“What are you doing here?” Kiyro said with a slight gasp. He didn’t expect to see the one and only Alex here at this location. The chances of meeting so many people he played with in-game and ending up in Georgia were surprising. He looked slightly different in-game and in real life, but he could tell they didn’t look too far apart from his original avatar.
“I was in the process of doing an errand. I’m assuming you’re Zero.” Alex asked. He walked up towards the group and slightly bowed towards them in acknowledgment. His eyes caught Isabel’s stare, and he sweetly smiled back. “Hello, little lady, what is a cute flower-like you doing here?” He winked at Isabel. She blushed red and averted her eyes away from him.
Alex glanced behind her and noticed Eve. “It seems Mrs. Wildfire is doing well. I’m sorry I couldn’t hang out with you when you called online. I had something important to do at that time.”
“No. No. It’s alright. We all have a life.”
“Thanks for understanding.”
“Ahem.” Jack coughed, trying to break their little world. Alex glanced up at him. “And you guys are?” He looked toward Jack and Will with interest. Everyone was silent from the unexpected encounter, especially Kiyro, who would have never expected to meet him here.
Kiyro noticed that Alex still had that glamor that he often sees in-game, but it seemed his character in real life was slightly different. It was calmer and polite, which threw him off guard. He stepped up towards him and replied, “This is Jack, Isabel, and Will. They gathered here because of the call that I had sent out. Are you here for the same reason as well?”
Alex slowly shook his head as he took in each person’s demeanor. Finally, he smiled a gentlemanly smile. “As you heard from Kiyro here, I’m Alex. I go by the name of Zeraph in-game.”
Each one gave their greetings and shook his hands. Alex confidently took their hands and grasped them firmly without wavering.
“How do you guys know each other? Friends?” Jack asked curiously while shaking his hand.
“You could say something like that. We have been hanging out together quite frequently in the game. Like you guys, I’m meeting you all for the first time.”
“Actually,” Eve cut in, “Kiyro and I had already met a while ago.”
“Yea, since the Yami Hikari convention.”
“What a surprise. I have been there as well, but I don’t think I have seen any one of you before. It seems fate has brought us here today.”
“Apparently so,” said Kiyro. Fate had a funny way of bringing people together.
Alex turned towards Kiyro. “So, will you be handing the quest out now?”
Kiyro slowly nodded. Automatically, the Alive gear sent out a message to each of the five people. The Alive gear pinged, notifying them of receiving the quest.
Real World Hidden Quest: Alpha Division individual quest
You have been given another quest by an unknown user. This quest has been confirmed to be transferred over to Zero. An automatic call out to the nearest group of players has been accomplished, and all six players are present. Please head to the Fire and Ice Bookstore and buy one Selenite for each player.
Total Individual quest that needs to be completed 3333 worldwide. 1325/3333 completed at this time.
Time Limit: Four hours out of six hours left
Quest Level: B
Reward: Depends on your completion of the quest. Each individual party member will be different.
The map has been sent to each teammate.
What would your team name be?
“Fate,” Kiyro replied
Your team name has been registered.
“Fire and Ice Bookstore?” Jack replied, confused. “Why do we need to go there, and what is a selenite even?”
“It is a pure white translucent crystal,” spoke Isabel. Everybody turned towards her, curious at her answer.
“So what purpose does this crystal have?” Jack asked carefully, trying to find the right word without sounding too ignorant. Everyone listened to her with interest, and even Kiyro couldn’t help but wonder why this quest needed a crystal stone.
“Well, it’s a bit complicated. Think of it like this. In a metaphysical aspect of the stone, it has a very fine energy vibration that brings clarity of mind, opening the crown chakra. It can help access angelic consciousness and higher guidance. Another aspect is to link the body to the higher light realms. Selenite can be used to form a protective barrier around an area, creating a safe and quiet space that does not allow outside influences,” said Isabel, like a teacher teaching her student. “I use it to set up a protective barrier where I live.”
“What do you mean energy? You’re not talking about physics, are you?”
“I think I might know what she means,” said Kiyro. “If I’m not mistaken, I remember what my sensei used to say back in my old Academy. He told me something different.” Kiyro was a bit nervous to voice what he had to say. “He said that the concept of metaphysical energy is similar to physics and follows almost similar laws. No energy is created or destroyed, just transferred from one to another. That said, the energy from the crystals was already present and radiated off energy throughout its lifespan. Even rocks have an expiration date. So we are looking more into the energy the eye can not see. Almost like an aura, their essence, or some kind of etheric energy form. Right?”
“Yea,” nodded Isabel quickly in agreement. “How does he know this?”
“He used to rattle off some different aspects that didn’t completely make sense during my martial arts training. But, I think I’m slowly starting to understand him as we speak.”
“But I still don’t fully understand how a piece of rock could do all this that you said,” said Alex in disbelief. He scoffed at the idea that a piece of rock was more than it seemed.
“Well, to put it simply, the energy that a selenite gives off is purely high energy where it cleanses the surrounding area that it protects. A light shield is erected from it. Think of the Selenite as the source that sets up a white dome-like barrier, or it could be used to connect energy points from one to another, feeding off each other,” said Isabel.
“Wait back up. Set up a protective barrier? Have connections to angels? What kind of bogus are you saying.” Alex was having a hard time believing Isabel’s words.
“What it protects does not stop physical aspects, but more on a spiritual plane. Don’t you ever wonder why there are so many sightings of ghosts, demons, and unusual mythical creatures? This is because this world does not stop on the physical plane. Things on the other side have the power to influence the physical plane without us knowing and even seeing.”
“You guys believe in all that?” Alex asked the group. Everyone replied one by one.
“I’m not a believer, but I’m open to new ideas,” said Will. He shrugged it off.
“Ghosts? I don’t believe in it at all,” stated Eve. She folded her arms and began to tap her feet on the pavement. “Unless I have some kind of proof, it sounds like a fairytale.”
“I do. I think there is more to this world than we imagined, ” Jack replied. “Science has not explained everything yet to state ghosts are not real. So it’s all up for grabs right now.”
“What about you, Kiyro?” asked Eve. She was waiting for his answer.
