Chapter 6:

Dry Thunderstorm

Crimson Core

Crimson Resonance.Bookmark here

[Crimson Resonance] is a number that represents a strength of a bond between the Active Shard carriers that form an Active Shard pair. The higher the number is, the more [Loose Mana] can The Stabilizer collect in order to ignite the [Crimson Core].Bookmark here

It is a lot easier to ignite [Crimson Core] if there is a lot of Mana to collect so it is of upmost importance that connection is established between pair with high CR number.Bookmark here

Finding out the CR number is too complex and involves a continuous usage of words such as “quantum”, “relative” and “infinity”, so the entire mathematical process won’t be covered within the pages of this book.Bookmark here

However, luckily for us there is a shortcut in form of a sharp dressed boy named Omicron. The sign of Omicron has the ability to detect other signs in their vicinity.Bookmark here

Additionally, they are able to tell if a pair’s CR is high or low based purely on observation of the pair. While watching a movie, reading a manga or a light novel it is often obvious that two people like each other even though the two of them aren’t aware of that themselves.Bookmark here

Just like that, Omicrons are the ones that are able to read the novel of other people’s lives.Bookmark here

It’s both curse and a blessing in knowing that your partner is better off with someone else.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Couple of days had passed since Shiki’s first session into the [World Within]. Now he has been spending time lazing out in the classroom like every other high school student.Bookmark here

Math and Science classes in Bohr Academy were harder than his previous high school so he focused on those as much as he could. On the other hand the language class and history were much easier so he could relax a bit during those classes.Bookmark here

He was in the same class as Alp and Ume, while Ren and Omi were in completely separate ones.Bookmark here

Occasionally a small flyer made of paper would hit Shiki’s hand or chest or sometimes even head, that flew from Alp’s seat. He would ask him if he’s feeling okay, feeling bored or needs a refreshment from cafeteria.Bookmark here

Teachers would surely notice the flyer flying from the first row to the right, but nobody wanted to scold Alp. They knew his intentions are positive and that was good enough for them.Bookmark here

Ume was usually unexpectedly quiet, sitting in the opposite end of the classroom compared to Shiki. She just drew some cartoon creatures, minding her own business.Bookmark here

That changed a bit few days ago when she just stood up, announced to a girl that was sitting in a desk next to Shiki that it’s “her spot” and a poor girl just swapped seats with her.Bookmark here

Not even teacher could stop her cause Alp gave them “the look”. From this point onward, Ume was sitting next to Shiki and did the exact same things as she used to.Bookmark here

After the class, Shiki would go to the club room where Ren and her wind waited for him, with Omi dressed in suit nobody else would buy or even think about wearing.Bookmark here

Nothing of significance was happening, until one day, Shiki went to the club room…Bookmark here

“Hey Omi, where is the president?” asked Shiki while closing the door behind him.Bookmark here

“Hey Kap, she’s with Alp next door, they are having a seshion.” said OmiBookmark here

“Oh, is it something serious?”Bookmark here

“I don’t know, there are girls from gardening club, Alp wanted to take care of it himselve,” Omi replied.Bookmark here

“I keep thinking about stuff we’ve seen out there,” Shiki started talking about the session for the first time,”those things we destroyed to get mana.”Bookmark here

“Shallows?” Omi asked.Bookmark here

Shiki gave him a confused look because now he wasn’t sure if they are really called shallows or it’s the last word thing Omi has going for him.Bookmark here

“What are they? Ume mentioned them being memories or something like that,” Shiki did his best to elaborate the question.Bookmark here

“They are, but at the same time not rilly,” Omi stretched his hands behind his head and continued, “they represent what a person did, what they wanted to do and specifically in your case what he wanted to keep doing indefinetelly.”Bookmark here

Shiki listened quietly and shook his head in affirmation.Bookmark here

“Cyn knows way more about this stuff, but from my experience it really is best to do what pres told you, not to think too much about at,” he placed his hand on a chin, clearly containing himself from saying more than he should.Bookmark here

“I see…” Shiki remembered that yesterday Ume sent him a text message, thanking him for not talking about [Crimson Core] and that he should forget what he saw in that train.Bookmark here

Silence filled the room. Omi was still scratching his chin while looking at the single spot at the far end of the classroom. He was wearing his static expression like a mask and didn’t budge, even when a fly landed on his other hand.Bookmark here

“I should probably talk to Cyn then...” Shiki turned around and headed towards the exit.Bookmark here

“Take care of Ume for me, Kappy,” Omi added when Shiki grabbed the handle.Bookmark here

