“And how is it?” Karen asks.

Another gulp of stinging liquid comes barreling down my throat. I barely have the ability to swallow it at this point.

By my count… that is the fifth glass. Or sixth. I’m starting to lose track…

“I don’t know,” I say. “It just tastes like grapes. Mere grapes.”

“No!” she shouts, splashing a bucket of water over me. “You didn’t taste the cinnamon profile. You didn’t even get a hint of the gun smoke. You have failed once again.”

“Please…” I hear Francis moan beside me. “No more wine tasting… He can’t take this much alcohol at once! Why are you even making him drink a whole glass each time?”

Karen shakes her head. “You’ll be next soon. We must make sure that you are proper citizens of Paso Robles, or you will never help us make our city great again.”

My vision is starting to blur and I’m starting to get a little dizzy. This will have been the first time I have gotten drunk in months at this point, and I am not looking forward to what will come forth from this.

Actually, being drunk has some benefits. It slows pain, which can lead to less Life Points being lost during a fierce battle, and the overall rate of Life Point drain slows considerably as well. If a normal person loses about [-1 LP] per minute, then someone inebriated will lose about [-.60 LP] per minute.

However, the after-effects of that… are not very pretty.

Hangovers can be deadly. And I don’t mean simply because they are very annoying and hurtful to experience. They actually cause LP damage themselves, and unfortunately they raise the Life Point drain to almost [-3 LP] per minute for the first few hours after waking. If someone is not careful, and their Life Points meter is too low when they fall asleep drunk, they could actually be in a serious health risk once the hangover begins. Beings cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is the first law of thermodynamics, after all. For every drink I take, I will be giving my life force back in return, at least in some small way.

I… do not want this. I do not want to die from alcohol poisoning while under the captivity of a Paso Robles cult.

I will do everything I can to fight back the drunkenness.

Back on Mystix, I once outlasted Borguk in a drinking contest! An orc lost to me! Granted, he is a notable lightweight despite his great stature, but as long as I don’t tell people that, it comes off as very impressive.

So I will be victorious in this as well.

Pablo Rosas, somewhat sullen-looking still, looks down at me in my chair. “You have to try the wine better,” he says. “The only way to truly embrace this city is to give in. Just give in.”

“Never!” I shout.

“Then if you will not turn,” he says, “perhaps she will.” He points his index finger to Delta, who still has yet to be subjected to the wine tasting.

Karen rubs her fingers together. “Excellent idea…”

Oh no, Delta!

But I did the [Skill Check] card earlier today. I found out the truth about her. She can’t be drinking at a time like this. Or at any time at all, for that matter. This is a matter of life and death.

The hooded figures begin pouring a glass at the table in front of her. I have to stop this.

“No!” I shout. “You can’t give her a drink. She’s with child! You’ll harm her!”

The drink pouring stops, at least until Delta glares at me with the power of a thousand suns. “I’m WHAT?”

Perhaps this was not a good place to inform her of something like this, especially when she herself seems very unaware…

“Sounds like a lie to me,” Karen says. “Plus, you are legally allowed to drink when you’re pregnant. Trust me. We live in a free country.”

They… don’ stop. They keep pouring that glass, and another hooded figure holds Delta’s head to ready her to drink this.

“I hope you can guess the flavor profile,” Karen says.


I need to break these restraints…

But when I try, they notice. Two hooded figures hold me down and begin forcing me to drink my next glass as well.

You know, I actually do taste a bit of melon in this one. Maybe wine tasting isn’t such a worthless trial after all.

But that’s beside the point! I need to rescue Delta!

What will I do…

What will I do…

What will I—hic—do…


I activate my ultimate trump card, or should I say Destiny Card:


Clone: Rank 3. Make a clone for 5 minutes. Cost: 1000 LP.

[-1000 LP.]

[8,003/15,000 LP.]

Another Eryk Solbourne appears by my side. He gives a smirk and draws an unexpected weapon—the rucksack from my inventory.

“It’s time to duel!” he exclaims.