This isn’t exactly finished, I’m working on it with a friend of mine and I’m waiting fir his half, but this part is completed and this is in my opinion my best story.
I opened my eyes and was greeted by the familiar dimly lit room I visited so often. Like always there were two stone gargoyles beside the door and the smell of death was in the air. Outside the room I could hear the sound of a cheering crowd, their roars muffled by the stone walls of the room. I turned and looked at myself in the life-sized mirror I knew was to my right. I was dressed in light battle armor, that was a dull gray color, with my short, jet black hair spiked like usual, and I could see my two pistols holstered at my back. I stared into my serpent green eyes. I turned as the door slowly opened and light poured into the room. Four armored men, with large swords in their hilts, entered the room. One of the men gestured to me and I followed them as they lead me out into a large arena. The cheers were now louder as I could see the people they were coming from. The initial step into the sunlight caused me to be temporarily blinded, but it resided moments later when my eyes had become adjusted. I stood near the center of the arena and looked directly ahead of me at another person that looked a few years older than me, he had short hair that extended not far over his gray blue eyes. He was dressed in armor similar to that of my own, there were two swords hilted at his sides.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for the first round of our lord the Dream King’s annual tournament to determine who will reign supreme as the Dream Realm’s most powerful warrior.” said a voice, likely an announcer. “Our first competitor hails from Grafton, Australia, he is Sebastian Hale!”
My opponent took a step forward and gestured to the crowd, they reacted with a mixture of elated cheers and hate filled boos. He had a smug grin on his face as he looked directly at me.
“Now,” continued the announcer, “his opponent, hailing from Nagoya, Japan, he is your current and longest reigning champion of the REM tournament, Rin Sato!” The crowd cheered loudly once again, however I just stood in my place and looked intensely at Sebastian.
“Let the battle begin!” elated the announcer. Sebastian quickly unsheathed both his swords and charged at me with an average speed. I watched his feet and calculated his movements as he closed in on me. When he was no more than 4 meters away, I took my left gun out of its holster and blocked his incoming attack with my gun‘s chamber. I moved his hand away and delivered a right haymaker to his face, causing him to stumble back. I then began rapidly kicking at him but he blocked each of my kicks. I jumped backwards and then up into the air towards him, dropping down on him with my heel, he blocked this as well. Sebastian pushed me away and I landed nearby on my feet. He tried cutting my head off, but I ducked and head butted him in the gut then once again in the jaw. I stood straight up and kicked him as hard as I could in the chest, knocking him backwards and disarming him. He fell backwards, flat on his back, away from his sword. He tried running to grab them, but when he got to them, I was there with my guns pointed at his head and chest. I pulled the trigger on both guns, releasing a single bullet into his heart and his brain, causing instant death.
Sebastian’s body broke away into little pieces that floated away into the distance. I returned to my feet and the crowed roared with cheers. I placed my guns in their holsters and turned towards Artaxerxes Animas, the Dream King.
Artaxerxes stood to his feet and the crowed went silent. “Congratulations.” he said. “It appears that you will be advancing, Rin. I wish you luck as you venture towards your tenth reign as champion.”
I bowed to Artaxerxes and said, “I do it all in honor of you, my liege.” I straightened up and was escorted back into the room I started in. Inside the room I could hear the echo of a familiar voice.
“Rin. Rin. Rin wake up.” said the voice.
I closed my eyes and kept them closed for a moment. When I opened them, my head was lying down on my arms and I was sitting at a school desk. “I won again.” I said silently to myself. I lifted my head off the desk and rubbed my eyes. I was in an empty classroom and the only person there was my teacher, Mr. Maeda.
“School’s over Rin. It’s time to go home.” said Mr. Maeda, he was packing his things into his briefcase.
“Oh, sorry. I kinda dozed off.” I said. I stood up to stretch.
“Yes, I noticed that. Did you at least finish the assignment I gave the class before you dozed off?”
“Yeah, I finished that three weeks ago.”
“As long as it’s finished. Though I still don’t think that you should be sleeping in class like this.”
“You expect me to sit here and listen to the moronic questions my so called ‘peers’ ask? I’d rather not.” I made quotation marks with my fingers when the word peers came out of my mouth.
“So you sleep instead?”
“Yes, I see sleeping as a positive escape from this lackluster world called reality.”
“Maybe reality wouldn’t be so ‘lackluster’ if you had friends to share it with.” he said, packing the last of his things away.
“Until I meet someone that can keep up with me at my level of intelligence, I will remain content with my solitude. Goodbye Mr. Maeda.” I left the classroom carrying my school bag and as I left the room I could faintly hear Mr. Maeda say goodbye.
I left the building and took a moment before leaving the campus, closing my eyes and taking in a deep breath. I reopened my eyes and began my walk home. I didn’t waste any time during my walk, making my way home quickly. I arrived at my home in the Minato-ku ward of Nagoya, it was an average sized two-story home. I unlocked the door and walked inside, sliding off my shoes and placing them by the door. I walked up the stairs and into my room, I dropped my bag on the bed and left my room. I walked down to my kitchen and rummaged through the cabinets until I found a cup of instant noodles. I cooked the noodles and took them with me as I sat on my couch and turned on the news. I quietly ate my noodles while I listened and watched about all that had happened in reality while I was in the Dream Realm, it was the same as always just a bunch of useless dribble about what the latest celebrity had done. After having become thoroughly aggravated by what I heard, I turned my television off and read a book while I finished my noodles.
I finished the book around 10:30 and decided that I would go to bed, so I threw my noodle cup in the trash and went upstairs. Before going to my room, I stopped and went into the room across from it, my parents’ room. I opened the door and walked over to the shrine I had of them in there and kneeled before it.
“Goodnight Mother. Goodnight Father.” I said. I then stood, bowed and left their room, closing the door behind me. I went into my room and moved the bag off of my bed. I settled myself in and laid my head onto the pillow. I closed my eyes and quickly and easily drifted off into sleep.
I reopened my eyes and found myself in a candle lit room similar to my own. This room was different being that I had no bed, but simply a soft mat on the floor. I rose from my little mat and left the room. I walked just a few steps forward and into a kitchen where a girl with shoulder-length, brown hair was cleaning.
“You’re here!” she said, the excitement in her voice was evident. She put down what she was working on and hugged me. I draped my arm up and gave a pitiful hug back.
“You act like you haven’t seen me in ages Sam.” I said.
“It might as well have been. I mean you haven’t come home in two months.” said a voice from the adjourning living room. It came from a male with the same brown hair as Sam, but shorter. He was sitting on a black, leather couch watching television.
“Don’t listen to Shane.” Sam said. “I’m sure you’ve had reason to be gone so long.” She was still smiling from seeing me, I looked into her hazel eyes and they seemed to bring me warmth.
“I do actually. I was busy training.” I said.
“You’re in the tournament again?” Sam asked.
“Yes, I’ve already made it to the second round. Did you enter again this year Shane?”
“Yeah, and I plan on beating you this time.” Shane said, by this time he had gotten off of the couch and walked into the kitchen with us.
I chuckled softly at his words, “Keep that attitude up and you might actually be some competition for me.” I said. I grabbed a black jacket off of a hook beside the door.
“You’re leaving, already?” asked Sam, she had a look of abandonment on her face.
“Yes, I was just going to check on when my next match was, then I was going to train for a while. I’ll be back later.” I could see that my words had little effect, because, she still looked sad. I sighed and, reluctantly, said, “You guys can come with if you want. I’m sure Shane could use some practice and it’s like he said. I haven’t been here in two months.”
“Can we?” Sam asked, the happiness returning to her eyes.
“Yeah, why not? It wouldn’t hurt for the two of us to get out of the house.” Shane said.
Sam made a happy squeal and said, “I’ll go get my jacket.” before running off to her room.
Shane and I both let out simultaneous sighs as we slipped our shoes onto our feet. Seconds later Sam came running back out, the apron she had on was gone, showing the lavender blouse and denim mini skirt she had been wearing. Now she had a short denim jacket on that matched her skirt.
“I’m ready.” she said.
“Then let’s go.” I said. I opened the door and held it open for her and Shane. I locked it after we were all out and we began off towards the stadium. Midnight Village sat quietly in the shadow of the stadium. It was the biggest of few villages in the Dream Realm and was the most heavily populated. Every one of the people that live in this village are involved in the REM tournament someway, either attending the battles or actually competing, and all of them knew my name. My supporters always bring food and desserts to our home during the tournament with good luck notes attached, some are love notes from time to time. All in all, I was the most well known person in the Dream Realm, besides the King Artaxerxes. We lived in our small home on the far side of the village, as far from the stadium as you could get in Midnight village, which is why I rarely return home during the tournament.
I first met Sam and Shane at the end of my first tournament, during my first reign as champion. Shane was nine at the time, making him three years older than me, and Sam was five. They were brother and sister and, like me, were orphans not just here but in reality as well. When I met them they were low on money and could barely afford to pay for their rent, and had no money for food. As the winner of the tournament I had received a hefty sum of money and needed a place to live while here in the Dream Realm. So, Shane and I made a deal, they let me live with them and I help pay for their food and their rent.
The two of them immediately became friendly with me. Shane respecting my skills as a fighter, and Sam having a crush and developing feelings for me. The three of us did everything together when I was here during tournament breaks, but once the tournament started up again I was only around to give them the money they needed when it was needed. Since Shane was 13 he’s been competing in the tournament with me in an effort to increase our chances of winning the prize money and the two of us have made it to the finals together once since then, I being the winner.
As we passed through the market in the village, Sam stopped to buy groceries, a task Shane and I knew would take some time. We had already been there for ten minutes and she was only at her second shop, buying fruit.
“Hmm. Do I want to by oranges or strawberries? Oh, I just can’t decide.” we could hear her saying to herself.
“Why don’t you just buy both? We have enough money.” I said.
“That’s a good idea.” she said to me. “I’ll take five oranges, three peaches and two pounds of strawberries.” she said to the trader. He packed the fruit she asked for and handed her the bags, which she handed to Shane.
I paid for the fruit and the trader said to me, “Thank you for purchasing with me and good luck in the tournament Rin, I’ve got 25 gold pieces on you to win.”
“25, that’s all? Betting on me your statistical odds of winning are exponentially high, so you have a better chance of winning thus meaning you should have bet more.” I said. The trader had a confused look on his face as he processed what I had said.
“He said that you should have bet more money.” Shane said, simplifying what I said.
“Oh, well I would have, but the guy I’m betting with doesn’t want to take that kind of risk.”
“Well he’s a smart man.” I said, as I began to walk off.
“Thank you for the food.” Sam said and she and Shane hurried to catch up with me as I headed towards the stadium. “Rin, I wasn’t done shopping.” complained Sam.
“I don’t have all day to be here, I have school tomorrow.” I said. “I’ll give you money and you can come back later.”
“Fine.” she said reluctantly, knowing that I wouldn’t give her enough money to buy as much as she wanted.
We all walked in a sort of silence, it wasn’t completely silent because Sam was saying hello to everyone we passed by, until we reached the stadium. From the outside we could hear the roar of the crowd that was watching the match that was going on. We walked over to the ticket booth where the guard, Andre, was reading a magazine. Andre was a lightly tanned man in his late thirties. He had a bald fade and wore a classic security guard uniform.
“Hello, Andre.” I said, drawing his attention from the magazine.
“Oh, hello Rin. How’s the people’s favorite champ?” Andre asked, closing his magazine.
“I’m fine.” I replied.
“That’s good. What may I do for you?” he asked.
“I was wondering if you could tell me when my next match is scheduled.” I said.
“No problem.” Andre raised his hand into the air and a holographic calendar appeared before him. “Ah,” he said, “you’re next match is in two days at 1:30 p.m.”
“Thank you.” I said.
“Can you check mine as well?” Shane interjected.
“Name please.” said Andre.
“Grayson, huh. Weren’t you the runner up last year?”
“Yeah.” Shane said.
“You put up a hell of a fight, but you still couldn’t conquer the champ here.” Andre looked at the calendar and quickly found Shane’s name. “Looks like your match is tomorrow at noon.”
“If that’s the case then save me two tickets for that match.” I said. I took four gold pieces out of my bag and handed them to Andre.
“No problem, but who’s the second ticket for?” he asked.
“It’s for her.” I said, pointing at Sam. “I’ve got to go, got some training.” I then turned and began to walk away. Sam and Shane both said thank you and hurried to catch up with me.
“Rin where are we going? There’s a training room in the stadium.” asked Shane
“I know, but I’ve got somewhere I want to go first. Also, I have a better place for you and I to train.” I said, leading the way.
The three of us walked in silence for a long moment of time. Shane and Sam followed behind me; because, they didn’t know where we were going. They continued to follow me willingly all the way until we reached the outskirts of town and we reached a forest, it was full of dead trees that were black as though they had been burnt.
“Rin?” I heard Sam say from behind me.
“What?” I asked. I stopped and turned around and I could see them standing outside the forest, they hadn’t continued following me after I entered it.
“You do know what this forest is, right?” she asked.
“Yeah, it’s the Forest of Nightmares. Why?”
“Because this isn’t a place people normally go.” add Shane.
“Well I do and if you guys don’t want to come along then you can go home. I’ll just see you tomorrow.” I said and I continued walking deeper into the forest. I continued walking deeper into the forest and I could hear the sound of their footsteps crunching against the fallen leaves and sticks on the ground. “So the two of you decided to come with, I see.”
“Well we decided that as your friends, we shouldn’t let you come in this forest alone.” said Shane.
Friends? I though to myself. Instead of focusing on it, I dismissed the thought and the three of us continued towards our destination. As we walked, I could see many creatures hiding in the shadows, their bright, glowing eyes following us as we moved. I could tell that Sam and Shane could see them as well because I could hear Sam softly whimpering from fear.
Suddenly, a dark shadow converged on one spot in front of us, stopping me in my tracks. The shadow transformed into a the shape of a black fox with nine tails, on each tail was a glowing, white line. It had piercing red eyes. The fox barred its teeth which were sharp and white.
“Rin.” I could hear its deep voice say.
“Hello, Gobu.” I said back.
“Who are these people?”
“This is Shane and his younger sister, Samantha.” I said, introducing each of them respectively. “I live with them.”
“So they’re friends of yours?” he asked.
“You could say that.”
“Well, I will allow them to enter this forest so long as they are with you, but if I ever catch them here without you then I will let my minions loose and they will not survive.”
“Good,” he said as he turned to leave, “and congratulations on your win. Good luck with the rest of the tournament.
“Thank you.” I said. Gobu nodded and ran off into another section of the forest. I continued off towards our destination. Shane and Sam moved quickly to catch up with me.
“What’s going on?” Shane whispered. “What was with that fox and why couldn’t we hear it speak, but you could?”
“That fox is the king of this forest. His name is Gobu and he’s a kitsune, a nine tailed fox, and he speaks to me telepathically. He was just asking me about the two of you and told me that he’d allow you to be here only so long as you’re with me.”
“What if we weren’t?” asked Sam.
“Then he’d have the other creatures in this forest kill you for trespassing on their land.”
“Well how come you can enter this forest without an escort?” Shane asked.
“That is because when I first arrived here in the Dream Realm, I appeared in this forest. At the time I was just a kid, but Gobu was still willing to kill me for invading his home. After questioning me, he realized that I had been “born” here and allowed me to live. Then he showed me the way here.” I finished my statement as we exited a thicket of trees and walked out into a clearing. In this clearing sat a large, black and white cathedral.
“What is it?” asked Sam, her eyes were wide with intrigue.
“It’s a cathedral. I call it Nightmare’s Cathedral. When Gobu first showed it to me it was broken down and damaged. He told me that it was in this cathedral that Nightmares were born and that a person that was the polar opposite of the Dream King, the King of Nightmares, resided. He led me inside and on a mantel, completely untouched, I found a book that had a perfect record of the Dream Realm’s history. I also learned everything I needed to know about reality, the Dream Realm, the Astral Plane, this forest, as well as the Dream and Nightmare Kings.”
“This cathedral was a part of why I’m gone during the tournament’s months of inactivity. I had promised Gobu that I’d help him restore it and it’s been a ten year process, but we finally finished. I always visit this place before a match for good luck and I come here to train.” I said, I placed my hand on the wall of the cathedral and looked at it, admiringly.
“Can you show us around?” Sam asked.
I looked down at my watch and saw that it was 4:30. “Sorry, but we don’t have enough time for that if I’m going to get some training in. Maybe another time.” I turned around and faced Shane, my face now covered with determination. “Are you ready? I’m not going to go easy on you.”
“You never have before. So why should I expect anything different now?” he said.
“Good point.” I took my guns out of their holsters as Shane entered a fighting stance.
Shane hated unnecessary killing and fought unarmed. To avoid having to kill his opponents, he learned about pressure points and which ones to attack in order to completely immobilize a person. This made us the perfect training partners for each other due to my long range style and his up close style.
We both shared an intense stare with each other and instantly Shane charged at me, closing the gap between us. He quickly began to attack, aiming for the pressure points in my arm and shoulder to disarm me. I avoided each of his attacks with ease and tripped his leg as he went in for another one, causing him to fall to the ground. He quickly rolled back to a vertical base, but there was now another gap between us.
With my guns pointed at his feet, I began to shoot and he had a hard time avoiding all the shots, some grazing his feet or ankles. He jumped into the air and, as he came down, tried to strike my pressure points, but I moved to the side and he landed on his hands, doing a handstand. He started kicking at me with his legs, and I blocked each kick, before pushing himself off of the ground and into the air. He came down with his heel aimed at my head, but I blocked this as well and flipped him away from me. He landed on his feet in front of me and I placed my foot against his chest, I pushed off as hard as I could and launched him to the ground. When he sat up, I was there with my gun pointed at his head.
“Beat you again.” I said.
“I guess you did.” he said back. I held out my hand and helped him to his feet. I looked at my watch again and it said 16:45.
“Looks like my alarm will be going off in a couple of seconds. So I guess I’ll see you guys tomorrow.” I said.
“Guess so.” said Shane.
“Bye.” said Sam, softly.
I closed my eyes and my form slowly began to fade away. When I reopened my eyes again, I was back in my room and I could hear my alarm clock blaring loudly. I turned it off and sighed.
“Time for school.” I said as I rolled out of bed.
After getting out of the bed, I took a quick shower and changed into my uniform. Then I grabbed a sweet dumpling, for the long walk to school, before leaving. I arrived at school not long before the bell rang to start the day. Like always I did nothing in my classes and patiently waited until it was 11:00 and I was in Ms. Zennosuke’s class. Around, when classes were let out for lunch, 11:30 I decided that it was time for me to leave and enter the Dream Realm so I laid my head on my desk and slowly drifted to sleep
After drifting off to sleep, I found myself in my small bedroom in my Dream Realm home. I left my room and found Sam sitting on the couch, watching television.
“I’m here. You ready to go?” I said. She quickly turned and looked at me, obviously startled because she didn’t know I was there.
“Oh, Rin. I didn’t know you where here.” she said before turning off the television and standing up. “Yeah, let’s go.” Sam had her usual innocent smile on her face with her eyes closed.
The two of us left and began to walk, taking the normal path to the stadium. We walked side by side and I could feel the eyes of everyone around us, watching. Much of the walk was silent as we made our way closer and closer to the stadium. As we passed through the market, we had been walking for a while and I noticed that Sam wasn’t with me.
“Sam?” I said, confused. I looked around and saw her at one of the shops, her eyes were wide and bright as she was looking at something. I walked over to her and put my hand on her shoulder. “What are you looking at?” I asked.
Her eyes returned to normal and she looked up at me with her innocent smile. “Oh, nothing,” she said, “we should get going before we’re late.” Sam began to walk away, but I grabbed her arm and held her there.
“Were you looking at this?” I asked. I picked up a necklace that had a silver and pink winged heart attached to it.
“Yeah, I thought it looked pretty, but it doesn’t matter.”
I looked at her and could see that she was sad, though I couldn’t understand why. At that moment I made a split second decision, “Excuse me sir, I’d like to buy this necklace.” and bought her the necklace.
“It’s 300 gold pieces.” said the merchant, he was busy assisting another customer.
I took a small bag of gold out of my bag and dropped it on his stand. “There’s 350 in there. Keep the change.” I said, the whole time Sam stared at me, confused. “What’s with that look?” I asked her.
“I’m just surprised. Normally you would have said that something like this wasn’t a necessity so I shouldn’t have even wasted my time thinking about buying it.” she said.
“Well I didn’t, so here.” I put the necklace around her neck. “Don’t lose it.” I whispered into her ear. I began walking again, and after a brief moment she caught up with me and we walked the rest of the way to the stadium.
We arrived at the stadium with two minutes before the match started and approached Andre to get the tickets.
“Got the tickets for me Andre?” I asked.
“Yep, they’re all set for you Rin, but there’s one thing.” he said.
“The Dream King would like for you and your friend to join him in his box to watch the fight.”
“Really?” asked Sam, her voice was a mixture of confusion and excitement.
“Yes, and you better go. Don’t want to keep him waiting.”
“I see, well thank you for the tickets. Come on Sam, let’s go.” I said. Sam thanked Andre and we left to find our way to the King’s private box to get our seats. We quickly found our way to the king’s box and he was sitting in his throne waiting for us, flanked by his personal guard, Griffin and Marcello.
“Hello my king.” I said, and I bowed to him. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Sam curtsey to him.
The king rose from his throne as we straightened up, his face was cold and blank. Then a small grin broke upon his face and he said, “Hello Rin, Sam.”
“You know my name?” she asked, surprised and happy.
“Of course. I know the names of everyone inside the Dream Realm. Now I believe the fight we will be viewing is involving your brother, Shane. Am I correct?”
“Yes, sir. It is.” said Sam.
“This should be interesting. He was one of your many runner ups at one point wasn’t he Rin?”
“Yes.” I answered.
“His fighting style is actually very unique to the Dream Realm. Normally people would just go ahead and kill their opponents, much like you do Rin, but instead he simply immobilizes them by taking out their pressure points.” said Artaxerxes.
“The thing about Shane is that he abhorrers killing and would never kill someone or something himself. So he learned about the pressure points in a person’s body, where they are, and how to strike them to block them and immobilize others. So that he wouldn’t have to kill.” I said.
“Doesn’t he realize that when you die in the Dream Realm, all that happens is that you wake up in reality and may return after 24 hours?”
“Yes, he does, but he still doesn’t feel that gives him the right to kill another.” said Sam.
“I see,” our words were soon being drowned out by the cheers of the crowd as the combatants entered, “it appears the match is about to begin.” Artaxerxes took his seat while Marcello and Griffin simply stood to each side of him. Sam and I took our seats and watched as the announcer gave the introductions.
“Our first competitor hails from Manchester, England, he is Elliot Harper!” said the announcer. A man dressed in red and black slacks with a red, sleeveless shirt stepped forward and bowed. The crowd echoed with vibrant cheers.
“Our second competitor hails from Seattle, Washington, and is last years runner up. He is Shane Grayson.” Shane motioned to the crowd as they grew loud with thunderous cheers.
“Let the battle begin!” the announcer said.
Elliot reached into his pocket and took out a small, red and black stick. He held out his arm and the stick extended outwards and expanded slightly, forming a staff. Elliot spun the weapon around and held it out towards Shane. Shane charged at Elliot and went to attack his leg. Elliot stuck his staff in the ground, blocking the attack then brought it up, striking at Shane‘s jaw. Shane moved out of the way of this attack and began attacking Elliot with the index and middle fingers of each hand rapidly. Elliot blocked each attack, but was still forced backwards until his back hit the wall below us. Shane went in for another attack, but Elliot rolled out of the way, causing Shane’s attack to hit the wall. The attack created a small crater in the wall and a crack spawned from it that reached halfway up the wall. Shane quickly turned around and deflected Elliot’s incoming attack, sending the staff into the wall. Shane snapped the staff in half and launched a swift series of attacks into Elliot’s pressure points, numbing his body. Shane then used the palms of both his hands straight into Elliot’s chest, sending him flying backwards and onto his back.
Elliot was unable to move and just lied there, defeated. Shane motioned to the crowd and their cheers were nearly ear-splitting.
“And the winner is, Shane Grayson!” said the announcer.
“Well that was certainly an impressive bout. Your friend there sure is strong Rin.” said Artaxerxes.
“Yes, that is why I try to avoid him hitting me at all costs.” I said. I stood to my feet and Sam did the same. “It was a pleasure being able to join you to watch this battle.” I bowed to him and Sam curtsied, we then left the box and made our way to the exit where we waited for Shane.
We waited for around ten minutes before Shane finally joined us. He had a huge grin on his face.
“I won.” he said.
“I know, you were great. You’ll make it to the finals again for sure. Don’t you think Rin?” said Sam.
“I don’t know, but what I do know is that you did a good job today Shane, keep it up.” I said. I was leaning against the wall with my arms folded. “I’ll see you guys tomorrow.” I closed my eyes while still leaning against the wall and when I opened them, I could hear Ms. Zennosuke’s voice still going on with her lecture. Moments later, the bell rang and I raised my head off of my desk. I grabbed my bag off of the ground beside me and left the classroom. I slowly made my way down the hall to Mr. Maeda’s class and took my seat just before the bell rang. I laid my head down on my desk and closed my eyes. I could faintly hear Mr. Maeda as he spoke.
“Today class we’re going to the lab to do an experiment so grab your things and we’ll head on over.” he said. I instantly opened my eyes and slowly raised my head off the desk.
The rest of the class was making a loud uproar as they left the room and walked towards the lab. I remained at my desk and waited for Mr. Maeda to notice that I hadn’t moved.
“Come on Rin, let’s go.”
You did this on purpose.” I said. I was looking at the floor with an intense and angry look on my face.
“Did what on purpose?” he innocently asked.
“You purposely assigned a lab for today so that I couldn’t go to sleep.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. This has been on the back board all week.” I eyed Mr. Maeda suspiciously as he left the classroom. When he was in the hall I glanced at the board and say the words ‘’Thursday: Sulfur Lab.’ They were written over a smudge mark that clearly had been words not long before.
I exhaled a short sigh before leaving my seat and heading out into the hall. There waiting for me stood Mr. Maeda beside the door and across the hall from the classroom I saw my lab partner, Kimiko Masaharu, leaning against the hall with her AP Chemistry book pressed against her chest.
