BELIEVE...set yourself free from the restrictions of the world around you. Be a wandering bird that glides and crosses the wide sky with freedom

IN our present time, we are all imprisoned in a world that chains us. We are prisoners of various things.

DREAMS...A realm with no limitation and impossibilities. An endless collection of wishes and ideals.

On our journey to sleep every night, we were brought to another place by our minds. Although we dream at different places these places were contained in a single world at night, the realm of dreams, Dreamscape.

-/-

Cerize, a girl who can move freely on Dreamscape like she truly exists there, finds peace and comfort in her dreams. For her, she feels more alive here than in any other place in reality. After acquiring a strange item from Dreamscape, she started having nightmares. When she was about to get devoured by the creatures that was chasing her, a familiar boy saves her. Together with her newly found friends, which are from a group of people who guards dreamscape, she must complete the pieces of the item that she broke and go back to the Garden of Dreams to return it to reduce the nightmares to normal.

QUEST that changed her

TO the unknown land

REALITY has willed her to be here

-/-

The rain is a burden on our little wings
Struggling in the overwhelming pour of rain
Route less birds in flight
Wandering where we belong

Even though our wings were wet from the touch of rain's droplets,
Weary of those added weights that clings and were pulling us down,
No one can stop us to dream
For a bright tomorrow to come

Aimless birds wandering in the vast grey sky
Searching for an unknown place
Where we can be safe and where we truly belongs
A place where our dreams can become reality.

The sound of the raindrops keeps ringing on our ears
The echoes of our lives
Turning us deaf from the wonderful melodies of the world.
When we can truly hear the sounds that were calling upon us?

We keep trying over and over
We get tired yet still won't give up
Searching the paths of our still meaningless lives
Flying away from the past that haunts

Even without destination, we keep flying
Towards an endless fork of paths
Bearing the hope that someday we'll be able to break free
To be able to fly freely on the bright blue sky

Someday these thoughts will never be just a dream
But a sweet reality
To the paradise of our dreams, we fly
The place where our dreams takes its form.

The grey sea of clouds
Drowns us and swallows away our dreams
Those simple yet meaningful dreams that kept us strong to continue
Those little dreams that will never die

Then we asked ourselves,
Is this the right way?
Nevertheless, we keep flying
Finding answers to this huge pile of unanswered questions.

We are birds gliding through the rain
Restricted by limitations;
We keep dreaming
Searching for answers on life's questions

-/-

DREAMS a place where all impossibilities can be possible.
A paradise of thoughts and ideals.

This is the second world where we can exist without being bound by the restrictions of reality.

-DREAM 1-

I found myself sitting under a huge tree. I sat on the hill's green grass and was leaning my back on the tree on top of this hill. My icy blue eyes was fixed at the sky as I as was being caressed by the wind.

"Cerize!" A familiar voice called my name.

"Ah! Xena!" A small figure of a girl with red clothes was running towards me.

She smiled to me and ran again. She slumped on the grass beside me as she catches her breath.

"I haven't seen you the past few days."

"Yeah. I just got my hands full these past few days. You know, work from guarding this place." she was comfortably lying down the grass as if she was just on her bed at her house.

"I see...it must be hard fighting and maintaining peace around here." I was amazed that at her age, and even if she's a girl, she can fight all those creatures. I'm pertaining to the creatures that bring nightmares, Shadows. She and the group in her group were in charge of the task of disposing them. Xena was in charge of this part of land. I met her when I helped her once in my dream. She was skilled and courageous. The proof of her bravery was the daggers on her belt.

Together, we stared at the sky.

"Beautiful isn't it?" she suddenly blurted those words without lifting her gaze from the vast sky.

The sky means different for every person. Its meaning still lies within those who are looking at it with their own eyes. We may see it in a narrow perspective or with a deeper meaning.

"I agree. Looks like we have a nice weather today."

