He was the type of guy who seemed as if he had a bright future ahead of him. He got good grades, did all his homework, studied his hardest for tests, showed up to school earlier than necessary to help teachers set up, and occasionally volunteered to work community events. He was friends with anyone he met on the street or at school. He listened to everything his parents said, and he also played sports in and out of school. He was also the type of guy who had a kind of... weakness you could say. Then again, everyone has a weakness, whether it’s a fear of heights or something they love. He loved video games. Aside from being a good student and child, they were his life. Every second of free time was spent fighting, racing, shooting, running, and flying his way through a game. It was merely a harmless thing at first, then it grew. He barely did homework anymore, never studied, started showing up at least 45 minutes late, quit every volunteer program, and never listened to his parents. The games took over his life.
Here he was, sitting under a thick, navy blue comforter and hiding his small frame completely. There was only one light source available - the one illuminating from the handheld gaming device locked tightly in his grasp. It was quiet outside. It was the kind of silence that was so low you would be able to hear a pin drop from outside. The time was 3:00 AM on a school night. Of course he paid no mind to the ticking clock or the darkness that surrounded him or the shouting silence. His eyes were aimed at the blinding screen as he continued punching buttons. He was at the final level of a game he bought just a week ago. It was a game that others have taken up a month to beat. It wasn’t hard to believe he played it for 12 hours straight every day. It was in his appearance. Dark, disheveled hair to match with dark, wide, bloodshot eyes. Black rimmed glasses were tossed on the floor, one lense cracked and the other missing - he hasn’t worn them in weeks.
The eerie silence didn’t bother him. In fact, it comforted him. It let him know that no one else was in the room with him, that no one would be able to take his precious games away. There was the sudden creek of a door opening. He couldn’t hear it - the volume from the handheld was turned all the way up, earphones were blasting the sound into his ears. For the fortieth time in 8 weeks, he was about to get caught. The comforter was thrown off his body. A sound similar to a growl let itself out and he glared up at the figure.
His older step brother, Ethan, was standing above him. The boy’s eyes went wider than they already were. His mouth was open, yet no sound had come out. It was impossible. Ethan was here. The brother who loved video games almost as much as he did. The brother who caused trouble wherever he went. The brother who, despite his tough exterior, was always there for his little brother. The brother who disappeared over a year ago. He looked exactly the same. The same black-banged hair with dirty blonde highlights, the same light skin, the same almost-black brown eyes, the same punk styled clothes to fit his nearly 6 foot figure. “What’s the matter? Game got your voice?” His big brother smirked as he spoke, a teasing tone in his voice.
“I...” He still couldn’t say anything. The pure shock and tiny source of happiness was overwhelming. He watched as Ethan sat on the edge of the bed, staring at the television in front of them.
“You know,” Ethan kept his gaze on the blank screen. “You can never tell what’s real and what’s fake. This world you supposedly live in - the one with mystical monsters and captured princesses and zombie war heroes - is fake. Everything you've been living for in these past eight weeks is fake. Now this house right here, and the places that surround it, those are real. The people who have raised and cared for you are real. If you don’t keep in touch with reality then you're going to end up like me."
He finally summed up the words that have been scratching at his throat, “W-what h-happened to you?”
His nonchalant brother shrugged, “Video games.” When he looked over at his little brother he gave a humorless chuckle at the clear confusion. “What you’re doing right now - that is the reason I disappeared. Don’t let the games take over your life, Rob...” One glance was given at the empty screen of the television, “I have to go. Hopefully you listen to me.”
In one swift movement, he was gone. There was nothing left but the distant sounds of owls hooting and wolves howling at the waning crescent moon. He lay back on the mattress, staring straight at the ceiling. He couldn’t fathom how the echoing voice of his troublesome, yet dearly missed brother didn’t wake his parents. Was it all a dream? Did he simply just imagine that his big brother sat at the edge of his bed, gave him a miniature speech, and disappeared again? The night remained quiet despite the fainting animal sounds. It was completely dark - his handheld was shut off and closed. The drowsiness was clear in his eyes, and for once in those eight weeks, he allowed them to close. Within minutes he was unconscious, a dream formed inside his head.
He awoke in a grassy field. When he looked around, he couldn’t believe his eyes. Trees were scattered all over the area that went on for miles. There were no roads except for the two rocky paths in front of him. There was no wind, no chirping birds, not even the clouds were moving. The sun looked as if it was setting; it was the only thing that seemed to be able to move. And animals; clusters of them. They were scattered throughout the area. Abnormal creatures surrounded him, they were in a rare time of peace. He knew where he was - the lonely and grassy lands of ‘The Dragon’s Eye 2’.
