Chapter 10:

The quiet mountain

Dive into the Night

Everyone’s drinks had arrived at the table, in addition to multiple plates of snacks. Leon took a sip of his drink as he finished talking.Bookmark here

“And that is everything that I know so far,” he said.Bookmark here

“Thank you for sharing your own experience, Leon,” said Kaz. “Now, it may not have been much of an update, but we do have more actionable intel to work off of.”Bookmark here

Saya raised her hand.Bookmark here

“So what should we do about tonight? Are we going to ask for advice from that fox that May finds cute?”Bookmark here

“It is cute though,” said May quietly.Bookmark here

“So far it would appear to be our best option,” said Kaz. “Those spirits also appear to function as messengers, so we can use them as communication within the Dream should someone arrive late or become separated.”Bookmark here

Kaz looked at his watch before he continued talking.Bookmark here

“Seems like we are doing well on time, so we can also discuss tactics before we fight together. Touma and I will continue to coordinate our strategies while Saya and I will continue to act as the first line of defence. Hayate will continue to act as our primary attacker from the front. Our difference now is that Leon’s fighting style appears to compliment May’s, so I would trust you two with hit-and-run tactics and sneak attacks.”Bookmark here

“Same as before then,” said May.Bookmark here

Leon gave a quick thumbs up.Bookmark here

“Good, then we shall meet tonight around 12AM. Now the café is closed for the entire day, so you are free to relax here until you wish to depart.”Bookmark here

Hayate got up and adjusted his clothes.Bookmark here

“Thanks for the drinks Kaz, but I gotta get back to the dojo. If I got time to train, I gotta use it.”Bookmark here

“I should also go too,” said Saya. “I wouldn’t want to fall behind on my studies.”Bookmark here

Kaz waves Hayate and Saya goodbye before he sat back down to finish his drink with Leon, May, and Touma. May finished her drink as she sent out a text message, she returned her phone to her pocket as she got up and walked to the door.Bookmark here

“Thanks, Kaz,” said May as she waved before exiting the café.Bookmark here

Leon noticed that Touma continued to watch May as she entered her SUV and was driven off.Bookmark here

“Something wrong, Touma?” Leon asked.Bookmark here

“Ah,” Touma said in a surprised tone. “No, it’s nothing. Just a bit curious about how May always has that car on standby to drive her home.”Bookmark here

“It’s not good to snoop, Touma,” said Kaz as he finished his own drink.Bookmark here

“Not snooping, just curious; that’s all.”Bookmark here

“Also are you sure you are fine with staying this long? You did mention that your study load was similar to Saya’s.” Kaz asked.Bookmark here

“I… really don’t want to, but it’ll probably be bad if I put it off.” Bookmark here

Touma got up as he finished his drink.Bookmark here

“Thank you Kaz, I’ll … see you guys tonight,” Touma said as he walked away from the table.Bookmark here

Kaz and Leon waved as Touma left the café. Kaz turned back over to Leon.Bookmark here

“You know, despite the fact that we fought together and even against each other; we still never had a proper conversation together,” said Kaz.Bookmark here

“I guess we just never really had the time, huh?”Bookmark here

“It is quite alright. Despite how it may come across, I am not great at making simple conversation. I shadowed my father to learn much of how our business functions, as a result I have assimilated much of his mannerisms and methods of speaking. Now, I would assume from your appearance that you are a student, although I would understand if you are uncomfortable in speaking about your private life.”Bookmark here

“No, it’s alright. Although, uh. My studies at this time are … a bit unusual.”Bookmark here

Leon described the same situation he originally explained to Kelvin before Leon was dragged into the Dream.Bookmark here

“That does certainly sound most unfortunate, you have my condolences.”Bookmark here

“How about you?” Leon asked. “Are you still in school?”Bookmark here

“I am currently in a business program. I switched to part-time studies in order to assist in the family business. That does remind me that May is also in a similar program.”Bookmark here

