Chapter 2:

Of Science and Gardens

Crimson Core


Shards are crystallized forms of one’s feelings. Every living being possess one type of shard.

Active Shards:

Shard type one: The Stabilizer, marked by a Greek letter.
Shard type two: The Fighter, marked by the specific object.

Passive Shards:

Shard type three: The Compassionate, carried by a friend.
Shard type four: The Unconditional, carried by a pet.

Pair of three shards form a Prism which pulls the shard carriers into a special realm called [World Within].

Prism is formed around a person who’s Shard is inactive, meaning the one seeking help.

Pair of Shards have the ability to collect Loose Mana inside [World Within] and use it to stabilize the Spark.

Spark is in the center of one’s [World Within].


“And with that I would conclude the presentation.”

Ren stood quietly in a place and enjoyed forced clapping coming from other members of the club. Shiki silently observed all the complicated terms and jolted down in the notebook everything he has seen.

“What a nearth”, Omi nudged Shiki’s hand.

“Oy snowflake leave him alone. Ya did the same when we recruited you, ya even pissed yer pants!”

Ume blurted out while fixing her eye patch.

“Calm down, pirate, I won’t touch your treassure.”

Omi hopped down on the chair and prepared himself for dodging maneuvers.Shiki ignored them as he was still fixated on the blackboard.

“Do you have any questions?” asked Ren.

“Million, probably,” sighed Shiki nervously and continued, “but this looks extremely interesting.”

He wrote additional notes in his notebook.

“Ya took it really well, hottie,” Ume added

“Minus the whole unconscious parth,” said Omi.

Shiki composed himself and tried to scrape together a valid sentence.

“I’ve played tons of games…. So I guess this is like that too.”

Ren liked what she hears and smiled proudly.

“I can promise you a really good game then, Kap”

Shiki finally observed Ren from head to toe for the first time.

She is a stunning beauty.

Her strong facial lines felt authoritative at first sight but at the same time her kind feminine approach gave him a valid reason to put his trust in her.

She treated every club member with the same respect no matter how dumb someone’s takes were or how childish they acted. It wasn’t too hard to imagine her in a colonel’s uniform, moreso, her look felt incomplete without it.

Students of some schools were obliged to wear a school’s uniform, but this one didn’t. One of the academy’ s policies was “self-expression”, so you could get away with all kinds of outfits as long as it’s not too revealing or too much.

Members of this club are the best example of how far you could push that boundary. President wore a well-knit jumper that looked home-made and army pants complimented with Martens shoes. This odd combination made her the most normal-looking of them all.

A lot of stuff that was going on at the blackboard seemed like a demented mumbo-jumbo, but at the same time it felt right, coming out of her mouth.

“So why am I a Kappa?” Shiki wondered.

Ren silently looked at Shiki as if she was trying to find the answers somewhere on his face.

“You possess features of a Kappa,” Ren concluded.

Shiki slightly opened his mouth cause he expected a 30 minute long explanation.

“That’s a pres for ya!” Ume laughed.

“He doesn’t look like a turtle to mii,” said Omi while fixing his extravagantly marbled tie.

Ren grabbed a chalk and started to write more things onto the blackboard.

“As I sad, we mark type 1 Shards with Greek letters, similar to how we name types of waves in physics.”

Ren started drawing differently curved lines and giving them names such as alpha, beta, delta and theta.

“Different waves have different frequencies which gives them different properties. Similarly to that, waves of your emotions will give you different properties when you end up in [World Within].”

Shiki followed Ren’s every step without blinking.

“Tis’ weird how stuff is super simple and super jumbled at the same time,” commented Ume while drawing curved lines on the air.

“Kappa is a joker, trickster and a prankster,” concluded Ren.

Shiki’s enthusiasm dropped significantly cause he expected something more heroic.

“Don’t bother with that interepretraintion,” said Omi.

“I know ya have a last word condition, but seriously dude, that’s just pushin’ too much,” said Ume while drawing circles around Omi’s head.

“I mean at!” yelled Omi and continued his thought, “it just means that you and Ume will be extremely compatibell”

Ume’s slightly red cheeks turned into a crimson red as she furiously threw the first thing that got under her hand at him.

“What are you saying out loud, moron!?” Ume jumped.

She grabbed the attention of everyone present. Even composed Ren couldn’t believe her ears.

“You talked normally,” said everyone at the same time.

“Shut up…”

Ume withdrew on a chair with pouting face.

“That is a fact,” Ren added

Shiki’s pupils enlarged exponentially. His face narrowed like a baseball bat, and eyebrows almost escaped his head.

