Chapter 4: Order Restored

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 108

EPISODE 17

ORDER RESTORED

 

THE DAY BEFORE IT ALL BEGAN…

Ayumi and I sat outside, on the lawn, talking. It was a bright day and there was not a single hint that anything terrible would be happening soon. The following day would be Christmas.

“So Zan, have you thought about what you’d do this Christmas? Dad is thinking of having a party and inviting all the Dream Knights” Ayumi informed me.

“Really? A party would be great! But I don’t want you forcing me to wear anything formal” I said with a suspicious look in my eyes.

“I’ve already thought of a gift for you Zan…but I’m not sure you’ll like it” Ayumi said.

“A birthday gift, and now a Christmas gift too huh? As long as you don’t do anything overly dangerous to get it, I don’t have anything against anything you’d like to give me” I said with a reassuring smile.

“Really?” Ayumi asked shyly.

“Well…is it just me…or have you been acting a little weird lately?” I suddenly asked Ayumi.

She drew back, surprised by my question.

“Wh-What do you mean?” Ayumi asked worriedly.

“Looks to me like the real Ayu is actually quite shy-y” I teased her.

Wrong move! In the next instant, I was flying across the lawn!

“Say that again and I’ll kill you!” Ayumi threatened me.

“Heheheh! Looks like I tweaked a nerve there” I laughed.

Ayumi looked really angry.

“But you know Ayu…I’ve got a gift for you too!” I laughed.

Ayumi stared at me in surprise. Then she turned away from me.

“I don’t believe you. You can’t afford a gift” Ayumi said.

I stood up and walked towards her till I stood right behind her.

“Not all gifts are bought Ayu…some are created and this one is really special to me because…you inspired it. I have a lot of faith in my gift! Heck! It’s even enough to break Chaos, Shining force style!” I laughed.

Ayumi smiled.

 

PRESENTLY…

Ayumi sat within the orb Chaos had imprisoned her in. She recalled that day.

“I wonder what you planned to give me Zan? Will I ever receive your gift?” Ayumi wondered.

Chaos seemed to be deep in thought as well. Ayumi stared at him and noticed that Chaos’ hands were trembling. They were clasped together and he was resting his chin on his hands…but they were trembling so much Ayumi wondered why.

It’s curious and frightening. There are some days even I cannot see…and some days I cannot change…” Chaos thought as his mind went back.

 

A DAY IN CHAOS’ PAST…

Chaos stood within his sigil with the other souls of evil including Ziri. Ziri resembled a dragon with a humanoid figure.

“Why do you still reflect on human love Chaos? You are no longer a human. Don’t forget that! Each of us once believed in a human trait so strongly but in the end…we were proven wrong! Cowardice believed that bravery would be rewarded! Enslavement believed that nothing could chain a free soul! Despair believed that there would be hope even in the direst of situations! You believed in order born out of mutual love and respect! Decay believed that there was purity within humans, Sloth, well he just had confidence in his wits and I believed in an absolute truth however…we were pitted against Zanfar and we learned first-hand that no human emotions were powerful enough to defeat him! We’ve all let go of our past but you still cling to your humanity! Why do you insist on this madness?!” Ziri questioned Chaos.

“Because he told me that they were made in his image. I don’t get it! Even a broken mirror, reflects the image of an object no matter how distorted the image is…so why can an object of so much love have an image filled with so much hatred! How can an object of so much strength…have an image of pure weakness! It just doesn’t make sense and I don’t understand it!” Chaos declared.

“Give it up Chaos! Let it go! You are not human anymore! You’re one of Zanfar’s souls!” Ziri roared.

“I won’t let it go! I want to understand!” Chaos declared.

Suddenly, a terrible earthquake began to rock Chaos’ sigil!

“What’s happening Chaos?! What is going on?!” the other evil souls demanded.

“I-I don’t know!” Chaos declared in fright.

As the evil souls watched, a terrifying clock appeared. The entire clock seemed to be made of blood, shining blood! The exterior of the clock seemed golden but a terrifying energy seemed to leak from the clock.

“What…is that?” Ziri asked.

“Another…day in the life of human history?” Chaos wondered as he approached the clock.

“What day does it represent?” Enslavement asked.

Chaos touched the clock and shut his eyes.

“That is what I’m trying to find out” he said as he concentrated.

There was darkness within his mind for a while…and then suddenly, Chaos’ mind was filled with an image of fire! He could not see anything but blood and intense fire and then suddenly, an image appeared that frightened him! It was an image of a lamb bleeding all over…however; the lamb did not seem to be weak. In fact, it had the demeanour of a lion and suddenly, the lamb opened its mouth and roared! In an instant, its image was overlapped with that of a terrifying lion!

Chaos opened his eyes in shock! He was trembling all over!

“What did you see?!” his brethren asked him.

“I saw…destruction…it was not a clear image and I cannot decipher its meaning but it was a destruction much worse than anything Zanfar had ever done and to make it worse…I don’t think it could compare to the ‘Hell-wide rampage of two thousand years ago!’” Chaos declared.

“That is a good sign! It means Zanfar will win this time!” Ziri laughed vainly.

“Could that be what it means…because it didn’t feel like a good thing to me” Chaos said.

“That’s probably because you cling to your human heart weakling! What isn’t attractive about humans being brutally murdered?!” Ziri laughed.

“I don’t recall seeing any humans dying in this image. In fact, I did see blood and fire but I don’t recall seeing any images of death” Chaos said.

“You can sugar coat it to your liking as much as you want but the fact is…Zanfar has already won and no human no matter how strong…can change that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHORTLY AFTER THE DEFEAT OF COWARDICE, ENSLAVEMENT AND DESPAIR…

Chaos stood before the Eternal Mirror Gate.

“So Zanfar has already won huh?! Yet you were defeated so easily!” Chaos roared angrily.

“Your mind cannot comprehend the workings of evil Chaos so you don’t have the right to reprimand us!” Ziri roared from within the gate.

“Really? Well it doesn’t seem like I’m the only one. Cowardice and Enslavement gave Zanfar some advice before their defeats! I’d like to hear why?!” Chaos asked.

“Let’s just say I saw a bit of my old self within him. I didn’t think Zanfar could show emotions so strongly for a human. I just wanted to see how it would all turn out. I was just curious. Isn’t it the same with you Enslavement?” Cowardice asked.

“Actually, I provoked him to the extent that his power almost awakened. What fascinated me however was that…though he had awakened, his thoughts were directed towards protecting that human girl. I found it strange. Somehow, it reminded me of what Zanfar used to say in the past… ‘I do whatever I want. I destroy, save or toy with humans if I will it. No one can stop me, but if you believe you can…you are more than welcome to try’. The fact that no one can stop Zanfar once he sets his mind on something is what fascinated me to sacrifice my humanity for him in the first place. I don’t regret any of my actions so far. In fact…I feel peaceful…even within this darkness” Enslavement said.

“And you Despair? What did you learn from Zanfar?” Chaos asked.

“Well for your information, I didn’t get the chance to fight Zanfar but it seemed to me like he affects the people around him. And I’m not talking about them changing for the better. Somehow it seemed like he was sharing his strength with them…even in his absence. That is the only logical reason for my defeat” Despair said.

Amazing, it is a miracle in itself that you learnt some logic Despair. I thought the only thing you could comprehend was violence” Chaos mocked Despair.

“You’re next in line to challenge him, aren’t you Chaos?” Enslavement asked.

“Actually, I was supposed to be the last since my power is only second to Ziri’s…” Chaos was saying when…

“FOOL! HOW DARE YOU COMPARE YOURSELF TO ME?! FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS SUCH A WAVERING RESOLVE, YOU SURE HAVE SOME PRIDE THINKING YOUR POWER COULD COMPARE TO MINE!!!” Ziri roared.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, you say all that but who is the one stuck behind the Eternal Mirror Gate? I’ve decided to rewrite time and avert the destruction of Cowardice, Enslavement and Despair, you on the other hand Ziri…I have no intention of undoing your destruction. After all…like you say, you are so powerful, it took the Nightmare King himself to defeat you” Chaos said.

