The drunkard dreamed of a world…
…A peaceful world without his failures ruining the lives of the people he was intending to save.
He dreamed of a utopian 'Other World' where no one was fighting, everyone having a close sense of community regardless of class or race. Truly, there could've been a world like that if Simon had been just a little more competent in his job as a 'Hero...
At least, that's what the geezer believed...
It was at that point that his negativity even affected his dreams. Tightly ensnaring his fatigued mind.
Swirling emotions grasped his heart and made it hard to breathe, taking away his appetite.
The old man was then brought to the darkest corners of his psyche. There was a sinking feeling in his stomach. He lost his hunger for even the scrumptious of meals and the finest of desserts.
There was a longing in his heart, yet a different kind of 'greed' started to arise once he realised there was a hole in his heart. Jordan didn't know how absurd Simon was finding himself to be...
"Are you feeling okay?" Oddly enough, it was in the darkest corner of his mind that he found something strange. A tiny ray of light revealed the figure of a monocle-wearing girl who was… 'familiar' to him.
Her oak brown hair and eccentric fashion sense made him unable to speak in his lucid confusion...
"..." He didn't want to answer the odd woman.
Even if she l somehow seemed to know him.
Her caring voice wasn't taken in the best way by the paranoid geezer. It gave the opposite reaction.
He felt like she was trying to get under his skin; not help, and wasn't really sure WHO was asking…
The eyes he showed her were untrusting and doubtful, thus the monocle girl herself coughed.
She clarified and introduced herself:
"My name is Fauna. I'm here to warn you." Her tone was serious. She spoke with high respect for him.
Somehow, he didn't think she was threatening him.
"Of what...?" With his arms wrapped around his knees, he sat looking at the glowing figure with suspicion. There was no way he wouldn't recognise someone he knew, as his memory was perfect!
"Someone wants to kill you."
"That's nothing special to me." He wondered how he was able to have such a lucid dream as he spoke. It almost seemed outside his control. There didn't seem to be a way for him to 'turn the lights on', and could only stay confined by darkness.
"These people will be different than anyone you've ever fought before. They are nine 'Fangs' chosen by an ancient Greatest Darkness specifically to kill you...!" Simon had no idea what this imaginary figure was talking about. What a weird dream...
"If that's all you want to say, then leave." He rolled his eyes. This wasn't even the first time someone was after his life. It also didn't make sense that a weird girl would tell him about this in a dream.
His response seemed to cause her great anxiety.
"M-Master...!" She called out to the drunkard, who was only a fragmented version of his former self.
"Huh?" He lifted a brow and dropped his jaw momentarily. Did she just call him 'Master'?
"Please t-take care of yourself. We need some time before we can help you. So, please... Be safe."
"Who the hell are you...?!"
"...I was once 'you'." She too knew this was hard to believe, but she had no choice other than to tell him straightforwardly. It wasn't in her nature to speak 'smartly', as she just wanted him to know.
"You're being too cryptic."
"I mean what I say quite literally."
"I was once part of the body you had cultivated along with your heart and mind." She detected his sarcasm but still tried persuading him. As she waved her hand, multiple images of great feats he didn't recognise appeared vividly in his dream:
Such as slaying a Devil!
The kind of abilities he was using was also foreign to him. He curved his lips and started to snicker.
"Oh look, I'm seeing illusions now~!" Simon gave a hearty laugh. A good look at his face showed that his cheeks were still rosy red, as if he was still under the influence. Perhaps this was why he could accept everything going on with him nonchalantly
"How are you still drunk in a lucid dream...?!" She felt something was off, but she couldn't tell if what she was seeing from him was a facade or not. The current 'Master' of hers was different than before.
Simon watched her stare at him intensely… like she was watching his every movement. As soon as she noticed the slight tremor from his arms caused by him hiding his anxiety, she smirked. He seemed a lot more 'cuter' than the robot he was in the past.
At least, there seemed to be hope for his personality now... Unlike how he was in the past.
She just wished he'd quickly remember everything.
"You were strong in that 'Other World'."
"Heh, you're such a liar~"
"I'm not lying though...?"
"Those two times I was summoned to that magical place, my powers were always 'given' to me." He revealed his bitterness he felt. The first time it was the Divine Sword of Infinite Light, while the second time was the Divine Sword of Eternal Darkness.
Both of them weren't truly his strength…
…They were powers borrowed from treasures everyone worshipped in 'that world' he went to.
To say that this woman was part of that power didn't make sense. He could sense some foreign energy from her he'd never even felt before. This specific 'flavour' of Internal Energy was a first.