“Ume will definitely become your partner Shard,” said Ren and continued with her lecture.

“Shard type 1, The Stabilizer, which is you, will be paired with Shard type 2, The Fighter, which is Ume.”

Ren drew tiny stick figures on a board, representing each of them.

“Together, you will connect with either Shard type 3 or 4 depending on situation.”

She drew even more stick figures that amused the audience. Omi silently giggled while looking at Ume who put a book over her head.

Shiki’s breathing seized completely.

He kept repeating words like “pairs”,”girl”,”shards” and “spark” without further explaining his thoughts on the matter.

“Look, president broke our new membar,” said Omi.


It was already late in the afternoon. Sun was slowly setting and so did Shiki’s focus on this science lecture. At that moment, someone knocked on a club room door.

“You kids are still here?” asked Cyn and continued, “You should wrap it up for today, you have real classes to think about starting tomorrow as well.”

“Lady’s right,” said Ume and quickly passed by Cyn that stood near the door.

“Wow, she’s fasd,” added Omi while trying to catch up with her, stumbling all the way.

Ren looked at the clock and agreed. She dropped her head to check on Shiki who was obviously still in delirium.

“I know you want to put him in action as soon as possible, but to him this whole scene still seems like a fantasy,” Cyn leaned back on the wall near the door.

“I apologize professor, I was just so excited when Omi told me he detected a brand new Shard 1,” said Ren while looking gently at confused Shiki.

“I understand you. Two years of failed tests with Omicron had a toll on you, as well as on Umeko, but remember the reason you put together this club.”

Cyn reached Shiki’s shoulder.

“I’m glad you decided to stay, but go home now and get some rest.”

Like a slug, Shiki stood up and left the room without a comment.

Ren tried to reach him with her hand but at the right time Cyn blocked her way and signaled not to do anything.


“What a strange day,” Shiki thought to himself.

Bathed in dusk, he walked slowly through the streets of Zarconia. Familiar shops of yesterday are now presented in entirely new light considering everything that transpired during this long day. He threaded carefully on the sidewalk while thinking about president’s words.

When he reached the crossing where the red strings attacked him, dots in head started connecting themselves.

“Maybe I was somehow pulled into that [World Within]?”

One question rose, just to be stricken down by a different one.

“But president said that at least three people are required for a session to occur.”

It didn’t help the fact that he was yet to participate in such session so he satisfied himself with a simple answer: “it was too soon to conclude anything.”

He continued to walk towards the grandma’s apartment still worried about the future.


“I’m home,” said Shiki.

“Shiki!” granny flew out of the kitchen towards the front door.

“I was so worried when teacher called and said that you are in an infirmary,” granny took Shiki’s hand with both of her hands and squeezed it with immense force.

Shiki was surprised by granny’s reaction cause he has never seen it before. Strangely enough, it really helped in this situation.

“Don’t worry, a lot of stuff happened and I kind of passed out,” Shiki said while scratching the back of his head.

Force of air bellowed within granny and exploded from her weak posture.

“Passed out? Same as that father of yours! Passing out to him was as easy as sneezing!” she complained while walking out of the room.

Shiki nervously chuckled.

“What are you standing there for? Kitchen is over there, dinner won’t cook itself,” granny commanded in her standard tone.

Usually, Shiki would loath this kind of tone, but somehow it felt comforting this time around.


After dinner, Shiki dropped on his bed.

“I’m beaten, even though I technically slept today in the infirmary,” he chuckled.

Few moments later his mobile phone rang.

It’s an old model that still used buttons even though everyone has a smartphone in this day and age.

“Hey Kappa. I found a phone number in your files at school and took liberty to pass it forward to other club members. You’re now friends after all. Cyn”

Shiki read the message which made him both happy and worried. He hasn’t thought of the answer and when he tried to type one, a new message arrived again.

“By the way, I forgot to mention that there is one more club member you haven’t met. Well he met you, but you didn’t exactly meet him. His name is Alp, he carried you to the infirmary. You should introduce yourself in the morning, he helps out in school gardens. Cyn”

“She writes long texts,” thought Shiki and fell asleep.


New morning woke in Zarconia. Fortunately for no one, it was completely cloudy and it looked like rain was coming.

Chilly wind that blew marked the start of another school year.

Hundreds of students arrived in Bohr Academy to ease up a path to university they desired. Shiki skipped principal’s introduction yesterday due to “club business”, but luckily for him, nothing of importance was mentioned.

