Should I level up? Should I wait? What about increasing my rank? What should I do?

Augh! There are just too many options for me here. I’m so indecisive sometimes; it may be my fatal flaw when it comes to non-combat situations. If I am in a life or death situation, I am able to make the correct move almost every single time. But if I am in a situation that could impact my life or death weeks or months down the line, then my brain simply freezes up. I am like one of Francis’s video game characters, but without being played. I sit idly by as the person controlling me refuses to touch the control stick or the screen (there are different control methods depending on the device, something that perplexes me sometimes).

I have 71 Destiny Points, which can easily level me up twice, and nearly three times.

But the main quandry here is, as always, my Life Points…

I have only lost about 1,600 since I leveled up, as I am currently at [13,565/15,000 LP.] That is nowhere near where I want to be when I level up.

And it might be said that given my two and three quarters level-up opportunities, that I should not be so stingy with my Destiny Points, especially when I am in a place where there do not seem to be any credible threats… And yet, I continue to wonder what the right option is.

If I level up one more time and reach Level 20 at D-Rank, I will be able to rank up to C-Rank anytime I want, no cards or points required. That will increase the burden of my level-ups from then on—I believe it is 30 Destiny Points per level-up after ranking up—but as an advantage it will give me 20,000 Life Points at a time, and an extra slot in my Destiny Deck.

…Wow, the advantages truly do outweigh the disadvantages here. I don’t understand my indecision at all. Even as it stares me in the face, I simply cannot make the leap and sacrifice those points. Not after that scolding Francis gave me about how important it is to waste as little of my time on stats and cards and as much time on ranking up.

Once I reach C-Rank, it will take another 600 Destiny Points for me to be able to reach B-Rank, if I recall correctly. That is not a small sum by any means. Will I be able to reach that in just a matter of weeks? That is the reason we are on this trip, but… It is tough to know.

Right now, the three of us are riding up an elevator in the Santa Barbara Castle, heading to our Very Important Dude Suite (or VIDS for short). Only the “most righteous and truly gnarly” of people are allowed to be here, and King Bodhi herself granted the suite to us. I am very pleased about this, even if something gnaws at me that I should be more on my guard than I currently am.

For what it is worth, Francis and Delta are having a good time. They both seem much happier than when we were in Paso Robles. I like to think that our trip there helped heal some of the tension, whether that was due to the soothing hot springs or the chaos of warfare. My guess is the hot springs; you simply cannot spend hours in a bath naked with your friends and fail to grow closer together. That is the mark of true friendship.

“I can’t wait to get in there and collapse in a chair and start playing Electroplankton all night,” Francis says. “I’ve been antsing for it, and you know what happens when I’m antsing!”

“Do you need insect repellent?” I ask.

“Oh, Eryk,” he says, “I really have to show you some fighting games I bought. If you really get Destiny Points just from winning fighting game battles, then you’ve got to try these out. Uh, tomorrow, at least. Tonight’s gonna be all night all 3DS streaming.”

“Do you think there’s room service?” Delta asks. “Or maybe tons of alcohol so I can—shit! Dammit! Augh…”

Francis snaps his head over to her. “What’s wrong?”

“I can’t drink b—” She cuts herself off. “Nothing.”


“Seriously, nothing. I was just thinking about a text Julie sent me. Yeah, that.”

The elevator dings (a ding somewhat reminiscent of my Destiny Point ding, I will add) and opens to our suite!

Holy The Goddess, it is huge. It is nothing like the hotel room we had in Paso Robles. The television is gigantic. The smell is not of mild mildew but of pleasant lilac. And the bed, while the same size as the hotel, is adorned with satin sheets and pillows that look far too comfortable to truly exist. I fear I could fall asleep just touching such a bed.

Beside the bed there is a sofa with chairs next to it, and a small table in the center. Resting on that table is an ice bucket with a bottle of wine chilling inside. I would surely partake if not for my truly heinous thoughts about drinking alcohol so soon after the Paso Robles Incident. I may not be able to drink again for a month.

Delta groans loudly.

“What’s wrong?” I ask.

“One bed, again. It’s like we’re in a BL comic but somehow I’m here messing everything up.”

“If that is to say that this BL of which you speak refers to the growing love between myself and dear Francis Bacall, then let me assure you that my affections towards him remain fully pure and platonic in nature. There is no romance involved.”

Francis doesn’t seem to be listening to anything we are saying; he is already over to the other side of the room, gazing at the wide variety of soft drink cans in the fridge. “There’s fourteen flavors of Bustable Lemons soda in here!” he shouts.

“Really? That’s so diluting,” Delta says. “The choice overload will ruin most consumers who—wait. Ugh, even when I’m on vacation I can’t stop thinking about marketing.”