Kiyro was quiet for a moment, thinking about an answer to give them. “She might have some validity to what she said, and what I’m remembering now could slowly hold true to what my sensei said,” Kiyro answered. If what happened in the last quest had some kind of similarities to this quest, he did not take any chances.
“Really? Why do you say that?” said Eve. She was surprised at his answer.
Kiyro breathed in deeply and calmed his nerves. It was not something he usually talked about, but he knew that whatever happened on his last quest could happen again. “I had a quest before this, one of the Real World quests.”
“You did?” asked Eve. She inched closer, interested in what she would have to say. “So what happened, and what does this have to do with what we were just talking about?”
“I think showing it to you would be faster than me retelling the story.” Kiyro checked his Alive gear. “Slyph, I need you to send them my video. Can you do that for me?”
Sylph responded, “Yes, boss, I can do that. Will you give me some kind of reward for helping you out here? Possibly you know some rated R stuff?” Sylph wiggled his imaginary eyebrow and asked in a mischievous tone.
“No. It’s a simple task. So why would you need some kind of reward for it?” Kiyro shook his head in reluctance to Sylph’s demands.
“Who are you talking to?” Will asked. He stared at Kiyro strangely.
Kiyro sighed, “He’s my guide and accessory in the game. His name is Sylph.”
An animated bird cartoon message appeared before each person’s Alive gear. Then, like a virus, Sylph invaded each Alive gear and sent his own small personal clone with a message embedded in it.
“Hello. I’m Sylph. You don’t have to worry; this is a small communication link between Alive gears. I didn’t infect anything,” Sylph replied with a chirpy attitude. “In which case, I wished I did, but nooo, its company’s protocol and safety feature.” He grumbled in a low tone so no one else could hear.
“Excuse me?” Eve asked.
“Nothing. I’m just stating that everyone has a unique Avatar in their Alive gear. It’s interesting to see one’s persona,” said Sylph with a false happy tone. “It’s not every day I get to see something different.”
Eve replied, “So what is the message you sent me about?”
“Watch it.” Kiyro motions them. “You’ll see what I mean.” He patiently waited for everyone to watch the clip that Sylph had sent. He was wondering what they would say after they watched the whole thing. His fingers twitched nervously throughout the whole time waiting.
“Oh wow,” said Isabel. “There are so many cats. Did this really happen?” She turned her head towards him in awe. Her large doe-like eyes stared back at him with curiosity.
“Yes,” Kiyro replied. He couldn’t help but stare at her cute face and tried his best not to stare. “I couldn’t believe it at first. But, then, they just kept coming.”
“This is not digitally fabricated, right?” Jack asked in an interesting tone. He was fast-forwarding through the video.
“Do you see me as a fool,” said Sylph in an outburst. “Why would I record and add more cats that would take a very long time to animate? I HATE CATS!”
“Woah. Calm down, Mr. Birdie,” said Jack raising his fingers towards his lips, trying to calm Sylph down. “It’s just a question. You could just say no. Nobody was framing you for alteration.”
Alex snickered. “It seems you ruffled a couple of his feathers. I suggest you give him some treats to calm him down.”
“You don’t say.” Jack drummed his fingers on his chin and smirked. “The amount of cats is extraordinary. It’s truly abnormal.”
“Did you have a large bag of catnip or something?” Alex asked in disbelief. “Or did you spray some kind of pheromones that attract cats?”
“Neither.” Kiyro expected these questions that they were asking one by one. He patiently answered each one knowing that they would have many more. He was more interested in what they would say about the whole situation.
“Wait. Did you see that?” Isabel said with a concerned voice. She stopped at a point in the clip where she was looking at. “There is some kind of moving human shadow. Were you followed through the whole ordeal?”
“There was nobody there.”
“Are you sure? It seems like more than one was around you throughout the whole event.” Isabel scanned through and took a snapshot of the spots where she found different humanoid shadows present. “Look. Here. Here and here.”
A holographic image of all the snapshots was placed in front of the group. Each person came forward to see what she was talking about. Alex and Will had difficulty seeing what she was showing in the pictures before them.
“Where?” Alex asked. He looked diligently for what Isabel was talking about and leaned toward her. Isabel turns a bit pink from being close to Alex.
“I think she’s talking about here. There seems to be a silhouette in the background on the edge of the pictures. It’s constant throughout the others she has found,” Jack pointed out one-by-one.
“You don’t see it?”
“You’re right,” Will said in a shocked tone. “But it’s very difficult to see. It’s more like a blur than a solid silhouette.”
“You’re saying that’s a human shape?” Alex asked in disbelief. “Are you sure you’re seeing things correctly?”
“He’s right. I see a humanoid shadow,” said Will. “It’s more definite when you watch it in play. You could see someone moving in the background.” He replayed a couple of the scenes and even zoomed in on the areas where the shadows moved.
Alex watched the clips that Jack was playing. “I could see what you are saying that there “One last thing, especially in the last part of the video, there is a more definite outline of some kinds of shadows moving in the background.”
someone there.” Isabel brought up the last scene where a humanoid shadow attacked Kiyro and disappeared when he finished saying the verses.
“But why were you reading some kind of poem throughout the whole event?” Jack chuckled at his own joke. “What purpose did it serve?”
“I’m not quite sure,” Kiyro replied. He scratched his head, looking for answers, but nothing came up.
“He was chanting and closing a door.” Isabel cut in on the conversation.
Everybody turned their attention towards Isabel again. Isabel stepped back, a bit uncomfortable in their full attention. She unconsciously pulled on her clothes, trying to settle her nerves.
“What do you mean closing a door?” asked Kiyro. But, of course, he didn’t expect to hear such an answer, nor did it make any sense. Though in this day and age, things were not making any sense after yesterday, making his brain ache with a slight headache.
“Well, what he was doing was chanting an incantation to close the tear from our dimension to the other side.”
“Yes. A lot of people call it hell, or the place where dead people and creatures from darkness and light stay in. Other stories, legends, and views from different cultures and religions point to the afterlife, but what if all those stories of the other side are real?”
“Back up. You’re saying what I was doing the whole time for the quest was closing a tear through dimensional space between two worlds?”
