SANELASTONITE BY JESSE DAVID. PAGE 55

"It is never too late or too soon. It is when it is supposed to be."

― Mitch Albom, The Time Keeper

"The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time."

― Mark Twain

CHAPTER 1

They say he was the strongest man on earth, but what a shame, Dirma the Brave dies by eating 5 ladybugs because of a dare.

He was a great warrior. He leads Drovario Kindom into 5 wars, and he won all of it. Fighting side by side with his comrade in the front line and he die for eating 5 ladybugs.

His friends are just laughing when he fall out of the chair. The man that dares him walks away like nothing happens. His friend doesn't even stop the man. All they do was to laugh. Like everything was a joke.

After a minute, it sinks to them that this isn't a joke. The strongest man on earth dies from eating 5 ladybugs from a dare. Why would he accept a dare from a stranger? Technically he is the strongest man on earth. He won't have that name if he isn't this brave. A simple dare won't hurt him, especially if he survived 5 wars.

"Hey stop playing around. Let's have another game." Howl the Protector said.

"Pull him up." Godfry the Hungry said.

"Hey boss, is there a problem?" Howl the Protector said.

Howl starts shaking Dirma the Brave, he might kill him on the way he shakes him rather than waking him up, his neck is snapping. Howl stop shaking him after a minute. Dirma falls again from the chair with his head first. They hear the echo of the head crashing the floor. Howl then ask help from Elizabez of the Night which is playing over dart area.

"Hey Elizabez, Dirma won't wake up," Howl said. "I need help."

"Maybe he is just drunk as dead," Elizabez said.

"This is different, just look for a second," Howl said.

Elizabez pours the beer to Dirma's face, she is the only one who can do this because she is a female. She knows that Dirma would just let it go if it is her. But still Dirma doesn't respond, such a calm face.

"How long is this happening?" Elizabez asked. "What did he do before this?"

"Around 5 minutes ago, we had a dare from this stranger. He bet that Dirma can't eat at least 5 ladybugs that he is selling."

"Where is he?" Elizabez asked.

"Well, I don't know. I help Dirma." Howl said. "Hey Godfry, where is the bug catcher?"

"I don't know. You are the one who had a deal with him."

"Not me, it is Dirma. Stop eating, we have a problem." Howl said.

"Why did you let this happen? Alert all the soldier, guard, anyone we know. Find the bug catcher." Elizabez said.

"What happen to Dirma." Howl asked.

Elizabez tries to find his pulse of Dirma. "I'm afraid the strongest man on earth died by eating 5 ladybugs."

Dirma's eye became clear. He notices the silence. He is still on the same table. He reaches in for the mug of beer, put it in his mouth then try to get a big gulp. The mug was empty. The pub was empty except a weird person in the bar and the bartender.

"Hey, give me some beer," Dirma said.

Dirma starts to laugh, thinking that he faint for eating 5 ladybugs. He is thinking what punishment he will do to Howl and Godfry for leaving him alone in the pub.

"Hey, bring it faster," Dirma said. "I also want peanuts."

Dirma laugh with the thought of what happen. When his temper got him because of the beer, he goes near the bar.

"Hey, why aren't you bringing me some beer?" Dirma said. "Are you deaf?"

He notices that a person is seating in the bar wearing a robe that is a bit odd. Especially that he is wearing its hood indoor. He sits beside the person.

"Hey, are you new here. Don't you know who am I?" Dirma said to the bartender.

"I am talking to you," Dirma said then reach for the shoulder of the bartender. Dirma isn't shocked on what he saw. It just takes the time to sink in his mind that a skeleton is cleaning a mug. Dirma releases him, and the skeleton just turn around like nothing happens.

"Qarou drarhour y ogba," said by the man beside Dirma.

The skeleton starts to pour beer on the clean mug. It places the mug in front of Dirma. The skeleton bow and then extend his hand waiting for something.

Dirma got 3 pieces of gold coins and hand it over to the skeleton.

"What dialect do you speak?" Dirma said.

"The word of the Dead."

Dirma looks straight to his seatmate. His body tense, waiting for the guy to do something stupid. He is waiting to show that a prank like this will be punished. He chooses a wrong guy to prank.