“We have no reason to be involved in a conflict with Zanfar anymore but for your sake…we’ll do our best and hope that you find your answer” Enslavement said.

Now this is going to be interesting. What will you do now…Zanfar?” Chaos thought to himself.

 

 

PRESENTLY…

Chaos sat, deep in thought. Ayumi watched him closely.

“You seem to have a lot on your mind” Ayumi asked him.

“Hmmph! I haven’t gotten so soft that you should start worrying about me. Besides, I doubt a human child like you could understand the thoughts that plague my mind” Chaos muttered conceitedly.

 

 

 

IN THE HUMAN REALM…

A week had passed since Ayumi’s recovery. It had been a week of intense training for me but somehow, my Black Bane seemed weaker, much weaker than before. Victoria was helping Ayumi readjust to life. I suddenly walked in on them while Victoria was teaching Ayumi how to prepare some English dishes in the kitchen. It was a Friday evening.

“Victoria, take care of Ayumi” I ordered.

“What? Where are you going?” Ayumi asked worriedly as she stopped what she was doing and approached me.

I smiled at her.

“Don’t worry. I’m just going to see my father. I might not be back for a while…so please take care of yourselves. Ayumi…no matter what happens from now on…never doubt that…I love you” I said solemnly and turned to leave.

Ayumi came after me and held my hand tightly. She had a scared look on her face.

“You’re not going to do anything dangerous are you Zan? I won’t let you go. I can’t lose you” Ayumi said worriedly.

I turned to face her.

“You won’t lose me. I promise” I said with a reassuring smile.

“Then why are you talking like this is the last time we’ll ever see each other again?!” Ayumi burst into tears.

I suddenly started feeling horrible.

“Look me in the eyes Zan and tell me that you’ll come back to me safe” Ayumi demanded.

I found it difficult to honour her request considering the fact that I wasn’t even sure I’d make it back alive but I strengthened my resolve and stared into her imploring, desperate eyes.

“I promise you Ayumi…I will be back” I said.

My voice was weak and trembling. It was like speaking to your Mom after she had just given you that Mom look that could possibly mean, your entire future was hanging at the edge of a bottomless crevasse.

Ayumi smiled.

“I trust you so I’ll let you go but I’ll hold you to your word” Ayumi said with a confident smile.

That only made me feel worse. It was like lying to a naïve person when you clearly knew that they’d believe you…at least for those of you that are not warped or demented.

I left the house and journeyed to my apartment in Lower East Side Dream City. The only place I was sure I’d be able to journey to the Dream World without being distracted or seen. When I was finally there, I accessed the Mirror Gate’s through and through function and in the next instant, I found myself in the Dream World. However, I was unaware of the surprising trap that awaited me in the Dream World. No sooner had I landed than I found myself surrounded by five strange monsters. The first was a fiery spirit that had the form of a woman. The second was a harpy with metallic fans. The third was a giant stone warrior with a huge Battle Axe. The fourth was a man in tattered clothes who looked like the definition of the word ‘lazy’ and the fifth was a gigantic sea serpent that had the colour of stale water left in the sink after you had done extreme dish washing a month ago, blocked the sink and travelled for a very long time only to come back and…okay, now I’m just diverting from the main storyline.

“You don’t look like ordinary Nightmares to me and if you are the evil souls, I expected seven of you” I said confidently.

“Unfortunately for you…we are the souls of evil once sealed by the seven elemental stones. However, our brother Ziri has already been dispatched by the Nightmare King, Sanziri. Chaos is occupied at the moment so we will be the ones to help you awaken!” Enslavement said.

“It is fortunate for me that all of you have gathered here to meet your doom however…I have no intention of awakening. I’m sending you all back to Oblivion!” I declared.

“That’s so like Zanfar, always sure of his power. However, you can achieve nothing in your current state boy!” Cowardice said.

“We’ll see about that! I AM PRINCE ZANFAR NIGHTBANE! IN MY QUEST TO RESTORE ORDER, I SUMMON THEE SIGILS OF DARKNESS!” I called.

In an instant, I was clothed in Black Armour and the Black Bane rested in my hands. The souls of evil burst into laughter as though they had just seen the funniest sight in the entire world.

“Do you really hope to defeat us…with that?! Stop messing with us!” Despair roared as he charged to attack me.

He raised his battle axe into the air. I raised my Black Bane in defence.

“Idiot! Just how strong do you think you are?! I’ll break right through your sigil!” he roared as he swung with all his might.

His humongous sigil clashed with mine but unfortunately for me…Despair’s strength plus the weight of his sigil and the force of gravity were too much for my Black Bane. It shattered.

“H-How is this possible?” I stared in horror as I narrowly evaded the blade of Despair’s axe.

“It’s time for you to take a little nap” the man with tattered clothing said as he released a terrifying amount of lightning from his hands and electrocuted me severely.

I screamed in pain.

“Why am I no match for you…why am I…so weak?! Why can’t I defeat you?!” I struggled to say.

Enslavement laughed.

“Funny! That sounds like something a final boss in an anime or game would say just before he dies. It’s funny hearing that come from a good guy isn’t it?!” Enslavement mocked me.

The other evil souls laughed at me.

“Why can’t you defeat us? It’s because you’re weak and do you know why you’re weak? It’s because your hatred isn’t strong enough!” Enslavement said as she combined her fans to form a metallic shield and hurled it at me.

Her shield knocked me into the air. I fell to the ground weakened.

“You are rather fortunate that I don’t have to use my power against you” the sea serpent said.

I was in so much pain that my vision was blurred.

“Ayumi…I’m sorry” I murmured as I lost consciousness.

(I really can’t believe I actually said that because the parts I used to hate in watching animes/cartoons/movies when I was younger were the parts the hero loses consciousness).

 

***** ***** ***** **********

 

Ayumi jolted from her bed.

“Zan! Zan!” she screamed.

Victoria rushed into Ayumi’s room.

“Ayumi, what’s wrong?” she asked.

“Where is Zan?” Ayumi asked worriedly.

“He’s not back yet. Relax Ayumi, nothing bad has happened to Zan. He is very strong” Victoria assured her.

“Something’s wrong! Zan is in danger! I can feel it!” Ayumi said hysterically.

“Ayumi, Zan will be back by tomorrow so don’t worry, just rest” Victoria assured her.

Ayumi sighed.

“I’ll try” she said as she lay back on the bed and shut her eyes.

“That’s right…rest” Victoria said as she turned off the lights and left.

 

***** ***** ***** **********

 

When I finally found the courage to open my eyes the following morning, I found myself in a strange dimension…not that I knew at that time though that it was morning. My perception of time had been severely disoriented. It felt like I had been asleep for much longer. There were many clocks around me though…floating in the air, covering every imaginable space within the dimension. The only free space was a single long, straight pathway that stretched on infinitely on both sides. I looked around me. Many of the clocks turned clockwise and many more turned counter-clockwise. Then slowly, the pathway began to extend, creating more space until I could see an impossibly humongous clock whose hands did not seem to move at all. I looked around wondering where I was.

“ZAN! ZAN! OVER HERE!” I heard Ayumi calling desperately.

I shook my head and glanced towards the direction of her voice. I saw her trapped within a big transparent orb.

“Ayumi!” I called and ran to her.

I touched the orb. It was as cold as ice and harder than iron.

“I’m so glad to see you Zan! It’s been so long! I r-really thought I’d lost you forever” Ayumi said as tears flowed down her face.

“Come on Ayumi, it hasn’t been that long. I was with you just yesterday…or was it today…well whatever, it hasn’t been that long, really” I laughed.

“That wasn’t exactly…me. I’ll explain” Ayumi said and then, she proceeded to reveal the entire truth to me.

I sat on the ground, dazed. All that info was too difficult to comprehend. It sounded like some sort of bad joke, the kind that would cause mortals to want to kill God.

“That can’t be true. So you’re trying to say that…I’m merely the product of an altered timeline and everything I know is…false? THAT CAN’T BE TRUE!” I argued.