"That's not all though." Fauna shook her head.
"...What do you mean?"
"There was a time you had to start growing your strength to defeat a strong 'calamity' by yourself."
"Did I beat it?"
"...Sorry, someone else had slain it as you were still in training... Ummm, you would've definitely beaten it if given a few more centuries!" These 'consoling' words only made him feel worse. That kind answer seemed more realistic than he assumed it would.
He could imagine failure better than success...
"Then why can't I remember anything about it?" It was then he considered her words carefully.
"You sealed your memories."
"So it was that bad, huh?" It made sense that he would be so embarrassed he'd seal his memories about it, but why didn't he erase the memories of his first two failures after being summoned there?
It didn't make sense for him to do that...
"I can inform your close ones about this warn-"
"You can't tell him!" The geezer was brought back to this side of his dreamworld as he interrupted her.
He didn't seem to be under the influence...
"Why not...?" She didn't see a reason not to. After all, it seemed more reasonable for safety's sake.
"He might want to go there too!" The drunkard seemed serious about this. He glared at her.
"...I don't think that-"
"He might go AWOL!" He was scared that the smart kid would go absent without an official leave!
"Do you care THAT MUCH about this...?"
"Of course I do!"
"I thought you hated him, or am I wrong?" These words caused his words to be stuck in his throat:
"I-I never s-said I h-h-hated that k-kid." Her eyes widened. She never imagined he would stutter.
He really WAS completely different...
'He cares for that boy this much?!' She always saw him as a cold and heartless person, so this was a surprise to the girl. The only reason she was as strong as she was... mostly had to do with sheer willpower and lack of distractions in Simon's mind.
Meaning: No could make him weak like this.
It made her a little uncomfortable to know he had a weakness like Jordan. An uneasiness grew inside…
The only thing she could do was hope for his wellbeing until she could open a 'Spacial Door'.
"I, and my other companions, were also once part of you, at least back before you resolved whatever regrets you had before coming here. The others can't cross over at the moment. Only I can freely contact you by connecting to your physical body.
You could say the biggest reason I'm here is mostly due to you telling us to protect you if... the Greatest Darkness from back then wanted you dead.
Let us help you regain your strength!" As the glowing monocle girl finished her sentenced, she passed a ball of light onto him that fused into his body. An energy of life filled with vibrant vitality.
It was then a strange sensation overcame his heart.
This feeling brought him great joy. He recognised this 'force' to be the same he once had years ago!
He felt the glowing ball of light had filled him with a dense 'Life Energy' much larger than the one he had cultivated over the years, yet unfortunately, as soon as it tried to flow through him, this energy he had wanted so badly slipped out of his fingers.
Such an incident brought him up to the peak of ecstasy to the depth of despair in mere seconds...!
'No!' He tried to hold onto her gift as hard as he could, but nothing could stop the 'Qi' from exiting his pores. No amount of struggling could stop the internal energy from leaving him. It was like his body was filled with holes that let it all spill out!
"WHY?!!" He suddenly kneeled and smashed his head on the floor, but felt no pain whatsoever.
No injuries could be sustained in this world without dreams. It only made the sound of the impact ring deeply in Fauna's heart. She too became shocked that her 'gift' wasted away outside his body…
…like water through a sieve.
The disappointment he felt once the life energy ran out caused the world to shake. The girl felt her connection with the dreamworld becoming more unstable with his mindset. A destructive force spread out once his psyche was nearing its limits.
"Are you messing with me?!" His despair turned into immense hatred, roaring like a furious beast!
"...T-this isn't my fault! You shouldn't have given that boy the more 'solid' Internal Energy you had cultivated." Seeing him calm a little while being filled with confusion, she continued: "The reason you're unable to do it is because you're injured beyond belief. Your spirit and body are so mangled that it was a miracle you had Life Energy earlier...!"
Meaning: He wasted the miracle he attained after coming back on Jordan Fisher. It wasn't her fault.
He didn't understand what she mean though...
"And yet I did, what's different about me now?" His tone was no longer lively once he coldly inquired.
Why couldn't he make that 'miracle' happen again?
"...It was because of your 'Divine Gifts'." Fauna thought deeply every time she gave answers.
"From the great Gods."
"I thought the Sun God and Moon Goddess had already passed on. Who gave me these 'Gifts'?"
"The Life Goddess, Eclipse God, Twilight God, and the woman now known as the Sword Goddess."
"They sound like great figures... and I'm supposed to believe that the 'me' of right now has those powerful 'Gifts'?" His eyes were doubtful. From what he could remember, he never met any 'Gods'.
