The Hero

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Chapter 6: The System

“So, you’re saying I can team up with someone if they’re on the same level or higher?” Hugh asked. He studied level two from the carved out table.

“Also, you might find it weird that others can see different things. I can see all nine gates, but I still see differently, in level two though, it’s a jungle, and it’s more like you have to get something in order to defeat the boss. He’s a giant lion that can leap as far as a mile, he can also smell you, so you have to find the net to stop him, it’s wrapped up in an urn stuck in a spider web, everything in that forest is bigger, even the bugs,” said Shade.

“Why aren’t they already defeated? Didn’t you go in before?” Hugh asked.

“It resets after you defeat the boss. I’ve gotten experience from going in more than once and figuring out the entire thing of moves they have, somehow I know that you can’t finish level nine unless you kill the boss, but putting that aside for now, I’d suggest you go in there with a teammate.”

“Well, I’d better go find one then, how many can I bring?” Hugh asked.

“I’ve never teamed up before, except once, so I don’t really know,” said Shade.

“You’ve soloed it all?” Hugh asked.

Shade nodded. “If you want to team up with someone, I’d suggest the building to the right, but pick someone with as much skill as you, and make sure you have lesser numbers, or they’ll die and I don’t know what happens after that.”

Hugh nodded and said goodbye, then he left the small building and walked over to the building next to it. This small town looks a lot like it’s only shops and an inn, maybe that’s what it was made to look like. I wonder if everyone sees something different, Hugh though. He walked up the dark wood porch and opened the door into a brighter place, it had bright walls and golden lights hanging from the ceiling and a small room in the corner with glass walls. There was a large welcome center with a white tabletop and blue glowing lights all around. Behind it stood another teenager and on the wall behind him, a large billboard with the letters glowing red and green.

“Are you here to be teamed up with someone or just looking around?” asked the shop keeper.

“Uh, I’m here to look at my options,” said Hugh.

“Alright, I have a free system for if you want to find the perfect teammate,” he led Hugh to the little glass room in the corner and had him step in.

Hugh was about to ask him a question, but didn’t get the chance as disk came out of nowhere and he spun over it and landed on his feet. Three more came out at him and he dodged them by jumping, then tucking in his head, shoulders and arms and rolled across the floor. he cornered himself and a few more disks shot out at him, then he pushed himself up the wall and flipped backwards. He drew out his sword and blocked a disk that almost his face. Several more flew at him and he spun his sword and blocked all of them. Then the disks started flying all around him and he blocked most of them, but the ones that hit him scraped up his legs and arms and some of them even pierced his back. He drew his staff and blocked more of them, but some hit his feet. Then, they all stopped and he could barely stand up. A beast in the distance turned and looked at him and started to charge. He put his staff away and put his sword back in its sheath, then he took out his bow and drew an arrow. He fired and the beast fell, then it disappeared along with the remains of the disks and his cuts.

“Alright, so I think you’ll do well with Kale,” said the shop keeper. “What’s your Penn name?”

“Uh, I’ve never had one before, I guess I’ll go with Fang,” said Hugh.

“Alright Fang, welcome to this Town, Your partner is already in level two, so you’d better hurry, she’ll be informed that your there when you enter the gate,” said the shop keeper. “The gates are at the west wall of the town. Good luck.”

“Thanks,” he left the shop found the gates exactly where the shop keeper had said they were. Above the nine gates it had the names of the levels and the gates where different colors. Gate one was sea blue and was called ‘Aqua’. Hugh saw a person just walk through the locked velvet red gate of level four. Level two was forest green, the name seemed odd to him. Creep forest? Whoever came up with the name must have had a mental issue. He took a breath, then walked through the gate. He blinked and observed his surroundings, everything was huge, he saw a centipede charging at him and he quickly took out his bow and killed it. He was pulled down and he grasped his sword and swung.

The sound of two swords clattering echoed throughout the air.

“You’re Fang?” asked Kale. She removed her mask and revealed her true identity.

“Kai?” he asked. He was relieved that his blade hadn’t done what he’d intended. “I thought you were a spider or an ant!”

“Well, I’m not, I see you got a helmet,” she said.

