Francis may or may not be kidnapped, but I don’t care.
No, wait, my apologies. I would like to correct myself on my prior statement.
I do care about Francis and his well-being. That much should be considered an incontrovertible fact. He is the man who graced me first when I came to Earth as just a confused man who thought cosplayers were a type of monster. He is the man who gave me a home to stay in and took me into his loving arms with the tender care of a good friend. He is the man who, along with Delta, set on a trip designed to help me improve and gain as many Destiny Points as possible. Yes, the trip was secretly also about working out some unresolved issues between Francis and Delta, but I cannot blame him for anything like that. No, I can only blame him for being less transparent than would be optimal... Except that I myself have been FAR less than transparent in my own existence.
In fact, I most likely would admit I care about Francis a great deal more now that I have gone and upset him. I avoided telling him about my life as a ghost on Mystix for so long, and his upset reaction about it is what caused him to run away! If I had simply been honest, then he may not be kidnapped right now. So I am far less upset about his lack of transparency than I am about my own.
But... none of that is actually relevant to the moment.
Thus, I don’t care.
Regardless of Francis’s fate, it will not be a kind one if I lose the Surf-Off against King Bodhi. I cannot allow myself to fall prey to any sorts of emotions that would disrupt my surfing abilities. To win this battle, I plan on reaching the peak of nirvana, a hallowed concept talked about often in surfing circles on Mystix. If I attain the calmest of calms, the surest of sures, I will certainly succeed, I am certain.
Here on this beach, with the raging waves matched with soft sand, I believe I can achieve surfing nirvana easily.
As long as I don’t think about Francis at all for the next hour or so.
Therefore... I will purge him from my mind outright.
And, in his place, I will make my next move—Using a Destiny Card to make sure I win!
Transmigrated Spirit: Rank 3. Summon an otherworldly spirit to assist for five minutes. Cost: 444 LP.
There it is. The blue fire of a summoning circle appears on the sand in front of me. It swirls and bellows smoke in a dramatic fashion.
In the meantime, I look at my Destiny Card hand and make sure to memorize exactly what options I have:
Empathetic Link: Rank 7. Create a Mental Link with a target sentient being. Cost: 5500 LP.
Drop: Rank 1. Make someone fall over. Cost: 80 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: Boomerang Scythe
Inventory Slot: Rank 4. Store an item here to retrieve for future use. Current item: Bow and arrow.
The cards I have will not be incredibly useful for this Surf-Off. [Drop] would be dishonorable to use on an opponent in such a contest, while [Empathetic Link] would prove mostly useless. I could draw two more cards with either my Destiny Points, currently 122 in quantity, or with my Life Points, currently less than ten thousand in excess.
But I do not think I will need them. No, I will be absolutely nirvanic without the use of any non-[Transmigrated Spirit] cards.
And, finally, out of the summoning circle of blue fire comes, as expected and hoped for, a Fire Elemental.
A glowing blue devil-like figure peers at me with trepidatory yellow eyes. It holds a pitchfork and has a pointy tail.
“Hello?” I ask.
“...What the hell is this?” the devil asks with a pitchy, masculine voice. “Where am I?”
“You are a being, a spirit, that I have summoned from another distant world to serve me in surfing combat. I have transmigrated you to a world known as Earth. What is your name?”
“Uh, Matt,” the spirit says. “I’m so confused...” He looks around frantically at everything around him.
“Ah, yes, you must not be aware of your own circumstances,” I say. “Do not worry. I have encountered the same thing as you. What is the last thing you remember?” Calming and consoling recently transmigrated spirits is all part of the process. Time consuming and often annoying, but perfectly normal if you have summoned a recently arrival among the spirit catalog.
The devil takes the opportunity to indulge far more than he needed to. “Well, I was just walking home after my girlfriend dumped me—you see, we were at a bar in St. Louis to celebrate our second anniversary, and we had a hotel to spend the night, but she took the keys, and we didn’t drive because we’d be drinking. After the big fight I was just walking around to blow off some steam, but then I realized I missed the last bus back to Ballwin and I’d need to call an Uber. So when I went to a spot for the driver to see me—the street lights were out on account of the riot after the basketball game last weekend—I went on the crosswalk, and I heard a loud honking sound and some headlights, and... now I’m here. I have no idea what happened.”
“What was her name?”
“My girlfriend? Alyse.”
“I am sorry to hear it. Heartbreak often leads to disastrous consequences,” I say. “But now you are here, and you will be graced with the ability to serve me on my path towards becoming an S-Rank Hero for the first time in several millennium.”
“For the next five minutes, before you leave this realm and your spirit either cycles through the [Transmigrated Spirit] roster or you are reincarnated into some other form, I, Eryk Solbourne, D-Rank [Adventurer,] will be your master. You will do my bidding.”
“Sp...spirit? You mean...”
“You’re dead, Matt. You were hit by a truck and killed.”
“I was WHAT?!”
“You died in an accident, one that will remain a mystery to many of the people you are survived by. Your girlfriend Alyse will likely fall into deep sadness as she regrets the things she said to you and the ways she made you feel. But you will never see her again.”
It is tough to say these things, especially when they did not prove true to me, but this is the primary tactic used to master the spirits you control.
“I... Yes.” Like expected, Matt’s demeanor shifts and a calm sets over him. “I will do your bidding, Eryk Solbourne.”
“Good. Then let us win a Surf Off!”
The spirit extinguishes his summoning circle and then floats alongside me as we step to meet King Bodhi. She glances at Matt, but does not acknowledge him in any way. She is much more interested in how I seem.”
“May the best surfer win,” she says.
“I am the best surfer, so I will win.”
“We shall see about that.” She gives one nod and then begins walking to the ocean. I do the same.
An announcer bellows some exciting proclamations: “And now it’s time for the Great Barbara Games’ Special Event: An Honorable Surf-Off Challenge! The Hero of Paso Robles, Eryk Solbourne, faces off against our very own King Bodhi herself! Who will win? Who will thrive? We will find out immediately! Because the contest starts... NOW!”
A gunshot into the air.
I hop on my board, and the Surf-Off commences.