Kimiko was a shy, quiet, smart girl, she was second best in our class, behind me of course, and like me, had no friends. She was about 5’2” , shoulder-length, black hair with bangs that partially covered her light blue eyes and had what most people would describe as an adorable face. She often kept to herself unless forced to do group work and would try to take control and finish the assignment so that she didn’t have to converse with anybody. As far as I knew, the only person she has ever spoken to here, besides a teacher or staff member, was me.
“Hey.” I said in the monotone voice I often spoke to other students with.
“Hi.” she barely squeaked out, slightly waving to me before she hurried off towards the lab.
I sighed again and looked at Mr. Maeda, who had just finished locking his door. “May I ask again why it is you partnered me up with her?” I asked.
“I figured the two of you would become friends and help each other to become more social amongst your peers.” he said.
“And how’s that working out for you?”
“I’ve learned that I have underestimated both your disdain for others and the amount of impact you have on people.” he said.
“It’s not that I disdain them, it’s that I refuse to accept them.” I said. I then walked away towards the lab and could hear Mr. Maeda’s footsteps as he followed. When we reached the lab, the class was waiting outside and I could see Ryu, a student I frequently had problems with, talking to Kimiko and obviously making her uncomfortable. I stopped in my tracks and glared at him as I watched and as I was about to say something, Mr. Maeda grabbed my shoulder and gave me a look that said don’t do it.
He looked over at Ryu and said, “Ryu, leave her alone. She doesn’t want to talk to you.”
Ryu looked over at Mr. Maeda and I, aiming a smug grin at me as he could see the obvious anger on my face. He quickly got rid of his grin and shot Mr. Maeda an innocent look before saying, “I’m sorry sir. I just felt like she needed someone normal to talk to for once, rather than a reject like him.” He shifted his look towards me in mid-sentence and the innocent look faded, turning into a hate filled one. I returned this look to him and the two of us glared at one another for a moment as the rest of the class watched.
“All right, that’s enough,” Mr. Maeda said, “another comment like that Ryu and I’ll send you down to the principle.”
“Yes sir.” he said, still glaring at me.
Mr. Maeda unlocked the door and let the class into the lab. I waited until everyone was inside before I entered myself. I walked passed Ryu as I went to my station were Kimiko waited.
“Teacher’s pet.” I heard him whisper as I walked by. I decided to ignore it and get to my station. When I reached my station Kimiko handed me a pair of goggles.
“Thanks.” I said.
“You’re welcome, and thank you for sticking up for me.” she said.
“I didn’t do anything, Mr. Maeda did.”
“True, but I could tell that you wanted to.” The two of us were looking into each others eyes and I could see her begin to blush, she quickly turned away and began working. I was confused for a moment but soon began to help her. The two of us easily finished the lab and both of us began reading a book to pass the time. I glanced over and saw that we were reading the same book. Not much later, the bell rang and I grabbed my bag and left to go home.
I arrived home after my usual walk and, as always, grabbed a cup of instant noodles and ate it while I watched the news and read a book. After I finished my book, I said goodnight to my mother and father then went into my room, easily drifting off to sleep.
I found myself in a dark, shadowy area, there was no light except for a small radius of it that moved as I did like a spotlight. I stood there quietly, unaware of what was going on.
“Rin” I heard a voice say that echoed through the dark void, I recognized the voice as Gobu’s. “Rin, I need to speak with you. Come see me as soon as you enter the Dream Realm, and come alone.” As the echo of his final words faded, I awoke and was in my Dream Realm room. I quickly left it and as I entered the kitchen, saw Sam and Shane watching television together. They both turned and looked as I closed the door behind me, as usual Sam’s face lit up with happiness.
“Rin!” she elated.
“Hi, listen I’ve got to go, but I’ll be back later if I have the time.” I said.
“Go where?” Shane asked.
“To the forest, Gobu said he needed to speak with me the next time I was here.”
“Well we’ll go with you.” Sam suggested.
“No, he said for me to come alone.” I grabbed my jacket and left before either of them could say anything else. I walked as quickly as I could to the northwest corner of the village, where the entrance to the forest lied. I entered the forest and as I did, I could see a multitude of eyes that ranged between various colors and shapes, there seemed to be more than usual and the intensity of their stare seemed stronger. I walked the path towards the cathedral and found Gobu standing in front of it, waiting for me.
“Hello Gobu.” I said.
“Hello Rin.” he replied.
“You wanted to speak with me?”
“Yes, the other Nightmares and I have been discussing something for the past ten years since you arrived here and I think it’s time I brought you into the mix. It’s about your role here in the Dream Realm.”
“Yes, you see, at the beginning nothing existed in this realm besides two entities, the Dream King Artaxerxes and Morpheus the King of Nightmares. This was the single fact that remained true in this realm and on the Astral Plane for centuries, until Artaxerxes found a way to bring humans into the Dream Realm. King Morpheus sat and watched as Artaxerxes filled three large villages full of people that lived amongst each other and worshiped him like a god. Unable to feel this kind of love and admiration, as others were too afraid to enter the forest, King Morpheus built this cathedral and Nightmares were born. Then suddenly, King Morpheus died and the cathedral broke down, stopping the birth of Nightmares.”
“I know all of this, I read it in that book I found my first visit here.”
“Yes, it is true that the book you are speaking of holds a never ending record of the Dream Realm’s history, but it is also true that a part of that book was destroyed. The part holding the truth.”
“The truth of what happened to King Morpheus, the truth that he was murdered by Artaxerxes Animas, the Dream King.” Gobu paused for a moment after seeing the look of shock on my face. “Yes, you see Artaxerxes grew afraid of the growing power that the Nightmares were gaining, he feared that King Morpheus planned to overthrow him and rule the Dream Realm himself, but in reality all King Morpheus wanted was to live peacefully with his Nightmares. To combat this fear, Artaxerxes entered the forest with his two guards, Griffin and Marcello, and assaulted the cathedral.”
“King Morpheus did not want a full blown war to break out, nor did he want to leave his Nightmares unprotected should he be killed. So stripped himself of his powers and merged them into myself, then he commanded me to hide. I watched as King Morpheus spoke with Artaxerxes, offering him a deal, his life in exchange for the safety and protection of the Nightmares living in the forest. Artaxerxes hesitantly agreed and order Griffin and Marcello to kill King Morpheus and burn down the cathedral.”
“As the three of them left, I approached King Morpheus and he spoke to me, telling me that one day a new king would arrive, someone that would make their arrival in the Dream Realm here in this forest. He told me that when this person arrived to watch over them, and teach them the truth, and when the time comes to place myself in their body, giving them all of his power. In the 500 years since King Morpheus gave me those commands you, Rin, are the only person to have been ‘born’ in this forest, meaning you are King Morpheus’s replacement and you are our king.” Gobu bowed his head and I stood there, speechless.
“I… I don’t know what to say.” I said.
“You don’t have to say anything. I just want you to know that when you are ready these doors will be open and the throne inside will be available for you to take your place as the king we know you are.” Gobu dissipated into shadows that spread out into the forest.
I pushed open the doors to the cathedral and walked inside, the entire inside was made of white and black marble and upon walking in a person comes across a marble railing that overlooked a massive opening in the floor. Hovering over this opening was ten floating, metal plates that made a pathway leading to a black and white throne. I walked across the plates and made my way to the throne. I picked up a crown that was sitting in the throne and looked at it. With the crown still in hand, I looked out into the forest through the open door.
“This could all be mine.” I said to myself. I closed my eyes and smiled. When I reopened them, I was in my normal bed.
I spent the rest of the night going through my head all the things Gobu had told me, deciding if he was telling me the truth or lying to me. These thoughts preoccupied me throughout the entire night, only for them to be interrupted by the sound of my alarm. I turned it off and went through my morning ritual of a shower and then a sweet dumpling before leaving for school.
The day seemed to be going by normally, aside from the fact that I had been awake all day, because of my match later, up until 1 p.m., when I was in Mrs. Kudara’s class.
“All right, today class we’ll be writing an essay, and as suggested by our top student, Kimiko, the prompt will be to write a description of your best friend and to write about your first interaction with them.” she explained, “Any questions?” Ryu raised his hand and Mrs. Kudara called on him.
“Yeah, I was just wondering what exactly Rin was going to write about, because we all know that he has no friends.” Ryu said, giving me his usual smug grin. The rest of the class all laughed, all but Kimiko.
“Very funny Ryu, and you’re right I don’t have friends, but that could either be because of why you say, that I’m a reject and a freak; or it could be because I don’t want to run the risk of becoming friends with an inbred dumbass like you.” I retorted. The class got even louder with laughter, even Kimiko sort of giggled. Ryu’s face grew as red as an apple.
He stood up from his seat and glared at me. “What did you say?” he asked.
“You heard me.” I said, I stared straight at him, beaming a feeling of disgust his way. He charged across the classroom and grabbed me by my collar, lifting me our of my seat and onto my feet.
“Why don’t you say it again?”
I broke his grip on me. “Fine, I said that you’re an inbred dumbass.” I said. Seconds after I finished my sentence, Ryu punched me in my face and before I could react, the other students had left their seats and gotten between the two of us. Ryu smiled smugly as the others prevented me from striking back, his stupid grin fueling my anger.
Mrs. Kudara blew sharply into a whistle that brought all of our attention towards her. “That’s enough! Jin, Juro escort Ryu to the principle’s office, and Rin I want you to go to Mr. Maeda’s classroom. I’ll call him to let you know that you’re on your way.” she commanded. She was pointing at the door, telling us to leave. Jin, Juro and Ryu left first and after they were gone I left as well, walking in the opposite direction towards Mr. Maeda’s classroom.
When I reached his class, Mr. Maeda was sitting at his desk with an ice pack ready for my swollen jaw. It wasn’t until I saw the ice pack that I noticed the pain my jaw was in. He handed me the ice pack and I took my seat at my normal desk.
“Rin, what were you thinking?” he asked, breaking the awkward silence.
“I was just sick and tired of all the crap that he’s been giving me from day one. Who the hell is he to belittle me? He’s just some spoiled rich kid who thinks he’s better than me because everyday he gets to go home to his mommy and daddy and bath in a tub of money. I’m two times stronger, two times faster, four times smarter, and a whole hell of a lot of a better person than he is, so who does he think he is?” I said, I angrily stared at the board.
“Like you said, you’re smarter, meaning you shouldn’t let these kinds of things get to you like that.”
“Since when does being smarter mean I have to put up with crap like? Since when does being smarter mean I have to put up with crap like this?” I pointed at my swollen jaw to emphasize my point.
“You’re right, it doesn’t mean that you have to put up with any of that, but it does mean that you have the ability to think rationally before you speak or act.” I looked away from him, because; I didn’t want to see the judgmental look that I knew was on his face. “How about you just take a nap and cool off. I’ll wake you when school’s over.”
I looked at my watch and it read, 13:20. “Fine.” I said. I laid my head down onto my arms and closed my eyes. I reopened them and found myself in the waiting room that led into the stadium. I turned to find my armor lying on the bench behind me. I quickly got dressed and as I connected the last hook, the four guards entered to escort me out onto the battlefield. I looked around the arena and saw Sam and Shane watching from the King’s box. I looked away from them and forward at my opponent, he was a blonde haired, blue eyed teenager that had an annoying smile on his face, it seemed to have an effect on the girls in the audience. I closed my eyes and all fell quiet as the announcer prepare to give the introductions.
“Ladies and gentlemen it is time for the first match of the second round of King Artaxerxes’s REM tournament. First, hailing from Belgium, Germany, he is Klaus Abbot!” Klaus motioned to the crowed, blowing kiss to the females in the audience, this caused me to fill up with hate. “Next, he is your current and longest reigning champion of this tournament, Rin Sato!” I took in slow, deep breaths as the crowed began to chant my name. “Let the battle, begin!”
“Hey Rin,” Klaus said, “sorry I have to knock you out of the tournament so early, but I plan on winning this whole thing then using the money to treat all the ladies in this arena to drinks, including that little friend of yours.” He had a smug look on his face that reminded me of Ryu. I just quietly stared at him.
He drew a knife out of his pocket and charged at me. As he swung down on my temple I caught his hand in mid-air and, with ease, snapped his wrist. He quickly picked up his knife with his working hand and backed away.
“So you’re ambidextrous.” I said coldly.
“Yeah, meaning your pathetic attempt to disarm me is useless.” he said. Klaus then began to attack me wildly and I avoided each attack before punching him in his ribs. The impact was so powerful that the sound of his cracking ribs echoed through the stadium. He then angrily punched me in my face, much like Ryu did, leaving me stunned for a moment as I was paralyzed by my own anger.
“Not so tough now are you, hündin.” he said.
From what little German I knew, I recognized that he had called me a bitch and all my anger began to flood to the surface. I grabbed him by his good hand and pulled him close enough that I could knee him in the gut, breaking what was left of his ribs. I then broke the arm I had hold of and kneed him in the jaw. He stumbled backwards as I pulled out my right gun and shot him once in the head. His body fell backwards and broke into little pieces. My eyes were still fixated on the spot he had been standing when I shot him, they looked as green as a serpents venom. I was breathing heavily as the crowd began to cheer. I looked up and saw concern on the faces of Shane and Sam.
I wasted little time leaving, not even stopping to take my armor off, and ran into the forest where I spent the remainder of my time trying to calm myself down. I sat in the forest for nearly and hour before I heard Mr. Maeda’s voice calling to me.
“Rin. Rin, wake up.” he said. I sat up and looked at him, he was standing in front of my desk and holding a sliver of paper out to me. “Here.”
“What’s this?” I asked.
“It’s a website for people like you, geniuses. You said that you would be content with your life until you found someone that was on your level of intelligence so here’s your chance.”
“Thanks, but I’ll pass.” I stood up from my seat and began to walk away.
He placed his hand on my shoulder and said, “How about you take it anyway just to humor me?”
“Sure, whatever.” I took the paper from him. “Can I go now?”
“Yeah. Goodnight Rin. I’ll see you Monday.”
“Goodnight Mr. Maeda.” I left the room and the campus, going home to finish my day as always, Gobu’s words still hung heavy on my mind.
It’s been six weeks since the whole incident with Ryu. His parents were able to persuade the principal not to expel him, while I was given a pass because of my background. The two of us have had no contact since except for the occasional glares we shot each other’s way. Kimiko has also become more distant, feeling responsible for the event happening. The anger from that entire exchange fueled my drive in the REM tournament, helping me excel through the ranks all the way to the fifth round. Shane also managed to make it to the fifth round, leaving two more rounds for each of us until we’re in the finals. I haven’t seen Gobu during any of my trips to the forest lately either, I think he may be avoiding me, and every time I go there the eyes have come out of the shadows and all of the various Nightmares stand before me, bowing as I pass by.
For weeks Mr. Maeda has trying to convince me to visit that website he told me about, but I haven’t really had the time. Once again we were doing an experiment, a science scavenger hunt, in his class, this one lasting a full week, preventing me from making as many trips to the dream realm as I’d like. Kimiko and I had one item left to find, it was one of six miniature Tesla coils hidden around the school.
We had been looking around for almost ten minutes before Kimiko asked, “What does a Tesla coil look like.”
For a moment I was taken aback by her question and had to take a moment to recover. I took my cell phone out of my pocket and looked up a picture of a Tesla coil and showed it to her. Her eyes opened wide upon seeing it.
“I’ve seen one of those before!” she elated.
“Where?” I asked.
“On the roof. There’s one sitting on the ledge up there.”
“Then let’s go get it.” I said. The two of us ran towards the school and into the building. We quickly scaled the long staircase and reached the roof entrance. I opened the door and we entered onto the roof, it was empty and barren. The roof of the school covered in gravel, up here the cold chill of the Autumn air could be felt. Kimiko looked around and saw it sitting on the ledge of the roof, she ran over to it and grabbed it. She picked it up and held it in her hand, smiling at me. I half smiled back and she trotted over to me as we exited the roof and went back into the school.
Once inside, Kimiko handed me the coil and I placed it in the bag around my shoulder that held all the items we had collected. I took the rules of the scavenger hunt out of my pocket and read the last line aloud. It said, “Once a team has recovered all 10 items, they are to report to my class room with each item and turn them in.”
“Looks like we’re going to Mr. Maeda’s class.” I said.
“Yeah.” she said quietly. All during this scavenger hunt, Kimiko had been more happy and energetic, she even helped me find a number of items, but now her voice was back to its normal soft and shy tone.
We made our way down to Mr. Maeda’s class, slowly and silently because we had a good lead over the other groups. When we finally arrived at his classroom, Mr. Maeda was sitting at his desk reading today’s newspaper. When we walked in he hadn’t noticed us at first until I knocked lightly on the door. Mr. Maeda looked up and put his paper down, revealing the reading glasses on his face.
Mr. Maeda chuckled and said, “I’m not surprised that you two were first. Do you have everything?” He folded up his newspaper and sat it on his desk. Kimiko and I walked over to his desk and I removed the bag of items from around my shoulder. Mr. Maeda took out his copy of the rules and began reading the list of items.
“1. A scalpel. 2. A skull. 3. A beaker. 4. Tongs. 5. A microscope. 6. A test tube of sodium. 7. An electronic scale. 8. A microscopic sample. 9. A lightning rod. 10. A miniature Tesla coil.” As Mr. Maeda read off each item, I took it out of the bag and placed it on his desk.
“Good job you two, you found everything.” Mr. Maeda looked down at his watch then back up at us. “We’ve got about an hour left in class. Why don’t you two just take your seats and relax while we wait for everyone else to finish as well.”
“Sure.” I said. Both Kimiko and I sat in our usual seats. Moments later, Ryu and his partner, Ayame, entered the room as well with Ryu carrying their bag.
Ayame was a 5’7” girl with light blonde hair and deep gray eyes. She often had a kind disposition and was one of the few people that treated me with any sort of kindness. She was also among the smartest of the class and most popular, with many guys vying for her attention and girls eager to be her friend. The one defining quality about her; however, was her obvious affections towards Ryu. She hung around him like a lost puppy, laughed at his everyone word, aside from when he was berating me, and I could always tell how it affected her to see him flirt with Kimiko, even though he only did it to piss me off. Ryu never seemed to be aware of Ayame’s feelings for him and saw her only as a friend.
Ryu and I exchanged glances as he and Ayame walked over to Mr. Maeda’s desk. While glaring at him, I could see Ayame wave to Kimiko and I. Kimiko had waved back while I only offered a slight nod. As Mr. Maeda went through the check off routine with Ryu and Ayame, I lied my head down onto my arms and closed my eyes, taking my usual route into the Dream Realm.
I opened my eyes and found myself in my changing room inside the arena. I changed into my armor and waited for a short period of time before the guards came in to escort me out to the battlefield. I went with them and like always, was greeted with cheers from my countless numbers of fans in attendance, and as with the recent trend, Shane and Sam were sitting with King Artaxerxes in his private box.
I looked over at my opponent and he seemed to be about 32 years old and his auburn hair was cut in a crew cut hair style. His eyes were a cool grey color and they seemed almost lifeless. Across his back was his weapon, a jet black kanabo with a gold chain wrapped around the handle. The chain went all the way to his right arm and wrapped around that as well.
“Welcome ladies and gentlemen! It is now time for the beginning of the fifth round of the REM tournament!!” the announcer elated. “Introducing first, from Chipley, Florida, he is Austin Graham!!” Austin stood in his place, looking at the ground his eyes still had the dead look in them. “And his opponent, from Nagoya, Japan, the current reigning champion of the REM tournament, Rin Sato!!!!”
I removed the strap on my gun holsters and placed my hands on my guns. Austin lifted his right arm and grabbed the handle of his weapon, slowly removing it from his back. His arm fell with the weapon in hand, the kanabo created a medium sized crater in the ground where it landed. “So you’re Rin Sato?” Austin muttered, his voice was low and I could barely understood what he said from where I stood.
“Yeah.” I said, my hands were still on my guns, ready in case he made any sudden movements.
“I’ve heard of you. I heard you’re really strong.”
“I don’t think it’s that I’m strong, but that I’m smart and can masterfully strategize against any opponent.”
“I see, well I hope you’re right; because;” Austin lifted his head and his eyes were no longer lifeless, but now full of hate and bloodlust, “I’m pissed off and I need something to kill.” Austin threw the kanabo into the air and caught its chain, swinging it around over his head. He swung it out towards me and I crouched to avoid being hit. I took out my guns and began to rapidly fire at Austin. Austin pulled his kanabo back to him and used the weapon to block my bullets. He grabbed the kanabo by its chain again and threw it into the air, bringing it down as it was directly above me. I dived to my left and shot again, two of my bullets catching him in his right leg, the rest missing. Austin was unphased and pulled the kanabo back to him with its chain. He swung it around again and brought it down on me before I could get to my feet. I lifter my legs up and blocked the attack, an intense pain unlike any I had felt before shot through my legs. I placed my guns in their holsters and pushed myself off of the ground with my arms, launching myself and the weapon into the air. I shot downwards at Austin, hitting him several times in his shoulders and legs. Despite all of his wounds, Austin jumped into the air, Kanabo in hand, and rose higher than I was. As Austin swung down on me, I shot him in his chest four times, and his body fell to the ground. I landed on my feet and dropped to my left knee. Austin began to stir, slowly rising to his feet, his wounds still seemed to not be affecting him in the slightest. He swung his kanabo down on me again, and I rose to my feet and blocked his attack with the barrel of my left gun. I struck Austin in his face with my right gun, going across the left side then back the other side. I moved the kanabo away from me and used both of my pistols to shoot him in his chest and head. Austin was still on his feet so I shot him in his left leg and kicked him in that spot, forcing him to a knee. With all my strength, I struck him in the face again, knocking him to the ground and I shot him in the head.
My legs gave out on me and I fell to my knees, breathing heavily, as Austin’s body began to break away into pieces. Moments later, the escort guards were in the arena, helping me into my waiting room. As they helped me into the room, I could faintly hear the announcer say my name and the crowd’s reaction mixed with happiness over my victory and concern about my condition. The guards laid me on the bench and I lied there on my back. Not much later, Sam and Shane came running in, Sam rushed to my side and buried her face in my chest.
“Oh my god! Rin are you okay?” I could hear her say, her words muffled in my chest.
“I’m fine and I wish you’d get off of me.” I said. Shane grabbed her by her shoulders and pulled her away from me. I could now see the tears running down her face. “What’re you crying for, I’m the one with the possibly broken legs? I’ll be fine by the time Shane’s fight comes around.”
She was sniffling and wiping the tears from her eyes. “Are you sure?” she asked.
“Yeah.” I rolled my eyes and sat up on the bench.
“Sam why don’t you wait outside for me. I’m sure Rin will be leaving soon.” Shane said.
“Okay.” Sam was still trying to hold back tears as she left the room. When she closed the door behind her, Shane turned to me and lifted me into the air by my collar.
“What the hell is your problem?” he asked, furiously.
“What do you mean? I don’t have a problem, besides you know my possibly broken legs.” I said. I pushed him away from me and gingerly lowered myself onto the bench.
“I mean why are you treating her like this? She’s obviously concerned for you and you couldn’t care less.”
“I still don’t see the problem here. I’m not acting any different from the way I normally act.”
“I know, but why do you act like that? We’re your friends aren’t we?”
I looked down at the ground and chuckled, “Friends? To be honest as smart as I am, I’m not even sure what a friend is.”
“What do you mean you’re not sure what a friend is? What are we to you if we aren’t friends?”
“I never really thought of that. I just always saw you as people I knew that I had a respect for and didn’t mind being around.” The pain in my legs had began to subside and I stood up to look Shane in the eyes.
“Rin,” Shane said, he gently placed his hand on my shoulder, “that’s what a friend is.”
I was slightly stunned by this and couldn’t think of what to say. In my head I could faintly hear the echoing words of Mr. Maeda calling my name. “Listen Shane, I’ve got to go, but I’ll be here for your match in two days.” I said. With Shane’s help, I stood to my feet.
“All right, but you’ll have to come back tomorrow too. We were sent tickets by some girl that apparently is an admirer of mine, so I promised her we’d go.” Shane said.
“You’ve got an admirer? Good job.” I said, with a smile on my face. Shane looked at me, puzzled. “What’s wrong?” I asked him.
“Nothing, I just don’t think I’ve ever seen you smile for real, not even in battle.” Shane said, he still had a look of shock on his face.
“Yeah well don’t get used to it.” I turned around with my back facing him. “See you tomorrow, and tell Sam I said bye.”
“Right. See you tomorrow Rin.” Shane said.
I closed my eyes and was engulfed in darkness. I reopened them and I was in Mr. Maeda’s room, it was empty aside from he and I. He was standing over my desk, briefcase in hand.
“Rin, wake up. It’s time to go.” he said.
“Yeah, I know. I’m up.” I said. I lifted my head off of my desk and yawned. I stretch my arms and grabbed my bag off of the floor. “I’ll see you tomorrow Mr. Maeda.” I rose to my feet and left the room, I heard Mr. Maeda say goodbye to me as I left the room. I got outside and waiting there for me was Ayame.
“Hey Rin.” she said. Her voice was light and melodious.
“Ayame.” I said.
“How was your match?” she asked. Ayame was also the only other person in my class that knew of the Dream Realm, which is why she and I are on better terms than most of the others.
“It was fine. I got a little banged up though.” I said, touching my hand to my right thigh.
“I’ve always told you to be careful. You know all physical injuries that happen there will manifest here as well, all except…. she couldn’t finish her sentence.
“All except death.” I finished for her. “Yeah, I know I‘m the one that told you that, but it was unavoidable, it was either that or I lose, and I’m never going to lose.”
“You know, you can be a real idiot sometimes.” she said, turning around to face the exit.
“Yeah, I know.” The two of us walked to the school’s gate together and we went our separate ways to our homes. I walked my usual route home and got there within the hour. I entered my home and went through my usual routine of noodles, news, book, saying goodnight to my parents, and then off to bed.
I entered the Dream Realm and was a little shocked to find myself in Twilight Village. I had never been here before and had no idea what this village was like. I walked around the village, looking around, and I could feel the eyes of the villagers on me constantly. I continued walking until I felt a force causing me to walk into a hotel. I walked in and went over to the receptionist’s desk.