“I will.”Bookmark here

Shiki gave a quick reply and left the room.Bookmark here

He walked slowly to the end of the hallway looking at various paintings on the wall. The hallway itself was much darker and wider compared to the first time he ran through it. He noticed that the paintings changed from various fruit back to various shapes.Bookmark here

“Why fruit of all things?” he muttered to himself while going downstairs, refusing to make a connection with Umeko’s plum symbol.Bookmark here

He passed by a big wooden board which had readable flyers and posters this time. The Psychology Club pamphlet was missing.Bookmark here

“Guess we’re not recruiting any more,” he continued down the hallway to the infirmary.Bookmark here

He knocked several times and entered the room.Bookmark here

“Excuse me…”Bookmark here

Cyn was smoking a cigarette at the open window while looking at the vast academy gardens. She noticed someone has entered the room so she quickly extinguished her cigarette and threw it into a plastic glass filled with water.Bookmark here

“Oh hey Kapptain my Kapptain, I was wondering when would you show up,” said Cyn with gentle face.Bookmark here

Shiki had no idea what to do with his legs inside the infirmary, but luckily Cyn pushed a chair towards him and offered a seat.Bookmark here

“Tell me, is it about your first trip to [World Within]? Ren told me most of the details, but I would like to hear it from you as well.”Bookmark here

Cyn looked straight at Shiki with her pale-colored eyes that stood out from anything he had seen so far. He got to know her as a kind and thoughtful person but her eyes gave away her mysterious and almost cold-blooded second nature.Bookmark here

I better look away before she starts to magically read my mind, he thought. Sometimes even the mind of people with strong analytical background can produce poor conclusions.Bookmark here

“We started on a train station in the middle of nowhere and I had that big turtle shell on my back and it was really scary and…” Shiki squeezed out everything that came to his mind and even repeated couple of things he already said.Bookmark here

Cyn listened to his every word carefully and started talking when he finished.Bookmark here

“Umeko deducted correctly. When a [World Within] has few details that seem to constantly recur, it’s most likely a [Looped Entrance]. Detecting an “intruder object” in that case is crucial and she did so flawlessly,” Cyn explained while cleaning small particles of ash off her black jeans.Bookmark here

“So those “loops” are a common thing?”Bookmark here

“As common as human’s tendency to constantly rewind and play the same clip in their heads over and over again,” replied Cyn as she put away couple of files from the top of her desk to the bottom drawer.Bookmark here

He already got the answer for shadows that was somewhat acceptable, but something else bothered him more.Bookmark here

“Is it possible to take the specific object into the [World Within]?”Bookmark here

Shiki thought about a napkin that Ume gave him. It was the same one that found it’s way into his pocket.Bookmark here

“No, not really. Everything within the [World Within] is generated based on inactive shard’s feelings. That is why you keep the same clothes, because in the shard carrier’s mind, those clothes represent who you are and are reciprocated onto the world,” Cyn leaned a little to the right, thinking more about the problem at hand.Bookmark here

She tapped her knee with tops of her fingers and averted her look towards the beds on the left.”Bookmark here

“The only possibility is that if you aggressively waved with an object in front of an inactive shard carrier, but even then, people tend to ignore such things when they are too busy with their inner battles.”Bookmark here

Shiki became vividly anxious, instead of an answer he only got more questions. Cyn noticed his awkward reaction and decided to probe him further.Bookmark here

“You managed to transfer something?” Her eyes shined with a special glow, a characteristic that share all knowledge-starving scientists.Bookmark here

He was taken aback. This is why he refused to talk about the subject for days. Feeling like he did something wrong or even illegal filled his thoughts. On the other hand, if Ume somehow took a napkin from him, that would mean that she did something wrong, not him. He was the victim in this story, not the wrongdoer.Bookmark here

“Actually….” Suddenly Ume bashed through the doors of the infirmary.Bookmark here

“Turtleboy, we have a code red, let’s go,” commanded Ume and completely ignored Cyn that was sitting right across Shiki.Bookmark here

“Oh what? I mean ok,” Shiki found himself bewildered of how impeccable Ume’s timing was.Bookmark here

She grabbed his hand and pulled him out of the infirmary.Bookmark here

Cyn took one cigarette from the box and lit it in the corner of the room.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

They ran through the hallway as fast as they could. She held Shiki’ s hand tightly and gave his weak legs even more energy than they ever had.Bookmark here

They kept running until the last atom of strength abandoned his legs but somehow he still kept going.Bookmark here

Soon after, his steps became heavy as if he was forcing his way through the snowstorm.Bookmark here