"Hahaha. This a good prank. Show yourself and you will be spared by the strongest man on earth." Dirma said.

"Earth, you mean the land of the living?" He said.

"Yes," Dirma said.

"Then I am not afraid of you."

"Who are you?" Dirma said.

"Do you really want to know?"

Dirma pounds his fist on the other side of the bar. A sound was made. He was expecting a minor explosion of woods. The bar should be destroyed. But he guesses that this wood is made of something. Maybe fortified by a magician that specialized with guard spell.

He looks back to the other side and saw the person turning to him. The person doesn't have a face. No, the person doesn't have a head. Dirma saw in the place of the head a dark purple-ish that is whirling in the middle. Like a black hole.

Dirma felt the darkness, he felt something unusual. The person wasn't a person. He faces different enemy but nothing like this. Something is different.

"I am Death." Then Death looks in front.

He then notices the oddness of the surrounding. A little bit grayer, the hardness of the wood, and the skeleton. This guy isn't doing a prank.

"Am I dead?" Dirma asked.

"Answer me, do you feel dead?" Death asked. "How was the beer?"

Dirma tries to find the answer around him. He feels fine, nothing hurt, not even a hangover.

"Humans are funny. They feel superior to their own kind when they are stronger and bigger. But when it came to this realm, everyone of your kind is the same, no powers, no magic. Just poor souls."

"This can't happen. How can I die?" Dirma asked. "I am the strongest man on earth."

"You're not on earth basically. And you know how you died. You know the answer, human. You might be the strongest but still a mortal. And that how the nature work, every one of you mortal will die. Such a puny creatures."

"It is not my time. You take me on the wrong time. I am at my prime. You take me because you are envy."

"I do not take you or kill you. I am just here to get you."

"Is that different?"

"Think of me as a messenger, a courier. I am here just to take you where you belong."

"Try it and I will kill you," Dirma said.

"Why don't you try it?" Death said.

Dirma tries to move as fast as possible. But his body doesn't move.

"You won't even stand a chance to the bartender. Start forgetting you're the strongest man on earth. This is a different realm."

A dark purple-ish hole opens in the middle of the pub. Dirma's body starts to follow death which is going to the hole.

"Stop," Dirma said. "Stop. Stop!"

Then like a mirror. The hole shatters, it became solid that falls into the ground.

"Bad for you, you possessed a power that can work here. It would benefit you if you are still alive, but sadly you are dead." Death said.

"Bring me to life or you are next," Dirma said.

"You still don't understand do you? We are not the same level."

"Bring me to life," Dirma said.

Death releases this control to Dirma. Dirma pants, he is reaching for air. He is dead but still he breathes deeply, he still feels suffocated.

"May I see your pocket? I guess you still have coins in your pocket."

Dirma reaches for it and counts 15 gold coins.

"I have 15 gold coins."

"That will be enough for 3 days of life. Do you want it?" Death said.

"I want to be alive. Permanently."

"Well, you should bring tons of gold. Remember, you are not on the position to bargain. I can summon the gate again and I will be sure you won't break it this time."

"Ok, deal."

"Deal." Death said. "Let's have a handshake."

Chapter 2:

Dirma crashes into something. A gasp of air and his senses are back. Foul smell in everywhere. He feels the cold and damp ground. He felt the hunger and pain. He saw the light, he stands up. He finds his way outside the alley.

He tries to identify where he is. He is spinning in the middle of the road. He is on the part where poor people stay and do business.

Dirma notices that his body is thin, weak and dirty. His clothes are worn out, even his shoes have a hole in the sole.

A man comes out from the same alley where he came.

"Need some help mate?" The stranger said.

"No," Dirma said then walks away.

His plan was to go to the castle, but he isn't in his original body. He plans to ask help from his comrade to help him on this matter. He needs someone that can cancel or reverse this, especially that he is now alive.

Dirma goes straightforward to the castle. He has been dead for a couple of days in the land of the living. He must find someone who is willing to help him.

Like an old habit, he walks straight into the gate of the castle. A guard holds him to his chest and smirk. He was pushed.

"Do you have any business with royal family?" The guard asked.

"Don't you know who I am?" Dirma said.