“Oh,” Leon replied in surprise. “You’ve spoken to the others about this as well?”Bookmark here

“Ah, yes. I can tell you about it if you wish, although I would think that they would prefer to speak to you about it themselves.”Bookmark here

“It’s okay, you can tell me. I can always ask them to elaborate if I wanted to know more, right?”Bookmark here

“Very well. If I recall, Touma spoke about his studies in criminology and law. Saya is currently in medical studies. Hayate is the only one who is not in a program, he is assisting at his family’s dojo."Bookmark here

“Nearly everyone’s doing something different.”Bookmark here

“Indeed, we are quite a diverse group. With all of our paths heading in different directions, perhaps then it is fate or destiny that brought us together in the Dream,” Kaz chuckled.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Leon and Kaz continued their conversation, speaking on a variety of topics and quickly losing track of time.Bookmark here

“I would definitely recommend him, all of his topics are just so interesting to listen to,” said Leon.Bookmark here

“I see, I see. Shinigami Sensei, correct? I will certainly look into him when I return home. A variety in philosophy is essential to keeping an open mind,” Kaz replied.Bookmark here

Kaz caught a glimpse of the clock on the wall and realized that a couple of hours had already gone by.Bookmark here

“It would appear that we talked for far longer than we intended,” Kaz said as he got up from his seat.Bookmark here

Leon also got up from his seat as he and Kaz prepared to leave the café.Bookmark here

“It was a good conversation; I’m surprised we had so much to talk about.”Bookmark here

“Indeed, it would seem that many of our interests align. Should we have time after our business in the Dream, I would like to speak of it again.”Bookmark here

Leon and Kaz walked over to the door, Kaz waved Leon goodbye as Leon walked over to his car.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Leon walked through the door and arrived at the village. He looked at his arm and realized it was only 11:45PM. Leon looked around and called out to the spirit animals. Following a short delay, a small spirit duck materialized in front of Leon.Bookmark here

“Greetings, human wanderer of the Dream. What task do you seek of us?” the spirit duck asked.Bookmark here

“I will be training just outside of the village; can you inform me if a group of five humans enter?”Bookmark here

“It shall be done.”Bookmark here

Leon walked outside of the village and began to practice his spear techniques. He experimented with swings, sweeps, and throws. As he practiced throws into swings, he noticed that there was a slight delay between a new spear appearing in his hand and his old spear disappearing. Leon made a note of this in his head as he continued training. After a while, the spirit duck materialized in front of him.Bookmark here

“The other humans have arrived.”Bookmark here

“Thank you,” Leon replied as he dematerialized his spear.Bookmark here

Leon walked back into the village and met up with the rest of the group. Kaz confirmed everyone was present before he called to the spirit fox, who materialized before the group after a short delay.Bookmark here

“Greetings, human wanderers of the Dream. What task do you seek of us?” the spirit fox asked the same question as the duck.Bookmark here

“Once again we are here to hunt the Nightmares that plague the Dream,” Kaz responded. “We would like you to point us in the direction of the current largest threat.”Bookmark here

“Very well.”Bookmark here

The spirit fox closed its eyes as the green aura around it began to intensify. After a short while, the fox opened its eyes and looked at Kaz.Bookmark here

“A thick cloud has descended on the mountain valley; it acts as cover for a threat that is growing in strength.”Bookmark here

“So there’s only one enemy in the valley?” Leon asked.Bookmark here

“We do not know. Our assessment currently marks this area as the one of highest concern, however we are unable to approach and verify.”Bookmark here

“Alright everyone, you heard the fox. We are going to the mountains!” Kaz declared.Bookmark here

As everyone began to walk towards the village houses, Leon noticed that May was crouched in front of the fox spirit.Bookmark here

“Hey May, everyone’s already going.”Bookmark here

“I want to fluff it,” May said quietly.Bookmark here

“Eh?”Bookmark here

May reached her hands towards the fox spirit, but her hands went straight through the spirit’s body.Bookmark here