“Hello, welcome to our hotel, Mr. Sato. Your guest is waiting for you.” said the receptionist.
“My guest?” I asked.
“Yes, he told me to give you this key when you arrived and tell you to go to the fourth floor, room G6.” The receptionist handed me a key and smiled. I cautiously took the key and walked towards the elevator. “Have a nice day!” she called out as I boarded the elevator. I took the elevator up to the fourth floor and found the room G6, I used the key to open the door and the room was dark. I took out my guns and cautiously entered. Once I was inside, the door closed behind me and I walked further inside.
“Hello Rin.” I heard a voice say from beside me. I quickly spun around as the lights were cut on and I saw King Artaxerxes sitting in a chair, beside him were his guardians.
“King Artaxerxes,” I said, relieved. I placed my guns back into their holsters. “why is it that you have brought me here?”
“I needed to speak with you about a pressing matter that is causing me a great deal of distress.” He paused for a moment. “You know of the Forest of Nightmares, correct?”
“Well somehow the Nightmares in that forest are growing stronger and I fear there will be a rebellion on our hands. In order to prevent this I will need a warrior that can enter the forest, unsuspected, and eliminate the Nightmares, I need you Rin.”
“Yes, I know that the Nightmares trust you and allow you to go in and out of the forest at will, which makes you the perfect person for this job. You are the only one that can destroy the forest from the inside.”
“Why can’t you just send those two?” I asked, gesturing to Griffin and Marcello.
“I have my reasons, what do you say Rin, will you do it?”
“I’ll think about it.”
“Well I’ll make it a little easier on you, if you win the tournament you will enter the forest that day and do as I have asked or you will die by my hands. If you don’t win, then you may never enter the tournament again and I will find someone else to do the job for me.” Artaxerxes said, he had a devious smile on his face that I didn’t trust.
“I understand.” I said. I left the room and the hotel, as I walked out of the door, I heard the receptionist tell me to have a good day. I walked to the entrance into the forest that was connected to Twilight Village and walked until I found the cathedral. I reached the cathedral and stood at its door. I placed the palms of my hands and my forehead on the door and closed my eyes. I slowly opened them and turned around, there stood Gobu.
“You called Rin.” He said.
“Yeah, we need to talk.” I said.
“Artaxerxes. He can sense the growing power of the Nightmares and wants me to eliminate you all. He says if I refuse he’ll kill me and send someone else to do the job.”
“This is very distressing news.”
“Why? If he does, I’ll just return as quickly as possible and protect you all with my life.”
“You don’t understand Rin. Once someone is killed by Artaxerxes, they die in reality as well. That’s why he doesn’t kill or participate in his own tournament, he doesn’t want to risk an accident like that occurring.”
My eyes were opened wide and dismay shrouded me. “Then what will we do?” I asked.
“We’ll have to trick him. Go to him, and tell him that you’ll do as he’s asked and return to the forest, once you’re here I will merge myself with you and bestow upon you King Morpheus’s power, then you will be able to truly protect the Nightmares.” Gobu said, he had turned his back on me and was looking into the forest.
“Well I won’t have to give him an answer until I win the tournament, so we have time to prepare.”
“Good, we’ll need it if you’re going to have to take on all of my power at once. Return here everyday and I’ll slowly transfer bits of the power into you so that the transfer goes as smoothly as possible. We don’t want you dying on me.”
“Right. Don’t worry Gobu, I won’t fail you.” I said.
“I hope not. You are these Nightmares’ only chance at a peaceful existence.” Gobu ran off into the forest. Once he was out of my sight, I closed my eyes and reopened them. I was in my bedroom once again and had about five minutes before my alarm went off. I lied in bed until it did and rose up to begin my morning routine. I left for school, eating my dumpling on the way, and arrived slightly earlier than normal.
I entered the school library to pass the time before school began and I saw Ayame sitting, reading a book. I found a book that I hadn’t yet read and sat beside her, reading my book.
“Are your legs feeling better?” she asked after a while.
“Yeah, they’re fine.” I said.
“What did King Artaxerxes want with you?”
“How did you know I spoke to him?” I closed my book and eyed her suspiciously.
Ayame continued reading her book as she answered. “I work at that hotel from time to time, and the receptionist there doesn’t know how to keep a secret very well.”
“I see. Well he just wanted to speak with me about the tournament, wish me good luck and all.” I rose from my chair, with my book in hand.
“You know you can’t lie to me Rin. I know that your legs still hurt and I know that isn’t all he spoke to you about.” She looked up at me from her book.
“Hmph, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I am telling you the truth.” I turned to walk away and she quickly closed her book and hit me in my right leg with it. I clutched my leg and held onto the chair to keep from falling over. “What was that for?”
“To prove that I was right, and you are lying. I will get the truth somehow Rin, even if I have to keep hitting you in the leg with a book.” She was looking at me with a plain look on her face and added a smile at the end of her sentence. She went back to reading her book and I limped away towards the librarian’s desk.
“What happened to your leg?” the librarian asked as she scanned my book.
“Nothing, I just slept on it wrong or something.” I said. She handed me my book and I looked over at Ayame. She was still reading her book and paying me no mind. I limped my way out of the library and headed to my first class as the bell began to ring. I arrived in my first hour class and quickly took my seat in the column of seats closes to the door and in the fourth row back, which unfortunately was to the right of Ryu’s seat. Almost a minute later, Ayame entered the class and took her seat in front of me.
“Hi Ryu.” Ayame said. Ryu was talking to a friend one seat to the left and one seat up from him.
Ryu looked over to her and smiled, the smile on his face made him look like a somewhat normal and sane individual. “Hey Ayame.” Ryu said. I saw that he took notice of me in his peripheral vision and he looked fully at me. “Rin.” He said, coldly.
“Ryu.” I said back in the same tone of voice he spoke to me in. This was the first time either of us had spoken to each other in weeks, since our little incident. He turned away from me and back to his conversation with his friend. Kimiko walked into the classroom and waved to me. I smiled and waved back before opening the book I had just checked out of the library. I began to read as my teacher, Ms. Gensai, entered the room. The bell rang and class began. Ms. Gensai began to teach the lesson for today to our statistics class, a lesson I helped her write. About halfway through the lesson, I realized that it was almost time for the match I was to attend so I rested my head down on my arms and closed my eyes, drifting off into sleep.
I awoke in my Dream Realm bedroom and left my bed. I entered the kitchen and found Shane and Sam waiting for me. I was still slightly limping and I saw concern begin to spread over Sam’s face.
I put a big smile on my face and said, “You guys ready to go see Shane’s ‘girlfriend’ in action?” I put emphasis on the word girlfriend. Sam giggled and Shane rolled his eyes then punched me in the shoulder.
“Oh shut up.” he said. I grabbed Sam’s hand and threw my arm over Shane’s shoulder.
“Come on you guys, let’s go.” I said. The three of us left out of the house and Shane locked the door. We left towards the stadium and soon arrived without any delays. We arrived at the box and showed Andre our tickets, he let us into the stadium and we found ourselves three seats just as the competitors were entering the battlefield.
“Welcome ladies and gentlemen. It is now time for the second match of the REM tournament’s fifth round. Introducing first, he is one of King Artaxerxes’s personal guardians, he is Griffin King!!” the announcer said. Griffin simply stood there with his eyes closed as the crowd cheered. “And his opponent, hailing from Biloxi, Mississippi, she is Annabelle Montgomery!!” Annabelle was looking at the three of us, her eyes fixed on Shane, she smiled and waved to him. Shane waved back and winked at her. Annabelle looked at Griffin, who’s eyes were still closed. “Let the battle begin!” the announcer once again elated.
Annabelle lifted her right arm up, horizontally and a swirl of air surrounded the hand, eventually forming a black and white gauntlet with an extended middle finger that was a blade. She entered a fighting stance and waited for her opponent to make his move.
“Annabelle Montgomery.” Griffin said, barely audible enough for me to hear. It had an elegant flow to it that was soothing to the ears.
“That’s my name, but I prefer Anna, and you’re Griffin King. Now that the introductions are done let’s start this.” Anna said, her voice had a slight southern accent typical of Americans from the southern states.
“Patience young one. The time for us to begin this battle will come, though any effort you make towards defeating me will be futile. Destiny has preordained for me to win this battle and this tournament.” Griffin said, opening his eyes as he finished his statement.
“Over my dead body.” I thought to myself. I eyed the two competitors intensely, knowing that I might have to face one of them later in the tournament. Griffin was of average height with hair as black as mine. His hair had a messy appearance to it as though he had just awoken from being asleep, but was obviously styled that way. He wore a pair of black, cotton pants that partially covered his black dress shoes. His shirt was a silk, black button up with the top two buttons undone. He had cool grey eyes and often kept an emotionless appearance. Anna’s appearance was near opposite to his. She had long, auburn hair and hazel eyes. She wore her hair tied in a ponytail that reached no further than the nape of her neck. She wore a spring yellow top that was frilled around the top and had no sleeves, with a pair of black shorts that looked a bit uncomfortable.
Griffin drew his weapon from its hilt, that went horizontally across his back, it was a long, red yanmaodao sword with black writing on the side that was in a language I did not know. Griffin held the sword with a reverse grip in his right hand and continued standing in his place, his eyes fixated on Anna. Anna slightly adjusted her footing and with lightning fast speed moved forward, within the blink of an eye she was in front of Griffin. He was taken aback by her remarkable speed and tried moving as fast as he could to avid her attack, but was struck in his left shoulder with her weapon in a spot Sam, Shane, and I easily recognized.
“Shane was that?” Sam asked.
“Yeah,” Shane answered, “that was a pressure point.” He had a look on his face that showed he was both flattered and impressed by her technique.
“Looks like she’s been paying attention to your fighting style.” I said, my eyes closed with a grin going across my face. “I wonder if she’s been using this style the entire tournament.”
“Who knows.” Shane said. He had a smile on his face as he continued watching the fight.
Griffin had moved away from Anna to create distance between the two. His left arm had become immobilized and his calm expression grew slightly worrisome. Anna’s expression had also changed from serious to happy after she realized her attack had successfully caught him off guard. Griffin’s expression became serious now as he moved his right arm forward so that his weapon was pointing horizontally, and parallel of his chest. With an even greater quickness that Anna’s, Griffin moved to attack. He was behind her so fast that I nearly hadn’t seen him move. While behind her, Griffin smirked and I could hear him faintly chuckle. He switched his weapon to a normal grip and attacked Anna. She quickly spun around and blocked it with her gauntlet. She looked into his eyes as she maintained her protection against his attack. Something she had seen in his eyes had caused her to lose her footing, and subsequently her protection faltered. Griffin’s attack went threw and he slashed an enormous gash across her chest. Anna fell to her knees, blood quickly rushing from her body. Griffin smirked and grabbed her by her ponytail with his left hand which had regained its mobility. He brought her close to his face and whispered something in her ear. Griffin stabbed her in the gut and withdrew the blade. He threw her body to the ground and as she fell, her body broke into pieces that floated away.
The crowd cheered, while Shane and Sam were shocked. I was staring at Griffin trying to make something of him. I rose to my feet and exited the stadium, Shane and Sam followed behind me. Once we were outside I stopped in my tracks.
“Rin, what’s wrong?” Sam asked.
“He shouldn’t have regained the feeling in his arm that quickly, should he?” I asked Shane, ignoring Sam’s words.
“No, he shouldn’t.” Shane said.
“I didn’t think so. I’ll see you guys later, I’m going to try to figure this guy out.” I said. I closed my eyes and awoke in Ms. Gensai’s class. She was still teaching the lesson plan and not long after I awoke, the bell rang for class to end. I grabbed my book and my bag and left the classroom. I walked through the hallway until I reached a pair of doors with a sign over each one. The signs read, boy’s locker room and girl’s locker room. I stood in front of the door and sighed before saying, “I really hate this class.” I entered the boy’s locker room and was immediately was struck by a pungent, musty odor that caused me to cringe for a moment. After becoming slightly adjusted to the smell, I entered the locker room and the tumultuous noise of the others in the locker room, horsing around, echoed vibrantly. I walked over to a wall of small lockers and opened it, grabbing my things out of it and began to change into my gym uniform.
After I and the rest of my class finished changing, we headed out to the sports field with our teacher, Mr. Daishi. Mr. Daishi was an old, hardened war veteran that was one of few of my teachers that treated me like I existed during class, always forcing me to participate in class activities. He had us all line up in a row on the field, Mr. Daishi stood in front of us holding a round, white ball in his hands.
“All right boys,” he said, our school’s gym classes were separated by gender, “today we’re going to be doing a little team exercise. I’m going to set you up in groups of two and each pair will work together to move the ball from one end of the field to the other, while keeping the ball from the rest of the class.”
I closed my eyes and thought to myself, “Mr. Daishi don’t do it. I know what you’re thinking, please don’t do it.” I repeated this to myself in my head over and over again until I heard Mr. Daishi say, “The first two up will be Rin and Ryu.”
“Dammit.” I thought to myself. Among all the things Mr. Daishi forced me to do in class this was my least favorite, he constantly partnered Ryu and I together in activities. Mr. Daishi blew sharply into the whistle around his neck. “Into positions, all of you.” he said. He threw the ball over to me and I caught it.
Ryu and I took our places on the opposite end of the field as the rest of the class. “So how are we going to do this?” I asked, I was lightly tossing the ball into the air and catching it, my eyes were closed. I tossed the ball into the air and when I expected it to fall into my hand, I didn’t feel anything. I opened my eyes and saw that Ryu had caught the ball and was holding it.
“Well there’s no arguing that we’re the two fastest and strongest of the class so all we really need to focus on is getting it down there. A few simple passes back and forth when need be should be sufficient.” Ryu said, he held the ball in between both of his hands and I could see that he was squeezing it tightly, his eyes were transfixed on the opposite end of the field.
“Sounds good to me.” I closed my eyes and again and folded my arms.
“Whenever you two are ready!!!!!” Mr. Daishi roared, his voice projected loudly.
“Get ready Rin. I’m going to throw the ball.” Ryu said.
“Right.” I opened my eyes and took off running as fast as I could across the field. I was about a fourth of the way across when the others began to charge towards me, many of them knocking each other over in surprise. Ryu threw the ball hard into the air, it flew clear across the field and began to fall as it got closer towards the center. As I reached the center of the field, so did a three of the other guys, two of them were prepared to take me down and the third guy had his arms outstretched to catch the ball. I lightly jumped into the air, avoiding the two guys as they collided head first, and stood on the third guy’s head. I pushed off and launched myself into the air, knocking him to the ground, and catching the ball in midair. I landed gracefully on my feet with the ball cradled in my arms and within seconds, Ryu was next to me.
“Time for the second throw.” he said. The rest of the class had finally gotten off the ground and began to run our way. The fastest of the bunch reached us with ease, and as each one of them got near, Ryu knocked them away with well timed kicks. After they were taken out, Ryu ran forward and jumped over the remainder of the class as they ran towards us. I began tossing the ball into the air again and waited for them to reach me, there was about six more guys left and once they got close enough, I held the ball under my right arm and began to take each of them out. I crouched down and tripped the first guy with my right leg, then rose back up, catching the second guy with my left shoulder. The next guy tried tackling me and I simply adjusted my body to the left to dodge. I then extended my left leg outward, forcing the fourth guy to stop in his tracks, I jumped into the air and spun, kicking him in the face with my right foot, while in midair I threw the ball to Ryu. As I came down, I caught the fifth guy in the back of his head with my right heel and flipped the last guy over my back after landing. Ryu was at the other end of the field when he caught the ball and after he did, Mr. Daishi blew sharply into his whistle once again.
He ran to the center of the field and began checking on the other students, Ryu casually walked to the middle of the field where Mr. Daishi and I were and he dropped the ball onto one of the guys’ stomachs. “I didn’t want the two of you to do all of this.” Mr. Daishi said.
“You also didn’t say how you wanted us to get it to the other end, so this is the way we chose.” I said.
“Look at it this way,” Ryu added, “at least we worked together like you wanted.”
Mr. Daishi stood to his feet, a vein was beginning to pop out of his forehead, “Don’t you two give me that crap!!!!!!” he shouted, “I have half the mind to have the both of you suspended, but I won’t. Instead the two of you will run laps until class is over. Go!!!!!”
I rolled my eyes as Ryu and I both walked over to the track part of the field. As we walked I could hear Ryu muttering under his breath, he was saying something about Mr. Daishi’s half a mind comment. All while this was going on, the girls’ class was doing stretches on the track and they were watching what the two of us did. The looks on their faces showed the indifference in the way they felt about what just happened. I spotted Kimiko among them and her face showed a mix of fear and enjoyment, possibly because of how on the same page Ryu and I were. I also saw Ayame’s face and her eyes were focused on Ryu, I could tell that she was busy daydreaming about the two of them, a dangerous thing for people like us to do, but she snapped out of it quickly. When we reached the track, the two of us began to run at a leisurely pace, I ran slightly slower so that we weren’t running side by side. The two of us ran for the remainder of the class period, stopping ten minutes early so that we could shower and change back into our normal uniforms. After changing we both left the locker room and left for our next class.
Not many of the guys from my gym class were in my next class, so Mrs. Kudara’s class was still relatively full today. It’s not like it mattered much, all we had was another poetry assignment and a writing prompt after that. It was the same story when we went to Ms. Zennosuke’s class, but there was about two others missing that weren’t in Mrs. Kudara’s. All of that was different; however, when the bell rang to begin our last class and we were in Mr. Maeda’s class. The bell rang and he surveyed the class and all of its empty seats. Of our usual class of thirty, there were only eighteen of us, with Ryu and I being the only male students.
“Anybody want to tell me why we’re missing half of our class?” Mr. Maeda asked, looking straight at me.
I could tell that he expected me to answer his question so I sighed and decided to comply. “Well, Mr. Daishi decided that we would do a little ‘keep-away’ activity in class today,” I emphasized the words keep-away by creating quotation marks with my fingers. “And he paired Ryu and I together. You can figure out the rest.”
“Let me guess, they’re all in the nurse’s office.” He didn’t ask again so I guess he was able to realize that his guess was correct by the looks on our faces. “Well we’re supposed to be having a lab today so I will have to revise the groups before we leave.” Mr. Maeda sat at his desk and worked on his computer. While he did, the class was busy talking amongst themselves, their words only being broken by the sound of the printer. Mr. Maeda tacked the new list up and Ryu and I were the only ones that remained in our seats, we knew our respective partners would let us know if we were still together. I had closed my eyes and sat quietly with my arms folded while I waited for Kimiko to give me the news of our partnership.
“Rin.” I heard her say softly. I slowly opened my eyes and she was standing next to my desk, to my left. She was looking at the floor with her hands cupped together in front of her.
“So what’s the news?” I asked. “Are we still together?”
“No.” she whispered.
“Then who am I partnered with?” I had adjusted myself in my seat so that I faced her.
“You’re partnered with…” she paused, unable to finish her sentence. I could see Ryu stand up from his desk and throw his bag over his shoulder.
“You’re partnered with me.” he said, looking straight at me. The look on his face wasn’t the normal disdain filled one we often exchanged with one another. Instead it was mixed with a lighter feeling of hate and a small dose of respect.
I let out a soft scoff and grabbed my bag. I stood from my seat and put my bag on my back. I looked at Ryu and said, “Let’s get going then.” Returning the look he gave me. Ryu looked away and started towards the door as the class began to leave. Before long it was just Mr. Maeda and I in the classroom.
I looked to him and asked, “What are you planning?”
Mr. Maeda adjusted his tie and looked calmly at me before saying, “You’re a smart kid Rin, I’ sure you can figure that out yourself.” He grabbed his briefcase from the side of his desk and stood by the door, waiting for me to leave. I rolled my eyes and left the room. Mr. Maeda left after I did and locked the door behind him, while I walked down the hall to the lab. I reached the lab quickly with Mr. Maeda right behind me and he unlocked the door, letting us in. I went inside last and met up with Ryu at the station he picked out for the two of us. In normal fashion for myself, the two of us finished our lab quickly and easily and had everything cleaned up with enough time before class ended for me to read my new book.
I was nearing the end of my book when the bell finally rang and class was over, I packed my book back into my bag and started for the door before Ryu stopped me. He held his hand out to me and said, “It wasn’t that bad working with you today.”
I shook his hand and said, “Thanks, you too.” I was surprised by his showing of respect but returned it none the less.
He turned and began to leave but stopped in the doorway. “Don’t think this means that we’re friends, because it doesn’t.” Ryu left and I just stood there, staring at the spot he was standing, thoroughly confused. The whole time, Kimiko, Ayame, and Mr. Maeda had been standing there watching the exchange.
“Is it just me or are these two acting strange today?” Ayame asked.
“Oh shut up.” I said. “I’ll see you guys tomorrow.” I left the room and began my way home. Outside the school, as usual, was the black sports car of Kimiko’s boyfriend Daisuke. He was leaning against the side of it as I walked by, the two of us looking at each other. Our stare was broken only by the arrival of Kimiko as she ran out to him. As I continued walking I could hear he shout, “Goodbye Rin!” from behind me. I simply took my right hand out of my pocket and waved goodbye to her while I walked towards my home. When I arrived home, I was surprised to find a letter waiting on my doormat, I never got any mail besides the occasional bill which quickly got paid. I picked up the letter and examined it as I opened the door to my home and walked inside. The letter had no return address and was simply addressed to Rin Sato, my address was absent as well showing that it hadn’t arrived in the mail. I opened the envelope and skimmed over the letter. I recognized the name of the person that wrote it as that of my neighbor to the left of me, he was always complaining about one thing or another that I did that seemed to have caused him some sort of annoyance. I closed my eyes, balled up the letter, and dropped it in the trash, not caring for what it had to say. I grabbed my cup ramen, took the book from inside my bag, and sat in my living room like normal.
After a couple of hours of reading, I finished my first book and started a second one finishing that one as well. I went upstairs, said goodnight to my mother and father and retreated into my bedroom where I quickly entered my bed and drifted off to sleep. When I arrived in the Dream Realm, I arrived immediately into the forest, next to a pool of water that sat between Twilight Village and the Cathedral of Nightmares, and walked quickly to the cathedral where I knew Gobu would be waiting for me. I cleared the thicket of trees and entered the clearing where the cathedral sat and Gobu was there waiting for me by the Cathedral’s door, he was in a seated position with his eyes closed.
“Hello Rin.” he said, opening his eyes after saying my name. “Are you ready to begin?”
“Yes Gobu, I am, but what exactly will this training be?” I asked.
“The training will come in two parts each night. The first part will involve me transferring a piece of King Morpheus’s power into your body and a short resting period. The second part will involve you trying to create a Nightmare of any kind, the size, appearance, and how well that Nightmare can control itself will prove how much control you have over the power. So do you still want to do this?”
“I’m more than ready.” I said.
“Good then sit on the ground with your legs folded, your eyes closed and your hands place with your palms on your knees.” I did as Gobu said. “Now take slow, deep breaths while I transfer some of the power into you.” I began breathing slowly, taking in deep breaths as he said and I could feel it as the power poured into me. It felt as though I was sitting underneath a waterfall and all of the water was pouring onto me, leaving my feeling as though I was swimming through the ocean while gravity pushed down on me as hard as it could. After almost an entire minute, I felt that Gobu had stopped transferring the power. I opened my eyes and tried standing but couldn’t.
“As I expected.” Gobu said.
“What is it? Why can’t I get up?” I asked.
“Since this is your first time the power has presented itself as an intense weight. You won’t be able to stand for a minute or two.” So I sat there for almost two minutes and with each passing second I could feel the weight getting lighter and lighter. After the weight I felt was gone, I stood to my feet, slightly off balanced, and returned my breathing to normal.
“Now Rin, I want you to focus and try to create a Nightmare.” Gobu instructed.
“How do I do that?” I asked.
“”It’s simple just close your eyes and imagine a creature, any kind of creature.” I did as instructed and closed my eyes. I tried as hard as I could to picture the image of a creature in my head. “Once you have it I want you to focus on the creature with everything you have. I want you to be able to feel the power flowing through you and then focus the power onto that creature and bring it to life.”
I tried and tried as hard as I possibly could to picture up a creature in my head, but all I was getting was this shadowy outline of one standing in the darkness. As I moved closer and closer to the creature, to bring it into clear view, it moved further and further away, and my view of it became worse and worse. Finally I had grown tired out it and I opened my eyes.
Frustrated, I said, “I can’t do this. I can’t see it, I know it’s there, but I can’t see it.”
Gobu simply closed his eyes and calmly said, “Try sitting down again in a meditative state, maybe that will make the image clearer.”
“Okay,” I said, “I’ll try.” Once again I sat on the ground with my legs folded and my arms resting gently on each leg. I closed my eyes and began to breath calmly in and out of my nose. The figure I had seen before was beginning to appear in my head once again. I began to focus on it, as Gobu said, and it became slightly more clear to my vision, but it was still hazy enough that I couldn’t see it completely.
“How does it look now Rin?” Gobu asked.
“It’s clearer, but I still can’t see it completely.” I responded with my eyes still closed, fixed on the creature in my mind.
“That may be because of the small amount of power that you have. Just focus on what you can see for now and tomorrow I’ll give you more power and maybe things will be clearer.”
I didn’t reply and just continued focusing on the creature. As I sat there, for what seemed like minutes, questions were flowing through my mind. Questions like “What is it?” and “What does it look like?” All questions that I could not get an answer to in my current state. To my surprise, I could hear the faint echo of my alarm blaring in reality. I opened my eyes and saw Gobu, once again on his hind legs, with his eyes closed.
I rose to my feet and said, It’s time for me to leave Gobu.”
Gobu opened his eyes and walked towards the forest edge. “You did good today Rin, keep this up and in no time, you’ll be able to take in all of the power.” he said. “Goodbye Rin.” Gobu ran off into the forest.
“Goodbye Gobu.” I whispered and I closed my eyes. When I reopened them, I was awake, once again in my bed. After taking a moment, I got out of the bed and headed towards the shower. I took my usual twenty minute shower and changed into my uniform once I was done,. After I finished changing, I went downstairs into my kitchen and found a small something for me to eat on my way to school and then left.