The Divine Swords of Infinite Light and Eternal Darkness were the 'Divine Gifts' bestowed onto him by the residents of the Other World. They blessed him with extraordinary abilities in the past.
That being said though, the Moon Goddess and Sun God were already dead in the history he knew.
All 'Gods' had fallen…
If so, who were these new Gods? Why did they shower him with their Divine Gifts so freely?
"The Divine Gifts they gave were:
A life force strong enough to impart immortality from the Life Goddess, a highly adaptable body from the Twilight God, the ability to destroy yourself from the Eclipse God, and an unknown gift from the Sword Goddess.
The reason you're so weak now is because you nearly destroyed your first two gifts after returning here. In wanting to become a proper 'Human' again, you… you..." She couldn't finish her words.
From the deep melancholy in her words, he figured what happened. He used the Eclipse God's Gift.
Calming down, the tremors in his dreamworld stopped despite his heart still being gloomy.
"That doesn't explain why I was able to cultivate Internal Energy last time. What's so different now?"
"It's because of the 'remnants' of what was left."
"Of the Gifts I destroyed?"
"Exactly. 'Destruction' doesn't mean you erased your excess life force from your body. I'm certain that the reason you could cultivate Internal Energy previously was because... the remnants of the Life Goddess's Divine Gift focusing together in order to solidify your Internal Energy... beyond what was possible for a 'Humans' like those around you."
"You say it like I'm not a Human..."
"You're not one though?"
"You're a 'Fallen Celestial'." He started to get a headache after hearing these words and spoke:
"Anyway, the point is that I can't get stronger anymore because I ruined my own body."
"...Yes. I'm sorry. There's nothing I can do to help you. You're just going to have to hide for now.
At least, until we've found a solution."
"Why would I do that?"
"The nine 'Fangs' of the World Dragon will all be able to imbue themselves with magical energy."
"W-what do you mean?!"
"I mean 'So what?'! I'll deal with them myself. Even if I'm weaker, I'm still strong enough to beat them."
"That's not-" His contradicting words confused her. Was he strong or weak? Why say he was both?
"Now leave..." The geezer had enough of this. It all sounded like nonsense no matter what he heard.
"LEAVE!!" These words were like a knife in her heart. The girl seemed visibly pained by his rejection of her. Fauna's glowing figure vanished as she followed his instructions, leaving him alone...
'I... am not weak anymore!' He tried to tell himself that, even though his heart was screaming at him.
He laid himself down in the endless darkness, with eyes that seemed to be unable to admit weakness.
His soul, heart, mind, and body were as mangled as Fauna already said, yet he refused to admit he was weak. A trauma arose in his heart whenever anyone spoke of 'weakness' in him. He hated it all!
For someone who had always been strong enough to be arrogant no matter if it was on Earth or in the Other World, admitting weakness now would be a sin...! His arrogance was the only thing stopping him from feeling like a speck of dust in space...
Inconsequential, worthless, meaningless, and without anything great allowing him to stand out.
Those was the feelings he tried to fight against...
Was it vanity that brought him to this stage? No, a great man would have an equally great confidence in himself, and shattering it was like destroying the only straws he was grasping on to prove that all that suffering he went through had some meaning.
'Should I just end everything right here? No one would care about that kid if I 'offed' myself.'
The quaking distortions in the darkness around him started to return. He saw no other option left.
Dying now was better than suffering later…
He felt the gift from the Eclipse God, that he was able to instinctive use, start awakening. Blood started to flow from his skin. He was just about to give up on everything, all until a voice spoke out:
"Pathetic." The sweetness in that voice was like honey to his ears, yet her words were nothing but!
"Who's there?!" The broken-hearted drunkard roared in rage. He looked around in the darkness.
It was only when he lifted his head up did he notice a figure in the dreamworld, her neck had a noose connected to a strong branch of the large tree in the distance. Despite there being no light, he was somehow able to see the woman as clear as day.
Was it because this was a dream that something so illogical was possible? Who was this person?
"Think of me as your imaginary friend, Ariadne~" A smile appeared on the demonically beautiful nymph's face. She spoke with a charming yet spiteful tone towards him, almost like she hated him for something he had done in the past.
"Have you come here to judge me?" As a man who was about to kill himself, he spoke quite tiredly.
He'd ignore her if that was the case. There was no meaning in talking to her if that was really true.
"Do you truly want to die off like this?" The woman narrowed her eyes. She asked this purposefully.
Simon didn't know that this meeting would be the start of his rise from reaching the whale's belly.
The start of his great journey of self-discovery...!