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Solus Magus

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  1. Yes! A friend also told me about that, too. We laughed about it for half an hour and became an inside joke ever since! I'll have that revised soon! But for now, I'll take another shower. LOL. I think that I was pondering about taking a bath while writing this chapter that I unconsciously wrote about it multiple times. 🤣 But thank you! I hope you'll love that story as well.
  2. I roared in my cell and I tried to summon all my strength but to no avail. Rei had River Knightley place an enchantment on me to keep me from accessing my avroi. A mark was placed on the back of my neck wherein it gave off an awful itch from time to time. A painful sting would erupt from it once I attempted to use my avroi. Even worse, I was placed inside a cell. Although it didn’t really feel much of a jail. Rather, I was placed inside some sort of royal prison or something. It was a huge room, indeed. As I imagined the chaos in the event, I couldn’t help but tear up. The bloody vision that I saw weeks ago kept entering my mind. It didn’t make sense at first but that predicament ensured that it was bound to happen. And the worst part for me was I was not given that chance to even undo it. My back was against the door. On the other side of it was probably Ven and Morsus who were given the task to make sure I stayed put. They didn’t look too happy about it. But orders were orders. Ven was being integrated into the Knights. He really couldn’t disobey. Morsus on the order hand was probably blackmailed by Rei. Everything just happened so fast. The moment Rei declared I was being sent off to Altimeraea, River jumped into action. He literally teleported behind me and a barrier was erected around us. Morsus’ lightning speed was no match with River’s short range space manipulation magic. I tried to fight back but a shock went through my spine. The man behind me struck me with something and I lost all my senses. Numbness crash over me—all the tingly feeling included. My avroi didn’t respond to my command. All I felt was a cold sensation within my body. I fell down on my knees and into the darkness. The next thing I knew was waking up on a small bed in the room. Teleport. Block. Seal. Disable. Four spells in less than five seconds. River was indeed a monster. My head spun around as I tried to stand up and regain my balance. Ven and Morsus was in the room when I woke up. Their face were grim and dark. Then they quickly left without saying a single word. For the next couple of hours after that, I just kept banging the door. Yet those two didn’t make a response. I tried punching it but I wasn’t exactly physically capable of taking down a huge door. The thing looked like it was made out of ancient wood. I inspected it closer and saw a faint glow. Scribbles of an unknown alphabet were dancing on the surface. Thousands of them lined up and travelled in every direction like some sort of coating. I tried punching and kicking it multiple times but it didn’t make a wooden kind of thud. It was like hitting some sort of reinforced glass. Even the windows were shut off and everything was made sure to seal me inside the thing. Everything was simply prepared beforehand. And it had hurt me to know that Rei never considered my plight to join in the defense against the enemies. The next thing I attempted was to unseal the mark. But a high voltage of spark abruptly shot through my body. It was being hit by a taser for a split second. And it didn’t look pretty. I quickly fell on the floor and a strong spasm rippled throughout my muscles a few seconds later. I could barely feel the floor under me. It seems that the seal on the back of my neck had a nasty reaction to the dark avroi inside of me. “Looks like I found an interesting fellow.” A familiar voice suddenly spoke above me. From the texture alone, I knew it was a man. But I was also sure that there was no presence of anyone with me inside the huge room. My ability to speak was still nowhere to be found. “That avroi is not from Altimeraea. I would not even call it as avroi. It has a different nature to it like oil and water. They’re both liquid but has different properties.” My head was still down and no drop of strength could be summoned. The unknown person walked to my side and I could only see the feet within my peripheral vision. Even the slightest movement was impossible at that very moment. I had no choice but listen to the familiar voice. “It’s really a bummer that you were left here. I was actually excited to hang out with you because I really miss my little brothers. And Skylar’s almost your age. I'm sure you two would hit it off right away.” The voice started with almost a rant. Skylar was the familiar name he mentioned. Then it had hit me who it was. “But Rei was the one taking the lead and I respect all forms of authority. Even if I disagree with them. It’s not my place to cause division within the team especially where thousands of lives are at stake.” "River." I groaned with all my effort. "That's a surprisingly quick recovery. The enchantment I placed on your neck is supposed to amplify the avroi used and reflect it back as a shock. Then the reason I placed it on your nape was so you would feel that shock to your whole body since it's the spinal cord. Pretty neat, huh?" River beamed proudly like a child. His tone really reminded me of Jaden and images of his dead body slithered into my mind as I laid down helpless before a powerful mage. "But like what I said, it's interesting that you have gained access to such a powerful source of energy. I am curious. Just what on earth are you, Chance Valentine?" Another groan was all I could muster. River chuckled at my helplessness and sat down on the floor where I would be able to see him clearly. He was wearing the same smart casual look that he wore and looked sheepishly joyful. His blonde hair was kind of a mess but the most obvious one was that was transparent. It was like he was some sort of ghost. "I'm sure you're curious why I'm like this, Mr. Valentine. You see, this is simply what you Tidians would call as telepathy. Oh wait, you're not technically a Tidian, are you? Anyway, it's actually Divination Magic. I was able to incorporate it in the spell that I placed on your neck." River explained excitedly as if he discovered some kind of hidden treasure. Though he was a few years older than I am, he seemed to really have the light-hearted nature. Then I remember what was discussed that his father perished at the hands of the Black Sorceress. The source of his smiles truly became a mystery. "I think I could still do a lot of things to you but I would still be heavily impaired. You also don't have to speak loudly. It's only you that can hear me. You don't want those two outside start to think you're turning crazy, right?" "Let…me…go." I whispered. The sound that came out of my mouth was quite raspy. Since we were linked through the means of the mind, I didn't think I had to be clearly vocal on what I was saying. But the playful look on his eyes vanished in an instant. River studied me carefully. "I…need…to…protect…them!" Out of nowhere, River grabbed me by the nape and another shock went through inside me. The numbness all over was instantly gone. My body felt like an newly oiled machinery that was pumped back into action. Movement returned back to my noodle arms as I pushed myself off of the ground. "Uhm." I stared at him but he was back to his joyous self. He sat on the bed opposite of me but he looked like he was hovering because he had no weight to push down the cushion. It wasn't really surprising because he was some sort of ghost inside my head. "Thanks." "You don't have to worry about your friends. The event started peacefully and there's not a hint of an attack." River informed me. "You can see it for yourself." He raised a finger and twirled it. A spell was cast under his breath and as I looked on the finger, I was pulled into an imagery within my mind's eye. The Main Entrance Area was shown before me like some sort of illusion. Everyone was in a frenzy of rushing into the event. I even saw some of my classmates. Then I quickly spun around if I could see a glimpse of my friends. But there were too many people all at once that it made me dizzy. Before I noticed, I was back in the room with him. "Why are you so driven to go where the danger is?" River asked. "It's my duty. I'm their friend. And my family is there, too! I would do whatever it takes so they wouldn't be harmed." I snarled against him. But I wasn’t really much of a threat. I was like a chained puppy and he was holding it. The true warden of the cell was neither Ven nor Morsus, but River. "I've heard what happened to your father and I'm sorry to hear about that. I'm sure you know what I feel. I'm sure that you'd do anything to be there and fight alongside him." "You're not really wrong about that. And I really think that your heart is in the right place." River admitted dryly. His eyes were heavily considerate. "But you have to understand what they feel, too. They've already lost Israfil once. And like you, they will do whatever it takes to protect their loved ones. What makes you think that your feelings will outweigh all those who had already lost something?" I bit my lip and clenched my fists. My head was bowed down, thinking of a comeback for those statements. River was right. And I hated it. To make things worse, Israfil was the only family left Rei had. The only thing I did was to keep silent because I had no answer. "The reality of things must always outweigh the passions of the heart or else one might walk towards destruction." River said cryptically out of nowhere. "It was from a book that I read somewhere in one of the Citadels. But it rings true, don't you think?" Then an idea sparked in my head. It was the crucial thing I never did that's why my friendship with Jaden was almost in tatters. I took a breath as I pushed down my regrets for not realizing it sooner. It was that one thing that holds on kinds of friendship together. "Trust." I answered back to him with swollen determination. River had one of his eyebrows raised as a smirk appeared on his face. "We cannot protect the people we love if we do not trust them. I failed to protect my friend because I didn't trust him enough to understand. And now, I am experiencing the consequences. Rei and the others never trusted me to protect myself accordingly. That's why I think I deserve a shot in protecting my friends." However, River just laughed out loud. For some reason, there was so much joy in it. I was simply bewildered by his weird response. He had a devilish grin on his face as if he was going to do something stupid. And it kind of frightened me. Light-hearted people like him and Jaden knew no bounds when it comes to stupidity. "That was a really good one! Trust is the answer, huh?" The man asked me rhetorically. Then he looked at me and was on the verge of laughter again. River was a weird guy yet there was that otherworldly wisdom inside of him. "Maybe you really are worth trusting, Chance Valentine. And that's probably something the Zidanians failed to see. I wonder who among them is willing to trust you?" "If I have to do this alone, then I will." I braced myself as River stood up. He crossed his arm and hovered over to me. He lost a bit of his transparency as more avroi poured into him. Not sure how he did that though. "But I want to trust Ven and Morsus. I'm sure they will understand. I hope they will." "I almost thought you will break your conviction right away." River grinned and raised his palm. My nape started to feel swollen as some sort of sensation danced away from my neck. The pressure loosened up after as strings of ink floated and slid through the air like a snake. It all came from my back. Then they gathered together into the middle of his palms. "I'll give it a start. I trust you Chance. I trust that you'll be able to protect yourself and do the right thing." "I could already sense the enemy making an advance and we need all the able bodied mages. I've raised that to Rei when we met about this but he was hell-bent on protecting his brother." River warned me. The battle drums in my head roared into action. My body felt stiff and my muscles betrayed me. Even my palms were awfully sweaty in a snap of a finger. "I have little brothers, too. Skylar and Terrun are extremely important to me. That's why Rei's actions are perfectly understandable. But like what you said, we must also trust the people we want to protect." The gathered energy turned into a floating mush of black goo. River gave it to me like some sort of physical object. He was supposed to be a mental image only present in my head so I had no idea how