Chapter 16

Brandon Shepherd stopped upon hearing a voice call out to him. It was one only he could listen to—one that did not originate from the mine. He shook his head frantically as if he wanted to shake the voice out of him.

“Shut up… I’m out right now. The curse is probably the reason why—where am I? Don’t worry about it—I’ll sleep soon—I have to rescue Adam—he’s important… Yes, I used it—how do you think I’m in such a place? I’ll use it again, too—it’s all troublesome—I’m so unlucky… cause of you… Remember that, as I’m used up in your abysmally pathetic game…”

He began to sniff the air—a sinister grin forming on the face of one that should not be fueled by malice whatsoever. “Smell that? Misfortune. That’s gotta be him—I’m gonna bring him here—I’ll use it.”

Pausing for a moment, his mouth resumed moving. Not a single sound could escape, however. The crimson energy of the mine had gathered, forming a demonic hand around his throat. Several others immediately proceeded, grappling onto his limbs. They squeezed as if they wanted to crush Brandon like a can.

“…! D-Dammit…!” His voice could barely come out. It broke through, however, and Brandon Shepherd screamed louder than he ever did before. The bloody roar was accompanied by a fierce glare of dark amber irises, directed toward the world. 

 

“…So loud.”

Brandon stood in pitch blackness. He could not even see his hands.

“Is that… me? What am I shouting for? Oh… wait. This seems… familiar.”

He let out an agitated sigh that echoed in the void.

“It’s been a while since this happened. I get like this sometimes whenever I get really anxious. Think the last time was a few years ago in high school? During practice… I’m surprised it didn’t happen recently. I almost had a heart attack when I first heard Adam tried to… Oh… wait. Oh! Adam!” 

Brandon looked around, yet his vision remained the same regardless of what direction he turned toward.

“Adam got sucked into some cave… and I tried to run in there to help him. Right, I guess that’s a good reason to freak out? What is… going on, exactly? It feels… different this time. Hmm…”

He began to ponder, tapping his foot on the “ground.”

“Hmmmmmmmmmmmm… Yeah, this shit is weird. That’s about all I can come up with.”

Upon hearing his disembodied screams once more, he jumped in shock. 

“…Well, I’m smarter than I look—I… I hope. I can come up with something. I think… I should probably wake up first. How to do that…?”

 

Adam’s vision returned to him. The first thing he noticed was the gigantic white aura that had formed around him. His body ached immensely, yet the World Mirror had saved him from burning away. 

“It… can help me regenerate lost limbs, I know that much. But I figured something that constantly ate away at me would be a bit too much…” 

Looking ahead, Adam was still in the mine, right where he had collapsed. Blood was all around him, and it covered his body from head to toe. He noticed something odd occurring.

“I can see clearly, even though you’d think this energy around me would blur my vision. Hell, my eyes lighting up should blind me, but they don’t…? How the hell does that work?”

Phantonics, as a whole, tended to contradict many other fields of science. It seemed that his unknown power of the World Mirror did this as well. To what degree, Adam was unsure. 

The aura guarded him—chaons seemed to be lighting up as they made contact with his power. They could not get in, at least for the time being. 

“It activates whenever I’m injured. More healing equals more energy coming out. Right—okay. That sucks. I should really figure out an alternate way to unleash it. Cause, clearly, this power is hella strong. It… can make a difference. I know it can.”

Adam began to walk, noticing immediately that, along with the intense pain, he was quite dizzy. 

“I lost quite a lot of blood, didn’t I? In fact, when I originally tried to… you know, they noted that I had lost a ton of it. Hmm… I think I can regenerate blood, as well, but it’s a much slower process compared to everything else. Damn, okay. Gotta watch out for that, I suppose?”

His arms twitched as he raised them in front of himself. “How to control this power…? What have I been doing thus far when I can ‘control’ it?”

In the fight with Charlotte and during his attempt to break the barrier, the World Mirror did work in the way he had intended it to. Energy had gathered around the limbs he wanted to use, mainly due to his injuries, yet the explosion of power was something to take notice of.

“What did I do in those moments? How did it feel when I swung my fists…? It’s way too soon for me to be entering combat with this thing, but…” Adam’s eyes gazed into the darkness ahead. “I might have to if I proceed with this weak-ass rescue attempt.”

He shook his head. “That girl was a ghost anyway, Adam. She’s dead. What’s there to save…? No, that’s contradictory. You’re helping Charlotte, who’s also a ghost. Who can… basically be considered alive, with how she acts. Gah…” 

Scratching his hair fiercely in his frustration, blood gushed out of it. 

“Guh…! What the fu…!” 

With the World Mirror’s power active, he was much stronger right now. Adam did not take into account a simple action, such as scratching the top of his head.

“P-Pretty sure I almost dug into my brain… Damn this…”

Adam stumbled forward. What happened next was an incredibly lucky circumstance that fate decided to give him. He would not know the details for quite some time, but by stepping on a certain spot of the cave with the World Mirror active, something occurred.

He had stepped on a border—a spot where two sections of the cave that were constantly swapping had met. All of the sections frequently shifted to keep a person lost in the crimson maze, yet one could easily set foot on this spot at the right time.

Nothing would happen—or even be noticed—if it was anyone else. Adam was the one capable of making the change. By stepping on this border, the entire framework of the mine was rewritten. Adam’s desire to rescue the little girl resonated with the World Mirror, and with its power, the cave was now—unbeknownst to him—under his control. 

Nothing could be kept from him now. Adam continued to stumble on the rocky path, trying his best to keep his composure. Blood dripped from his head while the scratches slowly healed. The aura surrounding him was like a white flame casually passing between the tinier crimson ones located off to the side. 

He heard groaning—seemingly out of nowhere. Walking a few meters ahead, Adam quickly located the source of the sound. A sizeable crimson cloud was directly in front of him—ghastly red hands occasionally popping in and out of the mass. 

“What the hell is this thing…?”

The groaning turned into the sound of someone crying—a young man that sounded familiar to Adam.

The voice began to speak. Adam recognized it—his eyes widening not only from the realization but from the words that exited the mist.

“Kill… me…”

“Brandon…?” The World Mirror’s aura was like a storm—the power unleashed instantly caused the stone walls of the cave to crack. The regular red fog that was around him was blown away, yet the mass that had trapped his friend remained. 

“Kill me… Kill me… Kill me, kill me, kill me, KILL ME, KILL ME!!”

With each repetition of those words, the crimson hands unleashed as a countermeasure to Adam’s power. They grabbed onto him, despite breaking apart against the pressure of the World Mirror.

He waved his own hands around in retaliation, whacking the appendages off easily. The white energy had no choice—Adam’s desire to save his friend, as well as the confusion toward why Brandon would say those words. Out of everyone he knew, Brandon Shepherd was the least likely to spew such nonsense.

Or—was he? This brief hesitation led Adam to get punched a few times by the hands, sending him several feet backward. He realized that it was no time to consider something like that. The time was after—after Brandon was safe.

Remaining on his feet, Adam blitzed the crimson energy—the hands unable to affect him whatsoever as he charged through. Coming into contact with the cloud, the struggle began. Despite being a gaseous phenomenon, it was rather difficult for him to break through. 

Still, Adam pressed forward, attempting to tear it apart.

 

Inside the pitch-black world, Brandon had given up. His screams from the outside had ruined him, as he sat in the fetal position with his ears covered.

“W-What the hell…? I can’t do anything to get out of here, can I? What the hell, what the hell, what the hell…?”

The Brandon that was on the outside and the Brandon on the inside were now synced together. Both of them, in their own respective darkness, were unsure of what to do aside from giving up. 

Tiny cracks of light appeared before him. Brandon slowly glanced up at the phenomenon—pieces of darkness falling around him like they were shards of glass.

The blackness shattered. The white entered the realm, enveloping him. Brandon was astonished to see Adam appear from the light, grabbing him by the collar of his shirt.

“I don’t know how you got in here… but whatever. What’s important right now…” Adam looked as though he was about to cry out of sheer rage. Brandon’s eyes, flickering between yellow and blue, were focused on his friend.

“I’m not going to let anyone go through anything remotely close to what I did! Especially my best friend! Don’t ever say such shit like that when your life’s so important, you goddamn moron!”

The crimson cloud faded as Brandon stared at Adam in awe. He felt as though he could cry, but this feeling was suppressed by a surge of emotions—ones that left him more confused than anything.

“I-I appreciate that, dude. But… W-What’s happening here…? Where am I? What’s going on!?” Brandon shot up onto his feet, glancing around the area. Despite being captured by the strange mass, he seemed fine physically—the mysterious “alter ego” that had formed out of nowhere had rested knowing Adam was safe.

“You… what? You don’t know—oh, okay. I think I might get it…?” Adam crossed his arms. “Were you possessed by something? All of these chaons in here could have caused something… That being said, how did you get in?”

“I… I don’t remember! What’s been going on!? You said that stuff to me, but I don’t know the context!”

“D-Did it legit leave your memory? What the…?” Adam pondered what could have possibly happened. “Whatever! As long as you know that I meant that stuff I said, then fine! Let’s just forget about it.”

“I… I know you mean it. We don’t have to get into all that sensitive stuff right now, at least, for my sake. If you ever need to talk about it, though…” Brandon was clearly embarrassed by the topic. He threw any nonsensical pride off to the side, however. “I’m here. I’ll always be here… I-I should have made it clear that I was always there for you, to begin with!”

Adam was astonished to hear those words come out of Brandon’s mouth. He’s heard him say similar things before, but it felt different this time. Adam understood why, as he noticed his friend begin to tear up.

“I don’t want you to die… dude, don’t die. Please… no matter what the cause is, you can’t. We have to see things through to the end!”

Adam looked toward the ground below. He noticed that blood had been dripping from his body, and tiny puddles began to form around him. The World Mirror was healing him, yes, but the strain on his body was starting to show.

The sight made Adam begin to shake in a panic. However, the scene also helped Adam recall words he had heard before—similar to Brandon’s.

“You can’t die…! Adam, please! Stay with me! You… have to stay… with me, don’t you remember…!? We have to live, so we can…”

Through the sheer force of his will, Adam calmed himself. He glanced up at Brandon, who could notice the fire that had formed in his eyes.

“Do you know how I feel, Brandon?”

“About what, exactly…?”

“I hate suffering. Whether it be myself or seeing someone else go through it. I tried killing myself cause I hated suffering in loneliness that much. If I had to choose between my suffering or someone else’s, however… I’d take on all of the burden. I think that’s part of the reason I got to that point. It’s not going to change, though. I’m stronger now. I’m someone who conquered death itself, after all. I’ll keep going. It’s like you said, we have to see things through to the end!”

Brandon did not know how to respond. He felt incredibly proud that his friend had found this inner strength to press forward. However, he was incredibly concerned with how far Adam would go. 

“There’s something in here that needs help. It’s simple, really. I’m going to go rescue her. It’s dangerous as hell, and I’m not sure how well you can manage with these chaons, but…” Adam held out his fist.

“After what you’ve said, how can I turn you away? Do you want to stay? In that case, will you help me?”

Brandon hesitated for a moment before a cocky grin formed on his face. He bumped his own fist against Adam’s. 

“Why not? Let’s show this person just how far these two idiots can go for them!” 


Next: Chapter 17

Previous: Chapter 15

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 15

Brandon stumbled as he walked through the shadows—the torches near him dim. His usual blue-eyed gaze—fixated on the ground—was unseen to the world.

“My head has never been so clear… My heart has never been in such turmoil—I’ve got to find Adam and end this quickly—I can’t be here—I have to hide again—I’m just a tool—so unlucky—so unlucky…

The incoherent mumbling continued. Having mysteriously passed the barrier, Brandon continued through the cave. He had no way of knowing that sections of the cavern were continually swapping places with one another—the mine was deliberately keeping him separated from any other forms of life. 

 

Charlotte had noticed this. While analyzing her aura and how it redacted to this unique environment, she felt the presence of two others lost in the caves. 

“One is Adam… I can feel the World Mirror’s energy rather easily now ever since it surfaced the other night. What’s this other one, though…? It gives off phantonic energy in the manner that a human does, but… what is this dark pressure I’m feeling from it? That’s not normal.” 

She shook her head as she began to walk. “Regardless, no matter how often these sections switch places, they’re keeping us all apart. If I detect Adam in a nearby area, I can’t get there in time. The shift occurs too quickly. I can fly fast—if I do say so myself—but it’s not enough. I risk losing this form if I put too much power into flight.”

Glancing from left to right, Charlotte focused on the crimson torches on the wall. “It doesn’t make sense for them to be lit if nobody’s normally down here. I wonder…” Raising her hand, tiny specs of phantonic energy ascended. She notices how they seemed to strengthen—growing in size. This was not her doing.