"Are you the most famous beggar?" The guard said. "Well I'm not a fan of beggar society, so I do not know you."

"What is your name gate guard?" Dirma asked.

"Does it matter?" The guard said. "Here's 2 piece of gold. Buy some food."

"Remember this day," Dirma said.

He then notices everyone is looking at him, trying to hide the laughter and smile. Dirma just walks away, trying to think a plan. He thinks that he is back in his old body. Maybe if the guard saw his explosive hands, they will notice it's him.

Dirma try to force his energy in his hand, he punch the crate as much power as he can and then boom, he fails, he falls on his knee with the pain on his hand. He finds his eyes blurry, his body cannot take the lost energy, and even the energy isn't enough to destroy the crate.

He searches for the nearest place where he can buy a food. The good thing is that a 2 piece of gold can buy him a 3 loaves of bread.

He doesn't have any plan and his anger is controlling him. He will just try to get inside the castle at all cost.

He just walks straight to the gate, having his head up high and the feeling that he is back on his old self. But the guard might still notice him.

"Is 2 piece of gold not enough?" The guard said. "The problem with the poor is that when someone helps you, you take the person for granted and let that person handle your problem."

Dirma doesn't respond, he just concentrates his energy on his fist. A punch with his famous skill will do the job. He thinks that someone will notice that he is Dirma.

"Last warning or I will pull you all over the kingdom."

Then he snaps, hitting the guard in the face. He does his famous technique, the explosive hands. But not that explosive, much like a spark, no damage dealt but good if the effect is needed.

The guard stands up and like a flash of light, Dirma is now on the ground.

Dirma tries to stand, he saw a familiar face. In his surprise, it saw Godfry the Hungry.

"Hey Godfry, it been a long time since I needed a help, could you help me fight this pathetic guard," Dirma said.

The guard is now ready for his finishing blow, as fast the light he sprinted in front of Dirma but bounce back from where he came.

"What the?!" The guard said.

The guard saw a broad back of a man in place of Dirma. If you had a chance to see Godfry, you will notice that he is fat, but not just fat, it is muscle.

"Where do you learn that punch?" Godfry asked Dirma.

"Haha. You notice Godfry, did you forgot that Master Naj is the one that teach me that move."

"If so, who are you?" Godfry asked.

"I am Dirma."

"Dirma who?" Godfry said. "Dirma the Brave is dead in this castle. Are you a blood relative?"

"I am Dirma, I am resurrected from the dead."

"Tell me the truth or I am the one who's gonna bring you back to dead."

Dirma takes this opportunity, it is better to be anyone to get inside. After that, it will be easy to ask for help inside. He thought that it will be easier to find someone inside that will believe and help him.

"I am the cousin of Dirma, Dirmacious."

He doesn't have any time to think of a cool name, a shitty name will do.

"Dirmacious, do you want to see your cousin?"

"Yes, I do."

Dirma just got inside the castle alongside with Godfry. A lot of people are gathering, even the Kings from different kingdom comes to show respect. Different warriors that became his friend on the war even came. What an awkward view for him, seeing your own funeral. At least a lot of people show up.

He is looking straight to himself. Not in the mirror but his dead self, he doesn't imagine that he will look like this. It is just a cold dead meat on his prime.

The next plan was to find someone that will believe it is him. He only has 3 options. He only has 3 close friends. He must find a way to talk to the 3 at the same time.

"Godfry, will you introduce me to Dirma's close friends in private."

"Why?"

"I have a message."

"Wait here. Help yourself, eat something. You look weak."

Dirma starts to eat anything he saw, he needs to conserve his energy to make another explosive hand in case they don't believe in him.

Godfry shows up and asks Dirma to follow him. They go inside a room, the room is full of books and has a nice carpet in the middle, this room is familiar, this is where they play games, drink, chat and plan wars.

Dirma saw Elizabez and Howl. He can notice the sadness in the eyes of his friend.

"Elizabez, Howl," Godfry said. "This is Dirmacious, cousin of or friend Dirma. He wanted to say something."

CHAPTER 3

"Is this a joke, Godfry?" Elizabez said.

"This is not a joke, he said he want to say something," Godfry said.