“Yeah, but you do realize that ‘Kale’ is a plant right?” he asked.

She nodded then put her mask back on. “The lion’s name is Naiad, he’s king of the jungle and he can smell us, so cover your sent with anything or he’ll find us.”

He rolled around in the dirt, but then he fell onto a strong smelling flower. He started to cough as the pollen filled his nostrils.

“Nice work, I think that’ll work perfectly,” she said. She seemed a lot more serious now that she was in a battle field.

“Have you ever tried to kill Naiad before?” he asked.

“Yeah, fought and won, flower boy. All we have to do is cut down the spider web, then it’ll be a long time before we get that net in the right place.”

“How many times have you done this level?” he asked.

“Nine. The spider web is in the middle of the forest, about ten miles away.” she looked at a map of the forest. “I wish this was a little bit harder, but, then no one would be able to get through it.”

“What level are you at?” he asked.

“Level nine, this should be pretty easy for you, since you were put on my team.” She was drawing a sketch of the forest floor and she kept looking up.

Hugh tried to find what she was looking at, it seemed like she was trying to draw a pathway through the giant blades of grass.

“Let’s get going, we have till dusk before we have to find shelter, the bats are vicious.” She got up from their hiding spot and walked into the grass. Hugh followed closely and kept an eye out for any bugs or ‘small’ animals. A field mouse found them and tried to eat them. Hugh flipped onto it and jabbed his sword into its head, but his sword was a little small, and it only nicked the mouse’s skin.

“It’s like this hot shot,” she said as she used a tree to jump off of and as she flipped backwards she drew her bow and shot three arrows into it and the giant mouse collapsed over dead.

“What is your bow made of?” Hugh asked.

“It’s made of wood,” Kai replied.

Hugh was surprised because wood would rout in the water. “Who made it?”

“I did. Best wood craftsmen in the ocean.”

They continued walking and defeating bugs and other creatures that tried to attack them. They were a really good team and found that they could rid a buck for a few miles, when they got off; they were in a more viney area so they went by tree.

“Duck!” yelled Kai.

Hugh just barely got his head down in time as the gigantic paw just missed him by a hair. “I figured it out!” he yelled. “The forest isn’t huge, were just super small!”

“That would make since,” Kai replied. She slid down the vine and landed on the floor. Hugh followed her and they were running as fast as they could.

“How close are we from the web?” Hugh asked.

“Only a mile, we’re super close.” She slid under a fallen log and Hugh was still trying not to get stepped on by a giant lion. He found that being smaller, he could jump higher so he found a place several feet above him, so he jumped as the wind carried him the rest of the way. Why hadn’t he noticed before? Maybe whoever notices gets the power of being small. If that was the case then he would leave a note by the gate. The bark had enough room for him, but when the lion was clawing at it, it came off. Hugh dodged the claws several times as he started climbing up, somehow the lion didn’t notice the tiny figure crawling away from the scratched up place. he and Kai met up later at the spider web.

“So, how do we get the urn?” Hugh asked.

Kai drew a picture of the web and the spider. Then she made the web thicker in her drawings, she sighed and then crumpled the page. “The spider is a lot bigger than it used to be and the web got thicker. I think someone really doesn’t want us to get through this,” she said. “it’s almost dark too.”

Hugh though for a moment, how do we cut it down if it’s as strong as a tree trunk?

“The lion will be here any moment and the bats are waking up, we need a shelter.” She started gathering large leaves and sticks. “It never used to be this hard.”

“I have an idea with what to do with the lion and the spider,” said Hugh. He had her full attention. “We need to lure the lion to the spider web and have him swipe his gigantic paw, then the urn will be stuck to it and we’ll have to jump.”

“And how can we jump that far?” she asked. She gave him a questioning look and so he continued.

“I just figured out that I can use the power of being small and with that, we can jump farther and use the wind to carry us and so, I’ll jump onto his paw and cut the web, grab the urn and hopefully continue escape, but if I don’t I’ll throw it to you and you’ll win it.” he saw the shock on her face and made sure the sun was still up. The idea he made was crazy, but could work, only if she didn’t want to go with it, he could try on his own and he might have a chance, but it was a high risk.

