Category: Arc 3 – Tests and Fighting (Page 2 of 3)

Special: The Adventurer’s Guild

In the middle of resting before I am to join an underground fight club, we have decided to eat a hearty meal. And this meal in particular…

“French fries… and nacho cheese. Nacho cheese… and french fries.”

This is an annoyingly packed restaurant that we are in right now, one called Mel’s Manners. It is, in Delta’s words, a “shit trendy joint for hipsters with green hair” and apparently quite expensive. But Francis led us here in high recommendation of some of the food items here, most especially the nacho cheese fries.

Nacho cheese fries…

Someone scoots in the narrow gap between my chair and that of the table behind me. They brush against my head and push me away from being able to focus on the food in front of me. Ugh, I do wish we had gone somewhere with a little bit more space.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around what exactly this is. Cheese… plus fried potatoes. But not just any cheese. It is a special kind of cheese, a concoction brewed in just the precise way that it evenly melts onto the fries and then as it cools becomes thicker and more solid within moments.

I must try this out. I must find out if it is as good as its reputation, or as bad as it looks.

I rip a fry from the messy plate. I extend the fry into my mouth and take a bite. The fry is soft, salty, and scrumptious. That is to be expected. But the cheese… Well, I’m not entirely sure this is the same cheese that I am familiar with from back on Mystix from its taste and texture. But, assuming this cheese…

It’s disgusting.



It’s exactly the right kind of disgusting. It’s delectable in all of the worst ways. This is food fit for ants. The scraps of a drunken beaver. And it’s also the greatest thing I have ever eaten.

Move aside combos. There is a new greatest food in town.


[+1 DP.]

[39 DP.]

“Atta boy,” Francis says. “I heard the ding. I know what that means.”

“It’s horrible,” I tell him. “Nacho cheese fries are a very bad food.”

“And yet?”

I answer by devouring half the plate in the next five seconds. My hands are covered in dairy product.

I see the entire future and past in front of me, behind me, at once.

Nacho cheese fries have destroyed my life, and remade it, both at the same time in the same way…

You know.

This actually reminds me of a different time I ate a very special food. Back when I was on Mystix. Back when I was a part of Team Fanghook and adventuring around the world fighting monsters and saving villagers. Well, most of that was fairly accurate. Not exactly, but it was quite a memorable event.

In fact…


Borguk slams his mug of hard liquor on the table and gives a hearty laugh.

“You fool!” he shouts in my direction. “You are a mighty silly fellow, aren’t you!”

“I would consider myself above-average when it comes to intelligence, myself,” I say. “Perhaps in this circumstance my actions were suboptimal, but I feel that I conducted myself quite well.”

“Shut up with your idiot talk,” he says. “Admit you were wrong about all of it.”

“I cannot do that.”

“He’s as stubborn as a sheet ghost,” Thalia says from across the tavern. “You’ll never get a confession out of him.”

“That’s right. I forgot that Mr. Solbourne’s just a silly little North Spiran.”

I jump up and raise my fists. “You take that back this instant.”

“Take what back.”

“North Spirans are not silly. Nor are they little. Nor are they stupid. I will fight you for the honor of my people if you continue this line of thought.”

“I never said stupid…”

“I’ll fight you and finally earn a place on your team!”

Borguk laughs again.

I sit down and slump back in my chair again.

“Kid, you didn’t get rejected from the Adventurer’s Guild ‘cuz you’re a bad fighter or anything. We accept pretty much all [Adventurers] no matter what. But you filled out the application wrong. All you had to do was correct it, not charge in here’n threaten us with violence.”


“We’re not office workers,” Thalia says. “We’re just travelers passing through on the way to the Spiran Wastes. We can’t help you with any of that.”

“But… I filled it all out correctly.”

Borguk slides me a plate filled with slimy tentacled fish parts from an animal known as an octopod. “Have this, kid.”

I eat it. It’s quite amazing in taste, but the texture is way off. Way too slippery and chewy.

And yet…

I’m in love with it. Perhaps not because I like the food itself, but because it was given to me by these astoundingly impressive [Adventurers,] the same ones who just hours ago helped fend off a bonesaur stampede right into my hometown.

They’re heroes, and they’re even talking to me. Despite my rejection from the Adventurer’s Guild, this pleases me so much.

“What did I fill out wrong to get rejected, I wonder?” I ask.

Borguk’s expression shifts. “Oh…”

“Oh?” Thalia asks.

“I bet I know what it was,” he says. “Eryk, did you… hand in that application in person?”

“Yes, why?”

“That’s what I thought,” Borguk says. “Someone at the Adventurer’s Guild branch office must have seen you were a North Spiran and…”

“By The Goddess’s name, they rejected me for my heritage?!”

“That’s what I’m guessing.” Borguk slams another mug of hard liquor down and burps. “Tell you what, Mr. Solbourne. We’ll head down to the office with you tomorrow morning. If it was a real honest mistake on their part or yours, we’ll get it sorted out. If it was because you’re a North Spiran… we’ll add you to Team Fanghook, okay? We’ll also beat up anyone responsible.”

“That sounds… positively amazing!”

Thalia looks suspicious. “You aren’t serious, are you…?”

“Well, we gotta kill time before Miss M and Malia get here. Why not own some fools?”

“True.” She shrugs and eats a lotus root.

I finish my dish of octopod and feel a wave of excitement rush over me. Sure, I was probably prejudiced against just for the color of my hair and my eyes, but these two here, these [Adventurers] from a far-off land, have decided to help me! Wow!

The next morning, we go down to the branch office and indeed discover that the office has been rejecting North Spirans automatically. We beat up a lot of office workers.


Good times. Good times.

I wipe all the nacho cheese off my fingers with a paper tissue. I sit back and smile as I look at my two new friends Francis and Delta. They are not quite as strong or skilled as Borguk or Thalia, but they are even nicer of people.

Together we will achieve—

Another person walks by my and bumps into my head. Ow!

Delta bursts out laughing, which miffs me more than a little bit. It is quite rude to laugh at violence committed to someone else, even if it is very small amounts of violence.

“I can’t believe it…” Francis says, mostly to himself. He, too, is eating a plate of nacho cheese fries, and he looks to be in a sort of heaven of his own at the moment. A heaven of crappy food items. “The quality has gone so far down on these fries since the last time I came here…”

Wait, what? “Wait, what?”

“I hear Mel’s Manners got new owners after the previous ones had their food licenses taken away,” Delta says. “Something about offering fake vegetarian and vegan options with injected micro-meats inside every dish, or something along those lines.”

“So maybe the micro-meats were what made the nacho cheese fries so good, huh.” Francis stares down at his plate some more. “I mean, don’t get me wrong. It’s still nacho cheese fries. But… it’s just not the same.”

“If this food is inferior to the previous version, and it was still good enough to earn me a Destiny Point, I can only imagine what the genuine product must be like,” I say.

“Yep. You’d probably earn like fifty at once.”

“If only it worked that way… You know, there’s another fake and less than savory thing I have been thinking about. Have I ever told you two about the Adventurer’s Guild?”

They both shake their heads, though stop when an overweight man pushes past the backs of their seats.

“Well then, I’ll keep it brief,” I say. “The Adventurer’s Guild was the organization I was a part of while on Mystix. It was a group that accepted most, if not all [Adventurer] class heroes, as well as heroes of other classes that wished to join the teams. Teams consisted of groups of four, five, even ten heroes who worked together to raid dungeons, explore new lands, settle geopolitical disputes, and collect treasure. My group, Team Fanghook, was one of the more reputable of those. The Adventurer’s Guild branch offices would assign us quests to embark on all across the continent and we would fulfill them, usually in record time thanks to Thalia’s amazing record-keeping abilities.”

“That sounds a lot like Blaze Blitzer in the Dungeon Core Saga Series,” Francis says. “Are you really, seriously, completely certain you haven’t seen that show?”

“There is no such thing as television on Mystix,” I say. “It would have been absolutely impossible for me to have seen it.”

“That is true…”

“What’s so fake and unsavory about it?” Delta asks.

