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The bus is so crowded. Every seat is taken, and many people stand up in the aisle in between the seats. It is positively claustrophobic, even for someone who is used to cramped caves and maze-like dungeons like myself.

Almost every single person is on their phone. I may be the only one without one. I wonder why that is...

“May I have a phone?” I ask Francis.

“Oh, actually, I was planning to look into that,” he says, not looking up from checking his phone and playing what looks to be another kind of video game. The characters in the game seem to be the same ones as Royals of Foreign Lands, but smaller and cuter. “Remind me tomorrow, okay? Wait, I’ll set a reminder on my phone.”

He clicks a button on the device. The video game disappears and is replaced by a calendar, where he types in “get eric a phone pls.”

What wizardry...

I look to my other side and see what Delta is looking at on hers. It appears to be some sort of artwork in black and white, showcasing a sequential story through art and dialogue.

It depicts a skinny black-haired man wielding a scythe as he fights through a wave of disturbing creatures with deep fangs and proportions the likes of which I have never seen before in real life. I highly doubt something like those exists on Earth. At least, I hope so.

The dialogue is in a script I cannot read, which is quite annoying because I am having great trouble figuring out what is going on in the story here.

Delta taps her phone and a new set of images appear. Now, it shows the man from before putting away his weapon, poofing it much like I would my sword (if I still had it, that is). Then the man meets his gaze with another man who is much bulkier with huge muscles and gigantic hands. That man puts his arms on the black-haired man’s shoulders and there is more dialogue I cannot read. Their eyes are quite sparkly.

They appear to have some sort of deep kinship, like a bond the likes of which few outsiders would ever understand. I have had these sorts of bonds with comrades in the past. Borguk, in particular, was like a brother to me, despite being an orc who looks nothing like me. We were so close that we were nearly inseperable.

When Delta taps the phone again and a new image shows—

The two men are now kissing.

My head jumps back in shock. Delta realizes that I was looking at her phone and turns off the screen immediately.

“Francis, Eryk’s snooping on my phone,” she says. “Teach him some fucking manners.”

Francis giggles. “Eryk, was she reading yaoi mangas? I bet she was.”

Delta growls. “I’m just following the series because Julie asked me to, okay? It’s not like it’s good or anything.”

Eryk playfully elbows me and says, “Delta reads mangas all the time but pretends she doesn’t know anything about it. She even reads it in Farsi to cover up her shame in case anyone else is looking.”

“Farsi?”

“The Persian language,” Delta says. “I don’t like people snooping. Doesn’t matter what.”

“But especially not yaoi mangas.”

“Excuse me, but what is ‘yaoi?’” I ask. “That is quite an odd-sounding term, I do say.”

Delta groans. Francis laughs.

“Eryk, yaoi is something very special to the hearts of many women in our world,” Francis says. “It’s comic books about the everlasting romance of two men with weird proportions and great abs. There is little else like it on Earth. Gay yaoi boys making out is a wholly unique experience.”

“So it’s simply the romance of two men? Then why does a woman like Delta care to read something like that?”

“Ah, but yaoi isn’t JUST about gay dudes,” he says. “It’s stories about gay dudes written by women, for women. Like, almost 100% of readers are women. So all the characters take on these really specific stereotypes where men behave like women and then the main character looks like a girl except with no boobs but everyone else looks super hyper masculine and stuff.”

“A romance story about two men... but created for the women... Earth is a peculiar land, if I do say so myself.”

“I agree,” says Francis. “How about you, Delta?”

Delta fumes silently. Her face is as red as a ripe tomato.

Our bus ride continues still, but both of my friends soon turn back to using their phones. I feel now may actually be a good time to monitor my Destiny Cards and see what situations I may run into in the future.

Here is my current hand:

Super Hearing: Rank 1. Increase sonic perception abilities dramatically for five minutes. Cost: 70 LP.

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

Foresight: Rank 4. See the next five Destiny Cards in the Destiny Deck. Cost: 140 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.

These cards are all useful in various ways depending on the dangers I may face, though [Super Hearing] certainly has not proven itself to be particularly valuable in any situation so far.