“Well, yes and no. It’s not two worlds.” Isabel racked her brain for a better answer. “Think of it like this. Earth is split into different dimensions from lower frequency to higher frequency. The dimension we live in is between the lower and higher energy frequency. So when we see supernatural things happening to us, it usually happens in the lower frequency, aka what people call hell. I call it the other side.”
“So you’re saying there are two dimensions? One is the earth we physically live in, the second is the world of the dead?” remarked Will. Kiyro was wondering as well.
“Well, that’s the thing. I think there is more.”
“I’m not sure how many more, but there are more secrets to this world than meets the eye. I don’t know all the answers to the questions, but there have been rumors that there are up to nine lower and higher dimensional levels. It’s just that this plane is the mediator between the dimensions. Think of this level as level one for both realms, so seventeen dimensions are all layered like a pancake, all converging into one space.”
“Why does that sound so familiar….” Eve spoke. “It’s at the tip of my lips. I just can’t remember it right now. I hate how the answers are there, but it’s elusive.”
“That’s a rumor. Not a fact and something difficult to prove,” said Alex. “Let’s stay with the facts for now. All-in-all we have an assumption that Kiyro here was closing the door.”
“He was. You all saw the rune stone inscribed with pictures or words. Then he placed them all in different locations setting up magical connections between each stone. Doing this creates a pathway for the energy to travel from one location to another. As I stated before, stones have a natural affinity to Earth and already know what it needs to do without us forcing anything. It’s all about what you know about the earth and how you control it.”
“How do you know all this?” Alex asked. “You sound pretty confident about all this. Where do you get this information from?” His demeanor turned intimidating for Isabel, and she took more steps backward. She held up her hands, grasping her clothes.
“I-I have a couple of Fri-i-iends that believe in the same things I do. They are more advanced in thinking about supernatural things.” Isabel stuttered and replied.
“Give her a break. You’re scaring her,” Kiyro held up his arm to stop Alex from coming closer to Isabel. “Give her some space. It’s not useless information. It’s something we could search into later.”
“Actually, after watching what you sent me. I think I have some small odd experiences in my earlier real quest as well now that I’m thinking about it,” said Will.
“My quest was really simple. There was no chanting or anything like that source. But, oddly enough, I needed to get to a specific location and spend the night with some talisman.”
“Wait, a talisman and spend the night?” Alex asked in disbelief.
“I was in an abandoned church. One of my guildmates, Tom, was there with me as well.”
“So what happened?” Eve scooted in closer, holding onto his every last word.
“Nothing, much except the lights, went on and off throughout the night. The church was kind of creepy staying there. There were broken chairs, fallen crosses and an overgrown plant. I wouldn’t have thought it was a church if there wasn’t a cross there. Though the whole time we were there, five cars broke down throughout the day in front of the church. I have never seen so many cars break down in the exact same spot.”
“You kidding, right?”
“Tom was present; we even watched it happen every time.”
The others were silent at what they heard. Five different cars broken down in front of an abandoned church was something you don’t hear as often. Was it possibly karma, or was something more happening at that church? Kiyro thought. It was something that caught his attention, but it was not something he would like to go to an abandoned church to find the answer to.
“Did you get a chance to record any of it?”
“No. I thought it was nothing so special, so it wasn’t my top priority. The night went by so quickly that there wasn’t much to talk about but those strange occurrences.”
“Well then, Let’s get this quest done with. We might find more answers to what’s happening with this game and this world. We’ll miss the train if we stay here any longer.” He pointed towards the train. “We can have our conversation while we head to our next location.”
“He has a point.” Jack agreed.
Kiyro’s small band of people moved forward together onto the open doors of the train. It was rush hour, and many people moved in and out of the train station. Even though it was not packed like the New York bus line, there still were many people. Kiyro’s group moved to the corner of the train near the end, where they could find a couple of seats.
Eve and Isabel sat together while Kiyro, Jack, and Alex stood around them, holding onto the silver bars to keep their balance from the moving train. As the train bolted forward, Kiyro stepped forward to stop himself from stumbling onto the floor. Unfortunately, Eve and Isabel were busy talking about girl talk, so he wasn’t too keen on starting a conversation.
Kiyro zoned out for a moment, thinking about everything he heard from Isabel and the quest. Even the mission he was given by Danketsu Ryu Academy to become one of the quests was unexpected. Even though the Academy had standard requirements on missions, a game quest was something he would never have guessed to become a possibility.
He remembered the time in the Academy when he took on missions. His mission’s rank than he did in the past ranged from B to A class, while only a very rare certain few got the privilege of S class missions. Even he did not receive one mission during his stay at the Academy. It was considered a class with a very high chance of death. Even A class missions were considered something to be wary of.
Students with lower belts were given the option to take on E and D class missions. Students who had experience and higher ranking took on tasks that were C and B class missions. The A-class missions were only given to the top twenty students in the Academy.
He could still remember his first mission, given that it needed two people to complete. He and his brother were the ones who were specifically sought out and handed to. Like a distant memory that happened yesterday, he could still remember it like it was today.
“Kiro. Did you receive it?” Kyle’s voice boomed loudly behind him in excitement.
Kiyro was hitting the punching bag and sweating proficiently. He stopped and grabbed the swinging bag before it hit him and knocked him back. “Receive what?”
“You didn’t receive it yet?” Kyle asked with disappointment in his voice. “I thought it was possible that you got the A-Class mission from Demon Fox.” He punched the punching bag with frustration. “Damn it.”
“I’m kidding. I’m kidding. I got it too.” Kiyro smirks a mischievous grin. “You fall for the same old trick over and over again. Don’t you ever learn from your old mistakes?”
Kyle’s body slammed the punching bag, making him fall backward onto his back. Air escaped his lungs as he settled on the ground with his arms splayed out. Kyle barked out loud, laughing with enthusiasm. “Finally, we get to do an A-class mission together, and it’s our very first one. Let’s go and get ready.” He helped pull up Kiyro from the ground.