For me, it gives hope. Every time we are troubled, we seek comfort in the presence of the bright sky. Notice those people who are captivated by the sky, they only do not admire its beauty but it's the meaning the inspires them. Even artists appreciate its beauty because it has something that connects it's viewer to itself. A powerful connection that is interpreted into various meanings.

"I wonder what it really means to be free."

Just now, a flock of birds passes by the sky. It was a usual scene that you can always see in the sky. They glide freely and with grace.

'Must have been nice...'

'No one is truly free...Everyone is imprisoned with various things.'

"Who knows? You won't find the answer until it is already in front of you." she sat up picked up a flower on her side. "Hey, I'll ask you then, what does existence really means? Like a flower, although it is beautiful, every single one of them withers and gets forgotten. So why even bother staying in this world?"

"Maybe to answer that question and to give happiness to the people around it even in simple ways."

"I see...Then like this flowers, we'll also find our purpose in life. In that case, I'll do my best to make those who are important to me happy until I find the answers then." she flashed a cheerful smile that also made me smile as I gladly accepted the pink flower. As I stared at it, its petals got blown by the wind.

That's right. We are merely a petal that gets blown by the wind and goes with the flow of the breeze.

Just like birds. I actually envied those birds up there because they can do what they want, go anywhere and be free. There were two kinds of birds for me those who have destination and those who haven't. Those birds who wander aimlessly are Wild birds. Just like me who wanders around this place.

Xena and I sat on the hill's green grass. I was leaning my back on the tree on top of this hill. The wind then made my eyes feel heavy. That was the end of my dream for that night.

'We look up the sky and DREAM.'

-DREAM 2-

After laying myself on my bed at home, I quickly entered my comfort zone, my dreams. The only place where I feel free and alive. I was brought to several places like a city, a hill, a library and many more. But this time, as I walk into the forest's realm, I saw a weird door on nearby arc of trees in the right. Curiosity strikes so I decided to check the place out. Just after touching the mysterious door, I was instantly brought to somewhere I have never visited before. What was before me was a small room that was filled with fireflies that illuminating the surroundings. On the center was a small altar with a crystal in the center. I walked towards it and it was really beautiful. The moment that I touched it, a explosion of white light almost blinded me. When the light subsided, I was shocked to find out that the crystal just disappeared. Another thing that happened was that a bracelet, which was made of little chains attached itself to my wrist. As far as I remember i do not have any bracelet like that in dream or reality since I'm not really fond of accessories. I was still wondering why and how did it get there, when I woke up from my dream.

-DREAM 8-

I was really troubled the past week since I am always having terrible nightmares. Ever since I got that bracelet, I've always been chased by shadows. It clings to my wrist with no trace of getting removed.

I panted as I desperately ran towards the hill. Behind me were about a dozen of shadows. I ran towards the hill because I was desperately hoping that Xena was there since she likes going there at this time in the night where countless stars are hanged in the black night sky.

I was completely mistaken, because when I reached the top, all I can see was the tree where we used to stay. Either way, I kept running.

Then my luck possibly run out since I suddenly tripped on a rock. The shadow should have reached and devoured me if someone with incredible speed didn't arrive to save me. With a strong gust of wind, a black haired boy in black clothes caught me in his arms and at the same time, slashed the shadow with his sword. The shadow exploded into confetti of black dust.

"What a nuisance. If just haven't touched the crystal." He slowly put me down. As I sat into the grass, his words were finally processed on my mind. He knew something. He might know why I'm being chased. He turned to the remaining shadows. Beneath the moonlight, he stood between me and the shadows.

The shadows then lunged themselves forward. In a matter of seconds, the boy in black clothes made an graceful arc with a single stroke and all the remaining shadows exploded. He sliced the wind to remove the black dust that clanged in his sword's silver blade and returned it to its sheath on his belt. I felt a goose bump when he turned to look at me. His jet black hair, icy blue eyes, body built and clothes were all familiar to me.