“Let me see if I can try something. Hang in there, Adam…”

 

The shadow that had tried to grab Adam was no longer in the mine. In an entirely separate location, many miles from Prelude, there was a remote white brick building deep within a lush green forest—blanketed with vines as nature tried to claim it. Inside, there was nothing but a single sizeable empty room—literally no item in sight.

Underneath the floorboards was where everything was. The center room was an eerie laboratory with little light. Large test tubes gave off a cerulean glow while several monitors lit up the silhouette of a figure covered in a black cloak. The shadow was floating near this person as it had just relayed information to them. 

“I see, I see, I see…” The man in a shaky voice leaned on the desk in front of him. “That’s no good. Our leader is preoccupied with another important task right now. We can’t interrupt him, even for something like this.”

“I know,” The shadow responded, annoyed. “That’s why I warped to you, Carl. I assume you can help me come up with something. I’m not sure what will happen if the kid somehow finds the main room, but I’m pretty sure he’ll die before that happens.”

“This strange energy coming from him intrigues me…” Carl commented as he began to chuckle. “What an interesting power, to be able to resist your shadows. This family is just full of surprises!” 

“His mother, Rebecca Grayson…” The shadow seemed to ponder. “From what I know, she was strong, but not that kind of strong. A power like this kid’s shouldn’t exist… unless of course, there’s an influence because of—”

“We should cut the chit chat,” Carl interrupted. “If you can’t warp him out of there, then we’ll have to send someone in personally. You can control how the sections change, yes? Just open up the barrier from the inside so that someone can walk them out. We’ll have to figure out a good spot to do so…”

“There’s a hole in the basement of his house, but the kid had friends over. Walking into one of them would be troublesome…” 

“Warp them out of the way? Let your power drain their phantonic energy just enough so they lose consciousness. No struggle involved.”

“Hmm…”

“Jason, what is it?” Carl sat up and hovered over the shadow. “You in there, you disembodied freak?”

“I-I just went and checked again…” Jason paused. “Somehow, one of his other friends got inside. And… another person, too.”

“Well, that’s not good… Not good, not good, not good.” Carl began pacing around the room. “Who’s this other person? Just warp the two of them out—we’ve gotta focus on getting that kid out of there—”

“I’m not sure how it’s possible, Carl. But the other person… is an Ouderkirk.”

Carl went silent. He slowly lowered his hood, revealing an extremely pale man with unkempt black hair. His eyes, crimson in color, glared at the shadow. 

“Are you serious?”

“I’ve never met one of them before myself, but it completely matches. White hair, blue eyes, phantonic energy that’s off the charts… but, there’s something peculiar about how she moves.”

“What does that mean?”  

“A pure-blooded Ouderkirk shouldn’t exist anymore. How this girl seems to control her power… She’s careful with it. I think—”

“A ghost…?” Carl began tapping his finger on his arm. “Why, yes! Yes, yes, yes! That would make sense! Incredible! She sounds like a great specimen!”

“You looked fearful a moment ago…” Jason noted. “What’s with that change?”

“She must be much weaker as a ghost! Keeping a spiritual form stable, especially in the environment the mine has, is tremendous work! If we can capture her, you do realize how quickly we can set our plan in motion!?”

“That’s right…!” Jason shouted cheerfully as his shadow began to dance around. “We need an Ouderkirk’s power! Yes! Let me see if I can—wait, the kid!”

“Right! The kid, the kid, the kid!” Carl ran around in circles, furiously scratching the hair on his head. “We can’t let him die… I think?” He stopped abruptly. “We may or may not be in deep shit if that were to happen!”

A metal door off to the side suddenly swung open as a muscular man with short black hair entered the room. His brown eyes glared at them, clearly irritated.

“What on earth is all this noise about? I know you like to shout at random times of the night, but Jason, too?”

“Ah, Derek! Perfect timing!” Carl ran up to the man, shaking his hand repeatedly. We need your assistance with something! Actually, is Chris busy? We might want him to tag along. This could get a little nasty…”

“He isn’t…?” Derek tilted his head in confusion. “I want to say no, but I feel like that’s not going to be much of an option. Just what are you getting us into this time, you crazy scientist?”

 

Adam’s eyes had finally begun to open—their ghostly gaze looking toward the crimson light on the walls. He could barely move at first but slowly sat up.

“My arms…?”

They had mostly healed at this point—a tiny white aura indicating that the World Mirror was doing the finishing touches, which Adam could not make out on the surface. He moved his fingers around without issue and clenched his fist as he hit the ground, using it to prop himself onto his feet.

“This is what was beyond that barrier, huh? What’s with these…?” Adam analyzed the torches. With the World Mirror active, Adam’s vision picked up what appeared to be a faint red smoke from the flames, which was not visible to the naked eye.

“Well, I’m in here. I went through the trouble of busting in when I could have easily approached it much differently. Why did I feel like, at that moment, I had to get in here? Who is that girl…? Why did her voice…” Adam shook his head. “Whatever. I’m clearly in a ‘do now, think later’ mindset—for whatever reason—so, let’s just go find her.”

He began to run, still feeling pain from being sucked into the mine. “It was pitch-black behind me… Did I seriously get pulled in that far? Even though I don’t want them here, I’m surprised the others didn’t show up. Something’s weird about all of this. No, shit, Adam. But…”

Adam slowed down, almost tripping before coming to a complete stop. 

“I let something within me—some feeling I didn’t know existed—pull me into this. Is it…?”

“The hero. You’ve always been like one…”

Faith’s words echoed in Adam’s mind as he shook his head. 

“It’s not something that cliche, is it? I heard a little girl cry for help, so I rushed in to save her? I mean… t-that sounds like something any person with a heart would do! I…”

There was a reason Adam was hung up on this. He could tell the moment he started running through the cave. Adam wanted to come up with an admirable excuse for his actions—one that would outweigh the complete loss of a logical approach. This “excuse” was legitimately what he felt in his heart, so things would have worked out in the end. As long as Adam survived and saved the unknown girl, it would be a happy ending.

The moment Adam realized what was happening to his body, everything was ruined. He paid attention in school—enough to know what chaons were—enough to know of their crimson and scarlet auras.

Adam knew the role phantons had in counteracting chaons. Awakened phantons were utterly immune to their potent toxicity, while normal phantons could at least hold up a good enough resistance for some time.

Adam Grayson was the boy who mysteriously lacked phantons. Sure—the World Mirror was powerful and gave Adam quite a boost in capabilities. But he was still new to everything. He did not know how to properly use it.

There was nothing to protect him from the crimson mist surrounding him—visible with the World Mirror’s eyes. His skin began to burn as it lit up in a blood-red blaze. 

His breath, something that Brandon had seemed to suggest was special in some way, did nothing in this situation. He had already breathed in the strange substance. Blood burst from Adam’s mouth as he coughed violently—gasping for air that could no longer enter him. 

Adam Grayson’s naive actions won heavily against his feeble attempt at being a “courageous hero.” He fell to his knees as death was once again beckoned by the appearance of his blood.


Next: Chapter 16

Previous: Chapter 14

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 14

“Hmm… hmm… hmm…” 

Faith quietly hummed to herself as she strummed the strings of her guitar. She lay in bed with a notepad next to her—red headphones over her ears, which were connected to her phone as she listened to tunes. With free time on her hands, she was attempting to write a song.

“That wouldn’t sound too good… Maybe a different type of song?” 

While she shuffled through her playlist, attempting to find inspiration, Emma walked into her room—the door on the opposite left side of the room, wide open. Her hair was down, which she was playing with—a habit she had when it was not wrapped up in its usual ponytail.

“Hey, Faith?” She waved at her sister to get her attention while glancing around the room.

“What’s up, Em?” She asked, uncovering one ear to listen.

“Where did you put that medicine? I got a killer headache all of a sudden…”

“Uh… oh—right here,” Faith leaned over to her nightstand, brushing the wrapper of a snack she ate earlier out of the way. She picked up the pills and shook it. “These?”

“Yeah, thanks.” Emma took the bottle and looked at it. “Hope this helps…”

“You’ve been playing loads of games the last few days,” Faith noted, wagging her finger. “I’m not one to talk whatsoever, but you’ve gotta be careful. Take breaks every now and then.”

“Dude, Shadow Sea Adventures has too many secret levels to unlock! It’s only the first game, as well. These developers are crazy!” 

“We need to 100% the Super Samurai games, remember? We’ve got to get to that pretty soon… There are only two months left before I leave.”

“I know, I know…” Emma walked over and sat on the edge of Faith’s bed.

“You’re not taking those?” Faith pointed at the bottle of pills.

“In a sec. I just wanna see what you’re writing…” With a mischievous grin, Emma leaped for the notebook. 

“H-Hey! Emma!”

“Writing a love song of some kind?” She snickered as she looked at her sister’s writing.

“I-I…” Faith was too flustered to speak.

“W-Woah…” Emma was bewildered at the words on the page in front of her. “This could totally be some kind of love song! You’re usually not the best at this kind of style, but…” 

“When were you one to care about this type of music? You’ve told me before that it’s crap!”

“Usually, it is. Cause love is just…” Emma paused, placing the notebook down. “Crap… But, you’re good at making this stuff sound good. I wish you… could have been a musician…” 

“Well, I’ve got to work for Unity, for the time being…” Faith sighed, putting her headphones down. “I won’t really have time for this sort of thing.”

“…Hey,” Emma got into a fetal position, clearly distraught at the conversation topic. “Do you think people with Concepts can ever be ‘free’ from this whole thing? With powers, like the ones you have, you should be responsible, for sure. But… being tied down by a group that is definitely not responsible… How do we fix this?”

“I…”

“You have the opportunity to fight for good—sure. But it just seems… wrong, not having a choice. We don’t see Mom as often as we should, and even when we do, she’s exhausted from all of it.” Emma chuckled. “Not that that’s any different from having a parent with a demanding job. But it is different. There’s so much danger and uncertainty that—”

“Emma,” Faith tapped the notebook next to them. “Wanna know something? This song I’m working on…” She moved some of her hair behind her ear as a tender smile formed. “It’s actually inspired by a poem I wrote when I was little. I’m not sure what happened to it, but I remember it vividly. Trying to add proper music to go with it is the tricky part… It’s gotta be perfect.”

“T-That’s interesting and all, but what does that have to do with—”

“Look at the lyrics again. You can see it as some kind of love song—sure—but the main theme is centered around ‘hope.’ Hope that the person singing and the person they’re singing to can come together and conquer anything that gets in the way…”

“…no matter if the skies are gray.” Emma glanced at one of the lines, twirling her hair around her finger. “Hmm… Well—” Emma stood up from the bed. “I guess I’ll hope things turn out for the best.”

“Take those pills and lie down, for now,” Faith suggested. “Don’t worry. Leave everything to your big sis.”

“I don’t want you to bear that burden…” Emma mumbled to herself.

“Hmm?” Faith was trying to hear what her sister was saying.

“My birthday’s in a week,” Emma changed the topic. “I’ll be seventeen. Just a reminder in case you forgot. A week should be plenty of time to get me something nice.”

“Right, right…” Faith sighed. “Anything you want specifically?” 

Emma began to leave the room as she stopped and leaned up against the door frame. “Well, aside from things relating to the topic we just discussed…” She placed her hand on her chin, going deep into thought. “Games… You can check my wishlist to see what you’d think I’d like.”

“I can do that…” Faith nodded, picking up the notebook and taking a quick glance at it.

“Oh, that’s right…” Emma stared at Faith’s large wooden desk, which was to the left of the door. She had her attention on the two drawers on the right side. “Your own birthday was over a week ago—feels much longer than that. You’re eighteen now…”

“I am,” Faith began to put her headphones back on. “I can now legally vote for whatever political nonsense Requiem wants to get itself in.”

“You’re also old enough to… you know…” Emma tiptoed toward the drawers. “Did Mom get you any…? You gotta be safe, you know?”

“W-Wha…” Faith was flabbergasted at what Emma was bringing up. “W-Why do you need to know!? You’ve gotta wait a year before you start thinking about anything like that!”

“Oh, it’s not about me,” Emma responded with a sinister grin. “I just want to make sure you’re prepared in case any—let’s call it—’Gray Sky’ situations happen.”

“I-I don’t have anyone who I would want t-to…”

Emma stared at Faith with a brooding judgemental glare. Faith knew the emotions her sister was expressing through it.

“I-I…” Her hands began to shake as she raised them in an attempt to protest. 

Emma’s glare continued. While Faith’s flustered face was comedic at this point, surprisingly, flames began to form from the top of her head. Emma’s eyes lit up in horror.

“Oh. Well, they’re not burning anything. She doesn’t seem to notice… I shouldn’t tell her… I don’t want to freak her out. Cute quirk, Sis.” Emma slowly back walked out of the room so Faith could cool down. 

