Chapter 1:

1: Enter Julian

Pyrophantasia


Part 1
Julian's my name - it's not a very common name you'd find within the slums of the capital city. You could say I'm somewhat unique, although anyone without any sort of elemental bending abilities can attest to the horrid treatment they get from the city guards.

I guess being unique doesn't spare you from the harsh realities of living in Iyesgarth, the capital city of this Kingdom.

Since I was born, my family just scrapes by thanks to their business. What do they do, you might ask? Well, they run a small tavern deep within the slums.

It's pretty average given our circumstances, but we make do with what we have.

The tavern has been up and running since my great-grandpa built the place, and has been passed down generation to generation; to my grandpa and then to my dad, which makes me next in line for ownership of the place.

Since we can't afford tutoring or school costs, I, of course, have to help out, be it foraging food from the forest outside the southern gate, cleaning up the mess that our customers make, serving food and drinks. It's the only way we can live comfortably with food in our bellies.

And speaking of bellies, I currently live in a family of seven.

My mom and dad;
My older sister, who recently turned 16;
Myself, 14 years of age;
My two younger brothers, ages 10 and 7, respectively;
And my baby sister, aged only 15 months old.

We all live in the attic together, as we mostly use it for storage and to free up the rooms to rent for the night. It might sound unpleasant, but there is plenty of room for all of us to sleep in our beds.

The tavern is around five stories tall. Most buildings within the slums are around that size as well to accommodate the number of poor people that take up what little space is allocated to us.

When you stand outside, the buildings on both sides of the street tower over you. There are parts of the day where the sunlight doesn't hit the ground due to the narrowness of the streets and alleyways, so the atmosphere feels dim and unpleasant at times.

Most building you'll find in the slums are made from wood, stone and clay tile roofs. Looking above on top of the city walls, you'll most likely witness a sea of orange rising up to the inner walls, in which the inner district and the royal castle looms above that. I guess you'd get nice views as a city guard stationed on the walls, especially when the orange roofs are contrasted by the bright blue sky.


Part 2
Today is my turn to gather food for tonight's customers. On my back I have a large wicker basket to place today's spoils in.

When you head outside the outer gates from the south, you are greeted by large fields of farmland stretching from both ends of your vision, all the way beyond the horizon.

It usually takes me around 2 hours to walk to the edge of the forest. I can't afford a horse and carriage to ride to and from the city, so I have no choice but to walk. The forests provide plenty of herbs, mushrooms, wild vegetables, and berries, which my family puts to good use in making our own wine.

The farms here provide a large portion of the capital's food. We also get quite a lot of fish since it takes 6 hours by horse to travel east to the sea, as well as other sorts of meat and poultry that the farms and the large central forest in the Kingdom produce. Anything else is usually imported from merchants and fishermen from our neighboring countries.

Since the trek takes me ages to get to where I want, I leave early in the morning at around sunrise. There's a pathway that leads to the nearest town south-west of Iyesgarth, you'll find many splits and forks that lead to small communities and farmsteads. After walking past many of the farms and settlements, I spend a good chunk of the day scavenging the forest for food until it's time for me to leave and arrive back home before sunset to prepare for tonight's cooking.

You could consider me lucky that I don't encounter any dangerous animals, as hunting has driven most of the animals further into the forests. That kind of stuff is reserved for poachers and farmers, some are even known to use firebending as a means of hunting and defense.


Part 3
After spending the last few hours collecting food and filling up my basket, I made my way back home.

Today was definitely one of my better hauls in terms of quality, so tonight's meals are gonna be good. I can't wait!

When traversing Iyesgarth, you have to memorize the alleyways like it's the back of your hand. It's pretty easy to lose your sense of direction thanks to the high-rising buildings and lack of developed roads that cut through the slums.

If I had to describe the layout of the city as you enter through one of its gates, you have one main pathway leading towards the inner district, and sprouting off the main roads are two smaller roads that wind their way through the outer district towards the other gates to each side. And there are hundreds of smaller paths that split off from the winding path into many different sections of the city which are heavily crowded by houses and markets.

