Chapter 1:

The Myth

The Night is Ours

I guess I should introduce myself. I'm Jin Yamaoka. I'm from Kyoto and I'm 17 years old. You probably wouldn't notice me in public, since I have dark brown hair and blue eyes.Bookmark here

Even my personality is normal. I like hanging out with my friends and playing video games. However, I have a big secret - I'm also now training to save people, but not exactly in the way you'd expect. To explain, I think I should go back to the start of the day it happened.Bookmark here

"Your homework for today is on the board. Also, your midterm results are up. Class dismissed."Bookmark here

With those two final words, the entire class broke out into conversation. Our class was fairly quiet and nice for the most part.Bookmark here

The classroom itself was quite modern, as was the rest of the school. It was quite a large school itself, with four floors and a U-shaped structure.Bookmark here

"Hey, Jin, you comin' to see the results?"Bookmark here

A fairly well built person of average height approached me. Like me, he had blue eyes, but unlike me, he had straight black hair. If I didn't know him, he might have been a bit intimidating to me.Bookmark here

This person was Kazuto Nakano, probably my best friend since junior high. While he can be an idiot sometimes, he is generally a nice guy.Bookmark here

"Yeah, I can't miss seeing you fail."Bookmark here

Although, I couldn't help making him the brunt of all of the jokes.Bookmark here

"That was because I fell back in boxing club, and we were going for nationals! And besides, I didn't see you doing much better!"Bookmark here

"Yeah, yeah. Blame it on something else."Bookmark here

With a smile, I stood up to pack my things up. I was optimistic about this one. I may not have done so well in my last midterms, or my last end of terms.Bookmark here

But this time, I studied way more. I put in way more hours and I doubt that effort will be for nothing.Bookmark here

I remember feeling like I aced the tests as well. I'm sure everything would be okay.Bookmark here

I quickly dropped everything into my bag. Bookmark here

"Let's go, Kazuto."Bookmark here

Working our way around the halls of this school would have been confusing at first, but being my second year in this school, it was much easier. Almost out of habit, I found myself navigating myself to the test results, which are usually posted on a board on the first floor, quite a distance from our second floor classroom.Bookmark here

Thankfully, when we arrived at the board, the crowd that would normally be around it had already dispersed, save for a couple of people.Bookmark here

One of these people was a happy girl, a bit shorter than me. Wavy black hair rested over her shoulder and on her back, and she was wearing a small pair of glasses over her hazel eyes. She radiated positivity and warmth in a way that made her both easy to approach... and kind of cute.Bookmark here

The girl in question was Saki Fujita, another one of my best friends, mostly because she was in my class last year. She wouldn't stand out if you saw a crowd of people, but if you spoke to her, you'd quickly understand that she's special in her own way.Bookmark here

And admittedly... I may have also had feelings for her.Bookmark here

Saki waved at us from down the hallway before approaching us, with a small skip in her step. Bookmark here

"Hey guys!" she exclaimed brightly.Bookmark here

"What's up, Saki-chan? You look happy." Kazuto replied.Bookmark here

"Oh, I just saw my results and I got into the top 10 in our year!" Saki said with a bright smile.Bookmark here

"Congrats, Saki!" I said.Bookmark here

"Thanks, Jin!" Saki beamed. "I'll wait for you guys, go check your results!"Bookmark here

"Yeah, we'll be right there." I replied. Bookmark here

"I bet Jin will get lower than me." Kazuto joked.Bookmark here

"Shut up."Bookmark here

With a smile, I approached the board on the wall. Our year had around two hundred students, so as long as I didn't get lower than one hundred, I wouldn't have been too annoyed.Bookmark here

"Hell yeah, eighty-two! Thirty higher than last time!"Bookmark here

Kazuto's excited chants were somewhat uplifting, but as I scanned the sheet, I struggled to find my name.Bookmark here

Maybe I should restart from the very top.Bookmark here

Nothing in the top 10, besides Saki. Nor the top 20 or 30.Bookmark here

Top 50? Nope.Bookmark here

Top 100...?Bookmark here

... oh.Bookmark here

"You came 165th!? B-but, you were always studying and getting help from me, and... uh..." Bookmark here

About 20 minutes had passed, and we were sitting in mine and Kazuto's classroom. I decided to wait until we had all eaten our lunches to say what rank I got, because knowing how my friends were, they would react more strongly than I would. Bookmark here

