Chapter 13:

Of Dreams and Memory

The Writer of Magic

Laguna... How I missed this place.

The smell of the country side, the damp air despite the sunny skies. The verdant green pastures.

The town was as busy as ever. The stalls were lively and sales were at peak. The news was also silent about the freak storm that happened in Manila. But I ignored it. What matters is, I'm home.

My parent's house was big, not like mansion sized big, but big enough to withstand floods and strong enough to weather a storm.

I reached for the door, and I was immediately greeted by the smell of adobo, the light instrumental music of a love tune.

"I'm home!" I called out and my mother's head peeks from the kitchen. When she saw me, she stopped with what she was doing and gave me a hug.

"Oh I missed you. My little boy is home from work!" My mom said. And I caressed her head. She smelled like a mix of soy sauce and white vinegar, perhaps she really was cooking adobo.

"I... I'm sorry for being late in coming home." I said.

"It doesn't matter. What matters is you're home. Now come, lunch is ready."

We dine together and I told her about my job. She laughed when I told her about my boss making me re-write many of my articles.

A few minutes later, dad came home. Gruff as always, I inherited his black hair and his sharp brown eyes.

"Son, when did you come home?" My dad asked.

"A few hours ago. Welcome home dad!" I said and I gave him a hug. He worked at the nearby veterinary clinic, so I had a few knowledge about animal physiology and incorporated it in my years of creative writing.

"So how was work in the city?" Dad asked.

"Fine, but smoky." I said, dissing the polluted air of the capital.

"You know you always make us Proud son." Dad said. His face glowing with pride.

"I... I do?" I asked, getting a compliment from my dad was rare. And very rarely do we always see eye to eye when it came to my job as a writer.

"You still write like a 4th Grader though." He dissed and I was about to feel great about my dad, but it retracted for a bit.

I spent my whole afternoon coursing through my childhood home. And then I arrived at one place. My room.

The quiet ambiance, numerous notebooks, pens, and even my gaming systems were still there. The sun that peeks during the morning was always waving it's glorious light over my bed. The Totoro plush I bought when I was young was still intact. I walked towards it and gave it a huge hug.

There were no Totoro Plushies in that fantasy world! I'm so happy that I was home.

Days have passed and I returned to my job in Manila. The air was heavy again but... I got used to it. The publishing house I worked in was also ambient. It had everything a writer and editor can have.

"Hey, nice to see you again!" My boss said, which was odd. He never greets me. Odd, must be a leap year.

Everyone too was... Acting very differently. Some are productive and some are being too productive. I shook it off and went to work.

But before I could open my station, I found something odd. My face. Especially my eyes. They were still blood red. Red like...

"Hey Morning senior!" My junior, Cable. Surprised me and he was grinning at me with his pug like face.

"H-hey Cable." I said nervously, I looked at my face again, my eyes were back to being regular dark brown. Did I just... imagine that?

"I'm ready for another day in work!" He grinned widely so I gave him my feedback on his work. Sure enough he was fake crying because I edited out his 'epic' scene.

The day was rolling in by the day, and to my surprise... I didn't have any back log nor extra things to write up about. What is happening?

"Senior! Senior! Should we clock out?" Cable bounces in from my cubicle. And I smiled softly at him, he's such a cute guy to mess around.

"Did you submit your latest work?" I asked.

"Huh? Yeah I did... But senior... Why do you sound, I don't know... Younger?" Cable pondered.

"What? I do?" I gulped.

"Yeah... Like you aged backwards." He said and I grinned nervously.

"I-is that so? Or are you sure you're not just flattering me." I said.

"Yeah could be just my imagination senior. All right, see you tomorrow!" He said bubbly and he left the office.

My voice... Became younger? And this morning... my eyes were red. The same color as when I was Yman Caliesto.

No... That's impossible. I'm home. I'm back.

'I'm not Yman Caliesto anymore.' I told myself. 'My name is-'

When I said my name, a huge static followed. Like a screech of a microphone malfunction. My head hurt from the sharp pain. Like a blade fresh from the forge was pressing itself on my cranium.