There is a river that runs close by outside the northern gate, which is provided thanks to the mountains north-west near the border of the Water and Earth Kingdoms. It also flows eastwards towards the ocean, so we get a lot of boats and ferries that use the channel to carry goods and materials.

I begin to make my way through the alleyways of the outer district once arriving back to Iyesgarth. There's at least a hundred twist and turns that I need to make.

As I was nearing towards home, I heard some chatter in an alleyway. I walked past the gap within a second, but I only got a glimpse of 3 guys all holding a glass bottle sitting down on the floor and on top of a crate. It was dark and ominous, and I only got a glimpse of their mouths and bodies at most. The way they were postured, I can only assume they were thieves.

One negative side effect of living in the slums is the lack of guard presence and upholding of the law.

Anyone who becomes a guard will desperately try to get a position either on the walls or within the inner district, or even within the royal castle. The standard of living inside the inner district is significantly higher. There are fancy shops, the streets are maintained and cleaned, the houses are massive, and the quality of food and water is a hundred times what you'd find here. You either get your lucky break, or you are stuck in the slums forever.

Of course, you can't just walk in as you please. There's a good reason why the streets and living conditions are so good, as anyone living on the streets are forced into the outer district. You have to make a substantial amount to afford food, housing, and schooling.

There's also a matter with the fact that the Royal Guards get a large sum of "donations" from the nobles. I've only heard rumors from those with special connections inside the inner district, and from some of our customers, but the Head of the Royal Police Force lives in luxury near the King's castle thanks to these donations, and in return, he does the rich folks a favor by keeping us away to keep the nobles happy. Even some of the Royal Squadrons that are stationed in and around the castle do the same thing.

And we can't do a thing about it. Most people who have firebending abilities aim to become a guard, since they pay quite well and can get you out of poverty. So all that's left is mostly non-benders who are powerless in the face of battle.

.....CLANG.....!

I heard a couple of bottles being dropped. I also notice the laughter and talking I heard from the alleyway has gone silent as well. I began to speed up.

Hoping that I'm getting further away from that alleyway, I peaked my head around my shoulder. They were wearing worn-out clothing, donning scruffy beards and short haircuts. They seemed to have large bags under their eyes as well. They also had small blades connected to their belts. We made eye contact.

Shit! They're following me!

....."Hey kid! What's in the basket?"

The guy on the left asked, all three had smirks on their faces. They were also maintain the same distance behind me. It seems like we all knew what's up.

"Nothing that you need to know. Now get lost!"

I replied sarcastically.

In a fraction of a second, all of their faces went from a smirky grin to a really pissed off one.

"Huh? The fuck you just say you little shit?"

The guy in the center seemed a bit pissed off now.

I better make it home soon or else, and it doesn't help that my basket weighs a tonne.

The three of them sped up to a fast walk, they were reducing the distance towards me.

I knew I had no choice. Losing this basket could be detrimental for my family and our business. Out of instinct, I just legged it. I sprinted down the alleyway and made a sharp turn left. If I were to take advantage of the cramped and maze-like layout, now would we the time to put those skills to the test. I'm only a couple of minutes away from home.

When it comes to surviving in the slums of the city, anything goes. You can commit just about any heinous crime and the Royal Police will most likely do nothing about it to prevent it from happening again.

After I turned a couple of corners, I continue to sprint towards my destination. In the distance, I hear faint yelling and footsteps. It seems like I'm about to get away as I approach another turning. Haha, suckers! That's what you get for messing with m...

...GAHH!...

Shit, I had my head turned around for one second and I felt a large impact run across my stomach. The force from the impact made me puke, it also forced me to the ground.

Lying down on my side, groaning as I clench my stomach, I gaze up at the mysterious man. I see his left leg sticking out of the corner.

"Kehehe, I think we'll take our sweet time showing you what happens when you mess with us...."

I'm struggling to breathe as I'm still feeling the recoil of that impact.

He squats down next to my head and looks me straight in my face. In great confidence, he yelled.