They really do care about me, and that's at least one thing for me to appreciate, at least.Bookmark here

However, the atmosphere was heavy. Kazuto was silent, and Saki attempted to understand, but she was completely lost for words, given the circumstances.Bookmark here

And honestly, so was I.Bookmark here

All that effort I put in every night, hours upon hours of constant studying for weeks on end just for that week.Bookmark here

My many hours of time spent in the library. Late night study sessions with Saki, and occasionally with Kazuto too.Bookmark here

Did any of that mean much?Bookmark here

I was always getting my practice studies spot on. Was I doing something wrong?Bookmark here

Wouldn't I have spotted it at some point?Bookmark here

I was trying my best to stay calm, but I could feel some sorts of emotions leaking out.Bookmark here

"Saki, it's okay. I'm fine."Bookmark here

To be truthful, I lied. I had my doubts from the start. I hate to say it, but this was the fourth time in a row this had happened to me.Bookmark here

As much as I wanted to hope I was doing good, I can only prepare so much. I can only do so much.Bookmark here

But in all honesty, I was scared. I didn't want to do badly in high school. I just wanted to live normally.Bookmark here

But, as small or as silly as it may be, I think my biggest fear was putting so much effort in for nothing in return.Bookmark here

"Jin, don't worry, bro. You always have next time." Kazuto said reassuringly.Bookmark here

"Yeah. Thanks."Bookmark here

He was right, but I didn't really know what that meant for me. I could feel a tiny sliver of hope that next time will be different, but I found myself quickly stopping that idea in it's tracks.Bookmark here

"I don't know if this will help, but do you want me to help you take your mind off things, Jin?" Saki said.Bookmark here

It wasn't hard for me to come to a decision. For now, I just didn't want to think about those midterms.Bookmark here

I'll save them for when I'm at home.Bookmark here

"Yeah, why not. I'd rather think about anything else, anyway."Bookmark here

"Okay! Do you wanna hear a myth?" Saki asked excitedly, while pulling a notebook out of her school bag. She was really interested in history, and discovering myths was just one of her strange, but pretty interesting, hobbies.Bookmark here

"Sure. Is it something fairly new?"Bookmark here

"Actually, it's only come out recently. According to where I found this, 'at the strike of midnight, a random person meets a man in their dreams. The man would give them a deal - win his game and gain an unthinkable power, or lose his game and forget that meeting ever happened.' Of course, it's a myth because if it happens nobody remembers it, but at the same time, there's been a few people who swear they have this power."Bookmark here

"Oh yeah, I've heard of that! Shit's kinda cool, but I don't buy it." Kazuto chimed in.Bookmark here

"Do you think there's anything that could cause it?" I asked Saki. I didn't quite believe it either, but it made me curious anyway.Bookmark here

"Well, not really. I don't know if it's even true. But imagine waking up with an insane power!" Saki exclaimed.Bookmark here

"I wonder what that power is. If it's unthinkable, like you said, wouldn't it be something nobody has ever heard of? Maybe something like the ability to use static for your own good or something?" I wondered, realising how boring that power would really be.Bookmark here

"Oh, what if the power is somethin' like bein' able to make darkness, so your enemies can't see?" Kazuto said.Bookmark here

"Enemies? You mean, the guy who accidentally took your towel in boxing club in junior high?" I replied jokingly. Saki burst out into laughter.Bookmark here

"Man, I know for sure he did it on purpose. I've never seen him look at anyone else like that." Kazuto replied.Bookmark here

"Yeah, yeah." Saki said. Bookmark here

After a brief moment of silence, all three of us started laughing uncontrollably.Bookmark here

I'd basically forgotten about my score now, thankfully. At least, for the time being.Bookmark here

In class after lunch, we all got our marked tests back. However, I didn't waste a moment going home after class, because I needed to see where I went wrong. While things like the train schedule and crowds held me back, I at least made it home quicker than usual. Although, I did have to tell Saki and Kazuto, as we take the same train route.Bookmark here

I ran through the front door, practically breathless as I quickly pulled my shoes off. Our house was fairly modern, and it was quite neat, although a little small. The kitchen and living room were connected to the right, and a staircase was on the immediate left of the front door. I only lived with my parents, so it only had two bedrooms, but it was cozy enough and at the least, it was a place I could call home.Bookmark here