I arrived at my normal time of 7:53, just before the first class began. I stayed awake throughout most of the day, waiting until the last class started and I was finally in Mr. Maeda’s class. When he began to teach today’s lesson about isotopes, I figured that it was almost time for Shane’s fight to begin so I lied my head on my desk and drifted off to sleep.
I awoke in my bed in the Dream Realm, exited my room and walked into the kitchen. I found Sam sitting in the living room, waiting for me and talking to another girl that I recognized as Anna.
“Hey you guys.” I said, catching their attention.
They both turned and looked at me, Sam’s face grew bright with exuberance and Anna just gave me a slight smile and wave. “Hi Rin!” Sam said, waving at me.
“Hi.” Anna said softly.
“Are you guys ready to go?” I asked, taking my jacket off of its hook and putting it on.
“Sure.” Sam said. They two ladies stood to their feet and walked over to the door, which I held open for them. We began to walk towards the stadium and it was silent most of the way.
After we had been walking for about five minutes, Anna said, “So Rin, you’re the tournament’s current champion.”
“Yeah, I have been for nine years, this will be my tenth reign if I win.” I said.
“Nine years?! How old are you?” she asked, shocked.
“Seriously? You’re only three years younger than I am! How have you been winning since you were six?”
“Rin’s a genius, has been as long as I’ve known him. He’s also very strong, fast, and dedicated. He’s amazing.” Sam said, her last words nothing more than a whisper.
I watched Sam as she said all those things about me and I could see how she had been looking off in the distance. I could hear the sincerity in her voice as she spoke, and saw the flush of red that filled her face when she noticed that I was looking at her. I could feel that my own face had gotten hot and I knew that I was blushing.
I turned my face away from them and said, “It’s not really all that second stuff, but I will admit that the genius part is true. The reason I’ve won so many times is because I’m smarter and I can think more clearly than others.”
“Well that’s still very impressive, even still now with you making it as far as you have, as young as you are.” Anna said.
“Thanks.” I said. We arrived at the stadium as I spoke and Andre greeted us. After we received our tickets, King Artaxerxes left a ticket for each of us to join him in his box. We reached his box and he was seated in his throne, with Griffin and Marcello at his sides and three empty seats to his right. We each took our seats, Anna sat in the seat to the far right, Sam sat in the middle, and I sat in the seat closest to Artaxerxes.
“Hello you three.” King Artaxerxes said. “How are each of you doing today?”
“Fine” Sam and Anna said simultaneously. Anna spoke much quieter than Sam as though something was quieting her.
“And how are you today Rin?” Artaxerxes asked, glancing over at me.
Without taking my eyes off of the battlefield I answered, saying, “I’m fine.” I could see King Artaxerxes turn his face towards the battlefield, in my peripheral vision, as the announcer began to give the introductions and the combatants took their places.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for the next bout in the REM Tournament. Our first competitor hails from Bangkok, Thailand, he is Jason Chou!!” A male that looked to be around the same age as I am stood across from Shane. He wore two black and silver, metallic cuffs around his wrists and an armless, black chest guard that had a red seal on it. He had two silver pauldrons that were shaped perfectly for his shoulders. He also wore two black, metal boots that went up to his knees and covered the lower half of the white pants he wore. Around his arm was a chain-like weapon that extended to a hilt he held in his right hand.
“And his opponent, hailing from Seattle, Washington, he is Shane Grayson!!” Shane motioned to the crowed and turned towards us, waving to Anna. “Let the battle begin!!!!
The chain around Jason’s arm uncoiled, seemingly on its own, and straightened into a sword. He held it in his hand and looked calmly at Shane. “You’re a friend of Rin Sato’s, right?” he asked.
“You could say that.” Shane answered.
“I see.” Jason said, walking towards Shane. He held his hand out towards Shane. “My name is Jason Chou, it’s nice to meet you.” He had a smile across his face.
Shane hesitantly shook Jason’s hand and said, I’m Shane, Shane Grayson. It’s nice to meet you as well.”
Jason retracted his hand and returned his face to a serious expression. “Fight me with all you got.”
“No problem.” Shane said. He instantly began to attack Jason with his middle and index fingers, aiming for his pressure points. Jason brushed off each attack with his left hand and moved away from Shane to create some distance between them. Jason then began to swing his sword with it extending outward towards Shane, like a whip.
Shane was able to avoid many of Jason’s attack by moving to the side, ducking and jumping, but could not avoid them all. Jason managed to land an attack that struck Shane’s left shoulder and he dug the sword deep into it, causing Shane to let out a loud scream of pain. Jason retracted his weapon and Shane ripped his sleeve to cover the wound. Jason stood in his place, swinging his weapon around at his side and giving Shane time to cover the wound. Once Shane was finished he entered his fighting stance and waited for Jason to attack.
Finally Jason attack, extending his weapon towards Shane. Shane moved to the right to dodge and ran at full speed towards Jason. Jason whipped the sword and it wrapped itself around Shane’s legs, causing him to fall. Shane tried to free himself but when he touched the blade it cut his hand. Jason whipped the sword again and it retracted from around Shane’s legs, cutting them as it returned to Jason.
Shane forced himself back to his feet, but could barely stand. I looked over and saw the fear spread across Sam and Anna’s faces. Jason held his sword out horizontally and it extended out, stabbing Shane through his heart. A look of shock spread throughout Shane’s face as his body broke apart into pieces and floated away. Anna’s face was covered with distraught as she watched her boyfriend lose.
“Well it looks like we might have another Rin on our hands.” Artaxerxes said, clasping his hands together.
“Maybe,” I said. I stood to my feet and looked down to Artaxerxes. “It was a pleasure seeing you again my lord.” Artaxerxes nodded to me and I looked down to Sam and Anna. “Let’s go.”
The both stood to their feet and curtsied to Artaxerxes. I heard them follow behind me as I left the stadium. I slowed down to let them catch up to me and we continued to walk until we reached our home.
“That was unexpected.” I said. “I thought for sure that Shane and I would make it to the semi-finals together. Oh well, I guess I’ll just see the two of you tomorrow.” I closed my eyes and was beginning to part the Dream Realm until I heard Anna’s voice.
“Rin wait!” she called out. I reopened my eyes and turned to face her.
“What is it?” I asked.
“I was supposed to deliver you a message.” Anna was looking at the ground. Her voice had hints of fear and anxiousness in it. “It’s a message from Griffin. He told me to tell you that he’s coming for you and your title.”
“He’s coming for me? Well good luck because I won’t be easy to beat. I’ll return tomorrow to watch the last match before the semi-finals, though I’m sure I know who’ll win.”
“Bye Rin!” Sam said, I could tell that she was still upset about Shane losing.
“Bye.” Anna said, barely a whisper.
I closed my eyes and was surrounded by an empty darkness. I reopened them and found myself in Mr. Maeda’s classroom. He was still teaching and the rest of the class was taking notes. I let my head stay resting on my arms and I sat there quietly in my seat. By the time the bell rang, Mr. Maeda had finished teaching the lesson and had given the class their assignment. Once the bell rang, I took my time to get my things together and leaving my seat.
“So I see that you weren’t sleep the entire class.” Mr. Maeda said. He was standing next to the classroom door, waiting for me.
“Yeah, I just sat there because I didn’t want to disturb your lesson.” I replied.
“So have you checked out that website I told you about yet?” he asked as I walked past him and left the room.
I stopped outside the door and looked at him as he locked it. “No I haven’t.”
“Well I really think you should. It could be very beneficial for you in the future.”
“I doubt it.” I said. I began to walk down the hallway to leave the school. Without looking back I waved to him and said, “Goodnight Mr. Maeda. See you tomorrow.”
“See you tomorrow.” he said.
“I left the school and began my journey home. I arrived home without any distractions or delays. I took off my shoes and placed them by the door. I walked into my kitchen and grabbed a cup of instant noodles out of my cabinet and warmed them up. I took them with me into my living room and opened a book for me to read.
After finishing my book and noodles, I threw my noodle cup in the trash and took my bag with me as I went into my parents’ room. I kneeled in front of their pictures and said, “Goodnight mother. Goodnight father.” I left their room and entered my own. I threw my bag next to my desk, against the wall. I heard the faint sound of something beeping and could see a light coming from my laptop on my desk. I walked over to it and opened it up.
I saw that I had one unread email from an email address that I did not recognize. The email address read, email@example.com. The email had no subject to it but I decided to open it anyways. When I opened it, the email was bare, save for a simple link to a website, electuspaci.com. I clicked on the link and it took me to a website like none I had been to before. The color scheme of the website was white and red as I skimmed over it. I saw that there were 134 members currently online, and 5 moderators online. In the top right corner of the page I saw the words Sign In and Sign Up, and I took a moment to think about it before I clicked the words Sign Up. It took me to a page that had a list of basic questions one needed to answer before joining a website such as this.
I went down the line and answered each question. Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Username: RinSato02. Password: REMKing10. After I reentered my password, I clicked the next button at the bottom of the screen and was taken to another set of questions, these were more personal about me. Name: Rin Sato. Age: 16. Birth Date: December, 2, 2002. Height: 5’11”. Weight: 165 lbs. Hair Color: Black. Eye Color: Green. Race: Japanese. IQ: 195. I finished this set of questions and once again clicked the next button. The next set of questions was simply one about my interests. The only thing I put in this box was books and I scrolled down the page and clicked next. I was taken to a page with a message on the screen that read, “Thank you. Your account has successfully been created. You shall now be redirected to your profile.”
And I was, as within seconds I was redirected to what I could tell was my profile. I looked over it and saw that everything was as I said it was. I was seconds away from closing my window when another beep came from my laptop and a message appeared on my screen. The message read, “”Hey. What’s up?”
I looked at the message suspiciously, wondering who it was from and why they sent it. “Who are you?” I messaged back.
“Huh? Oh right, the name’s Riley Harris, I’m the site’s creator.”
I read the message carefully and typed the name Riley Harris into the search bar. The search came up with one result and I clicked on it. The link took me to Riley’s profile, his picture was of him with his head lying on a desk, so nothing could be seen but his shoulder length, messy black hair. I read through his profile and found out a few key things about him. First I found out that what he said was true, he did create this website and he did it all on his own. Next I found out that he lives in Exeter, England, and attends an unnamed state school. I saw that he had two friends that were also members on the site, a James Anders and a Victoria Allen. I also found out that he has an IQ of 196, a mere point ahead of my own.
“Well what do you want from me?” I messaged back to him.
“What do I want? Hmm, I’m not sure actually sure.”
“What? What do you mean you’re not sure? You’ve got to have some reason for messaging me.”
“Well your teacher, Mr. Maeda, he’s an old family friend and asked me for this favor. So, once again I say. Hey, what’s up?”
“Dammit Mr. Maeda,” I thought. “I told you that I didn’t want or need your help making friends.” I closed my eyes and took a moment before I replied back. “Well thanks anyways, but I’m fine with my life the way it is now. I don’t need any new friends.” I closed out the window our messages were appearing in and went to sign out of my account, but I noticed that he had messaged me back. “This guy just can’t take a hint.” I thought.
I reopened the message window, prepared to tell this Riley guy off, but my determination faltered when I read his message. “So what happened to your parents?” it read.
“Of all the nerve. How dare he ask me something like that. He doesn’t know me, he doesn’t know anything. Who the hell does he think he is?!” I thought to myself and I couldn’t hold back the rage that was boiling up within me. Despite all the rage and anger within me I couldn’t resist replying back with this, “They died ten years ago in a car accident.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. My parents got sick and died a few years ago.” Riley replied back. In that instant I realized that he and I had a lot in common. We had few friends, we were both rich geniuses, and we’re both orphans were the biggest things, and after reading over his profile, found more things the two of us had in common.
“How did you know about my parents?”
“Oh, Makoto told me.”
“Sorry I forgot that you don’t know. That’s Mr. Maeda’s first name, Makoto.”
This small bit of news made me chuckle to myself. “So you’re telling me that his name is Makoto Maeda?”
“Ha-ha, nice.” I don’t know why, but I had honestly found that funny and a smile cracked upon my face, it was the first time I had smiled and laughed like that in ten years. From there the smiles didn’t stop and the two of us quickly became friends. We discussed an assortment of topics that ranged from tips to improve the website to any number of things either of us could think of.
We messaged each other for hours until finally I decided that I should get some sleep and Riley decided to work on a different website he was designing. I signed out of my account and closed my laptop. I yawned and got myself into the bed. I laid my head down and closed my eyes. I began to slowly drift off into sleep and as I was surrounded by the usual empty darkness, a noise began to go off in my head. I tried my best to ignore it but the noise was persistent. Finally I gave in and began to really pay attention and was able to quickly recognize the noise as the loud blaring of my alarm. I opened my eyes and looked at my clock, it read 6:45 a.m. I sighed and reluctantly got out of my bed and walked into my bathroom to shower.
I felt rejuvenated after my long, hot shower and exceptionally more awake than before. I took my time getting my uniform on and grabbing my breakfast before I left for school. When I finally arrived, it was 8:10 and the bell had long since rang for school to start. I showed the security guard my ID and he let me into the building. Ms. Gensai had already begun teaching when I entered her class. I opened the door and immediately all eyes were on me as I stood in the doorway.
“Well hello Rin, it’s nice of you to join us.” Ms. Gensai said, she looked at me sternly with her hands on her hips.
“Yeah well, I thought that it would be a good idea for me to show up today.” I said. I stepped into the classroom and closed the door behind me.
“Do you mind telling me why you’re so late?”
“I didn’t get much sleep last night and I left my house late. Is there a problem?”
“Yes, I don’t appreciate you interrupting my lesson.”
“I didn’t interrupt anything. You could still be teaching right now had you not stopped to question me.”
“Well…” Ms. Gensai couldn’t think of what to say and her face grew more and more red from embarrassment. “Just take your seat.” she finally said, pointing at my empty seat behind Ryu.
“If you say so.” I closed my eyes and walked to my seat. I could hear quiet snickers coming from my classmates as Ms. Gensai went back to teaching. I sat there quietly, going over more ideas of things Riley and I could create, until the bell rang and I left class.
Some of the guys in my gym class, the ones with lighter injuries, had returned to school. However, there was still far too few of us to do anything, so they joined Ryu and I as we ran laps around the track. After we finished our laps, it was almost time for class to end so we returned to the locker room and changed into our uniforms. The bell rang and I took my time as I made my way to Mrs. Kudara’s class, I was still tired from my lack of sleep. I arrived in class just moments before the bell rang, and took my seat. When the bell rang, Mrs. Kudara stood at the front of the class.
“Good afternoon class.” Mrs. Kudara said, she was in one of her rare, jubilant moods.
“Good afternoon.!” The class responded back, Ryu and I were the only two that remained silent. I could tell how excited they were because with Mrs. Kudara’s jubilant moods came a delightful treat for the class.
“I have wonderful news. Last night my daughter-in-law gave birth to a baby boy, which means that I am now a grandmother.” The class sucked up even more by breaking out into a raucous applause that filled the room. “To celebrate I have brought the class a treat and we are going to have a free day today.”
A free day sounded great to me as it gave me time to visit the Dream Realm for the last match before the semi-finals. Mrs. Kudara wasted little time in taking out the class’s treat, grilled yakitori, and handing then dish to Kimiko. Kimiko handed the yakitori out to the class and Ayame, who sat in front of me, turned around in her seat to face me.
“So what are you going to do with our free day today?” she asked.
“Yeah Rin, what are you going to do with it?” asked Ryu. He moved from his normal seat on the other side of the room to the vacant one to my right.
“Well I had planned on getting some sleep.” I answered, looking at Ryu suspiciously.
“Sleep? Why are you always sleeping?” Ryu asked, taking a bite out of his yakitori.
“Well I don’t really know how to explain it. I’m sure that Ayame could do a better job of explaining it than I could.”
“You know why he sleeps so much?” Ryu asked Ayame, shooting her a surprised look.
Ayame’s eyes opened wide form alarm and she began to turn cherry red. “Um…” she said. “Yeah, kinda.” her voice began to grow quieter and quieter as she spoke.
“Well? Are you going to tell me?”
“Yeah, well it’s because…” confidence began to rise in her voice.
I took the last bite of my yakitori and cut her off, saying, “Well while she explains it to you, I’m going to sleep.” I laid my head on the desk with my arms folded like a pillow and closed my eyes. I easily drifted off to sleep and after a moment, found myself in my Dream Realm room. I left the room and walked into the kitchen, Sam and Anna were standing by the door waiting for me.
“Shane’s not back?” I asked.
“No he still has another couple of hours before he can return.” Sam answered.
“Oh, well you’ll have to give him an update when you see him.”
“Right.” Sam nodded her head and smiled.
“Well, let’s get going.” Anna said.
I nodded and opened the door for the two of them. I stepped out behind them and locked the door behind me. I walked in silence as the two of them went on talking incessantly, mostly about average teenage girl things. After what seemed like an eternity of listening to them talk, we arrived at the stadium and purchased our tickets. Because King Artaxerxes was unaware that the three of us were going to be attending this match, we had to find seats among those in the stands. We took our seats and waited a few minutes before the combatants entered the arena and the announcer took his place to announce the combatants.
“Ladies and gentlemen!” he elated. “Welcome to the final bout in the REM Tournament’s sixth round. Here are your competitors. First, he is a member of King Artaxerxes’s personal guard, he is Marcello Anthony!!!” Marcello gracefully bowed to the audience. He was dressed in a black, puffed up shirt with frills on the cuffs of its sleeves. His lower body was covered by a pair of black and white pants and black boots.
“And his opponent, hailing from Cairo, Egypt, he is Solomon Graham!!!” Solomon stood silently in place. His dress was severely different from a normal REM Tournament combatant. His head was covered by a steel mask with two horns protruding from the forehead. His chest was covered by a tunic with a metal chest plate on top. His hands and forearms were wrapped in a black cloth and his legs were covered by a pair of black cloth pants, his feet were bare. “Let the battle begin!”
Solomon wielded a short sword in his left hand and stood still and silently. Marcello wielded a long, silver rapier in his left hand, which he unsheated from his side. Marcello stood battle ready, facing his opponent. Solomon slowly reached behind his back and quickly threw out four throwing stars at Marcello. Marcello reacted quickly to this and deflected the first two, but as the second two got closer, they split apart making a total of four. Marcello managed to block two of them, but was stabbed in his left leg and right shoulder. This caused Marcello to stumble back a bit. Solomon instantaneously charged at Marcello, his sword scraping against the ground. He slashed in an upward, diagonal motion at Marcello, who lifted his blade to block. Marcello deflected the attack and attempted to bifurcate Solomon at the waist but he moved back. Marcello began rapidly stabbing at Solomon, and he dodged each thrust one after the other. Solomon slashed upward with his sword, causing Marcello’s rapier to fly out of his hand. Marcello stumbled back a step and Solomon stabbed forward at his head. Marcello moved his head to the left to avoid the attack and grabbed Solomon’s neck with his left hand. He then used his right hand to disarm Solomon and he kicked the blade away. Marcello kicked at Solomon’s right side, but Solomon broke Marcello’s grip on his neck, blocked the kick, and jumped back. The two of them stood facing each other, they both angled their heads toward Solomon’s short sword, which was an equal distance from them both. Marcello took off at a sprint towards the sword, but before he could reach it, Solomon took out a whip and cracked it at him, cutting the back of Marcello’s right hand. Solomon held the whip in his right hand and the whip itself was a deep, blood red color with spikes on it.
Marcello stood just inches away from the sword. The tension rising from the both of them was thick as the audience silently watched, waiting for one of them to make a move. Marcello made a slight gesture towards the sword and Solomon again cracked his whip. This time, Marcello caught the whip with his left hand. He kicked the blade into the air and caught it with his right hand. He cut the whip and dropped the end he was holding. He threw the sword at Solomon and it stabbed him through the neck. Blood flowed from Solomon’s neck as he fell to his knees. His body broke away into pieces as he fell to the ground and the audience roared with cheers. Marcello bowed like he had at the beginning if the match and blood flowed from his arm and dripped into small pools from his fingers.
The audience grew silent as King Artaxerxes stood to his feet. “Congratulations Marcello, with your victory we now have our four semi-finalists.” Artaxerxes elated, his voice echoed loudly throughout the stadium. “Our four semi-finalists are Marcello Anthony, Jason Chou, Griffin King, and reigning nine time champion, Rin Sato!!” The crowd cheered after each name. but were the loudest at the sound of my name. “I wish each competitor luck as they make their way towards eternal glory.”
As everyone began to leave the stadium, Sam, Anna and I left as well. We gout outside fairly quickly. “Rin! Rin!” I could hear Andre’s familiar voice shouting over the crowd as we left.
“I stopped and looked back, I could see him waving an envelope over his head. I turned and walked over to him. “Here Rin.” he handed the envelope to me.
“What is it?” I asked.
“I don’t know. King Artaxerxes gave it to me and told me to give it to you when you left.”
“How did he know I would be here?”
“I see, well thank you.” I nodded to him and walked back over to Sam and Anna, who were waiting for me.
“What’s that?” Sam asked.
“I’m not sure.” I opened the envelope and took out four card-like pieces of paper. I took a quick look at them and immediately realized what they were.
“Well?” Anna asked. “What are they?”
“They’re invitations to a party, one for each of us and one for Shane.” I placed them back into their envelope and handed it to Sam.
“A party?” Sam asked, confused.
“It says that it is a party to celebrate the final four competitors in the tournament.”
“Well when is it.”
“Saturday apparently, it has the appropriate time for our individual time zones on each invitation. I guess we’ll go to it rather than waste the invitations.”
“Sweet, we get to go to a party!!” Sam squealed loudly.
“Yeah, I’ll be back tomorrow. Bye.”
“Bye.” They both said simultaneously.
I closed my eyes and was swallowed by the darkness. I opened my eyes and found myself still inside of its dark emptiness. “Rin, we need to talk.” I heard Gobu’s voice echo.
“Oh, yeah sorry about not being there last night. I got caught up with…”
“Sorry is not going to cut it.” he said angrily, cutting me off. “You can’t miss a single day of this training, if when the day comes that I have to fuse with you and you can’t handle it and die, I’ll die with you. Then there will be no one to protect the Nightmares, is that what you want?”
“Then you better be there today, or else I’ll have to take desperate measures.”
“Good, I don’t like being this way to you Rin, you’re my friend but I can’t play favorites. I need to be sure that these Nightmares will be protected.”
“I understand Gobu. It won’t happen again, I promise.”
“I believe you Rin. I’ll see you tonight.”
“Right.” I closed my eyes again and reopened them, finding myself still in my seat with Ayame standing over me, shouting my name.
“Rin! Rin!! Rin!!!” she shouted.
I lifted my head from the desk and brushed the hair out of my eyes, staring at her intensely with my acidic eyes. “I’m awake now shut up!!” I shouted back.
“I wouldn’t have been shouting if you had woken up sooner.” she said back smugly with her arms folded and her eyes closed, her head turned away from me.
“Whatever.” I stood from my seat, yawned and stretched. I looked around the room and saw that it was empty. “How long has class been over?”
“Not long, only about a minute or two.”
“I see.” I picked up my bag. “Then let’s go.” The two of us left the classroom and began walking towards Ms. Zennosuke’s classroom. We were almost halfway there when I asked, “So what did you tell Ryu?”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“I mean when you had to tell him why I sleep so much. I know you didn’t tell him the truth, so what’d you tell him?”
“How do you know I didn’t tell him the truth?”
“Because I know that you like him and I know that people tend to have a hard time accepting the truth for what it is. So in order to avoid seeming like a fool in front of Ryu, the only available option would be to make something up. So tell me, what’d you tell him?”
“Ok, I told him that… That it was because you’re tired.”
“Tired? Tired from what?”
She let out a sigh and said, “Tired from video chatting with your girlfriend, Sam.”
“My girlfriend Sam?! You told him that Sam’s my girlfriend?!” I shouted, everyone in the halls with us turned and looked at me. I could feel my face flush with heat as I began to blush.
“You don’t seem all that angry about it.” she said.
We walked into Ms. Zennosuke’s class as the bell rang. I looked away from her and said, “Shut up.” She let out a soft laugh and we both walked to our seats as Ms. Zennosuke began to teach. I sat in my seat and paid little attention to what she was teaching, due to all the things going through my head that has happened today. Finally after half an hour, the bell rang and class was dismissed for lunch. Instead of going out I stayed in the class and read a book I had brought from home. I read the book all through lunch and continued reading it all through class.
The bell rang before I could finish my book and class was dismissed. I grabbed my things and left class with Ryu, Ayame, and Kimiko as we made our way to Mr. Maeda’s class. When we arrived in class Mr. Maeda was sitting in his desk, he smiled when he saw the four of us walk in together. We took our seats and after a minute, the bell rang and class began.
“Okay class, today we’ll be taking a test over everything we’ve learned, so clear your desks and have a pencil out.” Mr. Maeda said, shortly followed by loud groans from the class. He began passing out the tests. I breezed through my test with ease and turned it in. I returned to my desk and laid my head down, lying there silently for the rest of class. Once the bell rang I lifted my head up and grabbed my bag. I stood up and stretched as everyone began to leave. Before long it was just Mr. Maeda, Ayame, Kimiko, Ryu, and myself in class.
“Hey Rin, there’s a festival going on Saturday, you want to go with us?” Ryu asked as he packed up his things.
“Uh, sure. Come by my house around five o’clock and we can leave from there.” I said.
“Will do.” Ryu left the room, gently punching me in the shoulder as he walked by.
“This is going to be loads of fun!!” Kimiko said, it was the loudest I had ever heard he speak as her voice was filled with loads of excitement.
Ayame laughed and said, “Bye Rin.” She wrapped her arm around Kimiko’s shoulder and the two of them left to catch up with Ryu.
I shook my head and chuckled before turning around to look at Mr. Maeda, who was sitting at his desk. He had a smile on his face and he was chuckling to himself. “What?” I asked.
“Nothing. I didn’t say anything.” he said.
“Sure. You’ll be happy to hear that I signed up for that site you told me about.”
“I know, Riley emailed me this morning. He said that you guys have a lot in common.”
“Yeah well, I guess you were right. Having friends is better than being alone.” I said.
“Glad you finally admitted it.”
“That doesn’t mean that I’m going to sleep less. I have different reasons for sleeping as much as I do.”