“Yea. Yea. Keep your pants on. It’s not like the mission is going to run away any time soon.” Kiyro pushed past Kyle and went to grab a towel that was hanging on the chair. “If I were you, I would just go meditate to calm down your nerves. You won’t be able to sleep and be fully rested tomorrow if you keep up this obnoxious high energy.”
“What are you talking about? I’ll be fine.” Kyle scoffed at the idea of what Kiyro stated. He puffed out his chest and bragged out loud. “I’ll be fine. You know me. I can stay up for three days with very light sleep, and I’ll be fine.”
“You do know that today is your third day. Don’t you? Your time is running out. Aren’t you worried you might fall asleep throughout the whole mission?” Kiyro placed the towel around his neck.
“Don’t worry about it.” Kyle patted him hard on his shoulder and slung his arms around him. “If it’s you and me, our tag team is always invincible. We have never failed in our missions ever.” He chuckled.
“We didn’t have many missions of high-class level, to begin with.” Kiyro peeled his brother’s arms off him. “Just get ready for tomorrow. We can’t mess this up. If we fail, our name and our Academy’s name will be on the line.”
“I know. I know. You’re such a spoilsport. Why are you so serious? You have such a close personality as father’s that sometimes it’s creepy.” Kyle pretended to shiver in front of Kiyro.
Kiyro rolled his eyes. “Don’t say that. It’s creepy. If I know any better, your stubbornness is exactly like father.”
“You got it all wrong.” Kyle folded his arms in disagreement and frowned. “You do know we don’t see eye-to-eye lately.”
Kiyro sighed and raised his hand as if he had a headache. “I know. Let’s not talk about that.” He knew that if he pried any further, the conversation would not last into a positive discussion. Whenever his brother got irked or angry about specific events or people, he did have a tendency to take it a bit too far.
Kyle turned towards him and snuck up like a creepier, “Do you want to know something interesting.”
“What is it now? I need to take a shower.” Kiyro asked with a tired voice.
Kyle grinned from ear to ear. “I know that if we succeed in nine A class missions, we have a chance to take on an S Rank. Demon Fox has specifically stated that he will give us one if we succeed in every single one.” He giggled like a little girl excited at the prospect of taking on an S-class mission. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. Getting one of these is like getting a special step into the celebrity world. We could possibly get hired by a rich, famous, and even powerful group of people. Don’t you see how many connections that have?”
“Yes. I know. Connections are everything in this time and age. I wonder how deep our master has? The last time I saw him, I think he was with a male celebrity doing a protection service. He has been the rising star for rock bands these past few years. I think it was something like D-Rock?.”
“Wait, do you mean D-Rock?” Kyle asked, astounded at what Kiyro was saying.” Really? I would love to meet them and get their autograph. Did you by any chance get it?” He hopefully glanced at Kiyro with sparkling eyes. Kiyro backed away a little, trying to get some space between them.
“I did.” Kiyro quickly replied. He didn’t want to be grabbed and shook if he didn’t get it. He knew his brother too well.
“You did! I can’t believe you did! Where?” Kyle grabbed him by the collar like a maniac.
Kiyro raised his hands and pried Kyle’s fingers off him. “I’ll give it to you later when we finish the mission.”
“What! Come on, bro, give it to me now.” Kyle looked like he was almost about to weep for the signature.
“It’s a piece of paper.”
“Not just a piece of paper. It’s D-Rock paper which could be sold for a high price! He’s like the next Michael Jackson!”
“Calm down. You’ll get it.” Kiyro pushed him back. “Let’s go get some sleep. The paper not going to suddenly disappear in a day.”
“Fine.” Kyle heavily sighed as if he was defeated. “Fine.” He pouted like a little baby and turned around.
“Kiyro.” Kyle spoke. “Kiyro. Kiyro.”
“Kiyro. Are you alright?” Eve asked out of concern. She peered up at him while she lightly shook his sleeves.
Kiyro returned back to reality in seconds. “I’m fine.” He lightly pushed her hands aside. He turned his head towards Isabel, who also looked concerned at him. For a split moment, his eyes matched Isabel’s, and she quickly looked away, embarrassed. He couldn’t help but smile slightly.
“What do you think, Kiyro? Fire and Ice is a book store. What do you think we need for us to go there?” Eve asked again.
“The only thing I could think of is information. Why else would you go to a bookstore for.”
“That’s what we all agreed on as well, but these days and age, we find information through the web. So what purpose would a book serve?” asked Alex.
“Well, there are still people who would buy books for old time’s sake. But, it’s the feeling of the rough or smooth texture of reading a book in-between the finger, opening the crisp new page, and the smell of new books that makes it worth reading,” said Isabel.
“What you are saying is weird.”
“It’s people’s preference; some people are like that,” said Jack. “We all have different oddities.”
“We are arriving in Midtown. Midtown.” A muffled voice of the intercom speaking loudly with a gruff male voice.
“This is our stop,” said Jack. He walked towards the door.
The train slowed down and halted with a slight jerk, sending the people forward. The door slowly opened, letting the people out. Kiyro’s small band of people followed after squeezing past the busy crowd of people. They walked out towards the beaming sun that scorched their face. Kiyro clicked his Alive gear glass on the side, turning the shade on, allowing him to see in the bright sunlight.
“The sun is too bright. I wish the sun was blocked for one day so the harsh sun doesn’t damage my skin. I start breaking out if I don’t put on sunblock,” said Jack. He rummaged through his pocket and pulled out a small sunblock.
“You carry that with you all the time?” Isabel asked as she pulled up next to him.
“Yea. It’s a lifesaver, especially on days like this. I would usually get bad Eczema on my neck area.” Jack squeezed a bit on his hand and pasted it on his neck. “It’s all because of my stupid genetics.” He sighed, defeated at his own comment.
The bus passed them and stopped at their local spot to pick up waiting customers.
“Are we going to get on?” Jack asked. He looked towards them, waiting for their answer.
Kiyro shook his head, “The map is stating it’s right around the corner. It should be a walk away.”
“In this hot weather?” Jack let out a small squeak. “Damn, I was hoping we could have gone under some shades.” He wiped the sweat off his face with his hand.
“Let’s get going.” Alex cut in and went ahead with his hand in his pocket. “I want to get this over with.”