"....The one group of thugs you don't want to mess with!"

[KAPOOT]

A large ball of phlegm hit my cheek.

The mystery man turns out to be the third person from the trio of thieves, the one I originally saw on the right side.

Whilst I was focusing on whoever was right behind me, I forgot to take into consideration that they could've looped around to surround me on both sides. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing, it totally slipped my mind!

Seconds later, the other two arrived. I'm now surrounded with no way out.

[....Haaa....Haaa....]

The two thieves sound out of shape by the sound of their heavy breathing. It probably doesn't help that they're intoxicated with whatever they were drinking.

"Now then..."

The thief from the center took a second to control his breathing.

"I believe it's time we made an example out of you for messing with the wrong people."

His face was that of seriousness with a hint of smugness.

"And as a bonus for a hard day's work, we'll be taking what you have in the basket."

The other two thieves giggled in excitement.

Anything but the basket! I grunted as I twisted my body around to grab the basket and wrap both my arms and legs around it. The sharp pain that jolted through my abdomen was unbearable thanks to the impact, but I have to endure it! I slipped my arms through the straps to make it harder to remove.

One of the thieves grabbed tried grabbing the basket, but I refused to budge.

"Let go of it, you little bastard!"

Knowing that I wouldn't budge, a flurry of kicks began striking my body. It was relentless. My thought process right now is to endure this beating until they grow tired and walk away. That's how most people who are pissed behave, right?

The flurry of kicks slowed to a halt, I felt a tug on the collar of my shirt and the strap of my trousers. The thief that stopped me is lifting me up! He must be physically strong if he's able to get ahead of me in the slums and pick me up with the basket in my arms.

With my collar and trouser clenched in his hand, the thief span around to gain momentum.

"WoaHooaaHooaah"

"Hggnnnnn GAAAHHH!"

With the momentum built up, the thief groaned as he released his grip on my clothing and sent me flying like a hammer.

I flew straight into some wooden crates that were lying around - the force hitting my back knocked the wind out of my lungs. I laid there as I tried to gasp for air in the pile of broken planks.

The three thieves laugh as they soak in the enjoyment of beating the crap out of me.

More attempts at grabbing the basket were made, but I still persisted in keeping hold of the basket. Looks like their patience is running thin as they continue to throw kicks and punches more erratically.

Before anymore more harm can be done to me, I'll try making a break for it. At this point, I'm desperate for any help that I can get. I just pray that there's someone just down the path who I can rely on.

In a crawling position with the basket wrapped in my arm, I rapidly begin to ascend into a full sprint. It's make-or-break for safety for me.

"Oh no you don't!"

As soon as my hand lifted from the ground, a shadow loomed over me. It was the thief who threw me into those crates.

His body is in the air and the sole of his shoe was right in my face - he's aiming for a head shot!

I was in a precarious position where I couldn't react at all. I was too sluggish to quickly react and evade, it's too late!

In a instant, he plants his foot on top of my head and use the full force of his body to thrust my head into the ground. It was a vicious headstomp.

[..AAK..]

My head bounced off the brick pathway in recoil, blood splattered from my forehead as my eyes began to roll back into my head. My body became limp and lifeless.

Shit! My vision is beginning to blur and fade! I must have gotten a concussion from that impact.

Soon enough, I laid still and flat on the ground in complete darkness. The last thing I saw was one of the thieves walking towards me before fell unconscious.

"H...hel..p... m...me...."


Part 4
[BEEP BEEP!]

[VROOOM]

[SKRRRR!]

[THUD THUD THUD THUD!]

Huh? What's going on? What kind of dream is this? What is this place?

Why is it so blurry and bright?

[CONFUSED SCREAMING]

What's that running at me?

[BANG!]

[TUMBLE TUMBLE TUMBLE]

*Complete darkness.*

[HIGH PITCH RINGING]

"Hey! Hey! Stay with me here!"

Who's that yelling at me?

The high-pitch ringing fades into nothingness.


Part 5
I open my eyes. What a weird dream I just had.