He looked down and took in his clothes to see that the unwashed outfit he wore in his bedroom were gone. The gray sweatpants and grease-stained tee shirt vanished. He was clad in medieval armor, though the style was a bit more updated. The silver iron was colored a pitch black that faded into a blood red around the shoulders and knees. The area of his shoulders and kneecaps were not as emphasized as original knight’s armor would show. His breastplate was hidden underneath a thick layer of cloth and the iron gauntlets seemed stuck to his skin. The same clothing material replaced the iron armor from his knees to his abdomen and a tight leather holster was wrapped around his waist, a sword tucked safely in place. He look around once more and jogged over to a large, metal object a couple yards away. The shield was engraved with the game symbol and was slightly burnt at its tip. “This is so cool.” He muttered, taking in a breath of awe as he fully took in the world around him.
The scene suddenly switched. Roberto’s body was set at a very abnormal angle - the “Cursed Knight” glitch was beginning to affect him. His armor was still fully intact, but a single touch of magic and it would disintegrate. The shield had already disappeared and was found transformed into a giant puddle of mercury on the stone grounds of the castle. One glance at the sword and it engulfed in flames. It wasn’t destroyed, no. It was merely made so the hero of the game wouldn’t be able to use it during the final battle.
Something was wrong here. Even in a dream, though it felt like real life, he should have gone through the whole gameplay - fighting monsters and warlocks’ magic and normal humans under the control of the supreme ruler and saving Queen Azayla. There should have been blood and tears shed with the occasional collected dragon scales being found throughout the game. He should have met strangers who gave out information on the dark force taking over the land of Nynx - Mistress Levana. He should have encountered his ‘father’ and ‘brother’ after days of travelling and received a horse that would have been with him in this moment. So much to achieve, with no time at all. The feelings whirling inside him were indescribable.
With great hesitance, he started slowly toward the staircase heading toward the ground level of the ruined castle. Each step had to be taken very carefully when taken into account of the castle’s conditions. Stone steps were broken, paint chipped off the walls, stained glass windows were broken, and paintings were sliced as he descended. He couldn’t walk five feet without finding another brick missing or another chandelier missing candles or hanging from the ceiling by a strand of wire; ten feet without discovering a family portrait decorated with three giant slashes. Dimly lit torches lined up against the walls and statues of armor stood proudly. Cobwebs formed in corners of walls as the spiders who created them were resting or feeding. His dark eyes scanned for any other source of light that wouldn’t go out after a whip of wind.
Something moved in his peripheral. A shadow. There was only one thing able to move in places so dark and dreary and in ruins. It jumped in front of him. No features of any kind were seen because that’s all it was - a mere shadow. It took a sudden jump in front of Roberto’s perfect line of vision. It startled him and he stumbles back, dropping the torch he took in the process. It didn’t take long for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, but it was too long. The dark monster had the short advantage and swiped at the covered, iron breastplate and Roberto fell back. The sword clanked against the ground as his grip tightened around it. A cut appeared on the palm of his free hand from attempting to grab at the wall. After a few slightly painful minutes his vision was fully intact and functional. He got to his feet and immediately swung the sword through its abdomen. It was a cut a person obviously wouldn’t survive, but this thing wasn’t a person at all. Any earthly creature would drop dead after being sliced in half, though these were made of pure darkness. A black, gooey substance that made up the shadow stretched out and the one-cut kill wound was mended perfectly.
He stared in awestruck shock at the creature in front of him. You would think the obsessive gamer should expect all of this, but he never even reached the barren forest Path of the Dead to continue on toward the castle’s entrance. He seemed frozen in place after watching the wound close in on itself and hearing the deafening screech of anger come from within the shadow beast. It charged at him, it was strong yet slow. Roberto took advantage of his opponent’s speed and reached for a new torch on the wall just a few feet back. His hand was just inches away from the flame-topped , metal cone when time caught up with him and he was tackled back to the ground. He shut his eyes from the impact and bent his legs back toward his chest, pushing up with all his force. The shadow flew back and it was now his turn. He stood carefully yet quickly, and grabbed the torch. He charged the beast, the under oxygenated castle keeping the flame ignited. He kept a good three feet away, not knowing what could happen. It could disintegrate or melt into a puddle of black or even grow stronger than before - it was worth the risk. With one swift throw the torch hit the ground at the creature’s feet. The flame engulfed and swallowed the monster whole, almost as if the fire itself was alive. In seconds black goo spread across the stone ground, and Roberto continued on with heavy breaths. As he walked further, and as the castle got creepier, he recalled a story he learned from a villager at the beginning of the game. A story about Mistress Levana.
You see, when she was around the age of eleven, there was a grave incident. She had outrageously insulted the kingdom’s most wicked warlock, Dredigon. He was a very selfish being when it came to his magic, and had refused to help Levana’s family. Her mother was very ill, her father was off on a journey trying to find medicine after refusing to ask Dredigon for a favor, and her sisters were too little to do anything but stay with their mother. Levana decided to be courageous. She asked him for the small favor of creating a potion - “please, my mother could die if we don’t do anything” - but he refused. When he had asked for something in return, she lost her temper. There were no forbidden phrases or words unused. No one ever dared to repeat what was spoken that day while telling this story to another.