"So okay, here we go. I am Dirma, I have been resurrected in this body. I only got 3 days, you must help."

"I dont know what happen to you, but the Dirma that I know is dead," Elizabez said.

"Guards," Howl said.

"This is how you all help me?" Dirma said.

"Guards, throw this person outside. Teach him some lesson." Elizabez said.

Then Dirma glow with an aura, the same as his old aura. 2 guards grab him in his both arm. Then he explodes, the guards flew to both end of the room, hitting the bookshelves.

"He has the same power," Howl said.

"Maybe he is really a cousin of Dirma." Godfry said.

"No, I am not. I do not have any living family." Dirma said.

"Guards!" Elizabez said.

The 2 guards are standing up, 2 more guards are coming.

Dirma tries again, but he is in his limit. He was dragged easily. Looking to Elizabez eye to eye as he was pulled.

He was beaten to death, he was thrown to a random alley, but luckily this random alley isn't just random. It is where he came from.

He tries to stand up, but his body can't take it anymore.

Dirma feels the sour of his body. He can't understand what is happening. He notices that he is in a small room. He is in a battered couch. He tries to sit, he feels a thousand bolt of electricity but manage to sit down.

He is thirsty, but he can't move, he saw that there is water on the table, but his mind is weighing if it worth the pain.

Then someone come inside the room. The same man who wants to help him in the alley.

"Are you following me?" Dirma said.

"No, you are the one who came back with your friends."

"Where am I?"

"The same kingdom, we are still in the alley."

"Who are you?"

"How about you introduce first?"

"I need water," Dirma said.

"Ok, water. Here."

"I am Dirma The Brave." Dirma just look into the man.

"So thank you Dirma. What happen?" The man asked.

Dirma just looks at the man.

"Well, I think they got mad at you. Because you are a fraud." The man said.

"No, I am not."

"Then who is in the wake?" The man asked. "The strongest man died for eating a ladybug. And then you, who is calls himself Dirma the brave, which supposed to be the strongest man was beaten by 4 regular guards."

"More water," Dirma said

"I need an explanation."

"Food. I need food." Dirma said. "What is your name by the way?"

"Thank you for asking." The man said. "My name is Tir, and welcome to beggar society."

Dirma told the story to Tir. Every detail, even about Death.

"So you want me to believe in you?"

"Yes, of course."

"So 1 and a half day to come. Nice, what is your plan?"

"My close friends don't believe me. Only one man left."

"Who?"

"My master, come with me and you will believe it is me."

"What do I get in return?" Tir asked.

"Money and power."

"That sounds nice. Don't worry. I will help you even without the money and power."

Even though Dirma's body isn't ready. He must go to his master as soon as possible.

"So what does this Master teach you?"

"My signature move. My famous skill, explosive hands."

"Fire type, huh?"

"Much powerful, it doesn't burn, it destroy things."

"So how do you really die?" Tir asked.

"I ate 5 ladybugs. So ironic."

"So you came back to the land of the living to find a way to have more life rather avenging your death?"

"Yeah, this is the first time I think of avenging. Thanks for reminding."

"So when do we arrive at your Master's house?"

"This midnight, if I don't sleep, I will still have more than a day to find a way to live more."

The house of Dirma's Master is small but has a cozy look. It is made of wood, you would smell the ground that is always wet and the big trees that seem to love cuddles.

There are fences that surround the house. Dirma opens the door and gets inside. Tir enters but thrown 5 meters away from the fence.

Dirma want to help Tir, but his movement is limited. The door of the house suddenly open, a man gets out of the house. The man looks intellectual with his blue suit, his hair is golden white that comes with his wisdom.

The old man cast a spell by whispering in the wind. Dirma senses the wind from every direction. His head is throbbing. He is lying on the ground along Tir.

"How do you get inside my property?" The old guy asked.

"Hey, maybe because you permitted me," Dirma answered

"Do I know you?"

"I'm Dirma. And this is Tir."

"What happen?"

"Do I really need to share the story again. Don't you have any spell to watch my past?"

"No. Now start talking."

They have their midnight snack while Dirma told the story again.

Dirma also shows his skills that make his master believe.

"So Master Naj, this is Tir. He helps me after I got beaten by the guards."

