The doctor confirmed that I was perfectly healthy and discharged me. I got back all my belongings, apart from my short sword which I assumed I had left behind, but including my dreamcatcher which I hung around my neck. I might as well since it was my link to Janus, my Persona. I also had the addition of some medicine, thinking it might help in the Dream Realm. But as I was about to sit in the lobby to wait for Arianoli and Jaidenenk, paramedics from an ambulance suddenly burst in with a one of those hospital rolling beds. I stood up and went cold when I saw who was in the bed. It was Arianoli and her eyes were closed and I heard saying the words “Sleeping Sickness”. It looks like that maybe our trip into the Dream Realm had affected Ari more than either of us thought it did. I despaired for a moment before wondering if the Sleeping Sickness had anything to do with the Dream Realm. If it did, I could possibly save her? With that possibility in mind, I ran out the hospital to get to the temple. Or, I would have if a strong grip hadn't suddenly clamped around my arm.
“Where do you think you are going, Shinji?”
I turned around and saw that Jaidenenk had his hand around my upper arm. He must come in with the paramedics that brought in Arianoli.
“Jaidenenk, let me go now.” I said calmly.
“Not before you tell me where you are rushing off to! You saw that they just brought in Arianoli, didn't you? Don’t you care?” Jaidenenk said accusingly.
“I do care! That’s why I have to go, to save her before it's too late!” I blurted out without thinking. Jaidenenk raised his eyebrows then an “aha” look came over his face.
“Something happened at that temple that you two didn't tell me about, right? And that something might allow you to save Arianoli from the sickness?” He asked.
“It's a possibility, which is why you must let me go.” I reply.
“Not so fast! I want in.” Jaidenenk said. I hesitated, I didn’t want to bring Jaidenenk into the Dream Realm where he might get hurt. “Look, Ari’s been my best friend since forever. If there’s a way to help her, I want in on it. It's the least I can do for her.” Jaidenenk said, looking desperate. After that, I couldn’t refuse him, an extra person might be useful anyway.
In the Temple of the Kazeriu, I brought Jaidenenk to what I had begun to call the Constellation Room. The portal opened up as soon as we arrived and Jaidenenk jumped back in shock.
“Woah! That’s what you were talking about? So this portal will take us to that Dream Realm, right?” Jaidenenk said. I had explained a little to him on the way.
“That’s right. Now, let’s go. We have no time to waste” I said. Jaidenenk nodded and we jumped through the portal together.
Once again, I found myself in the pastel world of the Dream Realm and Seriya was standing before us.
“You’ve returned and not a moment too soon. A huge nightmare, a Boss Nightmare just appeared to torment someone in your realm. I have seen this many times, helpless to do anything. But unlike me, you can fight. You can do something!” Seriya said. Hope swelled in my chest. “But who is this you brought with you and where your friend from last time? I did not think she’d stay away.” Seriya said, confused.
“This is Jaidenenk, another one of my friends and the girl came with me last time, I’m afraid she’s the one that the Boss Nightmare you mentioned came to torment.” I replied.
“Hang on a minute. Where are we?” Jaidenenk asked.
“This is the Dream Realm.” I told him.
“Indeed. This realm is the place you visit when you go to sleep and dream. All of Neopet-kinds’ and Faerie-kinds’ Dreamworlds are here in this realm.” Seriya added.
“Oh… No wonder it looks so weird…” Jaidenenk said.
“Anyway, as we were discussing, your friend is the one who the Boss Nightmare is tormenting. To save her, you’ll need to go into her Dreamworld and defeat the Boss Nightmare inside of it. You and your Persona should be able to do it. But be wary, nightmares, especially Boss Nightmares attract Shadows. Does your friend have something to protect himself with?” Seriya asked.
“Wait, you didn't tell me I needed to bring a weapon! I could have bought something from my Battledome set!” Jaidenenk complained.
“I thought if there were Shadows, I could make them solely focus on me.” I said.
“It is a fact that Shadows will focus more on Persona Users than on non-Persona Users. But they can also be unpredictable so your friend should have something to protect himself with. I should have something here.” Seriya said and she reached into the folds of her dress and pulled out a spear much longer than the folds of her dress and handed it to Jaidenenk. Jaidenenk and I were equally dumbfounded at how a three metre long spear came out of her dress.
“How the hell was this in your dress?!” Jaidenenk burst out.
“This is the Dream Realm, things happen here that can't happen in your realm. For example, Shinji surely you've noticed that you no longer have your short sword.” Seriya said.
“Well, yeah. I figured I left it here somewhere.” I replied.
“That is correct, in a sense. Try imagining it appearing in your hand.” Seriya said. I imagined the short sword that Seriya had given me in my first visit appearing in my hand and to my surprise, it did.
“Woah! That’s seriously cool! Will it change into something else if I imagine changing?” I exclaimed.