“Geez…” Faith noticed the heat on top of her head, yet the fire had already dissipated. “Huh…?”

Around the corner, Emma pressed her hand gently on the wall. “Right here is…” She slowly exhaled as she seemingly had held her breath. “That’s a good birthday wish. I don’t want you to fear those flames anymore, Faith. They didn’t take me, after all…”

 

Torches lit with crimson energy decorated the walls of the cave. Aside from that, it was merely stone in the immediate vicinity—nothing to indicate that this was once a prosperous mine that helped put Prelude on the map. 

The debris that was sucked in with Adam was, oddly, not near him. He lay on the ground unconscious—his arms almost entirely healed from his attack on the barrier. It had been several minutes, yet there was no sign of Charlotte.

If Adam was awake, he would notice every few seconds the strange “shift” occurring around him. The entire mine shook as sections seemingly swapped places with one another.

 

Charlotte, in an entirely different area—this one with a few broken tracks and a minecart off to the right—had stopped flying. She was well aware of the situation at this point.

“An abandoned mine underneath Prelude… sealed off by that strange barrier,” She began to walk around, taking note of the torches on the wall. “This bitter energy permeates the air… It keeps these things fueled, that’s for sure. Is it also causing the area to move around in the manner that it is…?”

Charlotte looked up and then down, clenching her fist. “Even though it’s a wall surrounding the outer area, its influence extends all around… like a ring around an invisible sphere. The barrier itself was invisible until just recently. I never sensed it at all… How is that possible?”

Although it was for a brief moment, she recalled the scarlet symbols that were on the barrier before she broke through. “I swear I’ve seen that writing before… Come on, Charlotte. You losing your memories is quite the inconvenience, ain’t it?” She paused. “Ain’t…? I’m picking up words like that? Strange…”

Taking a glance at her body, Charlotte realized something. 

“My power… isn’t weakening?” She took a closer look at the blue aura surrounding her, which seemed to be much more active than usual. “What… is this?”

 

From the ceiling of Adam’s current location, a peculiar black portal seemed to form. It slowly descended toward him while a childish voice began to echo on the walls.

“Oh boy… I sensed that someone broke in, but you of all people managed to do it, huh? Well, that’s not good. I should probably get you out of here…”

The darkness surrounded Adam as it began to swirl around. “Let’s warp you out of here… Huh?” 

A faint white light emitted from Adam’s body. It was enough to shield him from the shadows grabbing ahold of him. 

“Huh…!? What the hell is this power!? I figured you awakened some cool Concept that let you bust through things, even our barrier. This is… different. Yes, that’s right. You don’t have phantons. This is definitely different.”

The shadows ascended. The voice began to chuckle as they faded away. “All right. We might have to get a little rough with you, depending on how you respond. Let’s see how this works out, Adam.”


Next: Chapter 15

Previous: Chapter 13

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 13

Adam ran over and pushed the cabinet off to the side, which was a lot lighter than he had anticipated. It was almost tipped over—the metal wobbling as it readjusted its position firmly on the ground. 

He began slamming his fist on the stone wall repeatedly in a thoughtless attempt to break through. It only took a few hits before he began to bleed, although he could not notice the red stain on the wall, as his vision was still filled with the crimson energy the strange barrier was emitting.

Eventually, the pain became evident to Adam—slowing him down. He grimaced as he stared at his wound. The World Mirror was already active—the silvery-white power forming as his body began to regenerate.

“This energy…” Adam took a step back while looking at his hand. “It appears when I’m injured. Not only can it heal, but it can also…”

Taking a deep breath, Adam whacked the wall once more, this time with the World Mirror’s power still surrounding it. The stone cracked this time—a tiny fragment falling off. Recalling his fight with Charlotte, Adam started putting the pieces together.

“If I can unleash this power, it can be used to destroy this wall—I’m sure of it. That part I’m not concerned about. This barrier, though…” Adam started to punch the stone, this time with both of his fists. 

“I’ll need tremendous strength to bust through. World Mirror—whatever the hell you are—let’s put you to the test. Let’s see just how special you are.”

As the pain surged through his hands, the World Mirror’s energy began to flow out at a faster rate. He was surely breaking his fingers at this point, yet that was—morbidly—Adam’s goal. 

“What am I doing…?”

The wall began to crumble as Adam chipped away. Although Adam could not tell, the red energy had now become entirely visible as he continued to clash against it. Scarlet sparks scattered about in an attempt to knock him back, yet he kept on punching.

“Why don’t I just go get the others…? Why am I doing this…? What’s driving me right now…?”

Brandon and Jerry had heard the commotion at this point and began to run toward the basement door. 

Adam had created a hole in the wall, which seemed to lead into a cave-like area. The barrier remained—Adam’s final obstacle. His fists completely enveloped in white—he was ready to bust it down.

As he pulled back his right arm, the energy erupted out of him—immense power that, for this brief moment, was his. He slammed his fist into the barrier—the force blowing back everything behind him into the opposite wall. The washer and dryer had begun to bend from the sheer might.

Adam could tell that this was not enough. He also noticed that his hand was close to vaporizing from its own power. Something had to be done at that moment, while the barrier was pressured.

Energy exploded from his shining left fist as he gave a mighty uppercut to the barrier around the same place where his right had connected. This was enough—the crimson before him shattering asunder. 

At that moment—like a vacuum—the opening swallowed Adam whole as he rocketed into the cave on the opposing side. Everything on the opposite side of the room was sucked in along with him. Brandon had almost taken a step into the area affected but was luckily safe. The two watched in absolute shock as their vision filled with dust.

“G-God d—” Brandon coughed, trying to catch his breath. “W-What the hell just happened!?”

When the two could finally see once more, they were horrified to see that almost the entire basement had vanished into the cavern. All that remained were a few scraps of metal near the entrance, seemingly charged with crimson electricity.

“This is…!” Jerry ran over to inspect what had just occurred, making sure to keep a safe distance. “This red… It can’t be!?”

The two only saw a bright white light as they entered the basement. They had no clue as to what exactly transpired a few moments ago. Brandon began to look around in a panic.

“D-Did Adam get sucked up in there!? Where did that hole come from!? What’s this red stuff around the entrance!? I—” Brandon started to run into the darkness.

“Wait, Brandon! Stop! You’ll—”

Brandon slammed against the crimson energy as it immediately began to reform into the shape it was before. He fell onto the ground hard, blood flying out of his mouth upon impact.

“Idiot! It’s dangerous!” Jerry went to inspect his friend’s injuries, only to stop before he made contact. “This has to be…” He pulled out his phone and moved it toward Brandon. “I know Dad helped me get this app… Where is—oh, there!”

Tapping on the phone a few times, Jerry opened up a program that seemed to be composed of a grid. Many dots appeared—mainly blue in color. A few were red, which seemed to indicate where Brandon was.

“Dammit, you got some in ya… It should be okay, though. Your own phantons should help flush them out.”

“The… hell are you talking about…?” Brandon attempted to sit up while holding his head in agony.

“You know what phantons are, Brandon. Since I helped you out in school so much, I know you’re also aware of their counterpart. The opposite of a phanton is…?” Jerry leaned in, expecting an answer. Brandon did not respond, unable to focus properly under the current circumstances.

“…I’ll let it pass this time since you’re suffering.” Jerry sighed. “A chaon. Opposite of phantons are chaons.” He used his phone to scan the surrounding area. “Opposite of phantons are chaons. Phantons make up life, so you can see how chaons are harmful to people.” 

Unknown to Jerry, Brandon’s senses had begun to fade.

“With the phantons that your own body produces via your phantonic network, chaons that get inside you will be released slowly. As long as you’re not constantly exposed to them, they’re not toxic to humans. They hurt like a bitch, but you should be fine. If you have awakened phantons, like you do with a Concept, you’re actually completely immune to them. W-Wait a sec…”

Jerry was not paying attention to Brandon. The science he knew led him to conclude that, although it was a hard hit, his friend would be okay. While Jerry’s concern grew on Adam, Brandon sat there in a complete trance.

As if being exposed to chaons had caused something to stir within him.

“A… Adam doesn’t have phantons! Shit! Shit! Phantons help as a defense mechanism from chaons! Even if they’re not awakened, phantons are still vital to keeping someone safe. If he doesn’t have that layer of defense… what’s going to happen to him!? What even happened here in the first place!? Gah!” Jerry began to rustle his hair in a frenzy. 

The current commotion happened to be just enough. From the basement ceiling, a certain spirit had begun to descend toward the two. Charlotte—half-awake—glanced around. 

“What did you guys do…?” She landed, startling Jerry as he tumbled to the floor.

“Charlotte! You’re actually up!? I’m not sure, but we think Adam got sucked into that—” He pointed at the hole in the wall, where the barrier had reconstructed itself. “That’s made of chaons!”

Jerry briefly explained to Charlotte what he thought he had told Brandon. Her eyes widened upon the realization that Adam could potentially be in tremendous danger. 

“If that’s the case, then… there’s no reason to hesitate.”

Charlotte entered her white-haired form instantly. Manipulating the phantons that were emitting from her body, a gigantic glowing axe was created. “Move Brandon out of the way! Did he lose consciousness or something!?”

“He shouldn’t have—” Jerry finally noticed Brandon’s state. “B-Brandon…? Did you hit your head too hard or something…? Well—” He dragged his friend toward the stairs, doing what Charlotte had requested. “If you’re going in, be careful! I’m not sure how chaons will affect you.”

“This red, ominous power…” Charlotte inched closer, raising her axe into the air. “I feel like… I remember something about it. You call it ‘chaons’ in this day and age? Hmm…”

Despite the animosity radiating from the crimson before her, Charlotte was not afraid. She felt like this was something not worthy of her fear. 

“Hah!”

With a single slash downward, the azure split the crimson apart. As it opened, the same force attempted to drag her in. Although it had little effect on her, she still flew into the cave immediately, dropping the axe as it faded away. 

“There she goes…” Jerry stood on the stairs looking around the corner as the event unfolded. While he watched the barrier once again reconstruct itself, he decided to finally focus his attention on Brandon. “Okay, what happened to you—”

Brandon stood, while Jerry slowly lost consciousness. It seemed as though a mere wave of black-haired boy’s hand near the back of his friend’s neck did the trick.

“You don’t need to involve yourself in this,” Brandon spoke in a stern voice, something he never did. He walked over toward the barrier—head looking down. 

No one, not even Brandon himself, understood what was happening. Words exited his mouth—ones that were his own, yet were not simultaneously. 

“All right, moron. Let’s go save Adam. I can’t trust anyone else with this, can I? Man, how unlucky can I be…?” 


Next: Chapter 14

Previous: Chapter 12

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 12

Jerry watched the screen of his laptop display a jumbled mess of numbers as it was attempting to process the information he was looking into. Currently, he and Brandon were at Adam’s house—Jerry relaxing in the cozy navy-blue recliner that was bought the day prior. As you walk into the home, the living room is directly ahead with the kitchen off to the right. To the left of that is the hallway that leads to the remaining rooms. 

“So, you actually bought this thing…” Jerry leaned back. “You really can’t stand sleeping on that couch?”

“Have you felt this thing?” Adam slapped the tan cushions repeatedly—the sound nearly identical to hitting a stone. “I can’t sleep on this. I won’t allow it.”

Jerry leaned forward and placed his laptop on the glass coffee table in front of him, glaring at Adam to his left. “Well, what you choose to do with the money that Charlotte gave you is none of my business. Although with the situation we’re in, you should be somewhat wise with it.”

“Sleeping well is always a priority,” Adam looked at his brand new smartphone, which was in a case that had a space-like design. “As well as having communication that won’t break… You sure this thing is sturdy enough?”

“Best one on the market right now,” Jerry answered.

“Well, that’s good,” Adam raised his arm and patted Brandon on the back, who was sitting next to him. “Aren’t you glad I bought ya a new one as well?”

Brandon was looking down at his phone with the same case Adam’s had—his with an electrical design. “Yeah, I do appreciate it a lot…”

“And like I told you, don’t think me getting that for you is a persuasion to help me out…” Adam paused. “It’s been two days since I told you everything. How are you processing it?”

“Huh?” Brandon looked up, quite confused at Adam’s question. “How are you processing it—that’s the better question. You’re right in the center of all of this shit.”

“I’m taking it one day at a time, I’d say,” Adam answered. “I can’t really figure out this World Mirror thing while Charlotte’s sleeping. I’m hoping she can wake up soon.”

Jerry tapped his laptop in frustration. “I’m trying to come up with code so I can begin my hacking process. It’s all flimsy crap so far—I’d get caught the moment I even tried. So, while I wait for the rest of this to process, I’ll tell you what I’m thinking now.”