“If you say so Rin.” he turned to his computer and began to type something.
I walked over to the door and waited for him. “You coming?” I asked.
“No, I got some work to do.” he said, not looking up from his work.
“Okay, I’ll see you Monday, Makoto.” I said.
Mr. Maeda closed his eyes, lowered his head and chuckled. “See you Monday Rin.”
I left the room and the school then began my walk home. After walking my normal speed, taking my normal route, and arriving home at my normal time, my everyday routine was broken. As usual, I grabbed myself a cup of instant noodles and warmed them up, but rather than sitting in my living room and eating them while reading a book like I normally do, I went up into my room and opened my laptop. I signed myself into my account Riley’s website and saw that he was online.
“Hey.” I messaged him. I ate some of my noodles while I waited for his reply.
“Hey, you’re finally online.” he messaged back.
“I’m actually a little surprised that you’re online. Isn’t it about six o’clock in the morning where you live?”
“Yeah, I don’t sleep at home. I’m too busy working on my sites and stuff. Hold on a second I gotta do something real quick.”
“Okay?” I was a little confused by his last message, but shrugged it off and continued eating my noodles. I waited for a minute or two for his reply but it never came. As I was eating the last of my noodles, a new window popped up on my screen and I could see into someone’s room. Suddenly, a guy around my age’s head popped up.
“Hey Rin. It’s me Riley.” he said. He had a huge smile on his face, which was covered by the same messy black hair I saw in his profile picture. He looked to be sitting in his room, eating a candy bar.
“Riley.” I mumbled with a mouthful of noodles. I swallowed the noodles that were hanging out of my mouth and sat down my cup and chopsticks. “How am I seeing you right now?”
“I hacked into your laptop and started up your webcam. Pretty cool huh?”
“Cool? That’s… actually pretty brilliant.” I laughed and a smile broke out on my face. “How’d you think of something like this?”
“I’ve done this before a few times to my friends James and Victoria. This occasionally caused some rather awkward moments though.”
“I’ve been sworn to secrecy so I can’t tell you.”
“Well if you can’t tell me then I probably don’t need to now.”
Riley took a huge bite out of his candy bar and said, “But it’s so funny.”
I covered my eyes and looked away. “Riley if you’re going to eat please don’t do it with your mouth full.”
He swallowed the bit of chocolate he was eating. “Sorry. Hey!! You had noodles hanging out of your mouth not even two minutes ago.”
“That’s because you caught me off guard, I didn’t expect for you to hack my webcam and start it up.”
“How are things going along with the site? Got everything worked out?”
“Yeah pretty much, just a few more bugs to work on and then I’ll be done.”
“Isn’t that what you told me yesterday?”
“Well it’s still true.”
“I bet it is.” I looked over at my clock and saw that it was nearing four o’clock. “Hey, when do you have to be at school?”
“Not until seven fifteen, why?”
“Because it’s 3:55 p.m. here which means there it’s…”
“6:55 a.m. Crap I need to go. I’ll talk to you later.” he shouted, cutting me off.
I chuckled and said, “Yeah, talk to you later.” I closed out my webcam and signed out of my account before closing my laptop. I took my noodle bowl downstairs and threw it in the trash. On my way back up, I grabbed a book off of my shelf and returned to my room. I sat on my bed and began reading my book. I read it for almost ten minutes before it began to bore me. I looked at my clock and it read 4:23 p.m., so I sighed, closed my book, and sat it on my desk as I stood up and left my room. I walked into my parents’ bedroom and kneeled in front of their pictures.
“Goodnight mother. Goodnight father.” I said. I stood up and returned to my room. I lied on top of my bed and rested my head on my pillow. I closed my eyes and let the darkness swallow me as the I slowly drifted off to sleep. I reopened my eyes and found myself lying in my Dream Realm bed. I stood from my bed and walked out of my room and into the kitchen. There was no one sitting in front of the TV like there usually was when I arrived and I knew that I was here alone. I sighed and grabbed my coat off of its hook and walked out of the door, locking it behind me. I pulled up my hood and placed my hands in my pockets before quickly making my way towards the forest entrance. I entered the forest and took my time as I walked to the cathedral. Once I made it to the cathedral I stood silently and in place with my eyes closed.
“Rin, you’re here early.” I heard Gobu say. I opened my eyes and he was standing in front of me.
“Yeah, I wasn’t busy and I’ve already missed a day so I figured that the sooner we begin training today the better.” I said, putting down the hood.
“I like that attitude. You know what to do.” he said. I nodded and sat on the ground with my legs folded and I rested my arms on my legs. I shifted my breathing pattern so that I was taking in long, deep breaths. “Now I’m going to give you the same amount of power I gave you last time.”
Without opening my eyes I said, “No. I want both yesterday and today’s amounts so that we can remain on schedule.”
“Are you sure? That might be too much to absorb in at one time.”
“I can handle it Gobu.”
“Okay, as you wish Rin.” My eyes remained closed and my breathing slow and heavy as I felt Gobu transfer the power into me. The difference between the first day and now was felt immediately. Once the transfer began I felt the intense weight like before but this time the weight was even more intense as it pushed down on me. I could feel it as the intensity of the power began tearing away at me on the inside and could feel the cold sweat dripping down my face. After a moment, the cold sweat was joined by the sudden feeling of blood pouring from my closed eyes.
“Remember Rin,” I heard Gobu say as he finished the transfer, “focus on the image. With the amount of power you have now creating a Nightmare should be a simple task.” I did as he said and began to focus my thoughts on that, creating a Nightmare. I focused and focused as hard as I could and soon the silhouette I had envisioned just two days before appeared again. The silhouette drew closer and closer to me, becoming more and more visible by the second and soon faded from view.
The creature’s figure was no longer amongst my thoughts, my imagination. Around me there was nothing but darkness. “What the?” I thought to myself. “What happened? I was almost there.” Seconds later, my eyes jolted open at the sound of a deep, threatening roar in front of me. Then I saw it, in full view standing before me was the Nightmare I created. It stood towering over me at what appeared to be a height of about 7’6” with skin as black as coal. A slew of messy, jet black hair draped from his head over its face, partially covering its all yellow eyes. Its teeth were bared, exposing its white fang like teeth, and its eyes full of blind hate and animosity. Its body frame was exceptionally large, his arms draped at his sides. Extending from its forearms, at its wrists, was the bone of each arm which appeared to be dense and was the color of dense soot.
I was staring at this enormous monster and could see something lying on the ground by its feet. I immediately recognized it as Gobu, he was lying on his side in a pool of his own blood, unconscious. “Gobu.“ I whispered. The Nightmare let out another massive roar before launching an attack in my direction, punching down at me where I sat. I reacted quickly, getting to my feet and jumping backwards to avoid contact. I instinctively pulled out my pistols and began unloading bullet after bullet into the Nightmare as it returned to an upright position. Every shot I fired proved ineffective as they all bounced off of him, not leaving a scratch, and landed on the ground. I re-holstered my guns and ran over to a nearby tree. I jumped up, launching myself off of the tree, and kicked the Nightmare in the side of his head with my right foot. I felt a sharp pain shoot through my body when my leg made contact with its head, the Nightmare then brought up his right arm and swatted me to the ground. I landed hard, spitting up blood on impact, and was unable to move. It then grabbed me by my shirt with one hand and threw me against a tree. I fell down to my knees and panted heavily.
“What… what am I going to do? If can’t even hurt this thing, how am I supposed to kill it?” I thought to myself. I looked up and saw the Nightmare, it let out another roar and bones began to protrude from its knees and back, the one’s from his back making a sort of harpoon like weapon that extended passed its head.
“Don’t.” I heard Gobu’s voice faintly in my head. He sounded as weak as he looked. “Don’t kill it… instead… capture it and m… maybe we can …. use it as a guardian t… to protect the forest.”
“How am I supposed to do that?”
“The same way you created it, with King Morpheus’s power, just focus.”
“Right,” I said aloud, standing to my feet and still panting heavily. “That’s easy for you to say.” The Nightmare moved into position, bending over so that it’s head and bones were aimed at me. I closed my eyes and began to focus. I heard the Nightmare shout out another thunderous roar as it began its charge in my direction. I opened my eyes just moments before it was to impale me and I jumped over it. As I passed over its body, I summoned a long, red chain that wrapped itself around the Nightmare as it crashed into the tree. I landed hard on my side as I fell to the ground and slid over near Gobu as he forced himself to his feet.
“Rin… there should be a… a soft point at the… top of… the creature’s spine. Shoot it and… and you’ll immobilize it.” he said.
“Right.” I stood to my feet and took my right gun out of its holster. I limped my way over to the Nightmare, holding my ribs with my left and, blood was spilling from the top of my head and my clothes were dirty and torn. I reached the Nightmare as it was struggling to break out of the chains and stand from amongst the pieces of destroyed tree. I shot where Gobu had said and the Nightmare let out a loud, pain filled scream. It stopped struggling as I shot it but continued to grunt angrily, showing that it was still alive. I put my gun back in its holster and grabbed the loose end of the chain with both hands and began using what strength I had left to pull the Nightmare towards the cathedral.
“What’re you going to do with it?” Gobu asked.
“I’m going to lock it up in the cathedral until I can find a way to control it. I’m guessing that after I’ve gotten more power that shouldn’t be a problem.” I replied, still struggling to drag the Nightmare, which was now mostly dead weight.
“That sounds like a good plan, but let me take care of that.”
“How?” I stopped pulling and looked at Gobu, puzzled. He let out a psychic whistle and seconds later another Nightmare that was about twice my size, but still smaller than the one I was dragging, came out of the forest. It was large with arms that were far too big for its body and red fur covered it, looking like a large, red gorilla. It had empty black eyes that looked at nothing.
“Take this and toss it down into the cathedral.” Gobu commanded. The red Nightmare did as told and grabbed the chain with one of its massive hands, dragging the black Nightmare with ease. Once inside, the red Nightmare grabbed the other with both of its hands and tossed it down into the depths of the cathedral, below the floating plates. The chains then began to glow brightly and they jettisoned out towards the walls of the lower part of the cathedral, holding the Nightmare in place. I walked over to the railing and looked down at it as it glared up at me, growling softly. I turned and walked out of the cathedral, the red Nightmare closing the door behind me as the imprisoned Nightmare let out another thunderous roar, this one the loudest of them all.
Gobu was lying on the ground, licking his wound, and I walked over to him. “Are you all right?” I asked.
“Yes, thanks to King Morpheus’s power I can heal my wounds by licking them. I can do the same to yours if you’d like.” he replied, looking up at me.
“No, I’m fine.” There was a silence as Gobu returned to licking his wound. “Gobu.” I said quietly.
“Yes Rin?” he said, looking up at me again.
“I did it. I created a Nightmare, and a pretty powerful one at that.”
“Yes Rin, yes you did, but I’m most impressed at hw well you seem to be adapting to King Morpheus’s power. It shows that I made the right choice in choosing you as our new king.”
I sat on the ground in front of Gobu. “Yeah.” I looked up into the sky longingly, it was grey like it always was and I could see some crows flying over head. “It’s amazing, I can really feel the power flowing through me. It’s unlike anything I’ve felt before.”
Gobu chuckled and said, “Yes, I’m sure that it is, King Morpheus was truly powerful. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be finishing the transfer and you’ll take in all of the power. You do understand that once that happens everything will change, right?”
“Yeah, I know, nothing’s going to be the same. I’m going to make a lot of enemies by helping you, but I don’t care, you’ve been here for me for years and I’ll do anything to repay you for that, even betray my friends.” I looked down at him, my longing look replaced by a serious one.
“I truly appreciate that Rin.”
“No problem buddy.” I petted his head and stood to my feet. “I think I’m going to wander around the plains for a while before I have to wake up.”
“Okay, you can take a break from training tomorrow. I know that this was a lot for one day and don’t forget to watch out for Sleepwalkers.”
“I know, I’ll be careful. Goodbye Gobu.” I said before heading off into the forest.
“Goodbye Rin.” I heard Gobu say as I left the forest and entered the Astral Plains.
I woke up slowly as my alarm went off beside my bed and turned it off, it read 16:45 p.m. I got out of bed and walked into my bathroom to shower. It has been two days since Gobu and I created that Nightmare in the forest. Because of the festival today, schools were closed yesterday and today. I spent much of yesterday and today in the Dream Realm with Sam, Shane, and Anna. When my alarm woke me up I was checking on Gobu and our Nightmare, Gobu’s wounds were completely healed and the Nightmare was still locked up inside the cathedral.
After twenty minutes, I finished showering and began getting dressed. As I was rummaging through my drawers looking for a shirt, I heard a chime go off from my laptop. I walked over to it and saw that I had a incoming message. I clicked on the message box and my webcam opened as I returned to my dresser.
“Hey Rin.” I heard Riley say.
I looked over at my laptop while still looking for a shirt. “Hey. Who‘re they?” I said. I saw that he wasn’t alone and that there were two others with him and he wasn’t in his bedroom like normal. One of the people was a young man around the same age as Riley and I with messy brown hair and the other was a girl with blonde hair that was also around our age.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the girl stand from where she was seated and walk over to Riley’s computer screen, her blonde hair swinging as she walked. “I’m Victoria,” she said. “and you are?”
“Rin.” I muttered while still rummaging through my drawer to find a shirt, throwing the rejects in a pile that sat in a corner.
“What’re you looking for?” Riley asked.
“You have a pile of them sitting on the floor. Why not wear one of those?” the other boy asked. “I’m James by the way.”
“Nice to meet you James and the reason I’m not going to wear any of those is because.” I stopped my search and looked at the pile of shirts. I walked over to them and picked one off the side of the pile and held it up. The shirt was all white with a black and red dragon design on the front. “I was looking for this one.”
“That’s pretty cool.” Riley said while I put the shirt on. Victoria groaned and sat back on the bed.
“Thanks.” I said. “So what’ve you three got planned for today?”
“I’m not sure. According to them we made plans but I can’t remember what they were.” Riley shrugged and sunk low into his chair and lead back, keeping his balance by holding onto his desk with his left hand.
“That’s because, as usual, you were half asleep when we made them.” James stated, in a monotonous voice.
“True.” Riley said, he looked as though he may fall asleep.
“Riley, wake up!!” Victoria said. She then threw a remote at Riley, hitting him in the back of the head.
“Ow.” Riley clutched the back of his head, where the remote hit, with his left hand. Because he was using his left hand to keep himself balanced, Riley fell backwards onto the ground. “Ow!” he said again and I laughed.
“So what about these plans you guys supposedly have?” I said, in between fits of laughter.
“We were hired by a few local museums to strengthen their security.” James said. “It’s an easy job, we’ll be able to finish it in no time.”
“What about you?” Riley asked as he stood up and fixed his chair. “What’ve you got planned for today?”
“I’m going to a festival with some friends in about an hour.” I answered, I was refolding the shirts I took out of my drawer and putting them back into their places.
“Sounds like fun.”
“Yeah, but I’ve got some stuff I need to do around the house before I leave.”
“Oh, well I’ll let you go so you can do that.” Riley said, his eyes closed and leaning back in his chair once again.
“Alright. I’ll talk to you later.” Riley was about to close the window for his webcam when something suddenly came to mind. “Hey wait!!” I said.
“Yeah?” Riley asked.
“Any of you know how to medically induce a coma?” I asked.
“Induce a coma? What do you need to know that for?” Victoria asked.
“To enhance my medical knowledge. I’m going into medicine after school and I thought that it would be good to know.”
“Well I don’t.” Riley said. “Do either of you know?”
“Yeah, you’ll need a drug called sodium thiopental. It’s a barbiturate commonly used to medically induce comas and amnesia so be careful while using it.” said James.
“Okay, thanks.” I said, with a smile. “Talk to you later.”
“Bye.” Riley said, just before I closed out my window. I closed my laptop and sat in the chair in front of my desk. I looked over at my clock and it read 17:23, meaning I still had over half an hour before the others were to arrive. So I stood from my chair and left my room, heading downstairs into the foyer of my home. I walked over to the nightstand that was against the wall by the door and grabbed the cordless phone off of it’s hook. I quickly dialed in a number then put the phone up to my ear, it was ringing.
After about six rings, someone on the other side of the line answered the phone. “Hello?” I heard the gruff voice of an older man speak, his voice was thick with a heavy Serbian accent.
“Hello, is this Vladimir Voleikov?” I asked.
“Yes, this is him.” Vladimir answered, his accent was so thick that I could barely understand him. “Who is this?”
“My name is Rin Sato, I believe that you knew my father, Kaito.”
“Kaito? Hmm, let me think.” I could hear him inaudibly muttering something to himself. “Oh yes, Kaito!! I miss that tough, crazy lazan. Tell me, how is my old friend?”
My heart sank at the thought of having to answer his question. I looked to the floor with a sullen expression and said, “He’s dead.” my voice was filled with an obvious misery.
“Oh.” Vladimir said, the tone of his voice became softer. “I’m so sorry for your loss, but if he is dead, then how did you come across my number?”
“My father always kept the numbers of those he kept closest to him for possible emergencies.”
“He kept my number after all these years, and I haven’t even spoke to the man in fifteen years. Slaboumnik” I could tell that at this point Vladimir was speaking to himself more than he was to me.
“Yes, well I was calling to ask you for a favor.” I said, hoping to have broken his train of thought.
“Huh? What, a… a favor. Well all right, but only because I am, I mean was, friends with your dad. So tell me, what is it that I may do for you?” His voice had become boisterous once again.
“First I have to ask, does your company still ship medicinal drugs to the American Red Cross?”
“Yes, it does. How do you know about that?”
“It doesn’t matter. I just need you to ship me a supply of thiopental. I need it in doses that are small enough to induce a coma.”
“Thiopental? What do you need that for and how do you know what it does? Who are you?” Suspicion began to rise in Vladimir’s voice.
“Listen,” before I could finish the doorbell rang and I walked over to the door. I looked out through the peephole and saw Ayame standing in the doorway. “Listen, I’ve got tot go, but please I need that shipment, it’s imperative to my future. Please, do it for Kaito.”
Vladimir was silent for a long moment, I figured that he was thinking about my request. “Okay,” he finally said. “for Kaito, but don’t use to much of it or else the side effects could be damaging to your brain.”
“I understand and thank you.” A grin broke across my face at my success. “Goodbye Vladimir.”
“Goodbye… Rin.” I quickly hung up the phone and placed it back on its charger. I walked over to the door and opened it. Ayame was still standing there, patiently, and she smiled when I opened the door.
I returned her smile and said, “Hi.” she punched me in my arm as she walked into my home, still smiling as she did it. “What was that for?”
“You took too long answering the door.” she said as she sat down on my couch. I looked at her, my head turned slightly to right. She was dressed in a white tank top that had the a pink, yellow, and black butterfly design on the front and a black jacket on top of that. Matching her jacket, was her black skinny jeans that she was partially covered by her white, fur boots. In her hair was a black, butterfly clip. “Why are you staring at me?” she asked, frustration building on her face.
“ It’s nothing, you just look kind of cute.” I said, with my normal melancholy expression and tone.
“Cute?” she said, her face was turning red as she began to blush.
“Don’t get all flustered, you know I don’t think of you in that way.” I said, rolling my eyes and closing the door.
“Yeah I know. We wouldn’t want Sam getting jealous.” she retorted, sticking her tongue out.
“Whatever.” I said, looking away from her. “Why are you here so early?”
“No reason I just wasn’t doing anything at home so I thought I’d come over here a bit early.”
“Well I’m glad you’re here because I’ve got a bit of a dilemma.” I took a seat on the couch next to her.
“What is it?”
“Well obviously you know about the festival.”
“Well I’m going to need to find a way to sneak out early and return home.”
“King Artaxerxes has decided to throw a party to celebrate the triumph of the final four combatants in the tournament. Meaning, as one of the guests of honor I have to be there.”
“That is a bit of a dilemma.” she said, closing her eyes and touching her chin. “But you’re smart, I’m sure you can think of something.”
“That’s the problem. I did think of something, I thought of a few something’s actually and am unsure which I should use. So I need you to come up with a plan by seven.”
“So you want me to come up with a plan that will get you away from the festival and back home in two hours?” she asked, looking at me as though I had lost my mind.
“Yeah, pretty much.” I said. Before she could reply the doorbell rang and I got up to answer it. I opened the door, without looking out of the peephole, and there was Kimiko, standing in front of me.
“Hi!!” she said in her new upbeat attitude that she had recently developed.
“Hey.” I replied. I stepped to the side and she walked inside, I closed the door behind her.
“Wow, you know this is my first time inside of your house.” she said, looking around and admiring its décor. There wasn’t much for her to admire however, the area by the door had nothing but the nightstand where the phone was as well as a few pictures of myself when I was younger and my parents. After that it’s either a straight walk into the kitchen, turn left and enter the living room, or turn right and go up the stairs to the next floor. Inside my living room there was nothing but a window to the front of my home, the three person couch that Ayame was sitting on, an oak table with glass on its surface, a 46” television, and a single person arm chair to match the couch.
“Hi Ayame.” Kimiko said, still smiling. She was a long sleeve, light purple sweater and a pair of blue jeans with a pair of white sneakers. She had a tan bag hanging over her right shoulder.
“Hi. You seem awfully happy today.” Ayame replied, waving to Kimiko with a smile.
“Of course I am! I get to go out with my friends today, I don’t get that very often you know.” Kimiko took a seat beside Ayame and I sat in the arm chair.
“Don’t you go out with your boyfriend?” Ayame asked.
“Yeah sometimes, but he’s in college and is super busy so I don’t get to see him very often except for when he drops me off and picks me up from school.” Kimiko answered, her smile slowly faltering. “He would have come today, but he has to work.”
“Oh.” Ayame said, I could tell that she could see Kimiko’s smile fading like I did.
“Where does he work?” I asked, trying to change the subject.
“He’s a waiter at a local sushi bar. I can never remember the name of it.” she was smiling again, but looking at the floor.
I smiled at her, showing no teeth, and said, “That’s just like you Kimiko.”
She giggled, looked up at me with a smile and said, “Yeah Rin, it is. Isn’t it?”
I chuckled, closed my eyes and stood from the chair. “Yeah.” I said. “Excuse me ladies, but I must retrieve something that I forgot from my bedroom.”
“Okay.” Ayame said. “We’ll be here when you get back.” I walked up the stairs and went straight into my bedroom. I opened a drawer in my desk and took out a small, black box. I placed the box on my desk and opened it, inside was an untouched, silver, analog watch. I held the watch in my hand and looked at it longingly. As I slipped the watch onto my left wrist, I heard the doorbell ring downstairs. I closed the box and placed it back into the drawer before leaving my room. As I headed back down the stairs I saw Kimiko at the door, opening it for Ryu, who was standing outside. He was dressed in an all red, sleeveless shirt and black jeans. A silver chain extended from his back right pocket to his front right pocket, and a pair of black commando boots covered his feet.
“Hi Ryu!!” Kimiko exclaimed.
“Hey.” he said, giving her a slight wave.
“Hey.” I said, walking down the last few set of steps.
“Ayame here yet?” Ryu asked.
“Yeah, she’s sitting in here on the couch.” I answered. He walked over next to me and looked into the living room where he saw Ayame sitting on the couch. She waved to him and he waved back.
“You guys ready to go?” Ryu asked.
I looked down at my watch and it read 17:45 p.m. “Yeah, we should probably get going. We are walking right?”
“Yeah.” Ryu answered. “It’s only like fifteen minutes from here.”
“Well then let’s go.” I said. Ayame stood from the couch and walked over to us. I opened the door for everyone to leave and I locked the door behind us. I did the same with the gate in front of my house and we began walking towards the festival, following Ryu because he was the one that knew where it was. Before long, we arrived at the festival, it was filled with games, people, food stands, and the vary aromas from all over. We entered the festival and realized quickly how impossible getting around would be.
“This place is huge. How are we going to get to do everything?” Kimiko asked.
“I think our best bet would be to split up.” I said. “Kimiko and I will take the western part of the festival while you two take the eastern half. We’ll meet back here in an hour and tell each other what’s worth a trip to and what isn’t then switch sides.”
“Split up?” Ayame asked.
“Sounds like a plan.” Ryu said.
“Yeah. See you guys in an hour.” I grabbed Kimiko’s hand and hurried off towards the first potential game booth.
“Rin.” Kimiko said softly as I paid for a ticket to play the game. The objective was to get a small white ball into a bowl with a fish inside You get three tries and if you win you get to take home the fish.
“Yeah.” I asked, focused on aiming for a bowl with a small goldfish inside.
“Why did you suggest that we split up this way?”
“To get Ryu and Ayame alone.”
“Well Ayame like Ryu and I kind of owe her a favor from something. So this is my way of paying her back, by getting her a chance to talk to him alone.”
I lightly tossed the ball into the air and it landed in the bowl I was aiming for. I turned to Kimiko and looked at her. “Why do you ask?”
“Well you’re closer to Kimiko and even to Ryu than you are to me so I thought you’d have wanted to go with one of them.”
“Kimiko, you really do have some serious self confidence issues don’t you.” Kimiko looked down at the ground. “Of the three of you, you were my first friend. So I guess that you could say that you’re my best friend. Now why wouldn’t I want to hang out with my best friend?”
She looked up at me with a wide smile one her face. “I am?”
“Of course you are.” The booth’s owner handed me my fish, now in a bag of water instead of a bowl. “Here, you keep him.”
“Thanks!” Kimiko said, happily.
“No problem. Now let’s go to another booth.” The two of us left and began going from booth to booth, sampling foods, playing games, even watching puppet shows. The entire time I wondered how things were going with Ayame and Ryu as well as what I’d do to get away from the festival when the time came. An hour flew by quicker than expected and Kimiko and I soon found ourselves at the same spot we were when the four of us split up, waiting on Ayame and Ryu.
“I wonder where they are.” Kimiko said. She was standing on the tips of her toes, trying to look over the crowd for Ryu and Ayame.
“I’m sure that they’re on their way here. Let’s just wait a little while longer.” I said. I was leaning against a light pole with my arms folded and eyes closed. “Ayame where the hell are you, I need to go and I can’t just leave Kimiko here by herself.” I thought to myself.
“Hey guys!” I heard Ayame say. I opened my eyes and saw her waving to us as she and Ryu walked over to us. “You guys have fun?”