“I’m in, but I think I should jump or at least have your back in case it doesn’t work. But, in all of the people I’ve fought with and helped them through the level, I’ve never had someone tell me their idea. They’ve always asked me what to do.” She brushed her long blond hair away from her mask.

“What kind of dragon are you?” Hugh asked.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“Well, you kind of remind me of my dragon.” She looked at him like he was crazy. “Sorry, I come from another world with weird stuff like dragons and humans and eagle shifters and other stuff like that. It’s like this world is a lot better than that one and I’m trapped here. It’s very tempting to stay, but my brother needs me. I think he’s dying,” said Hugh. How else would he not know where I was? he though.

A few minutes later, Hugh had figured out how to get the lion’s attention. They built a fire and let the smoke fill the air.

Hugh pushed Kai to the side and took the blow of the spider’s venom. Kai’s sword ran through the beast and it collapsed over dead and fell to the forest floor.

Kai looked at the venom that had pierced him and drew her knife. “Sorry,” she said. She cut out the venom with it.

He screamed in pain and then she pushed a cloth to it and held it there for a while. He grinded his teeth and breathed heavily. She poured liquid onto it that made it burn and then she wrapped a bandage around his armor. The pain went away after about five minutes and he noticed that she’d also put a plant under the bandage.

“Ok, so you should be mobile in about five minutes, the venom didn’t go in that far; and I didn’t cut that deep.” She put her things back in her satchel. She pulled him to the tree trunk and leaned him on it. She then jumped and landed on the other side of the spider web.

The lion appeared and stroked it’s long paw. It swiped the spider web and she jumped onto its paw just like Hugh had said and she let the wind do the rest. She cut open the web and then pulled out the urn. She jumped off it before the lion tried to step on her. She took it back to Hugh and he opened it. But what was inside of it was not a net, but a lioness. They grew back to the size of a regular human and they both fell off the tree.

Kai was knocked out by the fall.

“Uh,” said Hugh. He was face to face with the lion and lioness.

“You have returned to me the thing I have most desired, for that I thank you,” said the great lion. “I will grant you and your friend safe passage through this land. Ah, for years have I waited for you, the hero that will truly give us what we were made for. Every tree and creature made from the shadow will finally be at peace when you have ridded this world of the pain that the dragons have created. We truly want to become free of the pain that our creator has. He is lonely and wants a friend like you.” the lion roared and a portal opened up.

“Go, save who you have lost,” said the lioness. She roared also and then the wounds on Hugh’s back healed.

Kai grunted and raised her head slowly. Hugh put her arm over his shoulder and helped her through the portal. It was another blink and they were at the entrance of the town once more. He set her on a bench and she curled up and fell asleep. Then he continued and went to the armory, he told them what he wanted and they gave it to him as soon as he had asked. Somehow, this stuff was cheaper and he traded his helmet for a full face mask. Then he saw the special design he’d asked for on the medic satchel and he left for the next level.

Level three was gray colored, it also had a little mark like a raven or a crow. He read the title. Ash Guard, that’s a strange name, I wonder what this place looks like, Hugh though. He entered and didn’t blink this time. That was his mistake because he was blinded for a few seconds after he’d entered the level. When his vision cleared, he saw that he was in the middle of a battle field and he was on a flying board.

He almost fell off as he tried it out and he spun in circles. Someone caught him.

“To go forward, you lean forward, to go left you lean left, to go right you lean right, if you want to slow down, lean back but not too far,” he had elfish ears and a weird kind of armor his face was completely covered by a dark helmet that formed around his ears and covered his forehead to his chin by a black visor. “This is the battle for this side of Skydom, and for the other side of Skydom.” He aimed his crossbow and fired a crystal pointed gem at a brown and green uniformed guy on a bike that had wings. “If we destroy Ash Guard’s queen, we take back Skydom. Take this crystal to destroy the queen.” He handed Hugh a diamond. “She has the power to see into your memories and take form of them to get close to you, but then she will destroy you. Be careful.”