“Alex. Wait up!” Eve ran forward behind Alex and pulled on his sleeves. “What are you doing?” He pulled back his arms out of her hands.
“Wha-?” Eve tilted her head at his odd behavior. “Was that a little too much skinship?”
“I’m sorry. I just wasn’t expecting it.”
Kiyro walked up next to them. “You guys okay?”
“Yea. Everything is fine,” replied Alex. “We should go.”
“Ok?” Kiyro said, slightly confused. He thought for a moment that there was a slight tension in the air between the two people.
“Hey guys, wait up,” Jack waved them down while Isabel followed closely behind them. Isabel peeked over Jack’s shoulder, trying to get a glimpse of what was happening.
“Are you guys going out?” Isabel asked Eve and Alex while they were walking toward their destination.
“Excuse me?” said Alex.
“No. No. It’s nothing like that. We’re just friends.” Eve quickly replied. She shook her hands in front of her, denying anything happening between them. “He just doesn’t like to be touched. See.” Her finger slowly reached over towards his bare skin, and Alex pulled back quickly before she could even touch him.
“You don’t have a phobia, do you?” Jack asked. He was inching towards Alex mischievously but stopped when Alex gave him a glare.
“No. I just don’t like people touching me.”
“Well, I thought you guys had something going on. You guys would look nice together. Almost like a perfect picture of beautiful people.” Isabel couldn’t help but feel jealous of how Eve and Alex looked. Their tall figure and perfectly defined body would be considered a rarity few people had.
“No. Look at his face. It would be a sin if he didn’t. He probably already has someone in his life.” Eve snickered. She continually teased him, trying to poke him with her finger. “It wouldn’t make sense if he didn’t.”
“I don’t have a girlfriend.”
“You jest.” Eve gasped. Even Kiyro had a hard time believing that he didn’t. He thought he would have a couple at his fingertips. “You’re saying that all that flirting and you have not received one number?”
“I already have enough numbers as it is. I just don’t see the point in my life in having someone to distract me from my goals. They could become a hindrance to what I need to do. But indulging in a few ladies here and there doesn’t harm anyone.”
“You’re such a player.” Eve rolled her eyes. “It wouldn’t be surprising if you had a couple kids somewhere out there.”
Alex laughed. “Would you like to know?” His eyes glinted dangerously mischievously.
“I could probably have one or two. Maybe.” Alex shrugged it off as if it was nothing. “Don’t need to rack your brains too hard. I’m not the type to have any anyway.”
“Gentleman’s honor.” Alex raised his hands.
Will pointed out. “Either way, it does not matter at this moment if he has a kid or not. Our priority is to finish this quest and see the end of it all.”
They all nodded in agreement. While everyone was talking amongst themselves, Kiyro diligently led the group to their destination. They had passed large numbers of small stores that were clustered together in small shopping districts. It was like the old southern buildings were converted into tourist shops that gave various restaurants and even trinket stores. He couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the number of different things to see. From his left to the right, there was a Native American shop, small trinket stores, art stores, general goods, and various cultural restaurants.
It was his first time presenting in Midtown. He meant to visit the place but did not have a purpose until now. Even during the summer heat, the stores were packed with a melting pot of different races. It was one of the many hotspots that young people came to visit.
“Just turn this right, and we will be at our location.” Kiyro directed the group as they turned to the right.
“Is that the place?” Eve pointed towards the group crowded in front of a large shop. They gathered over a table where a salesman was selling new-age books.
In bold black and yellow letters, a fancy sign written Fire and Ice was present over the shop. The glass window showed beautiful designs of colorful wind chimes and crystals for people to see. Even small fantastical model creatures were lined up neatly on shelves.
Kiyro pushed the door, and a sweet bell-like ring was heard as he entered. He could not explain it, but he felt at ease and at peace. The room was cool but felt warm; the lighting inside the store was not too bright, making people feel like they were entering a harsh setting. It was rare for him to find places that give off such a warm feeling.
“It’s so peaceful here,” Isabel replied softly. Her gaze darted from side to side, trying to take everything in at once.
Kiyro nodded in agreement with her statement as they traveled deeper into the store. A large collection of different crystals was displayed in glass cases and on shelves. In addition, an assortment of colors on sale ranged like the rainbow, from red to light blue, jet black, and even emerald green crystals with different formations and sizes.
There was even a section of the room selling incense sticks, charms, candles, and small trinkets that had to do with the metaphysical aspects. Even large wind chimes were hanging from the ceiling, swinging softly from the air conditioning, creating a soft musical sound. Small and large gongs were placed on shelves, and small water fountains of different varieties were out for sale. Even the trickling sound of the water was soft and peaceful to hear. The strong scent of burning white sage with sweet grass tickled his nose.
Further in the store were walls upon walls with many new age books. They were books that Kiyro would not normally see in a regular large-scale book store. Everything in the store focused heavily on the metaphysical aspect of one spiritual growth.
“They’re so beautiful,” Eve replied as she walked past the glass shelves full of beautiful crystal formations. Her eyes darted from one object, interested in what she saw.
Everyone was diligently looking around, finding things that caught their attention. Even Kiyro found the store peculiar and fascinating. It felt like he was in a different world that seemed out of place.
Kiyro ran his fingers across the crisp, pristine shelf of books and rested upon a small dragon statue the size of a teacup. A black and gold baby dragon sat down like a human with a book in its lap. Behind the baby dragon, a handbook titled Magick History of the Earth. Pulling it out of the shelf, it was an old leather book that seemed out of place from the other clean new books. He slowly opened it randomly to a page.
Old Magick. Since the beginning of Earth’s creation, the world has had its natural energy network that stemmed from the core and radiates outwards towards the surface. Over time, made from billions of different star energy to form what is now our everyday Earth, the energy of the world has massed together in large quantities to form what we call Earth to this day.
Each small molecule of energy moves, transfers, and changes with the world’s will. Its purpose is unknown, but since the birth of mankind, we have tapped into its limitless energy through time.