he was doing it. Rune Magic was indeed a very expansive form of power. As I raised my palm to catch it, the thing latched onto my hand like some sort of living parasite. It morphed into a web of scribbled letters like the one the door and scattered through my forearm. "What's this?" I asked. "This is a portable portal I learned during my time of studying in the Citadel of Hayamatsukami. It' a very high-level Rune Spell so be extremely careful with it. A wrong way of casting it could rip your body to shreds. No joke on that." The man explained nonchalantly. His palm was over the black goo that danced wildly on my forearm and reconstructed itself in different shapes. "I already programmed it for two usages. One to teleport to your dimension. And another one back to here in case you really need to retreat back. Anyone you're holding will also be teleported. But you need to keep pouring a massive amount of avroi for a set amount of time. That's the huge downside. But with the energy that you showed a while ago, it should be more than sufficient." "But how do I get out?" I asked him. "Even with my powers back, I don't think I’ll be able to break out of here. Whatever those are, they're really strong." "I can disable to protection spell on the windows." River suggested. Then he raised his palm towards one of the windows. I felt avroi shooting through the tip of his fingers and an invisible pulse coming from the window's direction hit me. "You can make a jump for it and activate the portal before you fall to the ground. Quick before those two catch you." "No." I firmly objected. River just slightly tilted his head in wonder. "I want to talk to Ventus and Morsus first. I have to try if they will understand and trust me." "Fine. I respect your decision. A good dose of naivety every once in a while wouldn't hurt. But escape this tower as soon as you can. Once you have a clear sight of the sky, aim towards it and pour the avroi into the spell. Make sure it would hit no clouds." The man instructed further. His eyes were serious which looked a bit awkward on him. "Then I'll see you on this side. I'll deal with Rei if ever. And don't worry about him." "Thanks, River." I said softly. The man just beamed proudly as if he concocted this getaway plan. In a way, he was responsible for that. "I don't know what to say." "Just don't take too long. I need to go and focus on preparing the activation of the barrier." He smiled back warmly. Slowly, he faded out of existence. "See you!" Once he was gone, I immediately took a deep breath and activated the mark in the middle of my palms. It was the first time I had let the dark energy ran wildly throughout my body. Every nook and cranny of it shook hard as Ven and Morsus stormed into the room. It was the bait after all. The skin on my arms went into a tone of obsidian black. All of it slithered around my body and up to my neck as power erupted everywhere in the room. There was an awful itch on the area above my forehead and a weird bump on the base of my spine. "Chance! What's the meaning of this?" Ven roared at me. That was the cue to calm down and let the dark energy disperse. Morsus on the other hand looked relax right behind him. "How did you get out of the seal?" "That's none of your business." I replied dryly. Our eyes were locked on each other. I wanted an honest answer from him. But had always loved to withhold what he really wanted to say. "I will go to the event regardless. Will you two stop me?" "Of course!" Ven shot back. I sensed the gathering energy on his feet. Based on what I could remember, Ven utilizes a lot of movements to his advantage over his opponent. "Imagine what Rei would do to you if he finds out!" "Are you stopping me just because of Rei?" I asked him. "No." The blonde kid quipped. His blue eyes tried to calculate my next movement but he knew I was capable of doing something unexpected. "I follow his orders because I want to protect you and Israfil." "That's the problem, Ven. You want to protect me. But you really had no real intentions of trusting me. I've started to wonder if you're genuinely my friend or you are just playing along for Israfil's sake." I argued. He seemed to be perplexed by my ambiguous answer. "Please trust me just this once." "You're my friend." He barked. "And that's why I'll stop you if I have to." "I also trust you, Chance." Morsus intervened. "And even though we didn't start on the right foot, I've always considered you my friend. I only agreed with Rei's plan because I wanted to protect you both. But it doesn't mean I liked it." "See? Even Morsus agrees." Ven pointed out. The energy on his feet spiked up even further. He was really getting ready for a fight. I think he must have noticed my "Just give it up. I don't want to hurt you. There's two of us and you've never really experienced a real fight." "Ven is right. There's no need to make chaos in this room." Morsus added as his fingers started to draw something. His avroi shimmered silently as he tried to convey a message through his eyes. Yet at that very moment, I was too dull to realize that he was about to act. "But you're also right. We also need to trust the people we want to protect. And like what I said, I trust you." The little boy winked at me that caused me to frown in reflex. Ven noticed my funny response and turned towards Morsus. But the boy's palm was already raised and I closed my eyes instinctively for some reason. The spell was all too familiar. "Aredentisio." Morsus barked and a flash of light exploded in the room. I felt a hand grabbing me and was pulled towards the direction of the window. My body just moved on its own. Before I was able to recognize it, the boy and I jumped from the high tower. The boy's fingers were twitching from all runes he was casting in quick succession. "Kaelas! Marsev! Pryovosio!" Wind quickly gathered below our feet to cushion our drop before we suddenly shot away from the high tower. When I looked up, I realize it was probably at least a hundred feet up. I didn't realize that we fell from such height. The spell managed to make us fly at high speeds before we saw Ven jumping from the tower. Like us, he cushioned his blow with a gust of wind against the ground. But thanks to Morsus' quick thinking, we were able to get away from a good distance. The boy was a carrying me behind him which caught me dumbfounded at how strong he is in a physical sense. I wasn't that heavy but Morsus' wasn't really a body-builder either. We rushed and glided through the ground and into the town. I could see people looking at us with awkward expressions. "We need a clear view of the sky." I shouted over. When I looked up, we were under some thick clouds so we had to keep traveling further. But when I checked behind us, Ven was gaining on us. "Why did you save me?" "Can't talk!" Morsus barked. "Need to focus!" I nodded and aimed my arms towards Ven. Because of his lightning ability, he was able to zigzag his way through most of the obstacles in his way. With my mark active, I gathered large amounts of compressed energy. Black orbs of avroi were on the tips of my fingers. With a flick of my hand, they shot towards my intended targets and caused a grenade-sized explosion. They weren't really made out of flames but more of like gas tanks that made a blast from the internal air pressure. It still created a decent sized crater in its wake and I grinned with pride. Ven on the other hand managed to avoid them completely but he had to make turns. I could only assume that it would slow him down but there wasn't really much difference. I attempted to shoot him again but an arrow made out of lightning zipped past my shoulder. My black jacket was singed and the X-VIP Badge that I hid inside the pocket almost fell. Then the lightning arrow was followed by two more that almost shot us down. It was a high speed chase between two wind users and I was just a package that was being protected. At the corner of my eye, Ven attempted to fire a bigger arrow. It had a darker color of blue and a more intense amount of avroi. I knew it would hit us. It would be too fast to deflect it with my Gravity Magic so I did what I could. I grabbed Morsus by the shoulder and threw him off balance right before Ven released his spell. Both of us jolted away from the gust of wind that served as a form of high speed vehicle and landed hard on the ground. Thanks to my enhanced durability from the mark, I held Morsus tight within my arms and took the harder part of the bad landing. Then I allowed myself to roll on the ground continuously to disperse the momentum until we stopped into a halt. Ven was not expecting our way of avoidance and zipped past our direction. Morsus seemed to be alright and pushed me away. "What the fuck did you do?" He roared at me with his childish voice. Morsus always sounded like a spoiled brat regardless of the situation. And in that very predicament that we were in, it was even worse. "We already had the momentum to get away from him!" "He was gaining on us with a spell!" I shot back at the boy. Then I summoned a couple of blades when I saw Ven coming back for us. The blonde teen looked very determined to capture us. And it looked scary. I was pretty sure he would have attempted to reason out with us. But I never expected he would actually leap into action. "I had to do something because we were surely going to hit by that." "Great!" The boy groaned. "Now I have to fight Ven and defend you!" "Just trap him." I admonished to the boy. Then he looked back at me just to shoot daggers out of his eyes. "Trust me, I have a quick way out as soon as the clouds clear up." The next thing we knew was Ven was right behind us. If it wasn't for my mark, I would have been wounded already. A strong lightning blast had hit my arm and got the sleeve of my jacket burned further. Then I retaliated with a telekinetic push from my Gravity Magic. It was faster and stronger so Ven was caught off guard. He was jolted away which gave way to Morsus casting more spells With my left hand, I gathered a ball of avroi. It was a larger version of the black orbs I was should Ven with during the chase. My only ally had hit him with a barrage of spells, mostly of different elemental magic. A gust of wind. A swipe of a whip made out of water. Even a stone that was sharpened into a spike. But our opponent was just as nimble as the little boy. Thanks to his Wind Elemental Magic, evasion was a forte. Morsus seemed to be hesitant in activating the mark on his palm. That's why he had to make use of precise attacks because wider range would cost more avroi. I knew that Morsus had to conserve his stamina as much as he can. Ven seemed to go around us in a circular pattern while Morsus kept blasting him randomly in all directions. Since I had the upper hand when it comes to stamina, I abused it by blasting him with blacks orbs and blades. "Zematisima! Fulgra Obturamentrum!" Morsus roared another spell. All of the elemental projectiles actually left a mark on the ground. They were explosive seals that detonated with a blast of electric pulses in every direction. Since Ven was within range, he got hit right away and had him stop in his tracks. I used that opportunity to cast a gravitational pull and dragged him towards me. "Spathio Obtestoria! Rych Rohybius!" Morsus waltzed to Ven's direction with a couple of blades in his hands. His killing intent was off the charts and I wondered at that very moment if the boy had the goal to kill his friend. The goal was to get away. Not murder. Since the black orbs on my left hand was fully charged, I switched my strategy and pushed Ven away with my Gravity Magic before Morsus would reach him. The boy's swing of the blade barely made it to Ven's neck. That was when I shot my gravity ball into the sky. Then I blasted it with a repulsive spell that caused it to accelerate even faster. It was a huge risk. I pulled Morsus back with my magic and pumped avroi into the seal that River left on my right forearm. The writings on my arm glowed red that gave a demonic look on my arm. I aimed it up the sky as the black orb exploded. Thankfully, they were only low hanging clouds. The blast reached it and the clouds dispersed and gave us the window to escape. Fortunately, Ven was still stunned on the ground. Morsus was indeed a genius for catching the older teen off guard. The latter was only looking for an opening when the younger kid used that to his advantage and seemingly shot his offensive spells everywhere. The real offensive strategy was setting the trap. Rune Mages always had to play with the potential possibilities of their magic. Creativity was a must. "Why did you that?" The boy howled at me. "I already had him!" "Just shut up!" I shot back and grabbed him by the shoulder. My right arm felt like it was being stretched