“You’re not a product Zan, you’re a victim and I am too. It’s all Chaos’ doing” Ayumi tried to cheer me up.

“So…my dreams of you are actually memories” I said in an attempt to grasp the understanding of the entire situation.

“Yes, I think the only way everything will return to normal is if Chaos is defeated” Ayumi reasoned.

“But I can’t defeat them. My powers are fading” I said hopelessly.

“You can. You almost single-handedly took down two of them before. You just need a new drive Zan. You draw your strength from the Light, not the darkness. Only Light can combat darkness” Ayumi said with a reasoning smile.

“If none of this really happened…then…Wanye must be alive in the true timeline!” I said hopefully.

Ayumi shook her head sorrowfully.

“I’m sorry Zan. Part of me wishes that the present timeline is the true timeline though I know it’s selfish…because in the true timeline…the one that killed Wanye was…me” Ayumi confessed.

I stared at her in shock and slowly smiled.

“I guess the true timeline and this timeline are not so different. I’m sure your Zan is waiting for you there. My Ayumi is also waiting for me so let’s work together to set things right!” I declared.

“Yes, we must do our best” Ayumi said.

“But first, I want you to promise me something Ayumi” I said.

“Anything” Ayumi promised.

You must tell me the truth…when the true timeline is restored” I said.

“B-But…Zan, if I do that…you’ll hate me forever” Ayumi said worriedly.

“Yes, I’ll be angry and I will hate you…but I know myself better than anyone else, it will only be for a while and if I’m foolish enough to go on hating you…heheheheh, I guess the foolish me will have to experience the hell I experienced first-hand!” I laughed sinisterly.

“I’ll try” she promised.

“How sweet. You two talk as though you’re sure everything is going to change. It’s strange. Even in the terrible situation you’re in, you still believe in each other” Chaos suddenly appeared from nowhere and said.

“Who said that?!” I roared as I turned around and saw a man in a black cloak and with silver hair.

“I think I need to reintroduce myself. I…am…Chaos” the man said.

“Wait a sec…if you’re Chaos, then the Key To my Heart is…Ayumi?” I suddenly realized.

“Pppph! Hahahahah! Key to your heart?! Where did you pick that line from? Kingdom Hearts?!” Chaos laughed.

I growled in anger as realization of the trick my dad had played on me finally hit me.

“Damn you old man!” I roared angrily.

Then I realized something else.

“Wait a sec, how do you know Kingdom Hearts?” I asked Chaos.

“Heh! I’ve played it!” Chaos declared.

“WHAT THE F…?!” I exclaimed in shock.

“What’s the matter…by the way, why do most RPG’s always end like that? I found Kingdom Hearts to be quite too childish so I rewrote the game in my image. Say hello to Kingdom Heartless!” Chaos said as he threw me a disk.

“Wait a sec! Could this be?! This is made for the PS 4 and it’s a platinum+limited edition?!” I exclaimed in awe.

“Want to try it?” Chaos asked me.

“Can I?”I asked him with the puppy dog eyes.

“Go ahead, break a leg…besides, you get to play as Xemnas plus I added a back story and…some twists” Chaos laughed.

“Okay!” I declared as I dreamweaved a PS 4 and inserted the disk.

Guess what, all credits went to Chaos, animator, story design, music…everything and Xemnas was the main character. I played for a long time as Chaos watched me.

“Hey Zan! Don’t be deceived so easily! There’s nothing like a Kingdom Heartless!” Ayumi roared.

I turned to her.

“Sorry Ayu but I need to play” I said in a robotic tone.

“OH NO! HIS OTAKU SWITCH HAS BEEN TURNED ON?! THIS IS BECOMING SUCH A DESPERATE SITUATION!” Ayumi exclaimed in horror.

Soon enough, I had reached the final level and guess who the final boss was? Jack Sparrow! At that moment, I lost interest. I took out the disk.

“So how is it?” Chaos asked me.

“This is trash! Kingdom Hearts is way better!” I said as I threw the disk to the ground and smashed it with my feet.

“It’s okay making a bad guy the main character but trolling Jack Sparrow in this setting…just doesn’t work” I said nonchalantly.

“Damn you! How dare you smash my game?! The reason it’s a limited edition is because it’s the only version in existence you sadistic jerk!” Chaos screamed.

“Shut up you dim-witted pirate of a programmer, story stealer, credit thief, cheat, over 9000 otaku, troll plus…YOU’RE A FREAKING COSPLAYER!!!” I screamed angrily.

“Now that’s too low, even for you Zanfar” Chaos laughed.

“You’re one to talk you memory changing, timeline altering buffoon!” I roared.

“You say the nicest things sometimes” Chaos laughed.

Ayumi stared at us in surprise.

“Am I really seeing this? These two are less like enemies and more like brothers now. Do the evil souls really have emotions, could they have been people who lost their way in life at one point in time?” Ayumi wondered.

“This brings back memories Zanfar, but…I’d like the real Zanfar back now. He liked my parodies more than you do!” Chaos said seriously.

“Are you done messing around Chaos?” I heard a familiar voice.

I turned around and saw Enslavement.

“Zan, be careful” Ayumi cautioned me.

“Zanfar, it was fun playing with you but now it’s time for you to awaken!” Chaos said seriously.

“I AM PRINCE ZANFAR NIGHTBANE! IN MY QUEST FOR RESOLUTION, I SUMMON THEE SIGILS OF DARKNESS!” I called out to my sigils but there was a surge of electricity instead and I was blasted off my feet.

The Black Bane did not appear.

“Why isn’t my sigil appearing?! Damn!” I pounded the ground in exasperation.

“Are you giving up already?” Chaos teased me.

“You wish! Don’t forget that I’m the Dreamweaver!” I roared as my power began to surge.

“I need a weapon. A strong weapon! A weapon that is close to my nature!” I roared and in the next instant, a Japanese Katana appeared in my hand.

I swung it a bit. It was lighter than the Black Bane and felt like it could pierce through anything. I smiled,

“You’ve just gotta love Japan!” I said as I charged to attack the evil souls. “This will have to do till I can think of something stronger!” I roared.

 

***** ***** ***** **********

 

Ayumi opened her eyes.

“It’s morning” she said as she freshened up and rushed downstairs hoping to find me.

She found Victoria preparing the table for breakfast.

“Victoria, has Zan returned?” Ayumi asked hopefully.

Victoria shook her head.

“I’m beginning to get worried.”

“I knew something was wrong. I’m sure Zan is still in the Dream World. Victoria, I need to save him. I can’t enter the Dream World on my own because I can’t summon any sigils but you can help me get there” Ayumi pleaded.

“And what will you do once you get there?! If we are faced by the souls of evil, even I will be defeated and that’s if I go alone. If I go with you, I will have to fight while protecting you and the repercussions will be much worse!” Victoria scolded Ayumi.

“I know I can’t summon sigils and it hurts me more than anything to be left out of everything important. The only thing that hurts me more than that…is not being able to protect the people I care about. But I must try even if I am powerless! You can’t refuse me Victoria, please, I’m pleading with you!” Ayumi pleaded desperately.

Victoria felt cornered.

“Fine, I’ll help you but don’t say I didn’t warn you” Victoria said as she summoned her sigil, the Crossbow Of Orion.

Then she accessed the Mirror Gate’s ‘through and through locator’ function.

 

***** ***** ***** **********

 

By that time, I had been severely beaten up and weakened by the souls of evil. I was tired and I might have been dead by now if not for my dad’s intense training and endurance exercises.

“Zan! It’s okay. Enough is enough. I don’t want you to hurt yourself anymore for my sake. We’ll just have to get used to this timeline” Ayumi said sadly.

“Somehow, that only makes me feel angrier! Something tells me that this is something you’d never say under normal circumstances. Besides, I am already used to this timeline but that’s not why I’m fighting. I’m fighting because…he doesn’t know it yet! He doesn’t know what I’ve learnt and as long as he doesn’t learn what makes up for a painful past that cannot be changed…neither he…nor I…will ever be able to defeat Zanfar! Too much has been lost in this timeline and the hatred here is much stronger than in the original timeline. Challenging Zanfar here would be like a lizard challenging a dragon to a fight. The only chance we’ve got is in the original timeline!” I declared.