We, humans, are among the many intelligent beings that were given the privilege to harness the neverending energy. It all began with our powerful tool: our mind. From our mind, we create new thoughts; each idea in our mind sends out a small blast of energy that pushes into a collective thought around the world. The more we think about a certain event, the more energy is sent towards the idea we envision. It becomes powerful over decades when more and more thoughts and actions are put into effect to make it happen.
Because we are human beings run by emotions, the power of thought is amplified by the emotional influx of different emotions we want. There are three levels of energy that are put into thought. The first is the subconscious realm, where we make simple everyday decisions. However, our wants more than our needs are constantly fired out towards the world like a small, fast beat of an erratic heartbeat.
The second is what’s under the simple wants and desires. The reason behind why we want certain things. These desires and wants have more power and energy in our thoughts, and more energy is put into them when the desires are strong.
The final level is in our unconscious realm of thoughts, where our needs, wants, and desires are all deeply embedded into a couple or more solid reasons where our needs and wants. Desires stem from and are filtered outwards to our secondary and broken further into smaller pieces to our subconscious. The final level of our realm of thoughts is where the crux of our turbulent emotions will move with such force and energy that it could change a person’s motives, thoughts, and even desire.
As one delves deeper into the power of thought, we notice that the push and pull of events can be controlled and even brought to one’s desire. Now the thing about the power of thought is simple and complex. This is where Old magic and thoughts intertwine and begin with the belief that it is real and possible. Even an impossible event can turn into a possibility.
Kiyro turned the page.
Earth has natural pockets of energy hidden underneath the land. Different areas have more energy streams where life proliferates while others are barren. As the point of source in each room, over time, the old ley lines move and shift from the movement of the tectonic plates. The higher the number of lives in a certain area, the more earth’s energy is present.
“Do you need any help?” A salesman asked next to him. He was busily putting new stacks of books onto the shelves.
Kiyro snapped out of reading the book and closed it. “Yes. I actually do. By any chance, do you sell any Selenite?”
“Yes, we do.” The salesman stopped what he was doing and got up.
“Where would they be?”
“Follow me.” The salesman placed the book onto the box and got up from the ground. Kiyro took the book with him and walked straight for the case full of crystals. He followed after, wondering what a Selenite might look like.
They arrived at a case full of white crystal clear crystals decorated inside the case.
“Here it is. We have different sizes, types, and even colors. Is there a specific one you are looking for?”
“I’m not so sure.” Kiyro placed his hands on the glass and gazed to see the Selenite. There was selenite that was white, pink, and a bit red.
Kiyro’s Alive gear scanned the surrounding area. Finally, a message appeared in his Alive gear.
Please individually buy a medium-size selenite pyramid.
“Wait, I think I remember what I want. I would like that medium-sized selenite in a pyramid shape. Please.” Kiyro tapped his fingers on the glass over the pyramid, looking selenite.
“Would you like a small one or a large one?” The salesman bent down to open the case with a key.
“I’ll go with the medium size one. Can you give me six of them, please?”
“Sure. Give me a second.”
Kiyro patiently waited. He watched the salesman gently take out the small selenite pyramid and hand it to Kiyro.
“I’m surprised that selenite has been in high demand recently. Is there some kind of event or something going on? Our store has recently had a large influx of selenite sales.”
“They all seem to come for two different shapes and sizes of selenite. One is the pyramid one you are looking for in groups of six. The other is a selenite in an orb shape and is sold individually.”
“You can say something like an event.”
“I see. That would explain it. I would recommend you be careful with the selenite. It’s one of those crystals that are fragile. Try not to get water on it because it dissolves over time.”
“I’ll be careful,” he was handed the last one. “Thanks… Actually, can you give me one more?”
“Sure.” The salesman reached in and gave him another. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
Kiyro shook his head. He turned and walked toward his group. “Hey, guys.” He called out. They stopped what they were doing and came around him like a moth to a flame.
“Did you find it?” Jack asked.
Kiyro raised up his hands, which were filled with Selenite. He handed each one of them a pyramid selenite. Eve raised it up into the light, where the translucent white crystal shined with an etheric beauty. It looked like white snow mixed with ice all in one.
“This is it?” Will asked. “What are we supposed to do with this?”
“Not sure. Let’s buy it and see if we get a new update on the quest,” said Eve.
Each one went to the cash register to buy the selenite. A female attendant helped them out. Alex was busily flirting with the lady.
Eve rolled her eyes at the scene in front of her. “He’s the same as always. It would be strange if he wasn’t like that.”
Kiyro openly agreed with her.
“What good would this selenite be used for?” Jack twiddled the selenite around with his fingers. “It seems you’re knowledgeable on this stuff, Isabel. Maybe you could enlighten us?”
“I don’t know. I’m not as knowledgeable as you think I am.”
“Hey, you guys. I got an update on the quest,” said Eve.
“The moment you buy it, you will know.”
Kiyro was next in line. He placed the book that he was reading and the selenite on top of it.
“I have never seen this book before. Are you sure you got it here?” The cashier asked. He flipped over the book to check if it had a tag price. On the back, with black ink on a white sticker, a $10 price tag was located. “Nevermind, I guess it is ours. That would be $20.91,” said the sales clerk. The digital cash register rang up the two selenites. Kiyro pulled out his phone and slid his phone across a digital machine.
“Thank you. Next, please.”
The moment the transaction went through, a message popped up in Kiyro’s Alive gear updating the quest.
Please head over to Evergreen Atlanta Community College with your teammate. Once arriving at the location, six different map locations will be sent individually to each person. You have less than three hours to complete the quest.
Kiyro read the message over again. Three hours? That wasn’t enough time for whatever they would complete the quest. He pulled up a digital map to the location of the College with his Alive gear. He noticed that going from his location to the College would take those thirty minutes, but there was a problem. The GPS was red on the highway with an accident icon floating over it, adding another thirty minutes. Switching over to the bus route view, he noticed the added amount of time increased by another hour and thirty minutes.
“I’m not sure about you guys, but the time to get to the college is over two hours and thirty minutes on the bus. So that gives us less than thirty minutes to complete a quest that we don’t know if there will be more added to it or not,” said Alex. “With that assumption, the possibility of it running over the time limit is high.”
