Nirvana certainly delivered on her promise; this place was outstanding! I swear she just copied a postcard of Hawaii or something. Where I was standing on the beach was a swirling mix of black and white sand. To my left, the beach went from streaked grey to white, and to my right, the sand became darker until it was black and shifted to volcanic rocks. The beautiful blue water in various shades indicated varying depths near the shore and the potential for lava tube caves. Further out, the waves gave evidence of a reef system nearby too.

Tearing my gaze away from the water, I looked inland and saw a tiki bar hiding under the palms. Deposits of seaweed along the beach clued me in that the tide was out and where the water line would be when it came back in. A tall, obviously volcanic mountain further inland with a waterfall pouring from a break in the caldera indicated what direction to find drinkable water and probably some freshwater fish. A tropical jungle, further back from the shore and more profound than the plethora of palm trees sheltered between it and the open beach, promised game and an exploration adventure should I want it. The most prominent feature of this pristine landscape? No people. Even the Tiki bar was obviously out of place, with no trails or signs of use.

Looking around a little more, I find what looks like a great site to build a shelter that is both close to the bar and the beach while shaded by the trees. “Secure Shelter,” and I watch as sand, volcanic rock, and wood – both dark and light – swirl about in a small tornado, only to settle into a sturdy cottage with two shuttered windows facing the ocean. I walk over to the cottage and look around inside. It’s cozy and will easily handle several guests. It doesn’t have any furniture, so I take some of the extravagant camping gear I got at the halfling’s store out of my inventory to make the place a little homier.

When I walk outside, I see a pedestal near the entrance that wasn’t part of the construction. I walk over to it and see an indented handprint on the top. Shrugging and figuring that this is Nirvana accommodating my request, I place my hand into the indentation. A menu shows up in my vision, allowing me to select from various categories of sundries – as I suspected, this is the store interface. I quickly select some essential household items and some typical beach furniture. It appears directly in my inventory, making it easy to walk around and distribute the new things while also collecting my camping items. While doing this, I notice the Unseen Servant, part of the shelter spell, is tidying my slapdash placement of things.

Thinking about what comes next, “Servant, please go and get a bottle of cherry syrup and a bottle of grenadine from the bar and bring it back. You can leave it out on the counter.” Selecting a tall glass from the items I purchased, “It’s the Real Thing.” When the servant returns, I splash some cherry syrup into the cola and head out to the beach, snagging a chair and an umbrella along the way. I place my drink into my inventory to free up my hands, stab the umbrella into the ground, and unfold the beach chair. I settle in and summon my drink back from my inventory. I relax into the beach chair and watch the ocean while sipping my cherry coke, trying not to think of anything. It doesn’t work.

…did Nirvana model a whole world? It is daytime here, and it was nighttime at the temple.

…raising my drink, I notice my hands. Why was it important that my DNA be destroyed if I decided I didn’t want to live? What can I even do with it in a digital world? Why does it have value?

…some great disaster has flooded the planet…<snore>

   — * ~ * —

Startling awake – looking around – Grumpy is heading towards me from the Tiki Bar.

Waving one arm while holding a drink in the other, Grumpy shouts again, “Hey, Jeb!”

Waving back, “Hey, Grumpy. So did you die, or is something else going on?”

“Bit it. A vampire transformed from mist-form to solid right behind me and got me before I knew it was there. I wouldn’t have even known what killed me if I hadn’t twisted while falling. Lucky I did so because I also got to see the terminator golems shred him!” Grumpy smiles, “The real bonus was Nirvana offering me the option to spend my time out here with you! What did you do to get this?”

“Got ready to start interfering in the fight with my admin powers while on Temple Island.”

Raising his eyebrow, Grumpy looks at me, “Really?”

“Yep. Nirvana didn’t care what I did at the Horn Point graveyard, but interfering at the temple would impact whatever she is trying to accomplish with this event.”

“Hm,” looking around, Grumpy asks, “Where do I get a chair?”

I pointed him to my shelter and the waiting beach gear, and we set his drink down in the sand and went to get his own chair. “Hey, while over there, grab the cherry syrup off the counter, please.”

He waved back in acknowledgment. While he was heading over, I had an idea. ARC, if you can modify the attributes of the shelter, make it permanent.

[There is a toggle to make it permanent, however, it’s greyed out. I have raised the expiration timer to the maximum, and it should be here for several years.]

Good Enough, thanks! Feel free to take the initiative on these kinds of things in the future.

[You’re welcome, and I’ll do so when permitted.]

Grumpy asks, “Who are you talking to?”

“ARC, we were making the shelter a long-term addition to the island. Otherwise, I would have to cast the spell again in a couple of days.”

Nodding, Grumpy placed his chair next to mine and picked up his drink. As he sat down on the chair, he handed me the bottle of syrup he had put in his inventory. “Nirvana said you are not here because you died and would be here longer than me.”

“Yep. I’m ‘On Vacation’ and should take this time to study and adjust.”

Concerned, Grumpy asks, “Jeb, what the hell is going on between you and Nirvana? Nobody has ever had the kind of interaction you are having with her, and your rise to power is terrifying. She’s made more announcements and changes in the last few days than in the last few hundred years.”

“I don’t know. I’ve certainly triggered something, and I just don’t know enough about what’s going on behind the scenes to understand what, or why, or really anything. I have many questions, and I think the answers are all restricted..”

Nodding, Grumpy drinks from his glass, “You know, why don’t you ask your questions? The questions themselves aren’t restricted, only the replies. Maybe just knowing what’s got you tied up in knots will be enough for something to shake loose, and if your question isn’t restricted, I can answer it.”

I look at him, sit up and swing my legs over the side of the chair. “Ok, are you sure – you freaked out on some of my questions last time I started.”

Smiling, Grumpy replied, “Jeb, I am so past freaked out right now that I don’t think you can push me any further into shock. If it helps you, let’s do it. I’ll cry, ‘uncle’ if I need to.”

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