into miles away as we zoomed into the sky. Some sort of gateway appeared above us and even Morsus looked utterly surprised at what I managed to do. The boy seemed to have recognized the letters that were written on my arm. Then the next thing I knew was we both landed in my world. I looked around to see that we were in my own backyard. As usual, my insides felt like they turned into mush. "That was Rune Magic!" Morsus exclaimed. "Where did that come from?" "I also have my secrets." I replied. Then Morsus's face made an indescribable expression. It was the same look that Jaden showed me when I showed him his magic. A violent stirring ruptured in my guts. I knew that look. "What's wrong?" "They're here!" The boy alerted me. His eyes were wide and alert. The boy could usually keep his coo. But not this time. And I could help but shiver. Even the hair on the back of my neck stood up. If that's what that Spidey Sense felt like, I didn't want to be Spiderman anymore. "I can sense it." "Crap." I muttered. "We can't waste time. Let's go!" I ran for the shed and took out my mountain bike. It was a couple of years old but it should be more than enough as a mode of travel. Morsus rode on my back as I pedaled hard towards the event. I had my mark partially activated to give me the extra strength. Morsus also told me it would take some time before Ven could catch up. The dude would also need time to teleport to our realm. "I don't have a badge!" Morsus said. "I won't be able to enter!" "Can you duplicate this? I'm not sure if it would work." I replied as I handed over my badge from my pocket. Morsus fell silent as he inspected that piece of technology that wasn't even available on the market yet. "Or maybe can you just teleport into the middle of the event?" "Chance, this thing is riddled with magic from Fuhrstenvald." The boy stated with awe. "Whoever made this had a good grasp of Magitechnology. And it looked very complex. My time in the Citadel of Harfjord is not yet done but I don't think we would cover something like this in the curriculum." "You're supposed to be the smartest among us. But if even you can't figure it out then we need to find another way." I commented as we started to see the event grounds. There was much noise, lights and people. There were already thousands pouring in. Just looking at it already made me feel dizzy. "I didn't expect to have this many people. But where are the enemies?" "They're around. And they're probably waiting for the right time. It's too early to attack." Morsus pointed out. Then I felt a sharp prick on my neck. I groaned and my steering wobbled due to my surprise. "Calm down!" "Hey!" I exclaimed. "What the hell?" "Just go ahead inside." The boy urged me. I rubbed the area where the prick and I felt a similar engraved pattern like what River put there. "That was a tracker so I can always sense where you are. I'll find other means to get in." "Fine." I quipped harshly. We were almost at the main entrance and decided to leave my bike in one of the racks in the nearby parking area. "But warn me next time you do that. I thought I was getting a tattoo or something!" The event place was still a hundred feet away. I made sure to deactivate my mark and compress my avroi as much as possible to avoid detection from the others. Rei might drag me back to Altimeraea if he found me first. Morsus and I separated as I mixed into the group of people. He walked away and vanished before I could notice. I took out my badge when I got to the security area. There was a really long line on the main entrance and it took me almost half a an hour to get in. And then the station where we can add money into our badges had even longer ones. Fortunately, there was already money inside thanks to my generous uncle. I bought myself a drink as I tried to contact Jaden and the rest of my friends through the badge. It was one of the unexpected features of it. A few minutes later, Anya pinged me back and gave me their direction. It was a good thing that they were in the Tech Zone Area because none from Rei's team was stationed there. When I passed by the Main Entrance Area, I tried to look for River. I even tried to sense him through his avroi but it was not familiar enough for me. There was just too much people and I couldn't distinguish him in the crowd. I tried checking him through the badge and looked for his profile but all of them probably used a different name. I dropped my search and went straight for my friends. But the first person I saw was my own sister. Celine was goofing around with her boyfriend. Both of them were on the way to the Rides Area when they saw me. I felt so disoriented because my own sister might also get killed if the enemy attacked the event. That was when I decided to drag the rest of my friends to the same area just in case. "Hey twerp." She greeted right away. Celine had her dark hair tied in a high ponytail that looked good on her. It wasn't her usual hairstyle though. Brian on the other hand was your typical jock with a huge body. But he's surprisingly smart for one and he was kind of a geek. "Where are your fellow twerps?" "They're in the Tech Zone. I'll go get them and maybe we can go to the rides with you guys." I suggested. Celine frowned while Bryan just shrugged and seemed happy with the idea. "Where's mom and dad?" "They're probably in the Back Stage Area. Mom's probably going crazy from tryign to take a good look at the guest celebrities." She stated. Then there was a scrunch on her face. "And don't even try to ruin my date with Bryan. Don't you dare tag along." "Whatever." I sneered and walked past her after that. When I got to the Tech Zone, I saw Anya right away because of her red hair. I greeted them and did my special handshake with Jaden. We were still playing along but the tension was still there. But as usual, Caitlyn didn't really buy it like how Anya and Dylan did. "Hey Valentine, thanks for the VIP Badges." Caitlyn exclaimed playfully loud enough for others to hear. Some of the people just looked at us in a funny way. Anya just giggled at that and Dylan shook his head. "I wonder how much you spent just to treat us. We're so luck "Shh! Hey!" I shushed her eagerly. "No one's supposed to know!" "Oh. You mean why we only have the VIP Badges while Jaden had an X-VIP one like yours?" Caitlyn taunted. "Stop complaining Caitlyn." Dylan intervened. And I let out a loud sigh. I couldn't believe they were all being a jerk because of the badges. But I knew they were simply being sarcastic. No hard feelings. "It's a bad thing if we knew that Jaden could easily be bribed with this." "Can’t we all just be thankful for this guy?" Jaden hugged me from behind. I just groaned at all of them for being such efficient dickwads. Everyone who was in the area just sneered at us. "We all wouldn't need to spend by that much if Chance didn't gift us." "I guess some people like Jaden are far more privileged than others." Dylan chuckled. "Maybe I should have had a quarrel with Chance before the event came and I would have had the same badge, too." "Well, you could always give them back if they're not good enough for you guys." I replied with a sarcastic tone. Anya giggled right away. "Maybe I should give them to people who are actually deserving of the badge." "Nah. Thanks, Chance. We're just messing with you." Caitlyn laughed impishly and struck my shoulder. "Please, we really mean it." "Well, you're all important to me." I smiled warmly at them. Everyone smiled back with the exception of Jaden. There was a lousy smirk on his face. "Stupidity and all, you're all great. Although that's only applicable to Jaden. Dylan is too cool. Anya is too smart. And Caitlyn is too talented to be called stupid." They all laughed at that as we left the Tech Zone. I tried to spend time with all of them and had fun in the Rides Area. Jaden almost threw up more than a couple of times. I also tried to keep an eye out of Morsus or River but they were nowhere to be found. On the other hand, none of the other people from Altimeraea were not around, too. I remembered that Ven's aunt was supposed to be in the Rides Area but she was probably lost in the crowd. It was when I realized that there were so much people we needed to protect aside from my friends. A dozen people was not enough to defend the event. People would surely die. It was really impossible to save everyone. And the bitter truth was just so hard to swallow. The stories of superheroes in movies and comic books were suddenly unbelievable. There was just no way Superman could save everybody. To top it all off, Jaden was heavily aloof with me the whole time. Every action or his usual snark side comment was a lie. And it really hurt. I knew that he was not yet ready to take it well and it was really stupid of me to reveal. For some reason, he had really made up his mind to blame everything on me for not being emotionally and mentally okay. Caitlyn was quiet about the issue. Even Anya must have seen the hints during our time together. And Dylan was probably ignoring it. Everyone was just so affected but I had to keep my focus. A mission was at hand. The goal was protect them during the event. And I needed to keep them alive. Otherwise, there was nothing to repair afterwards. "Jaden, can I talk to you in private?" I asked him. All of them was caught off guard by my initiative. Caitlyn looked like there was a scandal being unfolded before her very eyes. "It’s important." He nodded at me and we took off and gave distance. "This is quite the bold gesture." Jaden remarked with his eyebrows raised at me. I just overlooked at the comment and looked at him with a poker face. "You do realize that we're not necessarily in good terms. I'm just playing along with you since I don't want them being too worried." "I need a favor." I said plainly. "It's really urgent." "Wow. I have no words." He exclaimed with honesty. Then he shrugged as if I was pulling off a prank. "I can't believe you even have the balls to call out some favor." "They're here. The enemy is getting ready. It's what I'm afraid of." I muttered, not knowing if Jaden would take it seriously. "Please find an excuse and make them leave before it's too late." "Sorry, Chance. But I just don't care what games you're playing." He replied with a very serious face. Like River, a poker face would look misplaced if Jaden pulled it off. They were just not meant for that. "You may have all these crazy powers but I don't think anyone is crazy enough to attack with so much people." "Please." I pleaded to him. Jaden had a firm stance and his arms were crossed. I knew he took me seriously based on his body language. "You guys are all I have. If they attacked soon, I want you guys out of here." But Jaden just walked past me. Not a single word was spoken. I didn't follow right away. The first thing I felt was that someone was keeping an eye on me. For some reason, I just sensed a weird intent coming from somewhere behind me. I tried looking around to see Morsus watching from a distance. When we saw each other eye to eye, he walked up to me. "He knows, does he?" Morsus concluded harshly with a rhetoric and I just stared at him in silence. Then I looked away. "You're beyond stupid for doing that." "I don't really have a choice." I argued back. "That's because "Trusting is okay. But don't mix it with an unhealthy naivety, Chance. It can be very dangerous." The boy warned me. It was too late of a warning though. The damage has already been done, after all. And repairing it at the moment was unknowable. "Learn from this." But before I could think of a comeback, a tremor was felt beneath our feet. I looked at Morsus who turned pale beyond his usual complexion. It was no ordinary earthquake. The shaking continued and little by little, the people around us started to notice it, too. Like the boy before me, they also started to turn pale. Much of them were alert and were contemplating if it was the time to panic. Morsus looked around for potential enemies. That was when I spotted huge shadows that were hovering above in the sky. All of them had huge wings but since it was already dusk and were too far from the ground, I couldn't even distinguish them at all. Beyond them was an awful pattern of dark clouds. It was like the top view of a typhoon from space. Except it was inverted. The eye of the storm had a reddish hue on it and I could see sparks of lightning. "Th-this…This isn't Altimeraean ma-magic!" Morsus stammered. His hands started to shake and he went paler by the second. Even his lips quivered and blood was almost gone from his face. "This can't be!" "I don't understand!" I replied. "What's going on?" One by one, the crowd also started to look up to the sky. Some of them took out their phones and started taking pictures. I was disturbed by the lack