“I was thinking in the same line as well,” replied Kiyro. “It would be best if we go by car and get on the highway or possibly go locally to save time, but our options are limited. We don’t have a car.”
“Why don’t we call around to see if we can get a ride? I can look into a cab.”
“We could do that,” said Eve. “I might have someone.”
“Okay. Let’s try that out,” agreed Will.
“I’m up for it.” Jack nodded his head in agreement.
Each went on their own call list database, looking for a possible ride. Kiyro didn’t have to think so hard about finding a possible ride. He only had a few people’s names listed on his directory that lived in Georgia. The first was his sister, the second was his father, whom he did not want to talk to; the third was his brother, who went missing; and finally, his master Demon Fox. The only person he would ever call at this moment was his sister. Pulling up her number, he dialed her.
“Hello? Kiyro?” Anna’s voice replied. Loud, obnoxious sounds could be heard behind her.
“What’s that loud sound? It’s difficult to hear you.” Kiyro had to raise his voice over the loud sound.
“Sorry about that. There is construction going on right next to me. Give me a moment while driving away from it.” The loud, obnoxious sound slowly decreased over time, and finally, it was peaceful and quiet. “There. I’m driving right now. What’s up?”
“By any chance, are you free?”
“Yea. I don’t have to go to work today.”
“Then do you think you could pick us up?”
“At Midtown in front of the Ice and Phoenix store.”
“Lucky you. I’m just right around the corner. I know where that is, and it should take me about ten minutes to get there.”
“Really? Thanks a lot.”
“I’ll see you soon.” Anna hung up the phone call before Kiyro could say anything else.
“I’m out of options,” said Jack. He was slightly annoyed at how no one was picking up the phone.
“Me too.” Eve and Isabel both replied at the same time.
“The taxi fare is going to cost over $50. I’m not exactly sure what the total outcome would be, but we could split it six ways.” Alex threw in his opinion, and everyone thought about it.
“We could do that,” said Williams.
“Or we could save money and ride for free with my sister. She’ll be here in like ten minutes.” Kiyro waited for their answer and knew what they would all choose.
“I’m down with that,” Isabel replied quickly. “But I’m starving. So let’s get this over with and grab something to eat.”
Everyone else agreed with Isabel. So they walked out of the Ice and phoenix store and waited patiently outside for his sister to arrive.
“I didn’t know you have a sister,” Jack asked. “I thought you were an only child.”
“Same.” Isabel walked up next to him. Kiyro could feel her presence near him, making him a bit antsy.
“I did.” Eve chimed in, coming next to him on the other side. “I haven’t met her yet, so I don’t know much about her. But, from what I know, she seemed pretty nice. She agreed to let my cat Tempest stay at the apartment. I even got to check it out. The place looked pretty nice and clean.”
“Actually, it’s my apartment. I only asked to make sure she didn’t mind the extra company,” said Kiyro. He felt like he was in between two large opposing forces.
“She came over?”
“Yea. For a moment to drop Tempest off.”
“Oh.” Isabel’s voice slowly drifted and became quiet. She was deep in thought. Kiyro couldn’t help but take quick sneak peeks at Isabel. He noticed her long eyelashes and even pink cheeks reminded him of a cute chipmunk. He felt like a pervert staring, so he averted his eyes away.
“Is your sister cute?” Alex cut in with a mischievous smile. He stepped forward in front of Kiyro and looked back. They all waited under the tree, waiting for his sister’s arrival.
“You’re the last one I want to introduce her to.” Kiyro wasn’t too keen on looking forward to allowing both Anna and Alex to meet. He felt uncomfortable at the thought of his sister being the next target for Alex if he put his mind to it. He didn’t like the idea that his sister could possibly get hurt.
“Oh, come on. I can be a gentleman.”
Jack chuckled, “It’s going to be difficult for you to get through the guard dog if you’re not careful. It seems you’re already on the radar to not trespass.” He patted Alex’s back.
“What did I do?” Alex gasped and acted innocent as if he didn’t know.
“It’s always harder to get past the brother’s sister’s approval. But, if you cross that line, I suggest taking him out for a drink.” Will came up beside Alex and wrapped his arms around his neck. He winked at him.
“Let’s get off this topic. It’s a bit uncomfortable to think about right now,” said Kiyro.
A black SUV rolled up in front of Kiyro. The window rolled down as Anna peered out towards him. “Hey, little brother.”
“Anna. You’re here sooner than I expected.” He walked up next to the car and opened the side door.
“There was barely any traffic at the moment.” Anna moved the stack of papers over, allowing Kiyro to sit. “You’re friends?”
“You could say something like that.” Kiyro got in. “You guys get in.”
The rest of the group surrounded the SUV peering in. They noticed that there wasn’t enough space for all five people to sit. If they were to squeeze in, one person would still be unable to sit inside the SUV.
“How are we all going to sit in here?” Jack asked. His hands were on top of the SUV, peering into the SUV.
“You don’t have to worry about it.” Anna smiled her usually cheerful grin. She pressed a button on the car.
“There is an extra seat that you can pull up from the back.” Kiyro pointed out. The back door of the car automatically beeped loudly as it opened. Two seats were pulled out, and the seat in front of it was slightly pushed forward. “Now, it should be fine.”
The girls sat in the middle seat with Alex, right behind Anna, while Jack and Will sat in the back.
“Are you guys comfortable back there?” Anna called out.
“A bit stuffy and crunched up back here,” said Will. He moved around a bit to make himself comfortable throughout the whole ride. “But I should be fine.”
“So, Kiyro, you didn’t introduce them yet. I’m Anna, by the way.”
“Ah, my bad. Starting from the very back are Will and Jack. Then we have Eve and Isabel, and right next to Isabel is Alex.”
“Eve? Do you mean that Eve dropped off her cat?”
Kiyro inputted the address to the College into the car’s menu. The moment he pressed enter, the car started to move towards their destination.
“Yea. I’m here.” Eve chimed in. “I wanted to thank you guys for taking care of my cat. Unfortunately, I’m in a sticky situation where I’m not allowed to have cats in the apartment. Rules of the apartment and one of my family members are allergic to cats.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. Tempest has been a great addition to the family. She does cause a bit of trouble here and there. She has an unusual knack of wanting to knock the papers off the counter or desk for some reason, but everything is great.”