“Oh, right, my story.” I clear my throat. “Well, it took me a while to join the Adventurer’s Guild due to some, um, ‘processing errors’ with my application forms that were likely a result of prejudice against my being a North Spiran. So in that time after my first rejection and before I joined, I was nearly recruited by Blackriver, a mercenary group whose tasks were extremely similar to that of the Adventurer’s Guild.

“However, unlike the Adventurer’s Guild, whose branch offices are condoned by the local governments and whose organization is tantamount to its own nation-state, mercenary groups like Blackriver, as well as Ghent’s Rivals, the Second Surge, and Umbrage Unleashed were less legal, less fair, and had an immense amount of backstabbing involved with its various groups. There were competitions between Adventurer’s Guild teams, to be sure, but they did not raid innocent villages, invade kingdoms to pillage, and rack up mileage by traveling to far-off places just to destroy them before anyone else could reach them. Mercenary companies themselves were essentially at war and often sabotaged each other, but even further than that, the members of each team would attack each other as well to try and take more loot. It was chaos incarnate.”

“And you’re telling us this because…?” Delta tilts her head to the side.

“These nacho cheese fries remind me of shoddy mercenary groups.”

“F-fair enough.” Delta has no witty response to that.

I lick the cheese off my fingers and wonder what my life would have been like if I had joined a mercenary group instead of the Adventurer’s Guild again. Would I have become dirty and despicable just like them? Perhaps. It is too hard to tell. But I—

Ow! Why do people keep bumping into me?!

Chapter 33: I’m Going to Learn Something Known as Boxing

“So, what’s your name, Mr. Pinky?” the balding, mustachioed man asks me.

“Eryk Solbourne, D-Rank [Adventurer] from North Spire and a member of Team Fanghook,” I answer on instinct before quickly realizing the folly of my ways. “I mean, my name is Eryk.”

“Well, Eryk, welcome to Jim’s Gym. I’m Jim.”

“Hi Jim,” I greet Jim. “I’d like to join your gym, Jim.”

“And what about your two friends here? Little cutie and chubby boy?”

Delta and Francis, standing behind me at the entrance to Jim’s Gym, take Jim’s nicknames with a potent amount of anger. I will admit that I am a bit uneasy about them as well; he is being quite rude with those kinds of names, and probably making them uncomfortable as well. However, this whole “boxing” plan was Francis’s idea, so even if I am immediately repelled by this Jim and his gym, I will steel myself through and through.

“Only me,” I say. “They are here to observe, is all. Is that okay?”

“As long as they pay, hey,” he says with a chuckle.

“We’ll pay,” Francis says. “Sigh…”

“Did you just say ‘sigh’ out loud?” Delta asks.

“Yeah… Groan.”

The man Jim tilts his head to the side. “Y’all good?”

“We’re good,” Francis says. “Let’s watch Eryk practice.”

We enter Jim’s Gym, which surprisingly is home to no diamonds, no sapphires, no emeralds, nothing of the sort.

According to the plan that Francis and Delta formulated, I am to show off my prowess by training as much as possible in the art of boxing.

On Earth, boxing is a sport where humans punch each other until one of the two is knocked on the ground. It’s seneless gladiator-style combat, but given safety protections where the contestants wear thick gloves and are treated with urgent medical care if anything happens. They have taken the lowest of all combat and turned it into a spectator sport that attracts apparently millions upon millions of watchers.

I respect that.

After I change into some nice training clothes and put on some boxing gloves, I come into the training area where Jim is sitting back in a chair drinking orange juice.

“So, you ready to train?” he asks. “I’ll let you show off your skills and then I’ll see what kind of training regiment you wanna be on. I got three different classes every week based on different levels and you can join any of them if you want. ‘Course, looking at you, I don’t know if you’ll quite qualify for those, but hey, feel free to try stuff out and get a feel for it.”

Francis comes up to me and whispers, “Just remember, we’re trying to impress everyone and maybe get you into some practice matches. that’s the main goal here.”

“I understand. I shall fulfill it with great haste.”

With that in mind, I step up to the main practice stage and crack my neck in both directions. It’s been a long time since I’ve sparred before, and so this is going to be an interesting one.

Lowering to the practice stage are a few punching bags of various sizes. They dangle from the ceiling on metal chains. A quick tap to each of the three of them confirms to me that despite their small size, these things are as heavy as goblins, druidfish, and small humans, respectively.

I’ll start with the middle-sized one. It’s been ages since the last time I fought a druidfish, but I will not forget the pain and annoyance that they have caused me.

With sharp fangs entering the skin of my arm in mind, I wind up for a punch, muster everything I can before I unleash my mind.

The punching bag is in front of me.

It is my enemy. Perhaps not a real one, but an enemy nonetheless.

And with a mighty thrust, my arm rockets forward and my hand collides with the bag.

THUD. The entire punching bag rips off the metal chain and flies into the air! It falls off the stage, crashes on the ground, and rips open. Sand pours out all over the floor.

“Yes!” I shout.

“No!” Jim shouts. “What the hell are you pulling here?”

“I wanted to showcase my strength to all onlookers,” I say. “See what I can do?” I punch the smallest punching bag and it too breaks off its chain and zooms into the gym’s front window. It crashes through the window and shatters it.

“You puny little bastard!”

“I want to prove to you that I am strong enough to fight,” I say. “I can fight even the strongest enemies.” I take on the heaviest punching bag, smacking it with successively powerful blows until it wobbles around like a broken pendulum. For my finishing move, I lean down and uppercut it—the punching bag flings itself up into the air, not breaking off the chain but crashing into the ceiling instead.

The bag explodes and sand comes falling down onto the main stage. A little bit of it covers my head.

“Get out of my gym!” Jim shouts.

“But I thought…”


We three leave very quickly. We do not receive refunds on our gym membership.

As soon as we leave, though, Francis bursts out laughing. “That’s not quite what I expected, but… oh man, did you see the look on that guy’s face?”

“I could tell he was a jerk,” Delta says. “We did him over good.”

“But I didn’t even gain any Destiny Points,” I say. “What purpose did any of this accomplish? I thought I was going to do some boxing against real people, not simply bags of sand and dust.”


“Psssssst,” a voice loudly whispers from behind us.

We turn around to look at a man in a trenchcoat and long hat. His face is obscured and he sits on the wall in the alleyway between the gym and the tanning salon next to it.

“Pssssst,” he repeats.

“Yes?” I ask.

“Come here,” he says.

Francis puts a hand in front of me to prevent me from walking closer to him. “I wouldn’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“Yeah, why not?” the man asks. He tips his hat down, further covering himself. “I just want to make a little proposition.”

“Definitely a hard pass,” Francis says. “We’re all clean here.”

“No, I mean… I saw your impressive work in the gym,” the man says. “I’d like to offer you a spot in a lucrative business, if you are willing.”

“A lucrative business…”

Delta scrunches her eyebrows. “You don’t mean…”

The man tips his hat even further down. “I’d like you to join my fight club.”

Chapter 32: Foresight and My Destiny Revealed

The bus is so crowded. Every seat is taken, and many people stand up in the aisle in between the seats. It is positively claustrophobic, even for someone who is used to cramped caves and maze-like dungeons like myself.

Almost every single person is on their phone. I may be the only one without one. I wonder why that is…

“May I have a phone?” I ask Francis.

“Oh, actually, I was planning to look into that,” he says, not looking up from checking his phone and playing what looks to be another kind of video game. The characters in the game seem to be the same ones as Royals of Foreign Lands, but smaller and cuter. “Remind me tomorrow, okay? Wait, I’ll set a reminder on my phone.”

He clicks a button on the device. The video game disappears and is replaced by a calendar, where he types in “get eric a phone pls.”

What wizardry…

I look to my other side and see what Delta is looking at on hers. It appears to be some sort of artwork in black and white, showcasing a sequential story through art and dialogue.

It depicts a skinny black-haired man wielding a scythe as he fights through a wave of disturbing creatures with deep fangs and proportions the likes of which I have never seen before in real life. I highly doubt something like those exists on Earth. At least, I hope so.

The dialogue is in a script I cannot read, which is quite annoying because I am having great trouble figuring out what is going on in the story here.

Delta taps her phone and a new set of images appear. Now, it shows the man from before putting away his weapon, poofing it much like I would my sword (if I still had it, that is). Then the man meets his gaze with another man who is much bulkier with huge muscles and gigantic hands. That man puts his arms on the black-haired man’s shoulders and there is more dialogue I cannot read. Their eyes are quite sparkly.

