Melissa and Steven Devlin
The red automobile rolled through the storming streets of Silivia. Steven carefully maneuvered the vehicle, his only passenger being Samuel Brownlee. Looking at the vehicle's monitor, he examined his speed — one hundred and twenty miles per hour. While this would generally be illegal, no law enforcement would be coming for them. In fact, he could not hit anyone. Not a soul was in the city — except for one. Steven slowed his speed and moved the car towards a figure on the sidewalk — Melissa. Steven lowered the right window and motioned for Melissa to get in.
Quickly, Melissa entered through the front and took a seat. She closed the door and locked it, as Steven continued to drive into the foggy city.
Melissa reached into her pocket, revealing a six-sided die. She began to shake the die in her hands before rolling it onto the dashboard.
"Couldn't have dreamt up anything better than this?" Steven joked.
"Not my fault! I'm new to this dreaming thing." She answered, looking out the window.
"It's fascinating," added Samuel, from the backseat. "In my years at the laboratory, I've never seen a portrayal of Silivia this detailed. I visited a shop a few minutes ago — for most people, it would have been empty space." Samuel held up a blank shopping bag from the backseat. "If we have time, I'll show you what I bought."
Steven began to up the car's acceleration. As he did so, the city's appearance began to morph. Slowly, the skyscrapers around the car molded themselves into trees. As he continued to drive faster, grass began to plant itself on the sidewalk. The urban landscape dissipated, as the trio found themselves driving across a forest floor.
Melissa looked out of her window, as Steven slowed to take in the scenery. An odd sense of familiarity was upon her as she examined the area. Before long, her déjà vu would be confirmed. Next to a tree trunk lay the recognizable ruins of a crashed Alchem van.
"How did we end up here, Steven? That's — that's the van I was in when I was getting away from Alchem," Melissa stated, with both a sense of confusion and interest.
"Ah," Steven said, "Well — I think I understand, though I haven't done this in a while. See, you're not that lucid yet, not enough to control your dreams. A dream is like a wild flurry of your past experiences — just luck we ended up here."
Melisa took in her brother's explanation. "I guess that makes sense..."
Steven continued to drive with no direction in mind. He carefully drove past branches and puddles, before noticing a clearing in the forest. Steven drove towards the light, not thinking much of it. He entered, once again, into the rainy streets of Silivia. Melissa watched her brother with unease.
In a single, violent instant, the wet city changed into one of fire. Through the front window, Melissa watched in fear at the change in scenery. Fire lined either side of the vehicle and the once gray sky turned into a deep crimson. Sounds of agonized screeches began to fill the city, replacing the sounds of rain on pavement. If one were to look closely, they could see charred bodies within the flames.
Melissa felt sick to her stomach. "Steven, please! Make it go back!"
From the backseat, Samuel only mumbled quietly. "Bizarre."
Steven nodded at his sister's resolve. Only slightly startled at the sight, Steven took a sharp U-turn. The scene faded as quickly as it had started, and the car was once again on Silivian roads. Melissa took a breath as if a weight was lifted from her shoulders.
Samuel proceeded to speak up. "Did that seem familiar to you, Melissa?"
Melissa did not respond for a moment, as the previous scene stayed in her thoughts. "What? I don't — I don't even know what that was! It was scary.."
"Well, remember what Steven said earlier," began Samuel, "Dreams usually feature past events. Seemed — just vivid, to me. Perhaps, the memories you've lost...?"
Melissa thought about Samuel's words with curiosity. She thought about it for a moment — if the man's words were correct. As she searched her mind, as she thought about the screams from a moment ago, something clicked from within.
Melissa stood still, her rifle locked and loaded. Some hours ago, General Shelton had given her squad orders to check out a small formation of demons. Unfortunately, their intelligence was quite wrong. It was much more than a "small" formation.
Looking out the window, Melissa could see Silivia had changed yet again. It was the same fiery landscape as before — but it was different. Indeed, the vision was not meaningless, Melissa was watching the village of Jasinski. She watched through new eyes as demons could be seen ravaging the area. They tore apart homes, slaughtering those within. Melissa remembered more as she watched the village. She had requested backup — but none had shown up.
"Back up isn't coming, I'm going in!" she yelled to her comrades. Melissa ignored her comrades' protests, firing at the demons in the village.