“What you’re thinking…?” Adam leaned forward, ready to listen.

“Brandon—” Jerry pointed at him. “It’s like Adam said. We’re not going to try to drag you into this. You were told cause you’re our friend. If you do get involved, just realize… your life probably won’t be normal from that point onward.”

That was a fact which Adam himself had not adequately taken into consideration. A Concept alone would be an obvious game-changer for someone if they were to obtain one, leading them into an abnormal life. Adam had something else going on entirely—something that set him outside the known realms of possibility.

Despite that, two of his closest friends—ones not even classified in an abnormal realm, were here with him. One had already agreed to assist in this situation, striving to achieve their own goals while doing so.

The second one—Brandon Shepherd—did not hesitate with his response to Jerry.

“Of course I’m gonna help. Even if I’m completely useless, I’ll find a way! A normal life…?” Brandon chuckled as he shook his head. “I could probably have a fancy one becoming a professional soccer player if I gave it my all. But honestly… why the hell should I do something that I hate!?”

Jerry was shocked to hear those words, while Adam could not help but burst into laughter. 

“You finally said it, god damn I’ve been waiting for that.”

“You don’t want to do soccer…?” Jerry began to chuckle. “When did that happen?”

“I’ve always hated it! My dad made me do it when I was younger after we moved here to… keep my mind off of things. I didn’t enjoy it, but I was really good at it. Baseball and lacrosse too—I was good, but… not my thing. Eventually, I took my main sport, soccer, and tried to roll with that. There was nothing else I wanted to do, so I figured I could at least go somewhere with it.”

“I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard you say a single positive thing about it,” Adam added. 

“Yeah, now that you mention it… you really do hate it, huh?” Jerry nodded. “I see. Even if you have talent, you still don’t want to pursue that… It’s strange. I have talent with technology, yet I love it. There’s nothing else I’d rather do.”

“We humans are complicated creatures,” Adam shrugged. “It’s just the way it is.”

“Well, back to the topic at hand,” Jerry cleared his throat. “Since you seem to want to help, Brandon, I’ll keep my explanations simple enough so that you can understand them.”

“H-Hey, what’s that supposed to mean—”

“I’m going to get straight to the point. Adam, I assume you’re aware of this, but no matter how we proceed with everything… Unity will become our enemy.”

“Yeah, no shit,” Adam sighed loudly, leaning back on the rock-solid cushions. “There would be little to no pressure if it wasn’t for them.”

“My dad has never been an official member, he only does work involving the technical field. ‘Medically,’ watching over you and Emma would be his only assignments. What I’m getting at is… well, he’s important, but not vital. I’m sure things could turn south for him if he didn’t comply with the rules. So, we might very well be on a timer for this stuff…”

“I’m well aware… And if the others, who are actual members, get involved, I’m sure they could be forced to fight like puppets.” 

“I’ve got a question!” Brandon raised his hand like he was in a classroom but proceeded to ask regardless. “Just what makes Unity this dangerous-ass thing to deal with?”

“Two major things-” Jerry put up two of his fingers. “One: Their leader. His Concept is… well, unknown. But it holds great power and makes him practically unbeatable. I can detail what’s known about it, however…”

“Let’s just hope we don’t have to face him any time soon,” Adam said while tapping the side of the couch. “At least let me unlock my super-secret OP ancient powers, first.”

“Right. Fighting an unknown with another unknown. That always makes for an interesting event.” Jerry nodded while folding his arms.

“The second thing is pretty obvious—to me—so I’ll explain…” Adam paused, gritting his teeth. 

“Clover, right?” Jerry asked.

“Huh? Like the plant?” Brandon also asked.

“Yeah… They’re a special group within Unity themselves that work under the leader directly. Named ‘Clover’ cause they wear green-colored suits, I guess?”

“I-I think I’ve seen those guys before!” Brandon stood up. “Those creepy dudes with the weird goggles?”

“Yep…” Adam groaned. “They’re like some cult-like police force. So many bastards walking around enforcing dumbass rules. Usually, they only get involved with Unity business, but they could easily, easily get tyrannical if they desired to. I’m surprised the government hasn’t been taken over by them yet.”

“Maybe they already took over…?” Brandon suggested with a horrified look on his face. “Maybe they wear green to symbolize the fact that they’re secretly lizard people!

Adam, with no force or malice behind it whatsoever, reached upward and smacked Brandon in the face. “Okay, Mr. Conspiracy Theory. I mean, who knows? With Concepts, I guess anything could be possible…? His eyes widened. “Shit, maybe they could be lizards!”

Jerry slowly shook his head. “I’m surprised Brandon can sometimes swallow you up in his nonsense. Anyway, I think you get the picture. Not easy to move around when you’ve got guys like that all over the place, hiding in the shadows.”

“Well, at least we don’t have some super high-tech surveillance watching us 24/7.” Brandon chuckled, sitting back down as the smile slowly faded from his face. “…R-Right?”

“There are ways to, easily,” Jerry responded while rubbing the back of his head. “It’s nothing, at the moment, that I couldn’t handle. However, it could become a third thing we’d have to deal with if Unity steps it up.”

“With all the phantonic technology there is, I am surprised they don’t use much of it outside of combat and research…” Adam commented. “Actually, I’m not surprised. It fits them. Increasing their own strength instead of helping people better their lives.”

“Definitely one thing I’d like to do after I’m done studying…” Jerry sighed. “If we get to the point where that’s allowed. Oh! Yeah, that reminds me. Adam, what are you going to do about school?” 

“Huh? School?” Adam chuckled. “I thought that was obvious. I’ve awakened to an awesome magical power. Screw school, I’m saving the world!” A mere chuckle turned into almost villainous laughter.

“Your words and your actions contradict one another…” Jerry smiled. “That’s what you want to do? Save the world?”

“…Well, this thing is called the ‘World Mirror,’ after all. I think it’s a given I’ve got to do something like that. The size of that ‘world’ I would want to save in the end…”

The ones Adam considered his family, regardless of blood relations, flashed in Adam’s mind. He did not say anything else, he merely glanced toward the floor with a gentle smile on his face.

“I guess I can continue with school bullshit, for the time being…” Brandon shook his head in disgust. “Until I have to leap in and save the day.”

“You, saving the day? Yeah, sure.” Adam snickered as he rose from the sofa. “It’s starting to get late. You guys staying?”

“I suppose,” Jerry answered. “I can work on everything right here, after all.”

“We should stay together anyway, in case the lizards try to attack us!” Brandon yelled, punching the air a few times.

“Right, yeah… the lizards.” Adam began to walk toward the hallway. “In that case, I’ll get you guys some sleeping bags. I get the chair, no questions asked. I don’t suggest sleeping on the stone structure right there.”

“You know, I totally get why you hate this thing! My ass hasn’t hurt this much in a long time!” Brandon whined. 

“I would respond with a remark that’s on your level of ‘humor’ but, nah. I’ll leave it at that.” Adam entered the dark corridor, opening a door that was on his left. He proceeded to walk down the creaky wooden stairs that appeared.

 

At the bottom, Adam’s mold-infested basement greeted him. He only came down here to do laundry, the washer and dryer on his left. The right was a small section with loads of cardboard boxes—Adam assumed many of them had gotten damp just by looking at them. He didn’t really care to salvage what was inside. 

He turned left and then left again. This side of the basement was larger and had a bench with tools off to the right. Directly in front of him were a few more boxes and a metallic red cabinet up against the stone wall. 

“Think the sleeping bags are in one of these…” Adam glanced back at the washer, which had a white basket filled with his clothes. “Eh, guess I should do that while I’m down here…”

As Adam turned back toward the cabinet, someone was there. Someone who was not there a moment prior. At the sight of the little girl that appeared out of nowhere, Adam leaped back in horror.

“GOD-DAMN-WHAT-THE-FLYING-DICK-FUCK-SHIT-WHAT—”

Adam stumbled, knocking the basket over. Articles of clothing tumbled to the floor while he tried to regain his composure. Upon looking up, the girl was still there. He then recognized her.

“Y-You’re from the store… That night—right! I saw you right before Charlotte walked up to me—”

Tears were falling from her face as she looked at Adam. For some reason, it felt like Adam’s chest was ripping apart. He could feel the emotion radiating from her. 

No. It was not an odd source of energy, causing Adam to feel this way. He himself was about to cry, no supernatural phenomenon involved. The girl was upset—he tended not to care if a random child started crying. It annoyed him, in fact. Why was this one, in particular, however, tugging at his heart?

“Who… are you?”

The girl, who had remained there made no sound. She slowly began to fade away—tiny blue spheres flowing from her.

“H-Hey… Wait!”

As she vanished, a thin glowing thread appeared. It began to move through the air like a fish swimming in water, going inside the cabinet. While this occurred, Adam’s head had started to ache. He recognized this feeling—the same feeling when Charlotte used her power. The World Mirror was active.

His eyes—irises ghostly white—watched as the wall behind started to light up. A fierce crimson color appeared, expanding all the way to each side of the basement. No, it stretched far beyond that. Adam could not tell in his current position, but the red barrier surrounded the entire area underneath Prelude.

Strange symbols began to appear—scarlet as opposed to crimson. They were odd shapes—Adam compared them to squiggles that a child would draw. These had covered the wall, moving from right to left like a roll of film.

“I-I gotta go get those guys. Screw it, I gotta wake Charlotte the hell up!”

Adam attempted to run yet only took a few steps. A voice echoed from within the wall. It was clearly a child’s voice, which he assumed belonged to the young girl. A simple word was heard. It was enough. Enough to make Adam forget about going to get his friends. He had to do something now for her.

“Help…”


Next: Chapter 13

Previous: Chapter 11

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 11

Winona took a stroll around the garden in her backyard. Daisies, daffodils, peonies, tulips, pansies, and petunias were a few flowers out of the enormous variety that the vibrant garden held. 

She had put a lot of effort into growing everything over the last six years with her father. It was an important place for her, and she took extra care to make sure it wasn’t ruined.

Winona leaned over a spot where a few sunflowers were growing. They seemed to be one of the only plants that were struggling. She put her hand on the ground in front of the flowers, as she closed her eyes.

“The soil seems… yeah—the soil is fine. It must be something else.” She stood up and gazed around at the colorful display surrounding her.

“My Concept involves the earth itself… I’ve done so much to this soil to help everything grow, but…” She played with one of the gemstones in her hair—this time, choosing the blue jewel. “Maybe it’s too much?”

Winona then lay down on the soil, placing her ear against it. “The plants help each other grow, and at the same time, do not hinder each other. That’s the network I’ve been working on for years now. I’ll have to think of what could be causing this.” She could feel the vibrations of the earth—something she had begun to learn recently. Using this power, she senses an area below the garden.

“I wonder if it has anything to do with that…

She felt footsteps approach her—familiar ones that did not alarm her whatsoever. With the tapping of a cane as it made contact with the ground, Winona’s father—Jericho Collins—approached her.

“The earth talking to ya? What’s it saying, honey?” He chuckled as his dark brown eyes peered through the lens of his black-rimmed glasses at his daughter’s antics.

“You know I like to focus on everything, Dad,” Winona pouted. “I can’t miss a single detail…”

Jericho’s cane—silver in color with a dark blue handle and tip at the end—struck the soil next to Winona. She slowly began to levitate off the ground, waving her arms frantically as her father used his Concept of gravity to lift her up onto her feet.

“You’ll get dirty down there. Wait…” Jericho scratched his chin. “You could just control the dirt and get it off of you that way… Huh. I’m not used to you having a Concept.”

“It’s been a few years now, Dad,” Winona sighed. “How are you not used to it by now? I’m always using it out here.”

Jericho chuckled, glancing around at all the hard work Winona had put into the garden. “In an odd way, I guess forgetting you have these powers helps me remind me of raising you. Like your sister, once you awakened your Concept, you gained an understanding of the real world. You—in a sense—grew up…”

“Dad…” Winona shook her head with a bittersweet smile. “I’m just getting started. My work with Unity begins soon… I’ll be closer to Cynthia again. And once we settle things, we can all return here… as a family.”

“Settle things…” Jericho looked up toward the sky. “I truly hope you, Faith, and the others can finally do something about the mess Unity is. Going into it with the intentions the organization is supposed to have—protecting the people—will certainly be a good starting point. Cynthia couldn’t do that… my generation couldn’t do that. Truth be told, I would love to kick the crap out of that man for what he’s done, but…”

“Yeah, your back…” Winona peered off to the side, looking at a red rose that gently blew in the breeze. 

“I’ve had to walk around like an old man for years now! I’m not that old! I’m the same age as Pam, and she’s still active.” 

“Pam… Cynthia… and—you, to be honest. How bad has it been? For real? You never go into detail…”

Jericho tried to think of what to say, with a sigh involuntarily coming out in response. “W-Well… I still have to go on missions, even with my back the way it is. Even with my Concept helping me, I still can’t draw out my full potential. And it sucks. It really does.”