“We apologize, for our bodies lack a corporeal form. We are only able to interact with objects within the Dream.”Bookmark here

May said nothing as he quickly got up and walked past Leon. He noticed that she was pouting as she walked by.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Leon was the last to arrive in the mountain region. The house used as the teleport point was situated right at the base of the first mountain. Kaz turned to face the group as everyone looked around the mountain. The valley fog was already visible from the house.Bookmark here

“Alright, since we are exploring the valley there is no need to worry about altitude sickness or low air pressure. Although we should still stick together as the fog is going to heavily drop visibility,” Kaz said before he turned to Touma. “Touma, I’m counting on you.”Bookmark here

Touma nodded and summoned the map of the Dream.Bookmark here

“Now, from what Oire told us, the mountain range is quite a large area. However, … we are here.”Bookmark here

Touma pointed at a section in between mountains on the map.Bookmark here

“Like in reality, there are valleys situated between mountains. I will try to map out the valley as we go so we can find this Nightmare easier. So please … don’t go wandering off.”Bookmark here

The group proceeded into the mountain valley. The heavy fog limited their visibility to around fifty metres in all directions. The mountain valley was nearly silent, save for a low rumbling in the distance. As Leon entered the fog, he felt somewhat uncomfortable. Almost as if someone was already watching him. Bookmark here

“Sounds like we're fighting another big one?” Hayate asked as he drew his sword. “I can’t wait to cut em’ apart.”Bookmark here

“Do not be quick to rush to a conclusion, Hayate. We are still unsure about the amount of enemies we will be facing,” said Kaz.Bookmark here

“Only thing we can say for sure is that this place is huge,” said Leon. “We’ve been walking for a while and we haven’t reached the other side of the valley yet.”Bookmark here

“We are sticking to the wall, but … we still can’t see anything," said ToumaBookmark here

As the group continued walking, Leon noticed something odd.Bookmark here

“Kaz, I hear something,” he quickly said.Bookmark here

The entire group stopped and turned to look at Leon.Bookmark here

“You mean something besides this constant rumbling?” asked Hayate.Bookmark here

“Well, what do you hear?” asked Saya.Bookmark here

Leon closed his eyes and concentrated.Bookmark here

“It’s a slight whistle, like something moving fast through air resistance. I think it’s getting closer.”Bookmark here

As Leon finished his sentence, a large object impacted the ground behind the group. They all looked back to see a large black pillar impaled into the ground.Bookmark here

“I think that was it.”Bookmark here

“Did that fall from the mountain?” Hayate asked.Bookmark here

“No…, “Touma replied as he observed the pillar. “Based on its angle, it had to have come from the within the valley. Someone or something must have thrown that.”Bookmark here

“So the coward won’t even come face us?!” Hayate shouted. “I should’ve known this Nightmare was a coward hiding in a puff of smoke.”Bookmark here

“We do not know if it has our position yet, it may be safer if we continue moving,” Kaz declared.Bookmark here

The group continued alongside the mountain at a faster pace, trying to listen out for the whistling sound that Leon spoke of.Bookmark here

“Wait, get back!” Leon cried without warning.Bookmark here

He grabbed Kaz and Saya and pulled them back. A second later, another pillar slammed into the mountainside, just above where Kaz and Saya were standing.Bookmark here

“I believe that confirms that something is targeting us,” said Kaz.Bookmark here

Leon quickly turned his head in a different direction to how the pillar was angled. He focused for a second before he quickly turned to Touma.Bookmark here

“Touma, put your shield up! Hurry!”Bookmark here

“Uh … alright!”Bookmark here

Touma raised his large shield as Leon leapt forward. He swept his spear as a large fast moving projectile flew into the group’s range. Leon’s sweep was just enough to redirect the rod away from the team and into the mountain. Leon landed after deflecting the attack and turned to Kaz.Bookmark here

“Looks like it might be more than one something.”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.