They appear to have some sort of deep kinship, like a bond the likes of which few outsiders would ever understand. I have had these sorts of bonds with comrades in the past. Borguk, in particular, was like a brother to me, despite being an orc who looks nothing like me. We were so close that we were nearly inseperable.

When Delta taps the phone again and a new image shows—

The two men are now kissing.

My head jumps back in shock. Delta realizes that I was looking at her phone and turns off the screen immediately.

“Francis, Eryk’s snooping on my phone,” she says. “Teach him some fucking manners.”

Francis giggles. “Eryk, was she reading yaoi mangas? I bet she was.”

Delta growls. “I’m just following the series because Julie asked me to, okay? It’s not like it’s good or anything.”

Eryk playfully elbows me and says, “Delta reads mangas all the time but pretends she doesn’t know anything about it. She even reads it in Farsi to cover up her shame in case anyone else is looking.”


“The Persian language,” Delta says. “I don’t like people snooping. Doesn’t matter what.”

“But especially not yaoi mangas.”

“Excuse me, but what is ‘yaoi?’” I ask. “That is quite an odd-sounding term, I do say.”

Delta groans. Francis laughs.

“Eryk, yaoi is something very special to the hearts of many women in our world,” Francis says. “It’s comic books about the everlasting romance of two men with weird proportions and great abs. There is little else like it on Earth. Gay yaoi boys making out is a wholly unique experience.”

“So it’s simply the romance of two men? Then why does a woman like Delta care to read something like that?”

“Ah, but yaoi isn’t JUST about gay dudes,” he says. “It’s stories about gay dudes written by women, for women. Like, almost 100% of readers are women. So all the characters take on these really specific stereotypes where men behave like women and then the main character looks like a girl except with no boobs but everyone else looks super hyper masculine and stuff.”

“A romance story about two men… but created for the women… Earth is a peculiar land, if I do say so myself.”

“I agree,” says Francis. “How about you, Delta?”

Delta fumes silently. Her face is as red as a ripe tomato.

Our bus ride continues still, but both of my friends soon turn back to using their phones. I feel now may actually be a good time to monitor my Destiny Cards and see what situations I may run into in the future.

Here is my current hand:

Super Hearing: Rank 1. Increase sonic perception abilities dramatically for five minutes. Cost: 70 LP.
Kaio Blast: Rank 3. Doubles combat stats for 2 minutes. Cost: 500 LP.
Foresight: Rank 4. See the next five Destiny Cards in the Destiny Deck. Cost: 140 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.
Transmigrated Spirit: Rank 3. Summon an otherworldly spirit to assist for five minutes. Cost: 444 LP.

These cards are all useful in various ways depending on the dangers I may face, though [Super Hearing] certainly has not proven itself to be particularly valuable in any situation so far.

The one card that is of particular note, though, is the most recent addition to my hand: [Foresight.]

Earlier in the day, Francis provided me the stark reality of just how many Destiny Points it may take to reach S-Rank, even in the most optimal of circumstances. Just under four thousand points… I would have to win thousands upon thousands of battles. I would have to sacrifice any attempt to go above Level 20 in any rank to boost my stats. And most of all, I would have to abandon any idea of using Destiny Points to draw Destiny Cards…

The penalties for using your Life Points to draw Destiny Cards only grow steeper as you rank up. Therefore, by the time I am B-Rank, even A-Rank, it will become increasingly dangerous. And that scares me quite a bit.

I will not draw any cards now, but I do think that Destiny Cards will be the only way for me to actually achieve the goals I have set for myself. As much as Francis has his little plans for me, the only thing I can truly trust is the Heart of the Cards.

And so I use [Foresight] to see my destiny’s future.

[-140 LP.]

[10,995/15,000 LP.]

A blinding flash—

A flashing light—

A light that blinds—

And the swirling vortex that is the Destiny Deck shows itself to me.

I can see them—I can see the next five cards that I will draw, bubbling up under the surface of the darkness!

The first cards:

Minor Heal: Rank 2. Gain 1,000 LP. Cost: 0 LP.
Skill Check: Rank 1. Examine the variables around you. (There is a small chance that your next action will go exceedingly well or exceedingly poorly.) Cost: 50 LP.

Wow! That’s a card useful in almost any situation. It’s also not incredibly powerful and useless once your intellect reaches a certain point that deduction comes naturally to you. Fortunately, I am nowhere near that level of intellect. Or, admittedly, much intellect at all.

[Minor Heal] isn’t anything special, though. It’s honestly starting to get aggravating knowing just how many of these damned things I have drawn already and to know the next card I draw will also be [Minor Heal.]

Blinding Rush: Rank 1. Doubles speed and agility. Cost: 215 LP.

Oh, that’s the very same skill I used that got me sent to Earth!

Skill Check: Rank 1. Examine the variables around you. (There is a small chance that your next action will go exceedingly well or exceedingly poorly.) Cost: 50 LP.

…And another [Skill Check.] Okay.


Clone: Rank 5. Make a clone for 5 minutes. Cost: 1000 LP.


That’s a card I certainly have never seen before! I’m surprised it’s even available from the [Adventurer] rank. Creating my own copy sounds like it could be an amazing skill! I just have to draw five more cards to get it…

Francis would be so upset if I drew another card with my Destiny Points right now, so I guess I will refrain from completing the empty slot in my hand, especially since I know it will be something fairly useless like [Minor Heal.]

I’m not sure Francis remembers, if I even told him, that I can discard Destiny Cards and gain Destiny Points as a result, though I know if he knew he would force me to gamble my way into Destiny Point success with my Life Points on the line. For every Destiny Card I have in my hand and discard, I gain half the card’s rank in Destiny Points (rounding down, except for Rank 1 obviously). If I were to scrap the remaining six cards in my hand, that would give me an extra nine Destiny Points—a paltry sum compared to the thousands upon thousands I still require to reach S-Rank, but certainly enough to help me level up in an emergency.

Only thing is, I would never scrap all my cards. Three of my seven are inventory slots which are extremely vitally important to me. Scrapping those would never guarantee that I ever got them again.

So, at least for the time being, I will refrain from filling in that little detail to Francis and Delta.

It doesn’t matter much anyway, since the bus stops and my two companions get up to step off the vehicle. I join them and try to understand what exactly it is that I will be facing today.

Whatever boxing is, it better be the kind of punching that brings me a great many Destiny Points.

Chapter 31: My Next Day For Destiny

“Why are we being forced to take this ‘bus?’” I ask. And why must we wait for it for so long?

“Because, for one,” Francis says, “Delta had to return that rental car we used yesterday. For two, the bus only comes through our neighborhood twice an hour. Service cuts after the big economy stuff back when the 20s started.”

“Economy… stuff.”

“Uh, don’t worry about it,” he says.

I decide to no longer worry about it.

Today, we will be trying another task dedicated to the pursuit of Destiny Points. With 11,200/15,000 LP remaining in my system, I will need to level up in around eight days, or less if I become sick or get in any dangerous situations. So we will be “grinding” for those points by going to a boxing center. It is apparently something that has to do with hitting, which I am quite good at I will admit.

We wait for a while longer, and then Delta joins us at this bus stop.

“Hey,” she says. “Sorry I’m late. I had an ordeal at the office.”

“So you got the vacation time?” Francis asks.

“Something like that,” she says. “They’ll let me off for a couple weeks at least.”

“Just enough time to help Eryk become a big fancy S-Rank person!”

I look at them strangely. “You surely don’t think I could become an S-Rank [Adventurer] in a matter of weeks. I have been connected to the Destiny Deck system for over two years, and I am only a Level 17 D-Rank Hero. I have literally thousands of Destiny Points to gain before I can reach S-Rank.”

“You’ve never tried to game the system, though,” Francis says. “You said so yourself. We’re gonna help you do just that.”

“Does this involve eating so many combo flavors my stomach bursts?”

“Well, you’ll be trying new foods out, that’s for sure,” he tells me. “But mainly, we’re gonna focus on getting you to try out as many different things as possible in a limited time. We’re gonna try out a lot of stuff and see which one works best and fastest, then you’re gonna do only that one thing until you have a bunch of points.”