“I… feel like ‘it sucks’ doesn’t do it justice.” Winona paused. “Cynthia… hasn’t been the same. Ever since they took her by force… She refused—she wanted to stay, but…”

“Yeah, it doesn’t work that way, at the moment…” Jericho shook his head. “You have no idea how much I curse my own weakness, sweetie… I want to keep you two safe, but—”

“It’s okay, Dad,” Winona assured him as she clenched her fist. “You stay here and relax with Mom. You’ve done enough. It’s my turn. I’ll do my best—I’ll get Cynthia to help as well!”

Jericho could not help but smile at the courage his daughter possessed. “Heh… I’m not sure if I can relax, exactly. I’ll try. And in any way possible, I’ll help you two.”

Winona embraced her father, snuggling up close to him. “Thank you… I know how hard it is for you.”

“Heh… I’m glad I raised you right. If only…”

She looked up at him—an earnest expression on her face. “You raised Cynthia right, as well. Don’t you worry.”

Jericho sighed, patting his daughter on the back. “I sure hope so, kiddo…”

“Oh!” Winona jumped up. “I wanted to ask something!”

“Sure, what’s up?”

“The abandoned mine below the town… how much do you know about it?”

 

Emma sat in the waiting room at Thomas’ office. She furiously mashed buttons on her handheld gaming console, humming to the chiptune of the game she was playing.

“Is that Shadow Sea Adventures? Man, that’s an old game.”

Roger Oaks was a friend of Emma’s who was here for an appointment as well. He looked over and adjusted his glasses to try to see her progress in the game. 

“Wow, that’s gotta be one of those hidden bonus levels. I’ve never seen that one before.” Roger rustled his curly black hair as he attempted to remember the specifics of each level.

“Yeah, it took me a while to finally unlock it.” Emma sighed. “Now I can’t even beat it! That’s stupid eye thing keeps getting in my way!” 

The door leading into the exam room opened up, as Thomas entered—yawning loudly.

“Roswell. Emma Roswell. You’re up next, whoever you are.”

“Haha, very funny.” Emma sat up from her chair. “I really hope you know who I am at this point.”

“Yeah… It’s just not a good joke. Didn’t work with Adam, either.” Thomas sighed. “Well, head on in whenever you’re ready.”

“Good luck, Emma! I know this is serious stuff for you.” 

Emma turned to Roger and smiled. “Thanks. I know I do.” She held up the game she was playing in front of Roger. “Here, wanna try the level out while I’m in there?”

“Huh?” Roger was surprised. “But if you’re having trouble, I doubt I can do anything!”

Handing Roger the game, Emma walked over to the door. She looked back and grinned.

“It’s your turn now. You got this!”

 

Emma sat in the office with Thomas. She had her shirt removed so that her front was covered, yet her back was bare, showing a massive scar that went from the top to the bottom of her spine. 

Thomas held a handheld device capable of scanning the inside of a person, almost like an x-ray. Yet this device was made using phantonic technology and could get a reading of how things looked based on the phantons within a person, and how they circulated around the body.

Thomas pressed the scanner up to Emma’s back, starting to carefully move it around. He had a laptop off to the side, which monitored the process.

“Hurt anywhere?”

“No.”

“That’s good. I know we had that issue for a while where it hurt whenever it was touched.”

Emma remained silent throughout the process. After a few minutes, Thomas was already finished with the scan.

“All right, very good. No issues. That’s the Miracle Girl for you.”

Emma sighed as she got herself dressed. “Seriously, what a stupid nickname.”

Thomas chuckled. “Well, nobody ever expected a spine to be completely rebuilt like that. Even with the advances in the last decade, it’s still nearly impossible.” 

“Well, they should seriously work on that. I know there’s a lot of people out there who could use this kind of thing.”

Thomas began writing notes on a piece of paper—smirking as his mind immediately thought of Jericho. “Well, that whole incident involving that fire was bizarre. If only…” He shook his head. “Nah, nevermind.”

Emma stood up, thinking of the events that led her to obtain her scar.

“I know the exact part of the house that fell on me. It hurt so much. I thought my fragile little body was gonna be split in half. Somehow, the house got fixed. My body didn’t. I thought I wouldn’t be able to have a normal life. Yet somehow, here I am.”

Thomas tapped his pen on the desk. “Well, if you are gonna go into Unity, there is the obvious problem that remains.” He turned toward Emma. “If you end up awakening to a Concept someday, it might affect how your artificial spine works. I’m sure your mother has talked to you about it.”

Emma nodded. Thomas got another piece of paper and began to draw on it. 

“The artificial metal created known as phantonite. It was named that due to how it interacts with phantons, and can even change its shape. I’m sure you not only learned that in school but with your Unity training as well. As you know, most weapons used are created with phantonite.”

Thomas has drawn a sword on the left side of the paper, while he worked on a spine on the right side.

“With your spine, we did some tweaking with phantonite to reform it. A lot went into its design, and miraculously it worked out. We ran into an issue pretty quickly, however.”

Emma stretched her body. “My own phantons interfering with it.”

“Yeah. We had to come up with a little shell around your spine that would prevent interference. It was… very tricky. But we managed. Now, the only issue you seem to have at this point is a little discomfort during thunderstorms, right?”

“Freaking hate electricity,” Emma stated. Thomas chuckled at her response.

“So, if you go without unlocking a Concept, you’ll probably be fine. However, if that happens, we’ll have to re-examine that shell and do some major modifications, since obtaining a Concept makes a drastic change in phantonic activity.” Thomas was stern in his expression.

“I can’t promise you that things will go as well this time around. It’s very sensitive stuff to deal with.”

Emma smiled. “Well, if it ever happens—” She flexed her arm as the smile turned into a huge grin. “I’ll just face whatever becomes of it!”

Thomas seemed content with Emma’s response. “You definitely have optimism. You get that from your mother—actually, no. More so from your father.” 

“Well, I remember him being so charismatic. I can’t believe my mom married a guy like that. But still, I miss him…” Emma walked over toward the exit and leaned her back against it.

“Faith and I know how Unity is. Our mom has shared all of that with us. But still, it’s an opportunity to make things right at the same time. We both want to go through with it and protect everything special to us.” She nodded.

That’s why I’ll face whatever happens—like I said. Even if I lose any means of mobility, I still won’t give up!”

Initially, Thomas smiled at her. Upon turning to write down a few more notes, his expression grew incredibly somber.

“Losing your mobility is one thing… I’m not sure you understand how deep this goes. It’s just another reason as to why I…” He clenched his fist around the pen, almost snapping it in two.


Next: Chapter 12

Previous: Chapter 10

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 10

Adam and Charlotte left Jerry’s house, now standing outside near the road—his back to her.

“So… your dad. I kind of know a little based on what I learned in my investigation.” Charlotte sighed, walking around Adam to face him directly. “You up for telling me more?”

Adam did not answer directly, yet nodded slowly as he began to head back toward his house. Charlotte was still for a moment before swiftly catching up—her pace matching his.

“My dad, huh…? Well, he works for some company—I don’t even know what it’s called. He’s always gone—is rarely home. When he is, we barely say a word to each other.”

“Hmm… So you’ve never had a close relationship?” Charlotte rubbed the side of her neck anxiously. 

Adam nodded. “Recently, ever since… well, earlier this year, it’s like he vanished. Money’s still sent to me, and the bills are paid, but…” He shook his head, cursing at himself.

“I think I get it. You don’t have to say anything else right now, that’s fine.” Charlotte patted Adam’s shoulder, causing him to flinch. “I’m sorry, should I have not…?”

“Oh, you’re fine. You hand’s cold as hell, though. Even with my shirt on, it’s like you placed an ice cube on me.”

“Right…” Charlotte looked down at her palm. “I’m a ghost… Listen, Adam. There’s something you need to know going forward.”

“What now?”

“When I need to sleep to recharge my energy… I need to really sleep. I’ve been doing a lot ever since yesterday—transforming into my true self twice, and fighting you. I’ll probably be completely out of it for… a day or two? At least that…” 

Adam noticed Charlotte had already begun to get groggy—almost tripping on her own feet. “Well, I guess you can stay at my place and rest. You don’t have an actual place to go, right?”

“I… I usually fade away to rest. When I ‘wake up,’ I’m usually in the spot where I vanished. So… I often hide in the woods or something.”

“But you were sleeping like a normal human being earlier?”

“Yeah… I seemed to keep my form stable enough to remain in this world. Is it the World Mirror’s doing…? That was rhetorical—I know you wouldn’t know.”

“In any case, just stay with me. Like I said, my dad’s never there, so we shouldn’t have to worry about that. I doubt you’d want to sleep in his bed, and the couch sucks, so… “ Adam took a deep breath. “Listen, this is hard to say… I’m allowing you t-to use my bed.”

“…I know I lied in it earlier, but I sort of… passed out on the spot last night once I brought you home. Sharing a bed is—”

“No… I’m relinquishing m-my bed completely. It’s yours. I’ll… use the shitty couch, I guess…”

Charlotte stared at Adam in concern. “…This really is hard for you. It looks like you’re about to cry.”

“I’m already crying on the inside, don’t you worry.” 

“But…” Charlotte stopped. Adam turned to her as her gaze lowered toward the ground. “Thank you… I…” She stuttered, growing much more bashful. “I-I-I’m sorry about attacking you… seriously.”

Adam waved the check she had given him in her face. “Don’t worry, apology accepted.”

Charlotte stomped her right foot hard, switching rapidly to an angry mood. “Is money really all it takes for you!? I did something inexcusable! I-I know it was to get your power out, but—”

“Relax,” Adam said bluntly. He looked around them—a cool summer breeze rustling the leaves of the trees next to them—the same trees that belonged to the forest they quarreled in, north of the town. 

“I understand why you did what you did. I try to look deeper into the meaning of things, cause most of the world is too lazy to even try.”

Charlotte could only stare at Adam as the wind blew right through her. She looked down at her body—although mostly solid, she sometimes had things like this happen. Unable to feel its temperature, the gales left a peculiar feeling in her—one that could not be described to a living being. 

“If you can understand an unorthodox being such as myself… then…” Charlotte sighed, walking right through Adam—spooking the hell out of him.

“H-Hey, careful!” Adam looked around frantically to make sure nobody had noticed what she had done. His teeth began to chatter while his eyes glowed for a brief moment.

“We’re fine, don’t worry,” Charlotte assured him. “Anyway, let’s get back. I’m exhausted.”

 

Later on that day, Adam had messaged Brandon to meet up with him. He was sitting at a booth inside a diner, known as Mona’s Quality Burgers. Being close to his house, Adam usually frequented the place. He shuffled through the songs that were listed on the tabletop jukebox—all of which were too old for his tastes. 

Taking a sip of apple soda—gleefully grinning at the taste—Adam stared inside his wallet. After cashing the check Charlotte gave him, he could not believe how fat it had become. He had left the majority of the money at his house, yet he kept a few hundred requid on his person.

Adam noticed that Brandon had walked in. He was walking over to Adam’s table at a slow pace, seemingly exhausted. 

“Oh, I forgot. You had practice today, didn’t you?”

Brandon sat opposite of Adam, head hitting the table. “Yeah, after my freaking dad kept me up half the night making me help him out with some car.” Brandon let out a tremendous sigh, echoing off the table. “Honestly, kicking that stupid black and white ball around is therapeutic.”

“Therapeutic, huh?” Adam paused. “Oh, wait! That reminds me, I should schedule another appointment with Jerry’s dad. Although… I gotta proceed carefully.” 

“You’ve gotta frequent that place, don’t ya? Cause of your situation?” Brandon mumbled.

“Yeah… They won’t let me speak to an actual therapist, which is scummy, but at least it’s Thomas. He helps… I think?”

Adam took out his phone to check the date, only to be reminded that his screen was cracked.

“Dude, what happened to your phone!?” Brandon asked. Adam looked at him, nervously. He wanted to tell his friend what had happened the night before, yet he was waiting for an opportunity after they ate—a non-public location preferable.

“I, uh… dropped it. On the…” Adam looked to his side toward the floor. “On the floor!” He pointed at the red tiles that were shiny enough to see one’s own reflection.

“Did you drop it off a freaking skyscraper? I didn’t think that kind of phone you have would break that easily!”

“It was… a very powerful floor.” Adam put his damaged phone back in his pocket. “Anyway, I have to go get another one. Probably going to head to Nexus City, seeing as though no stores in town really sell them. Jerry mentioned you should probably get a new one, as well?”

“Right… I would love to.” Brandon sighed, leaning back in his seat. “Money’s not looking too hot at the moment.”

