The three of us—Delta, Francis, and myself—sit at a table in a very interesting restaurant called “Takeshi’s Joint.” It appears to be the first time either of them have ever been here, because they are perusing the menu with great interest.
“Ramen cheeseburgers...” Francis mutters. “And I thought the matcha chips were weird. This is something else.”
“I’ve heard of this place before,” Delta says. “Back when I was dating Haru in high school.”
“I remember that. Whatever happened to Haru?”
“I haven’t checked in years. Probably far more successful and popular, as usual.”
“You sound bitter. At least now you’re married and moving up in life and probably some other stuff I don’t know about or you don’t want me to know about...”
Delta looks at him in confusion. Yes, Francis is still bitter about the fact that, apparently, Delta and her spouse are having a baby soon. Does that mean Delta is already pregnant? She doesn’t look pregnant, at least...
“Anyway,” Delta says, ignoring Francis’s sass, “this place is apparently very good. The perfect fusion of gross American fast food with gross Japanese restaurant food.”
“Gross, but good?”
“Gross, but good is what I have heard.”
“Hm, then I think I’ll start off with the vegan konnyaku fries,” Francis says. “What do you want, Eryk?”
“Please... no more food...”
“I think I’ll just have an ebifurai milkshake,” says Delta. “I think watching Eryk eat all that junk food has ruined my appetite.”
“You’re just weak.”
“There you go again with the weird hostility,” Delta says. “Until you talk about what’s wrong I can only tell you to shut up and stop being a child.”
The waitress, wearing robes with red-and-white stripes, comes over to our table. But she’s wearing wheels on her shoes for some reason, so she rolls over rather than walking.
“Kon’nichiwa,” the waitress says in a bored tone. It immediately translates to “[Good afternoon]” in my head and I have no idea why. What was just said is so familiar to me, and yet... “What’ll you be having?”
“Ebifurai milkshake,” Delta says.
“Same, plus vegan konnyaku fries,” Francis says. “Oh, and some dashi sauce on the side please.”
“And for our pink mister?” the waitress asks.
“Are you sure? The bacon natto is really nice you know. Only three dollars. Try some?”
“No, just water...” My stomach pains at the mere thought of tasting any more food, let alone things I have yet to even try.”
She shrugs, takes our menus, and rolls away on her roller shoes.
“I haven’t seen a woman move around like that since the last [Lordess] I met,” I say.
“Lord what?” Francis asks.
“Oh, [Lordess,] one of the classes you can choose from on Mystix.”
“Lordess... is that even a real word?” Delta asks.
“On Mystix it is. [Lordess] class heroes have many abilities that are extremely envied among other classes. Alas, it is only for female users who use the Sorting Scepter.”
“Only female users... Sounds really transphobic,” she says.
“Yeah, that wouldn’t fly in today’s world,” Francis says.
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“Like, in our world, sometimes people are born in a body that doesn’t match their brain so they have to transition later in life.”
“Oh!” I exclaim. “That’s in Mystix too. When you use the Sorting Scepter, it will give you the option to select [Lordess] if your mind is female, regardless of your body, even if you yourself don’t realize it yet.”
“So you just have a free testing kid for gender identity that’s easily accessible to the entire world? Wow. That’s just... I know a lot of people that could have used that,” Francis says. “A lot of girls on my Y-Cast chats would kill for a Sorting Scepter just for that.”
“Hm. I never even really considered it until now. With all of Earth’s technology, you have nothing to detect a body-mind mismatch? That seems awfully inconvenient with how many people could face problems in life. I know elves in particular have this particular mismatch up to thirty percent of the time. I imagine humans are maybe one in a hundred, but even that’s what, hundreds of thousands of people? How many humans are on Earth, anyway?”
“What does [Lordess] do, anyway?” Delta asks.
“Well, as the female counterpart to [Lord,] which is a class locked to males and any other beings, [Lordesses] have a great many roles in society, though their Class Actions for gaining Destiny Points consist of, if I recall correctly, inspiring beauty and loyalty, and acting as a leader in any capacity. [Lordesses] are usually found in the upper classes of society, since they are the ones best-equipped to take full advantage of its many great abilities. Though, the Adventurer’s Guild had quite a few [Lordesses] in its ranks and I was proud to have served with a few during the Xerox Campaigns. How I would love to have skills like [Charm] and [Strength Dance] in my Destiny Deck...”
“Oh, so each class has got its own Destiny Cards and all that. Interesting.” Francis plays around with some toothpicks and pretends to swordfight himself. He is like a child, but in a nice and innocent way.
“Yes, that’s correct. Each rank of each class has its own Destiny Cards. If I am so lucky to reach C-Rank in the [Adventurer] class soon, I will have a whole host of new cards added to my Destiny Deck that I could draw. And even if you change classes, those cards will remain, so many people like to get to D or C-Rank in one class just for the skills, then use the Sorting Scepter again and change to a new class. Their stats are reset each time, but they grow much stronger overall thanks to their wide-ranging abilities. In fact, my old orc friend Borguk used to be a [Chef] before becoming the [Adventurer] he is today.”
“But you never did that?”
“No. I only joined the Destiny Deck system two years ago after my people were attacked and savaged by the Slayers, so I am only D-Rank in my first class. It takes around that long to reach the beginning of D-Rank for most people, so I am advancing more quickly than most. However, I have no intention of switching now, even if I could. My goal is to become S-Rank, the first in a millennia, and that is what I shall do.”