At once, like ice, the flaming village of Jasinski melted into Silivia.
Melissa spoke her thoughts out loud. "That — that was Jasinski. I was there, the militia..." She could only speak in a whisper.
"Most people would have woken up by now. You're strong, Melissa," said Samuel, "We might even stay longer than usual in here."
"Whew. No more driving, break time." Steven slowed the car's acceleration and parked the car next to a set of nail salons. The windshield wipers stopped their movement. Not caring for the rain outside, Steven stepped out of the car. Melissa and Samuel did the same.
Samuel stretched his arms upward, as the rain hit his head. He looked at Melissa, who was nervously examining her die. "It's fun, isn't it, Melissa? After we left the station, you were nervous."
Melisa only nodded in response. The recent epiphany had only left her with more questions than before.
"What do you think Chris is doing?" commented Steven, as he looked upward into the sky.
Melissa perked up. "No clue. How do you think we could find him?"
"Should be easy enough. We'll go get him in due time."
"Well.." continued Steven. "Well, actually I'm not sure. But if we just drive in any old direction, we should get him. As long as your mind wants to find him, he should come up. I think.."
Melissa nodded. As she thought about Chris, her train of thought was interrupted by thoughts of Savannah. Before going to Samuel's lab, they had spent two hours at a police station looking for information — to no avail. She shook her head and sighed.
Melissa leaned against the window of the car in boredom. She allowed her breath to touch the window, before drawing a small heart. She looked across from the car at Samuel, who still held his mysterious shopping bag. "You said you'd show us when you could. What's in the bag, Samuel?"
"Well, about time," Samuel began to approach Melissa. Curious, Steven did the same. One at a time, Samuel began to pull black, matte boxes from it. Melissa was curious at the pattern in each — the only logo on each box appeared to be an ornate design of the number six.
"Interesting story for these. I got these from one of the buildings in the city. Before we picked you up, Steven and I passed by this big shopping mall. It had billboards at the front, so we decided to check out of curiosity. It had thirty floors. No employees, so we took what was nice."
Samuel opened each box on the top of the red car. He proceeded to present a mysterious dagger and a collection of photographs.
Melissa's hand instinctively went to the dagger. It was quite familiar to her, though it was difficult to piece together where it was from. She turned the hilt, looking at the design. It was fourteen inches long, an old dagger with a stainless steel black blade, and a black scabbard. Melissa gripped it, feeling the dagger fit perfectly into her hand.
She smiled. "If this is what I think it is, then agreeing to this was better than I thought. When I was in the militia, one of my squad members... Amelia, gave this to me. It was a welcoming gift." Melisa held the blade into the sky, watching as the rain washed the blade.
She stopped talking and examined the large collection of photographs. Some were small, the size of a photograph of a small polaroid. Others were larger. As if waterproof, none of them were affected by the rain. "Well, this is cool. That red light, the barn, Steven's lab, Silivia, Ga.." Melissa looked at a portrait of the white-suited Gabriel Alchemilia with unease. "Interesting, I guess.."
Samuel looked to Melissa in awe. "That's — I did not expect that. Are you sure you remember all of these?"
"Certain. It seems that — through this dream, everything I've known is coming back in bits and pieces."
Steven felt happiness within him, for his sister was becoming his sister again. He looked down the fogged sidewalk, before noticing a figure in the distance.
Chris Wellington and Savannah Whitesmith
Somehow, Chris found himself in a bakery, where there seemed to be very good-smelling donuts lining the shelves. But where was everybody else?
Stepping out, Chris looked around outside of the shop, feeling the rain on him. The rain did not affect him at all this time, and through the fog, Chris could see a girl. As she inched closer, Chris began to sense familiarity in her features. "Savannah?" Chris asked. "What activities have you been partaking in since we parted ways?"
The girl turned around, blinking water out of her eyes to look at Chris. "Uh, hello? Do I know you?"
Chris backed up a bit, with some unease. "It's me, it's Chris..." He said, taking a glance at the slowing rain. As he looked at Savannah again, she growled, terrifying Chris. The look of pure hatred behind her eyes furthered his fear. He tried to get back into the bakery for safety. "Leave me alone, whatever you are!"
Chris banged on the door of the shop desperately — only to find it melting away into a room of Alchemilia Corporation. Savannah was still right there behind him, except now she had frog legs.
