Chapter 8:

Daybreak rendezvous

Dive into the Night

Leon was the last to enter the village after his new teammates. May and Hayate had stopped arguing, however Hayate was still wearing a sour expression on his face. Leon continued to look around after they returned, as he walked towards where Kaz was waiting. Leon looked down to check the time as he walked, it was already 11:45 AM. Kaz addressed everyone as Leon joined the group.Bookmark here

“Now, while we are still unaware of the exact number of people Oire brought into the Dream, it is a relief to have our ranks bolstered by a new teammate. Now we should address the other priority issue we face at the moment,” said Kaz before he turned to Touma. “I would like your opinion on the it as well, Touma.”Bookmark here

“Are you sure, Kaz? I think you would have a good understanding of it,” Touma replied somewhat quietly.Bookmark here

“Yes, I trust your judgement on this.”Bookmark here

Touma stepped forward and faced the rest of the team, he opened his book and created a map of the dream identical to the one Oire showed.Bookmark here

“From what Oire told us, the Nightmares appear on two conditions. The first is that they are both formed from and are drawn towards strong emotions. The second is that they are drawn to action or commotion.”Bookmark here

“Leon, you mentioned as we returned that you have only been present in the Dream for the past three nights, correct?” Kaz asked.Bookmark here

“Yeah, and that I’ve been to two other places in the Dream.”Bookmark here

“Right,” Touma continued. “We had only patrolled the city due to its massive size, which explains why we had not encountered Leon until now. However even with all this time in the city, we had only ever seen three large Nightmares. One last week, and the two we witnessed tonight. This ‘goal’ of cleansing the Dream doesn’t appear to be feasible with our current intel. To make matters worse, getting in contact with Oire is more or less impossible.”Bookmark here

“That guy just appears whenever he wants, what’s his deal anyway?” Hayate chimes in.Bookmark here

“Unfortunately, we still lack many answers. Perhaps we should leave for now, we have already spent a great deal of time within the Dream, we should not ignore Oire’s warning,” Kaz suggested.Bookmark here

Kaz looked over to Leon and noticed that he was somewhat distracted, as he occasionally looked around the village while the others were talking.Bookmark here

“Leon, is something the matter? You have been looking around for quite some time now.”Bookmark here

The others also turned to observe Leon, his eyes darted around as if he was looking for something.Bookmark here

“Do you guys not feel like you’re being watched when you’re here?” Leon asked.Bookmark here

“No, although I would say that my perception of hidden or low visibility objects is quite poor,” Kaz said in response.Bookmark here

“I always thought the village was the safest area in the Dream,” said Saya as she looked around.Bookmark here

“Hmm,” May thought for a second. “You sure you're just not paranoid?"Bookmark here

Leon looked around and tried to focus, he could see something moving around. It transitioned between moving slowly and darting around quickly. Regardless, it was clear it was observing the group. Leon noticed that he was still carrying his spear with him. He turned away from the group as he dematerialized his weapon before walking forward several steps.Bookmark here

“Hey,” Leon called out. “I know you’re out there. You’ve been watching us for a while now. You can come out, we’re not here to fight.”Bookmark here

“Who’s the new guy talking to?” Hayate asked as he pointed at Leon.Bookmark here

“Um, if you’re tired from your multiple fights, perhaps you should leave the Dream and get some rest,” said Touma.Bookmark here

“Maybe the loss against Kaz was too much for him,” added Saya.Bookmark here

Leon angrily turned around.Bookmark here

“Hey can the three of you shut up?! Like there is clearly something here, just open your eyes it’s not that hard! Like it would be great if- “Bookmark here

Leon turned back around in the middle of his sentence and stopped talking mid sentence. The other members of the group also fell silent. A small creature had materialized about a metre in front of Leon. The creature resembled a white fox in both appearance and size, but it was slightly transparent with a slight green aura surrounding it.Bookmark here

“Cute,” said May.Bookmark here

Leon looked down at the creature, as he looked closer he also noticed various different animals fading in and out close to it. All of the creatures shared the same green aura and transparency, however the fox was significantly larger than the other animals.Bookmark here

“So you’re the one who’s been watching us this whole time? Who exactly are you?”Bookmark here

“We are not one,” the fox finally spoke, it’s voice projecting into the minds of the group. “We represent the fauna of the world, of past and present. We serve as the caretakers of the realm. However long it should take, the Dream will always renew.”Bookmark here

“So, you just fix the Dream?” Leon asked.Bookmark here

“Our role is not so simple. We maintain the Dream; our job is that to restore the reflection of the world. Be it repairs, or renovations, our work is endless.”Bookmark here

Leon remembered how the signs of his battle in the forest were gone by the next night, as if no battle had taken place.Bookmark here

“However, our duties have been challenged by the appearance of invaders. They destroy that which we maintain, their very presence corrodes the Dream.”Bookmark here

“The Nightmares.”Bookmark here

Kaz stepped up beside Leon and addressed the spirit.Bookmark here

“Please, tell us what you know about these creatures,” Kaz continued.Bookmark here

“We know where they appear, but we do not know their origins. We only know that their advent brought a ring of darkness to this realm. We lack the ability to combat these creatures, for they draw their strength from the Dream itself. “Bookmark here

“And so you were observing us,” said Leon. “You were there when we defeated the bird golem. “Bookmark here

“You are correct. Long have we been aware of the power of humans, for it is their influence that continues to shape the Dream.”Bookmark here

“Then perhaps we can make a deal then.”Bookmark here

The fox spirit tilted its head as if looking at Leon with a puzzled expression.Bookmark here

“We are willing to listen.”Bookmark here

“You wish to maintain and repair the Dream, while we’re looking to eradicate the Nightmares from the Dream. If you know where the Nightmares appear in the Dream, you can guide us to them while we kill them in your place."Bookmark here