“You could if you were in your own Dreamworld. While in the Dream Realm and in others Dreamworlds, you're stuck with what you’ve got. Although there might be a way to get a better short sword than the one that you've got. I’ve never had anyone who needed anything better than what I could provide. Anyway, those weapons are yours to use in the Dream Realm and Dreamworlds and only those places. These weapons can't be taken into your realm.” Seriya explained. Then a look of realisation came to Seriya’s face. “Oh yes, you might need these too.” She said. Then she produced from the folds in her dress a pistol and a revolver. “Some Shadows are weak to gun fire so these are yours to use in the Dream Realm too. Use the one that tickles your fancy.” She continued with a smile. Jaidenenk’s eyes went wide at the sight of guns.
“You're giving high school students guns.” He said incredulously.
“Does that really matter when your life could depend on whether you have these or not? Besides, you're much more than high school students in the Dream Realm and no one in your realm would be able to know you have these.” Seriya countered.
“Um, I’ll take the pistol and you take the revolver?” I said, taking the pistol.
“Yeah, okay.” Jaidenenk said, reluctantly taking the revolver.
“Alright, now that you are both suitably armed, I’ll lead you to the Dreamworld the Boss Nightmare is in.” Seriya said. She lead us through what seemed like an endless landscape of pastel colours and golden orbs of light until she stopped an orb that was gold, but had a purple sheen overlaying it. “This is the afflicted Dreamworld, you can tell because of the purple sheen. You can enter Dreamworlds by touching them.” Seriya said.
“So that’s Ari’s Dreamworld?” He asked.
“Most likely.” Seriya replied. Jaidenenk slowly nodded and then squared his shoulders.
“I’m coming Ari!” He shouted and touched the orb before either Seriya or I could stop him.
“Wait, Jaidenenk! Dammit, he’s gone!” I said in frustration. “We better follow him.”
“Agreed, he won’t last for too long without his own Persona.” Seriya said. We both touched the orb and got pulled into Arianoli’s Dreamworld.
Seriya and I found ourselves the foyer of a lavish, Altadorian-style mansion. I looked around but Jaidenenk didn’t seem to be around.
“He’s not here.” I mumured. Seriya shrugged.
“He couldn't have gotten far. He's either upstairs or on the ground floor.” She said.
“Then let’s search here on the ground floor first.” I said. I went to the left and found myself in a dining room of sorts, but I wasn't alone, a Shadow roamed the room.
“A Shadow! Try and sneak up from it from behind. That way, you’ll definely strike first. Striking it without sneaking up on it will give the first strike to whoever is fastest. But don’t let it sneak up on you or let it strike you first otherwise it will strike first and any other Shadows with it will surround you, meaning you can’t escape. You can actually die here in the Dream Realm so for Fyora’s sakes, be careful!” Seriya explained. I snuck up behind the Shadow as quietly and stealthily as I could, then when I got close enough, I struck it with my short sword. The Shadow was startled by my strike and as Seriya said, I had the first strike. My enemy was a Faerie-like creature with short, red hair and wearing a leotard and a pair of long boots. “That’s a Pixie of the Lovers Arcana.” Seriya said from the sidelines. I looked over at her with a raised eyebrow. “Oh yeah, I can scan Shadows and get information on them. It take time to get stuff like their weakness though. But it's airborne so it should be weak to gunfire. Exploit weaknesses when you can as hitting a weakness will stun them and you’ll be able to strike again. But don’t let them exploit yours as getting hit with your weakness will do the same.” Seriya explained. I nodded and aimed at the Pixie with my pistol, I shot at and to my surprise, actually hit it. As Seriya thought, it was weak to gunfire as it dropped to the ground stunned.
“Now! Attack it again!” Seriya said. I summoned Janus and used Agi this time. The Pixie wasn’t weak to Agi, but it went down regardless. “Good job, Shinji. But remember you won’t always have a Shadow’s weakness and in that case you’ll just have to pummel it as hard you can. Shadows also have resistances and some outright block or reflect types of damage. Your Persons might have the same. I’ll keep note of all the weaknesses, resistances and such, but you should at least remember what your own Persona is weak and strong against, okay?” Seriya said.
“Okay, Seriya. I’ll try.” I replied and continued through the other rooms on the ground floor.
On my way I tackled more Pixies, Incubuses and the new Pyro Jacks on my way through. I found Jaidenenk in a huge Ballroom on the ground floor.
“Jaidenenk, there you are.” I said tiredly.
“Oh, hey Shinji. I haven't found Arianoli yet, have you?” Jaidenenk said.
“Is that all you have to say for yourself after going on ahead without me?! It's dangerous when you don’t have a Persona of your own and you can get killed here! What would I say to Arianoli if you got killed in her Dreamworld?” I growled.