Above me is a wooden beam running across the ceiling. I turn my head to the side - seems like I'm tucked in a bed.

I continued to look around. Am I back home? This place looks exactly like the attic we all sleep in.

I jerked myself up into a sitting position.

[STING]

"Gahh!"

A stinging sensation rang from my forehead. I felt the spot where the pain was coming from, it's all wrapped up in bandages.

I put on a shirt and some shorts and headed downstairs to the dining area. You'd think it's bad etiquette for a half-naked child to be walking around whilst customers are eating and drinking.

Five sets of stairs later and I arrive on the ground floor. I scanned the dining area and saw a few customers eating and chatting. It seems relatively quiet, I'm guessing it's some time in the afternoon.

"JULIAN!"

The yelling came from the kitchen - it was my mother. As soon as I turned to face her, she has already ran over to me and grabbed my body tightly. By the tone of her voice and her sniffling, she sounded very upset and relieved at the same time.

"What the hell happened to you?"

She asked as she examined my face.

"I was walking back from the forest and I encountered some thieves just a couple of minutes away from here."

I directed my gaze away from my mother as I tried recalling the events of what happened. I continued explaining.

"They started to follow me asking me what's in the basket. I told them to get lost, which made them angry and they started to chase me down and beat me up."

That's right! The basket. Last time I recalled, I had my body wrapped around it to stop them from stealing. Did I lose it?

"How did I get here?"

My mother's face brightens up.

"Ah! One of our regular customers luckily saw you lying in an alleyway all bloody and beaten up. He brought you back here and we had you patched up. Consider it a graceful encounter that he got to you first, who knows what could've happened to you if you were left out there for the night."

So that's how I got here. My memory is still a bit fuzzy - the headache doesn't help one bit.

Eh, the night?! How long was I in bed for?

"Is it really the next day?!"

"It's actually been two days since you came back from your last trip to the forest. You've been sleeping like a rock ever since."

Two days!?

"And the basket?"

"I'm afraid it must've been stolen. I asked the customer who found you and he couldn't recall finding anything resembling a wicker basket."

Tsk! There goes my hard work.

My mother grabs my chin and twisted my head forward. She told me reassuringly.

"Listen dear, don't worry about it. It's part and parcel of living in the slums. I don't think you could've done anything else about."

She rolls her eyes.

"What help are the guards gonna prove? Probably none."

I nodded in response and she smiled.

"Do you want food and a drink?"

I haven't eaten anything since that incident, and my lips are somewhat parched. I guess I only just noticed how much my body is in need of food and water as my stomach growled loudly.

"Yes, please."

My mother retreated back into the kitchen. I sat down facing outwards on the bench next to one of the tables and relaxed as I waited. I could here clanging and other kitchen utensils being used, I guess my dad and older sister are both in the kitchen.

What was that dream I had earlier? It was all blurry, and it felt very realistic. I'm so confused.

I gazed up at the ceiling as I tried recalling the details in that dream I had just earlier.

[SNAP]

Huh?

[SNAP SNAP]

Where's that popping sound coming from?

[SNAP CRACKLE]

I looked towards my hand and lifted it up. Sparks began flying out of my hand and fingers.

[CRACKLE CRACKLE POP]

The sparks quickly grew brighter and larger in size. I stood up as I wondered what was happening with my hands.

"Eh..."

[FWOOOSH!]

"GAAHHHH!!!"

In the middle of the dining hall area, I screamed in pure agony as I light up in a large ball of fire.

I unconsciously grabbed my shirt in response to the pain as the fire grew larger and hotter. I desperately tried to rip my clothes off. The severe pain made me go as far as considering suicide as a quick way to stop the flames.

Confused panicking and terrified screaming began ringing out from around the dining area and the kitchen. It was a scene straight out of hell. Wooden furniture began to catch fire, and the floor and ceiling started to char black like charcoal in a pit.

Both my parents ran out as soon as they heard the commotion, their faces were struck with horror and confusion as to why their child is in a ball of flames.

""JULIAN!""

They both yelled out at me.

