Ch 5 - Essentialis
“The skies, they wept. And mankind cried out against the lights.
The Spectrum had began.
Their lives slowly descended into chaos, once again.
But, I long for the truth behind it all.”
It was strange. Obviously, this Spectrum isn’t like the previous one. Towering crystal spires did not crash down, nor did the light rays solidify. Instead, distorted bands of colors slowly spread and expanded, covering the heavens with psychedelia. This is a different form of Mixing... Perhaps, this time, the people aren’t overflowing with Essence due to the Spectrum occurring before. However, it feels as if the sky is drawing us in. The Lumia levels cannot be tracked at this rate. We don’t have the option to look for a counteraction at this moment.
We can only see it happen before us, again.
Everyone’s Colors shone brightly, as if to protect them from the overdose of Essence in the atmosphere, while my Indigo isn’t shining at all! And it’s already been two minutes... But I seem to have no trouble breathing. My senses are still intact. That means I am included in the Mix. I should be. And as if there wasn’t any choice, a bright light just envelops me, appearing as if the Shard’s light was the one providing it.
“Is it not over yet?!” Jake shouts to ask us all, but no one answers back.
I stay calm and think to myself about the lack of Color on my left hand. Maybe this was because of earlier, of what happened at the garden... Or I might have not been properly exposed to the Essence fluctuation... but that’s implausible.
All of my thoughts were suddenly brought to a halt as the lights intensify and my vision turns to black.
“Wake up...” a feminine voice calls out. “Everything has just begun.”
I felt as if I was lying down on my back amidst a pitch black room. I then tried to muster my strength to stand up, but it was no use.
“Your awakening will be soon...” the voice calls out once more.
After a few seconds, I feel myself finally waking up to a bizarre world. I can’t believe that I actually fainted. Then again, I guess everyone did as the seven of us look at each other like we woke up from a slumber party. But as we stood up, we turned to look around, and everything was exaggeratedly drenched in the wrong colors.
Trees, either yellow or blue-- anything other than green.
Buildings, obviously in ruins and drenched with awful orange and the others. At least, they have quite the sufficient distance towards each other-- about a few hundred more meters.
The sky, a hypnotic and irritable color palette straight from a vandal disaster. Whatever there is to look at over the horizon is impeded by this.
Colorful particles seemed to suddenly condense out of nowhere and litter around the surroundings. The only comforting view was the color of the ground, maintaining the color of concrete (on one hand, now darker), and that of soil and grass (which on the other hand, is now lighter). Everything’s definitely different as there are now several landforms which developed out of nowhere, some blocking the view like just how a building would do it.
All these things; this environment, reminds me of an idea that Jake took from a book, about two and a half years ago.
“That’s right,” he mumbles from just behind me as he notices me being estranged. “You remembered just now, didn’t you? This is Essentialis, in the flesh. I couldn’t believe it until now, even if that book of yours was quite the grandeur.”
“The world of colors.” Jana audibly whispers.
“Wow...” Stella gasps as she is at a loss for words and as we look at the intense landscape that surrounds each and everyone of us. Everything really looks as if out from a fantasy book.
“According to the verification...” Cath is already immediately face-front to her laptop, examining the results of her scans. “This area is twice as big than that of its counterpart back in Realis.”
Realis, the name we decided on for the real world. Though it may seem as if the group actually went and held a voting process for it, the name was actually found from a book that I was reading back then. The same book that Jake took Essentialis from.
Right. That book.
“Guys,” I quickly call them as I fix my polo. “We need to get the Prisma.”
“The book,” Jake groans. “At your house??”
“Uh, yeah? What else did you have in mind?” I reply, raising a brow towards his response.
“Um, couldn’t you have like-- brought it with you?” He glares at me before rolling his eyes.
“You do realize it weighs like, ten kilos or so, right?”
For a small book, that is...
Though it does look more like a tome.
“Did you figure we might find more from it?” Stella asks while jumping up and down, readying to head out.
“Most of our research had references towards it after all,” Cath says, as she closes her laptop and fixes her glasses. “Plus, it’s our only lead.”
