“That…… doesn’t answer my actual question. That first man was throwing knives through walls and the second had a skull instead of a face. Any you, you were a talking card that burst into flame and then leaped away like magic.”
“Oh,” She looked a little flustered, then her face hardened and she looked rather sad, “I’m sorry your introduction for Destiny Burst was like that. Usually it is exciting and fun… but Cockatrice, he is not playing Destiny Burst.”
There was anger in her voice as she continued to speak, “He doesn’t follow the rules and he kills the opposing Dreamer. He…. He killed Kathie……”
Berardo changed into detective mode then. This wasn’t just an attempt on his life, it was part of the investigation and he couldn’t let this ‘Cockatrice’ get away with him murder, and attempted murder.
He spoke, “I’m sorry about the dead of Kathie Picozzi but I need you to explain things to me properly or else I will never be able to capture Cockatrice.”
“You’re going to capture him?”
“Yes, it is my duty as a police detective to ensure that he is captured and punished for his crimes.”
He saw the worrisome spake in her eyes, it was something that he had seen before. It was the look of somebody who desired revenge. He needed to do him best to defuse that spark while still procuring her cooperation.
He said, “I don’t know much about Cockatrice or Destiny Burst and I clearly can’t do much against that skull man. I need you to help me capture him.”
She nodded to herself, “Alright. I’ll accept you as my Dreamer.” There was a light tune that came from the phone that Berardo was still holding.
He looks down on it and there was a star on one of the tabs. It was a picture of face of some kind. He clicked on it and the app changed to show the text ‘Heroes’. Beneath that was a picture of her and beneath it was written ‘Rose of Unyielding Flames.’
“Rose of Unyielding Flames?” he asked.
“Yes, that is my name. Although Kathie just called me Rose for short.”
“My name is Berardo Abarca. Now how does this think work?”
“It is a medium allowing Dreamer to Dream. That first tab shows you your crystals, the source of your power. Right now you only have two of them and I’m currently using one of them.”
“Using one of them? How?”
“To remaining in this physical form. Without it I would revert back into a card. Normally I need three crystals to fully manifest my power but with two crystals like you have I can manifest for a short time, at least long enough to get away from Cockatrice’s Reaper of Wandering Souls.”
“Reaper of Wandering Souls. That sounds like your name, is that skull man like you then? What about Cockatrice?”
“Reaper of Wandering Souls like like me, a hero. However Cockatrice is a Dreamer like you although calling him a Dreamer is being extremely generous. He is more like a nightmare incarnate.”
“Then what, it takes one crystal to keep out like this but without powers?”
“Basically. Normally this isn’t an issue since 10 active crystals is considered standard. Until you gain some more you will be at a disadvantage against Cockatrice. I believe he is capable of using 15-20 crystals at he same time.” She gritted her teeth, “It is unsurprising that Kathie lost against him with that kinda of handicap, it a fair fight she would have won.”
“Did she only have 10 crystals then?”
Rose nodded, “No, she only had 5 crystals. Since she only had me she had been doing minor duals. Normally she might have had more crystal than that but she had recently spent them all buying a new pack. Even if she had wanted to use more than 5 against him she couldn’t have.
Berardo held up a hand, “Wait wait wait. Information overload. First you keep saying Cockatrice is not a standard player of Destiny Burst. How does it normally work?”
“Umm… let’s see. Two Dreams get together. They determine how many crystals they will be using and what each of them are wagering on the battle. Then the heroes fight and the Dreamers use spells to assist them. When one of the Dreamer is rendered helpless then the Duel is over and the winner is determined. The loser pays the winner the bet.”
“Gambling fights using people like you? That is your normal?”
She blinked a few times like she was trying to process that statement, “Is there something wrong with my explanation? Dreamers are not harmed during those duals and heroes can not die in those kinds of battles.”
Berardo shook his head, “I’m going to pass on giving commentary on this particular element. We will leave the gambling until after the murder problem. Second question. What do you mean that Kathie spent her crystals buying a new pack?”
“You have it don’t you? The pack that she bought? She never had a chance to open it before she was killed.” Her faced saddened, “Although with only 5 crystals the extra hero wouldn’t have done her much good.”
Berardo pulled out the Destiny Burst Hero pack from his pocket. He was surprised how good condition it was still in considering. “Wait, are you saying that there is somebody like you in this pack, a hero?”
“That is why it is a hero pack.”
“Give me a moment. I’m trying to tackle the human trafficking issues in my mind right now.”
“But we aren’t human. And since the pack isn’t open the hero in there is basically not born.”
“Not born how does that even work?”
“I suppose I should explain the Makers are best as I can now. Dreamers, like you and Kathie, create crystals over time. Then Dreamers bet, trade, and use their crystals until they have an excess of them. Then the Makers buy those excess crystals for packs of Destiny Burst cards. The Makers then use those crystals to create the very cards they are selling.”
“Are you saying that you are made of these crystals and that these makers made you?”
She nodded, “Isn’t that what I just said? It is why heroes typically look like humans since we are made from excess fragments of human subconscious.”