My mother looked at my dad, upset and at the verge of tears. Their precious child is in danger of burning to a crisp in the middle of their own home.

"Quickly, grab the buckets!"

My mom nodded to his yelling. Both of my parents aren't sure of what to do in this kind of situation. I mean, whose kid randomly bursts into flames? Who do you rely on in these kind of situations that nobody has experienced in their lifetime?

They dashed into the kitchen to grab the buckets used to fetch the water and tried to douse out the flames.

They tried once, twice, even three times! But the flames kept burning. It seemed as if water wasn't gonna work. We're close to running out of what water we have available.

As I continue to burn brightly in the dining area, I began to feel lightheaded and drowsy - it's like my energy is being sapped away. My knees begin to drop lower into a crouching position. They feel weak, my arms and torso also feel heavy. Am I about to give way, or am I gonna burn to a crisp?

My parents continue to splash water onto me until I collapse onto the floor. There, the flames died down like a grill being put on simmer. One more bucket of water was thrown onto me.

Surrounded by customers and my parents, I laid in silence as my body emitted a plume of steam and smoke.

"Julian! Julian!"

The sound of yelling from my parents and our regular customers were being muffled. I was beginning to fade into unconsciousness as my vision turned black.


Part 6
My name is Ryusei Yamahara, and I'm your typical 28-year-old salaryman from Japan.

I live in a small apartment on the outskirts of Inagi near the border with Tama. I work for a large international corporation in central Tokyo.

Since I graduated from college, I've been working everyday for the same company. And to be honest, it sucks.

I honestly regret not finding any interesting hobbies that I could've used as a career choice. And now I must work constantly until retirement, unable to make a change in careers.

For years, I've been looking for that one thing that could inspire me and get me out of this prison cell of a job. But I guess I'll have to keep looking until that moment arrives.

When I'm not working, my favorite pastimes are playing video games, reading manga, and learning about chemistry and physics, I would say I'm very knowledgeable on facts and info on those two sciences. I find it quite easy to follow the logic and processes, so perhaps my understanding and view of the real world and everything that goes on inside it is different? Am I a logical type of person?

Science is cool, regardless of how many people complain about it at school.

You might suggest going back to university and doing a degree in science, but who wants to see an old man in a lecture hall surrounded by teenagers? In Japan, that's unheard of. I'll get absolutely roasted if that happened. I'll be bottom of the social hierarchy, a victim of relentless prejudice and torment!

Like I would put myself through that kind of torment. I already have enough troubles as things are already.

Today is like any other day working 9-5. I've just finished another day of working in the office. I don't drink, so I hardly attend nomikai.

It takes me around an hour and thirty minutes to travel to and from work via bus and train.

From work, I normally take a winding path through some back alleyways to save time on walking through hordes of people all heading towards Tokyo Central Railway Station. The alleyways are very quiet, and you hardly come across any people or vehicles. The only hordes I would have to deal with are at the train stations.

[VROOOOM!]

I'm standing at a T-junction with some stoplights. The sound of a car accelerating quickly emanates the area.

[SKRRRR!]

[THUD THUD THUD THUD]

The ground started to tremble as a metallic thumping sound began to grow louder and louder. Tiny pebbles along the pathway began to bounce around - their bouncing increased violently as the source of those quakes got closer and closer to me. I started to cross the walkway.

[AAAAHHHHHH! RUN!]

Screaming and panic ensues. People surrounding me began to flee to safety when they saw what was coming.

Not paying that much attention to my surroundings, I look up at what was coming towards me. It seemed like something important was going on if everyone was in a panic. Just down the road, two headlights shone from the darkness of the alleyway.

"EEHHH?!"

It's a truck! I'm about to be ran over by a truck!

But this was no ordinary truck. Oh no, if there were the "7 Mysteries of the World", this would certainly top the list.

This truck was RUNNING. Running! On two legs! It's mecha truck! How is this even possible?

It has arms and legs and fingers all connect with car parts, and his has an upper body in the exact shape of a truck cabin. Its wheels are on its shoulders and hips!

