Chapter 4:

A "Tiny" Problem

Twilight Neverland: One-Shot

As the two were busy in their little dispute, Starry — Juno’s pet owl — was in a world of its own. With no one to watch over it, there was potential for it to wander off or cause trouble. However, Juno did not trouble herself with such things. Starry was a giant owl. If it was about to fly off, she would surely notice it in a second.

Except trouble doesn’t always come from afar. Sometimes it would be right beside your leg, waiting to be ignited.

Just a few feet away from them, Starry heard the sound of a squealing rodent. To its ears, it was like hearing the bell for a lunch break. It was naturally light on its feet, as a small bird would, the only giveaway was its size, but Juno wasn’t paying attention after all.

Like a predator stalking its prey, the owl carefully prowled its way to the rodent, which was nowhere to be seen. It had to rely on its ears to follow the trail.

And there it was, the squealing rat. The moment it glanced at Starry, Starry halted all its movement. If it didn’t move, then it wasn’t there — that was what the giant owl believed, but that was as believable as not moving to avoid a dinosaur’s gaze.

Naturally, the rat fled and Starry was after it. Just as it was within its range, the rat jumped and hid in a pipe connected to the building’s system.

Having a brain the size of a pea, Starry didn’t know when to stop. It thrust its giant head into the pipe, but there was no way it was going to break through. Nevertheless, it tried once again, like a dog that was oblivious to a glass door, and with each jolt, the pipe was slowly breaking apart. Even with the noise of Starry’s rock-solid head reverberating against the pipe, it still wasn’t enough to alert the two cretins busy with who knows what.

Like a butterfly flapping its wings to a hurricane, Starry stuck the pipe one final time and finally, it managed to fit its head inside. However, a new problem arose. The rat was nowhere to be seen, it was long gone, and all of Starry’s work was for naught. Now it was stuck with no one to notice it for the time being.

Attempting to escape the pipe’s captivity shook it more, the fasteners were starting to come off. Starry had no hands to support itself, it only relied on the strength of its legs.

Despite all efforts, it was still stuck.


— This pretentious prick…

Juno was tired of Nathan’s nitpicking. As much as she was one to follow the rules, she could never bring herself to follow Nathan.

— I’d rather much follow Lloyd’s antics than yours.

“For the love of God, Juno, please just follow along this one time,” Nathan pleaded, “Believe me, I would love to do this solo as you would probably too, but we’re stuck with each other for this year, so we’re just gonna have to manage.”

“You make it sound like we’re always at each other’s throats,” Juno looked at him with a blank expression.

It was true that the “team” did not exactly see eye to eye with each other, but they were friends… to an extent. They have known each other since middle school, with exception of one or two among them. But it was their first year together as a team.

“I mean, I tolerate you guys—”

“Yeah, that might just be you.”

At that point, Nathan had already lost focus on the conversation. For what felt like an entirety, he finally noticed Juno’s owl, Starry, stuck in the pipe, still trying to escape. He could not believe his eyes for a second. Naturally, he should quickly run to her rescue before a catastrophe might happen, but, for some reason, he fell numb.

The worst-case scenario was flashing before his eyes.

Not being a talkative halfwit, Juno noticed Nathan’s strange shift in expression but didn’t make much of it other than he just quit. She went back and held her monocle to check on the little creature. It was still there. She looked back at Nathan, out of concern, and he was still in his petrified state. Then, she noticed his eyes were looking elsewhere.

“What are you looking at—”

She stood back up again and turned around.

“Oh no!!”

Much to her shock at seeing her pet owl’s head shoved into something as small as a pipe, she immediately ran to its rescue.

“Why didn’t you say anything sooner?” She looked at Nathan.

No response.

The fear that this situation might become bigger began to swell up. If the pipe was to break, it would surely fall, probably alerting the Dragooun. Alerting it wouldn’t be much of a problem, but if it were to scare it…

Juno couldn’t imagine what would happen.

“Nate!” She called out to him, “Can you hurry up and give me a hand here? Use your ability or something.”