“That sounds like monotony to a considerable degree,” I say.

“You want to live, right?” Delta asks.

“I do wish to live…”

“How many Destiny Points is it gonna take for you to get to the top, anyway?” Francis asks. “Is it just 25 Destiny Points forever?”

“Ah, that’s something I should inform you of,” I say. “Right now I am a Level 17 [Adventurer] at D-Rank. It takes 25 Destiny Points to level up, and I have 38 right now, so there are 13 more towards the next level.”

“Okay, so let’s just assume you’re Level 18 and then those 13 extra points aren’t there, so we can play it safe,” he says. “How many then?”

“I must reach Level 20 to be able to increase my Rank,” I say. “That would be 50 Destiny Points then, under your conditions. Then I will be C-Rank.”

“And you just have to do that a couple more times?”

“Well, no. At C-Rank, you must gain 30 Destiny Points to be able to level up. To reach level 20 again, that would take… 600 Destiny Points.”

“Oh, geez, that’s a lot. So 650 to get to Rank B.”

“I’m not sure there are 650 different snack foods in the United States,” Delta says. “Bustable Lemons only has sixteen different flavors right now, and we’re huge.”

“That’s why we’ve gotta try more stuff out,” Francis says. “What about Rank B and A, then?”

“B-Rank heroes must gain 40 Destiny Points per level,” I tell them. “That’s 800 Destiny Points to reach the top. However, I must note that very few heroes on Mystix actually rank up at Level 20. Because of the increased Destiny Point restrictions, many heroes like to stay at lower ranks and increase their stats as much as possible before they rank up. I was over level 60 in F-Rank, actually, since that only required 10 Destiny Points per level.”

Francis counts some numbers on his fingers. “Okay, so… This is a lot of points so far. How about Rank A?”

“That’s the mysterious one,” I say. “People seldom ever reach A-Rank, but it is known that it takes 50 Destiny Points to level up. However, it also takes a higher level than 20 to be able to rank up. You must remember that there has not been an S-Rank Hero on Mystix in a millennium. It is possible that the ability to rank up to S is not even an option until Level 40, or even 50.”

“Oh, dang. So… 50 points to Rank C, 600 points to Rank B, 800 points to Rank A… 2500 points to Rank S if we’re stretching that… So if you want to get to the top, you need about 3950 more Destiny Points.”

“Precisely why I am skeptical about your idea that I will be able to reach the top in a matter of weeks. It seems nearly impossible.”

“Hmm… So if we’re working super overtime and you get about one Destiny Point per hour, that’s about 168 points per week, and… Okay, that’s about 24 weeks to get to the top. That’s not too bad.” Francis looks off into the distance as he checks his math. I am very surprised about just how intelligent this young man is. He is doing these calculations completely in his own head. “I don’t know about Mystix, but 24 weeks is about half a year. So if we work hard, you’ll reach the S-Rank by Christmas time. Or, um, I mean, by the end of the year. Winter time.”

“I see. That’s… somewhat remarkable. But it seems not too feasible that I could earn a full twenty-four points every single day. I only earned eleven yesterday, after all.”

“Once we optimize things, you’ll be a Destiny Point-earning powerhouse. Trust me,” he says.

“But what if I need to use Destiny Points to draw new cards?”

“…Don’t… Don’t do that. What is the point in cards and whatever anyway?”

“They’re the primary source of all magic… And it is quite dangerous to sacrifice Life Points for them, you know.”

Francis shakes his head. “You’re not thinking about this like a gamer. You’ve got to min-max. You have to grind for a few thousand hours and then you’ll be so far done that you can draw all the cards you want. Until then, though, you’ve got to find a way that doesn’t involve any cards.”


“Oh, I just realized, I forgot something at home,” Delta says. “When is the bus?”

“Fifteen minutes says the app,” Francis tells her. “So about nineteen minutes.”

“I don’t understand…”

“Buses are always later than the scheduled time, so we take that into account when we are scheduling anything. And since everyone is taking it into account and showing up later, the buses never change from being late themselves. It’s a bit of a paradox, really.”

Delta goes back into her home, which is actually right in front of the bus stop. It is a quaint and small one-story house, one that makes Francis’s household look quite massive in comparison. I am surprised that someone with such charisma and prowess as Delta cannot afford a much larger residence, especially if she already plans to sire a child through mysterious technological means.

San Fransisco must be a starter town, a place where those without wealth must make do with small houses in compact places. That would explain why everything is so close together and so small as well. I could never imagine a place like this being more than a month’s salary for someone in the Adventurer’s Guild.

The more I stare at Delta’s house, though…

I start to feel uneasy.

“There is a presence there,” I say.

“What?” Francis asks.

“In that house. There is a great strength emanating from the building Delta lives in. Something great enough that even my limited abilities can detect it.”

“That’s… that’s Julie,” Francis says. “Delta’s wife.”

“Julie. A strong name for a strong woman.”

“Yeah, she’s a professor at San Fransisco State University. And she’s… she’s a pretty tough lady.”

“I see… I’m a little nervous about that, I will admit.”

Delta comes back with a rucksack on her back filled with snacks for all of us to enjoy (but mostly me). The bus soon comes and we get on. But for the duration of our wait for the bus, my mind keeps turning itself to Julie Rafati, a woman with a power so strong I can sense it from across the street.

I feel like I may have to face her in combat one day. But I pray that it never comes to that.

Special: Delta’s Life at the Office

Delta sighs.

She sighs countless times every day, and so this specific sigh is nothing special in the slightest. Still, for some reason she notes it and holds it in much higher regard than any of the other times today.

It might be the sigh that broke the camel’s back. The first of the day to truly make her feel like this was going to be another one of those days…

Today is Saturday. Today is supposed to be her one real, true off day. But instead, she’s up early at the office, in even earlier than usual.

She walks through the entrance to the Bustable Lemons headquarters, greets the janitors finishing off their nightly duties, and takes the elevator to the sixth floor.

Another sigh.

Julie is going to kill her if she ever finds out what she’s doing. Delta knows deep in her heart that she is already a dead woman, a walking corpse who will face righteous retribution no matter what else she does. Continuing to commit even more egregious offenses won’t make her MORE fucked, so she may as well keep doing it.

The car crash was tough enough to explain. The pink-haired moron with magic powers was impossible to explain. Doing what she is about to do is outright moronic to explain.

All to help this helpless, low-IQ young man who is a bit too dull to figure out his own way around the world, she is about to lie to her wife, lie to her bosses, and lie maybe even to herself. Why? All out of some sense of loyalty to Francis Bacall, her closest friend since childhood? Some sense of duty to help those less fortunate and much dumber?

Or maybe, deep inside her, there is some sense of adventure boiling up that begs her to indulge in Eryk’s delusional fantasies about becoming a hero? Maybe, in her heart of hearts, she wants to explore and fight and try new things? Is that what Delta feels?

…Maybe not.

Delta is probably just a pushover.

The elevator stops and the door opens to her floor: Bustable Lemons, Marketing Department. Ugh.

Yes, Delta works in one of the most shameful professions in all of modern society. She is the one who comes up with the subway advertisements, the focus-tested limited edition flavor variants, the jingles that play incessantly on the radio, before movies, during Hulu commercial breaks…

Delta has signed her soul to the devil for $80,000 a year.

She’s so much of a pushover that not only did she take the most morally repugnant job available, she has even sucked up to her boss and made herself a favorite employee of the higher-ups. Everything she stands for as a human has been excised from her being since she began her tenure at Bustable Lemons, the seventh most-popular soft drink company in the Western United States.

“Hiya, Delta,” the secretary Yancy greets. He is sweet and soft-spoken, exactly the qualities that makes Delta forget he ever existed every time she walks past him in the mornings.

“Oh, are you in this morning?” asks Jimmy Chung, the coworker in charge of mailing list data analysis who hits on her practically every day, even after he attended her own wedding three years ago. And is twenty years older than her. “Always the hard worker, Ms. Rafati.”

“Nope, just popping in,” Delta politely responds. She puts on the fakest smile she can muster just to drive him off a little bit more before he can get another creepy compliment in.

“Oh, well, take care. Congratulations about the you-know-what.”