“”Tons! Rin and I had lots of fun.” Kimiko said. She held up her goldfish. “He won this and gave it to me.”
“It’s so cute!!” Ayame exclaimed, looking at the first swim around in it’s bag. “What are you going to name it?”
“I don’t know. I hadn’t thought of that.”
“You should name it Hikari.” Ryu said.
“Yeah!! Good idea Ryu.” Kimiko exclaimed. She and Ayame began talking softly to each other.
“How did things go on your end?” I asked Ryu.
“A bit awkward. She wouldn’t talk to me or look me in the eye, it was weird.”
“Of course she didn’t.” I said silently to myself, glancing over at Ayame.
“What was that?” Ryu asked, regaining my attention.
“Nothing. Here,” I handed him a folded up piece of paper, “I made a list of places you guys should go to. Take Kimiko with you, she shouldn’t wander around alone.”
“Yeah. I’ve got stuff to do at home, so I’ve got to leave.”
“Going to go chat with Sam?”
“Uh…yeah.” I said, unsure how to respond.
“Alright. I’ll see you Monday then.”
“Yeah, I’ll see you then.” I turned to Kimiko and Ayame. “I’ve got to go you guys.” I said.
“You’re leaving?” Kimiko asked.
“Yeah, my girlfriend and I have a video date.” I looked at Ayame.
“Well you don’t want to keep her waiting. Tell Sam that I said hi for me.” Ayame said.
“Sure thing.” I turned away from them and headed towards the entrance.
“Bye Rin!!” I heard Kimiko say. I waved to her without looking back and continued on my way home. I arrived home as quickly as possible and went inside. After locking the door, I took off my shoes and headed upstairs and entered my parents’ bedroom. I kneeled in front of their pictures.
“Goodnight Mother. Goodnight Father.” I said. I stood up and left their bedroom, entering my own. I sat down onto my bed and sighed. “Here we go.” I said. I lied down in my bed and closed my eyes, quickly drifting off to sleep.
I opened my eyes and like usual, I was in my bed in my room in the Dream Realm. I stood to my feet and walked over to the full body mirror that was on the other side of the room. I looked at myself as though I was looking at a completely different person. My hair was spiked back like normal and I was dressed in a long sleeve sweater that had large, horizontal stripes going down it. The stripes alternated back and forth between black and dark gray. I was also wearing a pair of black dress pants and black dress shoes. However, my most defining feature was my eyes, which were considerably darker than normal but still green.
I closed my eyes and let out a soft exhale before turning and walking towards the door, opening it and leaving my room. I walked into the kitchen and found Anna drinking from a glass of water and noticed Shane watching television. Anna gulped down the last bit of her water and sat down her cup.
“Hi Rin.” she said, after letting out a satisfied exhale. She was dressed in a canary yellow dress with a thin strap going over her right shoulder and a more frilled strap, resembling a bouquet of flowers, going over her left shoulder. The dress extended far down her body, stopping halfway down her calves and hugged her body tightly, and a yellow iris corsage around her right wrist.
Shane turned his head around and looked back at the two of us after hearing Anna speak. “Hey.” he said.
“Hi.” I said. I looked around and noticed that Sam was nowhere to be found. “Where’s Sam?” I asked.
“In her room.” Anna said.
“Her room?” I looked back down the hall and at the closed dark brown door that I knew blocked the entrance to her room. “What’s she doing in there?”
“I don’t know.” Shane said, letting out a low exhale. “She said something about making a spectacular entrance and ran into her room.” He stood from the couch and walked passed me and down the hall to Sam’s door. He lightly knocked on it three times and walked back towards us, stopping next to me.
It wasn’t until Shane stood that I could see his formal apparel for the party. He wore pretty much a normal tuxedo with a canary yellow tie to match Anna’s dress and a yellow pocket stuffer sticking out of the front pocket of his coat.
Almost a minute after Shane knocked on the door, it slowly opened inward into the bedroom. Then Sam came slowly walking out of the bedroom gracefully with her eyes closed, holding a small black minaudière in both her hands, which she held in front of her. She was dressed in a beautiful white dress that flowed down her body like a water fall, rippling at the bottom just below her knees. Her hair was done up beautifully, the pale skin on her face was contrasted by the dark mascara around her eyes, and two glimmering diamond ear rings hung from her ears. Around her neck was the heart necklace I had bought her at the beginning of the tournament. She slowly opened her eyes and let out a soft giggle after looking at the dumbstruck look on my face. “So Rin, how do I look?” she asked.
“You… um. You look… uh.” I stuttered, unable to finish my sentence.
“I think this may be the first time that I’ve seen you truly speechless.” Shane joked. I heard Anna laughing behind me.
I shook my head to clear the cobwebs and regain my composure. I closed my eyes and said, “You look like we may just be poor now.” I said, with a smirk on my face and reopening my eyes.
“Why thank you.” she said with a smile. Anna walked passed me and stood next to Shane on my right, locking arms with him and lying her head on his shoulder.
“You’re missing one thing though.” I said. I placed my hands behind my back.
“What’s that?” she asked, a small amount of panic spreading across her face.
I used a small amount of Morpheus’s power to create a white rose corsage in a clear case behind my back and held it out to her. “This.” I said.
A huge smile spread across her face as she stared at the corsage happily. “Rin. It’s beautiful.” I took the corsage out of its case and placed it around her left wrist.
“Now it is.” I said. Tears began to surface in her eyes before she threw her arms around my neck and embraced me in a big hug. I handed the case to Shane and hugged her back, lifting her up as I did. I set her back down and we stopped hugging one another.
“Well I’d hate to brake this up, whatever it is, but we really have to go. I don’t think it would be good if one of the guests of honor arrived late.” Shane pointed out.
“He’s right you know.” I held out my left arm and Sam wrapped her right arm around it. “Shall we?”
“Where’s the party at by the way?” Sam asked.
“The invitation said that it was going to be at the stadium so I guess that’s where we’re headed.” I said, shrugging my shoulders.
“To the stadium we go then.” Anna said cheerfully. I opened the door for us to leave, Shane and Anna left first then Sam and I after them, with me closing and locking the door behind me. We all walked our usual route to the stadium, talking the entire time, and arrived after almost ten minutes. When we arrived at the stadium we were all in awe of the sight before us, where the stadium normally stood was a magnificent palace in its place. It looked like a traditional medieval palace made of dull gray stones with black roofs on the towers and poppy flowers covering the entire palace. Where a drawbridge would normally be, on a palace such as this, was a large opening that led into the palace. We exchanged smiles amongst each other and walked toward the palace. Andre and several guards were standing by the entrance, checking invitations.
“Hey Andre.” I said.
“Hey there Rin.” he replied. He looked down at the watch around his wrist. “You’re kinda late, compared to the other guests of honor.”
“Yeah, well at least I’m here.”
“Good point.” he chuckled. “Show me your invitations please.”
“One moment.” Shane said, holding up his left index finger. “Rin we don’t have our invitations. What are we going to do?” he whispered to me in a panic.
“Calm down, I’ll handle this.” I whispered back. I took our four invitations out of my right pants pocket and handed them to Andre. “Here you go.” I said.
“Thank you. Go right on through.” he said, taking the invitations from me. I nodded to him and the four of us entered into the palace. We walked into a large ballroom filled with people. Straight ahead was a large staircase that spiraled off into two separate sets of stairs and converged into a large balcony above the entrance. Hanging from the high ceiling was four golden chandeliers that illuminate every inch of the enormous ballroom and off to the side, on the right, was a large table with a wide spread of food for the guests.
“This is amazing!” Sam said.
“Yeah, it really is.” I said under my breath. “But my cathedral is even more amazing.” I thought to myself. I looked to Sam and said, “Hey you want to go eat before we dance?”
“Sure.” she said. “We’re going to go get some food. See you guys later.” Sam said to Shane and Anna, just as a slow song began to play.
“Let’s go dance.” Anna said, dragging Shane away before he had a chance to reply. I chuckled, grabbed Sam’s hand and walked with her over to the food table, going through groups of people to get to it. As we walked by the crowds I could hear words of congratulations and feel pats on my shoulders and back from the people. Finally we arrived at the tables where we saw a wide spread of food from various different cultures. Just as I was about to grab as yakisoba sandwich, off of one of the many silver trays, the music came to an end and all the murmurs of the party-goers were silenced.
Atop the balcony stood King Artaxerxes and his guardians, Griffin and Marcello. He stood looking down on the party-goers as if he was going to give an announcement, and sure enough after a moment he began to speak. “Welcome, ladies and gentlemen alike. Today we are here to celebrate the triumph of four extraordinary people that are here with us today. Those four people are our final four combatants in the annual REM Tournament. Two of these men stand here at my sides, Griffin King and Marcello Anthony.” Artaxerxes gestured towards both Griffin and Marcello when he said their names.
“Now I would like the final two men to join us up here at this moment. Jason Chou, and our nine time champion, Rin Sato, would the two of you please join us? Just for a moment.”
I looked to Sam and said, “I’ll be right back and then we can dance.”
“Ok.” she said quietly. I kissed her cheek before parting the sea of party-goers and making my way towards the stairs, where I met up with Jason. The two of us walked up the stairs together and parted ways once the stairs split off and began to spiral upwards, I going up the right set and he the left.
We joined Artaxerxes and our fellow semi-finalists on the balcony. I stood beside Griffin to Artaxerxes’s right and Jason stood beside Marcello at Artaxerxes’s left. “Thank you, both of you. Now I would like all of you to help me in giving a hand in applauding these four remarkable men.” Artaxerxes said. He then began to clap loudly and was quickly followed by all those in attendance. They applauded for nearly two minutes before Artaxerxes slowly raised his right hand, causing the applause to silence.
“The two semi-final matches will take place this upcoming Wednesday and Thursday with Rin and Jason battling first and Griffin and Marcello battling second. Once the second battle is finished, we will have our two finalists who will battle on the following Monday. Now everyone may return to enjoying the party and have a great time.” Hypnos said. Jason bowed to Artaxerxes and descended down the stairs to the party.
I turned to face Artaxerxes, but Griffin stood in my path. “What do you want? Champ.” Griffin asked, placing much sarcasm on the word ‘champ’.
“I want to speak with the king, and about what, is none of your business Griffin. So why don’t you move so that I can talk?” I retorted.
Griffin glared at me and was about to say something back, but Artaxerxes placed his hand on his shoulder and said, “Calm down Griffin, all he wants is to talk, so please take Marcello with you so that I may speak with my champion and the Dream Realm’s savior.”
While still glaring at me, Griffin said, “Yes my lord.” He and Marcello descended the stairs and joined the party-goers.
“So what would you like to speak with me about Rin?” Artaxerxes asked.
“I wanted to talk to you about our deal, the one concerning the Nightmares.” I said.
“Yes, what about it?”
“Just checking to make sure that the deal is still on. You know, that I’m still the one you want for the job and not,” I looked down at the party and spotted Griffin drinking punch, he was looking up at us. “someone else.”
“You mean Griffin?” Artaxerxes said, following my gaze down to Griffin. “Don’t worry about Griffin. So long as you keep up your end of the deal and win the tournament, he won’t be a factor.”
“I see.” I said, looking back up at Artaxerxes.
“Is that all you wanted to talk to me about?”
“Yes, that was all.” I bowed and began to walk down the stairs but a thought crossed my mind and I stopped. I looked to Artaxerxes and said, “Actually there’s something else I’d like to know.”
“What would that be Rin?”
“Why does it never snow here in the Dream Realm?”
“What do you mean?” Artaxerxes asked, looking at me puzzled.
“I’ve been visiting the Dream Realm nearly twice a day, every day for the past ten years and not once has it ever snowed. I was just wondering why that was.”
“Well I’m not sure. It could be anything.” he shrugged.
“I think that it should snow here one day, I’d really like that.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Artaxerxes said. I turned and continued my descent down the stairs and just as I was about to make my way back to Sam, Jason appeared in front of me.
“Hi.” He said.
“Hello.” I said cautiously.
“You’re Rin Sato. I’m Jason Chou, I’m a really big fan of yours and it’s a great honor to meet you. An even bigger honor to be having a battle against you in a couple days.” he extended his hand out.
I shook his hand an said, “Thank you, and it’s nice to meet you as well. After watching your fight with Shane, I’m really looking forward to having an amazing battle against you.”
“Thanks.” he said. Seconds later, another slow song began to play and I looked over at Sam, who was looking at me also.
“Excuse me, but I have to go.” I said. I walked over to Sam and grabbed her hand. “Would you like to dance?” I asked.
She blushed and said, “I’d love to.”
While holding her hand, I guided Sam through the crowd of people and onto the dance floor where we ended up beside Shane and Anna. Her right hand was locked in my left and my right arm was wrapped around her waist with her left arm draped over my shoulder. We soon began to dance elegantly across the dance floor. The way we moved together was like we were gliding in mid-air or dancing on a cloud. Our dance together seemed to make the rest of the room melt away as we glided on our cloud of elegance. Suddenly an interruption occurred in our moment of solitary togetherness, an interruption in the form of a formally dressed man, standing in the entrance, watching us.
Everything in mine and Sam’s world broke away instantly as a voice echoed through my mind. “Rin!” it said. I quickly recognized it as Gobu’s voice and I stopped dancing to look around for him.
“Gobu? Is that you? Where are you?” I asked.
“Gobu, he’s here?” Sam asked, which let me know that I was speaking aloud.
“I’m right here.” he said. “Standing by the entrance looking at you.”
I looked over at the entrance and looked as hard as I could to spot him. “I don’t see you. Where exactly are you?”
“Right, sorry I forgot. I used some power to change my shape. I’m the man in the black and blue tux.”
My eyes fixed on the man that was watching as Sam and I danced. “Yeah I see you. What are you doing here?” By this time Sam had gotten Shane and he and Anna had joined us as I spoke to him.
“There’s been a development with the Nightmare you created a few days ago. You need to come with me now.” he said.
“But I’m here with my friends and I can’t just leave them.”
“They can come with you, we just need to leave now.”
“Okay.” I said. I looked to my friends and said, “You guys, Gobu needs me to go with him into the forest now. He says you can come with if you want.”
“Wait a second, who’s Gobu and are you talking about going into the Forest of Nightmares?” Anna asked.
“Oh crap, I did forget to explain all that to you didn’t I.” Shane said, smacking his forehead with his hand.
“You can explain while we’re on our way, but he needs us to go now.” I said. I grabbed Sam’s hand and we began to run out of the party. As we left Gobu, still in his human shape, joined us.
“Rin!!” a voice called out to me. We stopped and looked back, it was Jason following after us.
“Jason?” I said, puzzled.
“Hey,” he was panting heavily after trying to catch up to us, “where are you going?” he asked.
“I don’t have time to explain it all to you, but you might as well join us. Can he Gobu?” I asked.
“Yes, we just need to hurry.” he said.
“Right.” I nodded to him. “Well come on.” I said to Jason. We began to run again, Jason having joined our little group and soon entered the forest. After entering the forest, Gobu transformed into his original shape, much to the surprise of Anna and Jason, and began to run much faster. He arrived at the cathedral just moments before the rest of us and stood by the door waiting.
“Well, what’s going on?” I asked.
“Take a look for yourself.” he said. I pushed open the doors of the cathedral and walked over to the railing. I looked down into the abyss and could still see the glowing red chain, I wrapped the Nightmare in, firmly in place. The difference was that it wasn’t the same Nightmare I had tied up, it was a man with pale skin and dark armor draped all over his body, save his head.
I looked back at Gobu and asked, “What’s going on? Who’s that?”
“The Nightmare you created.” a voice said from behind me. I looked back and realized it came from the chained up Nightmare in the abyss. “I would very much appreciate it if you’d let me go, master.”
“Master?” I said, baffled.
“Yes, you did create me so in thus you are my master.” he said. The Nightmare stood to his feet and bowed to me. I raised my right hand to him and the chain unwrapped itself from around him and fell to the ground.
“If I’m your master then why did you attack me after I created you?” I asked.
The Nightmare straightened up. “I apologize for that master, but I was still in a primal state after having just been created. I will fully accept any punishment you deem fit.”
I looked at him for a moment before saying, “I’m not going to punish you, but I do have a job for you.”
“What is it master?” he asked.
“From today on, you will serve as this forest and, more importantly, this cathedral’s guardian. Oh, and I think I‘ll call you… Chronos.” I said.
“As you wish master.” Chronos bowed once again and gracefully jumped up over the railing and next to me. He looked to Gobu and said, “I would also like to apologize to you as well. I should never have harmed a fellow Nightmare.”
“Tell him that it’s okay. Like he said, he was still in a primal state.” Gobu said to me.
“He said…” I began to say.
“I apologize for cutting you off master, but I can hear him as well.” Chronos said, cutting me off before I could finish.
“You can?” Gobu asked. “I normally have to set up a psychic link with someone, human or Nightmare, before I can communicate with them.”
“You didn’t with me and I’ve always been able to hear you.” I said.
“Yes I know, that’s part of the reason why I believe that you are our next king; because I never need set up a link with King Morpheus either.”
“I see.” I said.
“Yes, well I’ll let you all go back to your party now.” Gobu said. “That was all I wanted.”
I looked to my friends and said, “He says that we can return to the party now, but uh,” I closed my eyes, smiled, and rubbed the back of my head, “parties aren’t really my thing so do you guys mind if I stay here?”
“Sure, but you’ll come see us before you leave right?” Sam said.
I walked over to her, grabbed both of her hands and said, “Of course.”
“Yay!!” she said ecstatically.
I chuckled and said, “I’ll see you later. Chronos, escort them out of the forest please.”
“Yes master.” Chronos bowed and walked passed my friends, towards the Nightmare Village entrance. I waved goodbye to my friends as they left behind Chronos and once they were out of sight, I dropped my hand and turned to Gobu.
“That was very, interesting Rin.” Gobu said.
“What was interesting?” I asked.
“The way you were behaving around that girl. Are you sure that you’ll be able to leave her behind?”
“Sam and I have been friends for a long time now and, as you can see, are actually starting to get serious, so it will be hard to walk away from her. But I guess that when the time comes I’ll have to do it.”
“Rin, I’m not going to force you to do this. If you don’t want to do this you don’t have to.”
“It’s okay Gobu. I told you already, to help you I’d do anything.” I said.
“I can never express to you how much I appreciate that either.” he said. “So why didn’t you go back to the party with the others?”
“Well seeing as how I’m here, I thought that we could get our training done for today.”
“That’s a very good point that you made, but seeing as how you are adjusting to King Morpheus’s power so well, I don’t think that more training will actually be necessary.”
“Seriously?” I asked, clearly shocked.
“Yes, I believe that once the time comes, you will be able to take in all of King Morpheus’s power without any, fatal, repercussions.”
“Well that’s, great.” I said. I looked up at the sky and there was a long moment of silence. “Gobu can I ask you something?” I asked, looking down to Gobu.
“What is it Rin?” he replied, he was sitting on his hind legs, looking up at me.
“Why does it never snow here in the Dream Realm? I asked Artaxerxes earlier and he didn’t give me a straight answer.”
“Well, the only ones that can manipulate the weather here in the Dream Realm are King Morpheus and Artaxerxes. So I guess with King Morpheus gone, Artaxerxes made it so that it’d never snow.” he said.
“So once I have King Morpheus’s full power I can create snow?” I asked.
“Yes, why are you asking all of this?”
“I’ve been coming here for nine years and it has never snowed here. I was just wondering why.”
“Well that’s what I know, I hope that it helped.” Gobu said.
“It did, thanks.” I said with a smile.
“I’m going to go then Gobu. I’ll see you tomorrow.” I said.
“See you tomorrow Rin.” I waved to Gobu and made my way towards the forest entrance that led from Midnight Village. I passed up Chronos near the entrance.
“Are you leaving master?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said. “I’ll return tomorrow though. I will need your help to train for the tournament.”
“As you wish master.” Chronos bowed to me and straightened back up.
“See you tomorrow Chronos.” I said, laughing awkwardly. I still wasn’t used to hearing someone call; me master.
“Until then, master.” Chronos bowed again. This time I left before he straightened back up and soon was outside of the forest and inside Midnight Village. I wasn’t sure whether or not the others had returned home or gone back to the party, so I decided to check the palace for them before I checked our home, since both were an equal distance away. With my decision made, I headed north towards the palace and arrived there in about five minutes. When I got there people were leaving the palace, signifying that the party was over. I scanned the crowd to see if my friends were among them, but they were nowhere in sight. I concluded that they had returned to our home so I turned to head in that direction, but waiting behind me was Griffin.
“Where did you go Rin?” he asked, his voice full of loathing for me.
“That’s none of your business.” I said, my eyes closed and hands in my pockets. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going home.” I walked passed him, my eyes still closed and headed in the opposite direction I had come.
“I know that you have no intention of doing as King Artaxerxes asks.” he said. I stopped in my tracks and slowly opened my eyes. I didn’t turn to face him as he continued to speak. “I know that you plan on helping those Nightmares and I know that you’re a fool for your decision. So I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure you don’t win this tournament, even if it means I have to kill my own partner to do it.”
I closed my eyes, shrugged my shoulders and said, “I don’t know why you think that Griffin but I’m glad you do; because, when we make it to the finals, and I know we will, it means that you’ll be fighting me with full strength and giving me a real challenge.” I walked away and headed towards our home.
I got there after ten minutes of walking. I opened the door and stepped inside. Shane and Anna were sitting on the couch, watching TV, and Sam was sitting on a stool at the island, doing a crossword puzzle. “Hey guys.” I said, catching their attention.
“Hey Rin.” Shane said, looking back at me and giving a slight wave.
“Hi.” Anna said.
Sam looked up from her crossword puzzle and smiled at me. I smiled back at her and sat on the stool in front of her. “Hi.” she said, looking up from her puzzle and smiling at me.
“Hi.” I said back. “What have you got there?” I gestured toward her book.
“It’s a puzzle book. I’m doing a crossword puzzle, and I could actually use your help.”
“What’s the clue? Let’s see if I know it.” I closed my eyes.
“Hmm, let me see. It’s a five letter word and the clue says that it is an alkaloid drug that is highly addictive and caused two wars between Great Britain and China during the nineteenth century. I’ve got the third letter, which is an “I,” and the fifth letter, which is an “m”.”
“That’s easy,” I said, opening my eyes again, “it’s opium.”
“Opium?” she scribbled the letters into the empty boxes. “So it is,” she exclaimed, “thank you”1 Suddenly a loud beeping came from the living room, causing Sam and I to turn our attention in that direction.
Shane clicked a button on his watch and said, “Sam, it’s time to go.”
“Is it really?” she asked.
“Yeah, we’ve got a lot to do today so we have to go.” Shane stood from the couch and stretched, groaning loudly.
Shane lowered his arms and Anna grabbed his left wrist, looking at his watch. “I should probably go too.” she said. “I’ve got some shopping to do today.”
“Well then I guess I’ll go too. No point in me being here if everyone else is gone.” I said. Shane and Anna exchanged a hug and a kiss before the two of them left, their entire existences fading from this realm completely. I turned to Sam as she stood off of her stool.
“You will be back tomorrow right?” she asked.
“I don‘t know, I was thinking about not sleeping at all tomorrow. You know, just stay awake the whole day..” I joked.
She smacked her lips and rolled her eyes. “Whatever, don’t be a smart ass.” she said in retort.
I hugged her tightly and said, “See you tomorrow Sam.”
“See you tomorrow Rin.” she said softly. The two of us stood there, hugging each other all the way until Sam left, just like Shane and Anna did, and I was left standing there hugging the air. I dropped my arms, looked up at the ceiling and sighed. I grabbed the remote off of the couch and turned off the TV. in its blank screen I could see my own face, I could how little emotion I was expressing. I closed my eyes tightly and left the Dream Realm.
I awoke in my bedroom and looked over at the clock on my nightstand, it read 22:18 p.m. I sighed and sat up in my bed, looking over to the closed laptop. “I wonder if Riley is online right now.” I pushed myself off of my bed and walked over to my desk. As I sat in my chair, I opened my laptop and turned it on, its light illuminating my dark room. I opened up the internet and went to the site. I signed into my account and checked to see if Riley was online, he was an I clicked on the link that opened our webcams. It opened up and I could see into Riley’s bedroom, he was lying on his back in his bed. I could see two red cords reaching from his pockets into his ears, he was listening to music.
“Guess I shouldn’t bother him.” I was about to close my webcam, but I saw Riley look up at his camera.
“Rin?” he said.
“Hey, sorry to bother you.” I said. “I’ll let you get back to your music if you want.”
“No it’s okay. So what’s up, isn’t it like 10 p.m. there?” he asked, taking a seat in the chair he had placed in front of his computer. He still had on of his red earphones in his left ear and was leaning back in his chair.
“Yeah, but uh, I couldn’t sleep so I needed something to keep me entertained.” I said.
Riley sighed with his eyes closed. “Do you think I’m stupid?” he asked with a melancholy voice as he slowly opened his eyes.
“Why would you ask that?” I was shocked by his question.
“This is the second time you’ve blatantly lied to me as though I wouldn’t be able to tell. So tell me Rin, do you think I’m stupid?” his stare was serious and intense.
“No Riley, I don’t.”
“Then tell me the truth. The truth about why you’re not asleep and about why you asked about that drug earlier.”
“If you really want to know it’ll take more explanation than just what you’re seeking.”
“Really? How much more?”
“Mr. Maeda told you that my parents died right?” I asked.
“Well I’m sure he didn’t give you any details about it. I know that I’ve told you about them dying in a car accident. Well the accident was actually pretty much my fault.”
“Your fault?” he asked, perplexed. “How was it your fault?”
“Well, my father was driving the car, we were all on our way to the family dojo. I was sitting in the back seat, playing with a ball, while my father drove and mother sat in the passenger’s seat.” My mind flashed back to the events of that day, I could picture everything perfectly. “My father told me multiple times to stop playing around with the ball, but I didn’t listen and continued playing with it. I tossed the ball again and it rolled away under my father’s chair. I tried looking for it but it was too far for me to reach. While I was trying to grab it, we were coming up on an intersection as the light changed.”