Savannah gave Chris a smile showing off pointed and sharp teeth before pouncing on him like a lioness, and pushing him onto the ground. She stepped on top of him, blocking him from any movement with her frog legs. She gave him another smile and her dark eyes flashed red.
"I haven't eaten in a while," she said in a deep voice. "I guess I just caught dinner." She leaned forward and was about to bite into Chris' face before suddenly turning into mist and disappearing.
Chris, shaken, trudged away from the looming building, pondering whether or not Savannah had truly been there at all. Walking into the rain again, Chris longed to see at least one familiar face, and one hopefully not on some hideous monster.
Finally, Chris saw a car that held two people who looked similar to Steven and Melissa. Hoping it was them, he headed towards it.
The car melted away into a pile of ash, with everything surrounding Chis melting away as well. A hand arose from the ash and grabbed Chris, filling him with dread. The ashy hand morphed into his own outline, and an ominous echo filled the atmosphere. "Chris is a lowly replacement." The echoing voice was quite similar to Chris' own.
Chris walked around aimlessly for what felt like hours to him, waiting to see a sign that his friends were around somewhere.
Chris found himself climbing a vast mountain, which appeared out of nowhere. There seemed to be garbage everywhere, but weirdly he was unable to smell it. As Chris climbed, he noticed something unnerving. It was a human eyeball. The eyeball appeared to have a green iris, and a white eyebrow seated above it.
As he got a closer look, Chris realized the eye belonged to someone very familiar, but he couldn't quite figure out who it was. Not even from his mop of white hair. The man was holding a gun, Chris realized, as he fell off the mountain top.
As he fell, the mountain shifted into a pile of papers. The papers that Gabriel Alchemilia had stacked up in his office. He turned to look at Gabriel's gun, and then at who he was shooting. Surprised, Chris noticed he was shooting at Melissa. Chris could not let this happen, so he jumped away from the papers and landed on Melissa, knocking her to the ground. Somehow, his efforts to stop the bullet from penetrating Melissa's skin failed. Everything then suddenly blacked out.
Disturbingly, Chris arose in a position he had never known his body was capable of, and a red substance was oozing from his arm. Could it be? Was he actually human now? He then looked around at the area surrounding him. It was a car — a wrecked one. Lying next to him were Melissa and Marshall. Savannah and Atticus were behind him, likely both in pain from being in the crash. There were also footsteps. Two men were using false words, but they did say at least one real thing. "Devlin android," one said. "We must get her," The man reached his hand and grabbed Melissa. "Hey, give Melissa back," Chris tried to yell, but he was paralyzed on the ground. Melissa was taken away, leaving Chris more confused than ever. Why had Melissa both been shot by Gabriel and mistaken for an android?
Savannah then appeared next to Chris. This time, she didn't have a beastly face or frog legs. But she was bleeding. She limped over to Chris and grabbed him, pulling his arm closer to her.
"You have to help Melissa! Please," she pleaded, pain swimming in her eyes. Then, just like before, she disappeared.
Marshall and Atticus disappeared as well, continuing to shock Chris even more. He looked out the window at the helicopter carrying Melissa, only to touch the car's gas pedal. The moving, wrecked car created some sparks in the ground, burning away at everything. Chris then escaped from the fire, feeling like the fact that he could still not feel any pain proved he was not entirely human. As he saw the car burn, some instincts kicked in. Chris ran towards the forest, silver lights ominously lighting it.
Climbing through some twisted branches and surrounded by shadows from the silver lights, Chris finally saw something that looked familiar. It was a die.
Chris picked up the die and began to analyze the situation. He had randomly arrived at Alchemilia Corporation and seen Melissa get shot at by Gabriel, only for her to become an android. People were disappearing randomly like Savannah, Atticus, and Marshall. Things were out of place like the silver lights. Intriguingly, Melissa appeared to be the center of all of this. What was the connection there? Would this die be a part of it? Chris decided to roll it and find out.
Chris looked at the die, which displayed some random numbers. "Oh right," Chris said, realizing he remembered what it was. As he stared at the numbers, the forest and silver lights faded away. Chris ran fast back towards Silivia, seeing yet another car that appeared to have Steven and Melissa in it.
Chris stared longingly at the car, which didn't vanish this time. Hoping his perception was as acute as ever even in this strange situation, he slowly and cautiously made his way to the car.
Chris finally made it to the car and was relieved to see he had been right after all. He gave Melissa a wave, hoping to get her attention.
Melissa looked up startled, then realized the being in front of the car window was Chris. She opened the door and hopped out smiling. "Hey, Chris!" she exclaimed while hugging him.
"Good to see you," Chris said to Melissa, hugging her back. "I have quite an insane story to tell."
Atticus Anoethite and Blossom Cane
Sitting down for their dinner, Atticus looked across the table at his date, Blossom Cane. She was gazing down at something in her lap, her brown hair falling onto her shoulders.
"Well, I'm here now. Sorry for being late, got caught up in an issue." He started.
As soon as he addressed her, Blossom looked up, smiling.
"Hi!" Blossom smiled, gazing at Atticus. "It's alright, all that matters is that you're here now."
She looked up and down at Atticus with his well-combed dark hair, wearing a black and white suit with a dark blue tie.
The waiter approached Atticus and Blossom, he was a tall man with white hair dressed in a bright green tuxedo. Instead of stopping, he walked past them, tending to the many tables of faceless men in massive suits of armor. He carried a plate containing a blue, live lobster that writhed in pain.
After watching the man - who seemed eerily familiar - walk past them, Atticus turned his attention back to Blossom. "So, what plans do you have for tonight? I know we have dinner planned, obviously. But anything else?"
The armored men in the restaurant, all entirely identical, ate like brutes and animals. They seemed to be vaguely translucent, emanating a faint blue glow.
As the waiter stepped further from the couple, his legs could be seen. Or, rather, lack thereof. He was simply floating like a ghost, his legs replaced with an ethereal tail.
"Hmm," Blossom thought for a second. "Well, I heard there's a lake behind the restaurant. Maybe we can go visit there later?"
"Yeah, that sounds good!" Atticus said. "Any plans on what—" He paused mid-sentence, looking around. "Have you noticed anything strange about this place? Something doesn't feel right..."
Blossom looked down at a red tablecloth next to her. As she looked at it, it changed colors rapidly. It continued changing from red, to orange, to blue, and a variety of other colors. "Um, yeah, something definitely doesn't feel right." Blossom didn't want to tell Atticus about the cloth in fear of him reacting poorly.
The waiter, his back turned to Atticus and Blossom, had seemingly exchanged his lobster for a strange sickle dripping with a blue liquid. The translucent, armored guests transitioned from eating like brutes to acting like them, engaging in fisticuffs with one another as soothing music played throughout the room.
Atticus began to feel uneasy as he stared around the restaurant. He stood up from his seat and brushed off his pants. "Sorry, Blossom. I feel really uncomfortable and I want some fresh air. I'll be right back, okay?"
"Wait, Atticus!" she stood up, following him. "Can I please come with you?"
"Yeah, you can. Let's just go." Atticus said after taking a short pause. He quickly took her hand and walked towards the entrance of the restaurant, the feeling of unease remaining with him.
Being dragged along by Atticus, Blossom looked outside. The leaves of the trees kept alternating between colors. Pink, to green, to orange, to none. All the seasons spanned through each other in a matter of seconds.
"Can we sit? Please." Blossom looked a bench beside her. "I'm feeling really nauseous."
The bench began to move like a conveyor belt, the wooden planks sliding across the top and bottom in a circular motion. Blossom's voice was strangely loud and echoed, yet seemed to be muffled as though it was underwater.
"Sit down if you need to. What is wrong?"
At that moment, Atticus began to notice the bench moving and stepped back in shock. "Uhh, Blossom? Do you see that too?"
"I do..." Blossom sighed. "So you've been noticing all the crazy things too?" She held onto Atticus' arm.
"I don't feel safe anymore."
A strange, ashy hand began to pry at Blossom's fingers, separating her hand from Atticus' arm. It seemed to be floating and disembodied.
"What the hell?" Atticus quickly jumped into action, grabbing at the hand to pull it away from her.
The ashy, crumbling nature of the hand began to spread up Atticus' arm as he touched it, giving him the texture of cracking sandpaper. The hand itself began to turn to sand and fall to the ground, however, as wind began to come from all directions.
Taking a few deep breaths after the hand dissolved into sand, Atticus then turned his attention back to Blossom. "Are you okay? Doing alright?"
"Not really," Blossom sighed, staring directly into Atticus' eyes. "It feels like everything is fading away."
The grass continued blowing in the impossible wind, quickly turning to long purple ribbons. The rain began to crystallize, shattering when it hit Atticus and Blossom as the ribbons began to wrap around their ankles.
"We need to go back in," Atticus replied, taking her hand again and leading them back towards the restaurant.
"Atticus, no, please. Something isn't right about that place. Didn't you feel it too?" Blossom said, pulling away from him.
From within the restaurant, a loud thud rang out. And then another. And another. One of the armored guests was banging on the seemingly unbreakable windows, trying to break through to Atticus and Blossom. It wasn't long before the others joined in, as the mysterious waiter held all of them on various multicolored leashes.
Hearing the banging from the restaurant, Atticus stepped back. "Maybe we need to get out of here." Grabbing Blossom's hand again, he started to sprint down the road.
Blossom followed quickly behind him, nearly being dragged. "Where are we going?!"
Finally breaking through the restaurant, the armored phantoms began sprinting at Blossom and Atticus like a horde of angry gorillas. The road began to feel like mud, or maybe quicksand, though the phantoms had no trouble traversing it.
Blossom turned around and noticed the creatures, the mud covering her ankles. In a panic, she looked around for a place to hide. There was a narrow alleyway in which only Atticus and Blossom could fit through, as the phantoms were too large. She tugged on Atticus' arm. "This way!" she yelled.
Hearing the commotion behind him, Atticus charged in the direction Blossom pointed and ran into the alleyway, hiding from view behind garbage bins. "Hopefully those creatures don't find us here," He told her in a surprisingly calm manner.
"Atticus..?" Blossom asked. "Do you think that we'll make it out okay?"
"Shh, keep your voice down. They might hear us." Atticus whispered to her, watching as the monsters glided by the entrance of the alleyway and past it. "We'll be fine, I just have to figure out a way for us to get back to the others. Wherever they are."
For some reason, Atticus could not even remember the last time he had spoken to his group of friends.
"Forgetting something, Aneothite?" Atticus could hear an omnipresent voice coming from somewhere.
"Well we definitely can't leave the alleyway yet," Blossom replied quietly. "And if we do we have to be sneaky."
Hearing the voice speak his name, the surroundings around Atticus drowned out and seemingly faded away. "W-who is there?!" He looked around the area frantically, feeling his sense of control slip from him.
"What are you talking about?" Blossom questioned. "Are you okay?"
"Can you hear me?" The voice repeated itself, affirming its presence. It was deep, muffled, with an odd reverb to it. "I know everything seems confusing at the moment, but I promise, everything will be explained soon."
The voice seemed to cloud Atticus' mind and thoughts, keeping him suffocated in its presence. Although it spoke with calming words, he felt disturbed and panicked as he searched around and could no longer see Blossom. Where is she?! He thought. She was just here, we were just together.
"Who are you?" he called out to the voice. "What have you done to me? What are even you talking about? What will be explained?"
The sound of the approaching phantoms began to fade, as though they had passed by without paying any attention to their surroundings. The chaotic sound of the horde was shortly replaced by a few heavy footsteps, coming from what seemed to be a singular individual.
"I just need you to trust me."
"Trust you? Why should I? Why are you even asking this? Who are you?" Atticus yelled, still frantically looking around for the source of the voice.
"Follow my instructions. First, take the object in your right hand and hold it up." Atticus was bewildered to the voice's instructions, but they soon became clear as reality shifted once again. Atticus found himself in a large, open, raining sea. The sky was dark and bleak. He and Blossom now sat atop a large enclosure, made of numerous logs.
"Where are we?" Blossom looked around, confused and frightened. "What happened?"
Looking around his new surroundings, Atticus became more confused. Glancing down at his hand, he noticed a long shining knife suddenly contained by his grip. He held it up, seemingly without control. "This is what you wanted to see? How did it get here? How did I get here?"
"Take the knife and point it at the person in front of you."
Atticus then noticed Blossom again. She was standing directly across from him on the other side of the raft, looking horrified and soaked by the pouring rain. Without even wanting to and feeling controlled, he began to move towards her, the knife raised upwards.
"W-what are you doing? Atticus, stop!" Blossom slowly backed up to the edge of the raft, shivering.
