Chapter 11: A Private Chat

"What do you mean, you don't know?" Ash asked to the medic. We were all in the medical station where the doctors took Ferno. She was inside the infirmary, while we all sat in the lobby, a few other civilians and guards were there too, but on their own accord. Ash was trying to get in to see his sister, who had been inside there for half-an-hour, while none of the doctors told us how her condition was until now.

"Well, she is physically okay, save the giant gash on her forehead, but she is not waking up. She has a steady pulse, no signs of fever and her body temperature is normal… well, for a fire sprite's standards, but whatever we try she just won't wake up."

"Can we see her?" Astrid asked the medic.

"Uhh, we prefer that you don't, just for safety reasons."

"Buggard! What safety reasons? That is my sister you have in there and I want to know that she is well and in one piece!" Ash got all fired up, and started to yell at the medic.

"Buddy," I started at the medic. "I have had about enough of it. Me and my friends get stuck down here with no way out, I'm almost killed several times, and my friend get injured, and I can't even see her? Now, I'm not in the best of moods, and I have enhanced strength, so if you don't let us in, you are gonna have to be pulled away on a stretcher too, get me?"

The medic froze for a moment.

"Umm… you make a fierce argument… very well, you may enter, but you may not touch her. There may be radiation from the core."

We all rushed in, I went last so I could growl at the medic and bear my teeth, to make my point final.

We walked in and passed several empty beds, only a few were filled but the patients were just struck with fever or something. We found Ferno lying unconscious on a bed. Everyone was immediately over her, trying to see if she would wake up. Geo, as sneaky as he thought he was, tip toed over to the other side of the bed and tried to put her arm in his mouth so he could eat it.

"Geo, even think about it, and you'll be in the bed next to her," I said.

"Awwwwww… hungry," he replied hanging his head as he walked back to me.

"Hold on one second," I told the others as I went to the nearest doctor and asked him for saltines. He showed me to a box in the corner and I grabbed as many as my pockets could hold, then walked back to Geo.

I tossed five or six packs into the air and Geo caught them all in his mouth, wrappers and all he swallowed them down.

"That should keep you quiet for a time."

"Any luck with her?" I asked the others as I returned.

No one responded because they were still trying to figure out in their own way what was wrong with her, but I noticed that john was smirking at me.

"What?" I asked.

"You said that she was your friend. That was the first time you actually admitted it."

"Uhh… no I didn't. What are you talking about?"

"Yes you did, you were getting angry at the doctor and said 'my friend is hurt'."

Oh... Well he got me there, truth be told I never really noticed it, it all seem to flow so smoothly.

"I didn't even really notice I said that."

"So... you don't want to be friends with her?" John asked.

"It's not that dummy, it's just that we aren't really even friends yet. She's just Ash's brother, nothing more to me than that." I said.

"Uh huh, we'll see," said John.

"She seems to be really out of it, she might not wake up for a while," concluded Astrid.

"Maybe you should perform CPR," mumbled John.

"John, I will kill you," I said forcefully.

"What should we do?" Jenny asked.

"The reason I brought you all to the core. I thought it might give him some visions on how to return home, but seeing as it has not, there is still something you need to search for. If you wish to pursue the way home, be my guest. I am staying here with my sister," said Ash.

"No thanks, we'll stay here until Ferno gets better. I don't want her waking up and thinking that she'll never get to see the surface. She would have my head if that happened," I said.

Ash turned to me and thanked me for my sacrifice of time, but there was something else that made me want to stay. As I thought back to the images of the Black Dragon, I realized that I still had known nothing about what it all meant, and staying here, and walking around the palace would give me some time to think about it. Maybe I'd find some answers down here as well.