-DREAM 9-

Since I was a child, my hobby was to draw, read, and watch about fantasy and fiction. It was because I am drawn to their world. When I am with them, I feel free and it gives me a moment of comfort. I could sit in a corner all day and I won't even complain about being alone. But don't misunderstand; I do enjoy the company of other people. Being with my friends is happier than being at home.

My life is messed up. Being tormented by scandalous loud words and quarrels about petty matters. It repeats itself over and over again like a broken CD. Daily routines that repeats in an endless cycle.

The only one that I can fully depend on is myself. My pleasure was to enjoy in my in my ideal world where I can be free and be myself.

All my life, I am being compared to other people, but that's not what I truly want. I wanted to live as myself and not as a shadow of anyone else. Because I am not them. Why I must change myself when I am a different person?

I grew tired of it. One day, I just found myself lose confidence to who I am. The "Me" divided into two different people. Like water that gets its form depending on the container that it was with. I do not have any definite character.

The reason why I've developed a split personality anyway is because of them.

All of them.

To cope up with other people's expectations. I learned to hide my feelings. When I am with other people, I rarely speaks but when I am with a friend, my other nature comes out. My true self maybe.

This is my curse that I wanted to break. Now, I wanted to change it. To merge those two person inside me and become myself again.

But who knows? Maybe things do happen for a reason.

-DREAM 10-

I now remember the person who helped me last night. Back then, I always draw the places that I visit in every dream. Then one day, while mindlessly scribbling in my sketchbook, I accidentally created a male character who looks exactly the one who was standing now before me.

Amazed by my own work, I just found myself making a stuff toy of him. He became my friend since then and I always share my feelings and experiences to him.

"U-um...thank you for saving me." he didn't respond and just helped me stand up by holding my wrist. I was surprised when a gold thread suddenly wrapped itself around my lower arm. I then looked at him and his icy blue eyes pierced mine which has the same color.

"You're coming with me." as he walked away, the thread extended and was also connected to him.

"What? Why should I?"

"Because of that silver bracelet on your wrist."

So he does know something about this.

"The answer lies in our destination. Also, don't try to break free. You can't break that. Let's go." He tugged the thread like I was just a pet dog of his. We walked for a while in silence. I must admit, he was kind of cold.

He walked ahead of me and effortlessly kills the shadows on our way with just one swing. Well, I don't really mind since I am more comfortable this way than being speechless in a conversation that I can't afford to keep alive.

He then halted. He lifted his right arm, revealing the same bracelet as mine. The bracelet glowed. At the same time, he threw a red pebble that disappeared in the process. It revealed a portal that leads into a small guild house. I was brought to a place with many people. And...I am neither happy nor grateful with it. I kept quiet while they talk to each other.

-Dream 11-

"That was Raizen. One of the strongest guardians around here. He is very skilled but not easy to approach because of his personality." Xena answered me when I asked her about the boy in black clothes.

"We are not really required to put threads on our captures but it is used to ensure their safety until they arrive at their destination." If that's the case, then maybe he wasn't really that cold.

"Anyway, our quest will start tomorrow."

"Huh?"

"Raizen didn't tell you? We are going on a quest to retrieve the pieces of what you broke and return it to the cradle of dreams." she pertained to the silver bracelet that I was wearing.

She explained to me that the crystal that I touched days ago was an important artifact. It was used to control the number of nightmares and i accidentally broke it. That why we have to make an important quest to restore it. Especially when a part of it remained with me, the bracelet. A piece will lead to the others. She makes it sound easy although I absolutely know that it isn't.

"But what about Raizen? He wears it too."

"That...was different"

-DREAM 15-

I don't have much choice but to participate in this quest because every time I dream, I always end up where Raizen is. He became my guardian for this quest. After days of training, I became comfortable with my companions. Our party is composed of a sword wielder, Raizen; Xena, who uses daggers; an archer, Rena and I, a Frelle.

Rena is Xena's twin. Aside from being a boy, they are completely alike.

A Frelle like me only uses a golden dust. This ability is focused in the principle of "imagine and believe". We can use various skills or items depending on our imagination. In my case, I can only use the item once and it'll shatter.