“Oh, Geez. Sorry man, I wasn't even thinking about what might happen. I'll stick with you from now on.” Jaidenenk said, having the decency to look sheepish about it. Then, Seriya gasped.
“Oh no…” She whispered.
“What is it, Seriya?” I asked her.
“A second Boss Nightmare has entered the Dreamworld and it's coming straight for us! But why?! Two Boss Nightmares coming to torment one person shouldn’t be possible!” She exclaimed.
“And it’s not. Because I’m not here for whom this Dreamworld belongs to, I’m here for someone else.” An unknown voice said. Then anventide Kougra that looked just like Jaidenenk appeared before us. But as I looked at them, I noticed they actually looked a little different from Jaidenenk. They had bright yellow eyes compared to Jaidenenk’s gold and they wore a brown shirt, brown pants and a deep purple cloak. They looked like Jaidenenk if he were a thief. It's voice was Jaidenenk's, but had a much more sinister voice overlaying it. I then looked at the real Jaidenenk and saw he was trembling in fear.
“So, you're a Boss Nightmare?” I asked the fake Jaidenenk.
“Yeah, but I’m not here for you. Persona Users like you can’t have Boss Nightmares. Your friend on the other hand can. I suppose if you must refer to me, call me Nightmare Jaidenenk. I'm here because he has some major fears.” Nightmare Jaidenenk said. “So, where do I start? Oh yeah, how is being half-blind working out for you? Must not be working out too well since you wear that phony contact that makes your eye look like it's gold like your other one.”
Then Nightmare Jaidenenk pointed at the real Jaidenenk and the said contact popped out of his right eye. I saw that instead of gold, it was a milky blue and white, showing that he was indeed blind in that eye. Jaidenenk quickly covered his blind eye and began looking for the contact that had popped out.
“Don’t bother, you won't find it. You have hundreds of replacements anyway. I guess it shows that crime doesn’t pay. Stealing from a powerful Pharaoh wasn’t a piece of cake like all your other tomb-robbing endeavours now was it?” Nightmare Jaidenenk continued.
“You used to be a tomb-robber?!” I asked Jaidenenk incredulously.
“I hoped no one would find out… I’m not proud of it and I probably cheated a lot of archaeologists like your folks out of rare finds. But I had to in my younger years.” Jaidenenk said, looking ashamed.
“Oh, you didn't tell him? I bet you didn’t tell your beloved best friend that you were a criminal either. All the teachers at the school know though. That’s why they look down on you, you know and so would everyone else if they knew. Oh how that would break your heart if she began to look down on you.” Nightmare Jaidenenk said gleefully. “But she really should he looking down on you. She has all that wealth and status. She's also smoking hot, way too good for an orphan like you, yeah? You’ve only been able to go to such predstigous schools because she persuaded her father that you were worth it. But are you really? Would she have been able to convince him if he knew you were a criminal. I wonder what she would think if she knew! All that wealth and status she has, she'd probably reject you. Especially if you confessed how much you like her! She'd never want to be your girlfriend.”
“Stop, stop it!” Jaidenenk yelled at Nightmare Jaidenenk, his voice quavering. He was shaking violently and his eyes were full of fear.
“Why, are you scared? Scared of what I know, of what I talked about?” Nightmare Jaidenenk asked.
“Just leave me alone!” Jaidenenk shouted angrily.
“Oh fine, go ahead and reject me. Your rejection and fear only make me stronger and I know you fear me. After all, I am your Nightmare!” Nightmare Jaidenenk said. It then transformed into a giant Kougra, dressed as a Pharaoh laying in an upright, golden, glowing coffin with linen wraps writhing all around it from inside. I grabbed the dreamcatcher around my neck tightly, ready to summon Janus.
“Shinji, retreat!” Seriya suddenly shouted.
“What, why?” I asked her.
“That Nightmare is feeding off Jaidenenk’s fear and resentment of it! As a result, it’s become too powerful for you to handle. You both must retreat before it kills you both!” Seriya replied, panicked by this new development.
“Oh no you don’t!” Jaidenenk’s Nightmare said. It blocked all the exits with its linen wraps. “I’m going to see how he’ll react once I kill you in front of him before I kill him! I will leave such a lasting impression that his fear of me will continue to fuel me into the afterlife!” It said, laughing maniacally. Dying to a Boss Nightmare was not on my bucket list and seeing as it was growing stronger beside of Jaidenenk’s fear, I knew that the only way it would go back to being manageable was to make Jaidenenk not afraid of it anymore. I did the only thing I could think of doing, I called out to him.
“Jaidenenk! I know it said your fears, but just because it knows what you fear doesn't mean you should fear it! All it can really do to you is talk, it can only harm you if you let it! And Jaidenenk, I don't care what you did in the past. I’m your friend and I always stand by you no matter what. Because that’s what friends do.”
“Because that's what friends do.”