"So what takes you here after all the years you became the world strongest man?"

"I want to be alive again, in my own body."

"I am your master when it comes to fighting, not miracle. I do not know anything about a resurrection."

"Not even a magic?"

"You need a miracle from the gods." Master Naj said. "No magic can resurrect a dead man."

"Not even black magic?"

"Black magic needs a sacrifice. The bigger the sacrifice, the better. Do you still have something to sacrifice?"

"Would you lend me something?"

"What do you mean?" Master Naj said. "That is not how it works. You should sacrifice something important to you, or it wouldn't be called sacrifice after all. It should be called sharing or giving if you want it that way."

"Please think of something. Any ritual, anything."

"I think there is someone you could ask about that."

"That's it. There are rituals right." Dirma said.

"No. I know someone, an oracle. It could lead you where you want to go, but that doesn't mean you will live again. But still it would be a nice try."

"That is better than nothing."

Master Naj wrote something on a piece of paper. He told them to show this when they get to their destination.

They go to the oracle as fast as they can.

"So another adventure," Tir said. "Will you be still alive when we get there? This forest looks like it will going to eat anything that's going inside."

"This forest is her protection," Dirma said.

"So this friend of your Master is a her. And why does she need a protection?"

"To keep my master away."

"So they are mortal enemies?"

"No, she is my Master's wife."

The forest is old. The leaves are the ceiling of the forest. The light outside is not penetrating inside. It seems that the forest is its own kingdom.

Even with small amount of light from the sun, the forest has a source of light which comes from a plant that has a fruit that act as a light bulb. A lot of animals is living inside. Mostly animals that want to live alone and in safety.

The sound of nature is pure in place, its dimness makes you comfortable, the weather inside is not so cold yet not so hot. The roots of the trees are so big that the portion outside the soil might be good as a wall of a house.

CHAPTER 4

Master Naj told Dirma to just walk inside the forest. If he is destined to arrive at the house of the oracle, he will arrive.

"So that is our only way to get to the oracle?" Tir said.

"Yes. Master said that is how we get there."

"If there are barriers in their house, that only means that they are both off limits to each other properties. So maybe, the instructions are just like that because he can't get inside."

"Maybe before the barriers are activated they met each other. Or I don't know."

"Well he is your master, you should know."

"My master, not my father."

They continue walking and arguing. They are like old friends, or maybe they are old friends that resurrected again but not the Dirma's way, that is resurrected by Death.

They are arguing, but they are not fighting. They are not mad at each other, just want a point or win something.

"We must hunt something," Dirma said.

"We still have some biscuits here," Tir said.

"I need meat to be strong. That is why you are weak."

"I am weak not just because I don't eat meat. I am weak because I don't really eat. Sorry for being poor. I rather be hungry than to steal."

"We must hunt. There are a lot of animals here that are not good at running away from their predator."

"Ok, I am going to try."

At the end of the hunting they both had a pair of rabbits. It is still meat. Better than the biscuit. They cannot measure the time since they came inside the forest. They need sky to check on how long are they traveling. Maybe Dirma's time will end anytime soon.

When they hear a sound in the forest, they do not panic. It might be a rabbit or a bird or a big animal. But this time it is a person. Tir stands up to get a better view.

"Hey, there is a person over there," Tir said.

"Be ready, it might be anyone. We have a rule when we travel, don't believe in anyone that you don't know. We are not familiar in this forest." Dirma said.

"But it doesn't look harmful."

"A lot of bandits and assassins don't look harmful."

"But what if that person is in need of help?"

"You choose, a chance that your comrade's life will be taken or you help a random person."

"No comrade's life will be taken here, it is my life. We are not on a war, we are in a forest."

Tir stands up and shout at the person he is seeing. It turns around. The person was an old lady. Not a typical old lady, a frail and sweet looking old lady.

"I am Tir, may I help you?"

"I'm fine." The old lady said.

"What are you doing?" Tir sits beside the old lady.

"I am searching for food. Root crops or mushrooms but it is hard to find it here. I can't go deeper in the forest."

"Do you want to join us there? We have some extra food and fire."

When they arrive on a campsite, Dirma reacts "So you even bring her here."

"She isn't harmful."