“But…” Ayumi tried to argue.

“Don’t run away Ayu! Don’t run away from the fact that you committed a terrible sin against me in the real timeline. As long as you do not face that truth…you will not be able to save me from myself like she did. Besides, there are certain sacred things in this world…that should not be trampled upon! It’s that simple!” I roared and charged towards the evil souls but I was disarmed by Enslavement and electrocuted by Sloth.

I fell to the ground, totally exhausted. To make matters worse, it was at that exact moment that Ayumi…okay now there’s two Ayumis so let’s call the Ayumi of this altered timeline Ayumi X as is usually done in most fiction stories…or so I’ve heard. So as I was saying, it was at that exact moment that Ayumi X and Victoria appeared within Chaos’ sigil.

“How convenient! We can destroy both Ayumis now. No doubt that would be enough to cause you to awaken” Chaos said with an evil smile.

“DON’T YOU DARE!” I roared in anger.

“Zan! What did they do to you?!” Ayumi X exclaimed in horror as she ran to my side and helped me sit up.

Then she noticed the other Ayumi in the orb.

“That’s not Ai…what’s going on?!” she exclaimed in anger.

“It’s not Ai Ayu…it’s  you” I said weakly.

“Me? I don’t understand” Ayumi X said.

“I’ll explain everything” Ayumi said as she explained everything to Ayumi X.

Ayumi X frowned angrily.

“How dare you…?!” she growled angrily and turned to face Chaos.

“Don’t look at me like that. I am an evil soul of time. It’s what I do” Chaos said nonchalantly.

“HOW DARE YOU PLAY WITH OUR LIVES AS THOUGH WE ARE PUPPETS?!” Ayumi X roared angrily as flames began to build around her.

In the next instant, she was engulfed by a powerful crimson red flame.

“Ayumi!” Victoria and I screamed in concern.

“Could this be…?!” Ayumi exclaimed in joy as she began to hear the heart of the Pyrogeysers beat once more, both from excitement and anger.

“AYUMI! THIS IS OUR CHANCE!” she called to Ayumi X.

“I know, it almost feels like I’ve done this before. Let’s do it together!” Ayumi X said.

“I AYUMI KIRISAWA OF THE KIRISAWA CLAN OF DREAM KNIGHTS, HEIRESS AND TRUE SUCCESSOR TO THE BURNING FLAME OF COURAGE DO SUMMON THEE PYROGEYSERS…TWIN SCIMITARS OF FURY!!!” the two Ayumis called together.

There was a terrifying explosion of energy as the orb encasing Ayumi shattered. A single blade appeared in both Ayumis hands and then, the blade split into twin Scimitars, wicked looking Arabian-like swords surrounded by intense flames.

“NO!” Chaos screamed in horror.

“Ayumi, you finally summoned your sigil” Victoria said as the flames slowly died down to reveal both Ayumis clothed in similar fiery ceremonial costumes of the ancient female warrior line of the Kirisawa family with crimson headbands tied around their heads.

“I’LL MAKE YOU PAY! YOU’LL REGRET THE DAY YOU MADE I AND THE PYROGEYSERS ANGRY!!!” the two Ayumis roared and charged to attack the souls of evil.

With their combined powers, they took down Cowardice and Despair but just when they charged on Enslavement, Chaos, turned the tables on them by slowing down the waves of time around them thus making their movements very predictable. Now the souls of evil seemed much faster than before. They surrounded the two Ayumis and beat them up. Enslavement summoned her shield once more and caught them in a terrible wave of wind. Decay sprayed them with stale water and Sloth electrocuted them with lightning.

“NO! STOP!” I screamed desperately but the souls of evil continued to torture the two Ayumis.

Victoria tried to interfere and was caught in the frenzy of torture as well.

“I have to stop this. I need a weapon! Something strong enough to defeat the souls of evil! Please…anyone, please help me save…Ayumi” I called weakly.

“P-r-o-t-e-c-t A-y-u-m-i” a familiar voice rang in my head.

“What was that?” I wondered in surprise.

“P-r-o-t-e-c-t A-y-u-m-i” the voice repeated and that was when I realized that the voice was my own!

“Is it me? Are these my thoughts?” I wondered.

Suddenly, time froze and I felt as though I was falling within myself. I felt frightened. I could feel immense strength and at the same time, I could feel an ominous sense of foreboding as though I was at the crossroads that would decide the beginning of the end to everything. Suddenly, I felt like my fall was gradually slowing down till it seemed like I was floating. I found myself surrounded by darkness for a while and suddenly, a bright light illuminated my surroundings. It was as though, I was floating in space and then I noticed something strange. At the very centre of the light was…another me! He was in fact the source of the light!

“Who are you?” I called to him.

“I am your true self. The you that was hidden since the day your heart was filled with darkness and hatred” he said.

“I’m sorry about that. Please, you need to help me protect Ayumi!” I pleaded.

“I know. I am from the true timeline. Somehow I get the feeling when all this is over; I’ll remember none of it. Ah well, Chaos did succeed in erasing my existence but part of me lived within you for dreams exist in every timeline” he said.

“I need a weapon. Something that can help me protect Ayumi” I said.

“It’s not a weapon you seek. What you seek is the power within your very own heart. A strong heart can make a weak weapon strong. Likewise, a weak heart can make a strong weapon weak. To find what you seek, you must encounter the seven kinds of human pain caused by the souls of evil and overcome them. Are you strong enough to find it?” he asked me.

“I’ll do anything to protect Ayumi!” I declared.

“If you wish to find your heart…then you must go that way” the other me said as he pointed behind me.

I turned to look in the direction he was pointing and saw a gigantic wall of flames stretching endlessly on both sides and infinitely above and below. For a moment, I was frozen in terror.

“Are you afraid?” he asked me.

I gulped.

“If I said I was not, that would be a terrible lie” I said with a trembling voice.

“Your first lesson taught to you in the true timeline by Cowardice. It is a good thing you are afraid. Now run into those flames!” he ordered me.

 

“I’m prepared to protect Ayumi…even if it costs me my life. She gave my life meaning!” I thought and leapt into the flames.

The other me smiled.

“In that way, both of us are not so different” he said.

In the flames, I encountered an immense pain but it wasn’t of heat, it was a terrifying cold that numbed my senses. I could hardly think. I trembled all over and could hardly move.

Lesson 1: The Truth Of Fear. Are you afraid Zan?!” the other me called as he appeared above me.

I shivered.

“I…I don’t want to be but…I am afraid!” I called.

“That is good for he who fears nothing will become nothing! For if you fear no object at all, you must at least fear to lose the things you love…and if you fear to lose the people you cherish, then you cherish life! He, who fears nothing, loves nothing and he who loves nothing…will become nothing! To be without fear is a terrible sin! No living creature should be without fear however, letting fear rule you is an even greater sin! Let your fear of losing those you love, let your love for them become Courage, the first soul of Virtue!” the other me instructed me.

“I will protect Ayumi!” I declared and used sheer will power to drive myself through.

After leaving the flames, I landed in another realm where a gentle breeze blew. The breeze had a wonderful scent that heightened my senses of pleasure and dulled my ability to think logically. I felt weakened and dropped to the ground.

“Lesson Number 2: The Pleasures Of Enslavement! You’re tired aren’t you Zan?! You just want to lie within this breeze and enjoy it don’t you?!” the other me roared.

“I can’t go further. No…it’s not that I can’t go further. It’s that…I don’t want to…this place is so soothing” I said.

“Well, then, your second lesson is this! In life, there are things you must do! Things you must protect! Things you must become even if at the time, you don’t want to do them! And the things you do want to do most at times are the things you don’t need to do! There are things that are necessary but not all of them are your desires! Get up and walk the hard path! Go and protect Ayumi or you’ll regret it! That is the Second Soul Of Virtue, Freedom from senseless pleasures!” the other me roared.

It sounded like a threat to which the resulting consequences would be unimaginable so I forced myself to obey him and walked through the wind.