“My father tried stopping the car but when he did, the ball stopped the brake from going down and we slid straight into the intersection, getting hit by two cars. I was knocked out upon collision, but was slowly going in and out of consciousness as the paramedics arrived to take us to the hospital. I saw the mangled faces of my parents as they were wrapped up inside the body bags. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t speak and could barely move. I reached out for my parents as I was wheeled inside the ambulance, tears running down my face, mixing with the blood.”
“They put me under with anesthesia as they performed surgery and I remember dreaming that I had gone home with my parents. They walked me up the stairs of our home to the hallway where our rooms were. We walked together towards our rooms and I noticed a door directly ahead of us that wasn’t normally there. I tried asking my parents what it was, but they had disappeared and all the other doors disappeared. I turned to leave, but the stairs were gone as well.”
“I walked over to the door and pushed it open, not seeing anything on the other side. I stepped through the door and found myself in a forest of dead black trees. The door vanished and I was alone in the forest. I wandered around for a while until I was approached by a black fox with nine tails. The fox starred angrily at me as more creatures from around the forest suddenly surrounded me. Fear and panic filled me as I heard them hold a conversation. It wasn’t until I spoke that I had noticed that they were not speaking aloud but telepathically with each other.”
“The fox chose to spare my life when they realized that I could hear their conversation and led me to a large, broken down cathedral in the center of the forest. I walked inside and found a book sitting on a podium, the book was large and full of knowledge about both our world and the world I was inside, the Dream Realm. Since that day I’ve visited the Dream Realm every time I sleep.” I explained.
“Is all this true or are you just screwing with me?” Riley asked. He obviously didn’t know whether to believe my story or not.
“I’m being dead serious. Since that day, the fox, his name is Gobu by the way, has been my friend and guide in the Dream Realm. For ten years I’ve been entering a tournament hosted by the Dream Realm’s king, Artaxerxes, and have won nine times straight. I’m on the verge of my tenth reign as champion. I’ve got three friends in the Dream Realm, Sam and Shane Grayson, and Shane’s girlfriend Anna Montgomery. Recently I’ve been troubled by a dilemma I have been presented with by both Gobu and Artaxerxes.”
“What is it? Maybe I can help.” Riley offered.
“Well, Artaxerxes wants me to go into the forest and eliminate Gobu and all his kind in the forest, but I’m friends with Gobu and I don’t want to hurt them. I’m not sure whether I should do as Artaxerxes commands or help Gobu and betray my other friends. I owe Gobu my life and can’t even fathom betraying him. What should I do?”
“Well Rin, I say you do what you think is best. Your first decision is often the right decision.”
“I see, well thanks for the advice Riley. I really appreciate it.” I said.
“No problem.” he said, with a smile.
I chuckled and said, “That’s not all. Sit tight, I’ve got a lot more stuff to tell you about.”
For the rest of the night and over the next three days, I spent much time explaining everything about the Dream Realm to Riley. I explained everything from the Dream Realm’s history, to Gobu and the Nightmares, even about everything that I’ve done and has happened to me in the Dream Realm over the past ten years. By the time Wednesday came along and I had to leave for school, Riley was completely caught up with everything and wished me luck in my match. I grabbed a sweet bun for the walk to school, left my home, and was off.
I got to school a little earlier and greeted my friends, having not seen them in two days. Since Ryu and I had become friends, others in our classes began opening up to me more and I formed more relationships than I ever intended. I stayed awake and participated in all my class, saving up my energy before my match with Jason. It was nearing time for me to leave and enter the Dream Realm by the end of Ms. Kudara’s class. When the bell rang we all left for Mr. Maeda’s class, Ayame pulled me a side before we entered the class.
“What is it? I’ve got to go.” I said, unsure of what she wanted to talk about.
“I know. You’ve got a match today right, a semi-final match?” she asked, whispering so that no one could hear her other than the two of us.
“No reason. I just wanted to wish you luck before you had your match. I know that it’s an important one.”
“Thanks,” I said, “but it’s not like I haven’t been in this situation before.” I spoke with a sense of smug confidence.
“I know but I just thought that I’d wish you luck.”
“Well thanks, I appreciate it.” Ayame and I shared a hug and then we entered the classroom. Mr. Maeda watched us as we entered the room
“Going to sleep today Rin?” he asked me.
“Yeah, I need the sleep.” I sat in my seat.
“Well we’re not doing much today so nap well.” he said, jokingly.
“Yeah, I’ll try.” I said. The bell rang as I lied my head down on my folded arms and closed my eyes. The ever so familiar darkness surrounded me as I left this world and entered the Dream Realm. I opened my eyes and found myself in the waiting room I was always in before a match. I sat down on the bench and removed my guns from their holsters. I held them in my palms with my hands out and my palms up. My vision was focused on them as I began to channel King Morpheus’s power. After a moment, they began to slowly levitate out of my hands and float in midair. I laughed to myself as I made the guns levitate around my hands. I stopped using my new powers as I heard the large, stone doors slide and scrape against the floor. I placed my guns back into their holsters and stood to my feet as my four escorts stood outside the door. I walked out into the stadium, with them forming a box around me. They broke away and left the battlefield once I reached my position across from Jason.
The two of us looked intensely at each other as we waited for the announcer to make the introductions.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the first of two semi-final matches in this year’s REM Tournament. Introducing first, hailing from Bangkok, Thailand, he is Jason Chou!!” Jason, waved to the crowd as they erupted with cheers and chants of his name.
“And his opponent, hailing from Nagoya, Japan, he is your current and longest reigning REM Tournament champion, he is Rin Sato!!!!”
The crowd erupted with even louder cheers than normal and I could here my last name being chanted. “Let the battle begin!!!” the announcer elated. I removed my guns from theory holsters once again and waited for Jason to take out his sword. Instead” he walked over to me, like he had with Shane, and extended out his hand.
“Let’s have a good match.” he said with a confident smile on his face.
I shook his hand and said, “Yeah, let’s.” After shaking my hand, Jason began to back away with his eyes still on me. Once he was about 6 meters away, he unwrapped his sword from around his arm and whipped it at me. I deflected the attack with the chamber of my left gun and shot at him with my right gun. He whipped his sword and it deflected the bullets away from him. He extended his arm and sword towards the ground and his blade went into the ground. I waited for the moment when the blade would come bursting out of the ground from beneath me. Just moments later, a loud crash came from behind me and I whirled around as Jason’s weapon came shooting up from underground and straight in my direction. His attack missed as I dove to the left, but it still cut my right arm pretty bad, blood was rushing from it as I rose to my feet.
His attack wasn’t done; however, as his weapon twisted back and lunged at me again. This time I ducked down and shot at him with both my guns, several of my shots landing in his left leg. This forced him down to a knee and momentarily ceased his attack. I decided to seize advantage of this opportunity so I stepped down on his blade and pointed took aim for his head. Just as I began to pull the trigger, Jason whipped his sword creating a rippling wave in it that went down his sword and beneath my feet. This knocked off my balance and caused me to misfire and topple over. I did a barrel roll onto my right foot and left knee, ready to shoot him, but above me his weapon was pointed to at my head. I rolled backwards as it struck down on me and rose to my feet, shooting at him as I slowly walked backwards.
He moved his weapon so that it would wrap itself around him as a defense against my bullets. I stopped firing once I noticed that my shots weren’t going through. His weapon stayed coiled around him for a moment before it slowly fell limply to his side. I was confused as to why his weapon was just lying on the ground as it was and hesitated to shoot at him. Seconds later it all became clear as the front of his blade came shooting out of the ground in front or me, aimed straight for my heart.
I shifted my body to the right and was instead stabbed in the shoulder. A look of frustration spread across Jason’s face as he whipped his sword again. It began to dig its way out of my shoulder but I dropped my left gun and grabbed hold of it, keeping it in place.
Shock replaced the frustration upon Jason’s face. “You look confused,” I said, “so allow me to explain. After fighting you and watching your fight with Shane I have been able to find the one weakness in your attack. You sword has a weak point between the blades that can easily be damaged.” I lifted my gun up to the point I mention and shot three shots into the spot. His weapon fell apart and I pulled out the part stuck into my shoulder and threw it to the ground.
“And if it’s not completely intact the weapon won’t move on its own like normal.” I shot two shots into each of Jason’s legs and he fell to the ground. I walked over to him as he struggled to get to his knees. He looked up at me as I held my hand out to him. I shook his hand and said, “Thank you for a good match.” He smiled and closed his eyes as I put my gun up to his head and pulled the trigger, firing a single bullet into his head.
The crowd erupted into cheers as Jason’s body began to crumble away into pieces and float off. I walked over to where I dropped my gun and picked it up. “And your winner is, Rin Sato!!!!” The announcer elated over the crowd’s cheers.
I looked up to King Artaxerxes’s box and saw the excitement of my friends as they celebrated my victory. Artaxerxes as slowly clapping with an approving look on his face, Marcello was clapping, his eyes closed, and I could feel the intensity of Griffin’s glare as he looked down towards me. I looked straight at Griffin and said, “You’re next.” I turned and walked towards my waiting room, my eyes closed. I entered the room and reopened my eyes, I was in front of the cathedral with the forest.
Gobu had been lying on the grass next to the door, asleep, and Chronos was sitting on top of the cathedral. “Master!” Chronos said. He jumped off of the cathedral and landed on his feet, Gobu awoke at the sound of Chronos’s voice.
“Rin, what are you doing here?” he asked.
“I just finished my match with Jason and thought that you should know that I’m in the finals.” I said.
“That’s excellent, we’re just one step closer to accomplishing our goal.”
“Yeah, but I’m sure that whomever I end up facing is going to have some special tricks up their sleeve. So I figured that before the final match, I could come here and absorb in more of King Morpheus’s power, if that’s okay with you.”
“You have a very good point there and of course it is, better safe than sorry you know. Return here before that match and I will give you more of his power, then after you win we will complete the transfer and you will become king.” Gobu bowed to me.
I smirked and said, “I’ll also need some combat training so I will need to train with you as well Chronos.”
“As you wish master.” Chronos said, with a bow.
“Well I’ve got to go, but I’ll be back later.” I said. I closed my eyes and once again was surrounded by the darkness. I could hear the faint goodbyes of Gobu and Chronos as I departed from the Dream Realm.
I awoke from my sleep and could still hear Mr. Maeda teaching his lesson. After a few minutes, the bell rang and I sat up and stretched. The rest of the class was getting up and leaving, I exchanged goodbyes with several of them, until it was only Ayame, myself, and Mr. Maeda left in the classroom.
“Sleep well you two?” Mr. Maeda asked, while packing up to leave.,
“Yeah,” I said, “it was a much needed rest.” I looked over at Ayame. I had been unaware that she was asleep as well and wondered if she was at my match.
“That’s good I guess. I’ll see the two of you tomorrow.” Mr. Maeda said.
“Goodbye.” Ayame and I said, simultaneously as we left the classroom. We walked down the hall on our way out of the building.
“You went to sleep in class?” I asked.
“Yeah, I thought that my best way to show my support would be to be there in person, so to speak, for your match.” she answered. We walked out of the building together and stopped in front of the gate.
“Well thanks for your support.”
“You’re welcome and make sure you get something on those injuries of yours.”
“Will do.” I said. The two of us hugged, said goodbye, and went our separate ways towards our homes. I arrived home and immediately went up to my bedroom, I was slightly eager to share the news of my victory with Riley. I opened my laptop and signed into my account on the sight fairly quickly. I opened the chat with Riley but he wasn’t home so I simply messaged him.
“Hey.” I said.
After a few minutes I got a message back. “Hey, what’s up?” he had replied.
“Just wanted to let you know that I won my match today.”
“Really? Congratulations!!” he typed in all capital letters. “So you’re in the finals, again?”
“Yeah, I’m just one step away from making this ten straight tournament wins for me.”
“That’s awesome. I gotta go, at school, had some make-up work to do so I got here early.”
“Alright. I’ll talk to you later.”
“See ya.” he messaged back. I closed out the window and slumped down into my chair. My mind filled with all the things I knew that I’d have to give up come Monday if I won the tournament. I let out a sigh and walked down to my kitchen and warmed up a bowl of instant noodles, I ate them while reading a book. Once I finished with both, I said goodnight to my father and mother and got into the bed, drifting off to sleep.
The next day came quickly and seemed to mirror the day before. The only obvious differences being my interactions with people, they were kept to a minimum today. Like yesterday, I waited until I was in Mr. Maeda’s class before going to the Dream Realm. When I finally had gone, I awoke in my bedroom. I left the room and found Anna waiting in the living room, she had noticed my arrival.
“Hey.” she said.
“Hey. The others aren’t here yet?” I asked.
“No net yet, they should be here soon though.” Almost right after she said that, both Sam and Shane, one after the other, left their rooms and joined us.
“Sorry we’re late.” Shane said. “You guys ready to go?” He walked over to Anna and kissed her.
“Yeah. Are you ready?” I asked, draping my left arm over Sam’s shoulders.
“Yep.” she said, as ecstatic as ever. Her excitement brought a smile to my face and the four of us left for the stadium. We arrived at the stadium before long and received our tickets from Andre. As usual, we went up to King Artaxerxes’s box, it seemed like a much less intimidating place with the absence of Griffin and Marcello.
“Hello you four.” Artaxerxes said as we entered the box, he didn’t look back as he spoke.
“Hello my king.” I said. I could tell by their silence, that even with the absence of his guards, Artaxerxes still held and intimidating presence over the others. We all sat in our seats that were there for us.
“Congratulations on making it to the finals Rin. That was an excellent deduction you made about Jason’s weapon, I’d have never thought of that myself.
“Thank you my king and I’m sure had you been in combat with him, you’d have figured it out as well.”
Artaxerxes chuckled. “I’m not so sure about that, but who knows, you may be right. Now let’s all just sit here and enjoy the battle.” Just as Artaxerxes finished speaking, the announcer stepped into position to give the introductions and the combatants entered the battlefield.
“Ladies and gentlemen!! Welcome to our second semi-final bout in the REM Tournament! Introducing first, he is a member of King Artaxerxes’s personal guard, he is Marcello Anthony!!” Marcello bowed at the vivacious ovation of the crowd roared throughout the arena.
“And his opponent, also a member of King Artaxerxes’s personal guard, he is Griffin King!!” Griffin stood with his eyes closed, ignoring the crowds cheers. “Let the battle begin!!” Within seconds of, or possibly before, the announcer finishing his statement, Griffin and Marcello had met each other, dead center of the battlefield, clashing their weapons. Their clash caused a massive shockwave to flow throughout the stadium, an example of the strength they both posses. They knocked each other away, landing on their feet back in their starting positions. Griffin held his yanmaodao with a reverse grip and Marcello stood with his rapier out, pointed at Griffin. Griffin used his immense speed to get in front how Marcello and began swinging away at him, displaying the strength advantage he possessed. However, Marcello was still able to block all of Griffin’s attacks, though he was being pushed back. Griffin went for another attack, but Marcello ducked and slashed Griffin diagonally across the chest. Griffin moved away from Marcello, and Marcello simply stood ready for Griffin’s next attack. Griffin attack again, using his speed and power to his advantage. This time, his attacks seemed more precise and controlled than before, causing Marcello much difficulty in handling him this time around.
Marcello couldn’t match Griffin’s strength well enough to continue blocking his attacks, so he decided to resort to trying to escape Griffin’s wrath by moving around the arena. He would dodge one attack and jumped somewhere else, block an attack and move once again. Marcello possibly found an opening after one attack. He blocked the attack and instead of retreating like before, he counterattack with a flurry of his own, rapidly stabbing at Griffin with his rapier. Griffin deflected one of the sharp thrusts and slashed down at Marcello. Marcello parried the attack and knocked Griffin’s yanmaodao out of his hand, it flew across the battlefield and landed point down in the ground. Marcello went for a sharp stab through Griffin’s heart, but Griffin moved his left hand in the path of his weapon and Marcello’s attack suddenly stopped.
A look of shock set upon Marcello’s face as his attack was, as it seemed, forcibly stopped by Griffin, but no contact was made whatsoever. Griffin thrusted his right hand into the throat of Marcello and he slammed him hard down into the ground. He picked up Marcello’s rapier and used it to stab Griffin in the right side of his chest. He pushed down again, possibly to stab it through the ground, causing Marcello to let out a loud, agonizing scream of unfiltered anguish. Griffin walked over to the other end of the battlefield, towards his sword, as Marcello tried, frantically, to remove his own weapon from his chest and the ground. A light, metallic ring echoed throughout the stadium as Griffin withdrew his sword from the ground. The frantic panic within Marcello intensified as Griffin slowly sauntered over towards his partner, dragging his sword against the ground as he walked. Marcello’s efforts at escaped had stopped by the time Griffin reached him, all his panic and fear replaced by a calm sense of understanding, that he had lost this fight. He looked peaceful as Griffin stabbed his sword through Marcello’s forehead and slowly dragged it down his body, slicing him open as he did. After he finished he pointed his blood soaked blade straight at me, and Marcello’s body broke away into dust that collected on the ground where he had lied.
“Rin Sato!!” Griffin shouted. “You’re next!!” He glared up at me as we swung his sword down, splattering the blood off of it and onto the ground. He sheathed his sword and walked back towards the room he had been waiting in. After the doors closed behind him there was an empty, awkward silence all throughout he stadium, a silenced caused by fear.
“And the winner is… Griffin King…” the announcer said, his voice was low and shaky from what we all just witnessed. Griffin hadn’t just defeated his opponent, he slowly tortured him, and this wasn’t just any opponent it was his partner whom he had served with since the Dream Realm was formed. I knew that without a doubt that wasn’t Griffin’s best, if anything I’d say for him… it was mediocre.
“Well that was unexpected.” Artaxerxes said. “I would have never seen that coming, Griffin has always been good friends with Marcello.”
“That didn’t have anything to do with Marcello.” I said.
“What do you mean?”
“He did that to send a message. A message to me saying that he won’t go easy on me, not by a long shot. He’s saying that he’s bringing everything he’s got and he thinks that I should too.”
“Will you Rin? Will you bring your best to this fight? Will you be the one to push Griffin, one of my best guards, to his breaking point and defeat him, causing him the humiliation of defeat for the first time in his life? Like he did to Marcello?”
Without a word I stood from my seat and left the box. There was nothing but low murmurs as the audience spilled out of the stadium. My friends followed behind me, having to push passed people to catch up.
“Rin!! Wait up!” I heard Shane shout from behind me.
I stopped walking and looked up at the sky, my friends’ rushed footsteps grew quiet as they approached me. “Why does it never snow?” I asked aloud, not to anyone specific.
“What?” Shane asked, confused.
“Why does it never snow? Here in the Dream Realm, it’s never once snowed in all my years coming here, I’ve just been recently wondering why.”
“Uh, I don’t know, but what was that back there? Why did you just storm off?”
I turned and looked at them, a gentle smile upon my face. “Oh that?” I asked innocently. “That was nothing, I just need to go that’s all.”
“Okay,” Shane said, “if you say so.” I could tell that he didn’t believe me, but he knew better than to try to push the subject. “Yeah, but before I go I wanted to ask you something Sam.”
Her eyes widened with surprise. “Ask me something?” she said, taken aback.
“Yeah, I was wondering if Sunday before the match on Monday, if you wanted to go out and get something to eat with me.” I said.
“What?!” she was completely shocked by this. “You’re asking me out on a… a… date?” Her face turned a distractingly bright red as she flushed with embarrassment.
“Of course. Why do you not want to go on a date with me?” I teased.
“No, of course I do!! It’s just that.” she barely squeaked the last part, looking down at her feet.
I laughed softly a put my hand on top of her head. “I’ll take that as a yes.” I’ll see you then.”
Sam’s head jolted up looking at me. “You’re not coming back until then?” she asked.
“Well I’ll be in the Dream Realm, but Chronos and I have some training to do before Monday so I’m going to be in the forest a lot.”
“Oh.” she said.
“Yeah, so I’ll see you guys Sunday, I guess.” I said. I began walking away.
“You’re not going home?” Anna asked.
“Huh? No I’ve just got to stop by the cathedral and speak with Gobu first, then I’ll be heading home. Bye.” I walked off towards the forest, hearing the now distant voices of my friends as they said goodbye. I entered the forest and walked to the cathedral, being watched by the Nightmares as I walked. I reached the cathedral and Gobu was sitting on his hind legs watching as Chronos battled with another Nightmare. I stood amongst the trees in front of the cathedral and watched as well.
The Nightmare Chronos was fighting walked on all fours and greatly resembled a large, saber-toothed tiger. It’s fur was black with red stripes and it had a long horn protruding from its head. Chronos noticed my presence as the beast charged at him with his horns.
“Master.” Chronos said. He was looking at me as the beast prepared to impale him with its horn. Chronos jumped over it and landed on its back. He jumped into the air and did a corkscrew dive down onto the Nightmare’s back with his elbow, seriously injuring the Nightmare. It lied on the ground defeated while Chronos stood on its back.
“I win.” Chronos said.
“Congratulations, just what I’d expect from you.” I said, clapping softly.
“Thank you master, I live to please you.” Chronos bowed to me and dropped down from atop the Nightmare’s back. Gobu stood from his hind legs and slowly walked over to us.
“Hello Rin.” he said.
“Hello Gobu. I know who my opponent for the finals will be.” I said. I put my left hand in my pocket and let my right hand drop at my side.
“It’s Griffin isn’t it?” he asked.
“Yes it is. How did you know?” I was a little disappointed because I wanted to be the one to say it.
“Well for as long as I’ve known the two of them, Griffin has always been stronger then Marcello; and due to his respect for his partner, Marcello would never even attempt to fight Griffin so he wouldn’t try his hardest to be victorious.”
“I see. Well nonetheless, that doesn’t make anything easier for me. Griffin’s not going to let up against me, he’s going to push me to my limit and I’m going to need your help to ensure that I don’t lose.” I said. “I’ll need help from both of you.”
“Yes master.” Chronos said.
“Don’t worry Rin, I will always be of assistance to you.” Gobu said.
“Thank you, both of you. I’ll be returning over the next few days for training with the two of you, so goodbye.” I said. I closed my eyes and was encompassed by the darkness. I awoke at my desk in Mr. Maeda’s room, class and school were over and everyone was gone except for myself and Mr. Maeda.
I sat up in my desk and stretched. “You’re finally awake.” Mr. Maeda said. “You were really asleep, what’s got you so tired?”
I yawned and said, “I’m not sure, guess I was just more tired than expected.” I stood from my seat with my bag in hand. “I’m going home now. See you tomorrow Mr. Maeda.” I began walking out of the door, Mr. Maeda followed behind me.
“Goodbye Rin.” he said as he stopped to lock the door. I left the building and walked home.
Over the next few days I took things pretty much easy. I only visited the Dream Realm at night, training in the forest with Chronos so that my strength and speed would be at par with, but hopefully better than, Griffin’s. During the day I spent school wide awake, but still not participating in class instead I read a different book everyday. Everyday I spoke with Riley after school, before he left for school, we discussed the things I’ve told him about the Dream Realm. Eventually school was over for the week and it was beginning to hit me that after today, my whole world would be turned upside down. Everything I’ve worked towards these past few weeks, making friends, telling Riley about the Dream Realm, becoming closer to Sam all of it would be tossed away the moment I won the tournament, if I win.
My Sunday morning began with a shock as I heard a sudden ring of my doorbell after leaving my shower. I quickly threw on a pair of black jeans and went to answer it as I dried my hair. I opened the door and there was a man, he looked Russian, he was holding a package out if front of him, but wasn’t dressed like a typical courier.
“I have a package for a Mr. Rin Sato.” he said, his voice was harsh and coarse with his thick Russian accent. “It is from Mr. Voleikov. He sends his regards and condolences.” The man handed me the package and walked away towards a black van parked in front of my home. The van pulled off after he closed the door. I closed my own door and looked at the box.
“So this is it.” I thought to myself. “This is what’s going to change everything.” I closed the door and locked it behind me. I sat the package on the floor beside the door and went into my kitchen. I grabbed what I needed from my refrigerator and the cupboards. I began mixing together the necessary ingredients before cooking them in a makiyakinabe, a rectangular omelet pan. I ultimately made five tamagoyaki, rolled omelet, and took it with me to my bedroom.
I ended up spending much of the day after that lying in my bed, still thinking over everything that has and will transpire. Most of all I thought of my parents, I wondered whether they would be proud of the decisions I’ve made, of all I’ve done. While in mid-thought, a loud beeping began to go off beside me, it was my clock and it read 20:25, the time I had set my alarm to. I turned off the alarm and lied back in my bed, closing my eyes and drifting off to sleep. I awoke after wading through the darkness, finding myself alone in my bedroom. I stood to my feet and opened the door to leave the room. I walked down the hall to the kitchen by the door, Sam was sitting in the living room alone, waiting for me. Her face brightened with happiness upon seeing me.
“Rin!!” she exclaimed.
“Hey.” I said. “You ready to go?” I asked, walking over to her.
“Yeah!” she said. I held my hand out to her and helped her up off of the chair gracefully. While still holding her hand, I led her out of the house. I locked the door before we left to Dawn Village. Dawn Village was known as the shopping centre of the Dream Realm. It was the location of all the Dream Realm’s major shops and restaurants, if you wanted a job here this is the village you went to. Most of Dawn Village’s restaurants were high class, expensive restaurants that were difficult to get into yet still relatively empty on the inside. I decided to take Sam to my favorite restaurant here, this is where I ate during my months away from home.
“Here we are.” I said as we approached the restaurant.
“The Poppy Seed?” she said, reading the big red-orange letters that sat on top of the restaurant. “I heard this place is really expensive, are you sure you want to eat here?”
“Of course I do. I eat here all the time. The thing I like most about this place is that it serves food from a variety of cultures so no matter what they‘ll more than likely have what you want.” I said.
“That’s cool.” Sam said.
“The owner and I are friends I guess. I’m not entirely sure.”
“How are you not sure?” she asked. Sam looked at me unsure if I was being serious.
“Yeah, it wasn’t until recently that I was able to actually realize what it means to have friends you know. So I’ve had to look over each of the relationships I’ve made to figure out what everyone means to me.”
“Oh, well what do I mean to you?” she asked. Her adorable, innocent face was too much for me to handle and I could feel the heat rush to my face as I began to blush.
“Uh well, I think we should go inside and find a seat.” I said, pushing the door open and walking inside.