'...member.' a tiny voice called out.

member of what? I asked back.

But the voice died out. And my vision began to refocus. It was already night time, and I was all alone in the office.

'What was that voice? And why did it sound familiar?'

The days roll by, and my life and everything around me was going haywire. I was seeing weird things that looked exactly like the world in my lost novel. I kept seeing the forests of Kusanagi whenever I see a park, the deserts that surrounds the Calces Workshop was appearing whenever I looked at the beach, and finally, Calastro Academy's inner building was replacing my office.

What kind of twisted hallucination is this?

Then, I could hear Toby, Leo, Claire, Trent, and even Hanabi. I looked around whenever I walk outside the office, only to see no one calling me.

But worst of all... Was my appearance. Whenever I looked at the mirror, I get a glimpse of myself as Yman Caliesto. My brown eyes being replaced by red eyes, my brown hair being replaced by black hair. And my semi-tall figure, was becoming that of a 13-year-old's.

'Hey senior? You okay?" Cable asked me one day when I was staring blankly at my monitor.

"W-what do you mean?" I reacted a bit shrilly.

"Well... You've been, I don't know... getting younger? Like right now. And did you always have red eyes?"

I froze. What did he just say? Sure enough, I opened my camera and sure enough... I was Yman Caliesto again.

What is going on?!

'Remember your goal.' The voice spoke once again.

My goal? I think hard and remembered some things. My boss' attitude towards me, my dad complimenting me and encouraging me on my chosen career, my mom... alive. Wait...

Mom already died from an accident. Dad never once voiced out his compliments, and always hides it in saying I should do better next time even though he was proud. And my boss... Was not one to say good morning to me.

I think hard again... What happened? The sound of a chime, and fog that enveloped me when I was fighting against Invidia. Then... I blacked out. And when I woke up, I was back. Or was I? Whatever it was, it pissed me off. And in my anger, my tome materialized in front of me and I grabbed it.

"The Flames will roar, Burning Hand!"

Fire magic began to flicker in my hands and I slammed it on my monitor. and that was when everything around me froze as if they were in suspended animation.

Then suddenly, everything shattered, like a window being blasted by a turret.

I was back in the white space, minus the throne and the Incorruptus. So... in the end... it was just a mirage. A cruel one at that.

'Great! You're remembering! That took forever.' Someone said, it was the voice of a child. But it was like listening to a woodland melody.

I looked around and saw a shadow above me, the boy had bright green hair, and slits in his eyes. He wore a toothy grin when we made eye contact.

"You had me worried there Caliesto." He said and I was too stunned to speak.

"W-who?" I managed and he frowned.

"Ouch. To think you've forgotten me all of a sudden. And here I thought my appearance would make it obvious who I am." He said and crosses his arms. When he pouts, he did appear like a child, but his aura... It was similar to...

"Arbor?!" I pointed and he smirks.

"Finally caught on huh? Well, as expected. You were deep inside a spell for so long, I had no choice but to intervene." Arbor said.

"What on earth happened? And... Where am I? Are you all right?!" I asked a barrage of questions but Arbor raised his hand.

"To answer your questions one at a time, I'll start with what happened. For starters, you failed in re-writing our fates, but... We're still alive." He said. And I looked down, I...Failed?

"What happened to you? And Reiko?!" I wondered out loud. "Is everyone all right?!"

"We are taken to Senzakura. After your abrupt return, right now... I am stable, it was a wonder that Senzakura's technology was advance. They even completely cured you of the Serpent Venom that plagued you for months." Arbor said. "Reiko on the other hand, was reinstated in Senzakura forces as a Marshall. He is now overseeing the Kusanagi Rainforest in my stead. But... No, my divine form, is being treated deep inside the Dewbranch. I suppose you know where that is?"

I nod. That was like the weather control station for the whole rainforest. And if the body of the divine God is there, that would mean, the excessive abundance of elemental energy will help Arbor recover. I must admit I was a bit relieved. But in the end... I couldn't do anything but made everyone worried.

