The dream… It was back again. The beast that haunted his dreams had returned. He felt its breath on his face, exactly like… He remembered it. The exact same monster had tried to kill him yesterday. Why was it in his dreams? Luc looked around desperately for a way to escape, and then woke up, startled, with a flaring headache.
Lasmia was there, and Luc looked at her. “I found you here, bleeding to death. I would’ve let you die if guide wasn’t threatening me. In any case, I would stay away from the cyclopeans. They have the power to shift through dimensions to strike. I’m astounded that you survived it at all. Why did it leave you alive?”
Luc laughed, and then winced in pain. “I killed it,” he said painfully.
Lasmia curled up next to him with feline grace and put one dangerously sharp claw under his chin. “Don’t lie, it’s not nice. You could never defeat one of them.”
Luc whispered, “Believe what you want.” He got up in spite of the incredible pain in his head and chest. “Wow, it either stopped hurting, or I’m getting used to this constant headache!”
Lasmia sighed, and plucked at a small clay doll near her hands. “Oh well, I guess I’ll need a new one.” When Luc glared at her, she laughed callously. “No, that doll isn’t for you. It’s not even a real voodoo doll. It’s one of my only links to a world other than Paradise. It has been an eternity, literally, since I’ve known anything other than this. And then suddenly you show up… It makes me nostalgic. You know, if you lose your last bind to… well, anything else, you lose everything else as well, and become a monster, just like the one that attacked you. Oh yes, and I brought your backpack back. I found it in the alley were guide told me you had landed.”
Luc looked to where she pointed and saw his backpack. His brown ‘take-everywhere’ pack. He never left anywhere without it. It had a small amount of dried foods, a change of clothes, his diary, and his cell phone. He turned it on and checked. “Typical,” he muttered. “No reception when you need it most.”
He looked at his diary, and cursed. It was covered in slime and dirt. He opened it and found however that the inside was still pristine. He reached for the pen in his pocket and wrote about his experiences over the last days. He dusted the earlier pages off and was astounded to find that winning the lottery wasn’t only the earliest thing that he had written about, but also the earliest thing he could remember period. Even when he thought back as hard as he could.
Lasmia laughed softly and said, “At least you remember that far. Like I said, all I know is this. I have no idea what it’s like outside of paradise. I have only two memories left; I have a little sister, and that doll was once my favorite toy. Lasmia walked over to the candlelit shrine and picked up a small locket. “This locket is the last connection that I have to any life other than Paradise.” Luc walked over and she clicked it open carefully. “I remember my little sister,” she whispered, “But that is all.”
Luc laughed. “It’s funny, you know. As I came here, I was no fighter. This place changes people. That much is certain. And I’m not sure if I’m all that unhappy with the changes. I’ll survive here, that much is certain.”
Lasmia scowled. “Big words for someone who’s been here… how long was it again? Oh yeah, Two days!”
And then he was there, the bringer of back luck. Guide clapped his hands slowly and said, “Bravo, Luc, I didn’t know if you’d survive that fight. And obviously, you’ve found the weak spot of the demons.”
Luc groaned and sat up. “I really don’t have time.”
“Make time,” Guide growled. “You took a oinkload of lip from this damn demon, and you know what? That can’t happen. At least you know where to hit.”
“Yeah, I’m not a failure like you and my father think!” Luc stalked over to him, forgetting his ribs.
Guide smiled. “I don’t think that you’re a failure. But you need to keep your eyes and ears more open. If I had known that a Cyclops was assaulting you, I would’ve come. Unfortunately, I had pretty important business elsewhere.”
Luc laughed. “You would’ve entered the fight to help me? I wasn’t born yesterday, you know.”
Guide said, “Yeah, you know, you’re probably right. I would’ve just watched you get your oink kicked. But that’s not what I came for. I wanted to give you this.”
Guide gave Luke a series of small, thin books, each wrapped in black paper. All in all, there were eight books. Guide advised Luc, “Don’t open them yet. I don’t know if you’re ready for that. There is a totally devastating truth in there. Open it with care.”
Luc put the books aside, and wondered what was held in there. But he let his questions lie. “Well, thanks,” he muttered.
Guide laughed and said, “Let’s see if you’ll see tomorrow, shall we? Farewell.”
Luc sat down as Guide vanished in his usual way. He thought for a moment and realized something strange-he wasn’t hungry. He didn’t feel any hunger, even though he hadn’t eaten in days. He muttered, “I’m not sure what’s happening with me, but I don’t think I dislike it.”
Lasmia laughed. “You’re a strange one, that’s for sure. So far, only one other person has enjoyed it here, and that was Guide.
Luc’s face fell. “Can you stop comparing me to him? It’s creepy and annoying. I don’t want to be compared to him.”
Lasmia shot back, “But still, you have to admit that you have a lot of similarities.”
Luc thought back. He was forced to respond, “Yeah, you’re right. There are a lot of similarities. But what do you think, that he’s my father or something like that?”
“Father isn’t quite it…” murmured Lasmia.
“…And I don’t care!” shouted Luc, his mood swinging suddenly. He stormed out of the door. Why am I so angry, he thought to himself as he walked the barren streets. Word had obviously made it around that he had killed a cyclopean; demons kept out of his way. Luc pounded his head and tried to bash the pictures out. Everywhere in his mind’s eye, he saw pictures of his own death. Dissolved in acid rain, getting his arm cut clean off by the minaret, killed by the cyclopean, or bitten apart by the massive hound demon. He also saw himself killed by some insane, four-armed gnome. Luc stopped short. “That’s a new one,” he mumbled. Sunk in his thoughts, he ran straight into a seemingly human being.