She doesn’t respond.

Sunbeams shoot in through the windows, because this office was designed specifically to allow as much natural light in as possible. It’s “conducive to a healthy work environment” or something, though it mostly means during this early in the morning it’s just bright as shit and hurts her eyes.

Delta knocks on her boss’s door.

Her boss doesn’t respond.

She waits exactly fourteen seconds, then knocks again.

Another non-response.

Another knock.

Finally, the door opens and a very sleepy looking woman gazes at her. “Delta…?” she asks. “Why are you here…?”

Looks like she’s been sleeping at the office again. How the hell a woman in her position be a workaholic for something as irrelevant as marketing for Bustable Lemons, Delta will never know. Though it is more likely to be something like a saucy affair with a coworker.

“Ms. Hausen,” Delta says. “I’d like to talk to you about something a little important.”

“Uh, um, yeah, sure,” Ms. Hausen says. “Come on in.” She groans and opens the door wider.

Unlike the rest of the floor, Ms. Hausen’s corner office is dim and has only one window, currently shuttered. The woman is pouring herself a glass of orange juice and wobbling a little bit, suggesting at least a small hangover. Delta suspects it’s more than just alcohol that’s running through her system, if the rumors are true.

“Ms. Hausen, I’m sorry to bother you,” she says as a mere courtesy.

“No, no, it’s alright. You’re always such a good employee. One of the best. You got three reports done in three days! In fact, I need you to do a fourth one since my boss is really riding my ass about—”

Before she can get thrown yet another idiotic task when it’s not even her day to be at work, she interrupts, saying, “I need to take time off.”

“You… Huh?”

“I need an extended break from work for, um, reasons,” Delta says. Reasons that involve a pink-haired magical being from another universe where video game stats are the norm, but obviously she was never going to indulge that. “Starting Monday.”

“But you took yesterday off, too…”

“I’m sorry. It’s…”

Ms. Hausen tilts her head to the side. “Are you and Julie…?”


“Oh, that’s right! The baby!” Ms. Hausen exclaims. “When is it due?”

The better question is when it will be conceived, but it’s clear that Julie’s near-reality bending powers have convinced the entire world that their discussion about a baby is already a done deal and Delta is already six months pregnant or something. This could play to her benefit.

“Um, all I can say at the moment is that I will be gone for a few weeks or more. Probably.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful. Of course you can have the time off. Get ready for your family, Delta! Then take your maternity leave and go get’em.”


“I took six years off work back when I had my twins,” Ms. Hausen says. “Don’t be like me. Keep on trucking by being prepared for everything that’ll ever come your way. Work and family are insperable aspects of human life!”


Delta rolled her eyes, but only on the inside.

“So you won’t be able to do the report? The deadline is tomorrow morning…”

“Sorry, Ms. Hausen. I’ll be out of town by then.”

“For… what?”

Ah, shit. “For, um, a really good doctor in Sacramento my wife and I have chosen,” she lies.

“Oh, that’s nice. Well, have a good time and be right back here the absolute moment your maternity leave is over, and not a second later.”

“Yes ma’am.”

Delta refuses a glass of orange juice and takes her leave from Ms. Hausen’s office. She declines to help with the copy on the new Bustable Limes website mockup, and then passes Yancy once again without remembering to take in his existence for more than five seconds.

As she leaves the Bustable Lemons headquarters and heads on the train back home, Delta is struck with the feeling that all the constant lies are going to come back to bite her in the ass in the very near future. But, honestly, she doesn’t particularly care.

Chapter 30: Mystifying

Another night.

Another haze.

I see around me a forest, the same one that has haunted my unconsciousness before.

No HUD, no Life Points, no sense of truly being here. I’m like a… passive observer of some kind.

The darkness around me is all-consuming. The light is so sparse and so faint that the trees in the forest seem less like plants than like fragments of some long-forgotten world.

I feel fully absorbed by this world.

No animals scurry around. No wind rustles through the leaves. No sounds of dirt against my feet while I move my body forwards. The stillness is palpable. I am unfamiliar with this feeling, and yet it is the only feeling I can think to conjure up within myself.

Sadness, fear, happiness, joy—nothing has any relationship within myself anymore. I am detached, like a part of a forest now.

I float.

I move.

I wait.

Something will happen eventually, anything to change this status quo. Something to expel the darkness and show me what is here. What I expect is for this moment to end.

But what I want is to remain like this forever. Aimlessly moving forward in a dark, damp environment, passing by trees, passing through brushes, my eyes in a full rotation of 360 degrees around me, giving me a full view of everything around me.

My skin is cold. My breath, whenever I remember to breathe, soaks my lungs in an air so chilly my body starts to freeze over.

I have so many questions about where I am, how I am, why I am… even who I am. This entire existence is a mystery to me. And yet I don’t wish to have those questions answered. I would so much rather stay here in my current state of being. I would like to remain the way I am in this moment for the rest of time, just being me, just being here, just being how I am.

Emotions drain from my body. I will soon have no pleasure, no desire, no specific feelings for anything other than my status quo, my equilibrium that propels me to hover and move ever so slightly through the rest of time.

As long as I am in this dark forest in the blackest of nights, as long as my mind cannot move my body in any direct way, I will succeed at this path.

The only success I can muster is if I have no further successes or anything else. Nothing at all.


Absolutely nothing.

I say all of this, but for some reason, my body is moving faster than I would like. My body is floating, but it is floating at a speed that is increasing, slowly but surely.

The forest goes deep. It goes so deep there may never be an end. But, despite the emotions leaving my being faster than I can move my body, my body is still trudging on. It is still moving forwards as if I really want to reach the deepest, most central core of the entire wooded area.

My heart, or what’s left of it, races.

There is a foreboding feeling surging within me. I am being urged to cooperate with this feeling, as if I will find answers as soon as possible.

I venture further.


Even further still.

Until finally, I am so far that—


Wait a minute.

This is a dream, and I have realized it as such.

I am not conscious. I am in a world of my mind’s own making.

Shouldn’t I be waking up right about now?

Don’t people wake up once they realize they are asleep?

So… what is happening to me?

I feel a little bit more. My sensations are stronger. My body moves forward, and I can feel it moving forward a little bit more.

Maybe… Just maybe…

I try to reach out, try to move my hand forward.

And I can feel it raising, even if I cannot see it. My own arm is too shrouded in darkness to make out, it seems.

The forest thins out.

The darkness begins to fade, at least a little bit.

There is a grove, an outcropping, at the heart of darkness, the core of the forest.

I am here.

And so is someone else.

“Hello, Eryk,” the voice says.

A voice I could recognize anywhere. It’s—





What is that infernal racket?


Wait a minute. I sit up and groan loudly. It’s that damned alarm clock again.

Francis is still asleep in his bed. The fact that he isn’t waking up despite an alarm that loud and that annoying is going to really piss me off…

…Though, I’m already feeling a little bit angry anyway.

Why in The Goddess’s name did I have another dream like that, anyway? And why are my memories of it already so hazy? I saw a person, a voice, had so many feelings.

And it’s all vanishing from my mind faster than a beaver building a war-dam. Damn.

I get up and turn the alarm off by swiping on Francis’s phone. He takes another five minutes and a lot of prodding on my part to finally wake up himself. It turns out he had another long night of video game streaming.

But once he is ready and dressed, he is as energetic and peppy as ever. He runs into the kitchen and slides on the hardwood floor with his socks.

“Errrryyyyyk!” he shouts.

“Keep it down,” his father replies. He reads the daily newspaper while he sits at the kitchen table. Francis’s mother is here too, washing the dishes by hand.

“Eryk,” he tells me, “you better be ready for what I’ve got in store for today.”

“Oh? What’s the next step in your master plan?” I ask.

“Crashing this Destiny Point system,” he says, “with no survivors!”

“That sounds particularly dangerous,” I say.

“It may be. It may be. C’mon, let’s go meet Delta and start the plan.”

“Will you be deciding to inform me of the plan ahead of time, today?” I ask.

“Oh, yeah, sure.” Francis puts his hand to his chin in contemplation. “Well, on Earth we call it boxing. Maybe that doesn’t make sense to you now, but—”

“I know all about boxing,” I interrupt.

“You do?”