“Oh, right, you were in the business of advertising soft drinks, Delta. I forgot about that,” I say.

“I do my best for nobody to know where I work or what I do.”

“You should take pride in what you do! Bustable Lemons should bring a smile to the faces of your friends and family.”



The two of them explore the suite, while I step out onto the balcony and look out at the evening sky of Santa Barbara. The purple glow of the sky accents the orange roofs dotting almost every house, and the Pacific Ocean hums gently in the distance. From this far up, the beach has a soft, creamy texture, as if I could reach out, scoop it up, and consume it like I would an ice cream cone.


[+1 DP. Total: 72 DP.]

You know, while I’m being indecisive about levels, I should probably deal with my Destiny Card hand, at least…

Empathetic Link: Rank 7. Create a Mental Link with a target sentient being. Cost: 5500 LP.
Drop: Rank 1. Make someone fall over. Cost: 80 LP.
Inventory Slot: Rank 4. Store an item here to retrieve for future use. Current item: Satchel (Size: Extra Large).
Inventory Slot: Rank 4. Store an item here to retrieve for future use. Current item: (Empty)
Inventory Slot: Rank 4. Store an item here to retrieve for future use. Current item: Bow and arrow.
Transmigrated Spirit: Rank 3. Summon an otherworldly spirit to assist for five minutes. Cost: 444 LP.

As you can see, I have a vacancy that must be addressed. And it can only be addressed in the best of ways—


[-953 LP.]

[12,599/15,000 LP.]

And here is a brand new card—

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

Oh, it’s HOLOGRAPHIC [Kaio Blast!] Wow!

I haven’t gotten a holographic card in so long that it brings some sense of nostalgia to my heart. I love it. Holographic cards do not provide any extra bonus, but they give an extremely flashy animation whenever I use them. They are extremely valuable to certain Destiny Card collectors who like to show off their best cards, back on Mystix.

I’ll have to surprise Francis and Delta later.

For now, the three of us are clearly beat. Almost in unison, we each collapse on the bed. First me, and then Francis and Delta climb on and squish me into the middle.

A one-bed night once again… I wonder how it got like this.

Francis cuddles up to me, getting a little bit too close for comfort at this moment. He is a very warm person, and so is this room. “Could you please move?” I ask.

“Nope,” he says. He winks at me.


“That’s what you get for being in the middle,” Delta says. She takes the TV remote and turns the gigantic screen on. It shows the local news—Santa Barbara Kingdom TV.

Yay, parades! The TV shows a large procession of marching surfers and skateboarders and BMX riders while thousands of onlookers cheer them on. A light, fun music with brassy and electric sounds rippling through the speakers. I believe they call this “ska music.” Apparently this parade happened earlier this day while we were shopping and it was very energetic. I’m sad we missed it.

“Wow, what a great nation this must be,” I say.

“This is all just propaganda, you know,” Delta says. “They’re a really unstable country so they have to double down and make sure everyone is patriotic or else someone might topple King Bodhi and take over.”

“That’s awful… What heinous people would do such a thing?”

“Who knows? Extreme sportsmen are honor-bound. They go by a strict code of rules… but not all the people here are extreme sportsmen. You never know what the future holds. Or at least that’s what I read in some New Yorker article once.”

“New Yorker… What does that mean?”

“I’ll tell you when you’re older,” she says. “Hey, Francis, do you want to watch something?”

We both look over to Francis. He has his headphones in and has plugged his new 3DS gaming system into his phone. He does not speak, but he does make silly faces every now and then.

“Oh, he’s streaming. Okay, so he’s basically dead to us. Eryk, want to watch something?”

“Besides this patriotic display of enthusiasm from the Santa Barbarans on TV?”

“Yes, besides that.”

“Oh, then, what about another movie? As long as it isn’t… um… Chasing Amy.”

Delta’s face goes red. “Oh, uh, of course. Yeah, that was a bit awkward. We don’t have to talk about that anymore.”

“That ending…”

“We do NOT have to talk about that anymore.” She flips over to the “on demand” section of the TV channel listings. “Here, we can watch a super awful bad movie and you can learn the joys of crappy media.”

“It is good to like bad things?”

“Ironically, yes,” Delta says.

“I don’t quite understand, but do go on.”

“Well, here’s one movie I’ve heard a lot of. It’s an older film called Gigli. It stars Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, and it was so bad that it killed the director’s career and ruined the actors’ relationship. I don’t know much about it but I bet it’s horrible.”

“And so it being horrible will be… good?”

“Yes. You’ll see.”

“I guess I shall. I hope to enjoy it a lot.”

We watch Gigli.


Things start to get awkward once Jennifer Lopez’s character is introduced.

We don’t talk much for the rest of the evening.