Hugh tested out his board and was a little shaky at first, but he got it quickly. He leaned too much to the side and the world spun a few times. But the guy with pointy ears kept helping him. He set him straight and showed him again and then Hugh got it after a few times and then they flew into battle and Hugh was able to cut into the enemies battle vehicles.

The enemy seemed to be endless. Hugh didn’t really have the heart to kill these others because they seemed so human, but he did wreck their vehicles and saw that they all had parachutes. He started getting a little more confident in his boarding so he dodged a bullet flying at him by spinning to the side, then used the energy weapon he’d traded for his sword. It was a hilt that it you pushed a button on it would light up according to how long he wanted it. He slashed it into a bike engine and it exploded, then he continued flying forward. He dodged another bullet and found out that he could fire back if he aimed and thought of where he wanted it to go. He shot twenty of them and flew to the entrance of the dark gray castle. He notice that the clouds around him where also dark and he knew that whatever was in that castle was worse. He was halted by the elf guy flying in front of him just in time as lightning struck a few inches beyond him. When the elf turned around, his armor had a burning smell about it and it turned from gray to black.

“Are you ok?” Hugh asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine, we need to get you to the queen.” He pushed Hugh out of the way of another lightning bolt. Again he was struck.

Hugh knew that this guy was just a program, but he still felt guilty. What if these are real people? I know I killed those bugs and monsters back in level one and two, but what if the creator only made this place because he was lonely? Hugh dodged another lightning bolt. He continued to fight his way through the army and found his way to the landing platform. Hugh had a feeling that something was wrong, he strapped his board to his back, then he looked up and saw a red and pink crystal wiring in the ceiling, almost like a power grid.

“Follow the power line and you find the queen at the heart of it,” said the elf guy. He kicked a solider of Ash Guard off the landing platform. “Go! I’ll cover you.”

Hugh ran through the tunnels looking up. Somehow he got the feeling that someone was following him, he stopped and hid behind a corner as two guards ran past him. He looked behind himself and saw no one, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was being watched.

“Hugh.”

He turned around and again no one was there, but the voice sounded familiar.

“Hugh, help.”

This time it was down the hall, Hugh bolted. The reason that voice was so familiar was because it sounded just like… Mom.

“Hugh, help me!” she yelled.

He wanted to run to her, but the elf guy’s voice echoed through his head. ‘She has the power to see into your memories and take form of them to get close to you, but then she will destroy you’. Fey told me she was dead, Hugh thought. “I’m sorry Mom.” He closed his eyes and then kicked his shadow on the wall and heard a yelp. Then saw it moving and turn from 2d to 3d and take the form of a girl. Hugh put his sword to her throat. “Who are you?” he said in a deadly way. He was angry about the memory of his mother being disgraced by an evil villain.

“I am queen of Ash Guard,” she replied. She also was angry, but young.

“Give me your name,” once again his voice was low and deadly.

She gave him an evil smirk, then moved the blade away from her throat. He didn’t have it in him to keep the blade there.

“You really are just that stupid aren’t you?” she asked as she rose from the ground. Hugh’s eyes got wide as she only stretched her hand out and pieces came flying out of nowhere and formed a scary looking staff with several small different colored gems on the end of each side of the handles and twisting to the large end crystal on both sides. She pointed it at him and he dodged a powerful blast of a light crystal.

He took out the diamond that the elf guy had handed him.

Her eyes got wide. She mouthed a name, then she used telepathy and stole the crystal and took off with it.

“Wait!” Hugh yelled. He chased after her but could hardly keep up, he took his board off his back and kick started it, then flew full speed ahead. She’s really fast! He thought. He found her in a large boss sort of room as she handed a tall man a key and stepped through a portal at the end of the large room. The power grid crystal was off to the side of the room, like a generator, and the rest of the dark room looked was like a warehouse.

“I am now the leader of the Ash Guard, Dark Star,” The man was tall and had dark skin, pointy ears and had red hypnotizing eyes that were like a crescent blood moon. His sword lit up to the same color of his eyes, a dark red. The other end of it lit up as well, but in a purple color, the design of the crystals were the emblem of the army… the same mark as the one on the gate entrance.

“If I defeat you, I can go through that portal, right?” Hugh asked.