"Good. Continue approaching them and rest the blade on their neck. Use your left hand to hold them in place. Once you have a clear target, seep the blade into the throat."
The strange ocean around them began to flicker like a malfunctioning television set, and the alleyway they were in previously could be made out. Quickly, they were back in the alley as though nothing had happened.
Ignoring her cries and the change of landscape, Atticus walked up to Blossom further and grabbed her by the left arm, slamming her towards the alley wall. Pinning her to it, he unwillingly pulled his hand upwards and placed the blade on her throat, feeling her take heavy breaths out of fear.
Blossom closed her eyes, shaking. She stayed silent, hoping Atticus would stop.
Gently covering her mouth with his other hand, he dragged the blade across her throat and quickly took her life. Her heavy breaths coming to an abrupt end and her body slumping against him, he let go of his grip on her and let the girl drop to the ground. Stepping away from the puddle of blood slowly building, Atticus heard the voice once again, giving him further instructions. Sighing quietly, he turned his blade on himself, following the same fate.
"So that's what happened to me," Chris said as he finished his story. "But what happened to Atticus?"
"He's with Blossom, remember?" responded Samuel. "I'm not sure what Atticus and Blossom are doing, but they're probably having fun."
Marshall Rooke and Wen Li
Holding the bottle of liquor against his lips as he walked down the busy streets of Silivia, Marshall Rooke felt a strange feeling — loneliness. Having become used to the company of others, it felt strange to be on his own again, following his old habits and not having to worry about their judgment or Alchemilia Corporation.
After swallowing a large gulp of the drink as he mindlessly followed the sidewalk onto a new road, Marshall spat it out in frustration and threw the bottle on the ground, watching as it shattered and poured its contents onto the road. "Shit doesn't even taste good anymore."
Looking around his surroundings, he noticed the road was a lot emptier now, with few cars and people about. Beautiful cherry blossom trees were located everywhere, shops and roads rested between them. It was a sight he had not seen in years, and yet it was still just as breathtaking as the first time he saw it.
Leaning up against one of the trees, he placed his hand against his head and sighed.
"You okay there? You seem a little lost."
Opening his eyes, he noticed a middle-aged woman standing a few feet away from him, a worried expression casting a shadow on her greenish-blue eyes. Has she been watching me this entire time?
Looking slightly familiar, she was quite tall and dressed in obvious work clothes — a black blouse and a long skirt. Her hair was dark brown and styled into a beehive hairdo.
"Huh?" he said to her, unsure of what to say. Thinking quickly, he soon followed up. "I'm fine, don't worry about me. Just continue with your business."
Staring at him for a few minutes, she eventually responded. "Oh okay. Take care of yourself." She turned around and began to walk up the sidewalk, off towards an unknown destination.
Feeling restless now, Marshall crossed the street and began to head towards a familiar store, one he had not been to in years. When he was young and before circumstances forced him out of Silivia, he used to love to go to Mieses' Chess. It was a simple place, an old building selling antique chess pieces and boards, with chess matches, often set up in the afternoons.
Walking up to the store, he placed his hand on the handle when something caught his attention. The building was now decorated with plants and had a finely carved and burned board reading PLANT EMPIRE placed above the door.
Eh? Walking into the building, Marshall stepped into the main room and looked around. Dozens of shelves covered in various types of plants were pressed up against the walls. A counter was located near the middle of the room, with an old man tending to an orchid behind it. Marshall walked up to the counter and the old man stopped tending to the plant and looked up, smiling at him. He was short, with thinning whitish-gray hair and a wispy mustache.
"Welcome to Plant Empire," the man said.
"Uh, hi. I'm Marshall. Just stopped by because I was looking for another shop," Marshall said, looking around and noticing an old woman behind the counter, dusting the shelves off.
The old man nodded. "Nice to meet you, Marshall. I'm Wen Li, and this is my wife, Yu."
Hearing her name mentioned, the old woman stopped her tasked and turned around, waving. Like her husband, she was also short and had gray hair, worn in crown braids. She wore an eggshell-colored wool sweater and a long, maroon ankle-length skirt. After waving, she returned to her dusting.
"Have a look around," Li extended his hand and pointed in the general direction of the plants as he spoke. Nodding, Marshall began to look around the shop and was amazed at the organization. Herbs, flowers, and houseplants were all sorted into their own sections.