“So... [Lordess] and [Adventurer...] what other classes are there, again?” Francis asks.
The waitress comes back with two ebifurai milkshakes, whatever those are.
“There are twenty classes in all on Mystix. Do you really want me to list all of them?”
“Yeah, sure,” Francis says. He takes a spoonfull of his milkshake. “God, this is good.”
Delta, showing not a bit of emotion on her face, says, “I agree. I like this a lot.”
“Well okay, here are the twenty classes, the entirety of the Destiny Deck system:
“[Adventurers,] those who explore and fight for the glory of their people;
“[Warriors,] those who take pride in combat, bloodshed, and power:
“[Thieves,] those who steal, break locks, and cause mayhem undetected;
“[Bards,] those storytellers who invigorate others and turn history and myth into song;
“[Hunters,] those who raise, breed, capture, or kill animals of all sort, either for sport, companionship, or food;
“[Lordesses,] those women who both lead and serve with dignity and grace;
“[Lords,] the men and others who turn power into money and charm into power;
“[Crafters,] those builders who are skilled enough to create technology, houses, potions, or even weapons;
“[Summoners,] those who use great magic to bring forth and conjure creatures, spirits, and other beings to help serve them and others;
“[Chefs,] those who cook and bring great taste to the world;
“[Undead,] those who exist after life, who subsist on otherworldly power and seek to expand the range of shadow and darkness;
“[Tacticians,] those whose strategies and advice can turn nations and win hearts;
“[Merchants,] those sellers who bring their wares to far-off places and cheer up worn-out faces;
“[Supremes,] those whose reputations matter more than life itself;
“[Farmers,] those who farm;
“[Butlers,] those proud few whose subservience to higher status give way to a greater unity in the whole;
“[Toxin,] those who cast themselves out from society and health in exhange for skills unheard of;
“[Mages,] those who cast spells, create potions, and study the inner workings Destiny itself;
“[Priests,] those who bring peace, who heal souls, who teach minds;
“and finally, [Demigods,] those whose destiny has brought them power greater than any mortal should ever wield.”
“This shake really is good, really,” Francis says. “Uh—Oh, yeah, nice stuff Eryk.”
“Were you listening?”
“Yeah, of course, definitely, always listening,” he says. “I like that one class with the funny name. [Supreme?]”
“[Supreme] is considered the very worst class,” I say. “Its Class Actions are limited to impressing others around you with magnificent stunts, and its Destiny Cards are far too singular in helping that one specific Class Action type.”
“So [Supremes] are like really bad social media influencers who don’t even have the internet?”
“I am not sure what that means, but probably.”
“What in God’s name is a [Toxin?]” Delta asks.
“I’m not entirely sure. I’ve never met or even heard of one before. The Sorting Scepter tells us it changes our entire makeup and our Life Points drain at twice the speed, so nobody ever chooses it.”
“So they’re like mutants in some bad cyberpunk movie. Wow, how fitting for a high fantasy world.” Delta rolls her eyes. “Besides the Sorting Scepter Lord/Lordess thing, there has not been a single thing you have said about your world that is even slightly appealing.”
“We have an entire race of people with pink hair and pink eyes,” I say. “Earth doesn’t have that.”
“I said ‘even slightly appealing.’”
Delta breaks my heart once more.
“I for one would pick the [Bard] class. I bet streaming would count as a Class Action,” Francis says. “I’d totally sing, too.”
“Please don’t,” Delta says.
“I bet Francis is a great singer,” I say. “He has the spirit of a child and, likely, the voice of an angel.”
“See, Delta? I have the voice of an angel.” He beams with pride.
“And the spirit of a child, especially now that you’re spilling your milkshake on your lap.”
We hand him some napkins very quickly and he cleans himself off.
“I think I would like to be a [Demigod,]” Delta says. “I would like to rule the planet.”
“You can’t choose [Demigod,] actually,” I explain. “It is a random chance, one in a hundred thousand, that when you pick one class, you will end up a [Demigod] instead. And it is typically a cruel and unusual fate for all who are cursed to receive it.”
“The power of the [Demigod] class is so immense that, for F-Rank heroes with only 5,000 Life Points to start out with, it can lead to death almost immediately. Almost every Destiny Card drawn will have a cost of hundreds upon hundreds of Life Points, to the point that drawing skills whatsoever is almost pointless until the hero reaches a high rank. Most [Demigods] perish within their first year.”
“I’d probably pick it anyway,” she says.
“You cannot pick it, but fair enough.”
“And out of all those classes, [Adventurer] was the one you picked,” Francis says. “Maybe you wouldn’t even be here if you’d have become a [Summoner] or something. Just think about it.”
“Mhm. But [Adventurer] was the only class worth considering if I wanted to enact vengeance and justice on the Slayers. Gaining power from traveling to new locations and fighting enemies both? That was too good to pass up.”
“Did you do it?”
“Enact vengeance on the Slayers.”
I shake my head. “Not even close.”
“Well, maybe you will someday if you return to Mystix,” Francis says.
“I won’t return. I can’t. I died there. And now my body is on Earth. The Goddess herself warned me that this transmigration is permanent. No do-overs.”
“No worries. I’m here now on Earth, and I will become its hero at all costs.”
The waitress comes out with Francis’s konnyaku fries and dashi sauce. The smell is so pungent it makes me nauseous
I run to the bathroom again.