“Tempest does have that mischievous side to her. Kiyro, send me some pictures, please.” Eve pushed herself forward and turned towards him. He turned around and noticed that she batted her eyes in a plea.
“Sure.” He quickly replied. He would tell Sylph to take pictures and send them to Eve instead. It was a tedious task that Sylph could take whenever he had the Alive gear on.
“Really? Thanks.” She happily replied.
“Mhmm.” Kiyro waved it off as if it was nothing.
“Excuse me. Miss Anna. I was wondering what you do for a living.” Alex asked. “You seem to have a stable job, especially it’s a bit odd for a person like you to be off work now. Your clothes state that you were in some kind of business meeting.”
“Truthfully told, I was at a business meeting a moment ago. You can say I work for the Diva technological company. I do small errands here and there for them.”
“Diva Tech? Do you mean that company that helped create the Embryo gears?” Jack cut in on their conversation. “By any chance, are they working on something new?” He asked hopefully like a little kid seeking a piece of information that he did not know.
“Yes, we did help out on creating the Embryo gears. But, in a sense, we are always working on something new.”
“Would you mind giving us a hint on your new project?”
Anna chuckled. “You seem a little too excited there.”
“I’m a huge fan of Diva Tech. I have been following the new trend for a while now.”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t inform you of what we are working on now. All I can say is that you should look forward to the upgrades for the Embryo gear as months go by.”
“You’re pulling my legs. That’s months or possibly years away.” He sighed, defeated.
“So, what are you all doing today to be out in the hot summer heat?”
“You could say we’re doing a quest,” Alex stated. “We all gathered together to do a group mission given out by the game.”
“You’re talking about the real-life quest, right? It has been a hot topic these past few days. We didn’t think it would become so popular. It’s quite an achievement.”
“Yes. It is. The number of interactions between people has skyrocketed. People who didn’t know their neighbors till now do. But in the aspect of more connections between two people, new interactions both good and bad have emerged.”
“That is true when new things are brought in.”
“Have you ever thought of the consequences?”
“Yes, but the possibility of all new technology is exponential that it is difficult to know the outcome of what the consequences could be.”
“Why? Is there something that bothers you?”
Alex was quiet for a moment, “Hypothetically, what if there were a quest that does harm to the living? Would the perpetrator be the person who went ahead and did the quest be called the murder or the person behind the quest that made it the killer?”
“That’s a difficult question to answer,” Anna replied. “Are you suggesting this to be in a real-life game?”
“Yes. I’m implying his so-called quests are being played out in real life. What about you guys?” Alex turned around, asking for their opinions.
“I’m going to pass on that question. I’m not too sure of the answer yet.” Isabel replied.
“I state it’s the person who had taken on the quest to be the murder,” said Will.
“Why?” asked Alex. “Wouldn’t the one who instigated or brought the quest attention to the person also be considered part of the crime?”
“Well, a person has a choice to take on that quest or not. If they did and went through with it to the end, they had decided to finish it.”
“Then what if they did not have a choice? For example, a loved one was brought into the
“Then both are at fault. One brought in a person who did not want to commit a crime but had to. That does not excuse them for their actions, and the other for bringing in the victim and forcing them to play.”
“But where would the fine line between a game quest and reality be? If one just made the game for the players to choose the outcome of their lives, wouldn’t it be they would choose more in favor of their selfish desire or self-righteous act?” Alex addressed the people around him.
“It all depends on the person. That answer is not something easily given at this moment. We could think about the scenario over and over, but until that moment arrives, we don’t always have a definite answer,” said Kiyro. “You could say that the quest that arrived in front of the person is just a message that began a roller-coaster effect that could possibly spiral out of control. It could affect many people around them without even knowing that they were pulled into a game.”
“I see.” Alex was quiet for a moment while he stared out the window. “Then is our life like a giant game that we don’t know of and being played out on the scene where we were placed in the beginning?” He quietly muttered to himself. Small trickles of light rain began, even though it was sunny. There were no single dark clouds that could be seen overhead. It was like the sky was answering his question in its own little way.
“Yes. You could say that life is like one giant game. The outcome of the moving pieces are the wishes of the piece and the master that moves the pieces,” whispered Anna, who had heard his question. “Don’t think too hard of what could’ve happened; instead, pay attention to the now. The future is not set in stone, but the present can be worked on now.”
Alex did not reply to her answer. Kiyro was listening in between the two conversations while the others were conversing on the topic.
The answers and questions to both Anna’s and Alex’s were thought-provoking. He wondered if all the real live quests were something similar to what Alex was stating. To what purpose, though? This question has always been in the back of his mind.
A couple of random answers popped into his head. Maybe to bring in more profit for the company? It would make sense because it is a company that runs on money. On the other hand, it wouldn’t make sense if the company’s first priority was not to earn and continually grow into a larger and larger company. This world does run on money.
Throughout the ride, Kiyro quietly listened to the conversations that were going on inside the car, but he zoned out and closed his eyes most of the time. Then, for a moment, he fell asleep, and just when he opened his eyes, the car halted in front of their destination. He was shaken awake by Anna, who was calling out his name.
“Kiyro. You’re here.”
Kiyro woke up and looked around. They were in front of the campus, where hundreds of students walked back and forth to their classrooms. He yawned and unclicked his belt.
“Thanks, sis. I’ll pay you back later.”
“Call me if you need me. I’ll be around the area for a while before I go back north.”
“Thanks, Miss Anna.” Alex winked at her while he got out of the SUV. “It’s a pleasure meeting you.”
“Same here as well.” Anna waved them goodbye. She drove off into the distance.
Kiyro’s group stood in front of the towering campus, wondering what to do next.
“So. What are we supposed to do now?” Jack asked. He observed his surroundings, where students walked by busily towards their next class.
“I don’t know,” Kiyro replied. He, too, was lost for words. “Maybe we should go in and check it out?”
“Better than just standing there and doing nothing.” Will walked first ahead towards the building.
When Kiyro took his first step, he heard a message go off in his Alive gear.
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