No sooner had I escaped the wind than I was caught in a cataclysmic earthquake!

“WHOA-AA-AAAH! WHAT’S THIS?! WHAT’S HAPPENING!” I screamed.

“Lesson 3: The Humility in Facing Despair, The Tunnel Of Hope! Zan! Overcome Despair!” the other me ordered.

I stood up and attempted to run through the earthquake but it was so terrible I felt I’d shatter all my bones in the process.

“Learn a lesson from the Dog Zan! There isn’t one way to overcome an obstacle! There is more than one way of breaking through an impenetrable wall!” he roared.

I meditated on his words and realized that whenever I was lying on the ground, in a seemingly humiliating position, prostrate as though bowing before a superior force, the earthquake ceased but whenever I tried to force myself through on my feet, a position of prideful confrontation, the earthquake became severe.

“I see, a wall of unlimited height cannot be climbed. And if too thick, you cannot tunnel through it…however…the builder of the wall started from a definite depth! If I can dig deeper than the depth of this wall, I can cross it!” I declared.

“And that is the third Soul Of Virtue! Hope! The Power To Forge a New Path that Cannot Be Forged By Pride!” the other me said.

I moved on and landed in a dimension similar to Chaos’ sigil with everything that was supposed to be in order, now in absolute Chaos! The flow of time itself was haphazard!

“Lesson Number 4 Zan: The Finiteness Of Time! Time is the worst enemy of humans! Things they wish to do, they cannot do because their time is limited and even they cannot tell how much time they have! Thus time seems so short, yet amongst all the Souls Of Evil, Chaos, who is governed by time is the strongest because…time is God’s very own tool so he cannot completely hate those within the flow of time, yet, at the same time, he is the one that humans can most easily overcome. Live your life like a bird, like a wild beast that knows how to govern its desires! In other words, live your life day by day, live every moment! Worry only about what you can change and let go of that which you cannot change! Let go of the past and worry not of the future! Worry only of what you can do now! God worries about the future because he exists out of time and is not governed by it but governs it! He is! That is his nature. He exists simultaneously in the past, the present and the future and that is why he can send messages from both the past and the future but humans are not made to worry about what they cannot change! Forgive yourself for your past mistakes and live the present! That is the only way you can be truly happy!” the other me said.

“That was particularly one long lesson, almost a sermon but I get it now. Thanks Zan” I said and moved on.

“And that is the Fourth Soul Of Virtue and strangely enough, it isn’t absolute order, it is…The Progression From Forgiveness!”

“That’s nice! There are three more to go right Zan?!” I asked the other me.

“That is right Zan! However, the next three will not be so easy to overcome though the next one will not be so difficult since you’ve already learnt The Progression From Forgiveness” the other me said.

“Nice!” I said and charged on.

Soon, I had crossed Chaos’ border and entered another border.

Things in this border seemed hazy, almost like a mist, yet it was not a mist, it was like a mirage and yet it was not completely a mirage. Suddenly, my body began to tremble again.

“Lesson Number 5: You have been caught by two of the worst kinds of human pain! The first is absolute weakness and the second is indecision. Together, these two are what you call ‘Doubt’!” the other me said.

I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Concerns filled my mind and I felt totally paralyzed.

“Doubt is one of the main principles through which evil works and it combines many of the other evils, Cowardice, Despair, Fear of the finiteness of your life, Decay which is the inverse of the conscience and finally, the most powerful force of evil, Lies, which is the perversion of truth! So how will you deal with this?!” the other me asked.

“How?! If my body won’t move…I’ll teach it to move! I’ll teach it to obey my will!” I roared and called to my sigils.

In their attempt to appear, I was severely electrocuted and my paralysis was overridden!

“Wow, that was pretty masochistic” the other me mocked me.

“Hey shut up! It worked didn’t it?!” I roared.

“Well, though that was overkill, the Fifth Soul Of Virtue is ‘Complete Mastery Over The Human Will!’” he declared.

“And lemme guess, that’s what the Bible calls overcoming the desires of the flesh isn’t it?” I said with a laugh.

“Well that’s an abstract way to put it” the other me said.

I moved on. I didn’t understand why but overcoming all these obstacles filled me with excitement, I began to feel a drive to overcome all the principles of evil. The other me smiled. I hadn’t noticed it yet but the nature of my soul was already beginning to change.

Then I noticed him frown.

“What’s wrong Zan?” I asked him.

“The next two souls you are about to face are very terrible” he said grimly and soon enough, I got to experience what he was talking about first-hand.

Immediately I stepped into the next border, terrible thoughts began to flow into my mind.

You are evil! You only cured Ayumi so that you could hurt her! You fool! A lion eats meat, a sheep eats grass, stars fill the sky and dust covers the ground, a demon will always be a demon! Humanity is a circus of misplaced loyalties! You are weak! Ayumi will die! Give in to hatred! Give in to Zanfar! Become your true self!”  many voices rang within my mind.

“That’s not true! I really do love Ayumi! I am not Zanfar!” I screamed but the voices kept repeating themselves as though in an infinite loop!

The other me watched me painfully.

This is the pain second to the worst. Lesson 6: The Torture Of Internal Turmoil, Decay denies your purity! This is the inversion of the conscience, the voice of the Devil himself within you attempting to disguise itself as your conscience. It does not correct you, it simply accuses you and tells you all your faults, all the reasons you don’t deserve the best and all the reasons why you are worthless! The fearful thing about this is that the voice does not lie! It perverts the truth and tells you things you know to be true! If you lack pride in who you are, you will definitely without any shred of a doubt…fail!” the other me said.

By then, I felt the beast within me trying to break free. My mind was weak. I tried to calm myself and realized the truth in the words this evil was speaking. I began to laugh. The other me stared at me in surprise. Even the voices seemed surprised. I laughed maniacally, as though I had just heard the funniest joke.

“Is that all…? If this is all the second to the worst kind of human pain can do…then you are all worthless and weak! So what?! So what if I’m a sinner…so what if I am weak?! SO WHAT IF I AM EVIL INCARNATE! THE ONLY THING I KNOW IS THAT I LOVE AYUMI AND I WISH TO PROTECT HER WITH ALL MY HEART!!! I NEVER CALLED MYSELF A SAINT!!! THE FACT THAT I TRY IS ENOUGH! EVEN IF I KEEP FALLING…I’LL LET MY LOVE FOR AYUMI BE MY GUIDE AND I’LL STAND EVERY TIME SO STOP WASTING YOUR TIME IN TELLING ME THAT I AM EVIL! YES, THAT IS TRUE! I AM EVIL, I AM ZANFAR, KING AND ORIGIN OF ALL NIGHTMARES! THAT IS MY TRUE IDENTITY! THAT IS WHO I WAS IN THE PAST! BUT ITS NOT WHO I AM NOW?! AND GUESS WHAT?! EVEN IF THAT’S WHO I AM NOW…THERE IS NO GUARANTEE ITS WHO I’LL BE IN THE FUTURE…SO…”

I declared as a terrible earthquake began to rock the dimension.

DISAPPEAR BEFORE I DECIDE TO UTTERLY CRUSH EVERY BIT OF YOUR FOUL EXISTENCE DECAY!!!” I roared.

The dimension was instantly ripped apart and the voices ceased after a strong cry and terrifying distortions.

That is the Sixth Soul Of Virtue, Confidence in who you are! Well done Zan, that was nicely said!” the other me complimented.

“Yep, definitely the height of cheesiness…but now these souls of evil are making me particularly angry! Damn them!” I roared angrily as tears flowed down my face.

Tears of anger for the fact that I was reminded of the fact that I had initially only wanted to cure Ayumi so that I could take her life.

Now Prince Ayzan Nightbane, you will encounter the Ultimate Human Pain. His name is Ziri! The final human pain is Lies!” the other me said.

No sooner had he said that than an image appeared before me. The two Ayumis and Victoria frozen within a frenzy torture! As I watched, time slowly unfroze and the combined powers of the souls of evil blasted the two Ayumis and Victoria to the ground. They were severely wounded. They struggled with pain for a while and one by one with heightened perception, I heard each of them breathe their last…cursing my name and the day they met me.