of anxiety in the groups of people. Since the shaking of the ground halted, their panic quickly subsided. But all of them were distracted with what was going on above. Some were also pointing at the weird things that were flying in the sky. I still couldn't figure out yet what they were at that moment. Morsus was simply stunned in his place. My hands found his shoulder and started shaking him away from his daze. "Hey! What's going on?" I asked. His eyes were still fixated on what was happening above. I looked at it and noticed that there were small writings on the rim of the eye. "What the hell is that?" The sky had turned into an enormous ritual circle. "I've only read about that in the Citadel of M'Vokagola. If I remember it right, that's the Ritual of the Soul Bridge!" The boy explained. Even the hair on his arms stood up as he spoke. "They're not only going to test weapons, they're going to fuse this dimension to another!" "What?" I shrieked loudly. "Fuse two dimensions together?" "How did they get past High Magus Shiraea? If they have that then that means they have the Necronomicon." A voice came from behind. We looked back to see River who was just as pale. "Get ready for the worst case scenario. We never considered that they were able to get their hands on such ancient weaponry." "Don't tell me that thing will fire a giant laser down from the sky? The whole town will be obliterated!" I exclaimed. People who heard me around us looked considerate of what I said. It was my turn to lose blood from face. The other two just frowned at me. "And we can't even run away if it starts charging now!" "No. The Soul Bridge doesn't work that way." River said. "Wait a sec. You're supposed to be in the Main Entrance Area. What are you doing here?" Morsus interrupted. Then River turned slightly translucent for a split second like how he appeared to me in the room. "Oh. A partial mind projection. You inserted your avroi into me. How?" "The Rune Spell that Chance used to get you both here. Both of you were affected by that." River replied dismissively as he tried to inspect the flying things that were gathering around the ritual circle. Then I noticed that one of his eyes were glowing. It had the similar glow of Morsus' when he inspected my mark. "The inscription formula is being written invisibly. Only mages can see that. But those flying things are beasts. They're not from Altimeraea nor from Elefsier. They didn't show traits of an Eidolon." "Right." The boy gritted his teeth. "That was very sneaky." "Hey! Did you hear what he said?" I nudged at Morsus. I tried to look at them once more but was futile. They were too small and I didn't have any enchantments like the other two to take a closer look. "Those things are monsters and they're going to attack! "I don't think so." River commented. "Those things are waiting for a signal." "Should we start causing panic in the crowd?" Morsus suggested. "Wait. Don't do that yet." I stated quickly. Both of them seemed to listen for a moment. But Morsus looked very conceited from what I was about to say. So, I ignored him instead. "My friends need to get a head start. I need to find them!" Then a bloody scream erupted from the crowd. When we looked up to the sky, the things started to crash into the ground at high speeds. We could hear different things being destroyed and the splattering of blood from a distance. More screams came from the crowd. Even worse that I saw a dismembered arm was thrown into the air. And I almost hurled at the sight of that. Consecutive detonations started to go off from the Central Plaza. And that managed to jumpstart the chaos among people. But they weren't running away from the center. Everyone was disoriented and started to dash towards every directions. I could see small kids were being dragged. Even people crash into the ground only to be stepped on by another person. It was a stampede. And it was just pure chaos. "I think that's Valafar and that's my cue. I need to go." River said and started vanishing into the air. "Be careful. I trust you won't do anything stupid. Especially you, Chance Valentine." Morsus looked like he considered every option but he was stunned for a few seconds. It was sort of amazing that people weren't running into us. The movies got on thing right. In the middle of an adrenaline-packed moment, everything just played in slow motion. I wasn't able to think anymore so I ran for it. "I'm not really part of the plan so I should be free to do whatever I choose!" I shouted back at him and started looking for my friends. It was even weirder that he didn't attempt to run after me. "Save as much as people as you can!" Morsus shouted something back but his voice was soon drowned by the screams of people. All I could do was to keep running in the direction where Jaden walked past me. Within the past minute, people had already started dying. Those huge things were so fast and fierce that I still couldn't get a good look at them. And it was an even awful reality that there were only a few that started attacking. As I ran, a huge dude tackled me into the ground. "What the hell is wrong with you?" I roared at him. As I tried to stand up, he pulled my arm downward. "Damn it! I need to look for my friends!" "I just saved your ass, you ungrateful idiot!" He barked harshly. "Look!" Then I realized that we were under one of the huge beasts. The thing, or whatever it is, didn't even notice us. It was the size of a pick-up truck and had four legs. Most of the body was covered in thin, dark fur. The head looked like a demonic lion with a lot of horns coming out of its head. The fangs were over-sized and the jaws looked tremendously powerful. Two pairs of huge bat-like wings were on its back and a huge tail that was as thick as a small tree were at its end. The thing swiped its paws as it lunged to one of the stalls. With one quick swing, the unfortunate by-stander was destroyed and his limbs were dismantled like a piece of Lego toy. The beast's arm were even thicker than my own body and I knew that getting hit by that was an instant death. "Milo! Tina! Hide, damn it!" The person beside me roared. It was then I took notice of the guy who saved me. He was a huge and well-built fellow. A typical jock who was wearing his varsity jacket. The dude was probably a few years older than me. His eyes were a bit of a golden-amber and was wearing buzz-cut hairstyle. And his dark chocolate skin looked firm with muscles. "Get away from here!" During that split-second daze, I saw the couple of people that were afar and ran away. One was still a kid. Probably younger than ten and the lady with her was probably the same age as the guy beside me. All of three of them were African-Americans and looked ridiculously athletic. As the guy beside me stood up, I was stunned as he summoned a couple of longswords from nowhere. Both blades had a medieval appeal to them and the cross guards looked royally designed. Then dark colored armor appeared on his arms as well as a pair of greaves for his feet. The guy looked really awesome and courageous as a white and gold breastplate appeared on his upper body. "Yo-you're a-a mage!" I stammered. The guy ignored me and leaped into action. No hesitation at all. I just gawked at him as I realized as how much useless I was at that very moment. For days, I had trained harshly with Morsus and Ven. I pleaded to them that I was ready to fight for my friends. I wanted them to realize that I was already prepared. Yet there I was, stunned at the sight of battle. Then the beast took notice of me again since I was the only one in the middle of the chaotic field. It tried to hack and slash against the varsity guy who was really surprisingly agile for his body build. I sensed his avroi being specifically pumped into his legs like some sort of augmentation. The beast could barely hit him as he got to successfully slashed through the legs. As the huge thing roared, it went to me as the next target. But my helper was even faster. His dual weapons fused and transformed into a huge bastard sword that went cleanly through the left front and hind legs. It crashed a few meters away from me and the only thing I did was watch. Black blood spluttered all over the ground as I made effort to stand up. Yet when I looked behind, one of them had its sights on me. It was insanely fast. Even if I was ready for a fight, I didn't have enough time to activate my mark and defend myself. But my savior was even faster. Right before I got mauled by its front paw, he was able to strike it with a huge-ass war hammer straight up to the jaw. I heard bones cracked as the thing was thrown a few dozen meters away. The guy's strength was just as monstrous as those beasts. I could only assume that his magic was amplifying his own bodily functions. And he was using it so effectively like some sort of super-soldier. His large war hammer turned into one longsword and he raised it in case the thing tried to strike back. "Move, damn it! Move!" The guy admonished sharply. He grabbed my arm and started dragging me out of the open field. It was weird that he took notice of me when there others being slaughtered in the event. "You're one of the biggest idiots I have ever seen!" A couple more took us as threats and circle around us in the skies. My helper took notice of it and summoned a spear this time. His weapon is probably like Prince Zein's Brastius. It really had a lot of uses and was very deadly in the hands of a well-experienced user. And it was a comfort that I was fighting with one of them on my side. In a flash one of them charged and the guy transformed his weapon back to the war hammer. It was slower than a spear but his timing was right. Unfortunately, the charging beast pulled off a feint and flew back powerfully at the last second while other beast took it as a cue to launch a pincer attack from behind him. Since he used an over-head swing, there was no way he could twist his body to defend from behind. I had no more choice. I took a deep breath and I leaped into action. "Apallatherosi!" I chanted loudly as the mark activated. The dark avroi overwhelmed my body and quickly scattered throughout. I raised palm and with a solid telekinetic push, the beast was jolted away from mid-air with an invisible force. Even the guy behind me was not expecting that and a smirk appeared at the corner of his mouth. "I knew you were a mage!" He grinned like mad man. "My guts was right!" "Are you from Altimeraea?" I asked him quickly. He wasn't in the meeting but I had to make sure he wasn't one of Rei's underlings. "Answer me." "I'm from what?" He asked a bit sheepishly. Even one of his eyebrows was raised in wonder. His reaction looked genuine enough. But it was hard to believe that he was from my dimension. The way he uses his magic was too well thought of. "I have no idea what you're talking about, bro." The other beast who the guy didn't hit tried to attack again. It was quick and a misplaced timing could be fatal. But my Gravity Magic was practically telekinesis at that point. Timing would be my weapon. As the energy kept pumping out of my mark, I knew that my magic would be amplified greatly. With everything I've got, I took hold of the beast with my magic as soon as it got near. I was able to stop it mid-way and tried to resist. It was really tough and I had to use both arms to concentrate and hold it in place. But in one swift motion, I dragged my arms with strength away from each other. The beast was literally ripped in half before I raised an invisible telekinetic shield to avoid getting splattered by the black blood. From the way it bubbles on the ground, it looked corrosive. "Jeez. That was brutal." The guy beside me commented softly. He stuck out his hand and I reluctantly shook it. “I’ve never met another magic user. Honestly, this is all new to me.“ “Likewise.” I quipped. Then simply observed his mannerisms. "Nice to meet you, brotha. I wish that we could have met in a different circumstance." Mavis replied. He seemed really pumped up. In my mind, my only goal was to find my friends and protect them. "Right now, we need to buckle up. We need to be heroes!" But I was no hero. I was just someone who wanted to protect his friends.
  3. Solus Magus

    Chapter 35

    One of the things that sets Wes apart is he acts like a beta despite being an alpha. Kinda of an opposite of myself since I usually act like an alpha of the group but I would still consider myself as a ‘beta.’ I think that’s the character development that needs to happen so he’ll really be able to stand up to Cyrus and the rest of the dawgs.
  4. Solus Magus

    Chapter 25

    Well, this is quite getting spicy. 🤣
  5. Though I cannot imagine how these misfits could gain an advantage over the Justice League. The game looks really great though!