Tir gave the old lady his other rabbit.

"Wait here, I will hunt rabbit so you could bring some at home," Tir said.

"That will be great. Thank you. I will cook rabbit stew. I will share some if you want."

"Yes, thank you."

After hunting…

"Have you been going in this forest often, old lady?" Tir asked.

"Yes."

"Do you know a house or a woman living here?"

"Oh yes. Go there, straight ahead." She points in her side. There are 2 trees that seem to join as 1.

"Thanks," Tir said. "See, we can now go to the oracle."

"So let's go."

"Goodbye, old lady," Tir said.

Dirma and Tir go to the direction which the old lady pointed out. This part of the forest is darker and colder.

"Why do help the old lady?" Dirma said. "You do not know her."

"So do you. I do not know you, but I am here, helping you." Tir said. "This world needs a helping hand. The reason why other people turns bad because they run out of options, I have been there. No one is there to help me, so I do bad things...

"Sometimes, we just need someone to be there when things get hard, but when people run out of option that makes them do bad thing. That's why I help people when they are in need."

"Someday you will be in a problem because of that."

"You are the strongest man, but why do you need help fighting a war?"

"The title is the strongest man. Not strongest team."

"Still weak?"

"What?" Dirma said. "Where do you get that?"

"You die by eating ladybugs, not by fighting a monster."

"Maybe there is a poison in the ladybug."

"So why did you eat it."

"Why don't you shut up," Dirma said. Then he pushes Tir away. Tir vanished into the thin air. It seems like he has the power to transport a person to a different dimension. But yeah, that is what Dirma conclude.

Dirma walks as fast as he can. He was transferred into a sunny hill, where the sky is blue and the cloud is amazing. The cloud is mesmerizing that you will forget the problems are you dealing.

Dirma saw Tir lying in the grass. Dirma pushes Tir using his feet.

"Why are you lying in there?" Dirma asked.

"You push me and now I am on this position. Simple."

"Stand up. That is the house over there."

Dirma is standing in front of the house, ready to knock, and then it begins to open. Inside, there is a woman that opens the door.

A woman in her mid-life, she is beautiful even in her age. Having a white long dress, black hair, and a pale complexion, Dirma and Tir felt that the time stops. They are waiting for her voice.

"It's been so long Dirma." The lady said. "Come inside."

They both come inside the house. On the table, the food was ready.

"Have we met before?" Dirma said.

"Yes."

"So you are an oracle?" Dirma asked.

Tir is now eating. But the 2 are concentrated on talking.

"No, but I am much powerful."

"But Master Naj told me that you are a oracle. What are you then?"

"I am a 4th dimension creature."

"What's the difference? Do you still see the future? Can you help me?"

"I don't see the future. I am living in 4th dimensions. I can be in any moment I want. This means that I had met your future self."

"So do I live?" Something sparks in Dirma's eye. He knows that he lives. They met in the future.

"You are living." The lady said.

"Tell me how I can permanently live."

"I'm not here to tell what happened in the future. I am here to give you an adventure." The lady said. "I am here to answer your question if there is a way to live again."

"I knew it. What is the ritual?"

"There is no ritual. You only need to find a gemstone that changes it color in the moonlight."

"How will I have it?"

"The right question is where the gemstone is."

"So where?"

"South."

"South where?"

"Just go south from this forest. You will see it."

After the meal, they are set to go. They were healed by Lady Laj.

"Before we go Lady Laj, I am going to die again. Death only gave me 3 days and I used it up. How can I have a longer life?"

"You have given all your coins. That should be used as a payment to pass the river of death. If you still have something worth a sacrifice, you can still sacrifice it."

"Think Dirma." Tir said.

"Last question, is Master Naj prohibited in this place." Dirma hands over a paper that was given by Master Naj.

"No, he is just too afraid to meet me again."

CHAPTER 5

"Why don't we stay here until you make a deal with Death? I don't want to go to the south just find you dead while we are walking." Tir said.

"You are correct. We wait here."

"If you are going to do that, you can use the storage room. At lease, you can have some privacy," Laj said.

"Thanks, Lady Laj."

Dirma waits for death alone. His heart is thumping fast. It seems his inside will explode.