“Again, I’ll put assign my issues for the moment. Is there more than one person in here?”
“Are you having reading comprehension issues? It says right on the pack, 1 hero and 4 spells. Hero packs cost a lot of crystals so you can’t expect more than one hero. Most Dreamers only have a couple of heroes and then use their other crystals for spells.”
She paused for a moment while I examined the pack, “Go on.” She said, “open it.”
Berardo had some desire not to mess with evidence but he didn’t feel right leaving somebody inside it so he pulled at the sides until the top opened. Then he pulled out the cards. He looked over the first card but it was Rose that commented first.
“A speed boost spell. Simple but extremely useful. A good spell for a beginner like you.”
The picture was of a bottle or vial, something like that. Maybe meant to depict a potion. The text on the bottom said the name of the spell and there was a short description of what it did. ‘Gives target an extreme boost in speed for 60 seconds.’
Rose pointed at some parts of the card, “This is the crystal cost. For spells this is usually 1 crystal. The number here is more important. It tells you how long it takes that crystal for, in this case it is 2 minutes. This is also the cooldown for the spell so even if you have 2 crystals you can’t keep the spell up all the time.”
Berardo nodded trying to understand are best as he could. This was uncharted terrain for him. Magic, card games, what was next? He put that card at the back and looked at the next one. “Hole. Creates a hole. Cost 1 crystal. Cooldown, dismissal + 10 seconds” He spoke this aloud. “What does that mean?”
Rose said, “This is a dismissible spell. It means that the effect continues to last until you disable it however it keeps using that crystal until you disable it.”
“Making a hole doesn’t seem like it would be that useful.”
“Depends on how creative you are. When you were running from that knife throwing hero you had to break through the window using his knifes. Wouldn’t it have been easier had you just been able to put a hole in the wall.”
“That…. Is probably true.” He flipped to the next card. “Shield of the Morning. That doesn’t sound like a spell.”
“Ohh, an equipment card. Heroes generally come with a set of their own gear but equipment cards can give them incredible but specialized benefits. These take their cost in crystals up until they are dismissed like the hole.”
“Banish the darkness. That isn’t very descriptive is it.”
“Most cards are actually that descriptive. The Dreamer is supposed to figure out the best uses of each spell. They are limited by the Dreamers creativity.”
“Great. I’m sure that will go well. Lets see what the last spell it then.” For some reason this was exciting to Berardo. Looking at them one at a time wondering what they might be and at the every end would be the hero.
“Garden of Lost Sorrows. Changes the battlefield to the Garden of Lost Sorrows. What sort of card is this.”
“This pack sure has an interesting selection of spells. That is a battlefield card. It is a spell that changes the area around the Dreamer. They are powerful and cheap effects but they effect both sides equally. If the casting Dreamer understands the effect and their opponent does not then it can be a great benefit. Certainly not a beginner strategy.”
“Then the last card is.”
He hesitated and he began to reveal the last card. He didn’t really understand why he was so nervous. Finally he finished the move and they could both see it.
The picture showed a woman in a sun dress standing on a cliff looking out toward the ocean. Sigils floated in the air in front of her face forming circles around her eyes.
‘Eyes that Gaze the Horizon’ was the title of the card.
Rose looked over the card intently, “Eyes that Gaze the Horizon. A very nice name. She seems to be a 2 crystal cost support hero.” She nodded to herself, “An excellent companion. A cheap support hero would be a good match for a 3 crystal assault hero like myself. Of course you don’t currently have enough crystals to use us both together but I’m sure you will get there.”
Berardo kept his eyes locked on the card. He felt drawn to it like the woman depicted was staring at something important and he almost felt like he could see it as well. Eventually he spoke, “Is she supposed to speak?”
“She is still asleep. Not yet awakened. Without the energies from your crystal she will forever remain an inert card.”
“What about you. You spoke when I first met you.”
“That was because I had already been awakened by Kathie. Once we are awakened for the first time we retain enough residual energies to be active even while in our card. She doesn’t have that energy yet.”
“How do I awaken her then?”
“Make sure Destiny Burst is running and then say ‘I awaken you’ along with her name. Also make a cool pose. That last part is very important.”
He wasn’t quite sure if Rose was teasing him so he stood up as best as he could. Then with his one good arm he help up the card and said, “I awake you, Eyes that Gaze the Horizon!”
It wasn’t the best pose. The phone chirped the strange tune and wind began to whip up from around the card that Berardo was holding. There were sparkles that began to hang in the air and the the woman materialized, held in the air above the card as the card desolved.
She was exactly the same as in the picture. A young woman in a white sundress. The floating symbols around her eyes flared and vanished as Berardo’s crystals failed to fully manifest with with Rose already out. Her eyes were strange. A deep blue with sparkles that seemed to swirl while you looked at them.
Then she floated gracefully to the ground and looked eye to eye with Berardo. “Greeting Dreamer. I am Eyes that Gaze the Horizon and I am yours to command.”