  6. 7 more chapters before Gateway is finally done! No more writer's block please. I still need to give a conclusion to Mentally after that! 🤪

  7. “I knew it.” Jaden whimpered. His voice shivered and skin went slightly pale. I could taste the fright at the back of my mouth. “My dream was right. All this crazy talk and I ended up being right!” "I'm sorry I kept it from you. But I think I am ready to tell you everything what's going on." I expressed as I collapsed my dagger back into my shadows. "Please believe me when I say that I've hid all of these to protect you." But Jaden just glared at me as if I was some sort of murderer. Maybe I was and I just don't know it. My best friend stormed to one of his drawers and pulled a small bottle and threw it at me. I caught it midair and checked what it was. In my hand was a glass bottle filled with meds. But there was no label on it. "What's this?" I asked. "Anti-depressants." Jaden stated dryly. His somber mood that he had shown lately all made sense. My body felt heavy at his sudden revelation. "I've been taking them lately because mom brought me to a therapist. I lost appetite but I had to keep eating even if I can't. It would be obvious if I started losing weight." "I don't know what to say." I told him. "Ever since that day when JJ provoked a fight in front of the school, I started to have nightmares. Then I was losing sleep. I could barely eat. School was already such a bum and this…thing even made it worse." He chuckled lightly. But I barely had the energy to laugh at the comment. "Sometimes, I just want to die. Sorry for not telling you." "Don't be." It was all I could tell him. Then I sat beside him and attempted to comfort him. But Jaden felt like a robot. His meds was really the reason why he was down lately. Aside from the fact that I forgot about his birthday. "That's why I'm here. Right? No one gets left behind. Ever." "If you really trust me, then let me know the whole story." Jaden taunted. And he said it with a straight face. My best friend was really serious about it. But I was reluctant if he could take it. "We need to both come clean. We promised each other back then that we wouldn't keep secrets. Ever." So, I did. I said everything. All the lies that I told him. Rei. Ven. Dark magic. Altimeraea. The short trip to the Citadel of Jeonnan. The boy prince. The sealing of his memories. The impeding attack in the Black Daze event. All of it. Everything except the deal with whatever is inside Morsus. His eyes widened as I described all the unfortunate things I had to deal with. But for some reason, I felt even worse that I lodged it all on him right after he let me know about his condition. I was being a selfish prick. "Craig is a mage, huh? No wonder he got to beat your ass in the arcade. He's a cheat." Jaden snickered. Then he looked at the wall and sighed. "I guess you're now Mr. High and Mighty. Or maybe Mr. Untouchable. You can no longer be bullied if you want to." "What are you talking about?" I asked him. "It means you're above us mere humans." Jaden replied sarcastically. There was just this pissed off tone from him that I couldn't figure out. "If you ask me to worship you, you're out of your mind. I'll beat you up like when we were kids whether you have powers or not." "What on earth would I do that? That's not funny!" I shot back. "I bet you wanted to show off on campus at some point." Jaden taunted even further. "You'll be the talk of the town. Or get kicked out. Or maybe you'll get to be famous or something." "Stop it!" I urged him. "I'm not that kind of person. You know me, Jaden." "Are you sure? All this time and you've been hiding who you really are from us. It's like I don't know you anymore." Jaden retorted as he stood up and walked frantically around his room. "Now it explains everything why you spend so much time with Craig. Now I get why you forgot my birthday. You were too busy enjoying your time in this other universe you speak of." "What's wrong with you? I was not enjoying that at all." I exclaimed. Jaden looked back. His blue eyes were intense. And he stared at me like I'm some kind of monster. "You're angry all of a sudden! That's not like you!" "You're out there playing hero and getting ready to rescue everyone while I'm nothing but a collateral damage of that incident. I even had my memories erased just so I would shut up! There's nothing heroic about that!" Jaden growled. "All this time I thought it was all me. But it's actually your fault I'm turning crazy! Now I even have meds!" "Please. Calm down, Jaden." I stood up to my feet and slowly approached him. I wanted to hug him. I wanted to comfort him. But both us were surprised when he lashed out and his fist connected to my jaw. I winced in pain as I stepped back. "I really am sorry for everything that happened." "Get out of my room." Jaden admonished harshly. "I don't want to see you." Then he looked away after seeing me held back my tears. His eyes glistened, too. I reluctantly obliged and slowly walked towards the door. Before I exited, I made sure to look back at him. "Are we still in good terms?" I asked bravely. It was a stupid question right after he jabbed my face. All of those hurtful words and I still had the audacity to ask him that. "I have to know." "Just get out of my room." Jaden urged me. His heated voice was turned into a mellow temperature of guilt and shame. "I just need time to think about all of this." I nodded at him and left. But as I closed his bedroom door, I couldn't help but sigh and rested my forehead on wooden thing. I slowly sat down and turned with my back against the door. Moments later, I felt some kind of weight on the other side. A person was leaning on it, too. A few seconds after and I could hear him crying his eyes out. I couldn't help but tear up, too. It felt like a sharp thorn was traveling inside the arteries of my thin chest. Every heave and moan from the other side was a bump of that thorn to an artery wall And it felt like a depressingly sharp prick. Sometimes, it even felt stuck. "I'm so sorry." His muffled voice said on the other end. He kept repeating it over and over again. "I'm so sorry, Chance. I'm so selfish!" Before I bawled my eyes out in their hallway, I decided to leave. Thankfully, Mrs. Parker was in her own room so it wasn't much of a hassle. I had to wipe my eyes a few times along the way. When I got home, I immediately washed my face so it wouldn't be obvious. I had dinner with my family after and it was a pretty normal evening. My limits were stretched as I had to pretend gracefully before them. I didn't want unnecessary questions. It would be too painful to answer them right away. After some small talk, I excused myself back to my room. I pulled my crap together and swallowed all the pain. Then next thing I did was to call Uncle Chase. His phone rang for half a minute before my uncle picked it up. [Hey, sport. How have you been?] Uncle Chase’ enthusiastic voice greeted me over the other end. I was not really expecting that he would actually answer back because he was the most busy people I know of. Sometimes, dad’s messages wouldn’t have a reply for over a week. [Have you seen the X-VIP Badges? Cool, huh? The VIP Badges for your friends are great. But nothing beats the X-VIP one.] [It is! It’s really awesome! Can’t thank you enough, Uncle Chase.] I greeted back at him. My uncle wasn’t the aloof type since he’d been my wisdom guru for years. It was always a wonder why he has not yet settled down. Celine and I had lost count how many women had swooned over him for the past decade. [I’m great! I’m great! I’m just really excited what’s going to happen a week from now.] [Listen, Chance, I don’t really have much time with the event being a week from now.] He replied with a bit more of a serious tone. I felt the stress in his voice and the deadlines behind it. Uncle Chase was your more-than-average kind of workaholic. [Cut to the chase. What’s really going on, Chance? Anything I could do to help?] [About that, I was just wondering if I could have another X-VIP Badge for my best friend.] I flatly stated. Then I winced on my end because of the silent reply from my Uncle. He cared a lot for our family. As I mentioned, he had spoiled me rotten since I was his only nephew. [I had to make it up to him because I forgot it was his birthday. And I couldn’t think of anything else.] [You’re talking about Jaden right?] My uncle clarified. [Yeah.] I replied sheepishly. The mention of his name caused my brain to show me a an image of his dejected face. It made my skin crawl that I indirectly caused it. It was the last thing I wanted. [He was really mad at me.] [I would have been mad if my own best friend forgot my own birthday.] My uncle pointed out. I cringed at myself because of how true that statement was. Uncle Chase was the kind of person that makes so many lifetime friends. He easily connected with a lot of different people all over the world and yet still have time for us. [That kid practically grew up with you. He’s your brother from another mother!] [I know! I know!] I hissed. I could imagine my uncle shaking his head on the other end. But I couldn’t blame him. He didn’t know the whole story. Yet I wonder if he was capable of understanding. [Don’t make it sound that bad, Uncle Chase!] [Well, it is that bad!] He pointed out. Disappointment strangled my ears. It felt like I let both my uncle and Jaden down. Both of them were alike, after all. Both of them were natural conversationalists that could get others to do their bidding. They capitalized on their strong charisma to bring out the best in others. [No wonder that kiddo is mad. He felt betrayed.] [Fine!] I snapped. Betrayal was such a hurtful word for me especially after Jaden learning the secret that I kept from him. That bottle of meds was the last thing I expected from Jaden. [But I really need help in making up to him. I promised him I’ll get him an X-VIP Badge. I’m sorry.] [And if I refused?] He asked a challenging question. The first thing I felt was the disappointment I was about to throw at Jaden’s face. It would be too much given his mental state. My fingers twitched at the sound of Uncle Chase’ query. [What are you going to do about it?] [Please!] I pleaded. My voice even broke from being under tension. I already broke one promise to Jaden. I absolutely couldn’t afford another broken promise. It would be too much for our friendship to take. There was just too much at stake on the following week’s events. [I’ll do anything!] [Hmm. Anything, huh?] My uncle hummed playfully. It was a reluctant dare from me and it would seem that I would regret it. Uncle Chase knew my flaws and weaknesses. But he was always merciful with me. Maybe not this time. [Why don’t you start with what was bothering you.] [But Uncle Chase, that’s too personal!] I lied abruptly. In a sense it was true since it was a personal thing that I wanted to protect my family and friends. And my Uncle Chase didn’t know that I also wanted to protect him. He would be surely there at the event either ways. [Sorry but that’s something I couldn’t admit.] [That’s new.] My uncle commented dryly. Then he played that cheerful hum out again as if he was taunting me. Although both my dad and Uncle Chase majored in the Business Sector, it was my uncle who had the knack on figuring out people. It was what made him a dangerous opponent in business. He always mentioned that he would have been a psychologist if our grandpa didn’t harshly egged them on to be businessmen. [You never kept a personal secret from me.] [Wait. That’s not fair!] I shot back. [What’s not fair is promising an X-VIP Badge to your best friend without letting me know first. That was a risky move. But I’m proud that you’re willing to bet on me. It makes me feel important.] My uncle chuckled in a matter-of-factly way. But it was true. And I hated that it’s true. [The X-VIP Badge is still a few thousand bucks because you get to have a chance to meet celebrities in the back stage. And that’s not really your money.] [Can’t it be anything else?] I pleaded again. [That’s absurd!] [You’re not really in a position to bargain.] Uncle Chase pointed out. My lips quivered. I wanted to retort and tell him how hard I’ve been working my ass off so his event would not be a disaster. But that was off the table. My uncle was still right in a sense. [You owe your best friend for letting him down. And you owe me for using my position to get back to your friend.] [You’re right. I guess I asked too much.] I responded sadly. [I just want to know what’s bothering you. Chance, I’ve known you since you were in diapers. Do you really think I wouldn’t notice?] Uncle Chase asked. The answers were in the edge of my tongue at that point. I