“Of course! It’s one of the most popular sports on Mystix, especially among the Orc peoples.”

“…Really?” Francis asks. “Are you sure you’re not talking about box throwing or something?”

“What do you mean?” I ask. “Boxing is about box throwing.”

Francis’s expression goes incredibly silly for a moment. “No, um. Boxing on Earth is a very different sport. I won’t spoil the surprise too much, but let’s just say you’ll be gaining some Destiny Points very soon.”

I feel reassured just by those final words. As long as I have my friends with me helping me, it doesn’t matter what stupid dreams I have or what dangers I may face. I’ll earn Destiny Points, have fun, and become the ultimate hero. That’s all that matters.

Chapter 29: Three Scenes and Some Thoughts About Various Subjects

The car trip back home.

It’s actually a bit quiet. I think all of us are pretty tired, and though the sun is still high in its warm summer glow, it’s starting to get pretty late.

I have 35 Destiny Points now. That’s enough to draw two Destiny Cards and still level up if I ever need. Though, with over 12,000 LP still remaining, it doesn’t seem like that will be a particularly difficult task for the time being.

For some reason, I expected that bear to be a tougher fight, especially if I was tasked with defeating it without harming it whatsoever. But it turns out that my [Strength,] [Power,] and [Deftness] are simply too high for a beast like that to overcome.

On Mystix, even the most fearsome of non-magical animals tend to be easily overcome by warriors with the Destiny Deck system within themselves. From the looks on the faces of my two companions, though, it doesn’t seem like humans on Earth have much of any attack power to overcome something as massive as a bear without weapons.

“You were great back there,” Francis says. “I didn’t know you were such a good wrestler!”

“I didn’t either,” I say. “It was quite stressful at first, but eventually I got the hang of it and it clicked into place.”

“So cool…”

“Still, I am confused about one thing,” I say. “Why did we leave the bear unharmed? We could have skinned its fur and sold it for a great price.”

“Uh, well…” Francis rubs the back of the neck. “Earth is a bit weird, isn’t it?”

“We don’t do that here,” Delta says simply. “We aren’t animal killers.”

“You let beasts like those roam free? Surely they kill thousands a year.”

“No, only about four or five people are killed by bears every year.”

“In the entire world?!”


“With beasts that size?!”

“We have a lot of weapons on Earth. Honestly, this car alone could kill almost any animal on the planet.” Delta is quiet for moment. “There aren’t many bears left anymore. Humans are too good at killing the things that scare us. Now animals are the ones scared of us.”

“I see…”

“So we don’t kill animals if we can help it. And that’s final.”

I nod. “That makes much sense. I shall heed your word as best as I can.”

“Thank you,” she says.

“Though… I could have felled that bear with a single shot of my arrow,” I say. “It would have been glorious. I could have done it with one hand tied behind my back.”

“Eryk… You can’t shoot an arrow with one hand,” Francis tells me.

“That’s patently untrue. I do it all the time. I did it when we were at that convention yesterday.”

“You… did?”


“That’s not true. That’s impossible.”

“Search your feelings. You know it to be true.”

“….No,” he says. “No.”

“Fair enough.”

With my stomach less utterly destroyed than it was several hours ago, I eat more convenience store snacks, gain [+3 DP,] and enjoy the rest of our trip back to San Fransisco.

Mt. Diablo was an interesting and beautiful place. If that is what Earth has to offer, then I am quite excited to see the rest of this wide world.


We’re back in the crowded city and nearly back to Francis’s house. I enjoy watching the bizarre sights around me. Despite what I have been told, I see people with green and orange hair quite frequently while I stare out at the street. In fact, there ia even a man whose ear lobes have been stretched out significantly and giant rings implanted in them. It looks tremendously painful but oddly fashionable; he is likely a warrior of some kind.

“After I drop you off I’ll return the rental car and then have a nice dinner with the old ball and chain,” Delta says.

“Broccoli casserole again?” I ask, still not sure what casserole is. Or broccoli.

“No.” She pauses for a moment. “Just normal dinner.”

The car stops outside Francis’s house, but rather than unbuckle his seat belt, Francis leans in closer to Delta and says, “So about the baby thing.”

She sighs. “Yes, the baby thing. Your parents told you, didn’t they?”

“They told me it was a secret because you thought I would be embarrassed about how badly I am doing in life.”

“That’s… your parents talking, not me,” she says. “I haven’t told you anything because… Well, I’m still thinking about it.”

“And why are you giving thought to this decision still?” I ask.

“Butt out,” Delta snaps. “This is between me and Francis.”


“So you aren’t for sure going to have a baby?” Francis asks.

“I… have discussed this quite a bit with Julie recently.”

“…Oh, I see. I understand. Julie wants it.”


“And if Julie is determined about something…” Delta trails off. Her facial expression does not change, but her eyes shift.

“I apologize for intruding again, but who is Julie?” I ask.

“Huh?” Francis seems confused. “Oh. Julie is Delta’s wife. She’s, um… a little intense. And kind of scary…”

“Don’t say that,” Delta says. “Julie is…”


“Julie is a determined person.”

Francis shrugs. “You can tell her no if you really don’t think you’re ready. I mean, you’re twenty-two. Is it really time?”

“I’m ready,” she says. “Physically, financially, psychologically, I’m ready.”


“Well…” Delta’s composure starts to break.

From what I can gather, Delta’s wife, someone who has a reputation for being a passionate and serious individual, is very adamant about starting a family, but Delta herself is not quite ready. That is an intriguing and yet perplexing thought. Delta herself is such a serious individual that seeing her embroiled in something like this is—


“Wait,” I say. “Babies.”


“Yes, babies. How in The Goddess’s name do two women have babies?”

Delta’s composure returns completely. “You know what? Get out of the damn car. I’ll meet you tomorrow after I run some errands. Hurry, get out.”

We climb out as fast as possible and she speeds away.

“Oh, Delta,” Francis sighs. “I hope she ends up alright. I’ve hardly seen her like this.”

“Seriously, I must know. How do two women conceive a child together?”

“Um, Earth has a lot of cool technology stuff that—” Francis groans. “You know what? It’s really complicated. Let’s just go inside. I’ll pull it up on my computer later and show you or something.”

“Earth is an endlessly fascinating place.”

“Uh, yeah. If you say so.”


I lay on the roll-out mat, staring up at the ceiling while Francis lays on his side in bed and tries to get some sleep.

Possibly for all the sugar I ate as a part of the snacks I consumed today, I am having significant troubles in falling asleep. I am wide awake, as if I could go outside and become a defender of justice who fights any and all who commit wrongs against innocent people.

But instead I’ve just been introspecting for a while while wearing some nice soft sleepwear clothing known as “pajamas.” It’s an extremely comfortable situation, even if the topics in my mind are not.

Some of that introspection requires some extra thought. So, even if it may be a little rude, I begin to speak.

“Francis? Are you awake?” I ask.

“Mhm,” he mutters. I’m not quite sure he is.

“Have you ever been in love?” I ask.

“Um, Eryk, that question is a little…”

“Because I have,” I say. “And yet I chose Earth over love.”

He doesn’t respond.

“I died without saying goodbye to Malia,” I say. “My lover for years. And yet when our car crashed and I died again, The Goddess gave me a second chance. She said I could reincarnate on any world of my choosing, even Mystix again. But I chose Earth. For some reason, despite everything, I chose Earth again.”

“Really…?” Francis yawns. “That’s… silly, isn’t it?”

“Perhaps. I was so excited about the prospect of returning to Earth and becoming its ultimate champion, its very first S-Rank Hero, that I didn’t truly consider the magnitude of my decision. To be frank, I was an idiot.”

“Did this Malia girl really mean that much to you?”

“I loved her. Love her, rather. I wish the very best for her and hope that she will have a long and happy life in her second century on Mystix.”

“Second… century?”

“Ah, yes. She is an elf, and a little over a hundred years old as well.”

“God, that sounds…”

“She has much experience under her belt. She was my most valued ally first, and a lover second. But… I do miss her touch. I miss the romance and passion.”

“Ehh… Can we not talk about this right now?” Francis asks. “I’d like to go to sleep.”

“I apologize. I was merely stricken by an odd feeling after I learned of the predicament with Delta and her wife. I never had a similar conundrum, but… it’s one I can relate to, somehow.”