Upon entering we were greeted by the maitre d‘hôtel. “Hello, welcome to The Poppy Seed. Will it be just the two you dining with us today?” she asked. As many times as I’ve visited this restaurant I have never once seen this woman, meaning she was recently hired. Her seemingly upbeat attitude was a good fit for this job.
“Yes, just the two of us.” I said. Christi, the name I read off of the maitre d’hôtel’s nametag, led us to an empty table seated for two near the center of the restaurant. It was nearly quiet throughout the entire restaurant, the only sounds coming from the clinking of silverware, the soft violinist playing in the platform, and the low murmurs of conversation from the five other tables of people. I pulled Sam’s chair out for her and she sat down.
“Thank you.” she said as she scooted her chair closer to the table.
“You’re welcome.” I said, sitting in the chair across the table from her’s.
“Hi, I’m Clara and I’ll be your waitress this evening. May I start you two off with some drink choices?” asked a waitress that had arrived at the table not long after we did.
“I’ll just have a water.” I said, as politely as I could.
“May I have a raspberry iced tea?” Sam asked.
“Alright, that’s one water and one raspberry iced tea. I’ll be right back with your drinks.” Clara left the table with our drink orders and I sat down my menu, not even looking at it.
“You aren’t going to look at the menu?” Sam asked, looking up from her own.
“No. Like I said, I’ve been here before. I already know what I want so there’s no need.” I said nonchalantly.
“Oh! So what are you getting?”
“I’m getting the hiyashi chuka. They’re boiled and chilled Chukamen noodles topped with a variety of different colors of ingredients. The one’s they serve here come with a sesame flavor dressing and two skinless chicken breasts.”
“Sounds yummy!” Sam said with a big smile.
I grinned and said, “It is.”
“That’s cool. I think I’m just going to get a salad, probably a chicken ceaser one.”
“That’s sounds good, but you know that you don’t have to settle with that. We do have enough money to have anything you want.” I said, trying to be cool.
“Yeah I know, but that’s all I want.”
“If you say so.”
The waitress, Clara, returned with our drinks and sat them on the table in front of us. “Here are your drinks.” She took out her notepad and a pen. “So are you guys ready to order?”
“Yeah, I’ll have the hiyashi chuka.” I said, handing her my menu.
“Okay. What about you?” She wrote down my order.
“I’ll have the chicken ceaser salad.” Sam said, handing Clara her recipe as well.
Clara wrote down Sam’s recipe. “What kind of dressing would you like?”
“All right, I’ll be back with your order.” Clara finished writing down the order and left towards the back with the menus in hand. I looked at Sam and she smiled at me. I smiled back and the night just kept getting better from there.
It wasn’t before long that Clara had returned with Sam’s salad and some dinner rolls, Sam insisted on waiting for me to get my food and did just that. After my food arrived, the two of us began to eat, and chat even more than before, I felt that our personalities were just completely in sync with each other. After we were done eating, Clara came back and asked if we would like dessert. Sam, heeding my advice from earlier, decided to order a slice of the restaurant’s best apple pie with a scoop of ice cream to go.
She squealed with excitement when it arrive. “I can’t wait to eat this!” she exclaimed happily.
“Why are you guys leaving so soon?” Clara asked. She set the check down on the table.
“I’m in the REM Tournament finals so Sam feels that we should leave so that I can get enough time to prepare before then.” I said. I looked at the check and grabbed a small bag of gold out of my pocket then sat it on the table.
“You’re in the REM Tournament?!” Clara was clearly shocked by this.
“You didn’t know? Rin’s been the tournament’s champion for nine years, and tomorrow he’s going to made it a full decade.”
“Well I’ve only been coming here for a month so I’m not caught up with all the happenings that go on around here.” Clara said.
“I see. I’d guess it also has something to do with the area you live and work in.” I said.
“I’ve noticed in the past that the tournament usually draws business away from this village due to the high ticket prices so DawnVillage doesn’t really pat much attention to the tournament. Unless they can make a profit off of it.” I stood up from my chair. “It was nice meeting you Clara, your service was excellent.” I said, half-bowing to her.
“Thank you. It was nice meeting you too and good luck tomorrow.” Clara said, bowing back to me. I looked at her suspiciously, confused as to why she bowed.
“Goodbye.” Sam said as she and I left the restaurant, her pie in her hands. We walked for a while in a sort of awkward silence nearing the border between Dawn and Midnight Village. “Well that was nice.” Sam said, breaking the silence.
“Yeah it was. I enjoyed it.” I smiled at her, causing Sam to blush.
“So about what you said earlier.”
“What I said earlier?” We had talked so much throughout the night that I wasn’t sure what she had been referring to.
“Yeah, about how you’re trying to figure out what people mean to me. I asked you what I meant and you never answered.”
“Oh, that. Well to be honest, I’ve always been aware of your feelings for me and at first I thought it to be sweet and sort of weird. But as I got older my feelings changed and I began to see it as a nuisance but due to our situation I didn’t want to say anything because I knew that it would be disadvantageous to all those involved. But now…” I stopped explaining and looked up at the sky, it was still its usually pale gray color.
“But now?” Sam asked, insisting that I finish explaining.
“But now I feel entirely different.” I stopped walking and looked from the sky to Sam’s face. “Now I think that I feel the same way about you that you feel about me.”
Sam’s face lit up with glee as she looked back at me, the two of us looking into each others’ eyes. “Really?”
I gracefully grabbed the bottom of Sam’s chin with my hand and kissed her lips just as gently. “Really.” I said after the kiss was over. Sam could no longer contain her joy and quickly grabbed hold of me in a tight hug and hugged her back. “I’ve got to go, but I’ll see you tomorrow after my match.” I whispered into her ear.
“Okay.” Sam said. She looked up and me and I down at her we kissed once more and before we broke away from each other I began to be engulfed by the darkness as I departed the Dream Realm.
I reopened my eyes and found myself awake, lying on my bed like I had been when I went to sleep. I sat up in my bed and yawned loudly. After taking a moment for my eyes to adjust to the darkness around me, I got off of my bed and walked over towards my door. I flicked up a light switch next to my doorframe, turning on the light in my room. I walked over to my closet and pulled out a suitcase, carrying it downstairs and sitting by the box of Thiopental. I left out and went back to my parents’ room. I looked at their pictures for a moment before picking them up off of their shrine. I carried them back downstairs with me and sat them on the nightstand in front of the phone.
I opened my suitcase and placed a couple of syringes of the Thiopental inside of it and sat my parents’ pictures on top of that. I zipped my suitcase back up and picked it up off of the floor. I carried it out of my house, locking the door behind me. I stooped just before leaving out of the gate in front of it and looked back at my home. After a moment, I began to walk away from my home. I walked for more than an hour as I made my way to my destination. Finally I had arrived there, the Sato Dojo, my father’s very first dojo. He had left it as well as the rights to the entire franchise he had founded all over Japan. This particular dojo had been closed down and preserved as a landmark.
I unlocked the gate and entered the dojo, stopping in the doorway before I entered. I looked around at the familiar place that I hadn’t visited in so long. I could see the figures of myself, training with my father at the young age I had been before his death. I could also see myself, studying with my mother on nights when my father’s work kept him here late. I entered the building, closing the door behind me, and entered my father’s office. I saw the bed they had set up for me when I fell asleep after long nights of training and studying. I sat my suitcase down beside the bed and sat down on top of the bed. I took my parents’ pictures out of my suitcase and placed them on the desk my mother and I worked at. I took out one of the syringes and stuck it into myself, injecting the Thiopental into my bloodstream.
“Goodnight Mother. Goodnight Father.” I said, looking at my parents’ pictures. I took the syringe out of my arm and lied back in the bed. I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.
I awoke and found myself standing in the middle of the Forest of Nightmares, not far from the cathedral. I began walking in the direction of the cathedral and soon found myself in front of it. Chronos was sitting on top of the cathedral, looking up at the sky and Gobu was nowhere in sight.
“Chronos!” I called out to him.
He looked down at me and dropped from the top of the cathedral, landing on his feet. “Hello master. How may I assist you?” he asked, bowing to me.
“Have you seen Gobu around?” I asked him.
“Not recently.” Chronos straightened up.
“I see. Well there is something I actually need from you.” Before I could continue, a dark shadow came darting from the forest and stopped in between Chronos and I. The shadow took the shape of Gobu. “Oh, there you are.” I said.
“Hello Rin.” Gobu said. “I thought that I sensed your presence. What are you doing here?”
“I came to train with Chronos for a while before my match.”
“Your match isn’t for another twelve hours. Why so early?”
“Well the more training I can get in the better.” I shrugged.
“I suppose.” Gobu said.
“Mind sticking around for a bit and watching. I could use someone here to watch and give me feedback.”
“As you wish my king.” Gobu bowed to me.
I took out my guns and looked to Chronos. “Don’t hold anything back.” I said, readying myself.
Chronos summoned a black sword in his right hand. “As you wish master.” Gobu moved out of the way just as Chronos and I clashed with each other. Chronos and I fought several times throughout the twelve hour period before my match with Griffin. We were still fighting and Gobu had been keeping score of our victories, we were currently tied with five victories each.
I was starting to tire from all the battling, standing across from Chronos, holding my guns firmly in my hands. Chronos stood near the cathedral doors, he was now holding a black and silver shield in his left hand along with his sword in his right. I ran over to Chronos and jumped into the air as I fell towards the ground, Chronos lifted up his shield to block my attack, but instead of attacking I landed on his shield. I flipped off of his shield and quickly landed on the ground. I swept Chronos’s legs from under him and he fell onto his back. I kicked his sword away from him and stepped on his chest with my guns pointed at him.
“I win.” I said. I stepped off of Chronos’s chest and helped him to his feet.
“Congratulations master. You have bested me once again.” Chronos said, bowing to me.
“Yes, congratulations Rin, defeating a Nightmare isn’t easy. Especially defeating one four times.” Gobu said.
“Yeah no kidding. I feel like I’m about to pass out any second.” I was clearly exhausted and beaten up from the training.
“Let me take care of that.” Gobu’s tails all pointed at me and I could feel him transfer a small part of King Morpheus’s power into me. As he did, my exhaustion was going away and the sore parts of my body began to feel better. “How do you feel now?”
“Better. Thanks Gobu.” I said.
“Anything to help you Rin. I’m sure that you wouldn’t have lasted long against Griffin with as exhausted as you were.”
I chuckled and said, “No kidding.”
“Good luck against him Rin.” Gobu said, looking up at me.
“Good luck master.” Chronos said to me.
“Thank you, both of you. I’ll be back soon.” I said.
“We’ll be here.” Gobu said. I nodded to him and began to walk towards the Midnight Village entrance. I stopped at the edge of the forest, closed my eyes, and sighed, continuing my walk towards the stadium. Even before leaving the forest I knew that the crowd for this fight would be massive, but I was still taken aback by the sight before me as upon my arrival. Hoards and hoards of people were pouring into the stadium one by one. Shops were closed and houses empty, it seemed as though everyone was eager to see if the newest challenger to my title would win or if I would make this my tenth straight year of dominance in the REM Tournament.
I entered into the stadium through the back entrance, directly into my waiting room. I looked at myself in the mirror after entering. My skin had begun to become paler from my taking in of King Morpheus’s power. My normally acid green eyes had taken on a darker shade than normal, becoming nearly black.
My focus was fixed on the more villainous version of myself in the mirror before me. My concentration was broken only by the sound of my escorts’ arrival. I walked out of the room and onto the battlefield. They escorted me all the way to my normal position across from my opponent, Griffin.
Griffin and I exchanged hate filled glares as we both stood in our positions. “Ladies and gentlemen…” the announcer began.
“Quiet!” Griffin interrupted. “They know who we are so there’s no need for introductions. Besides, I don’t want to wait any longer and neither does Rin, so let’s get this started.” He spoke loud enough for the whole stadium to hear.
Griffin reached behind his back and grabbed the hilt of his blade. Using his lightning fast speed, he moved behind me and swung his blade down on me. I moved around behind him and kicked him in his back. He fell forward and rolled over onto one knee. He looked up at me, glaring intensely.
“You seriously thought that trick was going to work on me?” I said. “You may be fast, but not faster than me.”
“We’ll see about that.” he said. Griffin launched himself upwards at me, slashing away as I ducked and dodged each strike. He tried swinging for my neck, but I blocked with the chamber of my left gun. I jabbed him in the throat and swept his legs. While he was still in mid-air, I kicked him in the ribs. I held my left gun pointed at him and grabbed hold of my right gun.
Griffin rose to his feet and, with much fury in his voice, said, “I know that you’re just playing around with me.”
“Am I?” I asked innocently.
“Don’t play dumb with me. You haven’t even fired a single bullet and it’s pissing me off.” An evil smirk spread across his face. “But I’m going to make you take me seriously.” He switched the grip on his sword to a reverse grip. He fiercely slashed at the air between us and nothing happened.
I laughed. “What was that?” I scoffed.
“You’ll see.” he said devilishly. Suddenly the wind around me intensified and I was blasted backwards, hard onto my back. It took me a moment to recover and as I tried getting up, Griffin came falling down towards me with his blade pointed straight at me. I rolled over out of the way and slid onto a knee.
“What the hell is going on? What was that just now?” I thought to myself. My mind flashed back to that moment during Griffin and Marcello’s fight.
“Confused?” Griffin asked rhetorically.
“Yeah, just a bit.” I answered, rising to my feet.
“There is a reason that we are Artaxerxes’s personal guard. We have our own abilities, I manipulate wind and Marcello can, well could, manipulate the emotions of those around him.”
“So that’s what happened when you fought Marcello, you began using your powers.”
“That’s right. At first we weren’t allowed to use them except against each other, but I go permission for this fight to really test you to make sure that you’re up to the job.”
“I see.” I took my right gun out if its holster and picked up my left gun, which fell out of my hand when I was knocked back. “Then I guess that it’s time I get serious.”
“Bring it, champ.” The sarcasm on the word ‘champ’ was obvious. Griffin swung his sword three time, diagonally, horizontally and diagonally again. I raised up my arms to shield my face and chest. Griffin’s attack hit its target and as wind met flesh I could feel its stinging assault as the wind slashed away at my arms. Blood dripped down from my arms as I lowered them from in front of me to my sides. I maintained my grip on my pistols and closed my eyes.
“Accepting defeat? That’s good this way I don’t have to continue using my powers. Just one more shot will do.” Griffin slashed at me once again, sending another sharp gust of wind at me. Time seemingly slowed down around me as I rose my arm up, pistol pointed. I opened my eyes, shooting him an intense glare, and pulled the trigger. A single bullet shot out of my gun and straight at Griffin.
“That’s not going to work. My wind will knock the bullet away.” Griffin said smugly. The bullet tore straight through Griffin’s attack, dispersing the wind. Griffin stopped the bullet with a sphere of wind and dropped it in his hand.
“So you changed your bullets.” he said, examining the one in his hand. “You gave them a pointed tip so that they would cut through the wind. Very impressive, but not enough to defeat me.” Griffin dropped the bullet and fired it at me using a small but powerful gust of wind. I shot another bullet that collided with Griffin’s. Griffin swept his left hand to the side, sending me flying against the wall. Griffin rose his arm into the air the air and moved it to the right, causing a burst of wind to launch me into the air and another knocked me to the ground. As I tried standing to my feet I could feel a massive amount of wind pushing down on me. Every inch of my body shouted at me in agonizing pain and blood flowed from my head and down my face.
I forced myself to my feet and Griffin let up with the air pushing down on me. He shifted it to push against me, trying to force me backwards. It was taking all the strength I had to keep myself in place, resisting the wind. I could see the frustration building on Griffin’s face. He once again shifted the direction of the wind, pushing it towards himself and causing me to go flying forward. I landed hard on my stomach in front of Griffin.
“Don’t you get it Rin? A pathetic little piece of shit like you could never defeat me.” Griffin spoke low enough that only I could hear him. He kicked me over onto my back. “Now die.” Griffin rose his sword into the air and brought it down on me and I moved, causing him to stab the ground instead. I shot him three times in his left leg and spun myself around onto a knee, tripping him in the process.
Flat on his back, Griffin shifted the wind towards me, knocking me backwards into the air. I landed on my feet at the top of the wall that separates the audience from the battlefield, in a crouch position. Griffin, once again on his feet, shout out an X-shaped gust of wind at me. I shot twice at him, destroying his attack and hitting him in the chest and shoulder. I jumped off of the wall and landed with my feet planted in Griffin’s chest. I kicked off, knocking him to the ground and landing away from him.
Griffin rose to his feet, more frustrated that ever before. “I am sick and tired of you!” he shouted angrily. “I’m sick of you thinking that you’re better than me, sick of theses games you keep playing, but most of all!! I’m sick of that expressionless look on your face like I’m boring you!!” Four small tornados appeared around Griffin. He glared fiercely at me as I kept my calm expressionless look. “Die!!!!” he shouted once more. The anger and hate filled glare turned into a crazed look as the four tornados converged in front of him, forming a massive tornado.
I struggled to keep myself from being sucked into the tornado. I rose my arm up and pointed it straight at the tornado as I slid closer and closer to it. I pulled the trigger, firing a single bullet into the tornado. I knew my bullet had hit its mark once the tornado dispersed and I saw Griffin’s body falling backwards, a bullet hold in his head and his eyes rolled back.
My breathing was deep and heavy as I forced myself to stay to my feet. I put my guns back into their holsters, moving gingerly due to my injuries. The blood was still dripping from my arms and down my face, the blood from my head had caused my hair to become dirty and matted.
“And the winner is Riiiin Satooooo!!!!” the announcer elated. The crowd erupted into earsplitting cheers that could be heard throughout the Dream Realm. The crowd’s cheers soon became hushed as Artaxerxes stood to speak.
“Congratulations Rin on your tenth and most impressive REM Tournament championship victory.” another small burst of cheers came from the audience. “You have truly proven to us all and especially me that you are the Dream Realm’s greatest warrior. Now it is time for you to commit the ultimate action to ever be done by any who have visited this realm.” Artaxerxes took a short pause before speaking again.
“Rin here has agreed to enter the Forest of Nightmares, slay that demons within it, and destroy the monstrosity that is creating them. Now, join me in applauding the Savior of the Dream Realm.” Applause and cheers came from all corners of the stadium. As I looked inside of Artaxerxes’s box, I could see looks of shock and dismay on both Sam and Shane’s faces. As the audience continued to cheer my soon to be actions, I left the stadium and headed towards the Midnight Village entrance into the forest.
I was nearing the forest entrance when I noticed Sam and Shane following behind me. “Rin!!” Shane shouted as the two of them rushed after me. I stopped and let them catch up. “So is it true?” he asked.
“Is what true?” I asked back.
“What King Artaxerxes said. Are you really going to kill off all the Nightmares?”
“Of course not. I would never betray them like that.”
“Then what are you going to do?”
“Gobu and I have talked and we think that it would be best if t=he transferred all of his powers into me and I become the Nightmares’ king.” I explained.
“That’s right. Once that happens I won’t ever be able to leave the forest and you all won’t ever be able to enter it.”
“So what you’re saying is?”
“That we’ll never be able to see you again.” Sam interjected. She was looking down at the ground solemnly.
“Yes, but Sam I,” I held out my hand to her, “I want you to walk with me the rest of the way to the forest.
Sam looked up at me, tears forming in her eyes. She wiped away the tears and said, “Okay.” I took her hand and looked to Shane.
“Goodbye Shane.” I said.
“Goodbye Rin.” he said back. “You were a pretty good friend.”
“Thank you. There’s a secret door under my bed in my room. That’s where I stored all the extra money from the tournaments. It should be enough to suffice but just in case you may want to get a job.”
Shane chuckled and said, “Right.”
“You ready?” I asked Sam.
“Yeah.” she said. We walked hand in hand and in silence all the way to the forest entrance. We stopped just before entering the forest.
“Well this is it.” I said, looking into the forest. I looked to Sam and tears were running down her face and she was holding back sobs. I brushed the hair out of her face and lifted up her head so that we were looking at each other. “Don’t cry.” I said.
“But this may be the last time we’ll ever see each other.” she said quietly.
“That may be for the best. I mean look at me, just the little bit of power I have has already drastically altered my appearance. Who knows what I’ll be like after I have all of it.” I looked away from her.
“No matter what you become, I will always love you.” she said.
I looked back at her and into her eyes. “And I’ll always love you.” The two of shared one, final, long and deep kiss before I left her and departed into the forest.
As I walked deeper and deeper into the forest, I could hear the sounds of and feel the stares coming from the Nightmares around me. I finally arrived at the cathedral and I found Gobu and Chronos waiting for me.
Congratulations Rin. I am very proud of you.” Gobu said.
“Congratulations master.” Chronos said.
“Thank you, both of you. It wasn’t easy at all.” I said.
“I can see that and we could see that tornado attack from here. Griffin wasn’t playing around.”
“Not at all.” Gobu and I shared a laugh.
“There was a brief moment of silence. “Are you ready Rin?”
“Very well then. In order to do this I will need to completely merge our two beings. This will create a permanent link between you and the Dream Realm, meaning you will never be able to leave. Are you absolutely sure that you want to do this?”
“I am Gobu.”
“As you wish my king.” Gobu stood in a readied position. “Prepare yourself Rin, you may feel a slight discomfort.” Gobu took off at a sprint in my direction and pounced at me. He dispersed into shadows that absorbed into my body. I was immediately engulfed by shadows. I let out a loud agonizing scream and my insides felt like they were on fire. I fell to my knees, clutching my chest in pain. The pain suddenly subsided and my breathing returned to normal. The dark shadowy energy burst from my body and draped itself over me, covering my body in light, black and white armor. I stood to my feet and could feel the similar sensation I felt after my training with Gobu, a combination of a chill up my spine and electricity running throughout my entire body except this time it was much stronger.
“How do you feel master?” Chronos asked.
“Powerful.” I simply said. “So powerful that I want to test these new powers. There’s a pool of water near the Twilight Village entrance.” I placed my hand on the ground and used my new power to fashion a bowl. “Go fill this bowl with water from that pool please.” I said, handing the bowl to Chronos.
“Yes master.” Chronos said, bowing to me. Chronos took the bowl and headed off for his destination. I looked around, studying te terrain. I walked over to a nearby tree and sliced clean through the base of the trunk with my hand. I shook the leaves off of the tree and sat it down in front of the cathedral. I blew at the fallen leaves and they soon became little, black butterflies that flew away. I pointed my hand at the ground, next to the tree, and the earth began to shake. As I rose my hand into the air, a long piece of onyx rose from the ground. Chronos returned, the bowl filled with clear blue water.
“Place it between the tree and onyx.” I said. Chronos did as commanded and returned to my side.
“What are you going to do with these and what were those butterflies I saw on my way back?” Chronos asked.
“Those butterflies will act as my eyes and ears outside of this forest, and as for these. Just watch.” I created a small ball of fire in my right hand and shoved it straight into the piece of onyx. I retracted my hand, leaving the fireball inside, and cracks began to form that were emitting heat. I then shot a volt of electricity from my body into the bowl of water, causing bubbles to form. I placed my hand on top of the tree, bringing a healthy brown color into it. I stepped back and watched.
Pieces of onyx began to break off and fall to the ground until finally the onyx piece exploded, leaving only the form of a man made of onyx. The bubbling water in the bowl flowed into the air and began to take shape and solidify into ice, the ice was in the shape of a woman. The tree began to shape itself and was being wrapped around by vines that had mixed in with it, taking the shape of a young man.
I help my hand out towards all three of them and one by one they each opened their eyes. “Chronos,” I said, “I would like to introduce you to Blaze, Aqua, and Terra. Your two brothers and sister.”
“It is very nice to meet you all.” Chronos said.
“It is very nice to meet you.” Aqua said, curtsying to Chronos and I.
“I honestly say that I share my dear sister’s feelings.” Terra said, bowing to us. Blaze just simply closed his eyes and nodded to us.
“You don’t talk much do you?” I asked. Blaze did not reply. “That’s fine, for what I need you to do you won’t have to say a word.”
“What do you require of us master?” Aqua asked.
“From you Aqua, I want you to go to the pool of water you came from and wait there. I will give you your instructions when they arrive. Terra, I want you to seal up every entrance to this forest except the one from Twilight Village. After that stay here and await further orders. Blaze, you get the most fun job of all. I want you to enter Twilight Village and destroy it, kill anything and everything in sight. Once you are done, stay there and let nothing enter the forest. Understood.”
“Yes master.” Aqua and Terra said, simultaneously. Blaze nodded and held out his left hand. All the broken pieces of onyx formed a large claymore in his hand. He walked towards the Twilight Village entrance, dragging his claymore behind him, and Aqua followed. Terra created a large hammer from the earth around him and sat on the ground, his legs folded together, as he did his job.
“What do you require of me master?” Chronos asked.
“You Chronos will stay with me inside the cathedral, as my personal guard.” I said.
“Yes master.” Chronos bowed to me.
“But before that, there’s something I want to do.” I looked up at the sky, staring at its usual gray color. Within seconds, snow began to fall from the sky and to the ground. “That’s better.” I said as I retreated into the cathedral, Chronos following behind me.
I walked over to the space between the door and my throne and used one of the black disks to hover over to the other side, returning it to where it had come from once I finished. I sat in my throne and looked out at the forest, watching the snow fall. I could see smoke rising in the air from Twilight Village and could hear triumphant roars coming from the Nightmares. I smirked and chuckled. “Chronos, close the door please.”
“Yes master.” Chronos jumped over to the other side of the abyss and closed the door as commanded.
“Rin.” I heard Gobu’s voice say.
“Gobu, you’re still hear?” I thought in my head, knowing that he’d hear me.
“Yes, but not for long so there’s something I want to say.”
“I just want to thank you for this, for what you’re doing. I know what you’re sacrificing to help us and I know that it must have been difficult but I and all the other Nightmares appreciate it.”
“I’m happy to Gobu. You all are like family to me.”
“Yes, Rin I know and as your family there’s one final thing I want to say to you before I fade completely.”
“What might that be?”
“Happy Birthday Rin.” Gobu said, his voice echoing in my head and heart.
I smiled and closed my eyes. “Thank you Gobu.” I said as I heard the thundering of the doors closing completely.