“But why are there so many of them?”
“Everybody has to have a hobby. Mine is collecting strange things from overseas and reading. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go over these lists of missing people to try to find some more connections.”
Berardo took some cash from his wallet and placed it down on the table, “Feel free to use this for whatever you think is best. And make sure to stay careful about attack from Cockatrice. I plan on leaving this place for a more secure hideaway before night falls in case he comes after us again.”
“I might also take a nap so that I’ll be more awake in the evening so if I’m not done by 6pm then come in and make sure I’m not still asleep.”
Rose nodded and with that agreement Berardo entered his bedroom.
With the door to Beraro’s room closed he finally was alone. He slumped down near the door. He sat there for a minute before crawling across the room to his dresser. He pulled down the picture that sat on the top of it.
A woman standing on top of a mountain stared back at it. He looked carefully at the picture before caressing it softly. “Is this what you meant sister? That I could never escape. I thought I had escaped you, your confusing world. I had thought I had forgotten, that it was all just a childhood fantasy. But it wasn’t, was it sister?”
“I know, I know. In my heart I always knew it was real but still I couldn’t find it. Find you. Just nothing every day until you feel it could only be an illusion. But now I found something, not just found it, I have it in my hands. I was surprised initially, who wouldn’t be?
“But do you know what the strangest thing is? I feel that excitement once more. Even as a police detective I never felt it. Sure I have gotten into some gunfights and there is fear there but I never felt excited.
“Will this let me find you? I don’t know but I think it is my first step toward doing that.”
He had memories, shadows of memories, of the times he had experienced with his sister. He was young then, around 10 when his sister disappeared so his memories of that time had fogged over. He held the picture for a few moments longer, it was the last concrete thing that he had that proved that his sister existed. Finally he put the picture back onto the dresser and pulled himself back to his feet. He needed to be strong now, stronger than ever. There were now two people who needed him like he had needed his sister. Somebody that seemed impossibly in control of everything.
He had a deck in his bedroom which he sat down at. He placed the police records on the table and began pouring over them one by one. After each one he took notes in his notebook about whether it could be related to Cockatrice or not. He had lost track of time when the phone buzzed. Not his phone, Kathie’s phone. He picked it up and looked at the message.
It was from Destiny Burst. It said that his registration had been accepted and that he could now access the handles and contact information about the other members of Destiny Burst that were also signed up. He paged over to the list of had just begun to take notes when he received another message on the phone.
It read, ‘I challenge you to a duel! Don’t you dare wimp out on me now. I’ll teach you how to treat those better than you!’ The sender was labeled as Alchemist. Berardo thought that was a stupid handle, although it was probably better than his personally revealing Detective Abarca. At least if you wanted to keep your personal identity secret.
Berardo check what his crystal progress was at. The third crystal was almost complete. He did some mental math and then wrote back, ‘Three days from now at” he paused, checked the app some more before writing, ‘the warehouse arena. 5 crystal battle with a 5 crystal bet. Also if I win I would like you to never bother Rose or Horizon again.’
The response quickly appeared, ‘You are an even bigger fool then I thought. I’ll be there and very soon you won’t have any crystals to you name. And I will make sure that Rose suffers.’
Berardo grinned a little bit in excitement. It was too late to back out now. It was fly or die. An official fight where he could lose all his crystals. If he did lose it he was sure that Cockatrice would take advantage of it. He couldn’t lose. He checked the time. He was probably going to need that nap. Just a coupe more pages of the missing people report and he would take that nap. He would also need to cross-reference the contact information of the Destiny Burst Dreamers with the contact information of these missing people and see if anything came up.
He was woke by Rose shaking him. He hadn’t really stopped working on the list so much as eventually collapsed at the deck and was forced into sleep. He was still wounded and his injuries were still getting to him. As he came to he saw that it was 6pm just like he had requested.
He quickly pulled himself together and stood up. “I see. It is time to leave then.” Rose nodded.
They left the bedroom. Horizon was sitting on the couch and reading one of the books from his library. She was also wearing different clothes than the sundress that she had worn before. She was wearing jeans and some branded t-shirt. He looked around the room and saw a few bags.
“You bought burgers and clothes with the money I give you?”
Horizon turned up her head to look at it. “Is there a problem with that. You said we could use it however we felt.”
He shook his head not just to show that it was fine, “I guess I did say that. I guess I just didn’t actually know what to expect.”
“I also wanted to get a camera but those were too expensive.”