It leads to a very shameful punishment - insulting those of a higher rank. The eleven-year-old girl didn’t dare turn away with a warning. She held her ground. There was no mistaking how hardheaded and courageous this child was to stand up to a very powerful being. He didn’t curse her whole family, no. He only cursed her. The transformation happened that night. She was peacefully asleep and it was a painless process. No one knows what happened simply because no one has seen her for nearly 10 years. She fled from her home in the middle of the night once she discovered what had happened. It was closing in on the time of true appearance. The time where Roberto finally sees what the little girl who wanted to save her mother became.
He replayed the story over and over in his head. All the while fighting off more and more shadow creatures. And all the while thinking of an appearance for the mistress more grotesque than the last. Bigger and thicker cobwebs wrapped around gigantic, silver chandeliers. The halls seemed to get smaller and more narrow. He began to feel like the walls were going to cave in at any minute due to the lack of a stable structure further down. More portraits were found, though the amount decreased with every floor - the count went from one painting every seven feet to one every thirty. The only thing that hadn’t changed were the three-clawed slashes through the faces or mistresses’ relatives. It was then that he realized the pictures weren’t of relatives, they were of the mistress when she was at a young age. His brain was fried after a few more seconds passed by and he put it together. The most terrible thing to punish a human with was to turn them into a scaly beast that terrified everyone in every kingdom or dimension. It was...
“A dragon.” He breathed out. The warlock from the mistresses’ story had turned her into a dragon.
A laugh suddenly broke out. It shook the walls and chandeliers and portraits here and there hung by one nail. It was high pitched and maniacal, and once it stopped a female voice rang out. “Congratulations, young knight. You guessed correctly. It is time for you to be rewarded.”
Roberto was transported into a new room, the one he has been trying to reach since the dream began. He looked around at the stone walls and the queen of chandeliers on the ceiling and the cobwebs and the many, many slashed items. At first there seemed to be no one there, then as he turned back to face an empty throne, there she sat. Her hair was flaming red to match the anger that screamed out at him, the big, dark brown eyes gave her a look of pure innocence as her mouth held a scowl that seemed as if it was glued on her face. There was nothing more terrifying than knowing that behind those big, innocent eyes laid a powerful, uncontrollable, and menacing beast. A crown lay on her head perfectly and he couldn’t help but wonder what happens when she transforms - does it fall off or does it transform with her?
She stared at him curiously, studied his body structure and facial features. “You are Roberto, correct?”
His body stiffened as her chalk-against-a-chalkboard voice sounded off like a sound system. He nodded his head, “Yes. What do you want with me?”
“Oh, my darling knight. All I want is to take back what’s rightfully mine. But since that isn’t possible, I have simply been wiping out every heir to the throne. Ethan, your assistance will soon be needed.” He wished he had finished the game then, or at least reached the point where he, as the character, discovers that he is the next heir to the kingdom’s throne. He also wished he hadn’t seen his brother walk out from behind the mistress with dead, pitch black eyes and a medieval servant’s uniform.
“Why?” His voice was hoarse, almost inaudible. His brother wanted to speak, that much he could see. Ethan wanted to explain what was happening, but his mouth was hexed shut and he could not speak. There were only muffled sounds.
“That really is the age old question,” She let a chuckle pass through her barely parted lips. “My family never came to look for me. They kept up an act - pretended like I never existed. I was supposed to be the rightful heir to the throne, and instead, my younger sister took my place. If I can not be ruler as it rightfully still stands, then no other heir should be able to take the throne. You shall all be punished.”
A blood curdling scream echoed and bounced off the walls. The walls caved in, portraits fell from the walls, the chandelier dropped from the ceiling, and glass shattered.
It was just as quiet as earlier that night. Just as quiet as the moment before a “spirit” came back to life. A mother walked into her son’s bedroom to find a terrible sight. Her son was found shirtless, hanging by a thick rope. A realistic sword was gripped tightly in his pale, bloody hand and he was dressed in a more modernized style of medieval armor. She had no idea why he was dressed that way, and frankly, she didn’t give one damn about it. She was focused on the horrific scene. Her college freshman son had his whole back sealed, looking as if stitches were removed before they healed completely. His ribs were broken in perfect symmetry, one on the left and one on the right of where his spine was. His lungs were ripped out from his spinal cavity and were each placed right below the ribs - but of course the mother didn’t know how this happened. Her scream wasn’t as blood curdling as the son’s when he was murdered, though it was just as loud.
The “spirit” of the older brother watched everything through the body of another. Sirens wailed and footsteps ran around the house and neighbors crowded the streets with their curiosity. A police officer searched the room, steering clear of giving eye contact to the ones of the dead. Attached to the forehead of this young man was a note: ‘Your dream became a reality.’ What confused, shocked, and for an unknown reason to others terrified the officer even more was the message written across the screen in blood:
227Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ2c4HzQ1rYd
227Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡfeXnzAdnab