Dive into the Night
“Ah, yes. That is quite important.”
Oire floated over to one of the houses in the village, Leon got up from the ground and followed Oire over.
“To exit the dream, you place your hand inside the door’s keyhole and twist. Opening a door within the Dream through this method will allow you to return to your physical body.”
Leon looked down and noticed the keyhole just above the door’s handle.
Did I really not notice that before? He wondered.
“To enter the Dream, you will need to place your physical body into a sleeping state. The first you will see once you are asleep is a door similar to the ones that exist in the Dream, opening it will bring you back to the village. Should you choose to ignore the door, you will simply return to your sleep. Do remember that in doing so, you will not be able to access the dream until you fall asleep again.”
Leon placed his arm into the keyhole and felt a handle within, gripping the handle he prepared to turn it.
“We shall meet again in another night, during another hunt.”
Leon turned his hand and opened the door, he gazed at the darkness for a second before stepping inside.
Leon opened his eyes, he looked around and realized he was back in his bed room. Sunlight was already shining through his window. Leon picked up his phone and checked the time again, it was 8AM. Getting off of his bed, Leon raised his right arm in front of him and focused. He clenched his fist and felt nothing but air.
“Of course there’d be nothing.”
But, man. He thought. Was everything in that dream world real? I guess there’s only one way to find out.
Leon walked out of his room and began his morning routine.
Throughout the day, Leon continued to think back to his time in the Dream. Regardless if he was going for a jog, cooking, drawing, or playing games; his mind constantly wandered back to the Dream and his fight with the forest Nightmare. Eventually day turned to night and Leon found himself sitting in his bathtub surrounded by steam from the hot water.
“This Dream, it really does fit the bill for a great adventure, huh? It’s a shame the other guys won’t ever be able to join me.”
Leon thought back to his dream the day before, and the person he cannot remember. They remembered his name, but he cannot even remember if they were a boy or a girl.
“What if all of this was fated or something? Bringing me to some fantasy world so I can forget about someone I can’t even remember? Well, no point in worrying about it while I’m awake. I’ll see soon enough if this Dream is the real deal.”
Leon dried himself off and got changed. It was 10PM. After he poured himself a glass of water in his kitchen, Leon sat down at his computer. He put on a playlist of songs as he started to browse his newsfeed. Several headlines caught his eye as he scrolled.
'Cascadian region burns for the third time this year', 'Famous entrepreneur says "abandon Earth, space is the future"', 'Species H loses habitat - may go extinct like its ancestor'.
"These people really can't stop reporting the negative stuff, huh?" Leon thought out loud.
After browsing for a couple of minutes, Leon shut down his PC and turned off his lights before he got back in his bed and closed his eyes.
Something materialize in the darkness in front of Leon.
He looked around himself, nothing but darkness.
He returned his gaze to the object and focused his sight. The object formed into a door.
“Looks like he was right.”
Leon opened the door and walked in. He found himself back in the village. The fake sun was still in the same position in the middle of the sky. Leon looked at his left arm and checked the time, the display read 10:45PM.
“Seems like there’s either a delay to get in here, or it took me thirty minutes to fall asleep.”
Leon walked forward and raised his right arm, his spear materializing in his hand. He gave his spear a quick twirl before he transitioned into several spear techniques. After taking down his imaginary opponent, Leon turned around and looked up at the roof of the house where he entered. Oire was sitting on top of the house. He got up and floated down to Leon.
“How long were you aware of my presence?”
“Ever since I got here. Something about this place just keeps me on high alert,” Leon responded.
“I see; it appears I had made the right choice as you seem to be naturally attuned to the Dream.”
I am? Leon wondered to himself. Is being more aware of your surroundings really that big of a deal? Well, let’s get on with this.
“Oire, there’s one more thing I did not ask you last night. What exactly is the layout of the Dream? We can’t see the forest from this village, yet the forest seems to border the grassland.”
“You are correct, I did not explain the locations of the Dream,” Oire said calmly. “The Dream is separated into several distinct zones.”
Oire waved his hand and conjured up a map in front of Leon, marked with a number of distinct locations. He could immediately see that the grasslands encompassed the center of the map, with the village placed in the very middle of it. The second point that Leon noticed was a ring of darkness that surrounded the outer edge of the map.
“Currently we are located in the village. There is a lack of Nightmares that manifest in the grassland, thus making the village the safest location within the Dream. However, that does mean your hunts will mostly take you to one of the other locations in the Dream."
Oire continued by highlighting the left side of the map, a large section covered in various shades of natural colours.