I stayed with Ash and Ferno for half an hour just thinking, and getting lost in my head. John and Jenny were following Astrid around the palace, and Geo was here with me. After a bit and Ferno still hadn't woken up, I excused myself and began to walk around the palace aimlessly. After traveling down the hallways and corridors, opening doors to many rooms I didn't know what they were for, I realized I had no idea where I was. I lost my way for a second, but I finally made my way back to the throne room where the king was just finishing up a meeting with some other creatures that did not look like humans. I waited until the other creatures left before I approached the king. He saw me and immediately welcomed me.

"Ahh… Seth Cosmic, I heard what happened to your friend, and I am indeed saddened by this stroke of misfortune. What brings you here?"

"Well, she is not my… never mind. I have a question. Do visions from the core become reality?" I asked.

The king pondered over this for a minute.

"That depends on the vision that you saw."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Images from the core come from a mixture of the reality around you and your own imagination. Some visions you have from the core may eventually lead to events in the near future while others can be mere flights of fancy. Say if you had a dream about your human friend, John, swallow your prehistoric in one whole, you'd obviously realize that that specific dream will not come true... depending on his appetite at least."

We both broke up laughing, this king was one comedian.

"But why would my imagination mix with the images?"

"The core taps into your imagination, and sees through your eyes what event have taken place, and uses it natural ability mixed with your semi-conscious thoughts to predict the future. Sometimes these thoughts tend to be a bit unrealistic, and therefore are inaccurate.

"Is there any way to stop a vision in reality, at least a realistic one?"

"I do not believe so. Usually when you see a vision you don't like, your natural instinct is to stop it when really, your vision takes place when you try unsuccessfully to stop it, where as not doing anything to prevent it hastens it. It's almost impossible to prevent, only to compensate in the aftermath."

"Oh… ok then," I said disappointed. I thanked the king and turned to leave. And then one last question came to my head.

"Wait, is there a way to communicate with the core?"

"What do you mean?"

"You know, like talk to it?"

"Hmm… yes and no I believe. The core is a living organism, and it communicates with the visions that it gives you, but it's not like you can have a full conversation with it. Well, no one has tried any way… I guess it may be possible if it is willing to speak."

"Thanks, King Astrid," I said eagerly and I turned to leave.

"Certainly," he said behind me.

I ran through the hallways with only one thing on my mind; I have to talk to the core. I ran up the flight of stairs and headed down the hallway until I reached the wooden door. I pushed it open and stood just outside the palace. As I shut the door behind me, I noticed that there were no guards here like there usually were.

"Good," I thought "A Private Chat."

I walked over to the core and then circled around it once I got over to the massive and lengthy tower, the core simply floated in place. I looked down at the stone floor and saw a spot of dried blood from Ferno when she smashed her head.

"Alright you oh so powerful core, you and I are going to have a nice little chat about my visions and you will tell me what they mean," I said aloud. There was no reply.

"Did you hear me? I'm talking to you, whatever you are. You got a lot of explaining to do," I tried again to which I still got no reply.

I was mad, not just at the lack of responses I was getting, but because I had major questions about my visions. I had this strange notion in my mind that when the core gave me the visions, it was prompting me to fight this dragon headed thing, which I didn't like because that human guy, Skander's dynasty or something, threatened to kill me too since I was going to be "useless to stop the darkness." I circled the core for a minute. But then the idea hit me, what if the dragon headed monster was part of the darkness. And what if it is, does that mean that the guard is related to the darkness? I saw him in my vision when his eyes were turning a purplish black.

"Is that what you were trying to say when you gave me the visions? Is this all connected to the darkness?"

The stubborn thing kept silent still, and I just about had it.

"Answer me dang it!" I hollered at the core, and for the first time, it answered, but not in the way I expected.

My whole vision zoomed into a white endless landscape, and standing in front of me was King Astrid.

"Seth Cosmic…" he said slowly. "Why do you cause such a ruckus in my place of concentration?"

"King Astrid?" I asked.

"No, I am the core of the underground civilization. I have no shape, size, or form. I only take the form of someone from your memories.

"Well if you were listening to me when I was yelling at you, you would know why I'm here," I said.