“Oh, well. It’s decided then,” Jake lets out a sigh and facepalms. “Your house is one train ride away. More so, the fact that we’re in Essentialis doesn’t help.”
“Save the bratty attitude for later,” Jana butts in after being captivated by the sky’s colors. “Even the landscape has changed. How do we get to Cael’s house?”
“Just follow west,” Cath calmly reminds us and walks ahead. “The geographic locations are still the same after all.”
“And... west is where? Where the sun sets?" Jake asks, as if sarcastically.
Cath’s location-tracking software isn’t working with a sky like this. I look up once more to see if there’s anything up there which resembles the sun. It’s as if every color is flowing... and a discernable, yellow blot on the sky seems to continually move towards the redder part...
"Where the sun sets, indeed.” I reply, walking fast to catch up to Cath. “Got any comms hardware right now?” I ask her.
“Don’t need it,” she replies without turning to look. “We can just use Blue and Indigo.”
“Oh. Um... about that,” I whisper as I sneakily raise my left hand and show her a Color Mark which has no color.
“That’s...” her eyes widen as she sees the lack of glow. “T-Then how did you--”
“Same question which is rolling in my mind,” I immediately gesture her to keep quiet for now.
“I’m positive that I could be of use!” Els exclaims, as he approaches us, showing us his Color Mark glowing a bright Indigo. The crazy thought of him being able to steal my Color crosses my mind. Yet again, another implausible thought. That never happened back then. And though it might be possible, Els wouldn’t have access to Lascer tech.
“Say... does Violet have any use besides combat?” Keith asks loudly, as if complaining.
“The team had a user of Violet,” Stella answers. “And he was really good with utilizing it in combat!” But as far as that reply goes, Keith didn’t really hear what he wanted to.
As I stop to look at the surroundings, we come across what would be ruins of the school. It sure took us a while to get here... That means the world definitely expanded, but for what reason?
“This place is weird,” Keith quickly utters. “And it makes me feel weird too.”
Jana glares at him with a hint of irritation. “Well then, let’s keep going and do our best not to live here, shall we?”
After a few moments of continuing westward, we hear a couple of screams from beyond. And upon searching for its source, we come across a cliff that clearly was never near the school before. Looking onward, we see a group of people being assaulted by grotesque, humanoid, black figures. And upon looking closely, it can be confirmed that the attackers are reminiscent from two years ago.
“Do you think we should jump?” Keith asks.
“What in the world...” Jake groans. “Boy, what are you on about?”
“I figured that we should use our Colors to get around,” he replies with a grin.
After that, he immediately shapes a warhammer from his Color.
“Mm-hm. This’ll do the trick!”
He then uses his Color to propel himself and hammer a Shadow down to bits. Immediately after doing so, three other hammerheads appear out of nowhere to smash the remaining Shadows, and the threat is quelled.
“You certainly... dealt with that fast,” Stella remarks while putting her hands together.
“Yeah, you did say you guys had a friend from before who was good with the Color, so I figured--”
His reply is halted by the sudden collapse of our foothold-- the cliff that we were standing on proceeded to crash down below. It’s a pleasure to see none of us were hurt. Everyone’s Colors are active; they’re all forming a barrier to shield themselves from the impact, while I’m left with absolutely nothing as I stay close to Cath.
“Sorry about this,” I say as I glance at her. “Something’s definitely wrong with my Color.”
“No sweat,” she nods after replying. “That’ll be additional data, after all.”
“You’re right,” I immediately reply after giving off a smile. I’m amazed at how she’s just focusing on getting whatever she can take out of the situation. “Now then...” I breathe in and out as a horde of Shadows immediately faces us after the cliff settles itself down.
“Due to certain circumstances, Cael is unable to use his Color.” Cath tells everyone as she steps forward. “Stella, bring Cael towards that abandoned building where Keith is guiding the earlier victims.”
“Roger,” Stella salutes and quickly grabs my hand while charging her Color. “You ready?”