Going off a random idea, Marshall first scoured the herb shelves, taking a basil, a cilantro, mint, and an oregano. He made his way over to the flowers and grabbed a poinsettia. Lastly, he spotted one lonely bamboo plant in the houseplants and picked it up.
Happy with his choices, he turned back towards the counter and carried the plants over, two at a time. Li examined them closely, nodding as if impressed. "Wide variety."
Shoving his hand into his pocket, Marshall dug around trying to find some change. Pulling out the strange coin he found in the alleyway with Atticus, Marshall handed it to Li, who placed his glasses on and began to study the coin closely. "All I have is this. Is this good enough?"
"Hmm, interesting," Li mumbled, examining it. "It appears to be from before standard minting existed 350 years ago. I'll take it. It's virtually worthless, but — I suppose I could add it to my collection," he said, smiling as he pushed the plants towards Marshall.
Looking down at them, Marshall froze. "Uh..."
"Yes, young sir? Is there an issue?" Li asked, pushing his glasses up.
"Uh, I don't have any way to transport all these plants."
"Then why did you buy them?!"
The sudden change in Li's personality caused Marshall to jump back slightly, startled. But the expression on Li's face showed how humorous he found the situation.
"Oh, they're for my friends..."
"Ah, I see." Walking from behind the counter, Li looked over to his wife. "Hold down the fort. Da should be back from his parents' monastery in Aiola later tonight. Mind preparing a meal?" She nodded and he then picked up a few of the plants and motioned for Marshall to do the same. After he did such, Li began to take off towards the back of the shop.
Following behind him, Marshall was lead into another room, which turned out to be a lab, and through a backdoor, opening out into a garden. Following an ornamental pathway, Li stopped just outside the path, where a large red truck was revealed.
"Place your plants in the back. Hop in."
Surprised at the hospitality, Marshall placed the plants in the back and quickly got into the passengers' side of the truck. Li shortly got in and started it. "Where to?" he asked, driving backwards and onto the road.
"Samuel Brownlee's lab, I'll give you directions," Marshall said, looking out onto the road.
Li laughed. "Ah, Samuel Brownlee. He's a good friend of mine. Just a few blocks down the road."
Atticus forced himself to open his eyes as the loud tapping of rain awakened him. He was nauseous, and the hard surface beneath him failed to make the experience tolerable. He sat up and tried to examine his surroundings.
An ajar door showed a bleak, gray view outside, woods and brush seemingly surrounding his enclosure. A lantern that had seen better days sat at the center of the room, allowing Atticus to discover that he was not alone. Two people slept on the floor near him, their appearances indistinct under poor lighting conditions.
Blossom awoke in a corner, feeling a cold draft against her. She shivered, rubbing her head and trying to jog her memory. She couldn't seem to remember anything about her past. She looked around and saw two people that she couldn't recognize.
A new, different voice echoed, this time clearly beyond Atticus' mind and throughout the dreamscape. It touched upon both the decaying barn that the couple were in and the car housing Melissa and the others.
"I've come to witness the opening of the rift." The voice was deep and calm, not displaying any outward emotion. It spoke softly. "It's magnificent to see it like this—"
Samuel's calm demeanor broke. Though he couldn't quite place it, it gave him a feeling of unease that he never witnessed in a dream before. The voice continued.
"—Tied up in the web. You cannot grasp what you’ve wrought. There is so very much to learn..." Shadows eclipsed the moon, a violet light seeping out from behind. The source of the voice became apparent; a figure in black robes standing beneath the darkness. "...You understand so little."
In a flash of lightning, near-identical figures appeared surrounding the figure. With a sudden jolt of the car, a distant, red barn became visible to Samuel's group. Meanwhile, alongside Blossom and Atticus, the other figure began to disintegrate, collapsing like particles of sand.
"What in the world was that echoing voice?" Chris wondered. He poked his head out the window for answers, only to see the barn coming into view, as an even bigger shock. "And why have we returned here?"
Blossom watched as the other figure disappeared. Confused, she sat up and looked around. What was that voice? Where could it have come from? It was far too loud to be the one remaining person in the barn.
Hearing the voice seemingly shout and surround the two with its words, Atticus clenched his forehead in pain. "What the hell is that?!"