“Aren’t you a little short to be a Troposphere Warrior?” Dark Star asked mockingly.

“Yep, but you have no idea what I can do,” said Hugh. “So, am I right?”

Dark Star gave him an evil grin. “I’ve never lost a battle before.”

“Then how is there still a war outside?”

The tall elf seemed speechless, then he let out a war cry and charged at Hugh. He ducked and went between Dark Star’s legs, then as Hugh’s shoulders and head were on the ground, he kicked the guy in the back and flipped onto his feet. The elf recovered quickly and shot out a red bolt that Hugh dodged, but when it hit the floor it exploded and launched Hugh forward. He hit the floor and was dazed for a second, he’d lost his sword. He spun over as he dodged the blade that cut into the floor and then he took out his staff as the dark elf’s blade was inches from his face.

“You have no hope of winning boy,” Dark Star mocked.

Hugh saw the other side of Dark Star’s blade slowly coming down. Hugh tripped him and spun his staff, he grabbed his sword and by instinct he threw it at the elf and it just missed the guy’s head, but stuck to his armor, pinning him wall. Hugh threw a few knives and they all stuck to his cloths. Then he charged and slammed his staff into Dark Star’s stomach plate of armor. The dark elf gasped for air.

“Well, you were more impressive than I thought was possible,” said the dark elf. “But not enough.” He disappeared from where he was pinned down and kicked Hugh in the face.

Hugh stumbled back. He looked around to see if the elf had become visible again, but he was nowhere in sight. Hugh was kicked again, this time in the stomach. He coughed as he tried to breath. The next attack let him on the floor and defenseless. Somehow, Hugh remembered a saying Fey had told him, ’if you don’t see him, hear him, and if you can’t do that, then use your instincts’, but if that doesn’t work, if your still even alive, think ahead and anticipate his or her movements. Hugh closed his eyes and heard the slightest movement and he opened his eyes and dodged the fatal strike by the powerful blade. He felt the heat of the blade and could see it’s red and purple glow, then it was turned off and Hugh ducked, then flipped to the side. He ran at the wall that had ten throwing knives on it, his steps were interrupted and he fell to the floor. How do I stop him? Hugh thought. He felt a stabbing pain in his shoulder as he caught himself and rolled. He kept going and got used his momentum to pull one out of the wall. I have to destroy that generator. He threw it at the giant crystal and pulled out another one to defend himself. When the throwing knife hit the generator it sparked, then it exploded. The entire base seemed like it was falling.

“What have you done?” the dark elf became visible again and Hugh took the chance to strike. Blade at his throat, Dark Star closed his eyes, ready for the final thrust. “I’m sorry, I failed you,” he whispered.

Hugh didn’t want to kill him, but the only way to finish this level was to kill the boss. He didn’t feel well, then he collapsed. He didn’t realize he’d had a knife in his back, he closed his eyes and could hear someone calling his name. I’m sorry… Fey.

Dusk

She had two guards escorting her to the next prison in the streets of Jet City. It was normal around these parts of the city for the police to walk they’re prisoner in public areas because no one had the guts to stand up to the government authority. Some people stared, others took a quick look, but all passed by. I need to find Victoria, she’s the only one now who hasn’t died. Maybe she’ll be able to liberate this world with her special powers, but wait, didn’t the old poem say ‘She holds it as part of her uncontrollable power’. Wait a second, she’s the diamond Dragon… but Dragonborn? What was her parents thinking?

The police escort stopped at a light to cross the street. There was an Air-boarder on the other side staring at her and then mouthed, “What did you do?”

Dusk mouthed back, “Nothing.” She looked at both soldiers and when the light turned green and the crowds started flooding in, the boy kick-started his board to full power and raced above her as he held out his hand and she reached up with her cuffed ones and she was sailing through the air in a super speed, like an eagle chasing after its prey.

Dusk looked back and saw the expression on the faces of the guards and laughed out loud, because, until that moment, they had shown absolutely no facial expressions. Dusk saw the buildings flying by and getting lower and lower as they went above the city and took to the few clouds that were in the sky.