“Well, as your friend—” Adam pulled out his wallet, showing Brandon the cash inside. “I think we can both afford a nice one with this much.”

“Woah!” Brandon almost jumped into the ceiling. “Where did you get that much cash out of the blue!?”

“Well, you see…” Adam pondered what excuse he could say to Brandon for the time being. He figured out that, in a way, he could be truthful here. But more importantly, he could mess with Brandon.

“I got it from a girl I slept with last night.”

Brandon did not say a thing. His face was frozen, no ounce of emotion able to rise to the surface. Adam waited, slowly taking a sip of his soda. Several moments passed before words were finally able to escape from Brandon’s mouth.

“You. Tell. Me. All. The. Details. Now.”

Adam sat his glass down on the table. “Obviously, I was joking. Sort of. Eh, anyway—”

Sort of!? What the hell is that supposed to mean!?”

Adam raised his hand in front of Brandon’s face, trying to get him to calm down. Brandon did, noticing that Adam’s expression grew serious.

“We can’t talk about it here, but… a lot happened last night. I went to Jerry’s earlier to talk to him about it a bit. And I want to tell you too, of course.”

Brandon let out a sigh. “Well, it’s absolutely out of character for you to do something like that in the first place. Now, something you went to Jerry to talk about… something with a girl… and money… hmm…” He was trying his best to connect the dots in his head, but there was no way he would be able to do it. 

“Let’s go for a walk, Brandon. I’ll tell you about everything.”

Brandon could not help but feel nervous toward what Adam was going to say.

“…Y-You’re not part of a gang now, are you…?”

Adam’s glare—one that tended to appear when Brandon said stupid things—answered the question for him.


Next: Chapter 11

Previous: Chapter 9

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 9

Adam and Charlotte were outside walking within Prelude. His house was on the east side of town, while their destination was on the west. For the time being, both of them decided to leave the situation with the woods alone. Charlotte managed to check and confirm that everything was, in fact, mysteriously restored, like their fight never occurred.

“I would investigate it further, but my energy right now… There’s no way I could fight back if some conflict arose.” Charlotte cursed at herself. 

“It’s cooled down a lot since yesterday. You don’t seem as crazy wearing a sweater. Still a bit, but not as bad.” Adam commented, obviously steering the subject away from the matter.

“I can’t feel temperature, so it doesn’t really matter to me either way…” Charlotte was examining her clothing. “I could always steal something else to wear.”

“Steal…?” Adam asked under his breath. “Anyway, we have to do something about these memories you’ve lost.”

“And you think Jerry would help? I know he was the valedictorian of our class, but I’m not sure if that means much.”

“He’ll get us on the right track, at least. He can explain everything about ghosts much better than I can. Explaining… It’s in their damn blood after all…” Adam muttered the last sentence. He seemed to begin pondering something. “The Ouderkirk family. It was for sure in our curriculum, but nothing aside from the basics. I tried to do a report on them once, but there wasn’t enough info to make anything good.”

“Probably more than I know. I genuinely don’t remember much of anything. Aside from knowing about my powers and the World Mirror. Everything else feels like it was lost somehow…”

“How long… have you been around, exactly? And what have you been doing all of these years?”

“I can’t really give you a precise amount of time… it’s as if I was a newborn. You hardly remember your earlier memories but begin to become more aware of your existence as you grow up. About a hundred and twenty years ago, I’d say I started to notice things around me.”

Charlotte stopped walking. Adam could hear the strain forming in her voice.

“Still… I just stood there. I couldn’t interact with anything around me. It was as if I was frozen in place. Anywhere my body decided to appear. Countless locations all over Requiem. I’ve seen so much.” Charlotte paused and started to look around.

“It was only a few years ago when I was finally able to move on my own… and I’ve been attempting to figure out what I can, with the power I have. I recalled memories of the World Mirror… and how it’s supposed to—somehow—help me… So, I put my time and effort into searching for it.” 

Adam sighed. “Well, we have a lot to figure out, it seems. Let’s take it one step at a time. We don’t need to wear ourselves out too quickly.” 

“You’re right,” Charlotte agreed. “Although it is frustrating.”

“That’s life for you. It’s frustrating.” Adam stated bluntly. 

 

A few minutes later, the two had entered a large two-story yellow house—the home of Adam’s friend, Jerry Peck. They met him in his room, where the spiky red-haired boy was working at his desk. There were five large monitors on the surface, which took up about half the room. The actual computer was massive, lit up in bright blue light, and took residence underneath the desk.

Adam took a seat on Jerry’s bed, which was difficult to do. The rest of the room was cluttered with many electronic devices and chunks of metal—bed included. Charlotte remained at the door, unable to figure out how to walk inside in the first place.

“No need to be shy,” Adam beckoned. “Nothing in here will hurt you… I think.”

Charlotte slowly nodded, walking carefully around a red toolbox on the ground. Adam moved a laptop-looking device over so she could sit down next to him.

“So, what can I do for you guys?” Jerry turned around—his hazel eyes now focused on them. “I didn’t know you two were friends?”

Adam rubbed the side of his neck. “Well, let’s see. How to explain this? There were some… events that transpired last night. And, we need to figure some things out.”

“By… ‘events,’ what do you mean, exactly…?” Jerry narrowed his eyes.

“Not what you’re thinking.” Adam sighed. “Look, I don’t know how to explain this that well. So, just… Charlotte, do something to show him?”

“I can do that,” Charlotte responded. She took a look around Jerry’s room, figuring out what to do. After a moment, she looked to the side of Adam’s head. Shrugging, the ghost girl put her arm right through it. 

Jerry’s eyes lit up immediately. As Adam jumped back from the awkward sensation going through his temple, Jerry shot up and grabbed Charlotte’s arm.

“NO WAY NO WAY NO WAY! DID YOU JUST DO WHAT I THINK YOU JUST DID!?”

Charlotte answered the question by pulling her arm away, phasing right out of Jerry’s hands. 

“This… this sensation!” Jerry curled his fingers, putting great focus into the coldness he now felt. “After all these years, I’ve finally met a ghost! And it was you, Charlotte!? How? How?”

“Well, she’s not an ordinary ghost, to begin with,” Adam stated.

“Well, obviously! There’s no natural way your average ghost could completely act like how she’s acted.” Jerry raised his finger as if he was a teacher. Adam could tell the beast was about to be unleashed.

“Ah, shit. Well, this is what we came here for…”

“Ghosts were confirmed to be entirely possible, but there are limits…” Jerry started giggling, almost uncontrollably. Adam believed that his friend was perfectly capable of becoming a mad scientist.

“What would those limits be?” Charlotte asked, somewhat concerned about who they decided to come to for information.

“Where do we begin…” Jerry rubbed his hands together. “Let’s see… when it comes to the phantons within us, they don’t necessarily disappear after one dies.” Jerry pointed toward his window, which Charlotte just took notice of, considering it was hiding behind the computer monitors. “They can do certain things. The event that happens most of the time is that they rise and head upward toward the sky.”

“To… to heaven?” Charlotte was intrigued that such a thing could have been discovered to exist.

“Well, we’re not sure what it does exactly. We do know that in between the exosphere and thermosphere, the phantons form a sort of barrier referred to as Xavier’s Ceiling.”

“—Named after the guy who discovered the phanton, Xavier Ouderkirk, in 1959,” Adam added nonchalantly, glancing at Charlotte. “I’m gonna assume he’s related to you.”

“Precisely!” Jerry gave Adam a thumbs up. “What happens within this barrier is totally up for debate, however. It does not seem to affect technology at all, as we’ve been able to launch rockets successfully. It’s peculiar, as normally there can certainly be disruptions due to phantonic interference.” Jerry sighed. “Technology also cannot get any specific readings on the dang thing, unfortunately. We can just detect where it is, as we can track the phantons that leave the Earth’s surface.” 

Charlotte was entirely focused on Jerry’s explanation, becoming enthralled in learning about what he was discussing. 

“Well, I’m sure that is informative for her. But how about what happens with those phantons that don’t leave?” Adam asked.

“Yeah… those phantons still need a lot of research. But what we do know is that they like to—well—create ghosts. The phantons can travel to anywhere the deceased person had been in their lifetime. They then proceed to sort of ‘re-create’ events of that person’s life; that’s the most common thing to happen. It’s referred to as a ‘residual occurrence.’” 

Jerry pointed at Charlotte. “Now, with you…” Jerry paused for a moment and let out a sudden squeal. “I can’t believe I’m actually conversing with a ghost, this is the greatest day of my life!”

“Well, I’m glad you are enjoying your first encounter with a ghost,” Adam stated sarcastically. Jerry looked at him in a questioning matter, but he shook his head. “I’ll get to that part soon.”

“Anyway, continuing on. Charlotte—in your case, you would, for sure, be at least considered something known as an ‘intelligent occurrence.’ This is when the phantons can create an entity that is able to do whatever it wants. There is also a massive increase in phantonic power compared to a residual occurrence.”

“She’s plenty powerful, that’s for sure.” Adam winced in remembrance of the pain. “That freaking hurt a lot.”

“What? Did she attack you or something?” Jerry seemed concerned. 

“Yep, right after she kidnapped me,” Adam stated, rather bluntly.

Jerry stared at his friend. “What the hell happened last night!?” 

Charlotte stood up, stretching her body. “He’s right, regarding the power thing. I think it would be simpler to show you.”

Realizing what Charlotte was about to do, Adam grabbed a pillow off of Jerry’s bed and held it up for protection. The azure aura lit up around her body, although nowhere near as powerful as the night prior. Jerry was staring in complete awe as Charlotte revealed her true form to him. 

He fell to his knees, taking hold of Charlotte’s hands. She looked down at him in confusion while Adam lowered the pillow he was holding up.

“My god, you’re an Ouderkirk!? Absolutely amazing! This day…” Tears had begun to fall down Jerry’s face.

“All right, buddy. Easy now.” Adam stood up and got Jerry back on his feet. He turned around and looked at his desk. All of the monitors were glitching out; the images unrecognizable. 

Wiping his tears, Jerry picked up a device that looked like a tablet. He tapped it furiously, wanting to get something to work.

“Thank goodness this is still operational… here we go!” Jerry analyzed the tablet in silence; his mouth slowly opening. “My god… these readings! Adam, if she has this much power and she attacked you, how did—”

Jerry looked up at Adam and stopped talking when he noticed his friend’s eyes. They were glowing precisely as they did the night prior.

“Adam? What… what is that?” Jerry pointed at Adam’s face.

“What are you talking about?” Adam was confused. Jerry tapped the tablet a few more times and showed the screen to him. It was a camera, pointed in his direction. Adam was able to see his own eyes glowing for the very first time.

“What the… hell? Is-Is this the—”

“That is a sign that the World Mirror is active, yes,” Charlotte answered Adam’s question before he could finish it.

“What’s a ‘World Mirror’?” Jerry asked.

“It’s why she freaking attacked me last night…” Adam responded, still staring at his eyes. “Apparently, I have some weird-ass power. Not sure if it can be considered a Concept or not…” He let out a loud sigh. “And this kidnapper right here has been waiting around to find it.”

Charlotte nodded. “Yes. Most of my memories seem to be missing. All I’m aware of is my Ouderkirk heritage and the fact that the World Mirror can help me.”

“Adam… World Mirror…” Jerry seemed to be rooted in thought. “Your memories missing… something doesn’t seem right. My dad’s been working with you for a while now, Adam, to figure out just what the issue was with you not having phantons.” He folded his arms. “Is this why…?”

“We have no idea… It’s why we wanted to see what you thought. If I’m gonna be honest with you—”

“You don’t really want my dad to know, right?” Jerry smirked at him. Adam nodded in confirmation.

“I don’t really care if it just involved me. But Charlotte’s mixed in, as well. With Unity, and how they are… I don’t know how they’d respond to an Ouderkirk who’s a ghost.” 

Charlotte was surprised at Adam’s concern about her safety. Logically, however, it did make sense. She held her tongue for a moment while Jerry nodded, clearly brainstorming something serious.

“…Hey, can I ask something?”

“No shit. We’re here to ask and learn, after all.” Adam answered.

“…My family. Are any of them around still?”

Jerry shook his head. “Well, no, technically…”

“Technically?” Adam raised an eyebrow. “I thought there weren’t any left?”

“T-There aren’t…” Jerry scratched his head. Adam knew something was up with how Jerry answered. He decided he would pester him about it later on.

“Anyway—Charlotte. Are you able to get out of that form for me? I need to use the computer.”

“Sure…” Charlotte, somewhat upset by the answer she obtained, breathed in slowly. In a flash, her body reverted back to her previous state. Almost immediately, Jerry’s computers were back to normal. He sat down and began typing away. 

