick Buddy’s shins in. He screams out in pain and reels backwards, giving me time to get back into a standing position. He throws another punch, but this time I have enough time to dodge.

Hmm… the sword is still behind me in the highway.

Could I reach it in time? Could I get back my trusted weapon that could end this fight in one well-timed slash?

Well—My answer is given to me almost immediately.

A giant eighteen-wheeled vehicle with a large box on its back zooms by on the highway and runs over the sword. When I see it again, the hilt is broken and the blade is bent.

The Goddess has been extremely generous today. But she has not given me unfair advantages, and that impresses me even more. What an amazing woman, letting me become the hero I was meant to be without letting my coast by on my life’s minimal successes up to this point.

Reaching the top of the food chain, becoming an S-Rank [Adventurer,] finding true love and starting a dynasty of powerful heroes… All of that will be a struggle. Such a struggle I’ll be fighting for the rest of my life. And that’s okay. In fact, that’s exactly what I’ve always wanted.

I turn back to Buddy and shove him with the best of my strength.

Ding! [+1 DP.]

Oh hey, a Destiny Point. That’s excellent!

However, my shove does nothing.

He weighs far too much, and all of it in muscle, so he barely budges. He returns it with another slug, but this time I absorb the blow as best I can and stay standing.

[-157 LP.]

[11,753/15,000 LP.]

I… “absorb the blow.”

Yes, that’s right…

I can absorb his blows. Quite literally, in fact!

It’s a rank 5 skill card, and one that should be used only in the most dire of circumstances, but honestly I think this might qualify as such a situation. If I don’t defeat Buddy, he will haunt the rest of the world for years to come, causing car crashes and needless deaths. He is a tyrant that must be toppled.

I activate my [Absorb] skill!

A swirl of energy forms around me. My eyes turn green.

Absorb: Rank 5. A healing attack that drains LP from the target. Must have direct contact. Cost: 0 LP.

[-0 LP.]

The next time I touch Buddy, it sends a shock through his system—literally. I hold him down, sapping his life energy away.

I can feel the energy coursing through my body just as it leaves his.

[+10 LP.]

[+44 LP.]

{+27 LP.]

Buddy looks at me in sheer terror. And, despite my heroic tendencies, right now I feel nothing but happiness at this fear. Should I be guilty for this? Perhaps. But for now, I don’t feel it at all.

[+11 LP.]

[+37 LP.]

[+101 LP.]

“Help… me…” Buddy mutters.

“Don’t help him!” Delta shouts from the other side of the highway. “Kill him!”

“Don’t actually kill him, but make him suffer a lot!” adds Francis.

I can feel his muscles starting to drain. Holding him down is becoming easier and easier. And soon…

I let go.

[+345 LP.]

Back at full health—15,000/15,000 LP. Buddy lays there kneeling, barely conscious, his oversized body now shrunken down to that of a sickly teenager.

“How you you like that, Buddy?” I ask. “Now how do you feel?”

“This… this is…” Buddy doesn’t finish. He collapses on the ground, unconscious.

Ding! [+1 DP.]

He’ll be okay, assuming a do-gooder passes by to help him. I, however, am no do-gooder.

I cross the highway—glancing sadly at my broken sword as I walk by—and reach my two friends. We are victorious.

Francis raises his hand into the air. “Good job, Eryk!” he shouts.

His hand is still in the air, held high as if he may slap me at any moment.

“Are you okay?” I ask.

He lowers his hand. “Oh, yeah, right. You probably don’t have high-fives where you come from.”

“You did good,” Delta says. That’s the only compliment she gives me.

“I’m back to full health, I now have 25 Destiny Points, and I’m with my two new friends. Everything has gone exactly as I’ve planned.”

“Yeah! That’s great, Eryk. Now that you have 25 Destiny Points, you can level-up, right?”

“Yes, anytime I want.”

“So we’ve got a lot of time to plan how to get you to keep leveling up. And that’s exactly what we’re gonna do.”

“Good to hear it.” I survey the highway around us and add, “However, I must inquire how it is we are to get home.”

Delta physically cringes.

“We’ll, uh, figure it out,” Francis says.

I certainly hope he is right.

Chapter 15: Assessing the Situation and How I Can Be a Hero, Even Here

“I’m alive! I’m back on Earth!” I shout.

The Goddess delivered on her promise and brought me back. Not that I truly ever doubted her, but… It’s such nice confirmation to return back to this world safe and sound, I will say that.

Speaking of safe and sound…

I check my HUD and see what this rebirth has in store for me.


Oh, boy.

15,000/15,000 LP.

23 Destiny Points.

My Destiny Card inventory is the same, too:

Transmigrated Spirit: Rank 3. Summon an otherworldly spirit to assist for five minutes.
Super Hearing: Rank 1. Increase sonic perception abilities dramatically for five minutes. Cost: 70 LP.
Absorb: Rank 5. A healing attack that drains LP from the target. Must have direct contact. Cost: 0 LP.
Minor Heal: Rank 2. Gain 1,000 LP. Cost: 0 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: Short sword.
Inventory Slot: Rank 4. Store an item here to retrieve for future use. Current item: Bow and arrow.

