‘It’s really Nicole…and her appearance hasn’t changed at all, just like in my memories. Just like before, my red headed, twin tailed, not-at-all arrogant loli, but why is she giving me such a…hateful look?’
There was no mistaking the hatred in her eyes as she slowly approached me, dressed in the austere white garb of a swordsman, and fist clenched tightly around her silvery white long sword. As she got closer and closer, the murderous intent radiating off her only got stronger by the second.
“Devil, give me back Little Ke!” She yelled while diving at me, her words shattering my heart long before her sword drove straight through it.
Never in my wildest dreams did would I have ever expected Nicole to attack me so my response was panicked, to say the least. My legs hurriedly stumbled backwards as I shouted: “Nicole…it’s me, I’m Mo Ke…”
“You can’t fool me Devil!” Her attacks continued, not giving me a single chance to explain myself at all. Stab after stab, they came faster and more vicious than before.
Thankfully, I wasn’t the Mo Ke of yesteryears. After turning into a devil, my power and speed was no longer comparable to my human self. However, Nicole was just as speedy as well and to make matters worse, I didn’t dare to fight back so I merely retreated.
“Nicole, it’s really me…”
“Don’t you dare spout my name, Devil, it disgusts me!”
She weeped while stabbing at me. There was absolutely no sense of order or rhythm to her attacks at all. They were just chaotic, pure and utter chaos, completely unlike that of a genius swordman’s. Tears began to roll down and scatter about the air like tiny diamonds as she dove at me: “Return Little Ke to me…return…return him to me…”
Hearing her weep like that, it truly felt like my heart was being ripped into a million pieces right at that moment. In fact, other than retreating out of pure instinct, my mind was completely blank.
‘Attack? There’s no way I can do that…how could I even attack Nicole…but I’m really Mo Ke…how else am I supposed to explain that to you…there must be some misunderstanding somewhere, I must explain myself…’
Yet that wasn’t the end of my misfortune. As if one Nicole wasn’t enough, another silhouette soon appeared from the darkness. It was broad-shouldered, muscular and as it stood there gripping an old broadsword, its muscles seemed to brim with power. Despite there not being any wind at all, the figure’s red hair seemed to dance wildly in the air, gently caressing the unkempt beard on the figure’s face from time to time. Looking at the expression on this newcomer’s face, I could tell that he wasn’t in a good mental state; mostly likely he had been drinking a lot… It was Roscar…
“It’s you, you’re the one who ate my son.” Before I even had the chance to explain myself, Roscar lunged forward with his broadsword raised high. “DIE DEVIL!”
“Old man, it’s me, I’m Mo Ke…”
“Fiend…so you did consume my son…don’t give me that look, you aren’t him, don’t you dare look at me with his face!” Eyes red with blood, Roscar ignited the Fighter’s Aura within him and immediately his body erupted in a terrifying blaze as he charged at me once more. The sheer force of his pressure was enough to make me step backwards.
“Old man, I’m really Mo Ke…”
“Don’t even think about fooling me…give me back my son!” His fist crashed into my chest. Instantly, I was sent flying back by the titanic force that threatened to mercilessly penetrate my chest cavity…
His powerful shove momentarily robbed me of the control over my body, causing me to land heavily on the ground and tumble backwards so many times I lost track of the revolutions. Each time I spun around, my limbs scraped against the floor painfully and uncontrollably till finally I began to lose consciousness. It was then that the violent spinning finally stopped but just as I tried to climb to my feet, I found a sword sticking right through my chest; it was Nicole’s longsword…
As the cold steel tore through my flesh and bones, she unreservedly pushed it forward right through my heart, knuckles white from clenching. Turning around mechanically, I found her in a half squatting position, body pressed against the hilt of the sword as it loomed over me. As she leaned in with eyes watering, I barely managed to catch sight of her bloodshot eyes before my world began to darken: “The two of you are just so similar…”
Even though I had a sword sticking out of my right now, and even though I should be paralyzed with burning hot pain right now, I felt nothing because my heart had shattered long ago. The physical pain I felt right now simply couldn’t be compared to the emotional turmoil I was going through.
Through that thick pall of haziness around my senses, I managed to hear her saying something about similarity. I tried to open my mouth but the moment I did so, a gout of blood rushed up from my throat and caused me to cough violently. Forcing it down, I asked: “…what’s similar?”
