Chapter 37:

Volume 2, Chapter 12: The Grimoire’s Special Power

Heroes of the Past

“Don’t worry about it. We actually went somewhere else even if it doesn't seem like it,” Kisai said, noticing the confused look on my face.Bookmark here

“I can see that. You want to explain why?” I asked, peering around the room.Bookmark here

“It’s just how it works. Tess can elaborate,” Zhuyu replied.Bookmark here

“You’re never any help. I hope you realize that,” I muttered.Bookmark here

“I try, Tomo. I try very hard at answering your questions, you know,” Zhuyu remarked, a faint smile appearing on his face.Bookmark here

I followed Tess, ignoring him. Instead of five rooms upstairs, there were now only three. We arrived downstairs and everyone sat down in the living room, assuming their positions from before.Bookmark here

“Wait, aren't we going somewhere?” I asked, looking at everyone.Bookmark here

“Nah, we’ll do that later,” Shan said, opening a nearby drawer.Bookmark here

He pulled out a tablet and turned it on. Zhuyu peered out the window and glanced at his watch. Now that I thought about it, Kisai wore one as well. It was surprising since most people relied on their phones for time.Bookmark here

“Tess, now what?” I asked, sitting down near her.Bookmark here

“We’ll head out in a bit. It’s been a long time since we’ve entered. I want to see what has changed,” Tess replied.Bookmark here

She walked over to the drawer as well, pulling out a laptop. Should I see what everyone was doing? I couldn’t just sit here, bored out of my mind. Might as well speak with Kisai again.Bookmark here

“Sorry to bother you again. I’m pretty confused about what’s happening here,” I remarked, watching Kisai turn on the television.Bookmark here

“It's a bit disorientating the first time. But, you’ll get used to it,” Kisai replied.Bookmark here

“Do computers and other electronics work the same way as ours?” I asked, curious after seeing Shan's tablet and Tess' laptop.Bookmark here

“Pretty much the same as in our world. Just more advanced,” Kisai answered.Bookmark here

“This is getting kind of weird. I shouldn’t be surprised since we can use powers and all, but still....,” I remarked, unsure how to finish my sentence.Bookmark here

“You’ll get used to it. I wonder if they have a basketball game on right now,” Kisai said, flipping through the TV channels.Bookmark here

Zhuyu pulled out a stack of books from underneath the coffee table. As he turned them over, I saw an anime style drawing on the cover and sighed. Of course, I should have known. I expected pictures inside, but saw blocks of text. Was it a legit book?Bookmark here

“Tomo, see something interesting?” Ichaival asked.Bookmark here

“Huh? Oh, I was just looking at the book Zhuyu had,” I replied.Bookmark here

“It’s a light novel,” Shan informed me.Bookmark here

“What’s that?” I asked, unfamiliar with the term.Bookmark here

“It’s like manga without the pictures and it contains a bunch of words,” Shan explained.Bookmark here

“Why doesn’t he just read a normal book then?” I asked.Bookmark here

“They’re interesting,” Shan replied, shrugging his shoulders.Bookmark here

Zhuyu flipped through his novel, ignoring everyone. Who else was there? There was Zhuyu’s friend, En, but I didn’t feel like talking to him right now. Kisai and Ichaival were viable options. Shan was playing a game on the tablet and Tess was too preoccupied with her laptop. Oh, there was Shui too. If I recalled correctly, the conversation with him didn't go too bad last time.Bookmark here

“Tomo, how are you feeling? If anything’s wrong, you should tell us right away,” Ichaival said.Bookmark here

“I’ll be sure to if anything comes up,” I said.Bookmark here

“Seems everything is about the same. There are a few changes but things aren’t too different. It should be okay to leave now,” Tess said, shutting the laptop cover.Bookmark here

Tess pulled me aside into the kitchen area, after informing everyone of the plan. I expected something bad because conversations with her never ended in good news. She requested I summon my grimoire. The woman took it from my hand and flipped through the pages. She placed her finger down on a page near the back.Bookmark here

“Tomo, it’s inadequacy on my part to not have explained your grimoire. In addition to serving as a storage for any powers you see and attempt to copy, it also has a unique feature. I haven't analyzed the underlying basis, but there's a special index,” Tess explained.Bookmark here

“Is this really the best time to be telling me this?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Yes. Today is a double battle exhibition. As such, it is in your interest to learn a little more about everyone. This unique power of your grimoire allows you to achieve such a result in a less direct way,” Tess replied.Bookmark here

“What do you mean?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Mind diving. The grimoire allows you to view a person’s past memories,” Tess answered.Bookmark here

“What? I thought copying was my only power,” I exclaimed, thrown off by her statement.Bookmark here

“Your grimoire is capable of it and since it is an extension of you, it only makes sense. Try it on someone and see what you experience. Although, you can’t pick your landing location so please be careful,” Tess answered.Bookmark here

“How do I activate it?” I sighed.Bookmark here

“Place a bookmark on this page and make eye contact with the target. After that, the grimoire should be on auto pilot,” Tess replied.Bookmark here