I was in terrible shock and anguish.

“NO! NO! NOOO!!!” I screamed.

“You’re too late Zan! You failed to save Ayumi!” an evil voice laughed and the image slowly faded.

The two Ayumis and Victoria appeared from the shadows accusing me for not saving them. Then my parents slowly materialized, cursing the day they gave birth to me and accusing one another for the day they met. Everyone I knew appeared cursing me, even Wanye.

I was paralyzed with fear, sorrow and horror and if there was a day I had ever felt truly hopeless in my life; that was definitely the day. I cried like I would be crying pretty soon in my life because at the time, that was the worst moment in my life but another moment would soon come when I would cry the cry I had never cried since the day I first cried as a baby. (Well, that doesn’t even compare!)

The other me couldn’t hold back his tears as well. Even though he knew it was a lie, seeing the one we loved so hurt, he couldn’t help crying as well so…well, there you have it…we had a hopeless heartbroken guys’ crying club for like fifteen minutes while the evil voice kept mocking us. Then the other me wiped his tears and wiped mine.

“Learn from this Zan, Nothing hurts more than Lies. They are disastrous and catastrophic. Lies are the things that make evil and pain a reality. They pervert the truth. They cause nothing but death and war. Is this pain overwhelming you? If it is, then you have learnt an invaluable lesson. Do you know why Lies are so catastrophic? That is because…they can come from the lips of loved ones. It is not like internal turmoil where the Devil uses your inherent weaknesses to lie to you. With Lies, the ones you cherish above all else can be used as well. Anything and everything you know can be turned into a lie by the King Of Lies! The only way to counter Lies…is to shine the Light Of Truth and Wisdom upon him. You can only defeat him by exposing the absurdity and foolishness of his words and that…is the Ultimate Soul Of Virtue, encompassing all the others, God Himself…Truth!”

I wiped my tears and stood up.

“I know it can’t be true…my heart tells me that Ayumi is still alive and I can save her! I will save her!” I declared and that dimension shattered and disappeared.

“Congratulations Zan, you know yourself now” the other me said.

A brilliant Light appeared before me and I beheld the most dazzling sword I had ever seen, stuck within an altar. It was silvery white and was intricately designed. Its Blade was made of the purest Silver Light. I walked to it and held its handle. I felt its strength flow into me as we bonded. It seemed alive, like a manifestation of my own heart and my love for Ayumi.

“What is the meaning of your name Zan?” the other me asked.

I smiled as I withdrew the Blade.

“I had forgotten what my name meant. My name, the name Zan…means… ‘Dream!’” I said as I completely withdrew the sword.

“Zan, before…I become part of you and your Sword, I want you to pass this gift to Ayumi and Chaos. You must remember Chaos, Zan or you won’t be able to save him…” the other me said as he slowly faded away.

“You have the power…you’ve always had it” he said as he faded away.

I shut my eyes and opened them and there I was, smack in the battle right where I was before I was pulled away and Ayumi, Ayumi X and Victoria were being turned into Christmas lamps. I stood up, breathing intensely.

“If you value your lives…you will let them go this instant!” I ordered.

“There is nothing you can do so stop bluffing!” Enslavement roared as she increased the velocity of wind around the captives.

“I warned you!” I declared.

Ayumi opened her eyes in surprise as memories filled her mind of the time I first summoned the Nightbane and defeated Bunnyos Extremos.

“Those words…Those were the words Zan said when he first summoned…”Ayumi struggled to say.

“I AM PRINCE AYZAN NIGHTBANE!!! IN MY TIME OF NEED I SUMMON THEE SIGILS OF LIGHT!!!” I roared and in the next instant, I was surrounded by a dazzling stream of Silver Light.

There was a loud sound like the shattering of glass and a great silvery-white sword appeared in my hands.

“THAT SWORD! IT CANNOT BE!!!” the souls of evil exclaimed in horror.

“Behold! Your end has come, wretched souls!” I roared and charged to attack them.

The souls of evil stopped attacking the two Ayumis and Victoria and turned their attention to me. Enslavement charged in first.

“You can’t stop us!” she roared as she hurled her shield towards me.

I swung my sigil with all my strength and shattered her shield with a single strike.

“Impossible!” she exclaimed in horror.

“Not nearly as impossible as my next attack” I roared as I took in a deep breath.

I focused the light around me into a compressed field around my sword.

“Take this and realize your foolishness for daring to hurt Ayumi before my very eyes!” I roared as the very dimension began to tremble from the pressure of my power.

“No! His power level is rising! It’s, it’s…”

(Don’t you dare! That is premature! Here is not where you must use that phrase damn you!)

“It’s immense!” Despair roared.

“Regret your foolishness for an eternity and repent in the netherworld! LUMINOUS BLAZE!!!” I roared as I released an insane barrage of Light attacks almost like a meteor shower in their devastating power.

Enslavement, Cowardice, Despair, Sloth and Decay were destroyed in that onslaught leaving only Chaos. Ayumi, Ayumi X and Victoria had protected themselves by raising shields around themselves. But even if they hadn’t, they wouldn’t have been injured because my fury was not directed towards them.

Finally…I turned to face Chaos.

“Now, all that’s left…is you!” I roared and pointed my sigil towards him.

“Congratulations! Once again, you managed to defeat my brethren but don’t think for a moment that defeating me will be that easy. You seem to have forgotten that I am time itself!” Chaos said confidently.

“Finally, it has come to a showdown between Zan and Chaos” the other Ayumi said.

“Zan! Be careful! Chaos can manipulate the waves of time to his advantage!” Ayumi warned me.

“I know!” I declared.

“So how do you plan to deal with that?” Chaos asked me.

“Ha! Like hell I’d tell you!” I mocked Chaos.

“You sorely underestimate me! I AM CHAOS! ONCE SEALED BY THE STONE OF TIME! SIGIL WITHIN A SIGIL! I SUMMON THEE…MONOCHRON!!!” Chaos called and all the clocks within the Internal Titanium G-Shock began to vibrate and hum loudly, then they all disintegrated and reassembled around Chaos transforming him from a man into a huge metallic beast with the likeness of a dragon! “Now you will face my wrath! Zanfar!” Chaos roared as he breathed an intense silvery flame that engulfed me.

I struggled hard against it but when the flames disappeared, I could hardly move. I felt like a living statue! Chaos charged towards me at top speed and head butted me. I was thrown off my feet. I screamed in pain and fell to the ground but I still couldn’t move.

“Now how would you like the taste of the breath of a modern dragon! Take this, my breath of liquid nitrogen!” Chaos roared as he breathed nitrogen in my direction.

“NO WAY!!!” I screamed in disbelief. (For those who have watched anime, Zan actually screamed UUUSOOOO DAROOOOUUUUU!!!)

Before the nitrogen could reach me, both Ayumis leapt in front of me to protect me.

“I’ve always wanted to try evaporating liquid nitrogen! Unfortunately, I’ve never had the chance!” Ayumi declared with a smirk.

“You’ve got that right! If we can evaporate all of it…then Pyrogeysers will undoubtedly be the strongest Flame Sigil in existence, stronger than even Dad’s Trailblazer!” Ayumi X roared.

“Pyrogeysers! Flame rivalling that of a dragon’s! Prove your strength and devour it all! UPGRADING FLAME SIGIL LEVEL ONE TO LIVING SIGIL LEVEL ZERO! SHINSEI RYUUENJINN! AWAKEN!!! THIS IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF MY SIGIL, PYROGEYSERS! THE DIVINE DRAGON FLAME GOD RYUUENJINN!!!” The two Ayumis roared as their powers flowed through the Pyrogeysers!

The Pyrogeysers leapt into the air each assuming the form of the Dragon Deity Ryuuenjinn. The two Ryuuenjinns immediately and without much effort completely evaporated all Chaos’ liquid nitrogen and succeeded in dealing him heavy damage, shattering most of his armour in the process before disappearing.

“If this was your trump card, why didn’t you use it from the beginning?!” Chaos roared angrily.