There were landing platforms with a city of tree houses, invisible to the city and covered by the fog, she had no idea there was a society up here, but they mostly looked like Air-boarders.

“Hey uh, I never caught your name,” said the boarder that saved her.

“Dusk,” she replied. “I heard that all people see things differently in this world, so, what does this place look like to you?” the question was a strange one, but she was honestly carious.

“Huh, well uh.” He scratched the back of his head. “To me it looks like a series of floating jungles and there’s a river is in the middle of it. I should show you around. By the way, my name is Skinner, welcome to Jadesphere.”

“Hey Skinner you’re coming to the meeting right?” another boy boarder yelled from above.

“Yeah,” Skinner yelled back.

The boarder flew off to the largest and brightest building in the center of the floating forests. The place seemed bright and beautiful, but also dark and mysterious, like they all knew something she didn’t.

“Who was that?” Dusk asked.

“That was the new guy named Rogan, he recently died from execution,” said Skinner. He jumped onto his board and reached out his hand. “You don’t seem surprised by the fact that I told you he died, you must have known Alistair.”

She looked up at him with shock in her eyes. Rogan? Is Rogan here or is it a different Rogan? she thought. “How…”

“Come to the meeting and you’ll see,” said Skinner.

She took his hand and they flew to the treehouse in the middle of the forest. Upon entering Dusk was surprised to find it was a circular room with a stage far below the seats like a coliseum. Skinner took her down to the middle rows and sat by Rogan, Dusk sat by Skinner.

That’s defiantly the same Rogan, she thought.

“I saw her in my dream before I was saved by you,” Rogan whispered to Skinner. “Her name is Dusk right?”

“Don’t worry, the leader will explain everything,” Skinner whispered back.

“You guys do realize I can hear everything you’re saying right?” Dusk asked the boys.

A boy with black hair walked out of one of the coliseum gates and into the center stage. “Welcome to the meeting all Air-boarders and newcomers, I’m Night,” he said.

Dusk’s mouth dropped as the whole place roared in cheers and applause. This is the one who put me here!

He lifted up his hand for silence and the place died down. “You all know the truth about me, but for those of you who don’t, I’m about to tell you. The real truth about me is that I created the system to save my sister. The system is a world where everyone is having the same dream but see things differently. For some of you, you see this place as a stone coliseum, others see wood, some see a large dark room with neon lights and a smoke machine, but everyone sees it differently. I for one see a family; I didn’t know you guys would be nice and kind after I told you this. My dad forced me to kill all of you so that there wouldn’t be chaos in this world and so that you all could feel like this all was real when you woke up in this world after dying, the real truth is that you’re all patients in a hospital that’s repairing your bodies. My sister was the first, she was on her death bed and I took her to another place full of new possibilities, the place where your bodies are currently. Well, I took her to a medical facility and they couldn’t do anything to revive her. I was by her bed side as she was gasping for air and so I took her out and ran from the doctors that insisted that she stayed there. Well, my dad found us and took us to his lab he had and showed me where our mother was. To my shock, she had been dying of a wound received to her by a war and he made a place for her to slowly heal, using liquid to also speed up the process. He allowed me to copy it and I made her able to breath, I created the system to spend time with her and she became queen of level three in the ultimate games. Right now, something has occurred and she’s left her position to her right hand man and will currently be unavailable to all who want to participate in the game. If you have any questions please speak up now.”

Silence filled the air as the story soaked in.

“I though Alistair was the first to go into the system,” said Dusk loudly as her voice echoed through the stadium.

“Well, me and my sister got into a fight and separated in the same world, so I contacted Alistair and told him about this healing process. He though I was crazy. This is during a time when we were hunted as criminals so one day he took a fatal blow and I took him to my father’s lab and Alistair was put into the facility,” Night replied.

“Why are you in the system?” she asked.

“Because I was shot by an arrow and it pierced my lung.” Night looked at her and his eyes seemed to be able to see right into her.

“Why—”

“I’m sorry, there’s some business I need to attend to. Maybe we could talk later,” said Night. He said it politely and then left the room.

“Where’s he going?” asked Dusk.