“Yeah,” I nod as she quickly brings me to the top. “Such a shame that I won’t get to participate in combat.” I let out a sigh as I knelt and looked down at the battlefield.
“Well, give it a rest!” She turns to me and smiles. “Though we have to admit, the number of Shadows out there is unnervingly high, this battle would be way too easy with you out there. Let the others have fun.”
“And, you?” I look her in the eye before returning my gaze towards the combat. “Aren’t you going to join them?”
“No, not really,” she immediately replies. “I feel like guarding you for the moment.”
“Is that so...?” I hum to myself while wondering about the thought. “It’s not like a Shadow will attack me from here or anything, right?”
“You never know!” She looks at me once more, with a smile. But I can tell that somehow, that smile was carrying a sort of emptiness. I know my fair share of emptiness after all.
However, I can’t bring myself to ask her about it.
I then looked to the floor as I think to myself.
That’s exactly what I want: to have fun out there, killing Shadows.
Or is it...?
I might just be insistent on distracting myself.
But there’s also the chance that I’m not actually evading something.
After a few minutes of watching Colors flash, light up, and decimate the horde of Shadows below, I look to the view towards my left, out of disappointment and boredom. And upon doing so, I notice a group of three roaming what would’ve been Horizon’s campus back in Realis. There aren’t much people than what I would’ve expected...
And as I look once more, this time as closely as I can... I recognized her.
She’s down there.
Why am I affected? It’s not like the horde will notice them, nor is she that weak to be easily defeated by something like that.
Then, I noticed. They seem to be bickering. The two girls seem to be against her and leave her after their argument. As if on instinct, I suddenly stood up and tried to reach out. But what the hell was I trying to do?
Once more, I noticed. I felt her look towards my direction.
Something was wrong-- I could feel it in my gut. I could also feel Stella noticing her and my dilemma.
But, the look that she wore on her face? I wouldn’t know. What I do know, is that it would be related to the empty smile that she gave me.
Her gaze... it’s as if it pierced through me and tried to call me out.
But to no avail... she trembled to the ground, and I couldn’t help but feel bad.
Why would I feel bad?
She wronged me, right?
In those moments, the tears tried to escape, down to flow out of my eyes. But, I could only feel helpless as a vortex of pure darkness emerges from behind her and drags her in.
I couldn’t do anything. I’m so frustrated right now... but I can’t express that, nor should I feel that way. My Essence might devour me from the inside...
I could feel Stella look away as I turn to look at her and dash towards the battlefield, eliminating ten Shadows in one go.
Was I... going to ask her to help Erica?
Isn’t that quite bold of me...
Stella returns and hurriedly brings me down to where the others were. I look around and ask them about those that were in trouble just earlier. It seems that there’s a nearby shelter, towards the south. But the objective was west, and we had to hurry. The sky was proceeding to darken as the yellow blot finally reaches the redder part of the heavens.
We’ve reached quite the distance after many easy encounters with Shadows. And since we’ve passed the station near my place...
“Have you figured out how we’re going to identify where Cael’s house used to be?” Jake loudly asks while gulping down a can of orange-flavored soda as he walks.
“I’ll notice it,” I immediately claim. “The place will definitely react to my Essence.”
“Even without a Color?” Els says as he frowns at the thought, he seems to be getting tired from all this walking.
“Yeah, I’m confident about that.”
Not only am I confident, but the faint, feminine voice from earlier told me just that. Plus, given the number of houses around, it seems that we’ve reached my neighborhood. Keith stops as swirls of Violet pop out of his left hand and immediately disperse towards a certain building.
“So... that’s how it works, huh?” Keith smiles, immediately hurrying on to the bungalow. “I used to live heeeere--”
It’s good that he seems to be having fun about this.
“Ah!” Stella squeals. “I remember this area.”
“You do?” I ask. I thought this was my neighborhood?
“I guess I do, too.” Jake comments as he continues towards a building which looks to be near something like an intersection.
“We’ve been here,” Cath says. “We had to go to your house two years ago, remember?”