"Who are you?" Blossom stood up, addressing Atticus. She looked in his direction, slowly moving closer to him.
Melissa was quite bewildered at the present situation. The voice did not sound like anything she had heard before, and she was confused on how the landscape could change so suddenly. "What happened?" she turned to Samuel, who was a bit uneasy.
"That was.." Samuel could provide no answer.
"Well, since we've been sitting in this car for a while, why don't we check out the barn? Might hold some more secrets." Chris suggested.
"Sounds like a good idea," Melissa said, still unsure of what was going on.
Seeing the girl approach him, Atticus thought for a moment before answering. "Why should I tell my name first? Who are you? What are we doing here?"
The barn began to turn to sand as well, though the small particles floated upwards rather than scattering on the wet, muddy ground.
"What the hell?" Blossom looked around, startled. "I'm Blossom, but I don't think we have much time to talk." She backed as far away from the hooded figures as possible.
"Uhh," Atticus began backing away from the hooded figures. "What are these guys?"
Samuel could not explain what was occurring as he closed the car door and entered into the grassland, light rain falling around him. He could only watch in horror as the figures started to approach.
"S-Steven? Chris? Samuel? Anyone...?" Melissa looked around in fear.
Chris looked at Melissa, and then out the car window. He stared at the sandy area where the barn had once stood, as well as the nine figures left in its wake. "Who are those individuals? That isn't the actual barn, is it? It just evaporated, so it couldn't be..."
The central figure, identical to the others, began to speak.
"Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair." The voice from seconds before spoke, now coming from the figure himself. He nodded to one of his compatriots. "I'll let you do the honors."
The other figure moved closer to Atticus. "We really are thankful." He spoke, the same gruff voice that had told him to do those things to Blossom earlier. He crossed his arms. "Our work here is done, milord."
The figure returned to his six companions, standing among them straight. The presumed leader spoke again, his eyes illuminating. "Remember this meeting." With that, the seven of them vanished, consumed by a magenta smoke as the primary figure chuckled.
Atticus clenched his fist, processing what had been said and done. The harder he clenched, the more he realized that he was holding something. Something angular and square. Small, round grooves could be felt on each side, signifying numbers. "The die..." He spoke, to nobody in particular.
Gazing into the ground and taking heavy breaths, Atticus lifted his hand up and began to shake it, preparing to roll the dice.
The die fell from Atticus' hand, though he wasn't sure if he was prepared for the results. As it hit the ground, it sank in partially as though it was dropped on a cushion. It seemed to keep turning long after it should have stopped, though when it did it revealed seven randomly-placed dots. Blossom opened her mouth to speak, but whatever she said was drowned out by a loud, powerful musical note, rising in pitch until it began to vibrate the surrounding area.
Atticus' eyelids unstuck from each other while he moved his hands to his ears in an attempt to stop the ringing in his head. A bright light pierced his vision, a welcome sight after all of the darkness he'd endured, and he used an elbow to prop himself up and take in his surroundings. The others were beginning to do the same as Atticus realized his location, the Laboratory of the Mind. His breath was heavy, as though he'd just ran a few hundred meters, and he was drenched in sweat. His unfocused eyes picked out a target among the group, a dark-skinned man sitting down on a chair. One of the lab assistants stood next to him, speaking to the half-asleep Samuel.
"Sir, I would like you to meet a mister John Fontaine."
Sitting atop an immense pillar of stone, six figures were engaged in conversation. They spoke in hushed voices, casually discussing strange concepts foreign to Euclid. With their hoods down, each of their faces were unique, though they were all dressed identically. The seventh figure was not listening. A grin rested upon his face as he stood, staring at the moon in the night sky. He lifted his hands, framing the glowing moon within his fingers. His two eyes, blue and gold, were decorated by the shining lunar celestial. With a small chuckle, he formed his fingers into a heart shape.
|Season One:||Awakening • White Room • Bare Trees • One Night in Gladea • Divided we Fall • Hide & Seek • Exit Music • Reunion • In Somnis Veritas • Carpe Diem • Ticking Clock • Primo Victoria (Part I • Part II)|
|Season Two:||Until Dawn • Roaming King • Safe Haven • Silver Lights • Marked Map • The Less I Know the Better • Riding the Wave • Centuries of Damnation • House of the Rising Sun • The Master|