Nowadays, Frelles are now rare so they really insist on including me in the Dreazel, a guild that protects dreamscape.

Days have passed and we finally departed for our quest.

-Dream 16-

"I'll catch its attention! Then hit it with your Frelle!"

I panicked as the huge shadow swung his axe. We all ducked to prevent from getting us cut into halves. We were on a forest fighting two small shadows and a huge one. Raizen was having no trouble though. He really is strong. He evades and attacks effortlessly.

Xena was busy distracting the two smaller shadows by attacking them with her daggers.

Rena on the other hand freed three arrows at the huge shadow. I gasped when Rena stumbled on the ground.

The shadow was about to hit Rena. Seeing her bow on the ground involuntarily willed the golden dust to take a bow and arrow's form. I fired it on the shadow.

"Cerize!" The shadow turned at me and swung his axe but Raizen quickly guarded me.

"I'll make an opening. Be sure to hit it."

'Oh great...Just great...I usually have troubles with targeting.'

"Eh? I might miss!"

"It can't be helped you chose that weapon. Just believe in yourself.

Then fire."

"B-but!-"

"Do it or we'll get stuck here."

Raizen run towards the huge shadow. I, on the other hand, took my stance and aimed at the glowing spot of the shadow. That was my target. The piece of the crystal that I need to collect. Unless I hit it, this thing won't die.

Though I can't seem to concentrate because I'm too nervous.

"Raizen!" Raizen winced when he was hit and slammed a tree.

Then my silver bracelet glowed. I know what to do now. The shadow quickly turned and ran towards me. I took a deep breath and concentrated on my enemy. My silver bracelet changed the color of my arrow which is now covered in gold.

When the shadow was now in range to attack me. I fired the arrow while the shadow was only inches away from me. The huge shadow and the other two exploded and at the same time, my weapon shattered. The crystal was left and it entered my bracelet. I slumped into the ground. Speechless of what I just did.

"Yes! Our first piece!" Xena was very happy.

Raizen helped me get up. "Not bad."

-DREAM 20-

We collected a huge number of pieces on our journey. Plus, during the time we spent with each other, I grew fonder of my companions.

Usually on travel, if Rena and Xena were energetic, Raizen was the opposite. He just walks ahead of us and rarely speaks. But I can understand him better now.

He was just like me. A person who also needs someone to comprehend his feelings. Unlike me who was on the way to chaniging, Raizen was still stuck on the first stage.

He keeps his emotions to himself. Thus, resulting in him to look cold hearted. That's why since then, I decided to walk beside him.

-DREAM 25-

Our journey was nearing its end since only a few pieces were left. We ventured into forests, mountains, rivers and many more and now it kinda makes me sad to think that this will end soon.

"You're ability is to believe. That is your strength." I blurted out as Raizen and I stared at the starry night sky.

"Huh?"

"You told me that countless times before haven't you? But I now know the other meaning it conveys. You want me to believe in myself more right?"

"If that's what you can extract from it, then maybe."

"Then I'm going to say it back to you."

"Why?"

"Because you also don't believe in yourself and your comrades."

"That's because I don't trust anything. Even yourself can lie to you. Also, the whole world betrays you either. I...lost track of who I am. The person that was named Raizen was shattered long ago. I'm now just a empty puppet who just goes on the flow of life."

"That's true. The world lies, people lie, yourself lies. But isn't it what makes the world free? Because people can do what they want. You are not an empty puppet. You chose to go with the flow of life and that makes you the master of yourself. You merely changed into what you are today."

"How did you conclude these things?"

"Because of you. You mirror myself so I finally know where it all grew wrong. I judged life and that was my biggest mistake. I lost my grip on life's meaning and it made me turn deaf to the beautiful melodies of the world. But my journey with you guys made me understand. The parts of life which I became blind of. There were two options right now. Will you run back to the path behind you, to whom you are before or continue walking forward?"

He smiled. "I see. So that's how you perceive this." he turned to me "Right now, I still don't know but when I finally found the answer, you'll be the first one to know."