“To the west of the grasslands is the forest, I do not believe I need to explain its appearance to you. However, what you saw was only a small part of the biome. North of both the grasslands and the forest is the tundra. It is a frozen land of somewhat varying terrain. As a result, there is little places for combatants to hide there. To the other side of the tundra and north-east of the grasslands, lies the mountain range.”
“And I’m going to assume from the colour that the south-west area is a desert.”
“Yes, your observation is correct,” Oire responded in turn.
“Then I only have two concerns, the first is the only place you haven’t covered, this large area to the south-east.”
Leon pointed to the bottom right of the map, a section completely covered in grey.
“That is the city,” Oire replied. “As the Dream reflects your world, the size of the city represents the advancement of humanity. As humanity continues to be prosperous, the city will expand with each passing generation. What was your second point of concern?”
“Those marked points near each of the biomes, were they the teleport points that connect back to this village?”
“That you are also correct. While their creation predates my time within the Dream, I am aware of their existence. Any door within the Dream can take you to another, or allows you to leave the Dream. Their function is entirely controlled by the individual user; the location they connect to is dependent on the biome you wish to travel to. The marked locations are closest access points from each biome to the village.”
“Sound like enough information to work off of, let’s go hunt some monsters.”
Leon began to walk towards the door before he paused and turned back around.
“So, how exactly do I track down a Nightmare?"
“Unfortunately I too am not keen on their exact locations within the Dream, or even the number of Nightmares that exist in the Dream."
“Some guide you are,” Leon scoffed.
“I am privy to two pieces of knowledge regarding their appearance. Nightmares manifest off of strong emotion, thus they can appear in any location at any time. Secondly, your fight with the forest Nightmare caused a great deal of commotion. I would suggest inspecting the forest again as more Nightmares may have been drawn in from your confrontation.”
“Well I’m just hunting blind at this point, but sure let’s go with the forest then.”
Leon walked over and opened the door, before he entered he turned back to Oire one more time.
“Just one more thing Oire, what is that black ring that encircles your map?”
“Unfortunately I too have no knowledge of such a phenomenon. I would simply advise you avoid it during your travels.”
Leon grimaced before he turned back around and walked through the door.
Arriving back at the forest, Leon quickly scanned his surroundings before he walked over to where he fought the large Nightmare. Before he walked out of the forest, Leon could already see several small creatures lingering around the area where the large Nightmare fell. There was about four creatures in total, three standing on all fours and one humanoid. Leon pulled back his spear arm as he aimed at the group, before he tilted his body forward as he threw the spear. The group of Nightmares only noticed the spear right before impact, it impaled one of the four-legged creatures and sent its body flying back five metres. The rest of the group turned their attention to Leon, who had dashed in following his spear. He focused his attack on another of the four-legged creatures, they were similar to a tiger in size but they had a heads that resembled that of a split jaw dragon. Leon impaled the creature on the side before he swept his spear to the side, tearing off the creature’s hind leg. The crippled Nightmare roared in pain as it attempted to create distance, Leon lunged forward to continue his attack but he was intercepted by the other four-legged Nightmare. The creature roared at Leon, at the same time the crippled Nightmare began to move into an attack position to Leon’s left. He also noticed the humanoid Nightmare had also moved to his right. They were trying to surround him.
“Three on one, that’s a bit unfair isn’t it?” Leon taunted.
He kept his eyes on the two Nightmares at his front, but he continued to listen for the one behind him. The crippled Nightmare lunged at Leon from behind, he impaled it with the back of his spear without turning around. The other four-legged Nightmare lunged immediately after, Leon flipped his spear around and slammed the body of the crippled Nightmare into the other; smashing them both to the ground. Leon turned his gaze over to the humanoid Nightmare, its defining feature was its oversized arms; roughly the same size as its body. As he took a step he noticed one of the creatures was still moving. Flipping his spear around, Leon impaled the Nightmare on the ground in the head, without breaking his gaze on the humanoid Nightmare. He ripped the spear back out and pointed it at the humanoid as the two four-legged nightmares began to fade into black mist.
“Looks like you’re the only one left.”
The humanoid Nightmare leapt towards Leon, it attempted to crush him with its giant arms. Instead of dodging, Leon blocked the attack with his spear.
“All that weight doesn’t seem to be doing you any good.”
Leon repelled the Nightmare by pushing it back before beginning his own counterattack, taking advantage of his spear to keep distance. The humanoid Nightmare was forced into a defensive stance as Leon constantly slashed and stabbed at its arms. Noticing a gap, Leon thrusted his spear at the creature’s face; piercing its head. The Nightmare responded by attempting to punch Leon, but he had already dashed behind it. Leon raised his spear and performed a full overhead slash, completely bisecting the humanoid Nightmare.