She pulled out a plain bookmark, red string hanging from it. I accepted her gift and gave Tess a brief glance while holding my grimoire. Nausea struck me right away and the kitchen area around me blurred. There was a sharp clank and chains appeared everywhere in my vision. Without warning, they flew straight at me. Someone’s hand touched me, dispelling the chains.Bookmark here

“Tomo, I apologize for not informing you sooner, but don't try it on me. My powers as the Gatekeeper prevent you from seeing anything,” Tess warned.Bookmark here

“Will it be like this with the others too?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Not as serious as mine. Barriers exist but not like mine. If something obstructs your way, don’t force it or you may experience a severe backlash. Let it play out and try befriending everyone. It’s not mandatory, just something on the side to assist you. In addition, it may give insight into their powers. Consider it a helpful tool,” Tess replied, exiting the kitchen.Bookmark here

She put me in a difficult situation. Despite her words, it seemed very much mandatory. I glanced at everyone in the living room. Back to selecting again, huh? Out of everyone, Kisai was pretty chill, so it should be a good choice. Hopefully.Bookmark here

“Kisai, are we about to leave yet?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Pretty soon,” Kisai replied, looking up from the basketball game.Bookmark here

I repeated the directions Tess relayed to me in the kitchen. Kisai appeared puzzled by my actions. The living room transformed into a crazy impressionist painting. This time, though, I saw no chains and found myself at a railing.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Memory Dive 1: ArtwalkBookmark here

Time Period UnknownBookmark here

Zhuyu, Kisai, and Ichaival stood near a statue with green seaweed draped over it. Upon closer inspection, the seaweed wasn’t real, but rather part of the display. Ichaival held an expensive camera, pointing the lens at the sculpture.Bookmark here

Zhuyu wore a zipped up gray hoodie and surprisingly, not dress pants. Instead, it was a pair of light tan cargo pants. Ichaival wore something similar and a grey pull-over hoodie. Kisai wore a white zipped up hoodie, with a red shirt underneath, and black jeans.Bookmark here

I noticed Ichaival's face was much broader and rounder. Kisai and Zhuyu both wore glasses. Zhuyu pointed at the statue and Kisai inspected the gold plate in front of it. Ichaival stepped away from the two and then directed his camera at the object. He took a photo and showed it to his two friends.Bookmark here

“I wish it was better weather. Sucks to have to take photos like this,” Kisai remarked, glancing up at the grey sky.Bookmark here

“It’s a lot better than when it poured rain last time,” Zhuyu pointed out.Bookmark here

“Hey guys, how many more photos do you think we need?” Ichaival asked, going through all the photos on the camera.Bookmark here

“Enough to create a nice board, right? Let’s keep walking. We still have the photos from last time, right?” Zhuyu answered.Bookmark here

“Of course. I wouldn’t delete them,” Ichaival replied.Bookmark here

“Let’s go to the places we missed out on last time. You know, the pier would be a nice place to film something,” Kisai commented.Bookmark here

“Oh yeah, for the movie, right?” Ichaival agreed.Bookmark here

“It’ll be kind of hard though. You have to carry all the stuff here,” Zhuyu remarked.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I wouldn’t want any equipment damaged either,” Ichaival said.Bookmark here

“Yeah, like your umbrella. Do you still have it?” Zhuyu asked.Bookmark here

“No, why would I keep something like that?” Ichaival shook his head.Bookmark here

I was a spectral ghost, hovering above them, observing their actions. They spent an hour walking along a network of piers and taking pictures along the way. They were working on an “artwalk” project. A familiar name was mentioned, Mr. Derek. This must be their last year of high school.Bookmark here

“I think Dr. Mink would love it if we took a photo of that,” Zhuyu exclaimed, pointing at a round, black statue.Bookmark here

“What is that thing? Oh, mobius strip, something math related,” Ichaival read off the plate in front of the statue.Bookmark here

“You think he’ll give us extra points?” Kisai asked, a half joking expression on his face.Bookmark here

“Maybe if we talk about it,” Zhuyu replied, reading the description as well.Bookmark here

“Let’s get a few shots,” Ichaival suggested, adjusting the camera.Bookmark here

“I think we’re good. Let’s check around for places we might have missed when it started raining pretty hard,” Kisai answered.Bookmark here

They passed by an aquarium but did not enter. It started getting dark eventually. Really? They actually spent their time doing work. Granted, it was just photos and most of it was just sightseeing, but still. It amazed me they actually stayed on task, not doing anything else. Zhuyu glanced at his watch after they passed by a novelty store.Bookmark here

“This is much later than we came here last time,” he remarked.Bookmark here

“Yeah, it’s getting late. You feel hungry? We should stop by a store here and get some food. I’ve never been to some of the places here before,” Kisai suggested.Bookmark here