Adam’s eyes also returned to normal, having been active the entire time, as well. He noted that he seemed to feel a strange sensation—the center of his head and the nape of his neck simultaneously felt like they were being tickled. Looking at the tablet with the camera, he realized the change. Charlotte took note of this as well.

“You noticed that, huh? That should be the first sign that you feel the World Mirror’s power. And the fact that it’s not causing you severe headaches anymore is great as well.” 

Adam held his head. “You may not know what the World Mirror is for, but you do seem to know some details surrounding its power?”

Charlotte pondered for a moment. “Yes… I-I can really understand why I know certain things, yet I am in the complete dark about the rest.” Charlotte sat back down on the bed. “I knew how to get the World Mirror to work. I’m also aware of the great power it holds, along with the fact that the power seems capable of healing wounds you receive.” 

Jerry chimed in. “It seems that the memories you do have hold importance. Not substantial importance, but enough to get you on the right track.” Jerry turned around. “I’ve got a lot to think about and research. Also…” Jerry pondered something.

“I think it’s worth it to finally do that.”

Adam and Charlotte looked at Jerry questionably. He raised his fists up into the air, getting himself pumped up.

“I’m going to hack into the Requiem government’s servers!”

“Woah woah woah, cool it.” Adam went up and held Jerry’s shoulders. “I don’t want you getting in trouble and throwing your life away over some simple information!”

“Relax, you know who you’re talking to, right?” Jerry smirked. “Besides, I’ve always wanted to do this. Not necessarily for information on the Ouderkirk’s, but for other things.” Jerry sat back down at his computer.

“As I’ve studied Phantonics growing up, there have been quite a few holes I’ve noticed in certain areas. We’ll be here for another five hours if I were to explain it to you guys, but… just…” He paused.

“It’s important we find breakthroughs in the field. I want to help others, and I don’t want anything or anyone getting in the way of that.”

Adam smiled softly. “Right, that makes sense. Just be careful, all right?”

“Don’t worry about it. It takes some time anyway. You two look into what you can in the meantime, and let me know if you figure anything out.”

“Well, will do—” Adam pulled out his phone, remembering the screen was busted. “Ah, crap. Can’t really do much with this in its current state.”

“You too? I had to fix up Brandon’s phone this morning. It’s not gonna last much longer, though, so I told him he should probably just get a new one.”

“I think I should, as well…” Adam poked at the screen. “Even you probably could do much with a shattered screen.”

“It would be kind of annoying, but I could probably figure something out.” Jerry grinned at his own confidence.

“Nah, I needed a new one anyway.” Adam shrugged, putting the phone back in his pocket. “I just gotta dip into the funds and see if—”

Charlotte pulled out a slip of paper and held it in front of Adam’s face. “Here, I think you should have this.”

She gave the paper to Adam. He looked at it, realized quickly that it was a check, and had his jaw almost drop to the floor.

“Wh-Wh-What is this!?”

Jerry stood up and looked as well, instantly forming the exact same expression. “W-Why are you giving Adam a check for six thousand requid!?”

“I’m a ghost. I don’t need a home or anything that people living really need. I figured I owe it to Adam anyway, after last night.”

“S-So, you really only had that job for surveillance purposes, I’m guessing?” Adam asked. “And… you don’t have a home?”

“I should probably quit that job… Although, I can’t really disappear out of the blue, especially after the manager has been so kind to me.” Charlotte looked down at the floor. “Even though I used such means to obtain the job in the first place…”

“Ignoring how you worded that—” Adam began to walk toward the door. “Thanks, Jerry. I gotta figure out how I’m gonna tell Brandon about all of this. I figured I’d tell him, but probably just him…”

“That’s… probably a good idea.” Jerry nodded. “Since everyone else has ties with Unity. Even if they purposefully didn’t mention anything, who knows… There are always ways to extract information.”

Adam glanced nervously around the room. “I just hope your dad isn’t too deep, either. If anyone can secretly gain info, it’s him. I can see him placing hidden cameras, mics—all of that…”

“I know he wouldn’t do that.” Jerry chuckled.

“…You really trust your dad, huh?” Adam asked as he walked out, waving back at Jerry. Charlotte slowly followed behind, feeling the uneasiness radiate out of Adam.

“Must be nice…”


Next: Chapter 10

Previous: Chapter 8

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 8

Adam awoke, as he usually would. He found that he lied in his exact bed as well. It took him a few seconds before everything flooded into his mind. 

Jumping onto the floor beside the bed, pain rocketed through Adam’s body. It was strong enough to cause him to fall right back down. He lied there with his feet dangling over the edge.

Taking a glance to his left, he noticed Charlotte had been lying there this entire time, eyes shut. She had returned to her original appearance and seemed to be wearing a navy blue sweater and black pants.

“Why… what the hell?” Adam stood up a second time, this time with his weakened body in mind. He still had to hold onto his nightstand next to his bed to keep his balance. “Why are you sleeping in my bed!?”

“I must recharge my energy, especially after that act I was doing last night.” Charlotte’s eyes opened, and she rose up from the bed in a robotic-like fashion. “I have to make sure my body doesn’t fade away, so moments of rest are required to stay existing.”

“Uh… whatever. ANYWAY! What was all of that!? What happened last night?” Adam looked down at his hand. “I think… Yeah—I used some crazy power? World Mirror… right?” He held his head. “It’s kinda fuzzy… although I DO remember you attacked me.”

“Correct. I couldn’t be nice. You didn’t know how to use the power, so I had to physically and emotionally beat it out of you.”

“T-That’s messed up…”

“But now that you have accessed that power, I’m going to help you figure it out.”

“…It sounded like you needed this power for yourself, though. I wanted you to tell me about it.”

“You collapsed before I could.” Charlotte shrugged. “But… I have to apologize…” She fidgeted around, clearly distraught. “I’ve had my memories altered with, it seems. While helping you, I hope to uncover the things that I have forgotten.” 

“Are you serious…? Of course, your memories were messed with…” Adam had the energy to start walking around his room. “If that’s the case, then how can we be sure this World Mirror stuff is accu—”

Adam stopped walking just in time. Pieces of glass were scattered all over his wooden floor. A glance up revealed that an old, small television that he barely even used was broken. Someone had thrown a remote directly into it—the device still lodged inside.

“I have to apologize…” Charlotte began. Adam turned around and noticed she was facing away from him. “I didn’t know how to get the television to work so I could see that news thing…”

“So, you threw the remote into it?” Adam seemed more disappointed than angry. He carefully walked along his floor so he could reach behind the television. Picking up a cord, he waved it at Charlotte. “You could have just plugged it in. I’m pretty sure it still works decently enough.”

Charlotte turned slowly back toward Adam, seemingly glaring at the cord to the television. She turned back around a few moments later.

“I have to apologize—”

“Enough apologizing.” Adam sighed. “Now, here’s a question. How did you manage to get all of that information on me if you barely know how to work a simple TV? I assume you would have to look up things on a computer and whatnot.”

Charlotte lied back down on the bed. “Since I’m a spirit, I can do things such as pass through objects, as you saw last night. Or possess people.”

“Possess? You can do that too?” Adam was puzzled. “How did you manage to use that to get info?”

“Well, it’s quite simple, really…” Charlotte began an explanation but paused. The next thing Adam noticed, she was fast asleep.

“Uh, hey? Wake up?”

“Must… recharge… energy…” Charlotte was able to mumble those words before the walls started to echo her loud snores.

“What the hell is even happening at this point?” Adam glanced over at his nightstand and noticed his cell phone and the envelope Pam gave to him were there. 

“Damn… this envelope is covered in my blood.” Adam looked down at his clothing. It was torn to shreds, covered with dirt and his blood. “I need a shower.”

Adam opened up the envelope to check the damage done inside. There was a note folded up but was miraculously not covered in blood like the outside was.

“I could open it now… I figure almost dying last night was considered a low point. But…” After hesitating for a few moments, Adam put the note back inside the envelope. “Not yet.”

Setting the envelope down, he picked up his cell phone. Cracked, but seemingly still functional. Although it was difficult for Adam to read what was on the screen. He sighed, putting it down as well.

 

A few minutes later, Adam was in the shower. He had his head lowered, the water flowing through his hair. The dirt and blood on his body were starting to come off, but he figured some extra scrubbing was necessary.

“I don’t feel that pain I felt when I woke up.” Adam looked around on his body. There did not seem to be a scratch on him. “That… World Mirror power. Did it heal me?”

Adam raised his hand, almost touching the showerhead. “I guess I can consider this something along the lines of a Concept…? How do I even use it?”

Adam peeked outside of the shower at the bathroom door. He had locked it, yet knew that Charlotte could just phase through it if she wanted. Or bust it down simply with her strength.

“I’m not sure if I can trust her. She did beat the hell out of me last night, after all. If I do have some incredible power, I need to figure out how to use it. Just in case…”

Adam closed his eyes and held his hand in front of him.

“World Mirror, ACTIVATE!”

Nothing happened.

“Well, that’s all I can think of.” Adam was calm on the outside but was dying of self-embarrassment on the inside.

Adam turned off the shower and got out. After drying off with a towel, he put on clothes that matched the ones he wore the day prior.

Walking out of the bathroom, he was met with Charlotte standing right in front of him—her eyes seemingly empty.

“Uh, hey. Did you enjoy your nap?”

“I have to apologize…”

Adam sighed. “Not this again.”

“When I woke up, I used my phasing ability to pass through the walls to look for you. I ended up in the restroom for a brief moment…” Charlotte bowed. “Please forgive me, I didn’t mean to look!”

“Huh? I don’t care. It’s fine. You’ve been acting really freaking meek ever since I woke up.” Adam lightly patted Charlotte’s shoulder. The cold that he felt jogged his memory swiftly on something he had seemed to lose focus of.

Charlotte was, in fact, a ghost. A spirit—Adam was interacting so casually with someone who was no longer considered alive.

“Hey, so… How much do you know about ghosts?” He asked her.

“I know Phantonics has rounded up quite a bit of detail on them. I was much more focused on trying to search for the World Mirror, however. So… I didn’t have much time to look into it.”

“Right… Okay…” Adam scratched his head. “Well, why not start there? If you learn more about ghosts, you’ll learn more about yourself. Maybe how and why you ended up as one?”

“That could be…” Charlotte nodded—a tiny smile forming. “Let’s start with that, then!”

“All right. I have an idea as to how we can teach you all of that stuff. I’ll have to see if he’s available.” Adam walked back into his room—Charlotte following closely behind. He picked up his phone and sat on his bed, staring intensely at the screen as he pressed it.

“What are you doing?”

“Trying to see what these texts I’ve got say. Kinda hard to, since someone smashed up the screen.”

“I ap—”

“Stop,” Adam stated bluntly. “Okay… They’re from Faith and Brandon. Both of them are talking about the same thing, actually…” He glanced up at her. “About the noise in the woods last night…”

“That was definitely our little bout, wouldn’t you say?” Charlotte giggled. 

Adam seemingly became unnerved—Charlotte noticing his body tense up.

“What? You don’t have to worry, I made sure nobody was around. There’s no trace of my energy there, as well—and they don’t have the means to detect your power.”

“…How exactly did you remove all traces of your power?” 

“Huh? I’m an Ouderkirk. I have complete control over phantonic energy. So making sure I didn’t leave any behind was easy. I just… absorbed it back into my body. Pretty simple.”

“…We were in the woods north of town—literally behind my house,” Adam began to explain. “After hearing the strange noises, Faith said people went to investigate it.”

“Yeah…?” Charlotte was puzzled as to what was upsetting him.

“You would think they’d find obvious evidence that there was a fight…” Adam paused, looking intensely at Charlotte.

“They found nothing.” 


Next: Chapter 9

Previous: Chapter 7

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93

Chapter 7

Adam felt a cool breeze upon his skin. He seemed to quickly remember what had occurred before passing out. Vision returning to his eyes, consciousness was coming back. The next moment Adam was on his feet. It was only then he took in where he was.

It seemed to be a clearing of some kind in the middle of the woods. Knowing the layout of Prelude his entire life, Adam could tell that he was still near the town based on a simple observation of his surroundings. He was certain he had walked in this area before—surrounded by pine and apple trees.  All Adam had to help him see was the light of the full moon above him.

“How… long was I out?” Adam looked frantically in each direction.

“Three hours.”

Adam turned toward Charlotte, who was standing behind him. He could have sworn he looked that way and did not see her at all a moment ago.

“I’m not really sure why you fainted—I’ll have to figure out the specifics later. But, it made moving you to a remote location much easier.” Charlotte shrugged.

“…You’re a freaking ghost.” Adam shook his head, completely baffled at the entire situation he now seemed to be in.

“I am. Let me tell you, it’s been quite the task to keep that under wraps as I investigated.” 

“Investigated what…?” Adam began to back away from Charlotte.