trusted Uncle Chase deeply and I knew that he might give me an ounce of wisdom or something. The man met so much people all over the world but always welcomed their insights with much humility. [That’s a pretty cheap cost in exchange for a few thousand bucks if you ask me. You’re not really the type to keep secrets from me. Celine would be understandable. But not you.] [Fine.] I resigned. Then I slowly took a deep breathe. I could feel my uncle’s anticipation on the other end. [Do you believe in existence of other dimensions?] [Before that, open your Gmail account. Don’t ask. Quickly go to your room and lock the door.] Uncle Chase erupted. His voice went chilly and rigid. There was a strong tension in it. [Do it now and wait for my encrypted email.] The line was suddenly cut. I went for my door and locked it. A notification went off from my phone and I opened my email. It was an encrypted one coming from a person named CV. Chase Valentine. But those initials were also applicable to me, my dad and my sister. I tapped on the hyperlink and it started installing another app on my phone. FordTech, Inc. The FT logo was in front before the app opened to let me I see the UI. It was some sort of Social Media app wherein ‘Chase Valentine’ was the only listed friend on it. It was weird because the account was already listed under my name. Even the username’s credentials were the same as my other social media accounts. The app started to ring for a video conference and I answered the phone as I sat back on my bed. Much to my surprise, he dyed his hair blonde that complimented well with his gray eyes. He was almost a decade younger than our dad but they pretty much look alike. Except there was a small scar at the corner of his chin. As far as I could remember, my uncle got into a fist fight with some kids in the neighborhood and dad had to rescue him. They were really close despite their age gap. But he looked really haggard. Probably due to the incoming event. There must have been a whole lot of preparations for that. My grandparents would often call him the unexpected blessing to their family since they only wanted a single child. But indeed, he was a blessing to us. Since my parents married young, he was the middle man between my parents and I. And Celine, of course. [Sorry for the sudden change of communication lines. This is an encrypted channel so no one can eavesdrop on us. I’ve already given the task to my IT dude to erase all the digital foot prints of our previous call.] He started explaining. His vibes quickly shifted from empathic to diplomatic. It was quite confusing. [I also had to cancel my meeting later. It seems we have a lot to talk about.] [Wait, what’s going on?] I asked. My uncle’s face was grim. [You know something, don’t you?] I asked gravely. It was a stupid question. I knew that answer already. It was just hard to swallow. My jolly and carefree Uncle Chase knew about Altimeraea. [Impossible.] [Confirm the name of the other dimension first.] My uncle urged. [Altimeraea.] I said. My uncle went pale after what I said. I saw him covertly take a deep breath from the side of his mouth. [Have you been there, too?] [Yes. But a couple of times only, though. Moving forward, this looks like just as I feared, Chance.] Uncle Chase lamented. Then he rubbed his chin thoughtfully as he gazed in the camera. I just gulped at his bewildered response. [You’re also involved in that other dimension aren’t you? There’s just no going back after this.] I just nodded reluctantly. [Since when?] He asked again. [Within the past month, I started showing some signs of magic. I also got stronger as the weeks passed by.] I confessed right away. He already knew about Altimeraea anyway. [Then there were mages from that other dimension claiming that I have the soul of their friend. I was being protected from an organization called Teios Kyr. It seems they want to capture me.] [I’ll send covert guards all over your town.] My uncle said then started typing on his laptop. Probably a request for some private military protection. [Just to make sure you guys are all safe.] [But your event is being targeted by Teios Kyr!] I abruptly said. He was taken back by that. But so was I. Then I decided to press forward. My uncle has every right to know because he was the Project Head of the whole thing. [That’s why I missed Jaden’s birthday because I was cooperating with the people who would want [Don’t tell me that you’re planning to fight.] He muttered. But his face said it all. He didn’t want me to get involved. Just like everyone else. And it really hurt me because it felt like no one trusted me to be strong enough. Everyone saw me as someone to be protected. [Chance, that’s a very bad idea.] [Of course! These people and I will make sure to protect your event and take down anyone who wants to ruin it!] I lied. He didn’t need to know they these so-called friends wanted me to stay out of the way. And it was painful for me to lie to my uncle just to hype some kind of bravado. Truly pathetic. [I’ll do anything to protect my family and friends.] [Let the adults handle it.] Uncle Chase stated flatly. His eyes were filled with pity for me. And it angered me to see that. I wanted him to be proud that I was resolved to protect the ones I love. [Chance, I want to know the whole story.] I took a deep breath and started how I met Rei that one evening. It took me half an hour to lay down all the details of what happened. From the moment that we got cornered to the alleyway to my short trip to the Citadel of Jeonnan. And then I also had to include that Jaden had some sealed memories so that he wouldn’t be a target. But that was just a pathetic attempt. If the enemy knew that Jaden was a close friend, they would inevitably be targeted. Uncle Chase listened intently throughout the whole time. I was really thankful how intentional he was on letting me hear my side of things. But he kept a straight face most of the time. The only time he flinched was when I saw how broken Jaden was due to the mishap with the illusion mage. Plus, it was really exhausting to talk about the whole narration twice in a day. The only thing that I omitted in my narration was the mark that lingered invisibly on the palm of my hand. It was a horrid deal I was still considering. I wanted to protect everyone. But a deal with the devil was still off the table. The foretaste of that power should be enough to defend my friends. [That’s why I wanted to fight.] I said with conviction. Uncle Chase had his poker face on. And that only time I get to see that was during our card game nights whenever he would visit us. [The only way to protect everyone is to eliminate the enemy. But all I could do now is to protect people. Please, if you already know about this, help me.] [I will think this through. And I meant that. I just couldn’t accept at how fast you’re growing up. You’ll always be my baby nephew.] He replied with a smile. The mood was lighter again. [But fine, you got me. I’ll set an X-VIP Badge to be sent to your best friend. Just tell me his address so I know where to send it to.] [Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You won’t regret this!] I exclaimed over the camera. My uncle just chuckled at how I was zapped back into a childish form of excitement. Then after a few seconds, I went serious. [But how did you know about Altimeraea? How much do you know? I don’t have anyone to talk to about this.] Uncle Chase raised his hand and emitted a ball of light in the center of it. The small thing started to morph into different sizes before vanishing into thin air. I couldn’t help but look like a little boy who opened his Christmas presents. [You’re one of us!] I shrieked. [Not quite. It’s the only thing I could do so it doesn’t really do much. It was something I discovered back when I was a teenager. ] He admitted. But for some reason it was something he felt shameful of. His attitude towards his abilities was kind of weird. [Your dad didn’t know though.] [Does it run through the family?] I asked. [It seems so. After years of tracking down our family tree, it seems that your great grandfather came from Altimeraea.] Uncle Chase explained. [Magic is in our blood. But by now there should be only faint hints.] [I also find it weird that you’re using a light-element magic. But the one I’m using is dark-element magic.] I said then I raised my hand. With a flick of my finger, a black dagger appeared out of thin air. But my uncle wasn’t really too impressed. He did mention that he had been to the other dimension before. I guess that would be a conversation for some other time. [With my avroi, I could quickly command my shadows to extend before compressing it until it turns into a solid state. But yours is a different one. Why?] [Looks like I need to keep researching our family tree then. I honestly don’t know why you have a different kind of magic.] He replied heartily. Yet I could see it in his eyes he already wanted to discuss other matters. I had my dagger collapse back into my shadow. [About the incoming attack, what do you know?] [As far as our discussion went, Teios Kyr wanted to try some sort of new weapon and they need a lot of people.] I explained then went over again with how we came up with that idea. Prince Zein was a huge help on that one. [But this is what we had deduced. So, we really don’t know anything yet.] [It seems the rumors were true.] Uncle Chase thought loudly to himself. [It’s not yet too late. I would need to contact that man again and set up defense protocols for the event. I'm sure he would be happy to help.] [Rumors?] I asked. But at the back of my head, it gave me a peace of mind that my uncle would be giving us reinforcements. Although I couldn't help but wonder if technology could keep up with magic. [Yeah. The reason why I partnered with FordTech is because there is a certain man inside that also knows about the other dimension. He mentioned that the event might call unwanted attention.] Uncle Chase enlightened me with more details. The fact that he knew meant that he was prepared. But he said that they were also rumors so he was not too sure. [The only reason I prepared this event was to informally launch some of his new projects. That was our partnership. I’m kind of a marketing and event specialist for his company.] [If only I knew you were aware of Altimeraea, I would have told you right away about this.] I contemplated. [It's so hard to carry this secret alone. The only people who knew were the ones from the other side. But I don't have anyone close I could share the burden with.] [Anyway, it looks like I need to check my schedule again and set them in order.] He said as he started typing down on his laptop. Uncle Chase looked really pale already. Based on his heavy eyebags, the man was really busy. I couldn't help but be thankful that I was able to take hours from him. [You have to school tomorrow, right?] [Yeah.] I confirmed. [Thank you so much for the favor. Jaden would be so mind-blown that I got him the X-VIP Badge. Good night, Uncle Chase.] [By tomorrow morning, I'll have people around the house. Please keep that a secret for the meantime. Your dad wouldn't understand. And if it gets too dangerous, I'll snatch your whole family away from there. No complaints will be tolerated. Do you get me?] I just nodded reluctantly. He never really gave me a choice. I guess he was just trying to protect us in his own way. [It was nice catching up with you, sport. Good night.] Then the feed was cut off. For the rest of the night, I pondered over if that would be enough to win Jaden back. He was really shaken. It was really stupid of me to let him know about my powers. I cursed myself repeatedly but what's done is done. Stupidity really had its consequences. My mind would wander off if everything had a chance of going back to normal. Yet deep down, I knew the answer. I just couldn't accept it at all. The next day, I tried to act as normal as possible. Jaden was pretty shaken but I was happy that he didn't ignore me this time. Everyone else seemed to be pleased that Jaden forgave me. We tried to be civil to each other and showed some level of comfort like before. It was already lunchtime and we were on the way to the cafeteria. Since Ven tagged along, he also noticed the tension so I told him that I'll explain privately after school and I knew he would be upset if I told him that I outed my secret to Jaden. Because it threw all our efforts to protect him in vain. "So, how did you apologize to Jaden?" Dylan suddenly asked me in the open. I was caught off guard because I promised them that they will be getting X-VIP Badges but we only got them the normal VIP. They didn’t complain though since a VIP Badge is still a VIP Badge. All