My life has been reset, with a full health boost at the cost of absolutely nothing else. This has been an amazing, excellent, fantastic turn of events!

This is the best day of my life.

Here in the “car” with two new friends, refreshed at full health, given a brand new chance at becoming a legendary S-Rank Hero, it feels like just about everything is going right for old Eryk Solbourne.

Now to get down from this seat I’m dangling in.

“Y’know,” I tell the others, “The Goddess is the reason we survived this crash.”

“What do you mean…” Francis answers groggily. I think he’s starting to get light-headed from hanging upside-down all this time.

“Well, when we crashed, we actually died in a horrific—” I realize Delta is looking at me with an extremely angry glare and decide that it will be best if I refrain from explaining the situation to them for a little bit longer. “Perhaps we should unbuckle ourselves and exit this vehicle while it is still safe.”

“No shit,” says Delta.

“Yeah, no… shit…” adds Francis.

It is a very fortunate thing that we buckled these seat belts of ours. Crashing a vehicle going as fast as our “car” was going, and flipping over as we did, we would have surely perished without these seat belts. Thank The Goddess for seat belts!

Soon, all three of us manage to exit the vehicle and examine our injuries. Thanks to the terms of my second reincarnation, we have all emerged unscathed. Francis seems very happy by these turn of events, though Delta seems very nearly emotionally moved by everything. She sure is staring at the wreckage a whole lot. And muttering many obscenities. I suddenly have a great desire not to be in close proximity to her for the next while.

I attempt to soothe the situation. “So, we are refreshed and healthy, and the car made its noble sacrifice to us. It was a great steed, and we shall honor its memories in our future quest.”

“Eryk, you probably shouldn’t…” Francis begins to say, but he trails off as Delta turns her gaze to the two of us.

“You are correct, I say. “What we must do is find the fiend that caused this catastrophe and enact justice.”


“Truly only a heinous being would do something as craven as run into us on this highway just to cause us harm. We must defeat them, not only for revenge but to make sure their reign of terror ends.”

“Eryk, please stop,” Francis says. “Nobody hurt us. It was a freak accident and it’s a miracle we’re alive. I know you aren’t from this world, but… you’re being a little bit rude right now. Can you give it a rest?”

An… accident? Could such a terrible event have really taken place by the will of fates alone? I start to consider such an option. If Earth is really such a dangerous place that instant death lies around any corner, then I will have to keep up my guard. The Goddess promised a quick reincarnation into Lava World the next time I die, and—

Wait, wait, there is a man right there in front of us, standing in front of his over-sized vehicle. He wears a plaid jacket, but its sleeves have been ripped off as if by a bear. He does not wear a shirt underneath it, despite his considerable muscles showing off to the entire world.

“Hey you!” the man shouts.

“Hey, us?” I ask.

“Yeah, you!”

Francis turns to Delta. “Who’s the guy in the Hummer?” he asks.

“I believe he may have rammed us off the road.”

I look closer at this “hummer,” and in fact I do see that its front is slightly damaged, with dents all over and paint smears in the same color as Delta’s car.

This man…

He really is a fiend!

“You better give me your insurance info,” the man yells from across two lanes of highway. “If you’re uninsured, I’m really gonna be pissed. You have no idea how much the repair job is gonna cost.”

Francis, for the first time since I met him, has adopted the face of someone who is angry. Particularly angry. He steps away from our car and towards the man. “Hey, buddy,” he says. “You ran us off the road. Flipped our damn car over. Couldn’t you show a bit of decency?”

The man laughs. “Listen, listen.” He clears his throat and cracks his neck. “Yeah, my name’s Buddy. Impressed you knew that, though I guess you knew that from the commercials.”

“Commercials?” Francis asks.

“Yeah, you know, the Buddy’s Honda Emporium.” He starts singing a tune. “’Come on down, it’s Buddy time, it’s gotta be Honda today!’ You know, that one?”

“I don’t watch TV much.”

“…doesn’t even drive a Honda…” mutters Delta.

“Kids these days… Listen, give me your insurance info and I won’t press charges.”

“Press—What the hell?!”

“Yeah, you heard me. What, you think cops’ll believe a dyke and some nancy boy over me, Buddy, San Fransisco’s main buddy? I sold them their damn police cars, you know.”

“I hate car culture,” Francis says.

I’ve had it.

I step in front of Francis and walk into the two lanes separating our upside-down car from Buddy’s hummer. “You won’t get away with your treachery!” I shout.


“You’re going to pay for attempting to kill me and my friends, as futile as it was. For I have The Goddess herself on my side, and with her power, I shall wreak vengeance and exact justice on my enemy!”

I summon my sword and get ready for a fight.

Buddy laughs. “I’m gonna beat your ass, and then I’m gonna have you arrested for assault. I can do that, you know. Buddy’s Honda Emporium has friends in high places.”

“You’ll have friends in high places soon once I launch you into the sky!”


“Woo-hoo, go Eryk!” Francis shouts.

“Yeah, kick his teeth in!” Delta screams.

My friends have given me words of encouragement. The power of friendship has filled me with a newfound vigor.

I am ready to win my first real battle on Earth.

« Older posts