With those words, Shinji managed to break through and dispel my fear. He was right, my Nightmare was pretty much all talk. All bark and no bite. Why should I fear it if that’s all it was? Shinji’s words empowered me and I no longer feared the Boss Nightmare. In fact, I was going to kill it for daring to suggest killing my friend in front of me.
“Hey, you! So maybe I do fear all those things you said. Heck, I know I do. But you know what? I fear all that stuff, but I sure as hell aren’t afraid of you! I don’t fear you anymore than I fear an Angelpuss!” I yelled at it.
“What?! NO?!” The Nightmare squealed and although it didn’t change again, I could tell it was much weaker than it was before.
“Yeah! Go Jaidenenk!” I heard Shinji call out. But suddenly, I felt a torturous pain racking my body. I cried out in pain and I heard a voice that I felt was from deep inside me.
“So you finally understand what is to fear and what is to conquer” It said to me. “Let us conquer this monster together and make it rue the day it decided it could get the better of us.”
“Yes, let's. ‘Cause it can’t!” I said, getting excited despite the pain.
“Alright! Thou art I and I am thou! Let us rain heavenly bolts down upon our enemies!”
A dreamcatcher appeared before me, not too dissimilar to Shinji’s. But mine’s web and circle was all made of zigzags and the gem in the middle was blue while the gem in his was grey. I grabbed the Dreamcatcher and suddenly a giant Eventide Kougra in Altadorian armour appeared before me. He held a spear that looked like a lighting bolt and long sandy blonde hair, like mine, flowed from beneath his helmet.
“I am Jupiter, God of Lightning and Thunder and just like thou is me, I am thou.”
I gaped at Jaidenenk and what seemed to be his new Persona in shock.
“You have a Persona too! What a fortuitous time for that to be discovered. Since Jaidenenk both has a Persona and is no longer afraid of his Nightmare, you two should be more than a match for it.” Seriya said.
Hell, yeah! Come on, Shinji! Let’s me, you and Jupiter pummel this crackpot into the ground!” Jaidenenk said excitedly.
“Hey, we gotta invite Janus to the party too.” I said with a grin.
“Gah! I don’t care if you’re not scared of me anymore! I’ll crush you anyway!” Nightmare Jaidenenk yelled angrily.
“Good god, you need to shut up already!” Jaidenenk said. Jaidenenk was faster than me so he went before me. He zapped his Nightmare with an electric attack I recognised as Zio from the Pixies who had zapped me and Janus with it before. It turned out that Nightmare Jaidenenk was weak to it and Seriya shared another tidbit with us.
“Now that there is more than one of you, you can do something else when an enemy is stunned from exploiting their weakness. You can do an All-Out Attack! Basically get in there and pummel it until it’s able to push you away and get up again. Shinji, you’ve got seniority so you call for the All-Out Attack!”
“This all okay with you, Jaiden?” I asked Jaidenenk.
“Fine by me, Shinji. You can be the boss while I beat things into oblivion!” Jaidenenk replied happily.
“Alright then! All-Out Attack!”
Then we did what Seriya said and pummeled Jaidenenk’s Nightmare until it was able to push us away and get up. I was faster than it so I was able to follow up with Agi. But danger came when it used Garu, a wind spell, on me, something I was weak to because Janus was. I was stunned from being hit with my weakness and it managed to strike me with one of its linen wraps.
“Are you alright, dude?!” Jaidenenk called out to me.
“Yeah, I’ll be alright! I'll just see about guarding next time” I called back. Seriya had taught me earlier that guarding covers up my weakness so I can’t be stunned by it. So by Jaidenenk using Zio, both of us using the All-Out Attack and me guarding to cover my weakness to Nightmare Jaidenenk’s Garu spells, we were victorious. It turned back into the form it previously was in and this time it was scared of us. It skittered away from us and started to get smaller and smaller until it simply went out of existence.
“Congrats, you two. You just beat a Boss Nightmare.” Seriya said delightedly.
“Yeah, that felt hella great. But I'm tired as now.” Jaidenenk said.
“But we still need to save Arianoli.” I sighed. I was tired too and had no idea how far we’d need to go to get to Arianoli.
“Don’t worry. She can wait until you two are fully rested again. The Boss Nightmares normally take a couple of weeks or so to finish off who they are tormenting so you two can rest for today and come back tomorrow when you are fully rested up.” Seriya said. I would be lying if I said that we wouldn’t jump for joy after hearing that if we weren't too tired but to leave Arianoli’s Dreamworld and then exit the Dream Realm through the portal which Seriya could summon at will.
When we got home, Jaidenenk went straight to his room to get some shut eye. I managed to microwave a small pizza for dinner before doing the same. But before closing my eyes, I swear I heard Seriya’s voice say these words.
“To get others to face their fearful Nightmares and turn them in sweet Dreams. This is your power as the Dream Bearer.”