“Then do you know who Cockatrice is?”
Berardo shook his head, “No, I’m a newcomer to the Destiny Burst scene. That is why I need Rose’s help.”
“Mine?” she asked. “You did battles with Kathie and were part of the community for a long time. I want to know which Dreamers have primarily active in the last 4 months, somebody that I expect showed up within the last year. They would have been good but not too good. Somebody that both won and lost battles enough that they were recognizable without being too well renowned.”
Berardo held up the phone as he spoke, “I’m sending the same question to Meike along with all the information I got about those Dreamers that are dead. However I don’t expect her to have a good answer. Since she is a top battle she might not have experience with the rank and file players of Destiny Burst.”
“Somebody like that?” She mused. “There are a lot of people that could qualify.”
“Yeah, I was surprised too. This list of names is rather long and it is only the currently active players of Destiny Burst. However I don’t know anything else about them other than handles.”
“Actually there is something important about the list. The list is in sign up order.”
“Really? Now that is useful. Do you think you could tell me what which of these people signed up about a year ago?”
Rose watched through his eyes using the communication spell while he scrolled through the list on his phone. Eventually she said, “Stop. I think that is about right. I remember Silver Tint. He signed up around a year ago. I think a little bit before Cockatrice made his first and only appearance at the Destiny Burst store. He had kinda dropped off the radar in the last couple of months but I think he arrived here at about that time.”
Berardo looked over the list, “32 names. That could be a lot of potential searching. Any of them you specifically recognize as being active members of the community?”
“Unfortunately most of them. Those that don’t actually want to dual much are removed from the list pretty quickly. Some stay on the list by doing casual, non-bet battles but everybody on that list does at least one duel a month, usually more.”
“So all 32 of these people are possible suspects. If I had a little bit more to go on that would be good.”
“Why don’t you try fighting all of them?” Asked Horizon.
“Try, fighting all of them?” Responded Berardo basically just copying what she said.
“Yeah, if you dual all of them then you might be able to learn a clue or two about them and possibly learn which of them is Cockatrice.”
“That is actually a pretty decent idea. It would also be a good excuse to question each of them about Cockatrice. Learning who bought packs when.”
A School Lost
Berardo stared out the window of the school into the darkness. Nothing had got exactly like he had plan, actually nothing that had happened today had gone as he had planned it.
He looked back into the room and tried to smile at those inside. Horizon was standing by his side. There where nine others in the room with him. It was the members of the Lower Listorna Middle School card club, all four of them. There were also their heroes. This was supposed to be a training excise for them. They somehow managed to qualify for being Dreamers, Berardo still didn’t quite get what determined who get to be a Dreamer or not.
The real reason that he was hear was that one of the four, the young girl being comforted in the corner by her two heroes, had managed to gather enough crystals with the help of the other three to purchase a new hero pack. If that was the case then Cockatrice might soon pay her a visit.
Looking out into the darkness Berardo know that this was actually the case but things were not what he had expected. Cockatrice had many more tricks up his sleeve then Berarda had expected. His phone was not getting reception and at the edge of the darkness her could see slightly silver lines traced into the darkness. The must be some kind of barrier that had been put up which might also be the cause of the darkness.
Some kind of terrain spell had been up up as well, it warped the grounds of the middle school, changing it into some kind of treacherous maze.
Berardo ask, “So, what is the verdict.”
Horizon said, “Nine, the spells that I can see would take at least nine crystals to keep active.”
“Well, if there is anything that we know about Cockatrice it is that his ability to control a vast number of crystals is unparalleled. Any chance these spells are actually maintained by different people?”
“None, there is to much interconnectivity. However I think I have identified Cockatrice’s signature.”
“Good. Keep watch and notify me if anything changes.”
Berardo walked into the room and knelt by one of the boys. “How are you feeling?”
The boy had previously been bright faced and energetic but now he looked frightened. He had been attacked just after the darkness had appeared. His hero, an old robed man had managed to get the boy away from the monster that attacked him.
The boy nodded, “I’m doing better. My arm had been bandaged.”
Berardo returned that nod, “Yeah, good. At least it looked to be in better shape than my arm.” His arm was still in a sling. While it had slowly been getting better Berardo still couldn’t properly use it.
The other boy was staring the the window. He was shaking while his hero had her armed wrapped around him. Berardo was beginning to understand that heroes either tended to be like their Dreamer or fill in a role that the Dreamer needed. What did that mean that Horizon was to him.