-DREAM 28-

We arrived at the shadow's lair. We are here to retrieve the last piece and to get rid of all the shadows in dreamscape.

"So they have the pieces after all!" Xena complained as we climb the stairs leading to the top of the lair.

Though I can't understand why she kept smiling as she glances at the view of dreamscape outside. I know that she was very cheerful and energetic but right now, her smiles were nostalgic like she misses dreamscape.

As we walked on the stairs, Xena talked to me.

"Hey, have you finally found the meaning of your existence?"

"Huh? I think it's not the right time to ask thing like that."

She changed the topic. She pointed her finger outside. "Those birds, I bet they were happy right now. Because they are free and has purpose in life. Just like those flowers. Even though they wither, the still served their purpose to others. Flowers that bloom for a certain reason. The sky...I wonder if those birds finds happiness in the presence of the sky?"

She spoke inspirational words until we reached the floor that we are looking for.

"There's no shadows here..." Rena spoke my thoughts. There is an eerie aura filling this place.

"This presence!" Xena exclaimed.

"Get ready!" Raizen quickly drew his sword as he spoke.

The gate where we came from suddenly closed. The ground shook. On our sides appeared dozens of shadows of different kinds.

"This is insane! Even we already killed dozens, they just keep increasing!"

"Xena, what's wrong?" Xena just stood her and lowered her daggers.

"Let's end this pointless battle once and for all."

"What do you mean?" I asked

An eerie orange glow of light surrounded her as golden strings slowly wrapped itself on her. She chanted some words that I didn't understand.

"Xena no!" Rena shouted. The shadows attacked again, separating the four of us, but Xena kept on chanting. Rena was shouting Xena to stop while I can see that Raizen's attacks became impatient and with anger. I then willed myself to understand what she was saying as I fight.

"Oh endless light. Purify these sinners of the world. I devote myself to you. Answer this prayer. Let all perish in exchange of your servant's life."

I know what she plans on doing but it was already too late. As she finished her chant, an orange light enveloped us all.

When the light subsided, all shadows disappeared. Xena was there, lying on the floor.

We ran to her side.

"Xena! Why did you do that?! Are you nuts?!" Rena shouted at her.

"Yeah...Maybe I'm crazy after all...But then I was happy to be able to help."

"There are more coming this way..." Raizen averted his away.

"Yeah...You guys better leave this place now..."

"We are not leaving without you." I forced myself to speak.

"No...I can't accompany you anymore...that spell saps the life force of its user that's why...I cannot join you...anymore...But I was happy...That I met you all...Those time with you are the most precious to me...You showed me the reason why I should be here...I finally found the answer...I now know the path that I must take...Thank you...and farewell...finish this once and for all..." with that, she disappeared. Tears overflowed on Rena's and my eyes.

"It's unfair. She died without telling me her answer."

Raizen looked up. "We are all prisoners of things huh...Xena must be happy now, she has already found the answers and managed to be free."

"I'm sorry Rena...It is...my fault...that's why..."

"I do not blame you for this...She chose her own path...I must thank you...for helping her find her happiness..." with that, we cried in silence.

After sometime, Raizen spoke, "It's time to go."

I wiped the tears from my eyes and agreed "Let's not waste her sacrifice...We will end this nightmare."

-DREAM 29-

We arrived at the peak of the lair. I saw the last crystal at the end of the room but then, a swarm of shadows appeared and shook the ground. Cracks appeared on the room, threatening to crumble.

"The crystal!"

The ground at last crumbled down as the fight with the shadows continued. We were completely outnumbered and now the crystal is now on the edge of the second building of the lair which was now a bit far from as. A huge gap sits between us and the crystal. The crystal can break from the fall or get used by a shadow. Either way, we are all doomed.

"Wha!-" the ground shook again and I was separated from Rena and Raizen as the floor split into two.

"Rena! Raizen!" They were now being drowned in the number of shadows. Raizen's skill that was protecting them was starting to wear off. I have to do something!