“You heard him, he’s got to deal with something,” said Skinner. “Hey, by the way, you guys should get settled in. I’ll take you to the café down the airline. I should also get you guys to meet a few people around here, maybe I’ll give you guys advance boarding lessons.” He looked from Roger to Dusk and then got up and they followed him.

Victoria

It burned, and she couldn’t stop it. The constant pain across her body and she couldn’t help it.

“How did you find her?” asked a girl looming over her like a vulture.

“Dad brought her in, then the usual,” Night replied.

“Except you missed,” the girl replied. She studied Victoria and saw the steam rising from the chains. “She’s probably going to die soon if you continue to put her body under this kind of stress.”

“It can’t be helped, unless I kill her. She’s not doing it on purpose,” Night replied.

“Why did you keep all these dragons here?” she asked.

Night was in silence for a while. He stared at the monitor for Victoria, her heart rate was going down and then he pulled the plug of her incredibly tight and hot chains.

Victoria was barley awake. She let out a sigh of relief when it all cooled down and then she felt herself healing instantly like a rush of adrenalin and she sat up and broke them. She saw the shock on their faces as the diamond frost crept up the wall and spread throughout the entire room. All of the others that had been captured and place here had died; she was Night’s last project. Snow was swirling around her hands as the two backed away.

“I didn’t expect you to recover that quickly, but it’s also not a surprise,” said Night. “Naya, hold out that diamond I gave Hugh to give to you.” he said to the other girl.

She did so and it flew across the room and hit the table, then bounced off the ceiling and flew over Night and Naya’s head several times, making them to have to duck and for Night to have to put up a shield.

The diamond split into pieces and then came straight at Victoria. It fused itself to her face and neck, then to her wrists and feet.

Victoria had it cover whole face like a helmet and then she created armor for the rest of her body. I can manipulate and create diamond, what else can I do? She though. She stretched out her hand to strike Night with shots of diamond. She fired.

Naya was over Night who was unconscious, she was in a crouching position and she covered them both with a shield of shadow, when the frost flakes cleared, Victoria saw the angry glare. “How is it that you can’t control your powers, but you are the Diamond Dragon?” she asked.

“What do you mean?” Victoria’s gaze was deadly. For a long time she’d been stuck in this world, in pain and alone, she felt as if she was losing her mind.

“Did you grow up a Dragonborn?” Naya asked.

“Answer me first,” Victoria said in a growl.

“You’re starting to sound like Fey,” said Naya.

Victoria let her guard down. “How do you know Fey?” she let the flakes fall off her face and onto the floor.

Naya raised her eyebrow. “The poem is finally starting to make sense, you used to be a human didn’t you?” she crossed her arms and waited for Victoria’s reply.

Victoria heard Fey mention only once about a poem, something about a diamond? she thought. It came to her mind like a flashback:

“Diamond shall be cold,

Ice shall be stone,

The form of her is untold,

But she is the key between human and dragon,

The heart of her is the heart of the hour,

She holds it as part of her uncontrollable power.

Inside her is the heart of diamond… The poem was never finished, because the righter wanted her to finish it, I believe the ‘her’ is ‘you’,” said Fey.

“Well?” asked Naya.

“What gave it away?” Victoria asked.

All hostility had ceased into a stalemate.

“You act too much like a human. You haven’t even scratched the surface of your full potential, I can help you gain control of your powers,” said Naya. She stepped forward. All of the sudden, she didn’t seem like an enemy, she seemed like a friend.

“Why would I trust you?” asked Victoria.

Naya stared at her and then sighed. “Because I’m letting you go.”

Night made a groaning sound.

“Wait outside and I’ll tell you what I can.”

Victoria consciously walked out the door of the room and down the hallway. She met stairs that led up to a rock, then she pushed and it moved out of the way. White light streamed through and she covered her eyes as she climbed out. She felt the grass under her feet and looked around to see a forest with a stream, she sat down and for the first time in a long time, she could breathe fresh air. She sat on a rock that was by the small cove and looked up at the stars. The rock had a tree behind it so she laid back. She blinked and felt the tiredness of captivity finally loosen; lightning bugs started glowing on and off like sparks across the water and all around her. I’m free, she thought, as she laid her head back and fell asleep.