"You want to know the truth about your visions? So be it then, I will tell you. You are the first dynasty to find our civilization. There are others, who have formed dynasties with creatures like yours, but you are the first to stumble upon us, and it was no accident either. I knew you were to find us the moment that you activated the entrance to the fire sprites home."

I took it that he was talking about when my friends and I fell through the volcano. Just remembering that experience made shivers go down my spine.

"You already know about the darkness, but you don't know much. All you need to know at the time is that the darkness is coming."

"When, where, and why is it coming?"

"Soon, this city, and because the dynasty war is arising, and you are the first to fight against it. You must gather other dynasties together and fight off the darkness, but not yet. First you must focus on defending the city. After that, you may return to your daily life and you will be called to gather the dynasties when you are needed."

"Do you understand how cliche this whole ordeal is sounding?"

"Do you take this as a joke? Do you wish for lives to be lost because it sounds cliche? Or will you understand the depth of this situation and work to prevent the loss of life amongst my creations?"

The voice boomed louder and louder with each sentence. But in reality, I understood that all quite clearly. In this white infinite space, my mind was sharper, and I could comprehend things more easily. I took a deep breath and somewhere found it in myself to accept that this my responsibility. And that's when I saw a red silhouette floating in the distance.

"What is that?" I asked the core.

"That is the fire sprite Ferno,"

"Wait, what?! Why is she here?"

"When she smashed her head, she fell into unconsciousness and her unconscious being was scattered. Her mind is here focusing on trying to wake up without losing any important fragments of her memory."

"Is there any way I could help her wake up faster?"

"Maybe if she sees you, she will remember you, even if her memory is damaged when wakes up."

So I tried to move to her, but I couldn't move my legs.

"What do I do?" I asked the core.

"Try to imagine yourself moving toward her,"

I was glad that we had found something less serious to focus on, but this was not what I had expected.

"What, am I going to magically float to her?" I asked myself, and as if karma was mocking me, I did. I was instantly floating next to her before I had time to blink.

She was lying down… while floating I guess… like she was lying on a bed. The only difference from how she looked here and how she looked in the hospital, was that she was twiddling her thumbs, she was moving her bright red feet, and she was… humming? She was humming a tune quietly to herself.

"Ferno, what are you doing?" I asked her. She gave no response, as if I hadn't been ignored enough today.

The core appeared behind me so quickly I didn't notice until I turned around. I almost jumped.

"She is gathering her thoughts," he said.

"And humming is how she's doing it?" I asked.

"If you were in her position, you probably would be doing that too," he said.

Ferno opened her eyes and stared blankly at me, with a slight smile. It wasn't like she was happy to see me, it was that he being was just happy in general, she was still humming and she again didn't respond when I asked her again what she was doing.

"Does she remember me?" I asked.

"Her mind does not know that you are here, it is preoccupied. But her image see's you, and in a few seconds, it should alert her mind that you are here."

But she did come to recognize me. She then yawned and her eyes drooped down to a drowsy look.

"S-Seth? What are you doing here?" she asked barely keeping her eyes open.

"It doesn't matter, are you ok?" I asked.

"I- I'm tired. What happened… where are we?"

"We're alone," was all I said to her. In fact, it seemed like the core left us in peace for a moment.

"Look, we need to talk," she yawned again. "when I wake up."

"About what?" I asked.

"The… surface." she said as she closed her eyes for ten seconds, and then opened them again.

"Hey, you solid?" I asked.

"Yeah... just a bit... tired" she muttered that last word so softly I strained my hearing to make it audible. Then she fell asleep again and her image faded. I was, once again, facing the core.

"Alright, well at least she knows me, so what do I do. You know, to defend off the city?"

"That, you must decide on your own, you have the means, the tools, and the people who will help you get through this, but how you get through this is all up to you. And I will be eagerly awaiting to see your next move," said the core as the image around me began to fade into the real world.

"Good luck, I depend on it," were the last words that I heard before I too fell asleep.