It's been a long time since he became afraid. He can't be afraid. Well, his name is Dirma the Brave.

Dirma doesn't notice that he fell asleep. He is back to the other realm. The room was darker and near the door, Death was standing.

Dirma was back to his old body. He flexing his muscle, he misses his body.

"Time is up Dirma." The Death said.

"I need more time."

"Have you finished all your unresolved business?"

"No, I need more time."

"You do not finish it because you have done nothing."

"I am near to success. I can live again."

"I told you to finish your unresolved business, not to find a way to live again. Finish it, not extend it."

"Give me more time."

"Do you still have some gold?"

Dirma tap every possible pocket but nothing.

"How about other things?" Dirma asked.

"Like what?"

"My soul. Let me be the next Death. Give me more time."

"Wow. That was a great idea."

"So what you think?"

"3 days." Death said.

"I need 10."

"I told you, you are not in position."

"5."

"3. Take it or live it. So what?"

"Deal," Dirma said. "And please don't throw me."

Dirma and Death shake hands.

CHAPTER 6

Hours passed, but no sound was heard inside the room. Dirma might be asleep. Tir tries to place his ear on the door to hear if something is moving or what. But the door opens. Tir walks back, he tries to act normal and sit on the nearest chair.

"What happen?" Tir asked.

"I am here, so that means I had a deal. Again" Dirma said.

"What is at stake for now?"

"My life, my afterlife, I will give my soul. I will be Death."

"So, if you successfully got the gem and you live, will you still give your soul."

"I do not know. I forgot to ask."

"So if he takes your soul once you die, what is the purpose of this?"

"I want to live."

"You die because you are dumb. You gave your soul to live here. You gave up your after life."

"Shut up. You do not own me, this is my life."

"So what is your plan now?" Tir said.

"Thanks, Lady Laj. We are now going." Dirma said.

Dirma starts to walk straight to the door.

"Thanks, Lady Laj for the food, I hope I can repay you for your kindness someday."

"That's nothing. Dirma needs you for this adventure. Your friend possesses a corrupt mind. He needs you as a guide."

"Thank you for everything," Tir said

"Wait takes this." Lady Laj gave Tir a coin. He looks to the coin closely, the print is unique this might come from another country.

"What is this for? You might need this." Tir said.

"No, take that as a good luck charm. Use it wisely."

"Thanks."

"Hey Tir, move faster," Dirma said.

"Goodbye."

"Please visit again sometime."

Tir waves goodbye. He notices that Dirma seems stronger, determination changes him.

They manage to come back faster. Master Naj is willing to give his stock of weapon. He told them that he is old for wars and fighting. It would be good that he disposed of these items.

They also ask a map to plan their adventure. They only have 3 days, they better get to a town or a person that might have the gem or can even point where it might be.

They begin their adventure to the south. They don't know a specific place, but if it is written on the destiny it will happen.

They begin their adventure on the nearest town. When they came to the town, it seems that they are having a feast. This town named Alexandria is near the sea, most of the seafarer gathers here every feast to sell items that came from the different island and continent. The good thing is that Dirma asks Master Naj for money, he will double it once he lives, or if not, Master Naj can get all his items on the castle.

They started on checking the flea market. They are searching for the gem but end up checking different items.

"Do you have a gem that change its color on moonlight?" Dirma ask.

"No, but we have a pearl that will surely make any girl fall in love."

"I don't need it."

He tries again from other sellers.

"I need a gem?"

"Well, what gem?

"It changes its color when under the moonlight."

"That sounds you need an adventure for that."

"Yes, I'm in an adventure. Do you know someone who might know it?"

"No."

Dirma and Tir take a break on a pub, having a steak and a beer. The pub is crowded with different people from other countries. They notice it by their clothes.

"I guess it can't be found in the flea market," Tir said. "Maybe the guy is correct. That gem that can make you live isn't easy to find."

"Well, 1 thing that I learn on my adventure is you can find good information with the bartender."

"Oh really?" Tir said. "Then try it."

Dirma stands proud. He walks to the bar and called the bartender. It seems that he doesn't hear Dirma. He just continues on what he is doing.

Dirma grabs the shoulder of the bartender to turn it. He saw the skeleton that serves him on the other realm.