“Your eyes…they are just like Little Ke’s…just so similar…” As she said the words ‘Little Ke’, her eyes warmed up though she still had on a complicated smile. There was the elation of having accomplished her vengeance in that smile but at the same time, there was a certain sense of loss from having lost a goal. It was as if she just realized how empty she felt right now, and that there was no longer anything to think about; to need or even to care about…
Roscar slowly strode to my dying body and without saying another word, sliced down with his broadsword, lopping off my head under my disbelieving gaze.
‘Am I dead? My head was severed and my heart was stabbed by Nicole’s sword…’ Roscar then picked up my severed head and left with Nicole towards that hidden pair of ruby-like eyes which had been observing me all this while.
‘Those eyes…I remember them now…those aren’t even Nicole or Roscar at all, they are just illusions created by the Nightmare Steed. I’m still in the nightmare crafted by it…’
‘Dream…Fear…I remember him clearly saying those words right as he brought me into this world. Dream should be the command word to bring me here and then Fear should be…that’s right, isn’t the thing I was most afraid of to fight against Roscar and Nicole…after all, there’s no way I would ever want to harm them…no matter what the reason was…’
‘In other words, he’s attacking me with my greatest fear…so Fear is just him magnifying my greatest fear…’
“So you’ve finally come to your senses.” As his red eyes slowly closed in, I was now able to see his horse silhouette. Trotting calmly up to me, I couldn’t detect a sense of pride or satisfaction in his words at all. To him, winning over a piece of trash like me wasn’t even worth mentioning:
“To tell you the truth, I’m at a severe disadvantage in this realm when compared to you. In fact, this could be said to be your homeground, a place where I shouldn’t even be able to win at all. Yet in all the countless dreams of living creatures I’ve invaded so far, I’ve managed to kill them. Do you know why is that? Even with my disadvantage, I’ve always come out on top because of the word ‘Fear’. No matter who it was, they weren’t willing to strike out against the target of their fear and that is why you’ve lost.
His words caused me to pause for a second before I finally understood the meaning he was trying to convey. Even if he was able to force me into the dream realm, was he truly able to create an entire nightmare? Yes and yet no at the same. At the very end of the day, this realm was still mine, nightmare or not.
In a sense, it was kind of like a soccer match. While the matches might be decided by another foreign party, the fact that you still held the homeground advantage didn’t change. After all, even if some foreign team was the organizer of the match, there was no way they acclimatize themselves to the climate, the food, the culture, etc. Even if all that wasn’t true, jet lag was still an issue.
This was so for my dream realm as well. Because the battle took place in my dreams, whatever I thought about would happen. In this realm, I was God!
The problem however was this so-called God didn’t realize that he possessed such power. Taking advantage of this ignorance was what the Nightmare Steed did.
‘In other words, as long as I will it, I can recover my original form…and even kill that Shade fellow…’
“There’s no use, the whole reason I told you all that is because you’ve already lost the ability to fight back. Simply put, you’re about to die.”
‘….no, how could I die so easily? I just discovered my own miraculous powers as well…all I need to do is think about my body recovering and…’ Unfortunately for me, several seconds passed and nothing happened.
I tried to open my mouth but without a throat to speak of, I couldn’t really talk.
“Alright, since we’ve reached this point, I think it’s about time I sent you on your way…Consume…”
Ready to unleash his final killer move, the Nightmare Steed opened his mouth as if he was trying to swallow me whole.
While all that happened, Roscar emotionlessly carried my head towards the waiting mouth of the Nightmare Steed. Behind him, Nicole’s figure stood there motionlessly like an inanimate object.
As the Nightmare Steed’s mouth slowly grew larger to the point where my eyes were filled with darkness, all I could do was helplessly stare at my impending fate…if I were to be swallowed now, it would truly spell the end for me.
‘I don’t want to die…but there’s nothing I can do about this at all…’
Even though this was my dream per say, the Nightmare Steed had completely kicked me out of my own nest. WIth no way to resist him and death imminent, exactly what kind of expression should I put on?
‘This is like what…the third time I’ve died then? The first two, I’ll accept since they were the results of my own decisions, and of my own powerlessness. But this time is different…this time I…really don’t want to die…but I don’t have a choice, do I?’
‘Nicole, Roscar…even if you two are just illusions, aren’t you two a little too calm…how should I even react to that callousness…by crying?’