“Huh... it’s been that long since you guys last visited...” I reply. What a blunder that I did forget something like that...
“Given what happened between you and her, it’s to be expected.” Stella smiles at me as she passes by and follows Jake.
“No Shadows nearby,” Cath lowers her hand after firing off a pulse of Blue. “This neighborhood is oddly safe.”
I shiver upon taking my next step as the building that they continued into was my house after all. The lack of a second floor made me unaware. But as it glowed a bright Indigo, that was all the proof needed.
Upon entry, nothing resembled that of my home. Well, except how the stairs are a really familiar sight for me...
“So, where’s the book? Your room? Cellar?” Jana asks while looking around.
“Most likely in my room,” I reply. Everyone else follows suit as I head upstairs.
“Where’s Els?” Jake asks as he stops to check the bottom of the stairs.
“He went with Keith.” Cath answers with a stoic face.
“Then, there’s not much need to worry,” he replies.
Upon reaching the second floor, it doesn’t even seem to be a part of the place downstairs. It’s just crumbling ruins up here. I’d be so enraged if my room were like this back in Realis...
“Wait, you kept it in a chest?” Jake looks at me with a face that’s rearing to give me a smile. Before us is a wooden chest dressed with an elegant, black fabric. It really is the only thing up here. But, why just the chest? Where’s my bed and all that?
“I guess I did,” I grin as I open it and struggle to pick up the tome inside.
“I’ll be damned,” Jake sighs as he helps me with it. “It IS heavy.”
Stella and Jana also move in to help the two of us while I am forced to think that this book wasn’t a straight ten kilos after all. We move a few feet before setting it down on the floor. Cath also sets her laptop down and comes closer.
“Alright,” She leans in to open it after she touches the tip of my sleeve with a finger enervated with Blue. “Let’s see here.”
“Hey, what was that for?” I turn to look at her before standing up.
“Don’t worry, it’s something like a tracking device. I’ve already put some on everyone,” she mentions before going on to focus on the reading.
Everyone starts to check their shirts before looking as if they’re a bunch of preschoolers reading a storybook. Oh, well. The Prisma was the only storybook I kept on reading back then.
“I guess I’ll check on the other two then,” I say as I head on outside.As the air pressure shifts, I proceeded to look upwards and see a colorful night sky. The colors have rearranged themselves to form dots. Satisfactory. They look like stars now! However, my stargazing is interrupted by two figures approaching from my right.
“Hey, this your house?” Keith fixes his curly hair as he asks me.
“Mm.” I nod as a reply and look towards Els who has an orb of Indigo active in his hand. “What’s up with that?” I point towards it.
“I used my Scan...” his voice grows weaker as he answers. And I’m just so envious right now. I miss my Console. That’s funky though, the orb he has... does it have to resemble my Mapframe that much?
“...and detected some powerful readings just earlier,” he continues, and points towards where Keith was.
“Didn’t you just detect the confirmation thing...?” Keith scratches his head before realizing something. “Oh, right! I did see something bright fall out of the sky in that direction.”
“Let’s go check it out then,” I say as I walk onwards.
“Wow, aren’t you eager,” Keith follows and rests his arm on my shoulder. “What’s gotten into you?”
“Not much,” I reply. “Not like I wanna keep reading the Prisma for long.”
“You... have a Prisma?” His eager expression changes to that of someone who’s just seen a ghost.
“Yeah.” I reply, though my tone changes as if I were asking. “I had it since I was young.”
“I see,” he says as he swipes his finger off his chin. “Moving on then!”
I was going to ask about what it was, but...
We finally reach an area where we have another good look at the mysterious bright object erected in the distance, beyond a forest considerably thick.
“Getting to whatever that is... it looks like a tower,” Keith groans. “Well, it’ll be easy enough. The way to it is pretty straightforward.”
Indeed, the path proves to be of not much difficulty, if we were to ignore the Shadows roaming through the trees and all. But these two... they can handle any crowd of those, I guess.