“Well, I guess you will need to save then. However right now we need to get going. We need to go somewhere that Cockatrice will not expect us to be. That is assuming he doesn’t have any way of tracking us.”
Horizon put her book into a bag she must have also bought and stood up, “That I can help with. If you can unleash my abilities I can check if he is tracking us using card spells.”
“You can?” Berardo asked.
“Of course. I am Eyes that Gaze the Horizon after all. I’m not a support hero for no reason.”
Berardo checked Kathie’s phone, “Well it seems that the third crystal has finished while I was sleeping so let’s give it a try.” He held out the phone and said, “Awaken, Eyes that Gaze the Horizon”
Her eyes began to glow and the floating symbols began to trace patterns around her eyes. A white cloth with tassels materialized around her shoulders like a mantle. She gazed between both Berardo and Rose. Berardo found himself trying to hold his breath while waiting for her verdict.
Finally she said, “Indeed, it is tracking you. However it seems that his spell is limited to tracking objects. He had placed the spell on your coat. As long as he maintains the spell he will be able to tell where it is no matter where you got.”
Berardo grimaces, “My coat huh? I wonder when he had the time to cast the spell.”
“He must has been watching us as we fought Reaper of Wandering Souls and cast the spell when he saw that you were about to escape knowing that he could aways track you down later.”
“Well, this was my favorite coat. Give me a minute.” He headed back into his room and came out holding another coat, it was a similar style but as slightly different tone. He removed the old, tracked coat, and put on his new one. Or at least he tried but Rose had to help him. His arm made everything difficult.
He grumbled as he did that, “Are there any healing spells that can make my arm magically get better?”
“There are however they are rare since healing non-heroes is not incredibly needed for Destiny Burst battles. I’ve heard that several dreamers play Destiny Burst purely to be able to buy a card like that. Usually they have someone like a loved who they desire to heal.”
“Rare huh, sounds like the Makers us that as a way of making people play more Destiny Burst and spend more crystals on them.”
Rose nodded. Berardo grimaced and said, “Well I guess I will just have to suffer then.”
“Kathie had a minor accelerated healing card in her collection which isn’t quite as extreme as what you asked for but it was would speed up your recovery. However those cards are lost now.”
“Cockatrice must have them then?”
She nodded, “I expect. I believe she used the rest of her collection as bait to make him not realize that I was hidden away.”
“Wouldn’t see be unable to cast her spells without her phone.”
“What? Oh, no, she could cast without the phone. The phone is just an aid, like a shovel to dig a hole. Experienced Dreamers don’t have to use it although it makes things easier so usually they do.”
Horizon piped up, “Your a wizard and your phone is your wand. Some day you will be able to learn to cast without your wand.”
Rose nodded before continuing, “Obviously the other features of the phone still make it useful even if you don’t use it for casting. You can contact other Dreamers to organize fights and things like that.”
Berardo nodded, “Alright, alright. Enough distraction, we have to go and ditch this coat along the way. I would rather not have Cockatrice mess up my apartment because he thought we were still here.”
They followed him as he left the building. They were a little less conspicuous leaving then coming in because of new clothing but still people who knew him would probably have called it unusual.
As they walked Berardo said to Rose, “Since you have experience I need you to help train me how to play Destiny Burst. And I need it to be quick. Not only do we have to deal with Cockatrice but my battle with Alchemist has been scheduled to happen three days.”
She sighed, “You really did take his bait didn’t you.” She looked at him trying to gauge the situation. “And you bet all the crystals you would have didn’t you. That was stupid.”
“You had better teach me to fly soon then.”
It was Horizon that said, “Fly! I want to fly too!”
Berardo looked annoyed at her but stopped short. She was looked at him intently. Finally he grinned at her, “Oh, you want to be thrown out of the nest too then? Well it looks like this might be the first thing that we actually agree on.”
Rose looked grim, “Alright then. I guess I won’t hold anything back. I hope you two don’t regret your decision. Although I’m glad, I would have pushed you this hard anyway. Otherwise you will never be able to defeat Cockatrice and get revenge for Kathie.
Berardo stopped. They were standing on a bridge over a stream passing down the mountain. He still had his grin on, “You know, I think I’ve finally found a connection between the three of us. None of us want to lose. As long as that remains I think we will be able to get along.”
Then he took his old coat and threw it into the stream. It flowed away down the mountain. He felt like his old life was going with it. Something else would come in the future but for now he would just have to make up things as he went along.