It was the fourth kid, and the other girl that was who Berardo thought was interesting. She sat on the floor next to the door. However she was not shaking or crying. She looked like stone. In her hands was a sword. Her hero stood next to her, he looked like a samurai. The sword that she was holding was one of his two swords.
The door slide open and she raised the sword for just a moment before she saw that it was Rose that had entered.
“What did you find out?” Asked Berardo.
She shook her head, “I couldn’t find anything. There are monsters wandering the hallways but those aren’t heroes, I think they are manifestations of this arena spell.”
“Horizon says that the arena and the barrier are using 9 crystals.”
Rose grit her teeth, “As expected. If we expect that he can control 20 crystals then that means there are maybe 4 heroes of there waiting for us to make a mistake.”
Berardo nodded, “Yes and we need to get all of these people out of the barrier. Then we can call for help.”
“Of course. If we were to try just you to send out a message then one of the two groups will be attacked. Right now we seven heroes which is why Cockatrice has not attacked yet. He is afraid that he might lose a direct confrontation.”
“But how many of these heroes will actually be able to fight?”
“We can.” Came the quiet voice from next to the door. The girl, Diane Simon, had been overhearing the conversation. “The other three will be able to protect themselves probably but if you need somebody to help you fight then we can do it.”
Berardo looked down at her, “You sound like you want to fight.”
“Have you ever waited for something your whole life? Waited desperately for something to happen?”
Berardo just looked down at her. He didn’t say anything but they both knew it. That they were similar in a way.
“Any this is what you were waiting for?”
“Maybe, but there is only one way to find out. You are ready too aren’t you Blade of Unique Sway?”
The samurai next to her nodded only an inch, “My blade is yours to command.”
Berardo wanted to oppose her decision, she was too young to be this far forward in actual combat however if they all wanted to survive they did have much chance.
“Alright then. Stick with Rose and she will direct you. Now I have to deal with our other problem.”
Berardo walked over to Patrick Andrews. He was the one that had got the second hero pack. Really it was purchased with the crystals that all four of them had grown and won but he was the club president so he had gotten the first second hero.
“Hey, Patrick. He need to pull yourself together. You are in charge aren’t you?” Asked Berardo as he got closer.
The boy however was huddled in the corner. One of the heroes, a bulky man with thick arms stepped between Patrick and Barardo. “Don’t get near him.” Said the man.
“In what way is that going to help? Are you going to just let him stay there are die?” Berardo pointed out the window. “Out there there are at least 4 heroes waiting to kill us. If we don’t escape your Dreamer is going to die. Do you want that?”
The man paused and then stepped aside. Berardo then moved past him. He looked down at Patrick there was a girl who looked about his age standing next to him holding onto him. She was his second hero. She had black horns growing out of her head.
“Excuse me but there is something important I need to discuss with you. The man out there is named Cockatrice. I’m sure you have at least heard of him. But there might be something you don’t know. He is looking for a specific hero and he believes it might be your new hero.” Berardo looked at her, “What is your name?”
“Demon of Forgotten Soot”
“Quite a name that you have.” Said Berardo. “Do you want to protect Patrick.”
“Then I need you to leave protecting him to your comrade. I need you to fight with me and show Cockatrice what you are capable of.”
“That doesn’t sound like a good plan.”
“It is important. As I said the reason Cockatrice is here is because he believes you might be the hero he is looking for. If we can display to him what you are capable of doing he will know if you are that hero. If you are not then he will likely pull back and avoid risking his own heroes any more.”
“Any what if I am that hero?”
“Then things will get extremely complicated. However that should give Patrick time to escape from the barrier.”
She placed her hand on his head for a moment and then walked forward. “Alright.” She looked at her companion before saying, “Protect him. I’m counting on you.” He nodded very grimly.
Berardo moved to the center of the room and called out to all the people inside it, “Alright. We have the plan setup. Now let me explain to everybody how we are getting out of here.”
He looked at all of them now suddenly paying attention to him, “We are all going to make for the exit to the school grounds on the north side. That is the closest side of the barrier as far as we can tell. We are going to be in two squads with the priority to make certain that squad two manages to break through the barrier.”
“Squad two consists of Patrick Andrews, Edwin Ross, Pat Evans, and their heroes except for Demon of Forgotten Soot. The rest of us are squad 1 and we need to make sure that squad 2 escapes safely.”