"I'm home." I called out as I closed the door.Bookmark here

"Welcome home, Jin." The familiar voice of my mum came from the kitchen. "Did you get your midterms results?"Bookmark here

For a moment, I contemplated lying about it. But, I realised that there was a parent teacher meeting soon.Bookmark here

Besides, while she may be upset, I know she wouldn't take it too badly.Bookmark here

"Yeah... they weren't great. I'm going to study."Bookmark here

"Oh... well, don't overdo yourself."Bookmark here

"I won't."Bookmark here

I could hear a hint of disappointment in her voice. It made sense, she probably expected high results as well. And despite her saying I shouldn't overdo myself, I couldn't think of another way to do better.Bookmark here

I headed upstairs into my bedroom, the second room on the upstairs landing. It was a fairly average sized bedroom, with a window facing the front. My bed lay across the back of the room alongside the window. There was a circular short-legged table in the middle of the room, and a TV hooked up to a games console on the right. On the other side of the room, shelves and a cupboard occupied the walls.Bookmark here

The moment I walked in, I sat down at my table, dropping my bag on it, before pulling out the papers.Bookmark here

English, maths, Japanese, social studies and science.Bookmark here

I placed all of the papers in a line on the table and skimmed over the front pages. Looking at the papers, I realised I got fairly average in Japanese and social studies. Despite knowing how badly I did overall, that gave me a little bit of hope.Bookmark here

But then I looked at the others, and my hope instantly vanished.Bookmark here

In maths, I didn't even get twenty percent. To add insult to injury, science wasn't much better.Bookmark here

Then there was English, which I got nine percent on. Bookmark here

I let out a big sigh, contemplating where to start.Bookmark here

Maybe the maths paper.Bookmark here

I turned the first page. Not even a single question right.Bookmark here

Wait a moment. Bookmark here

I skimmed through the questions again. I didn't just mess up the paper.Bookmark here

These were questions I knew. I'd gotten them completely wrong somehow.Bookmark here

And I figured that was the case for pretty much the rest of the tests.Bookmark here

I let out another big sigh, before pulling out a notebook from my bag.Bookmark here

This was going to be another long evening.Bookmark here

Around six hours passed. As ridiculous as this may sound, I somehow managed to spend that entire time working on my mistakes, besides a small bit of time where I ate my dinner.Bookmark here

However, the more I looked at the papers, the more stupid I felt.Bookmark here

It was clear that I had made so many obvious mistakes, but how I managed to was totally beyond me.Bookmark here

I stood up to stretch, and noticed the time on the clock of my bedside stand.Bookmark here

It was already 10:30pm, and I had school the next day.Bookmark here

Maybe now was the time to sleep.Bookmark here

For some reason, I was reminded of what Saki said earlier. While I did doubt the myth was real, there was a part of me which wouldn't allow me to fully accept that it's fake.Bookmark here

Maybe it would be interesting to get a new power. Something insane would mean I could help the world without having to study like crazy for nothing.Bookmark here

Or maybe just incredible intelligence. That way, I wouldn't have to worry about school, or my results, or much else at all.Bookmark here

I continued to ponder what could happen as I brushed my teeth and got into bed.Bookmark here

It was at midnight, right? It was still 10:45pm.Bookmark here

Why am I worrying about this so much? It's not going to happen.Bookmark here

With that thought, I closed my eyes, preparing for nothing but a new day.Bookmark here

The room looked hazy, almost like there was a strange mist in the air. At the same time, however, there seemed to be a strange gloss coating the room. It took me a moment to realise I was still in my bedroom.Bookmark here

I looked over to the clock, only to realise it wasn't there. I was sitting in pure silence.Bookmark here

"Hello, Jin Yamaoka."Bookmark here

A sudden voice took me by surprise. As I looked closer into the middle of the room, I was able to make out the blurry silhouette of a man.Bookmark here

"Who are you?" I asked.Bookmark here

"Oh, don't tell me you haven't heard of me? I'm the thing everyone's been talking about. I'm sure you know why I'm here by now." the man replied.Bookmark here

It clicked. The myth.Bookmark here

"What's your game? What's the penalty?"Bookmark here

"A simple game of my own extreme Russian roulette. The penalty is exactly as you hear."Bookmark here