“The location of what I was looking for. Which ended up being—”

Adam did not blink. Somehow, Charlotte ended up behind him.

“You…”

He jumped back, falling onto the ground as he tried to defend himself. There was no telling what Charlotte was capable of.

“W-Why me? What’s so special about me? I don’t have some crazy Concept or anything! I don’t even have phantons!”

Charlotte paused for a moment before speaking—somewhat annoyed.

“Concepts… Phantons… Yes, the science of Phantonics has certainly rounded a lot of the supernatural up into one neat package, hasn’t it?” Charlotte began to giggle. “They’ve been trying to study why you lack phantons. What’s funny to me is that it seems as though you think the answer is something negative—something that deems you worthless.”

Adam did not respond—Charlotte assuming he would. She continued to speak as he remained silent.

“What if I told you… your soul is meant to be different? It exists specifically to use a certain something—something that no one else can use?”

“…What the hell are you talking about?”

Charlotte grinned—her arms opening wide.

“The World Mirror.”

“The… World Mirror?” Adam scratched his head. “The hell…? What is that supposed to be?”

“An item with immeasurable power. Power that can only flow through you. It seems like it already has done so—albeit in small amounts.”

“…All right, Miss Ghost,” Adam stood up, not amused with what Charlotte was talking about. “Let’s say this ‘World Mirror’ thing exists. Why are you looking for it? And—you had the audacity in to kidnap me and bring me out here in the woods? You couldn’t just talk to me about it in the store without going all freaking ‘Boo, I’m a ghost—feel my cold-ass forehead and stare into my creepy glowing eyes’!?”

Charlotte could only sigh in response. She gathered her thoughts and decided to answer. “It was too dangerous to do anything in the store. As for why I’m looking for it… It’s necessary.”

 As Adam was about to ask her what she meant, an azure aura started to form around Charlotte. Starting off calmly, it quickly shifted into a tremendous force that knocked Adam off his feet. He tried standing up, only to be knocked back down once again.

The force diminished a few seconds later, and Adam was able to regain his footing. Focusing his attention back onto Charlotte, he noticed her appearance changed. Instead of the jet black hair she usually possessed, Charlotte now had pure white hair. The clothing she wore was now a set of navy blue armor that seemed relatively light and easy to move around in.

“That appearance… it reminds me of…”

Charlotte nodded, seeming to know what Adam was thinking. “Yes, I know it’s been taught in your curriculum. My true name is actually Charlotte Ouderkirk, a member of the royal family of Requiem!”

Adam chuckled in disbelief. “So, this is what I’m dealing with. I was wondering how a ghost was capable of existing like a living person. If you’re a part of them, it makes sense.”

“My family created the World Mirror, you see. It was always considered as something that could help in a time of desperation. Which is why I’m going to be borrowing its power.”

“Listen,” Adam scratched his head. “Even if I do have this World Mirror thing, I have no clue how to use it. So I can’t really help you out with whatever it is you need.”

“Heh… I don’t blame you for being clueless. Trust me, you’re not the only one.” Charlotte held out her hand to the side. “Let me help you—using what I do know.”

Charlotte waved her hand in a motion as if she was beckoning someone. An azure glow formed near it, and a longsword of the same color appeared—the hilt now held by her.

“I call this my ‘Royal Armory.’ Our family has complete control of the things you call phantons, which we can use to create whatever we want.”

“A sword… completely made out of phantons?” Adam began to back away. “W-What are you planning on doing with that…?”

“Relax. The edges of this blade are incredibly dull—you won’t get sliced apart by it.” Charlotte assured. She began to giggle while waving the sword around. “However, I’m still going to use it on you.”

“What!? Why!?” Adam did not give Charlotte time to answer as he began to run away. 

He could not escape. Adam felt a bitter cold surge throughout his body as Charlotte phased right through him, stopping him in his tracks. 

“I need to pressure you. Understanding the ‘why’ isn’t necessary right now. Besides—” Charlotte prepared her blade. “Where’s the fun in just outright telling you?”

Before Adam could react, the blade struck him on his left side with blinding speed. This was followed by several more slashes that hit him before the pain could even begin to register. Charlotte delivered a kick to finish the combo, knocking Adam onto the ground a few feet away.

The agony he felt was like none he had felt before. Blood spewed from his mouth as he convulsed on the grass, certain that—despite the blade not capable of cutting him—several limbs had been broken by the sheer force of Charlotte’s strikes.

“Hm… Strange, nothing’s happening yet.” Charlotte noted, walking towards the young man in suffering. She realized that Adam’s eyes were, in fact, glowing just as they did at the store. “It has to be active… Why isn’t it doing anything?”

Adam could not even attempt to ask what Charlotte was talking about—he could only cough in response.

“…Is it possible that you’re holding back the power yourself? Subconsciously? That’s no good—you’ll die, you know.”

Die. That simple word set something off within Adam. He looked at the earth beneath him, covered in his own blood. The sight brought back memories that he wished never returned.

Charlotte approached him, ready to continue her onslaught. She stopped, realizing that the young man before her was no longer shaking from his injuries. Somehow—she knew the difference. How the body trembled from physical agony versus internal.    

“…I was looking into things for a while now.  Being a spirit, I can do certain things to help me acquire information. Eventually, I narrowed my search down to your school. If I wanted to, I could have found you right away. There were restrictions—unfortunately, that hindered how quickly I could investigate. I had to do things in a specific order. Becoming a student myself was the first thing. Getting information on the students was next. Graduation happened before I could continue, but I did learn some interesting things…” There was a rather long pause.

 “Six months ago, you tried to kill yourself. Is that correct?”

Adam’s eyes widened. Their ghostly gaze shot up and looked at Charlotte—filled with astonishment on how she knew about it.

“A kid with no real hobbies, no real plans for the future. Friends that have loads of promise, on the contrary. You distanced yourself from them, thinking they no longer needed you. And your home life… heh. Truly, you don’t have much of a family, right?”

Adam’s mind went back a few hours ago to what Pam told him.

“You have a family here, don’t forget that.”

Anger seemed to boil within him. He stood, slowly gaining his composure. Something was occurring that he did not seem to notice.

A faint ghostly aura began emerging from his body. Charlotte could feel it in the air—tiny vibrations that held a certain power. Although weak, she knew what she was facing.

The power of life itself.

“So, this is…” She smirked—her body shaking with excitement. “This is the true power of a soul. Fueled by the World Mirror to the point where it physically manifests from your body!”

Adam was not paying attention to her words. Instead, he charged at Charlotte—his fist flying right toward her. She raised her blade, blocking the strike with its side.

Although she stood firmly in place, the force of the impact shook the area surrounding the two.

“Yes… Yes—amazing!”

Adam pulled his fist back—blood now covering the glowing sword. What were fingers mere moments ago had become lumps of crimson flesh—bones protruding from the wounds.

“His body clearly can’t handle the boost in power it’s getting…” Charlotte shook her head, analyzing the situation. The white aura began forming more prominently around Adam’s hand—still unaware of what was happening to his body. She placed her hand on her chin while observing—a gleeful grin on her face. “That’s no issue, however.”

As Adam Grayson revved up for another punch with the same arm, his fingers had miraculously grown back. The newly formed appendages—lit in a blinding phantasmal light—struck Charlotte’s blade a second time, now capable of pushing her away a few feet.

“See… This is your power! With this, you can certainly help me find—”

Charlotte was interrupted by a punch, now from Adam’s left fist. She whacked it away with the side of her blade—the mighty force almost causing her to lose her balance. Adam, seemingly slipping into a blind rage, began sending a volley of attacks her way.

“The power is also fueling his adrenaline… and his anger.” Charlotte parried the berserk onslaught to the best of her capabilities, yet was starting to have difficulty in keeping up. She evaded a kick, which ended up shattering a tree that had been behind her.

“What crazy power… My body won’t be able to hold out in this form much longer.”

As bark and large chunks of wood flew around the area, Charlotte could tell that Adam’s foot—shoe included—was miraculously still intact. Although it was clear that he could barely stand on it.

Yet, with that very foot, Adam leaped at Charlotte. His right arm—now missing its hand—lit up all the way to his shoulder. Bending it back, he unleashed it swiftly, like shooting an arrow. The spectral energy erupted, engulfing Charlotte before she could adequately block the attack. It shot forward—a white comet rocketing through the forest with immense power. 

The recoil knocked Adam onto his back. As the shaking of the earth slowly ceased, his inner fury subsided. 

“…”

He gazed into the scene in front of him, wondering what just happened. There was no pain—he did not seem to understand how much damage his body had taken.

“Family… right. That’s what she was talking about…”

With a wave of her arm, Charlotte blew the dust away, clearing the way for both of them to see. The area had been torn to shreds, like a war zone. Adam’s attention finally turned to his arm—or rather—where his arm should be. Void of emotion, he surveyed the rest of his body. His left hand was also missing, and most of his person was described as a muddy, bloody mess.

Even then, physically and emotionally, he felt nothing. 

Charlotte held the hilt of her sword—the only thing that remained as shards of the blade crumbled away into dust. “You’re pretty strong, you know that?” She tossed the remains of her weapon to the ground, fading away moments later. 

Adam did not respond. He was caught up in his own mind—memories returning to him involving things people have said about him in the past.

“What the hell is that kid even doing here?”

“Is he mute or something?”

“I’ve never heard a peep out of him.”

“Heh, careful guys. He could be a ghost or something.”

“He might as well be dead.”

There were layers of irony in his current situation. Contradictions, as well.

Whether Adam Grayson was a nameless ghost—a soul merely wandering the world—or a peculiar existence that science deemed soulless altogether, none of that mattered now.

Adam had just unleashed a remarkable power from within him. Whatever was said before this moment—it was invalid to him. This was his true starting line. 

He watched as the strange energy continued to form around his wounds. Although the pain was immense—like tiny needles stabbing through him, Adam was now aware that his body had begun to regenerate.

“Just what the hell is happening…?”

“This is the power of the World Mirror,” Charlotte responded. “Even if it was brief, you showed things that I remember from the legends.”

“…Yeah—I think it’s time you started spilling everything that you know.”

“Everything I know…” She sighed. “Let me ask you something first.”

Despite not needing to, Charlotte breathed just like a living person. She inhaled—held the air in—and exhaled, anxious to continue speaking.

“…What pushed you to the point of wanting to take your own life?”

Adam processed Charlotte’s sudden and intense inquiry, his gaze meeting the moon above. At that moment, emotions began to finally surge inside of him. After pondering for a few seconds, he was able to answer calmly.

“I saw it. All of it. Clearly. The despair plaguing the world. Ever since all of those things happened years ago, I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to save… her, and everyone else. Including myself… That feeling combated that despair… and lost.” Adam formed a light smile.

“It’s funny how I lost due to happiness, however. It felt as though she was better off without me. I was so able to see her genuinely smile again. She—and my other friends as well. They have so much going for them. They don’t need me. And that’s all I had… the fact that I could help them through things. I was too scared of the rest of the world to try to find something myself.” Adam violently shook his head.

“Can’t they see… all of this twisted shit in the world!? I know they can, everyone can. And they… they don’t do a damn thing about it! Nobody ever does!

There was silence. Charlotte spoke before it grew to the point of awkwardness.

“So, why are you upset?”

Adam’s eyes widened, seemingly confused from her question. His gaze would remain upward, however.

Charlotte answered herself. “It’s because that feeling actually didn’t lose. That feeling to combat that despair. It’s still there. But it’s struggling. Life makes everything struggle. But it’s not over.” Charlotte walked over to Adam and bent over him, now blocking his gaze at the moon with her own eyes.

“You have a purpose. To continue fighting that despair. That’s why the World Mirror manifested within you. It knows you want so desperately to fight, regardless of how many times you fall.” Charlotte dropped down onto her knee and bowed to Adam as he stared at her in bewilderment.

“I’ll be by your side while you do so. While I figure out my situation, I can help you with yours.” She smiled. “It’s the least I can do… for being so physically and emotionally harsh to you. I hope you find it in your heart to forgive me one day, yet you don’t have to—”

Adam had reached his limit. Before Charlotte could finish talking, he collapsed—the glow the World Mirror created fading away. His body was exhausted beyond words and could hardly handle what was happening anymore.

“Well, I guess, for now, that’s fine. I’m exhausted as well. I think to have to act like a villain exhausted me more than using my power.” Charlotte chuckled, lowering her head.

“Was it acting, though?”

The branch of a nearby apple tree that was damaged snapped—the fruit tumbling onto the ground. Charlotte watched as they rolled over toward the two.

As an apple—golden yellow in color—came to a stop next to Adam’s now reformed right hand, the spirit grew uneasy as to what she had just set in motion. 


Next: Chapter 8

Previous: Chapter 6

Table of Contents

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON:

Novagirl93