“Because Shinsei Ryuuenjinn is a last resort technique only to be used when battles reach a point where a decisive defeat is necessary. The reason I don’t like to use Shinsei Ryuuenjinn in most of my battles is the condition necessary for its use. Shinsei Ryuuenjinn consumes all my remaining stamina just to manifest so it can at most deal a maximum of three attacks. Its first attack was what evaporated your nitrogen, the second attack was what shattered your armour…” Ayumi declared.

“And the third…?” Chaos asked.

Ayumi smirked as I stood up.

“Shinsei Ryuuenjinn has another ability, a unique one to balance its power. On the minus side, it consumes all the stamina I have but…on the plus side…it allows me to transfer all that stamina into anyone that isn’t me” Ayumi laughed sinisterly.

“ARE YOU EVEN HUMAN AYU?!” I screamed in horror.

“Zan, you have the remaining stamina of two Ayumi Kirisawas, two mes. You should have enough stamina to fight…for six days without food or water” Ayumi declared.

“That settles it Ayu, you’re definitely not human” I joked.

“Break a leg” Ayumi cheered me on.

“A leg? No, I’m not satisfied with just that…after all he has done…I’ll break every single bone in his body!” I declared and charged to attack Chaos.

I was faster, swifter, more agile and sharper than I had ever been. It felt like I had been given a chance to feel how strong Ayumi was in battle. My speed was so immense that Chaos couldn’t even slow me down if he tried. I bombarded him with a barrage of Sword attacks and managed to strip him of all his remaining armour. In a rage, Chaos sped the time waves around himself exponentially and we engaged in a battle the eye could not follow. During the Battle, the Silver Dream was shattered and Chaos and I continued with a fist fight. We bombarded one another with heavy blows, facial blows, body blows, kicks. When we began to wear one another out, we paused.

“So what…you’re just going to kill me like you did the others?! That is why you can never understand us! That is why we want Zanfar back! When I was still a human, I was deceived into thinking there was such a thing as absolute order! The people in power used that as a tool to get us to do all their dirty work for them…and when we…the soldiers who only knew how to fight…began to question our beliefs…and oppose them…we were pitted against Zanfar…and he saved us...he gave us the chance to exchange our weak human hearts and bodies for stronger demon hearts and bodies! You can badmouth Zanfar all you want…but in the end...he is right. This world holds no value! It is filled with people who only use one another! You have no right to try and change us…to tell us what we should be…WHEN YOU CAN’T EVEN REMEMBER US!” Chaos roared.

I opened my eyes in shock. It felt like Chaos had endured a lot of pain for almost an eternity.

I hung my head sorrowfully.

Is this the path you’ve decided to follow…or are you just clinging to a path I chose for you?” I asked him.

He opened his eyes in surprise.

“I thought I told you once before Chaos…I don’t care what names humanity may call me…I do whatever I want whenever I want. If I chose the path of destruction, it was because I willed it…and now I’ve decided to choose the path of humanity! I’M NOT DOING IT BECAUSE I WANT TO BE GOOD OR EVIL! I’M DOING IT BECAUSE IT’S MY CHOICE! SO WHAT IS YOUR CHOICE! WILL YOU KEEP LIVING BY A PRINCIPLE I SET FOR YOU OR WILL YOU CHOOSE YOUR OWN PATH! Besides, I refuse to believe anyone who loves RPGs is evil especially if he isn’t human! The fact that you love human creations just shows how much you love humanity itself! I won’t ask you to put your trust in humanity or believe that they are good because there really are bad people in this world as well but just choose a path you believe in so that at the end of your life you can go with a smile” I said.

Chaos stared at me in surprise.

“And what if the path I choose is to destroy humanity?” Chaos asked.

“Then I will utterly obliterate you without mercy, then I’ll drag your soul from the netherworld and make you play Devils May Die 5 and Breath Of Dragons 6 for six years and you know I can do it!” I threatened him.

“Hey hey! That’s a serious threat don’t you know? You may act different but you definitely do talk like Zanfar” Chaos said with a laugh. “Fine, I’ll think on it but I’m not making any promises. Besides, the two of you have indeed succeeded in proving the timelessness of love so there’s no point in me making things any more difficult” he said with a sigh.

“And you know, that man you met that taught you about love many years ago. I’ve met him too and today is actually his birthday in the original timeline but…you nicely ruined it” I said.

Chaos seemed surprised.

“But I think he’d want you to have this. It was originally a gift I created for Ayu but I think it was meant for you. I’ll make another gift for Ayu later…Ayu I hope you’ll forgive me this once…” I said with a nervous laugh.

“We’ll see about that” the two Ayumis said together.

I took in a deep breath and weaved many more mes.

The other versions of myself all possessed different musical instruments.

“You guys know the song don’t you? Let’s sing for this troubled soul” I said.

“You got it!” they declared.

The mes with flutes began to play, soft slow music and the other mes harmonized as the music progressed. As it neared the part I needed to sing, I took in a deep breath.

I recall a very special day in history,

Where a star shined so brightly

It was the birth of a wonderful mystery,

The day when it all began

A woman rode a lowly donkey

With her faithful husband at her side

She was carrying in her a baby

The one who’d save the whole world

 

Rejected, and abandoned,

Left at the mercy of the wind

It looked like no help would come

It looked so utterly hopeless

 

Now tell me what did you think?

Was it going to be easy as pie?

Carrying more than the world within her

In the womb of a woman, in a cruel world.

 

A star, a storm, a navy night

Though dark it sparkled with a radiant light,

That day when the ultimate weapon was born,

The day that made all hell’s minions mourn.

 

Your life is my life,

And my life should give you strength

Oh listen to this song my dearest One

and know that on that day, your life was won.

 

Oh my God

I am here now

I can hear you

I am here now

 

Oh my God

I am ready

I can hear you

Immanoel

 

I am singing with the angels

A boundless rhythm

To fill the skies

I am singing with the shepherds

Who await you

With crimson eyes

A glorious day it was,

When they found that lowly manger,

The ground was covered with moss

The Birth of that lonely ranger

 

Satan tried all sorts of dirty tricks,

Killing babies, deceiving kings

But God was with the child all the way

For He was the one, the Holy King Of Kings

 

Your life is my life,

and my life should give you strength

Oh listen to this song my dearest One

and know that on that day, your life was won.

 

It was a day no evil could see,

The birth of the mightiest sigil,

The dawn of ‘God with human beings’

Thus the child was called Immanoel”

I sang as strongly as I could. Chaos seemed to be surprised when the music began, then he seemed to reflect, then he seemed nostalgic and eventually he was in tears.

I see, so that is what that incomprehensible day meant…wasn’t it? It did not mean destruction or bloodshed or the triumph of Zanfar as Ziri thought. It was simply the day of his birth and a prelude to the ultimate defeat of evil. Knowing that…if evil is going to be destroyed in the end, then good will triumph…and if good triumphs, it must mean that humanity isn’t all evil. I’ve decided Zan. I’ll return to the Eternal Mirror Gate. There might be a way to defeat Zanfar but I’m not telling you now or it’ll be ruined. Maybe…just maybe…the one I really wanted to follow, all of us…maybe it was you…and not Zanfar” Chaos said as he stretched out his hand to me.

“I hope you’re not planning to sucker punch me” I said with a sceptical look on my face.

“Heh! You saw through that didn’t you?” Chaos laughed.

“So you were trying to sucker punch me! That’s evil!” I declared.

(You don’t say…)

“I do not care whether people call me good or evil. I’ll walk the path I believe in…Big Brother” Chaos said as he disappeared slowly from feet to head.

I don’t know why but as he was disappearing…I felt tears flow down my face.

“Everything will return to the way it was…before” Chaos said as he continued to fade away. “…However Zan, you are an unsteady variable in all of this. I cannot guarantee your safe return to the original timeline. Ayumi…I guess I’ll help you just a little in the original timeline. It was fun talking to you” Chaos said as he tossed the Stone Of Time, a diamond, to her.

“You mean psychologically torturing me. I’ll definitely repay you and by that time…I’ll make sure Shinsei Ryuuenjinn can perform at least five strikes!” Ayumi threatened.