Is this God's way of putting me out of my misery? Surely not...

My body was stuck in place. I was confused and scared and I'm at the verge of shitting myself. The mecha truck was running straight towards me.

I couldn't react, nor could I have gotten out of the way in time. I was a deer in front of headlights.

The truck's foot as it went through its stride impacted my body and sent me flying down the street.

My body rag dolled as I struck one of the traffic lights, I already feel dozens of bones break throughout my body. This is a bit overkill if you ask me!

I land closely to the base of the pole of the traffic light - body limp and contorted due to the sheer force of impact. I'm a goner. I'm finished.

This machine just appeared out of nowhere and I'm somehow the victim of an incomprehensible event.

I'm laying face down in a pool of my own blood. My white shirt began absorbing what it can whilst turning a crimson red. The cold air was amplifying the cold chills my body was experiencing due to the loss of blood. I'm running out of time.

Out of my eye, I see the truck continue running down the road and disappear down another street. Was I in its way? Was I intentionally hit, or was this just a freak accident?

Seconds passed after the truck disappeared before bystanders encircled by flaccid body.

"Hey! Hey! Are you alright?!"

Of course not, you idiots! Well, that was what I wanted to shout back, but I couldn't get a response out of my body. I'm a prisoner within a dying tomb.

My face became expressionless as all the muscles in my face relaxed. Splatters of blood cover my face as cuts and abrasions started to ooze out what blood I have left circulating.

I feel dizzy and lightheaded. The pain is also beginning to fade.

Damn it! My life's effort and future, it's all gone to waste!

At this point, there's nothing I can do. I'm at the doorsteps of the Grim Reaper waiting to be collected at any moment now. Take me home, Hades!

Flashing lights and silhouettes began to merge and blur as one. My eyelids slowly close for the last time.

[SILENCE]

...

.....

........

I slowly opened my eyes.

"Huh?"

Everything's pitch black.

There were no floors, no walls, no sky, nothing. I was floating in what appears to be an empty space - a void. I couldn't tell what was up or down.

I was the only thing that existed in this space.

"Hello?"

I tried calling out to someone, or anything at this point.

...Nothing.

Am I gonna be stuck here forever? What's going to be made of me? Do I need food and water if I'm dead?

A few minutes passed and nothing has happened.

I might as well relax, given that this is a rare opportunity for free time and relaxation. I loosened my tie from my collar.

I see I'm still in my suit. It's clean and tidy, there aren't any blood stains on it. I check my body for any injuries that I got from the mecha truck - I'm.... healed?

Not a single scratch or or bruise in sight, and my suit is in perfect condition.

[CLINK TWINKLE]

Did something just fly by me? It sounded a lot like glass just then.

I thought I was on my own in here. Is there something hidden nearby, or am I just tripping out? Given what's happened today, I'm expecting the answer to that question to be the latter.

[WHOOSH WHOM]

"Woah!"

I flinch as a large stream of crystals streak in front of me. It began doing large vertical loops around my floating body.

I followed its trajectory with my eyes. What was it, and who or what was controlling it?

Seconds passed before it slowed down and formed into a solid wall of crystalized shards of glass forming a mirror that encircled me. The mirror was fragmented like someone put all the pieces back together with glue.

But there was something strange about this wall.

From each shard of mirror, a video of sorts was playing. Thousands of individual scenes played out following the life of a person, a boy. This kid with brown hair, who was he?

I silently watched as a bunch of the scenes playing out. Is this a play out of his life?

There are scenes of him scavenging a forest and working in a kitchen with... who I assume is his family. There are also many scenes of him fighting opponents who are using fire, water, earth, air, and lightning. What kind of world does this kid live in?!

This sounds too fantasy-like to be true. Yet again, I did get run over by mecha truck.

In the center of the whole wall of shards, like a crown jewel take up the center of a crown, a giant crystal mirror piece stood bold and obvious. What played on the crystal was this brown-haired kid being engulfed in his own flames. He was burning alive!

From what I'm seeing here in this void, he's writhing in agony whilst people around him are panicking as they try to put him out.

