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My vision briefly shows a familiar face.

The world around me is dark. My body cannot move. Nor can my eyes avert themselves from this person in front of me.

I try to speak. Try to say something to this person so that I can convey the emotions I am feeling. Nothing comes out.

Instead, the figure in front of me, the person so I am so fully aware of, lets out a voice I could place anywhere:

“Thought I’d find you here.”

Tears want to come out of my eyes.

They don’t come out, though.

In fact...

I’m fairly sure I don’t have tears anymore.

Here in this moment, in this place, with this person, it becomes clear to me that there is a very specific reason I have felt the way I do for so long.

With the entire forest around me, I realize—

“Eryk! Wake the hell up!”

***

“....Hhhhh....Hhhuh???”

Francis slaps me across the face. “Eryk! You better be alive or I’m going to kill you! I’m going to friggin’ kill—oh, you’re awake.”

“Wh...What happened?” I ask. My senses are groggy and I feel very light headed. Did I pass out or something? Where am I?

I take a look around. I’m on a bench, while Delta and Eryk look down at me while they stand in front of me. It’s still night time.

My HUD is starting to blink to notify me of danger zone.

[3,014/15,000 LP.]

Oh, boy... I remember what happened now.

We were chased by the Persian mob, those Royal Tiger guys, and then I got shot with a gun, and then I used [Kaio Blast] to take them out and...

I forgot how much energy it takes out of you to use [Kaio Blast.] The Life Points cost is fairly high as it is, but it also is an extremely exhausting skill by itself. If I wasn’t so tired from all the fighting at the fight club, maybe I’d have done better, but...

Wow.

65 DP.

I did pretty good today, didn’t I?

“You’re safe,” Francis says. “I’m so happy...”

“I’m happy too...” I say.

“You’re a friggin’ hero, Eryk,” he says. “A friggin’ hero.”

A “Friggin’ Hero...” That is a title I have never been given before. And it is an appellation I will accept with the utmost honor and grace that I can muster.

“Well, I’m going to bleed out of Life Points in an hour or two if we don’t patch up this wound...”

“I wasn’t in the Girl Scouts for twelve years for nothing,” Delta says. “Give me a minute to dress it.”

“Delta...” I say, weakly,”Aren’t you a bit cold?”

She rolls her eyes. “It’s summer in California. Tanktops are okay. Don’t worry about me. Let’s just worry about you.” She adjusts the former dress shirt and tightens it to be a more effective bandage. “That’s about all I can do for now. Does your magic power card thing have anything to help here? Otherwise, we’ll need to get you to a hospital, stat.”

“Actually... That reminds me,” I say. “I used my skill card [Foresight] earlier to allow myself to see the next five Destiny Cards I will draw. I could heal this if I drew another card, but...”

“But?”

“It either costs 5 Destiny Points, or I could risk losing between 500 and 1,500 Life Points...”

“Can’t you just level up?” Francis asks.

“I certainly can, but I have a better plan.” I sit up on the bench, pull up my Destiny Deck, and sacrifice Life Points to draw not one, but two cards to fill my open slots.

That’s incredibly risky, and I know I’m an idiot for doing it while I am actively bleeding and injured, but I trust in the Heart of the Cards.

C’mon... Yes!

[-800 LP.]

[-665 LP.]

That adds up only to 1465 LP. That gives me...

[1,521/15,000 LP.]

And my next two cards, as was already shown to me earlier today:

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.

“There it is,” I say. “A [Minor Heal] for me to utilize. It gives me back 1000 LP, but if I just alter the skill use and redirect it all...”

[Minor Heal.]

Wooshing, glowing, blinding light—

[+1,000 LP.]

[2,511/15,000 LP.]

And thanks to my precision use of [Minor Heal,] my gunshot wound has been sealed up a little bit more. I’m not sure entirely how it works, and only the best of potion makers on Mystix could really tell you in detail, but I managed to heal myself in exactly the place that needed it the most.

I unwrap the makeshift banadage around my arm and show off the newly closed wound.

“That’s the power of the Destiny Deck System,” I tell Delta and Francis. I hand Delta her dress shirt, but she pushes it away.

“So you’re not about to die anymore?” Francis asks.

“I believe I’m still hurt enough that I’m losing about 2 LP per minute, but I’m at 2,509 LP now, so that will last me a bit of a while, I believe.”

“21 hours,” Francis says. “Well, about 21 hours.”

“I might as well level up, right?” I ask rhetorically. “But first, let me use the last of my Life Points to draw some extra Destiny Cards.”

Delta looks at me like I’m insane. “Um... Why?”

“Well, once you level up, you are fully healed. The goal is to have as few Life Points as possible so that you can know you have exhausted the maximum number of options you have. So that means either fighting and exploring until you’re on death’s door, or splurging on Destiny Card draws. I prefer the latter, especially since I’m getting closer to that achievement for drawing a thousand cards.”

“Wait, you have achievements in your system thing?” Francis asks. “You’ve never brought that up!”

“Yes I have. I think so. I am pretty sure I have. Or maybe it was only in internal monologue...”

“Definitely not.”

“Well, I’ll explain later. First things first, let’s draw another card!”

[-749 LP.]

[1758/15,000 LP.]

As expected, it’s [Blinding Rush] again:

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

That’s okay of course, but it does mean that I can’t draw any more cards without using or discarding one of the ones in my hand already. Should I do a discard? Or should I simply count my losses, thank The Goddess, and level up?

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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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