Environmental Manipulation, the ability to manipulate or shift pre-existing objects to whatever the user wanted, granted their imagination doesn’t stray far. That was Nathan’s power. It was nothing special, but it was quite handy in various things. And now, it was needed more than ever.

He swallowed his tongue and quickly reached for his pen in the blazer’s pocket.

But it was already too late.

All it took was Starry giving itself a final pull and all hell broke loose. The giant mess of an owl was finally free, but so was the pipe attached to the building. And so, like pieces of domino, the nails started to come off, and one wreck led to another.

Nathan hurried over to the edge of the building to eye the falling pipe. If he played his cards right, the worst-case scenario might be prevented. He waved his pen, a platinum fountain, in the air and started writing.

Words took form right in front of him but they weren’t going to take effect until the sentence was over — granted it was a detailed one.

He tried bending the pipe backward, to do anything to prevent it from hitting the ground. The noise from the nails coming off was already too much, but that didn’t necessarily mean the dragooun was long gone. It was still just a sound to it.

Using his special techniques, Nathan felt immense fatigue. Writing required exerting a lot of energy, especially mental energy. Nevertheless, he held onto the bent pipe like a man literally holding onto it with a rope. Even the pen had its own energy as well, it was starting to feel heavy in his hand.

It wasn’t always this exhausting. Earlier, he bent the street light to his will with little effort. The difference this time was that he panicked, causing his thoughts to be distorted.

“Watch out!” Juno called out to him.

Before he could heed her warning, he was already in danger. His strength wasn’t enough. Instead of pulling the pipe to his side, he was the one being pulled. A slight slip up from the edge and he immediately lost his balance.

He was done for.

However, unlike Nathan, Juno wasn’t one to lose her thoughts in tough situations. She unbuttoned her blazer, grabbing her special pen from the inside pocket, and then set up her book on the ground. Quickly flipping through the pages, she got back to the page about summoning circles. Even though she had most of the spells used in her writing memorized, nothing was as efficient as transcribing the chants straight from the book — that was why she kept it with her at all times.

— Yes, that’s it.

Relief seemed all over her as she finally found the right spell.

[Moonlight Shade Seal]

“I am the envoy of Vishnu,” she began writing the words she chanted, “Defying all there is that is sacrilegious, I call upon thee. By the tool of creation, thy power shall turn to my mind of rest and soul of purity. Henceforth this chant brings, Moonlight Shade Seal.

For what felt like an eternity, Nathan found himself almost facing the ground floor. He had already accepted his failure. If he didn’t die, he’d be stuck in the hospital for weeks, or even months.

But that wasn’t going to happen, for Juno’s spell finally worked.

Instead of slamming into the ground, Nathan’s fall was halted by an invisible force. Opening his eyes, he found himself standing atop a faint round surface, it mimicked a summoning circle (but it wasn’t quite one as it summoned no one). As he restored his balance, the circle floated upwards, back to the roof of the building.

Back on the surface, Juno was resting on her knees, facing the chant she wrote, and holding her pen forward. The moment Nathan made it back safely, she dropped her arms to the ground, resting on all fours.

Just like Nathan’s technique earlier, this chant had exhausted almost all of her powers. She breathed in and out as if she was just freed from a chokehold. Her sweat was dripping onto her book.

“T-Thanks…,” Nathan was ashamed; ashamed that he couldn’t do anything, ashamed that he made the situation worse, ashamed that he had, possibly, the best writer on the team exert all her energy to save him from his mistake.

“...yeah…,” she was still exhausted.

It was then, after the dust was cleared, that they heard the sound of more nails coming off. The butterfly was still flapping its wings.

Juno had lost power over her legs, so she couldn’t move. Nathan, on the other hand, rushed to the other side where the dragooun lied beneath. Failing to do anything, he watched as each pipe broke apart from the rest until all of them were down on the ground.

The impact the fall made certainly shocked the dragooun. And just like a scaredy-cat, it jumped out of the dumpster and ran away in fear.