“Sounds good. I’m down for that,” Ichaival agreed.Bookmark here

“Sure,” Zhuyu nodded.Bookmark here

They walked down a few blocks and entered a restaurant. I looked up at the sign and it read “Crimson Hawk”. Kisai sat on one side alone while Zhuyu and Ichaival occupied the other. Ichaival had the window seat and although the skies were filled with grey clouds, no rain fell. A large ship was parked outside their booth window with no visible passengers.Bookmark here

“What kind of burger should I get?” Kisai asked, checking the menu.Bookmark here

“Whatever you like, I guess,” Zhuyu responded.Bookmark here

“Preferably something not too fatty,” Ichaival said, perusing the menu too.Bookmark here

Zhuyu set the camera up on the edge of the table and set it on auto. Everyone glanced at the camera except for Kisai. He gave a side glance, placing the tips of his hands on the table as if to emphasize something.Bookmark here

“You know what we should do? Everyone order something different so we can try each other’s things,” Kisai suggested.Bookmark here

Zhuyu and Ichaival nodded. After a few minutes, they ordered their food. In the meantime, the waitress placed down a bucket of fries. Kisai poured ketchup on the side and dipped it. Ichaival picked up a bottle of seasoning and sprinkled it over the fries. Zhuyu took a few fries, placing them into his mouth without dipping them in the condiments.Bookmark here

“These are hella good, especially the seasoning. I wish I had this at home when I cook,” Ichaival commented.Bookmark here

“Yeah, the fries are pretty good too. The texture, you know. The seasoning is pretty good too. It’s bottomless fries, right?” Kisai agreed with Ichaival’s assessment.Bookmark here

“Yeah, it says so on the little menu here,” Zhuyu replied.Bookmark here

“So when’s this due again?” Kisai asked, pouring more ketchup into the basket.Bookmark here

“We still have two weeks. Don’t worry about the board. I got that covered. We just need to print out the pictures,” Zhuyu replied.Bookmark here

“Alright, guess we’ll do it last minute like always, right?” Kisai asked.Bookmark here

“Hell no, we’re not. I want to get this finished early. I can go get the pictures printed out. But, we’ll need to pick out the ones we want,” Ichaival shook his head in disagreement.Bookmark here

“Wait, how are we going to organize it? I was thinking that we might do a collage thing where we have all our photos laid out,” Zhuyu asked.Bookmark here

“That’s a lot of pictures, but it should be fine. It’ll be the best one after all. We’ll get an A for sure,” Kisai said, moving their glasses of water when the waitress brought their order.Bookmark here

Everyone bit into their burgers. Kisai watched the contents of his burger slide out. He placed it down on the table with a sigh, pushing everything back in. Zhuyu devoured his food, finishing his burger first. He took a sip of water and glanced out the window. Ichaival and Kisai exchanged parts of their burger.Bookmark here

“How is it? Different than you expected?” Zhuyu asked.Bookmark here

“Sort of. Do you guys ever feel your head get itchy when you eat spicy things?” Kisai asked as he placed his burger down for the seventh time.Bookmark here

“I can’t say I do,” Zhuyu shook his head.Bookmark here

“I think I know what you mean,” Ichaival replied.Bookmark here

“We need more of these fries,” Kisai said and called the waitress over.Bookmark here

Kisai and Ichaival finally finished their burger aftr ten minutes. Everyone ate fries again once their main food was gone. Apparently they were very delicious, but I didn’t quite see the appeal. I ate stuff like that too, but it seemed they were going overboard in their praise.Bookmark here

“You think they sell this seasoning?” Zhuyu asked.Bookmark here

“If they did, I’m buying a bunch of bottles. It’s really good,” Ichaival commented.Bookmark here

“I don’t think they would now that I think about it,” Zhuyu said after some more consideration.Bookmark here

“I wouldn’t mind having this at home,” Kisai agreed.Bookmark here

After talking about random and trivial things, the three friends finally took out money to pay for the meal. Ichaival asked for a box and dumped the remaining fries, along with the seasoning, into it.Bookmark here

“You’re taking it, right?” Kisai asked as he slapped down a twenty.Bookmark here

“If you don’t want it, I’ll take it. The seasoning especially. I can use it when I get home,” Ichaival replied.Bookmark here

“I don’t want it. Go ahead,” Zhuyu said as he counted out fives from his wallet.Bookmark here

They exited the restaurant and Kisai took out his phone. Everyone’s phones, except Zhuyu’s, was an early version of a smartphone. The zero vector user had a slide phone, the upper right side of the screen chipped. Interesting, was it because of money or practicality? Before I could speculate further, the scene around me broke down. Guess my time was up.Bookmark here

MIND DIVE 1 ENDBookmark here

***Bookmark here

“Tomo, you okay?” Kisai asked, his voice bringing me back to reality.Bookmark here

“What? Oh yeah, sorry, I kind of spaced out there for a while,” I replied, shaking my head.Bookmark here

“Sounds like something I would do. We’re heading out now,” he remarked, pointing at the front door.Bookmark here

A bit boring for the first mind dive. However, I gained insight into their characters. No drastic differences between then and now, besides physique and overall appearance. What was I expecting? It was only two or three years ago. Things appeared the same for now.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.