After what seems like an eternity of waiting, we take action.
Yes, I know that I, Eryk Solbourne, am not someone who is typically seen as a cautious person. In just the past few days, I have done certain things that one could charitably consider “hasty.”
For example, within hours of my arrival on Earth, I had acted with zero hesitation with an assumption that this was a world where kaiju roamed freely and the humans on the planet were relegated to living on giant moving cities. I fought and nearly killed innocent cosplayers in the thought that they were aiding a monster invisible to my system.
For example, shortly after meeting Francis Bacall, my dear friend, I destroyed a cardboard skeleton standee, fled from the San Fransisco Police Department, set fire to a convention center seller hall, and beat up a man named Buddy because he said mean things about my friends.
For example, I was given the chance to be resurrected back on Mystix and to potentially reuinte with my lost love, my own elf lover Malia, and instead decided to go back to Earth where my life was constantly at risk and my system gnawed away at my very being.
For example, I eagerly wrestled a bear into submission the moment it threatened me without any regard to etiquette or care.
For example, without any regard to the way people perceive me, I entered an underground fighting ring and handily disposed of every single contender in the entire building, then defeated mobsters from a far-off land known as Persia.
For example, I...
Well, I think it’s obvious. I am a hasty person, and one that sometimes commits actions that do not have the optimal outcome thanks to my not thinking things through. Sometimes I feel that this may be my charm, that people are attracted to someone they can rely on to always be prepared for large-scale and dynamic action, but someone who also must be looked after and protected. It is part of what makes Eryk Solbourne the man he is.
So then, knowing all of this, it must come as a surprise that I am feeling heavy trepidation right now, that I am the one in my trio of friends who is urging caution and wanting to stay back.
In this twisted, possibly sinister city of Paso Robles, even someone like Eryk Solbourne can become a worrisome figure. That fact alone should give some pause.
But I am not the one leading the charge in this hasty endeavor. It is instead my dear friend Francis.
Using our best collective sneak skills (and sadly because I am an [Adventurer] rather than a [Butler,] I do not have the access to Destiny Cards that would give all of us amazing stealth abilities), we exit our hotel room. We do not take our things, for reasons I am currently not quite sure about. It VERY MUCH seems to me like the best course of action would be to take our next train ride out of Paso Robles and leave this creepy place behind!
But no. Instead, we climb aboard a public bus, tap our IC Cards (these are magical cards, similar to the hotel room key cards, that store money and can be used to pay for transportation and even vending machines), and go off on our next day’s adventure.
“I am not quite certain this is the best course of action...” I say.
“Don’t worry,” Francis says. “We’re going to get our money’s worth out of this trip! I promise! You’re going to get so many friggin’ Destiny Points.”
“But the amount we had to sneak just to get around that Pablo Rosas man... it’s some pretty unsettling feelings I am having right now.”
“I kinda feel it too,” Delta adds. “I’m really not sure we should do it. But... We can’t leave yet. Not right now when the heat’s still high. So might as well enjoy our trip. I’m looking forward to the hot springs, anyway.”
“As am I,” I say. “I have not enjoyed a hot springs in a very long time! It excites me.”
“Good on you,” she says. “Me neither, so this might be fun.”
“You know, Delta, you’ve changed,” Francis says.
“You sound a lot more chill lately,” he tells her.
I can see the very pores of her face start to shift. Her relaxed expression morphs into the same stern, angry scowl that Delta Rafati is famous for. In an instant, she is anything but “chill.”
Francis shrugs. “I’m just saying... You’re starting to be back to your old self a little bit.”
“My old self... Fuck off.”
“Did you know Delta used to be cutesy and happy all the time?” Francis asks me. “When we were teens she always dressed in gothic lolita fashion and listened to pop music all the time. Absolutely an adorable human being. Super chill about everything.”
“Really?!” I exclaim so loud it makes other people on the bus look back at us. “Delta was cute? I can hardly fathom it.”
“The cutest little lesbian you’ve ever seen,” he says. “Just by being around her back then I met almost every girlfriend I ever had. Some of them dumped me for her though.”
Delta growls. “Everything Francis is saying is a complete lie, Eryk. Don’t listen to him.”
“It seems extremely plausible, I must say.” I rub my chin and try to picture in my mind’s eye a younger version of Delta, one where her bangs are cut short and she has a frilly pastel dress (yes, I know what gothic lolita is—we have that fashion style on Mystix too). It’s very difficult for me to imagine it being real, I must admit.
“Well it’s not, and I hate Francis forever,” she says. She crosses her arm and looks out the window, ignoring the two of us for the rest of the bus ride. Francis continues to snicker quietly for the entire time as well.
I for one am still extremely nervous about our trip to the hot springs. Yes, it will be something that is absolutely relaxing in a way I have not felt in years, but... must we really stay in Paso Robles another day? Is this truly a wise decision?
We’ll have to see...