The one card that is of particular note, though, is the most recent addition to my hand: [Foresight.]

Earlier in the day, Francis provided me the stark reality of just how many Destiny Points it may take to reach S-Rank, even in the most optimal of circumstances. Just under four thousand points... I would have to win thousands upon thousands of battles. I would have to sacrifice any attempt to go above Level 20 in any rank to boost my stats. And most of all, I would have to abandon any idea of using Destiny Points to draw Destiny Cards...

The penalties for using your Life Points to draw Destiny Cards only grow steeper as you rank up. Therefore, by the time I am B-Rank, even A-Rank, it will become increasingly dangerous. And that scares me quite a bit.

I will not draw any cards now, but I do think that Destiny Cards will be the only way for me to actually achieve the goals I have set for myself. As much as Francis has his little plans for me, the only thing I can truly trust is the Heart of the Cards.

And so I use [Foresight] to see my destiny’s future.

[-140 LP.]

[10,995/15,000 LP.]

A blinding flash—

A flashing light—

A light that blinds—

And the swirling vortex that is the Destiny Deck shows itself to me.

I can see them—I can see the next five cards that I will draw, bubbling up under the surface of the darkness!

The first cards:

Minor Heal: Rank 2. Gain 1,000 LP. Cost: 0 LP.

Skill Check: Rank 1. Examine the variables around you. (There is a small chance that your next action will go exceedingly well or exceedingly poorly.) Cost: 50 LP.

Wow! That’s a card useful in almost any situation. It’s also not incredibly powerful and useless once your intellect reaches a certain point that deduction comes naturally to you. Fortunately, I am nowhere near that level of intellect. Or, admittedly, much intellect at all.

[Minor Heal] isn’t anything special, though. It’s honestly starting to get aggravating knowing just how many of these damned things I have drawn already and to know the next card I draw will also be [Minor Heal.]

Blinding Rush: Rank 1. Doubles speed and agility. Cost: 215 LP.

Oh, that’s the very same skill I used that got me sent to Earth!

Skill Check: Rank 1. Examine the variables around you. (There is a small chance that your next action will go exceedingly well or exceedingly poorly.) Cost: 50 LP.

...And another [Skill Check.] Okay.

Well...

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

...Oh!

That’s a card I certainly have never seen before! I’m surprised it’s even available from the [Adventurer] rank. Creating my own copy sounds like it could be an amazing skill! I just have to draw five more cards to get it...

Francis would be so upset if I drew another card with my Destiny Points right now, so I guess I will refrain from completing the empty slot in my hand, especially since I know it will be something fairly useless like [Minor Heal.]

I’m not sure Francis remembers, if I even told him, that I can discard Destiny Cards and gain Destiny Points as a result, though I know if he knew he would force me to gamble my way into Destiny Point success with my Life Points on the line. For every Destiny Card I have in my hand and discard, I gain half the card’s rank in Destiny Points (rounding down, except for Rank 1 obviously). If I were to scrap the remaining six cards in my hand, that would give me an extra nine Destiny Points—a paltry sum compared to the thousands upon thousands I still require to reach S-Rank, but certainly enough to help me level up in an emergency.

Only thing is, I would never scrap all my cards. Three of my seven are inventory slots which are extremely vitally important to me. Scrapping those would never guarantee that I ever got them again.

So, at least for the time being, I will refrain from filling in that little detail to Francis and Delta.

It doesn’t matter much anyway, since the bus stops and my two companions get up to step off the vehicle. I join them and try to understand what exactly it is that I will be facing today.

Whatever boxing is, it better be the kind of punching that brings me a great many Destiny Points.

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A note from Thedude3445

You can still read the next two chapters of the story on Patreon, but I'm planning to dump a bunch of chapters over the weekend to catch up on wordcount for the Write-a-thon if I am able, so you might be better off waiting until after then. Also I guess I just spoiled the fact that I'm about to dump a bunch of chapters, darn it...


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About the author

Thedude3445

Bio: I like to watch movies.

Avatar art by Mikayla Buan https://twitter.com/mikayla_buan

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