At some point his movement seized completely.Bookmark here

He caught a glance of paintings on the wall. Again, they changed from shapes to fruit. But all the fruits were colored in wrong tones. Apples turned to deep green, bananas turned to purple and oranges became blue as the sky.Bookmark here

Not to mention they weren’t nicely placed within the wooden basket. They were scattered around the painting.Bookmark here

“I’m stuck within my own world again,” only one plausible explanation came to Shiki’s mind.Bookmark here

As he looked closely, he noticed that Ume’s appearance has changed as well.Bookmark here

Her hair grew to the length of her back and turned form gold to black. Her height was now a bit shorter and she gained some weight.Bookmark here

She let go of Shiki’s hand and in the space between them, strings of red cloth emerged from her ever distancing palm which started to weave around Shiki.Bookmark here

His motionless corpus waited to be engulfed into a soft sea of red yet again.Bookmark here

Girl in front of him stopped moving as well.Bookmark here

He recognized her figure from behind but couldn’t spell her name with his lips.Bookmark here

He was afraid.Bookmark here

He forgot why he even started running in a first place.Bookmark here

Cocoon left an opening on it’s top, as well as one on the bottom.Bookmark here

Ir reminded him of a turtle shell.Bookmark here

He closed his eyes and imagined a muffled sound of thunder.Bookmark here

It was there, somewhere in the distance.Bookmark here

If only he was able to reach it.Bookmark here

A single thought sparked through the mechanism of his mind. He created a landspout once, maybe he could do it again.Bookmark here

He reimagined a feeling that fluctuated through his body.Bookmark here

Faint scent of plum filled his nostrils.Bookmark here

He opened his eyes and realized that he is being led by Ume’s hand to the entrance of the club room.Bookmark here

“Here we are. As I said, prez took this session real bad so we have to hop in,” Ume tried to catch her breath.Bookmark here

“Umm...Ume?” Shiki looked at her like he sees her for the first time in his life.Bookmark here

“What? Stop makin’ that look, it’s creepin’ me out, let’s go inside,” Ume quickly opened the door to the club room.Bookmark here

Ren was sitting with her face covered by her hands, and Alp was right beside her comforting her.Bookmark here

Omi stood at the entrance to a neighbor room.Bookmark here

“Pres took this session really bathly,” he said with a pale face, “this is a really tough one, two shards share the same [Crimson Core], probsably.”Bookmark here

Shiki still felt dazed from the spontaneous entering into his own world, as he would call it when thinking about it, so he didn’t quite understand the predicament his club members were a part of.Bookmark here

Ume quickly entered the other room and started yelling at two girls that were sitting there.Bookmark here

“What have you done to her?! Say it!” she couldn’t control herself even though she knew all too well the risks of traversing such places.Bookmark here

“Ume, calm thown,” Omi held her tightly by her hand, “Ren was aware of the severity of this case, but still went in fully knoewing.”Bookmark here

“Don’t touch me!” she let go of Omi and sat across the two girls without a word.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry, we’ll leave…” one of the girls started talking as she was slowly getting up from the chair.Bookmark here

“And cancel all the hard work pres put in to help you? Not a chance.”Bookmark here

Ume yelled Shiki’s name and commanded him to sit next to her. He stumbled with each step as if he walking over a pile of eggs till he finally sat besides Ume.Bookmark here

“I need you right now Kap, stay with me,” Ume glanced at obviously nervestruck Shiki that tried to keep it together.Bookmark here

In reality he didn’t really think about anything. Like a village after a heavy thunderstorm, his feelings got washed away with the rain. One could argue he was in much better shape to enter [World Within] than the last time.Bookmark here

“Tell me, what is going on?” Ume switched her tone, completely focused on helping Ren.Bookmark here

One of the girls started talking, “me and my friend A..” Ume quickly stopped the girl by warning her,” no names please.”Bookmark here

Girl, clearly shaken from what happened took her command to her scaredy heart and complied to the request.Bookmark here

“We fell in love with the same guy. But in time it got really ugly...we did bad things to each other behind their back and…” as the girl spoke, chip like object started emitting pale blueish light.Bookmark here

“Kappa, close your eyes,” Ume whispered gently as she grabbed Shiki’s hand.Bookmark here

Warmth of her hand reminded him that a small bizarre-looking girl was indeed his partner.Bookmark here

A partner that he almost ratted out to Cyn.Bookmark here

A partner that he almost fell in love with.Bookmark here

A partner he took away from Omi.Bookmark here

A partner that changed her shape into a girl he once knew.
You can resume reading from this paragraph.