If only it stopped at that…

The little purple creature screeched in fear, before starting to grow in size.

— Dammit!

Soon, the “little” creature became too big for the small alleyway. The adjacent building’s walls began to crumble, and so did the building Juno and Nathan stood on top of. It began to sink into the ground as if it was being absorbed by quicksand.

There was no time to focus on the dragooun anymore. They needed to flee and save their lives.

“Quick,” Juno, with great effort, stood up and reached to her owl, “Hop on!”

Starry was big enough to fit three people on top of it, so escaping with it was the only plausible solution. It rested on the ground to help its jaded owner get on top of it. Despite that, it still waited for Nathan, it was aware that there was someone else supposed to join them. But the ground was collapsing faster than Nathan was on his feet. Fearing for its owner’s safety, Starry swung her wings open and began ascending upwards.

Just at the last second, Nathan managed to jump and grab hold of the owl’s feet.

As it started flying away, the owl felt its speed deteriorating, that was when Juno realized that Nathan was barely hanging on the owl’s feet. With each passing second, his hands were slipping away.

“Let go!” Juno yelled.

“What? Are you out of your mind? There’s no way—”

Seeing as Nathan wasn’t going to listen to her, Juno quietly whispered an order to Starry, who understood everything she said. The owl immediately obeyed her owner’s command, and then yanked Nathan away from its feet, before flying down to catch him.

Instead of dropping on the ground as he feared, he landed on the owl’s back, beside Juno.

He let out a huge sigh of relief, “I think I’ll need some new pants after this.”

“What? Whatever… you’re welcome.” Juno said, “And you could have used your ability. You didn’t need my help.”


Anxiety still consumed Nathan. It was a troublesome matter to him. Sometimes he would panic and forget all he was taught, and sometimes he would achieve his plans with flying colors — this was one of the former times. He had always believed it relied on what kind of target he was facing, if it was a fully sentient being with patterns, then he would have no problems, but if it was a creature with unspeakable capabilities, then who knows? Perhaps that was why he determined it was better to eliminate the dragooun while it was still weak.

— No, that’s enough!

He lightly slapped his cheeks to wake himself from this trance.

Simultaneously, the, now giant, dragooun was rampaging through the streets behind them. It was slowly approaching them, even though its target wasn’t them. That was when Nathan thought of something, something to finally put himself to use. Given that the situation now required them to stop the creature at all costs, Nathan thought of using the environment to his advantage.

The street before him was almost perfect for his plan. There were three street lights on each side. To Nathan, however, he saw those lights as good substitutes for ropes; ropes hopefully strong enough to hold back the dragooun. It was a relief that he still maintained an ounce of imagination, even if it was repetitive.

“Can you keep a steady speed?” He asked Juno. If he were to stand and use his ability, he needed to maintain balance and not fall off the, already flying, owl.

Juno eyed him for a second, she figured he had a plan and refrained from arguing. “All right!”

The owl’s speed waned. Nathan rose to his feet, with a pen in hand, and set himself in position.

“Are you sure you know what you're doing?”

— Yes!

Without answering her directly, Nathan went ahead with his plan. He naturally drew the words he needed within the air, with his focus lying solely onto the six street lights. His ability, limited as it may be, still required effort as any writing ability. Not only did he need to write about turning something ordinary into something completely nonsensical, but he also needed to be detailed about it, to make it believable, both in his eyes and others. At its core, it was a matter of bending a mirage from one’s mind to others’ to reality.

As the dragooun closed in on to the location, the poles stuck to the ground began expanding upwards. The, once rigid and metallic, street lights became completely flaccid and almost elastic. Despite that, it still maintained the metallic strength from within. If it was as loose as it appeared to be, there was no way it was going to hold the giant creature back. That was the merit of abilities such as Nathan’s.

Passing the altercation phase, the limp poles immediately circled around the dragooun’s legs, halting it in its tracks. Still, it wasn’t enough to bring it down to its knees, but Nathan knew that very well.

“That’s not going to hold!” Juno cried out, she occasionally glanced over to check on Nathan.