"Where am I now?" I asked. Trying to stay calm.

"Right now, it is what you humans call the afterlife, or for us gods, the Evengarden. Your body is safe, but... You are presently catatonic. Your pneuma left your body, and it was very difficult to track you down. Fortunately... Some of part of you was still resisting the illusion, it was only a matter of time until you've awoken." Arbor said. "That said... You've faced not one but two Incorrupti. Am I right?"

I nod. Facing those things was hard... I got lucky with Ira. Invidia got the better of me. I was so frustrated.

"You did well, facing those incorrupti alone." Arbor said and I was surprised. I guess the Gods of this world know of the Incorrupti as well.

"But... Arbor, what are the incorrupti anyway?" I asked.

"To put simply. They are beings that are superior to us Gods. For they are born from our hopes, dreams, and desires. And they are also the children of the Primordial One." Arbor said and I choked. I'm sorry, Children?!

"I can see why you are perplexed. Given your circumstances... So, when were you going to tell me?" Arbor's gaze became sharper.

"T-tell you what?" I asked. And he sighed.

"Oh come now... Your soul drifted outside this world towards an unfamiliar place for me, surely you know that I saw it when I tried to establish a connection with you." Arbor pouts.

I sighed and looked at him directly in his eyes. "That's right... I'm not from this world. I came from the planet Earth. Specifically in a land known as the Philippines."

Arbor didn't intervene, and he allowed me to continue.

"I'm originally 24, I am just an ordinary guy who writes reviews and edit out data for online advertisements. Then, I got hit by lightning during a rainstorm and... I woke up in this body." I said.

"How strange... You left out a crucial piece of information." He said and I sighed.

"Also... I was the original creator of this world. That would make me-"

"The Aberrant." Arbor said.

"What? I thought you'd call me the Primordial One or something." I said but he shakes in head in response.

"The Primordial One is the one who finished giving this world life. And from what I've gathered, you know most of what will happen up until the destined destruction of Calces." Arbor said. "And don't bother lying... As a God, I would know the destinies of each being as well. Yet we cannot intervene."

"Such is fate's design huh." I sighed.

"But that is... until you came. An Aberrant." Arbor explains. "One who also has the power of the Primordial One, it is subtle, but only you can hurt an Incorrupti."

"Wait, are incorrupti that scary?" I asked.

"Like I said, they are the hopes, dreams, and desires of every living thing in this world. And they are the children of the Primordial One, so that would make them a fragment of his power." Arbor explained. "Even we gods have limits. But the Incorrupti? Like every dream, they are limitless."

"I see... So when I fight them, that means I can meet this so called, Primordial One?" I asked.

"That's right. But it's not as simple as that. The Primordial One... Left this world a long time ago. And the Incorrupti, are becoming more and more concerning. Specifically to those who are destined to die." Arbor informed.

"Hang on... Then... Are the incorrupti killing of people whose destinies are to die for the sake of the story?!" I argued and Arbor nods. Those... monsters. This place may be fictional, but these are lives we're talking about.

"So... What happens now? Apart from the Incorrupti, do I have to deal with the Chimeras too?" I asked.

The God shakes his head and pats my head, even though his form is that of a child, it was still a bit embarrassing.

"For now... You should focus on regaining your strength, as well as mending your relationships with your friends. They are your key to be able to meet the Primordial One after all." Arbor said. "Besides, your stay in Senzakura is long overdue."

I chuckled. I guess... I have been too selfish with Toby and the others. I wonder... Would they even talk to me anymore.

"Don't dread it. So long as you tell them the truth, they'll understand." Arbor said and the white atmosphere was beginning to shatter.

"Time's up. Now that your Pneuma has returned to this side, it's returning to your body. Remember Yman Caliesto. You are not alone in this fight with Destiny." Arbor said and with a final smile, the dream fades. And I woke up to the sight of a crying Captain Ventus.