Night

“What were you thinking?” asked Naya.

Night held an icepack to his head. “I wanted to find out what she could do,” he replied.

“By kidnaping her and killing all of her newfound friends?!” asked Naya, she continued to raise her voice.

Night felt his headache getting worse. Night squeezed his eyes shut because of the pain in his forehead.

“Sorry,” said Naya. “So what did you wish to accomplish by all that?”

“I really just wanted to know her, I guess I found her bad side very well, now it’s up to you,” he said. He removed the icepack and tied a bandage around his bleeding head.

“I know. My job is to really get to know her.” she looked at the floor and then smiled. “I wonder if she could beat Father. Is she really that powerful?”

“So far, not yet.” He put the icepack back on. Silence filled the room and all they could hear was the emptiness of the underground base. There was a slight breeze coming from down the hall.

“You really made this world realistic,” said Naya.

“I just figured out the angle and the way it would affect the world around us,” Night replied. “We should go watch the fireflies.”

“What better way to spend a night, then with your siblings,” Naya thought aloud. “Maybe we could tell Victoria why you seem like a bad guy in this world.” They started walking toward the exit.

“The reason of that is because Father would kill me, he monitors my whole being. If I were to get away from him like we did last time, I think we would be hunted down again once more. It was weird the way he hypnotized the human king of the old to turn grief into hatred and then into the war. Wasn’t it?” Night asked.

Naya nodded. “How do we still not know how he made a time machine?” she closed her eyes and listened to the wind. They climbed up the stairs and saw the light show of the fireflies all around them. She poked Night on the shoulder and pointed.

Night turned and saw the sleeping figure of Victoria lying against the large tree. About half a mile away was where all of the lightning bugs were coming from, in fact, their home was what Night and Naya named it after… Firefly cove.

Hugh

He blinked, head hurting, blurry images going left and right. Someone was right in his face; he turned and said something, then went back to looking at him. Hugh’s vision cleared and the boy looked just like Alistair from the first level, and he still had the band around his eyes.

“Can you hear me?”

Same voice to, Hugh thought. “Who he couldn’t finish the sentence because of the new whirlwind of coughs. His chest hurt as he tried to breathe, but every breath he drew ended in more coughing.

“Slow down, and just breathe slowly,” said Alistair.

That seemed to work. Hugh felt his lungs clearing as he slowly drew in each breath until it regulated.

“My name is Dr. Alistair, you are now currently in the base of our leader Night. This place is called ‘Firefly cove’.

Night? Where have I heard that name before? Hugh thought. Fey might have mentioned him.

“You have a visitor who has wanted to talk to you for a while now,” said Dr. Alistair.

Someone parted the curtain with a long ice-blue braid, pale skin, almost like a girl he’d met. She was so familiar, but he couldn’t remember her name. She shyly stepped out of the shadows, and slowly walked over to him.

“Hi,” said the girl.

“Uh, hey,” Hugh replied, he paused, waiting for her to say something else.

She seemed as though she was waiting for something. “Do… do you remember me?” she stared at him with slight hope in her eyes.

“Yeah, we met on your balcony,” said Hugh. Somehow he knew she was important to Fey, but he just couldn’t remember her name. Jenna? Vanessa? Cara? What was her name? “What… did you want to tell me?”

“The queen you encountered on level three or ‘Ash Guard’ was Night’s sister,” she said.

“Who’s Night?”

“He is the one who created this world. He intended it to be for his sister, but his father thought otherwise. The humans from our world made a contract with Night’s father so that when the dragons awoke out of healing tanks, they would see him as a savior. They have been asleep for more than one hundred years and the time for them to wake up is drawing close. You have been granted the opportunity to advance to level nine with a small team to get back to the real world,” she said.

“Why am I granted this privilege?” Hugh asked.

“Because if you don’t Fey will die,” she said.

Hugh stared blankly at her. There is no way Fey could die, he’s way to strong and he knows what he’s doing… but with the tone of her voice, she doesn’t sound like she is joking, Hugh thought. “Alright, I know people who can help us win. Anyone you’d suggest?”

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