"Cerize!" Raizen shouted "Get the crystal! I'll do my best to keep the two of us alive here! So go!"

"But!"

"Here we go again! No more buts! You can do it! Believe! You have changed haven't you? Now prove it! Save the Dreamscape!"

With his words, I made up my mind.

I am not quite sure about this but this is better than doing nothing. If I die here, we all die but if I succeed, everything will be peaceful again.

"I have nothing to lose. If I die, then so be it."

I took a deep breath. Then I jumped on the edge of the cliff

I'll definitely win. To save the paradise that saved me. The only world who accepted my faults and strengths. The world who did not compare me to anyone else and looks at me as who I really am. Taught me things that I turned blind from. The world that cradles the people who taught me the lessons of life.

BELIEVE

Then the necklace where I put the dust broke. It formed into transparent wings with golden borders that supported me. I freely glided to avoid the falling rocks and caught the crystal right on time.

The crystal created a blinding light as it touched my bracelet. Within seconds, all the shadows disappeared in a flash and this time, for real.

Our quest was nearing its completion. What is left now is to return the crystal in the Cradle of Dreams.

As we walked on the familiar forest realm, I felt nostalgic. It was like yesterday when we started our journey and now we are on its conclusion. Many things have happened but it was the reason why we are stronger now.

"Wear it off."

"How?"

Raizen held my hand with his' where his bracelet was located. Both of our bracelet glowed with a faint white light. Raizen the urged me to utter some strange words.

The next thing I knew is that the silver bracelet shattered to dust and blended with the crystal sitting at the room. I am quickly wrapped with a white light. Below me was portal-like circle. As I took a peek on it, I saw my sleeping self on my house back in reality.

'Oh no...'

"Till we meet again." Raizen spoke with a sad tone.

"Hey! No one told me that I will be forcefully returned back there!"

"But now you know. I don't know if you will be able to come back here."

"That can't be...Wait! Stop this thing!" I struggled to break free from the white vines that were pulling me down but it ended up in vain. I don't want to go YET.

Then I did the last thing on my mind "Who really are you Raizen?" I don't know why but I am really bothered about it.

He then smiled which is actually the first time in my stay here.

You gave existence to me years ago. I enjoy your company but soon, you drifted away from me and that's when I found myself trapped here in Dreamscape. I am born from your dreams. You taught me how to believe. Don't worry...If you are really meant to be here, you will come back someday."

-Dream End-

The next months were really boring. I didn't have any chance to go back to dreamscape, not even once. I wonder what they are doing right now. Do they miss me like what I am feeling right now?

I am starting to cope up again with reality. After the quest, I managed to change my image with the world. I became closer to other people. I explained my feelings to my parents and they managed to understand.

But still, something is still missing.

I want to see Raizen again. I want to know how he is doing. Since he was like me. The last words that he uttered made me feel more connected to him.

-Dream ?-

"Huh?" I found myself staring at the view of dreamscape. I stood from the hill that I loved and beside the tree that I cherished.

"Welcome back, Cerize." HIS familiar voice made me flinched.

When I turned around, I was greeted by Raizen. With him were our friends and comrades.

"I told you...If you are meant to come back here, you will." With Raizen's phrase, I ran towards him and hugged him.

-I endlessly search for the path of my life

To the journey that I must take

My dreams is my paradise

Each story is unique

Ours is a fairytale-

-End-

And congratulations! One of the copies of our journey is in your hands. And so I decided to be an author major in fantasy, fiction and adventure to inspire other people out there like me and how it affected me. I was glad that I can finally share my story to others. And now, my very first tale that was based on real experience landed on your hands. Thank you.

-Cerize

Oh and one last thing...Raizen helped me do this. Although he is insisting that he did it half-heartedly, I know that he enjoyed it deep inside XD

You see, Raizen was able to help because he was here with me...In reality...Yes, you read that right. He was reincarnated in reality so I now spend time with him _
Kyaaah... 3 . 3