We three are “shoobies.” We are not welcome here in Santa Barbara, and the many blonde-haired, surfboard-carrying young men have expressed exactly this to us multiple times over our past hour walking along the beaches here.

There are so many people… And they’re all beautiful. But if they are all so beautiful on the outside, then why are they not beautiful on the inside? It is a quandary that I do not find will be easy to answer. It may in fact take the entirety of the humanities to research and discover the truth behind the ugliness inside of many a beautiful person.

I hate bullies. I hated the Slayers for what they did to North Spire, invading and subjugating it for no other reason than they wanted conquest and destruction. I hated that man Buddy who wrecked Delta’s car and then wanted an apology—that wreck is likely the sole reason we even came to Santa Barbara in the first place, as it ruined her car and forced us to take Amtrak the entire way (though it has been a very pleasant and comfortable experience except for the hijacking, I shall say!). Bullies ruin the world, and I want to end all of them.

And the King of bullies, this Bodhi that the surfer pirates speak so highly of… that is who we need to meet to be able to request lodging.

“After all, we’re heroes, are we not?” I speak aloud.

Delta and Francis turn to look at me with great curiosity.

“What I mean is, we were spared a robbery because of our great deeds in Paso Robles,” I say. “You say that we cannot exchange our gold or find solace here in Santa Babara, but surely our heroism cannot be overlooked. I think we should try!”

“Try, uh, what?” Francis asks.

“Try speaking with King Bodhi, of course,” I say. “I am sure we will be granted an audience if we ask. Kings are known to allow such things, at least on Mystix.”

“You’ve met a king before?” Delta asks. “First you tell us you have fathered children. Now you’re telling us you know royalty.”

“Yes, of course, but there’s hundreds and hundreds of kings just in the continents I have been to. And that’s not counting the Goblin Kings or Demon Kings or Nomadic Lordesses. It’s not quite as special when there are so many.”

“That’s what they said about the new Royals of Foreign Lands content update…” Francis mutters.

“Listen, I want to rank up soon,” I say, “and so I want to know I have the Destiny Points available to safely do so. Therefore, we need to go faster. Francis, you are the one who talked about min-maxing, whatever that may mean. How do we min-max out of this situation?”

He shrugs. “I dunno. Talk to the King, I guess.”

“Very well, then.”

I step out further onto the beach, letting the thick, clean sand squish beneath my shoes, and proclaim to all the surfers and other denizens: “Hear me! I am Eryk Solbourne, and I am a shoobie,” I shout. Practically everyone in the area turns to listen. “I am a shoobie who has two shoobie friends, Francis Bacall and Delta Rafati. We three shoobies have a plea and a request: We are trapped in this town without currency and without shelter. But we are also the heroes who saved Paso Robles not yet one day ago. Therefore, we must seek an audience with King Bodhi at all costs. We must be granted an audience so we can bargain for our very lives!”

My voice echoes much louder than I ever expected.

Several surfer dudes show up, surfboards being held like blunt object weapons. “Nobody insults the beach like this,” one of them growls. “You don’t ruin the sanctity of our tranquility by shouting all of a sudden.”

“I mean you no harm,” I say, “but it would be quite wise not to attack me.” I let Francis and Delta get out of harm’s way, something we were unable to do earlier when it seemed like the whole city was onto us. Now, it is only seven young men (and one woman).

“Oh, yeah? Then why did you cramp our zen, bruh?”

“You’re gonna pay!”

“Oh dear,” I say. “Violence begets violence… Except when I do it first. Oh well.”

A few moments later and I have knocked each and every one of them out in a battle of fisticuffs and surfboards so monotonous it would hardly be worth describing in much detail, if at all.

Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!

[+8 DP.]

[48 DP.]

“Mercy on our souls…” one of them mumbles just before passing out.

“You coulda gone a little bit easier on them,” Francis says. After I glare at him, he adds, “But nice stat-getting. I heard a bunch of dings this time.”

“I’m still uncomfortable with others hearing my ding…”

After the field is cleared, one more surfer, nearly identical to the rest, approaches us with great hostility, but no sense of harm. He does not even carry a surfboard, surprisingly.

“Yes?” I greet the man.

He pushes back his glowing, golden curls and sighs. “So, like, I heard you wanted to see King Bodhi? And, like, I guess I can show you there?”

“That would be stupendous,” I exclaim. “Lead the way.”

“This totally isn’t a trap by the way,” he says. “I promise.”

He leads us further down the beach.

It’s a trap, and a dozen men (and two women) jump forth, attempting to attack and maim me at all costs.

I’m willing to have some fun.


[-150 LP.]

I activate one of my newer cards, and target it towards the sand.

Geochange: Rank 2. Change the matter type of one 10-foot cube of land. Cost: 150 LP.

I change all of the sand below the surfers’ feet into ice.

They go slipping and sliding and become completely unable to fight.

Little did they realize, then, that I am a master ice skater thanks to my many winters in North Spire!

Some punches here, some kicks there, and even a few headbutts go by. In the end, these low-level foes go down just the same as everyone else.

Ding! (Repeated a lot)

[+14 DP.]

[62 DP.] My new total is immense! Wow.

The one surfer who did not lead us into a trap still remains conscious. He wisely chose not to battle us directly.

“Ha…Ha…” he fake-laughs. “I guess I can, like, actually show you there for real?”

“That would be good of you,” I say.

Thankfully, this time it is for real.