of them understood since they cost a few thousand bucks. Jaden was the only special case but they didn't know about it. "Did you bribe him or something." The tension was there and I didn't want to be obvious so I just shook at my head as I tried to make a legitimate excuse. I cussed at myself inside my head for not thinking about a good excuse in case something like this came up. My thoughts the night before was so busy in being hopefully heroic. The crashing reality was kicked out by my wishful thinking. "Well, Chance was a really good kiss ass!" Jaden suddenly butted in and put an affectionate arm around me. Then he pulled me in closer and acted as genuinely as possible. It was a nice save. "You might want to try his kiss ass skills one time!" "That's just gross Parker. What the hell is wrong with you?" Dylan chuckled and everyone laughed along. Then I playfully shoved Jaden back to show that we were really in good terms. I guess we really were. Jaden just didn't know how to deal with everything that came up. "Why would you use Chance as an ass-wipe?" "Nah. I'm lucky to have Chance." Jaden pointed out. "He's quite exceptional in being the butt of the joke this time. It's where he belongs." "I guess we can no longer deny that you don't know how to wipe your butt." I retorted back. Dylan and Anya snickered at the comment while Caitlyn was clearly disgusted. Meanwhile, everything flew over Ven's head. He didn't get it at all. "That's exactly why I need a kiss ass friend like you." Jaden shot back. Our banter kept going until we made it to the cafeteria. It was a good thing that Jaden was used to exchanging insults with me. And thankfully, everyone bought it. Except Caitlyn. She knew something was up. She just always knew. "What's going on with you and Parker?" She asked aggressively after she cornered me when I fell in line for our food. "I thought you already apologized?" "Hey, we're already in good terms with each other." I defended. But I knew she wouldn't buy that. Caitlyn had strong instincts when something was up. She was some sort of watch tower in the group. She always knew there was a screw up before the one who even did the screw up knew. "What's up with that accusation?" "Dylan and Anya might fall for it. But not me." She quipped firmly. Caitlyn was just utterly convinced that she was correct in her intuitive statement. "Something isn't right. I just know it." "Fine. But that's none of your business." I softly snapped at her. Yet Caitlyn didn't budge. She's like a tigress who already lunged at her prey. But mixing a truth with a lie can set her off course. "Heck, it's not even my business. Jaden will let us know when he's ready. But for now, I'm willing to wait for him deal with it. I can't force him to spit it out. That's just insensitive." She went silent. And that was I knew Caitlyn fell for it. I couldn't let any of our friends know my secret. But I would gladly give my all to defend them. My only problem was convincing Rei and the others that I could fight. Even worse, I also had to convince my uncle for that. "Sorry." It was all she could muster. And she really looked disheartened at the situation. "I'm just worried for him. He's not himself for that past week. The others just don't notice it like we do." "It's okay." I comforted her. "I'm just as worried as you are." After the last class, we all had to go home. To make things worse, Ven said he had to be somewhere. Then he whispered that there will be an emergency meeting that night so he needed to check out a few things. I felt the pressure of how the walk home would be. I had no choice. It was a stroll down with only Jaden. But I had to pull my crap together. He's my best friend and I shouldn't be pressured at all. Jaden and I started walking so I initiated small talk. It was a surprise that he played along. We talked about the lousy homework that our math teacher had to give us. Then we talked about that new slutty librarian that we kept on hearing about. We had a good laugh on that one. It felt natural despite the invisible elephant walking behind us. Everything was just slow. Every word was dragged out of my mouth. I wanted to keep telling him that I'm sorry but I was enjoying the fake normalcy that we had. I severely missed those moments. Because everything about Altimeraea just didn't exist during that walk home. And I would treasure that for years to come. "I'm sorry about last night.” I abruptly said with remorse. I couldn't even face him as we walked along the open street. The people that passed were faceless as I focused on making amends with Jaden. "Now I wish I never told you. You already have too much burden to carry. I wasn’t being fair." “I’m sorry for punching you.” Jaden replied with a small voice. Those were the few moments that he would use such a low tone. It was almost unnatural for him. My best friend barely had the intention to even look at me. “That was uncalled for. I think my meds mess up my mood at random moments. But that’s not an excuse.” “It’s okay.” I muttered flatly like a programmed robot. “I deserve that.” “Save the self-pity. It doesn’t suit you.” My best friend commented. Even his slightly thick eyebrows crossed themselves from frowning. “I’m very mad at you for not telling me everything right away. All that time, I was blaming myself. All that time, I thought I was crazy. Mom was worried sick. She had never seen me acted that way. Heck, I didn’t even know I was capable of acting that way! And each day was a drag because I don’t like anyone being worried for me!” Silence. Sheer silence. A minute passed and we just kept on walking. “Can you forgive me?” I asked him to break the ice. “You’re a jerk.” He snarled harshly. “Please, stop.” “Seriously. I want to be clear.” I pressed on. It was quite a stubborn move. But I really wanted to know. “Are we in good terms? You’re my only best friend and it’s hard for me if we’re not okay. It’s painful.” “Stop. Just stop, you insensitive fuck!” Jaden raised his voice. His hand already turned into a fist. “How dare you tell me that it’s hard for you but you never considered what I would have felt! You’re a big fucking moron, Valentine!” “I’ve kept you in the dark to protect you!” I shot back immediately. My tone level tried to catch up to his. But I knew that Jaden was just beyond hard-headed for his own sake. It was a defeated cause. Yet for some reason, I kept pressing on him even further. It was annoyingly stupid for my part. Just stupid. “Can you at least be a little grateful? Just a little. Can you do that? Huh?” “You know what? Let’s just stop or I might end up punching you.” He replied with a pang of dignity. And it simply provoked me even further. He acted maturely and that made me angry for some reason. “This is getting out of hand. If beating up your stupid ass to make you shut up I won’t hold myself back.” “Try me.” I taunted him and added a sarcastic flavor on my statement. His ears got red but Jaden just took a deep breathe. “You’ll regret it.” “That’s why I don’t think you deserve those powers.” Jaden argued back. I was caught off guard with that. “Deep inside you’re just a big bully.” I was flustered by that statement. But it rang true. I even stopped walking to reflect it upon myself. Jaden kept walking and left me. It took me a few seconds before I realized that he was further away. My best friend and I maintained that distance along with the deafening silence between us. It went on until he got back into his house and I simply passed by his door with a snobbish attitude. For that whole week, Jaden and I attempted to repair our friendship. Yet every single time, we just ended up fighting again. So we went for the silent treatment for days. It was a cold war between the two of us. But our ability to understand each other really got nowhere. We would still let our usual banter be displayed in front of friends to avoid suspicion. It was between Jaden and I and we didn’t want to involve anyone else from our friends. Even Ventus seemed to have bought it already. Except Caitlyn. She was annoyingly observant. Even Jaden had to assure her a few times. Yet in all those moments, Jaden was still aloof. Sadly, he really just hadn't fully forgiven me yet. That was understandable though since I placed him under so much pressure to keep an inter-dimensional secret. I would notice that some of his usual snarky comments were filled with bitterness and resentment. So, I had to let it pass more than a few times. There were even a few instances that he reverted back to that hateful self in his room. And I had to calm him down. I was the sponge to absorb that undealt emotion within him. It would always end up with him breaking down in front of me. It was really painful to watch. His mood would really go haywire at random times. It was some sort of bug on the brain and his usual programming would just go nuts. He had allowed me to kick him in the shin under the table to remind him to keep his cool. I had to do it more than a few times, too. Jaden said that he entrusted me to keep him in check so others wouldn't know. Of course, I was more than glad to help. I was driven by guilt, after all. But everything must come to an end. The first day of the Black Daze event started during the afternoon. The grounds would be open for more almost 72 hours straight. I'm not sure how my Uncle Chase did it and convinced the local government to have an event like that in our area. But since the event grounds were quite far from the residential areas, they were bound to give in. It was pretty secluded and some sort of special sound system were used so it wouldn't create so much noise. Most likely, it came from FordTech, Inc. It was in the middle of an open ground surrounded by thick trees. There was only two or three roads that allowed visitors to come. A couple of days before the actual event and we were already seeing some trucks that moved in to set it up. According to the mainstream media, it was a lowkey project that will be used to launched internationally if it fared well. And if things went really bad then it would be my uncle's head on the line. That morning, Rei gathered us in a small headquarters they had set up near the event grounds. I had to make a lousy excuse from my parents so I'd be able to attend the secret meeting. It took a while before they agreed and I had to use Jaden as a convenient excuse so they would let me go. However, Celine seemed to have picked up the blatant lie but decided to keep herself silent about it. All the events that had happened for the past month was about to converge and all I felt was the shaking of my muscles. Even my breathing was heavy and erratic because it was the first major fight that I would see myself to. Before, Ven had always been there to protect me. But not this time. The odds were against us. Rei mentioned that there would be no solid support. We were on our own defending the town. The last hope I had was what my uncle mentioned that there would be a lot of defense measures that will be used. But I was not too hopeful since he only had a week of preparation. Procuring powerful defense systems might be tricky. Plus, I never noticed anything dangerous in the moving trucks that moved into town for the past couple of days. Everyone I knew from Zidania was there. Nisroc, Chrystal and Evron were all present. Surprisingly, even Morsus was allowed to go. I had no idea what kind of leverage he had over Rei to force him to do that boy's bidding. There was a total of thirteen people in the huge room, including me. So there were twelve mages from Altimeraea and I had only met half of them: Rei, Ven, Morsus, Evron, Chrystal and Nisroc. The other half was unfamiliar. As I checked them out, some of them didn’t strike me as too friendly. The only one that looked approachable was the one with the blonde hair who seemed to be in his late teenage years. Despite the introductions, it still made me wonder how they were able to set up the headquarters so quickly. “We don’t really have time so let’s cut to the chase. This team was assembled during the last minute. And I was not able to bargain Estelle from the higher ups.” Rei initiated. The mention of Estelle’s name stirred something animalistic inside me. I wouldn’t ever forget what she did to Jaden. Her magic was useful, but his mental health was sacrificed. Everyone started to gather around the big room and took their respective spots. Some were sitting on a chair. The others were leaning on the wall. And then there was that dude who was gawking around in an aloof manner. “The operation starts in two hours and I don’t want any screw ups with our limited man power.” Limited was an understatement. I didn’t want to side with Rei but I was sure that he did what he can