I looked down, to see that a small pistol was suddenly in my hand. Despite looking heavy, it felt almost weightless.Bookmark here

"Don't worry, you won't die." reassured the man. "However, your odds of winning aren't particularly high, Yamaoka."Bookmark here

For some reason, I was compelled to point the gun at myself. I lifted it up to my head and pointed the barrel towards my forehead. Despite my immense fear, I couldn't control my movements. Bookmark here

If I win, I get a power. If I lose, I forget this ever happened. Maybe the thought of getting a power was all I needed.Bookmark here

"Please pull the trigger."Bookmark here

I slowly closed my eyes. With a deep breath, I pulled the trigger.Bookmark here

Click!Bookmark here

Huh...?Bookmark here

I opened my eyes again, to see the same sight as before. The same hazy room, the mysterious silhouette of a man. The gun was still in my hand.Bookmark here

All of a sudden, it felt like I had regained control over myself. The fear finally hit me as I threw the gun across the room, disappearing into the haze. I was now shaking slightly from the tension and adrenaline. I took a deep breath to calm myself down.Bookmark here

"Jin Yamaoka, it appears that you have won the game."Bookmark here

"That was it..?"Bookmark here

"Indeed it was. I believe you have earned the right to this power."Bookmark here

I'm gaining...Bookmark here

A power!?Bookmark here

The man snapped his fingers, as if a magic trick was about to occur. However, nothing changed, and I remained feeling mostly fine.Bookmark here

"I have given you this power, but I cannot tell you of it's abilities, as I believe that is a vital element of your own journey." stated the man.Bookmark here

"Wait, I get a power but I don't even know what it is?"Bookmark here

"Fear not, you will find out soon. Besides, I have more gifts for you, Yamaoka."Bookmark here

The man handed me a black strapped watch, which had appeared from seemingly nowhere. He then handed me a small dagger.Bookmark here

For some reason, I was feeling skeptical. It still hadn't hit me that I had a new power, but it was somewhat unbelievable considering I didn't know what the power was yet.Bookmark here

"That watch is special. You will have more use with it than you believe, but it's only true use can only be seen when the sun is not visible. To use it, turn the face until it clicks. As for the dagger, if you put your heart into it, you'll understand why I have given you this."Bookmark here

The watch was almost normal. The only real thing that stood out to me was the light blue hands, which didn't suit the watch at all.Bookmark here

The dagger was somewhat unique, however. It had a black grip, and a strange minute hole at the end of the blade.Bookmark here

Despite my interest in these new objects, however, I was still confused.Bookmark here

"Why was I chosen?"Bookmark here

"You will see soon enough. However, I must go for now. Yamaoka, you will be waking up in a minute. Before you do, I want you to consider one thing."Bookmark here

"What's that...?"Bookmark here

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."Bookmark here

That simple quote had me lost for words. I didn't know how to respond to that.Bookmark here

"Yamaoka, if you truly want to improve yourself, embrace yourself."Bookmark here

"And how would I do that?"Bookmark here

"When you wake up, spin your watch face."Bookmark here

"But, this is a dr-"Bookmark here

I opened my eyes to my regular room again.Bookmark here

Wait.Bookmark here

I still had the memories from that dream.Bookmark here

My eyes diverted downwards...Bookmark here

... to see a watch on my bed, alongside a dagger.Bookmark here

Embrace myself? How am I supposed to do that?Bookmark here

Am I meant to know how to change myself just from turning the face of a watch?Bookmark here

Who was that man, anyway? He must have known about my feelings about my results.Bookmark here

With two fingers, I picked up the watch. It really was normal, but it was hard to tell in the darkness of the room.Bookmark here

What will spinning the face do? Will it really do anything?Bookmark here

I took a deep breath and put on the watch, before spinning the watch face.Bookmark here

With a small click, the entire room started to flicker. Objects around me started to disappear.Bookmark here

And suddenly, the putrid smell of rotten meat filled the air.Bookmark here

I quickly stood up, grabbing the dagger. This thing was looking back at me through slimy brown eyes.Bookmark here

The hat.Bookmark here

I instantly realised what that man meant.Bookmark here

This thing...Bookmark here

This thing was the manifestation of my own insecurities.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.