“I look forward to it” Chaos said.

“Stay cool stupid cosplayer!” I waved.

“Right back at you moronic otaku!” Chaos said and finally faded away.

After, he was gone, the two Ayumis stared at me with pleading eyes.

“So what are you going to do now Zan?” Ayumi asked.

“Well…I’m staying in this timeline with Ayumi, the girl I fell in love with. Besides, I’ve got my own Zanfar to deal with. I intend to protect Ayumi and reunite her with her family eventually. I’m sure your Zan is also waiting for you” I said.

“How can you be so sure?” Ayumi asked me.

“Because I met him…and he is strong…far stronger than I am. He is the better me, the one you deserve. Just remember your promise” I reminded Ayumi.

She nodded sadly.

Then she slowly began to rise.

“Thank you Ayumi…for watching over me” I said with a smile.

Ayumi looked like she could cry at any moment. Then suddenly, a powerful wind swept her away.

“ZAN NO!!!” she screamed but it was too late.

 She flew through time and space. She shut her eyes tightly and felt herself fall and when she opened her eyes, she found herself on the lawn outside the Kirisawa mansion.

It looked as though the party was still going on.

Could Zan be gone?! I’ve got to find him!” she said worriedly and raced through the hall, up the stairs stopped at my room door. She knocked gently but there was no answer.

“Zan! Are you there?!” she banged harder but there was still no answer.

She tried opening the door but it was locked.

She opened her eyes in shock.

“N-No way! This door has never been locked since Zan came to live here!” she thought in panic and dropped on her knees sadly. “No way Zan” she muttered and burst into tears.

As she wept, she began to notice loud cheering coming from Ai’s bedroom.

“Would it be possible to be with you again?

To see you smile? To hear you laugh? To hold you close to me?”

She heard a familiar song and her hopes were raised.

“That’s Zan’s song!” she exclaimed and rushed towards Ai’s bedroom.

“Would it be possible to feel your breath again?

And would it be possible to kiss you once again?” the song continued.

Ayumi reached Ai’s bedroom door and flung it open desperately. She looked around. She could see Ai, Face and Victoria and amongst our other mates, there I was in the tux she had sewn me; singing.

I turned to look at her.

She looked terrified. Then she covered her eyes with one hand.

“Thank goodness” she said.

I noticed tears flowing down her face. I approached her. Now she was attempting to hide her tears with both hands. I walked to her.

“Hi Ayu” I greeted and slowly removed her hands from her face.

“EEEEEEEHHHH?! AYUMI IS…CRYING?!” I exclaimed in shock.

“It’s your fault idiot!” she yelled angrily and turned away from me.

“My fault? What have I done wrong?” I asked her.

“The fact that you don’t even know angers me even more! Idiot! I thought I had lost you…forever!” Ayumi cried.

I hugged her from behind, a move I wouldn’t dare make under normal circumstances. I was putting at least one hundred bones on the line just by taking that risk!

“I thought I told you…I’m not going anywhere without you” I assured her.

Everyone stared at the two of us in surprise. Ayumi turned to face me.

“Can you really promise that Zan? What makes you so sure that you’ll always stay beside me?! What if I end up betraying you?! You are the Dreamweaver and I’m a Dream Knight!” Ayumi yelled angrily.

“Well I don’t know about that but what I do know is that I love you so much…it hurts sometimes. I can’t say I’m strong enough to withstand any form of betrayal that may arise in the future but what I am sure about is that…I’ll never stop loving you. After all;

“Girl you are my lunar flower

Dear pretty thing you set my heart on fire

Looking ahead the only thing I see is you

Oh loving you like I’m loving me.

 

When I see your smile my heart is set ablaze,

Like the wind fanning the intense furnace,

Looking ahead, I see you are my future,

Oh loving you like I’m loving me.

 

The scars of pain I will remove

From your once tainted livelihood

Cos you’re not the one feeling despair

When your smile is turned upside down,

 

I want to see you smile again,

Like a rainbow across the clear blue sky

(Herrh! Don’t be lying with poetry! A Rainbow is indeed like a smile turned upside down so stop displaying your ignorance in public!)

It doesn’t matter how long I’ll wait

Till I can see your smile again.

 

One day, once more,

I know we’ll be happy,

Looking down from mountain tops

Like an eagle atop Mount Everest,

 

Lazing away,

As though we’ve got all the time in the world,

Watching sunsets and an endless spread of lunar wreaths

I’ll say it to you, you’re my lunar flower

 

 

Oh darling girl you are my lunar flower

Dear pretty thing you set my heart on fire

Looking ahead the only thing I see is you

Oh loving you like I’m loving me”

 

When I see your smile my heart is set ablaze,

Like the wind fanning the intense furnace,

Looking ahead, I see you are my future,

Oh loving you like I’m loving me”

I serenaded Ayumi in front of everyone and this time there was laughter but not the mocking laughter of me making a fool of myself but the laughter of happy friends celebrating the love of one of their fellow friends.

Ayumi looked at me happily. The tears in her eyes turned into tears of joy. She tried wiping her tears many times but more tears kept streaming down. She recalled how I took care of her in the alternate timeline as I kept singing.

After the song was over, everyone began to applaud me.

“Specially dedicated to Ayumi. Now I want to sing a song specially dedicated to you all…” I said and then I began to sing the song that warmed Chaos’ heart once more.

“I recall a very special day in history,

Where a star shined so brightly

It was the birth of a wonderful mystery,

The day when it all began

A woman rode a lowly donkey

With her faithful husband at her side

She was carrying in her a baby

The one who’d save the whole world

 

Rejected, and abandoned,

Left at the mercy of the wind

It looked like no help would come

It looked so utterly hopeless

 

Now tell me what did you think?

Was it going to be easy as pie?

Carrying more than the world within her

In the womb of a woman, in a cruel world.

 

 

A star, a storm, a navy night

Though dark it sparkled with a radiant light,

That day when the ultimate weapon was born,

The day that made all hell’s minions mourn.

 

Your life is my life,

And my life should give you strength

Oh listen to this song my dearest One

and know that on that day, your life was won.

 

Oh my God

I am here now

I can hear you

I am here now

 

Oh my God

I am ready

I can hear you

Immanoel

 

 

 

I am singing with the angels

A boundless rhythm

To fill the skies

I am singing with the shepherds

Who await you

With crimson eyes

 

 

 

A glorious day it was,

When they found that lowly manger,

The ground was covered with moss

The Birth of that lonely ranger

 

Satan tried all sorts of dirty tricks,

Killing babies, deceiving kings

But God was with the child all the way

For He was the one, the Holy King Of Kings

 

Your life is my life,

and my life should give you strength

Oh listen to this song my dearest One

and know that on that day, your life was won.

 

 

 

It was a day no evil could see,

The birth of the mightiest sigil,

The dawn of ‘God with human beings’

Thus the child was called Immanoel”

“Whoo! You’re really a great singer Zan!” Ai cheered.

“You should learn a thing or two from him Face!” Victoria criticized Face.

“TCH! Too bad you said that ‘cos I personally crafted this for you” Face said as he pulled out a Silver Bracelet. “Too bad I need to learn from someone else. That means this is rubbish so I’ll just toss it away somewhere” Face said with an indifferent look in his eyes.

Victoria looked like she regretted her words.

“C-Can I have it?” she pleaded.

“Why do you want rubbish? Are you a vulture?” Face asked her.

Bad move for she clenched his ears really tightly and pinched them till Face had to beg for mercy.

“Don’t make me repeat myself!” she roared angrily.

Ayumi stared at me.

“You were the first person outside my family to accept the world I live in without judging me or calling me names…and you’ve protected me many times. It’s my turn now. It’s my turn to protect you…even if it turns all the Dream Knights against me but…I still can’t tell you the truth…about how I feel about you…or how I’ve betrayed you Zan…Not yet…Forgive me…” Ayumi thought silently.

 


Submitted: July 14, 2017

© Copyright 2022 Edwin Mwintome Bozie . All rights reserved.

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