“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.
“I can see that. You want to explain why?” I asked, peering around the room.
“It’s just how it works. Tess can elaborate,” Zhuyu replied.
“You’re never any help. I hope you realize that,” I muttered.
“I try, Tomo. I try very hard at answering your questions, you know,” Zhuyu remarked, a faint smile appearing on his face.
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.
“Wait, aren’t we going somewhere?” I asked, looking at everyone.
“Nah, we’ll do that later,” Shan said, opening a nearby drawer.
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.
“Tess, now what?” I asked, sitting down near her.
“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.
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.
“Sorry to bother you again. I’m pretty confused about what’s happening here,” I remarked, watching Kisai turn on the television.
“It’s a bit disorientating the first time. But, you’ll get used to it,” Kisai replied.
“Do computers and other electronics work the same way as ours?” I asked, curious after seeing Shan’s tablet and Tess’ laptop.
“Pretty much the same as in our world. Just more advanced,” Kisai answered.
“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.
“You’ll get used to it. I wonder if they have a basketball game on right now,” Kisai said, flipping through the TV channels.
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?
“Tomo, see something interesting?” Ichaival asked.
“Huh? Oh, I was just looking at the book Zhuyu had,” I replied.
“It’s a light novel,” Shan informed me.
“What’s that?” I asked, unfamiliar with the term.
“It’s like manga without the pictures and it contains a bunch of words,” Shan explained.
“Why doesn’t he just read a normal book then?” I asked.
“They’re interesting,” Shan replied, shrugging his shoulders.
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.
“Tomo, how are you feeling? If anything’s wrong, you should tell us right away,” Ichaival said.
“I’ll be sure to if anything comes up,” I said.
“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.
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.
“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.
“Is this really the best time to be telling me this?” I asked.
“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.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Mind diving. The grimoire allows you to view a person’s past memories,” Tess answered.
“What? I thought copying was my only power,” I exclaimed, thrown off by her statement.
“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.
“How do I activate it?” I sighed.
“Place a bookmark on this page and make eye contact with the target. After that, the grimoire should be on auto pilot,” Tess replied.
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.
“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.
“Will it be like this with the others too?” I asked.
“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.
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.
“Kisai, are we about to leave yet?” I asked.
“Pretty soon,” Kisai replied, looking up from the basketball game.
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.
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.