“In what way?”

“Choosing. Choosing between duty and honor, or love and family.”


“Maybe that choice isn’t such a binary thing. But I know not.”

“Goodnight, Eryk.”

“Oh. I apologize again.”

He once again doesn’t respond. A few minutes later, he begins snoring.

I lie awake on my mat wondering about these same things, but eventually I drift into slumberland myself.

Chapter 28: The Great Test (Part Four)

The mother bear leaps out from the outcrop and lands with a resounding thud in front of us.


The cub looks at its mother with curious eyes and prances over to her. But then halfway there it turns around and scurries over to Francis’s leg.

The mother is not at all pleased with the situation.

“P-p-p-please go away,” Francis says with chattering teeth. “Good bear, good bear…”

“I assume this is not a friendly animal,” I say.

“Correct,” Delta says, staring blankly at the beast in front of us.

“Excellent.” A grin grows from ear to ear on my face. This is perfect. Almost TOO perfect.

“Delta, if we die,” Francis says, “I just want you to know I support your decision, even if you don’t want to tell me.”

Delta glares at him. “What the hell are you talking about?”

“You two having a baby, I mean.”

“What? How the hell did you find—Ugh, this is the worst possible time to mention that.”

“Sorry. I just think we’re about to be mauled by a friggin’ bear!”

“Let’s survive this and I’ll talk about it later, okay?”

“Okay, I—Eryk, what are you doing?”

I approach the mother bear even closer. I stare into its eyes and keep my smile wide. I step forward and poof out my bow and arrow from my inventory.

The mother bear glares at me with intense anger. She knows we’re about to have our duel. But she doesn’t know the swift pain that death will br—

“Eryk! No!” Francis shouts. “Stop right this instant!”


“Don’t hurt the bear or I’ll never forgive you!”


The bear snarls at me. Its sharp teeth are bared to me and with just one swipe it could take my Life Points down to near-zero.

I need to fight.

“You can’t hurt it. It’s just an animal and it’s got a cute baby bear right here.”

The cub makes a cute sound.

“I really think that we should kill this before it kills us,” I say.

“Don’t kill it! Please!”

“…Defeat it, but leave it completely unharmed?”

“Please!!! I don’t want to be an animal murderer…”

“You will not be an animal murderer; merely an accomplice of one.”


“Okay, fine,” I say. “Fine. I will defeat the bear without causing it any injuries. That, or I will fail, be mauled, and you will be responsible for my death.”

“Well, you don’t have any ID and so you’ll never go missing, so as long as we hide your body nobody will ever catch us,” Delta says.

That was a little bit too well-thought-out for my liking, so I decline to respond to her.

“Fine, then. Leave it to me. The hero, as always.”

“Don’t be an ass, Eryk,” both say simultaneously.

Declining to be an ass, I step up closer to the bear.

The mother bear is about to attack me. The bear cub is still playing with an absolutely terrified Francis.

[12,336/15,000 LP.]

My time to strike is now.

“Engarde!” I shout.

I leap at the beast—

It freezes in shock— then raises up on its hind legs and gets ready to strike.

That’s a bit of an odd move, I think, since it is now somewhat vulnerable. And luckily that plays right into my hands. Literally.

I grab the bear by its front legs and hoist it up in a swift throw. It catches itself before it tumbles over on its back, and wobbles for a second before becoming steady. It stands upright like a human.

“Bears can stand upright?!” I yell.

“Yeah, isn’t it adorable?” Francis asks.

“I wish you were more terrified,” I say. “Because I am.”

But, terrified or not, I won’t allow myself to be bested by a monstrous animal. I grapple the bear’s hands and begin my battle tango.

It roars and snaps at me, but I move my head out of the way. I refuse to let go of its arms even as it struggles as much as it can.

The fear is creeping in—the fear of Eryk Solbourne, D-Rank [Adventurer] and future hero of Earth!

I wrestle the bear to the ground. It trashes and swipes but I’m too close to it to make any effort.

We’re tumbling around. First I’m on top, then it rolls over and it’s on me. Then we roll over and I’m on top of it. It’s growing more tired, less fearsome, the longer I hold it down.


“Roar back at you, you beast!”

It throws me off of it and then rolls back on all fours.

I beckon it closer, but when it charges I jump out of the way. It turns around and does the same thing, and then I hop over it—

—and land right on its back!


I ride the bear like a horse, but even as it bucks I stay steady. Try as it might, the bear is fully under my control.

When I feel like it’s had enough, I jump back off with a stylistic backflip, the glint of my arrow’s tip shining from the sun above.

When I land on my feet and take a bow, the bear loses itself. It wobbles, raises its head… then collapses on the grass.



[+1 DP.]

Delta and Francis are speechless.

The bear cub stands upright and claps its hands.

“That is how you defeat an enemy,” I say. “My tutorial is concluded.”

“Holy shit,” Francis finally says. “You actually wrestled a bear to submission. You…”

“We should leave these bears the snacks I left unfinished,” I say. “That shall be our reward to them for allowing me a Destiny Point.”

“Yeah and we should probably get out of here before the mama bear wakes up,” Francis says.

“Agreed,” Delta says.

We leave some snacks, gather up the blanket and cooler, and run back to the car as fast as we can.

Our Great Test has concluded.

Chapter 27: The Great Test (Part Three)

Francis throws a punch in the direction of my stomach, but I flashstep away from it and avoid it with milliseconds to spare.

He tumbles to the ground and skids along the grass. “Owww, ouch ow owie.”

“I knew it!” I shouted. “You brought me here to kill me!”

“No,” Delta says. “Eryk, no—”

I pick Francis up and hoist him over my shoulders. “You will not take me from my life!”

“You’ll have done that yourself if you throw my best friend,” Delta says. “Calm the hell down and let’s explain like rational adults instead of acting like morons like Francis just did.”

I understand what she’s saying. I set Francis down gently on his feet and try not to think about the fact he just tried to attack me seconds ago.

And in the possible event that this is another trick and they’re trying to ambush me again, I make sure to check my stats and Destiny Cards just to make sure I’m prepared.

[12,444/15,000 LP.]

[34 DP.]

And my Destiny Card hand:

Transmigrated Spirit: Rank 3. Summon an otherworldly spirit to assist for five minutes. Cost: 444 LP.
Super Hearing: Rank 1. Increase sonic perception abilities dramatically for five minutes. Cost: 70 LP.
Kaio Blast: Rank 3. Doubles combat stats for 2 minutes. Cost: 500 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: (Empty)
Inventory Slot: Rank 4. Store an item here to retrieve for future use. Current item: Bow and arrow.

This is all fine and well, though I sorely miss my glorious short sword that was obliterated by a truck during my bout with Buddy, the awful used car dealership man.

If I have to fight my two friends, I’m not going to hold back. Not for anything.

Before they even begin talking, I quickly do a double-move:

First, I use the [Minor Heal] card that’s mostly just a waste of space in my inventory.

I feel a rush on the inside—

[+1000 LP.]

[13,443/15,000 LP.]

—and now I’m healed.

Then, with a Life Point drain, I draw a card—


[-1100 LP.]


[12,343/15,000 LP.]

Well, let’s see what the new card is:

Foresight: Rank 4. See the next five Destiny Cards in the Destiny Deck. Cost: 140 LP.

That’s… an extremely useful card, actually. However, it’s completely useless in a combat situation, so it was a bad draw. My Destiny is not always what I wish.

“Are you even listening to me?” Delta asks.

“Yes, every single word,” I say with an extreme hint of suspicion.

“You look more suspicious than Francis when he keeps saying all that weird stuff to me all day,” she says. “So clearly you’re not.”


“Our third test today is about Destiny Points and fighting,” she says. “We’re going to do a mock fight to see if you can gain points that way.”


“What did you think we were actually trying?”

“I, um, I don’t know.”

“Well, now that you know not to take it seriously, we can—”

“No, this won’t work,” I say. “Fighting alone is not what gives [Adventurers] Destiny Points. It is the act of defeating an an enemy. If you did not tell me that this wasn’t a serious fight and I had thrown Francis like I intended, I perhaps would have earned a Destiny Point. As it stands now, though, that will never happen.”