“Intriguing indeed, and an offer we will accept. We are everywhere in the Dream, call for us and we shall appear; granted you have already removed any Nightmare creature from the surrounding area.”Bookmark here

Kaz turns and addresses Leon.Bookmark here

“You are quite the negotiator.”Bookmark here

“Well I’m used to being the guy who has to order food for the group.”Bookmark here

Kaz looked at his arm and realized the time.Bookmark here

“We really should be leaving, staying this long may not be good.”Bookmark here

“Alright,” Leon replied before he turned back to the spirit fox. “Hey just one more thing, do you know where Oire is?”Bookmark here

“That we have little knowledge of.”Bookmark here

“What."Bookmark here

The fox's answer caught Leon off guard.Bookmark here

“He may be of the Dream, but his origins lie with humanity. We may share our place within the Dream, but our paths rarely cross,” the spirit fox paused for a moment. “His presence had been dormant for quite some time; it is somewhat perplexing that he appeared once more.”Bookmark here

As he walked away from the fox spirit, Leon found the creature’s last words somewhat strange. What did it mean when it said that he had been dormant? Is it just because he became active again after pulling us into the Dream? Bookmark here

The fox bowed its head as the group made their way back over to one of the houses.Bookmark here

“We shall meet again in another night, when the Dream renews once more.”Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

As the other members exited the Dream, Kaz and Leon were the last two to leave. Kaz stopped Leon as they were about to exit.Bookmark here

“Leon, there is one more thing I would like to tell you about.”Bookmark here

Leon turned around.Bookmark here

“While I have already spoken to the other members about this topic, it is important that you are also aware,” Kaz continued. “I have already met with the others in reality, where we can plan how we operate within the Dream. Time flows somewhat differently within here, so it may be wise to use any available time to us."Bookmark here

“Uh, sure. How would I find you?"Bookmark here

Leon instinctively reached for his phone, before he realized that input in the Dream does not translate to reality.Bookmark here

“If you prefer for me to get in contact with you, I shall oblige as best I can. However, if you prefer I contact you instead, it may be a bit easier,” Kaz added. “Now I cannot hand you one of my business cards seeing as we are still in the Dream; however, I take it that you have at least heard of the Ryusei Group?”Bookmark here

Leon thought for a moment. The name did sound familiar, but where have I seen or heard it before? He said ‘group’ so it must be some sort of large organization, but I don’t have a clue what it could be.Bookmark here

“I believe I heard of the name, but I just can’t put any images to words right now.”Bookmark here

“That is quite alright,” said Kaz. “You should be able to easily find them online, from their site you will be able to send an email to the group directly. Address your email to Kazuya and sign your name so I am aware the message belongs to you, I will handle the rest.”Bookmark here

“Alright then,” Leon replied. “So what’s our next plan of action, leader?”Bookmark here

“Kaz is just fine. Now, try to remember to send that email when you wake up.”Bookmark here

Kaz paused and chuckled.Bookmark here

“Ah, this is under the assumption that your body reacts well to overexposure.”Bookmark here

“Overexposure?” Leon said with a puzzled expression.Bookmark here

“You do remember Oire’s advice, about limiting our time exploring the Dream? Aside from taking advantage of time, it is the other reason we are arranging meetings in reality. However, you may not have the same experience as any of us, so perhaps you may be perfectly fine. It may be best if you experience it yourself.”Bookmark here

Kaz opened the exit door using the keyhole and stepped inside. Leon walked forward and entered the door after him.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Leon opened his eyes, he laid on his bed as he started at the ceiling. He remembered the name that Kaz told him to find. Bookmark here

Guess I should find out who these guys are. Leon thought to himself as he laid still. Bookmark here

After several minutes had passed, Leon finally decided to turn over to the side of his bed to get his phone.Bookmark here

“Eh?”Bookmark here

Leon knew he had put in the same level of effort and strength to turn over in his bed like he had done many times, but his body did not move. Leon exerted more strength as he tried to turn to his side, before he felt a wave of soreness and pain course through his entire body. He had managed to turn over, but now he was lying on his stomach. Grabbing his phone, Leon exerted the same amount of strength and turned himself onto his back again. He placed more strength into his arms as he pushed himself to sit up in his bed. The three movements took Leon around a minute and left him breathing heavily.Bookmark here

“Well, that was painful.”Bookmark here

Whenever Leon moved any part of his body, it felt as if he was wading through water. As if his entire body was being weighed down by some invisible force. He opened his phone and looked at the time, it was just past 12. Opening a browser on his phone, Leon put in a search for the Ryusei group and began to read.Bookmark here

“The Ryusei Group is an international business conglomerate that is currently led by Hirotaka Ryusei. The organization has specializations in a variety of sectors, including retail businesses, technology, manufacturing, food services, and even defence contracting. Their net worth is estimated to be $200 billion USD."Bookmark here

Leon quickly did a double take as he reread the last sentence.Bookmark here

“Holy… $200 billion? These guys are huge, just what kind of connection does Kaz have?"Bookmark here

Leon went over to the conglomerate’s main site, where he quickly located the contact section.Bookmark here

“Well there it is, just like Kaz said. Alright then.”Bookmark here

Leon filled in the sections with his info, only adding Kazuya as the subject and the body. He signed the email with his full name before he sent it.Bookmark here

“He did add that he would handle the rest, so I guess it’s just back to waiting.”Bookmark here

Leon stared out his window for a minute, admiring another cloudless sunny day.Bookmark here

“I guess I’ll go make some food.”Bookmark here

He attempted to scoot himself slowly to the side of his bed, but gave up after three moves and laid back down.Bookmark here

“Yeah… I think I’ll just wait a bit before I try that again.”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.