to call forth reinforcements. But that was pretty much every person that would help us. A team of thirteen were pretty small for a defense against an unknown enemy. To make things worse, there were only five in the Knights that were present. “You might want to introduce us first.” One of the women spoke up. She was like the other intense guy in terms of age except she looked more at ease. Her aura was very warm and Ven stirred in her direction. That’s when I noticed that they had the same shade of sandy blonde hair. Even the texture was the same. “It’s hard to keep up if we do not know each other.” “Fine.” Rei resigned. “You start.” Everyone started introducing themselves. The woman started on Rei’s cue and I was surprised to know that she was Ven’s aunt. Her name was Jezebeth and she had the same elemental forte as her nephew. After was the grim-faced man with the scar. His interesting trait was the scar on his face and the same intensity of dark hair and aura like Reizal. His name was Valafar and he was also Rei and Israfil’s uncle. The man was a former Captain in the Knights and had tons of experience. It was curious thing that he respected the chain of command despite Rei being younger and less experienced than he was. The other woman that was also had a blood relative was Aldria who was the older sister of Nisroc. They had the same brown hair, slightly lighter than Jaden’s but theirs were wild like a lion’s mane. Plus, there were long streaks of red splattered randomly in their hair. The last woman that I didn’t know was Elune Adelsia who had silvery blonde hair. She seemed timid and soft-spoken and her gray eyes was a mystery. The last couple of guys looked about Nisroc’s age. The one that leaned on the wall was bald and had tattoos in the side of his head. They were mysterious symbols that I’ve never seen before. His skin was really tan as if he sunbathed all day. His name was Rai’li Auris. Finally, the aloof blonde dude that looked the friendliest of them all was River Knightley. His light blonde hair and blue eyes looked like your typical cool kid in school. He also seemed to be excited to speak to me for some reason. One thing I hated about the introduction part was my turn because everyone’s eyes were on me. There were some low whispers but it was clear that I was Israfil’s chosen vessel. No one really created a wild All in all, every House of Zidania which represented each of their respective elemental magic was there. There was a variety of elemental mages present that could help us in different situations. Rei, Evron and Valafar were from the House of Vladimir. Nisroc and his sister, Aldria were from the House of Kaiser. Ventus and his aunt, Jezebeth, were from the House of Yeter’el. Rai’li was from the House of Azshara which focuses on the lightning element. Chrystal was from the House of Aquarii. And lastly, Elune Adelsia was from the House of Arathuria that uses light element magic. But I was impressed with the friendly guy, River Knightley. He was also a Rune Mage like Morsus, except he was already done with the Basic Course that Morsus mentioned before. That means he was able to study in all eight ancient Citadels of Solus Magus. It was truly a feat. The boy even whispered to me that River was already halfway through the Intermediate Course of his specialization. The boy had bet silently with me that River Knightley was the most powerful mage in the gathering. Based on Morsus’ already formidable skills despite lacking the last few years of his basic training, River could possibly a one man army. The second one next to him was probably Valafar Volaniss, Rei’s uncle. “There are six areas that needed to be taken care of. And I need you guys to take care of your responsibilities as much as possible.” Rei started. Then he sat on the chair with his dark poker face on as if he was about to start a fight. He took a deep breath and started explaining. “The Main Entrance area is at the south where the people would be pouring in. I doubt that the enemy would be making an entrance here but the goal is to protect people.” “Right.” The grim-faced man objected. Valafar was clearly the oldest in the group and looked to be battle-hardened. He was probably in his mid-40s. There was even a long scar on the side of his face. “I noticed that this team is insanely small to protect thousands of people.” “I will get to that later.” Rei affirmed. The other man backed off respectfully but I felt the tension between Rei and that guy. “Anyway, the Central Plaza will be in the middle area of the field while the Food Stall Area is in its east. The Concert-Grounds will be in the northeast while the Kiddie Grounds is in the west. Lastly, the Backstage and Luxury Area is in the far north.” “Rei and our team with River had already prepared a seal around the area for the past couple of days. Thanks to Knightley’s Abjuration Magic, we can enclose the space.” Evron started to speak in behalf of Rei. “Since Enchantments are also his field of expertise, we’re able to let any Tidian pass through the five-layer barrier. We just need to activate it in case the attack comes. It was a complicated spell but that would be our first line of defense.” “In short, once the attack starts, we just need to cause the crowd to run in all directions until they passed by the barriers. Any person capable if using magic will be trapped inside.” Rai’li pointed out. His light blue eyes were indeed electrifying after he made the point. Paired with his dark tan, it looked like his eyes were glowing. “But that means we’ll also be trapped. Correct?” “That’s right.” Rei replied dryly. “We’ll trap all of our enemies inside the barrier. If any opponent that gets out, River is assigned to eliminate them that’s why he was assigned in the Main Entrance Area.” “What about us?” Aldria asked. “You and Jezebeth will be placed in the Kiddie Grounds since Jezebeth’s magic isn’t designed for fatal blows. And your advanced fire-elemental Combustion Magic heavily relies on precision. Both of your damage control are needed to defend kids.” Rei explained. The two women just nodded along and looked thankful that their strengths were utilized. When he mentioned Combustion Magic, I just wondered how was that damage control. “Nisroc and Chrystal will be assigned to the Food Stall Area since both of them can easily eliminate any fires that will go up. That area is the most susceptible to being burned to the ground.” “Rei and I will be in the Backstage and Luxury Area in the far north of the whole event. Most of the VIPs will be there and since we focus on Sealing Magic, we can launch pre-emptive spells to undo any potential damage. High value targets are in that area and we can easily warp them out of range with our Shadow Flit.” Evron continued explaining. The guy was really Rei’s second-in-command and was well-versed with how Rei did things. “Since Valafar’s Dark Magic focuses on wide-area spells, he will be in the Central Plaza. He will also be focused in creating panic away from the center of the field. Lastly, Rai’li and Elune are arguably the fastest in terms of movement speed because of their respective elements. They will be assigned in the Concert Grounds area in the northeast where they utilize their element the most. Any questions?” Ven, Morsus and I weren’t included in the plan. My heart thumped madly inside my chest. For some reason, I already knew that it meant. I wanted to speak up but Elune raised her concern. “What’s our endgame?” She softly spoke. Her voice really soothed me but behind it, I could sense that she was a fierce warrior. “We can’t just defend blindly and not knowing when it will end.” “Good question.” Rei pointed out. “Once the enemy’s attack commences, I was able to set up an alarm with River that will call for reinforcements from Zidania. It would give us half an hour at most to defend as much as we can.” “Rei, River and I will also be hunting down the enemy’s commander once the coast is clear. Valafar is assigned in the Central Plaza because that’s the least populated area. Everyone will be flocking into their chosen areas.” Evron continued with an explanation. “He’ll also move into the northern area to substitute in our absence to protect high value targets. If anyone is free to move, you may also opt to move into the Tech Zone and the Rides Area since we do not have enough people to cover them right away.” “If there wouldn’t be much enemies in our area, I’ll move to the Rides Area right away.” Jezebeth interrupted. “My magic can easily protect those people who are in the rides. It will be “And I’ll move into the Tech Zone just in case.” Rai’li added. “I trust that you’ll do everything in your power to protect these people.” Rei acknowledged. Rai’li and Jezebeth just nodded back. “The plan is just a guideline. Move accordingly to the need of the battlefield.” “Don’t try to electrocute everyone though!” River playfully intervened. His mood was intensely light for a gathering for battle. “There will be a lot of kids in that area. We don’t want too much collateral damage. I am sure that that GAEA will beat us down for that.” “I’ve been here on Earth to study Technology. The only thing that I could do is to blast it with an EMP.” Rai’li shrugged it off casually. “You might want to learn a thing or two here.” “Sorry. I’m too busy studying for Eldric Finals.” River replied sheepishly. I could only conclude that they had met before. The blonde teenager was extremely charismatic. I also noticed that his a strand of hair was braided behind his left ear with some kind of small trinket that tied its end. “The only reason I’m here is because my father is gone. My little brothers are still busy studying. At least Skylar is finally in his Final Citadel this year.” “So, the Supreme Qirian Council really didn’t budge, huh? It wasn’t really new anymore.” Valafar lamented loudly. “Those old fools don’t know what they’re doing. Aleus didn’t die for this. Leo Knightley’s son is here with us because he’s still believes in the legitimate threat of Teios Kyr. And Romero’s son is still out there and missing for more than a decade.” “Trust me, uncle, I tried to ask more but they will not be convinced until they have solid proof.” Rei replied firmly. But I knew there was a sense of defeat behind that facade. The lack of support from their own government was astonishingly fatal to their morale. “As of now, an actual attack is all the proof they need to actually make a decision. The whole thing was based on scattered rumors and Chance’s intel.” Everyone suddenly looked at me. My concern was pushed into the surface. “All of you guys have roles to play.” I stated out of nowhere. My courage was there for a second. And I took the chance even if it was an absurdly absent-minded interjection. “But what about me?” Then Rei looked at me with dead eyes. My anger seethed as I tried with all of my power not to rush at him. I already knew what it meant. “Ven and Morsus will be your guardians for this mission. You’re going to Altimeraea.”
  8. I wonder how far are they willing to go for their friendship. Hmm. 🤔🤔
  9. Thank you! I really wanted to make sure that the momentum pays off in this chapter. Though this chapter also broke my heart when I wrote this down.
  10. Yeah. This chapter was quite an emotional one. Regarding the VIP Badges, I forgot to edit that one. Oops! The Valentine fam was supposed to get the “X-VIP Badge” while his friends only had the normal “VIP badge.” Still expensive for a freebie though. Tbh, I’m not a concert person (I get awfully dizzy when surrounded by hundreds of people. Then I get a fever the day after. Lol.) but I think most of VIP Tickets with backstage passes are extremely expensive.
  11. No comment on Samael and Eran except they can be quite complex characters. I’ll leave it at that. 😏
  12. Ventus is a really loyal character. But loyalties must be anchored on someone. Hmm. 🤔
  13. I’m not a big fan of Tim Drake’s costume design here. Robin just isn’t Robin without the cape. And I’m lowkey pissed that Damian isn’t in it. Nevertheless, still excited for the game!
  14. Thank you so much for that compliment. Yes, I really wanted to make this story complex. But the challenge here is breaking them down properly so it would be understood. There are a lot of things going on in the plot and there are strong emotions I wanted to draw from the readers along the way. And I also want to question certain beliefs, too!
  15. Yup! I’m happy that I got to communicate it out well that Chance and Jaden are really close buds. During the earlier versions of this story, that was not fleshed out too well. It was a wasted potential to tell about a good story of friendship.😁
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