We continued, and proceeded to enter the forest. Luckily, the Shadows don’t seem to notice us at all... The trees, though their colors are still disturbing, seem magical. The color particles keep floating and it feels as if they’re fireflies. Heck, pyreflies to be exact.
Els stops dead in his tracks and points forward. “What’s that in the distance?”
Upon looking closely, something’s shining over there. And that’s not all. It seems that the Shadows are digging on somethi-- SOMEONE. Ugh. Even after two years, it’s still a disgusting sight.
“T-That is so metal,” Keith says as he can’t help but put his hand over his mouth. “Look how that Shadow’s trying to drain something from that guy’s sku--”
“That,” I give him quite the strong push as he is forced a few steps to the left, away from me.“--is purely disgusting. Nothing more.”
As Keith and I plan for an approach, Els rushes in, his Indigo forming a pair of handguns, and opens fire on the feast. The two of us are forced to back him up. Then, I get a bright idea as I get a good view of the object plunged in the ground, just a few feet away from the Shadows.
“Cover me!” I shout as I frantically run towards it. I seem to have caught the attention of one Shadow, which Keith immediately flattens down to size and nothing.
“Gotcha,” he dives in and deals with the two other Shadows pursuing me. Els, in the distance, is calmly dispatching his set, firing round after round with extreme precision. Those headshots definitely eliminate those weaklings in one hit. Their number, however, is the definite problem here. We’re getting too much attention. But, that will be dealt with in a few moments as I finally get a good grip and pull out the sword-looking thing out of the ground. It glows pretty nicely and seems to react to my Essence. A deformed Shadow swoops in from behind me, to which I successfully react to by swinging whatever I just obtained. For its elegant form, it’s surprisingly light.
“Finally,” a smile desperately wears on my face. “A good fighting chance.”
As I cleave the Shadows that approach me in several hits, the two look at me with auras of security. They’re finally seeing how I fight. Though it does look like a sword, it still feels different from my Weapon Aspect...
Just looking at how efficiently the two are wielding their weapons right now... I can’t help but feel envious.
A bolt of electricity suddenly jolts me as it runs from my right shoulder to the tip of the blade. I then noticed that the tip doesn’t seem to form a piercing edge, but a tiny, flat one. I suddenly get the idea of pointing it at the huge horde amassing from the bushes just beyond, opposite of the direction towards the tower.
An orb of light forms just at the tip and fires off, the beam expanding while being successfully evaded by Keith and Els as they rush towards my location and perfectly disintegrating the Shadows out of existence.
“That. Was. AWESOME.” Keith shouts as he raises his hands up. “How in the world did you do that?”
“Yeah, I thought your Color was down and out?” Els dismisses his handguns and gives me a curious look.
“I don’t really know,” I say as I put the sword downwards. “I don’t think I can do another one though. My right arm feels numb.”
I snicker to the thought and the three of us head towards the flashing spire just nearby.
“Do you think it’s connected to that?” I ask Keith since he saw the objects that fell from the sky.
“I definitely do,” he answers with a smile. “I mean, look-- they’re glowing the same way.”
“Why don’t you try pointing and firing?” Els says as he also wears a smile on his face. Man, the three of us are excited about this.
I carefully point the sword towards the tall structure and it won’t stop reverberating with Essence. The two assist me from trembling over due to the extreme frequency generated by the two objects. The tower decides to reassemble itself into the shape of an arch. Later on, a narrow beam fires and makes its way towards the center of the arch structure, the energy scattering to fill the gap, and a portal opens. This has got to be one of the coolest things to happen ever since we closed the rift which fixed the First Spectrum.
“Sick. A portal.” Keith beholds the sight and collapses on the ground, with a stupid grin on his face that shows his satisfaction.
“I’ll go ahead and call the others,” Els turns around and raises his left hand. A visible pulse of Indigo propagates towards the direction of my house and he whispers. “Head to the forest just a few hundred meters away from Keith’s house. We found something interesting.”
This is definitely interesting, alright. The only thing to wonder about now is where it leads to. I tighten my grip on the sword with confidence and excitement.
The mysteries will finally be given answers.