I slowly floated towards this giant crystal and placed my hand against it as to keep myself steady. I took a closer look in more detail.

"Julian... huh?"

Bits of information from this world began flowing into me from this crystal, including information about this child.

I see him collapsing to the floor as water continued to be splashed onto him. He's just laying there emitting smoke and steam from the heat generated from his body, boiling the water off from him.

I placed my other hand on the glass. I'm being sucked in!

"EH!? Wait a second! What's happening?"

"HGGNNN!"

I struggled to free myself as my arms continued to be sucked in.

My legs and the rest of my body followed suit.

I felt as if I was being warped through space and time. I was encapsulated in a tunnel full of rainbow lights streaking past me as I continued to accelerate. My hair was being ruffled and blown around by the speed I was traveling through the air. It felt as if I was being dragged by the waist with a rope.

I flew by many of the crystals with the visions that were in the wall. These were his memories - I can feel his emotions and thoughts throughout all the events that played out through his 14 years of living, as well as the snippets of info that showed his future.

Iyesgarth? Elemental bending? Everything this kid knew become knowledge for me to understand and interpret.

At the end of the tunnel was this kid lying on the floor.

I'm gonna crash right into him! Am I going to become this kid, am I really going to live a new life in this world?

I couldn't stop hurdling through this warp tunnel. The distance between this kid and I quickly grew shorter until I exited out of this tunnel like a ship warping out of hyperdrive. I'm now several meters above Julian's house.

I'm so high up!

I looked at the surroundings. Is this Iyesgarth? There are so many orange rooftops, I can even see a castle sticking high above in the sky. There are fields and forests beyond the walls.

I began falling. I flailed as I tried reorienting myself, only to position myself facing downwards.

Shit! I'm about to hit the roof of this building head first!

I braced for impact.

[FWWOO]

...

I opened my eyes slightly.

Ehhh?! I've gone through the roof! I'm falling through the building without crashing.

Am I a ghost? A spirit? Am I of this spiritual realm? This is so weird and confusing!

I continued to fall through floor after floor until I entered the floor where the kid was. He was lying there unconscious right in front of me. Julian, was it?

I'm gonna crash right into him!

"AHHHHH!!"

The moment I made contact with Julian, a bright light opened up from where I made contact with him. In the middle of this bright light was pitch-black darkness. This was his consciousness.

In mere moments, I fell into the void that was his body.

The light from the outside world quickly disappeared and the darkness began to dominate my periphery. The gateway closed, I'm trapped!

[THUD!]

"OW!"

I landed on the floor.

Floor? Inside this kid's head? It was solid, so I stood up from where I landed and looked around. It was pitch black, exactly like what happened after I got killed by that truck.

Great! From one void to another, am I stuck in here forever then? I panic as I tried to make sense of things.

"What's that warmth I'm feeling?"

I felt a warm sensation spread across my back, it felt like there was a fire right behind me. I turned around to check what it was. It was a glowing red orb.

It had the kanji character for fire (火), and it was emitting small flames above it. My skin glowed a bright orange which was accentuated due to the darkness of the void I was surrounded by. The light flickered and fluctuated inline with the movement of the flames. It was slowly rotating as well as it bobbed up and down. The kanji for fire was on both sides of the sphere.

I began walking closer to it. Is it safe to touch? Something has to happen given what happened with those crystal mirrors, right?

I reached my hand towards it, touching the end of my index finger on the kanji character. It began glowing brighter and brighter until it shone a radiant red.

Thick strands of fire flew out of the ball and flew straight towards me. It wrapped its self around me to keep me from fighting against its will. It forced me onto my knees as it drew closer to my face. It was roughly a meter away.

I'm stuck! I can't budge an inch!

Looking directly at the ball, another strand of fire flew out of the kanji character and right towards my face.

[GUHHH!]

I tried screaming, but it was no use since the strand of fire quickly entered my mouth.

Whatever this orb and this kid has in store for me, I'll have to wait and find out.

I quickly blacked out.Bookmark here

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