“I know.”

His intention wasn’t to bring down the creature, but rather to slow it. He knew the limits of his strength, and it wasn’t going to stop that dragooun. But if it were to minimize the rampage, by just a little bit, then he had to do something.

Another factor in the loss of strength was the fact that he wasn’t in a fixed position, they were constantly on the move with the owl flying away, so the range of his ability was deteriorating. Keeping the owl in place was out of the question.

The dragooun, unable to rid itself from the trap Nathan had laid, shrieked in anger. Instead of turning on to the offensive and blasting fire at Nathan and Juno, the dragooun did nothing. It sat down, appearing to have admitted its defeat.

That was what Nathan hoped for.

But reality always had tricks up its sleeves.

A normal dragon would only be limited to their fire, but this wasn’t a normal dragon. It had another element within it. Suddenly, the dragooun’s skin illuminated with a shade of blue, as if it was forming a magical aura. That illumination was soon followed by the sudden crystallization of its skin, freezing its entire body. It created a cocoon in which it can shield itself.

However, that was far from the truth. It wasn’t trying to protect itself. The crystallization managed to cover the poles that held its legs as well. With that, the poles weakened and became entirely out of Nathan’s reach.

— This damn thing is way smarter than I thought.

And just like that, the dragooun broke free. Having restored its freedom, it continued on with its rampage more than ever. For now, it was alert of the hostility coming from Nathan and Juno.

“Great! You made it angrier,” Juno rubbed her hand against her forehead.

“Blame your stupid owl for blowing our cover!” Nathan expressed his anger.

“This “stupid” owl just saved you a few moments ago!”

Starry let out a cry of disappointment when it heard its owner making fun of it.

“Oh no,” she was talking to it like it was a toddler, “I’m just making fun of him, Starry. I’d never call you stupid, not ever at all!” She rested her torso on its back, almost hugging it.

“Look out!”

The raging dragooun almost struck them down, if it weren’t for Juno’s quick thinking to fly upwards. It went full berserk, going as far as to destroy the buildings within its reach. All those buildings that were homes to citizens were absolutely gone.

Juno and Nathan both stared at each other with troubled looks.

This destruction of property was most definitely going to cost them their score — at least, they could rest easy knowing they won’t have to pay back actual money for collateral damage.

“Well, I guess you’re no longer the “Icy Purist” now, huh,” Nathan tried to lighten the mood, although it was in a cold manner with his usual mundane tone.

Her eyes were full of shock, yet there was a faint smile drawn on her face. Nathan had to double-check on her from how strange it was. She finally ticked, the glass was down, that was what Nathan thought.

“About the scor—”

“It’s heading towards the barrier!”

After the evacuation was done, the authorities — specialized writers with their own class — set up a spectral barrier to contain the threat inside, that threat being the dragooun. Spectral barriers were common among writers, they were specifically made to contain any being with a high amount of spectral energy. Writers were naturally born with spectral energy, but it was always kept at a minimum. There was no human writer or author able to imitate the high amount of aura a non-human or a Wonderland creature produced. A Paragon-Grade creature like that dragooun had quite a high amount of energy that even the barrier might not hold for too long — its spectral energy was higher than average, even for a Wonderland creature.

“Not if we stop it…”

Nathan jumped off the owl, he wasn’t going to wait around until the entire district was in ashes. This time he regained his confidence.

With a swift motion from his pen, he easily reconstructed the bricks and stones from the damaged buildings before him and used them as points for traversal across the ruined street. Even though using the owl was going to be faster, Juno seemed to be in a world of her own, so it was very unlikely.

Just then, as he turned to the next street, Nathan noticed someone walking through the crosswalk at the end. It was surprising that there was still a citizen within the evacuation area.

— Oh no!

What was troublesome, however, was the fact that the dragooun was headed straight towards that person. Yet, they remained completely oblivious to their surroundings.

It was up to Nathan to do something, he traversed from building to building as fast as he could, while still keeping an eye out from the rampaging dragooun.

“Watch out!"