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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“That’s not true. That’s impossible.”
“Search your feelings. You know it to be true.”
“....No,” he says. “No.”
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.”
“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.”
“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.