“Dammit, that’s what I was worried about,” Delta said. “I just didn’t know if you’d injure him or not if you threw him really far.”

“Aw, you care about me,” Francis says.

“I owe a great deal of debt to his parents, so I would be in a lot of trouble if he came to serious harm.”


“Well, I can say that there is no way to earn Destiny Points from fighting unless it is a serious deal. Training, sparring, and play fighting simply will not work. You could have asked me, you know.”

“We know…” Francis looks downtrodden. “My main plan was a huge bust…”

“It was no bust,” I tell him, though mostly to calm him down since it was a fairly stupid idea. “I appreciate your help. You have been very valuable to me in my quest for Destiny Points.”

“Aw, thank you.”

“No, thank you.”

“No, thank YOU.”

“No, th—”

“Thank you, but I’m done with this conversation,” Delta says. “If there is no way to fight either of us and gain points, then I guess that’s bunk. We’ll have to find some other way to help you.”

“No more Destiny Points? Then this place was mostly a waste to come to, wasn’t it? Aside from the lovely view, that is.”

“Not a waste YET.” Francis points over to the forest. “Punch those trees!”

What? “What?”

“Hurry! They’re enemies! Go punch them!”


“Yes! They’re evil trees!”

“I don’t believe you,” I say.

“Wh—why not?” Francis asks.

“You’re trying to trick me into defeating an ‘opponent’ even though it’s just an inanimate object.”

“Th—You really think that?”

“I’m no idiot, Francis Bacall,” I say. “I am Eryk Solbourne, and while I may be a newcomer to this world, I am not easily fooled!”


“There really is a rustling in those trees, though,” Delta says. “Don’t you see it?”

Huh? What does she mean? I look out in the forest and—

A baby animal runs out into the outcrop and approaches us. It is tiny and cute and surprisingly very friendly.

“Aw, what a nice animal,” I say.

Francis and Delta are in massive shock. Their faces have gone so pale I’m worried they’ll both faint.

“E-e-e-e-eryk,” Francis begins. “T-that’s a bear cub.”

“A bear cub?”

Delta isn’t stammering like Francis, but she looks visibly shocked as well. “A baby bear.”

“So this is the child of a larger animal, you mean?”

“Yeah… A lot larger.”

“I have never seen a bear before,” I say. “If they are this cute, I’d quite like to meet—”


Oh, there it is.

Chapter 26: The Great Test (Part Two)

After another hour of driving…

I’m starting to get antsy, I must admit. For how far away from San Fransisco we now are, it’s somewhat disoncerting to me. Just this morning I was in a vast city filled with towering buildings and people everywhere I could see. Now I am travelling on a small road with only forest and grass around.

If I didn’t trust the judgment of my two friends so much, I’d start to suspect they brought me out to the wilderness to murder me. But they would never do that. I’m too likeable and nice.

“We’re almost to the spot,” Delta tells us.

“’The spot…?’” Francis seems confused for a second, then goes, “Oh, the spot! Right.”

“I do not follow,” I say.

“We used to come here all the time,” Francis says. “It’s a special spot right near Mt. Diablo where you can see the whole mountain and it’s beautiful.”

“Fitting name, too, considering the circumstances,” Delta says. “We first came here the day after I got my license. I was so sick of living with my conservative asshole parents that I took their car without asking, drove all the way out here with a few friends, and we just hung out all day in the sun. They never said a word, so I kept doing it.”

“Your parents cared about conservation?” I ask.

“No, no,” Francis says. “She means like, her parents are really religious Persians so they were super strict and didn’t accept her very much.”

“Don’t know why they even bothered living so long in San Fransisco, the gayest damn city in the planet, if they were just going to act like jerks about everything,” Delta says to herself.

“Where do they live now?” I ask.

“Orange County.”

“Oh, I see. You know, I’m very religious, too,” I say. “My faith in The Goddess is absolutely unparalleled.”

“I mean, that’s not…” Francis tries to find the right words. “You met The Goddess, right? So you have proof.”

“I never needed proof.”

“What I mean is, neither do they, even though they’re… wrong?”

“Not necessarily ‘wrong,’” I say. “Perhaps the religions on Earth are all permutations of the same belief systems across all worlds. There are so many of them, and I saw a very informative computer panel showing a great many of them all at the same time. It was one of the most overwhelming yet satisfying experiences in my life thus far.”

“Like that awesome part in the second Matrix movie,” Francis says. “I wanna go there.”

“I think you have to be killed in a noble sacrifice,” I say. “And also be a North Spiran or the reincarnation of one. Something like that. We are apparently some sort of Chosen People.”

“That’s… really awesome.” Francis is too in awe to say anything more.

We drive for a little while longer, up a winding mountain path and then back down into a valley area. We reach an outcrop surrounded by trees, with a little stream passing by, and, as promised, a great view of Mt. Diablo.

“We’re here,” Delta says. “The spot.”

“I had my first kiss here, you know,” Francis says.

“I lost my virginity here,” Delta adds.

“You… What?!”

“I’m lying.”

“…Oh. You’re so mean to me, Delta.”

We step out of the vehicle. Delta takes the large cube, a cooler filled with waters and snacks (please don’t make me eat more junk food), and brings it out to the middle of the outcrop.

I take a look at the view of the mountains.


I’ve seen a great many sights in my time on Mystix. I’ve travelled across continents, visited remote islands, fought battles in gigantic caverns, and yet I never get sick of sights like these.

The world is beautiful. Earth, just like Mystix, is filled with wonder and adventure. Sights like Mt. Diablo here are a testament to that.


[+1 DP.]

“Ah-HA!” Francis shouts. “We were right! We wre friggin’ right!”

“What? Wait. Oh! I got a Destiny Point!”

“He got a Destiny Point!”

“Yes, he got a Destiny Point.”

“I can’t believe it!” I say.

“I really can believe it.” Delta sets down the cooler and rolls out a blanket. “That is exactly what the [Adventurer] class is supposed to be about, right?”

“Yes, but you’ve been here many times before. [Adventurers] are only supposed to get Destiny Points for finding places that are far-off or secret, long-lost or sparsely populated. Places where other [Adventurers] have seldom ventured.”

“And you are literally the first [Adventurer] to ever visit here… Wow!” Francis exclaims. “Do you know what that means?”

“Yes. It means every single new landmark and natural beauty, every hidden city… It’s all mine for the taking. Hundreds… No, thousands of Destiny Points for the taking.”

“Yep,” Delta says calmly. “And this test means our job has become that much easier.” Delta sits down on the blanket. “Come on. Let’s have a picnic.”

“What do you mean easier?” Francis asks.

“What’s a picnic?” I ask.

Delta ignores me, so I sit down on the blanket anyway. “It’s easier because that means we might not have to rely so heavily on food just to keep Eryk alive,” she says. “You were the one who suggested going to a scenic spot. Did you really not think of this?”

“Honestly, I thought it’d fail… I was banking on the next part of the test being a lot more important.”

“And it might be, but I’m not taking chances on it,” she says. “Hey Eryk. You need to drink some water. Hurry. You too, Francis.” She digs into the cooler and takes out three large bottles filled with, presumably, water. The bottles are made of metal.

“Oh, thank God,” Francis says. “For a second there I thought you’d bought a bunch of plastic bottled waters and helped kill the planet just a little bit more.”

“I’m not evil,” she says as she hands the metal bottles to us. “Well.”

I take the metal bottle and begin drinking from it. It’s some of the coldest, sweetest, most refreshing water I have ever drank in my entire life.

But still no Destiny Points. I’m starting to think liquids just don’t count like foods do…

I finish the entire bottle. Apparently all those snacks earlier had dehyrdated me to the point that I really could chug the entire thing. I’m impressed!

“Okay, now that that’s out of the way…” Delta cracks her knuckles and then stands up. “Eryk and Francis, come over here.”

We leave the blanket and go stand over by a tree stump. Delta gets up on that stump and looks at us like a taskmaster.

“Is it time?” Francis asks.

“It’s time,” Delta says.

“I wish you’d be more transparent in explaining things to me,” I say.

Francis backs up and raises his fists. “Okay, Eryk Solbourne. I’ll explain things to you. We’re about to fight.”


Francis charges.

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