I, Eryk Solbourne, am confused!!!
Just moments ago, I was staring at the listings of various ice cream varieties at this beachside food stand. Now, ice cream is something that certainly does exist on Mystix, but I tended to stay in the warmer climates where such a delicacy was rare and often nonexistent.
I saw quite distinctly that the price of a vanilla ice cream cone was set at 120 Barb Bucks. The true conversion between one dollar and Barb Bucks has eluded me for quite some time, but this seems like a reasonable price for a commodity such as a frozen treat. However, it is not 120 Barb Bucks anymore. It is 134.
Why? What happened? Do my eyes deceive me? Is this a sign that my entire life on Earth is an illusion like my sibling Rare suggested? Or is this a devious trick by the Santa Barbarans to force “shoobies” to pay more money for the same good?
All of the ice cream prices have changed, in fact. They were all around the same number, but now the pecan butter flavor is 800 Barb Bucks while the mint chocolate flavor is a measly 98. How does anyone make a life out of this city if they do not know the price of bread or have the knowledge that their morning coffee cake will be just as reliable as the day before?
“Sir, Mister ice cream man,” I say to the grizzled, bearded, overweight man manning the ice cream stand, “are the ice cream prices truly shifting up on that board as we have our own conversation?”
The man groans. “Ugh, shoobies. Yes, the prices change. It’s just the way we do things around here. It’s all tied to the wavecoin. I don’t get a say over it. Neither do you.”
“I see...” I rub my chin with my fingers and try to figure out a path.
“What’ll it be, kid? Hurry up. You’re holding up the line.”
“I will choose...” I stare at the board of prices very carefully. They have shifted once again. Now mint chocolate chip is up to 800 Barb Bucks, in a horrible twist of fate. The cheapest one now seems to be... fish and chips. But that’s what Delta and I ate for lunch! (By the way, from a few new meals I’m up to 70 Destiny Points, but I forgot to say anything about it.) Could such a meal be had in the form of ice cream? Well, it’s only 65 Barb Bucks, so I might as well try it. “I will choose the fish and chips ice cream! Three, please.”
The ice cream man scoffs. “Your funeral.”
“No, sir, this is not a funeral. This is a celebration of good taste.”
He does not respond. I assume this is because I have “owned” him with the power of my words. So I swipe my phone across a beam of light, and it beeps. Apparently, the currency has transferred from me to him. All automatic, all digital. I don’t understand any of it, especially not when I was forced to pay 67 Barb Bucks per cone instead of the 65 I expected.
I carry all three ice cream cones with one hand and walk further into the beach, close to the shoreline where many people are gathered to watch the tides flow in and out. I find Delta and Francis and hand them their ice cream.
“Oh, hey, how’d it go, buying something on your own for the first time?” Francis asked. “Was it cool and fun?” He takes the fish and chips ice cream cone and eyes its golden crispy flakes with mild curiosity.
“I am no child, you know,” I tell him. “I have purchased and sold many goods in my life. Likely far more than you.”
“I don’t know, man. I have a merch shop and everything,” he replies.
“Eryk, what flavor is this?” Delta asks as she licks the ice cream tepidly. “It doesn’t... taste right.”
“The prices at the ice cream stand kept changing every minute or so, and I was unable to pinpoint the cheapest item very carefully. But, as far as I am aware, the cheapest item at the time of my purchase, and the one I chose, was fish and chips flavor.”
Delta spits the ice cream out. “Bluh!”
Francis recoils back. “Fish and chips? That sounds awful.”
“In what way?” I take a few bites of the ice cream myself. It has a rich, savory flavor, with a hint of vanilla added in. Quite delectable. “I find no qualms with this whatsoever. It is an enjoyable treat.”
[Total: 71 DP.] Yay, More Destiny for me. I ought to level up again soon, but then again I have some pretty big choices in that regard...
“Maybe for a weirdo!” Delta shouts. “This is disgusting.”
Francis looks at the ice cream again, and then tries it himself. After a moment of reflection, he smiles. “It’s really bad, but I think I like it.”