“Why did I even come yesterday?”

“I always tell myself not to come on the first day of school, but I always do!”

“Haha you guys listened to that snore fest? I played Snitcher 3.”

Various remarks filled the school grounds. Some of them even arrived towards the sensitive ears of teachers who took great enjoyment into scolding them.

Shiki was not among them. He was behind the school where an awe-inspiring park presented itself in front of him.

Formidable park was an important meeting place for many clubs such as Gardening club, Nature club and even Drama and Movie clubs. Hundreds of trees and various flowers sprinkled on a ground, different signs that showed the way and old-fashioned street lamps decorated this unexpectedly clean and quiet place.

“Gardening Club Greenhouse,” read Shiki on one of the signs.

Couple of meters down the road stood a giant greenhouse and what seemed to be some kind of commotion inside it.

When Shiki approached closer, he heard audible screams of girls that cheered enthusiastically. It wasn’t two or three of them, but an entire crowd was present.He looked closer and saw a giant mountain-like man with white transparent shirt carrying several pounds of fertilizer.

It was indeed a sight to behold, if I can say so myself.

Man dropped the bags on the ground and warned all the fan girls around him.

“You shouldn’t loiter around here if you’re not part of Gardening Club!”

Sentence ended anticlimactically and soon after, crowd dispersed. Shiki admired the power of man’s words which also implied that he is a high school student.


Tiny voice escaped Shiki’s mouth.

Mountain turned around and Shiki was almost blown away by peer pressure man created.

“Oh, hey! You’re that light boy I carried. I’m Alp, nice to meet you.”

Man’s complexity softened dramatically which made Shiki feel like a pampered princess waiting for a dessert from her butler.

“Yes...sorry about that,” Shiki let out a nervous laugh.

“Don’t worry about it, Ren always does this kind of stuff to others,” Shiki felt Alp’s laughter beneath his feet.

“When I joined the club, both Ren and Ume also put up a show for me, but in my case I got so scared I destroyed the table,”said Alp while moving bags from one side to another.

Shiki stood in one place quitely. He didn’t know how to conduct properly.

“All those shard this spark that, even now two years later I still have no idea what is that all about, but I trust Ren, she is smart as hell.”

Shiki admired Alp in this regard.

“Oh on that note, Ren is my partner.”

Without a second thought Shiki got completely wrong idea out of that sentence. Weird feeling inside his stomach culminated and wrinkles on his forehead became apparent.

“Not that kind of partner, I mean Shard partner,”Alp said with a smile on his face.

Shiki forced his brain to rewind all the things Ren talked about during her presentation but his mind went blank half way through so there was nothing to remember really.

“Oh, there she is, my queen!”

Alp lowered his boulder-like head and bowed unnaturally graciously.

The only face Shiki could produce is the one that describes a person who ate a pile of lemons.

With firm steps carefully landing on a ground and always backed with a breeze pushing her forward, Ren waltzed into a greenhouse and stood next to Alp.

“Good morning, my knight.”

The intonation, the look, the entire aura around Ren felt completely different than before. Shiki froze his lemon face onto the ground, trying to make himself disappear with strange incantation that consisted of tapping and sweating.

“Greetings, Kappa. Are you feeling better than yesterday?”

Ren’s lips gently bounced the words that swirled in the air between them.

Shiki barely muttered “Yes.”

“Don’t be late for your classes, the club room meeting will begin couple of minutes after the final class.”

The professional tone mixed with gentle aura around her put Shiki in a bizarre situation he hasn’t experienced before.

He gave a slight confirmation with his head and started walking away.

“Oh and yeah, prepare yourself cause you’re doing your first session today,” said Ren.

“Even if you pass out, I will take care of you every time!” blurted Alp.

Shiki nodded and made his way out of the greenhouse.

When he looked back, he saw Alp and Ren smiling happily while Ren ate some tomatoes that Alp gave her.

“Tomato...huh,” Shiki made a partial smiled that he squeezed out of his face.

One part of him was glad he got along with club members, but the other worried that the whole deal is so much bigger than him, which was an unmistakable truth. But it was too late for second thoughts. No matter how awkward he is, he would never back out at this stage.

He remembered a first run through the empty school corridors within the strange world. He swore he felt a familiar long-forgotten warmth, and decided to recapture it again.

Wind blew downstream and soft raindrops started breaking around him.

In a distance stood a mighty old tree that was noticeably different than others. Color of leaves was much lighter and trunk was marbled by a curious paysage.

When Shiki looked better, it seemed like it formed a smile.