“That is not a sentiment I can find much solace in, but I will respect your opinion nonetheless,” I say to him.
Delta, annoyed, throws her ice cream cone on the ground.
“Don’t litter!” Francis exclaims. “That’s rude!”
“It’s biodegradable. Don’t worry,” she says.
Just then, several beachgoers approach us, doing that famed “punching their fist into their palm” gesture. One of them shouts, “Hey! Look at these shoobies dropping their crap on our beach!”
Francis and I glare at Delta. This may be the first time that she is the direct cause of our problems, and not one of us two. She deserves all of this scorn.
“We do not mean to offend! It was a misunderstanding as to the nature of your disposal programs.” I try to reason with them, but it does not succeed at all.
“Let’s pound these kelp crusts!” one of the surfer men suggests, continuing to hit his fist against his palm. Actually, all of them are still doing it, locked in a rhythmic sync. For some reason, I can hear the sound of snapping echoing from behind me. I figure a large brawl is about to break up.
But then, when they get a better look at us, or more importantly me, those menacing looks vanish almost instantly. I think they know of my power.
“Actually, uh, you know,” one of them says, “these guys are those heroes from Paso Robles that King Bodhi’s been talking about, right? I guess they get to live. Yeah.”
“Oh, right... Better not upset King Bodhi by gutting her VIDs too much.”
One of them points at Delta with a stern finger. “You shoobies better not be doing stuff like this anymore. We got our eyes on you.” He is wearing sunglasses, so it is impossible to know whether or not he is telling the truth.
Still, they leave us be. I am glad that my friends will come to no harm, but I am sad that I cannot “grind” up Destiny Points, as Francis often says, by pummeling all of these surfers until they no longer provide me any points due to their weak nature. Let us hope that something arises wherein I can defeat a large number of opponents for maximum progress.
I hear that in some parts of Mystix, those with the Destiny Deck System as a part of their person do not perform the normal Class Actions that allow them to gain ranks. Instead, they sit and perform specialized meditations. They cultivate new achievements that exist solely on the planes of existence created in their own minds. For instance, an [Adventurer] in those places does not simply explore new realms, try new foods, or defeat opponents. No, an [Adventurer] there opens their third eye and cultivates imagined experiences that result in a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of awe. They are able to gain Destiny Points from the comfort of their own mind.
It is not something I could ever do; I am simply not patient enough to undergo something as rigorous and measured as cultivated meditation. But I wish I could. It would be remarkable to see a man as tall and muscled as me levitating in midair as I cultivate new powers.
Here on Earth, I doubt cultivation is even possible, so I will decline to think of that further, and instead think solely on the potential for new Class Actions in front of my eyes.
And there is one right there in front of my very eyes...
The Great Barbara Games, a festival celebrating the anniversary of Santa Barbara’s independence from California, is going on right now. Many surfers ride the waves on their surf boards, spinning around rapidly and performing amazing tricks. A hauntingly beautiful tone of a language I cannot place croons out over the speakers, and the surfers move in sync with it.
“What is this music?” I ask Francis. “Do you know?”
“This is Yamashita Tatsuro,” he says. “He’s the main Japanese City Pop musician from way back in the seventies and eighties. This song is... “Sparkle,” I think it’s called? I forget. But he’s like the Beach Boys, just Japanese.”
“What is this ‘Japanese’ you speak of? I hear only... Wait a minute. Is this Elven? Wait, ‘Sparkle,’ that’s it. I can make out some of the words now.”
Francis opens his mouth to speak, but then puts his hand on his jaw and pushes it back shut. He declines to press any further on the matter.
So Earth has the Elven language, but not the Elven people. Malia would be interested to hear that. Thalia, too, were she still alive back on Mystix. Alas...
I am still immersed by the synchronized surfing competition going on. These women and men and others who simply glide along the surface of the water on wooden boards, taking no heed to the fact that they are in serious danger if they ever fall off or are otherwise overtaken by the waters.
No sense of fear. Only excitement. Only passion and ambition.
These surfers are like me.
Very interesting, indeed...