"What?" The skeleton said.

With the blink of an eye, the skeleton turns into a man.

Dirma starts to catch his breath even he doesn't do anything that will make his breathe short.

"Weirdo." The man said.

"Hey, I know you know a lot of stories. A lot of people go here. They tell a lot of their adventures and treasures."

"Yes. So what?"

"Do you know about a gem that change its color under the moonlight?"

"No, never heard of it."

Dirma shows 2 pieces of gold. A glow of came from the bartenders eye. Greed shows its color.

"Well yes, I think I remember something."

"What?"

The bartender tries to grab the coins, but Dirma know what's going to happens next. He closes his fists.

"What?" Dirma asked again.

"Aren't your hand a little bit itchy?"

"It depends on what you say."

"I heard a story when I was a kid. A gem, the same what you are talking, it has the power to make your life longer. No, it makes you immortal – makes you immortal."

"Where can I find it?"

"I dunno, it supposed to be just a bedtime story."

"Well then thank you."

Dirma go back to their booth. Tir asked him what happen, and then Dirma told him that the guy just tells him a bedtime story.

Then a guy shows up. He gets the chair and turns it facing him. He places his arm on the backrest and holds his chin.

"Hey, I heard you searching for a gem."

"Does it matter to you?" Dirma said.

"Does the gem matter to you?" The man said. "By the way I am Nobu. I host an auction here every year. I think we have something in our inventory that might be the gem you are looking for."

Dirma and Tir just look into him.

"Ok, I thought you guys might be interested. I notice that you are having a rare sword. May I see it?"

Dirma punches the wall beside him, a small explosion happen. He looks straight to Nobu.

"Is there a chance that you have a distant relative that named Dirma?"

"Hey, Nobu," Tir said. "If we are interested, we will go to your auction."

"Yeah, Good day." Nobu said then walks away.

"Big mouth," Dirma said.

"Maybe we should really check it."

The auction will start after sunset. While waiting, they try to find any information that can help them. Days have passed for Tir and he forgotten why is he with Dirma, he hates his mind. He just helps other people and forgot what the reason why he does it is. He doesn't want something in return. He just wants to help. He got in the place where he needs help, but no one helps him.

They met at the auction to check the item. They haven't got any good information.

CHAPTER 7

"So let us begin," Nobu said. "For the first item in our selection"

A lady came out wearing a white bikini. She is pushing a rectangular item. A piece of black cloth is covering it.

"Please remove the cloth."

On a blink of an eye, every one holds their breath. Under the cloth is an aquarium. Inside it is a real life mermaid.

They are showing their best item for the introduction. In the room, some people look like a rich merchant and collector. The room became noisy. Every prospect buyer asks their consultant.

"Is this your first time to see a mermaid?' Tir said. "I though it is just a myth."

"Yes, it is the first time. But I know it is true. Master used to have a friend that is a merman that teaches him water magic and healing."

"Isn't it illegal to sell a mermaid? They have feelings." Tir said. "They are not a pet."

"We do not have law or treaty for this. Nothing is illegal here. For them, this is just an animal with an upper body of a human."

"I think she is more than an animal. She looks afraid."

"We are here for the gem. We don't care for them. You are not here to help everyone."

"I wish I have your power. So I can protect all the weak."

"That's not how it works. When you are good at something, never do it for free, do not help them, and take it as a service for their money."

"I thought you are just proud about yourself because you're strong. Don't know you're greedy."

"I'm not. I need to live."

"True power corrupts. True power."

They start to raise money. Tir can't believe that they are willing to spend that money for this. The winner spends money equals to the money that can feed Tir for his lifetime or even feed the next generation of his family.

"Next item is," Nobu said. "An armor, it is made of gold. It is resistant to all elements."

For Dirma this just a common armor, the armor is resistant to the elements but not with brute force and with his skill. He can kill the person in the armor in a blink of an eye.

Items after items they wait, they now know who must be the richest. Some of the items don't have any bidder. Usually they are weapons, scrolls, books, relics that are too old to bother. If the gem was here, they just hope that no one wants it. They do not have a lot of money.

"For the last item," Nobu said. "It is a beautiful luxury gem. It is the gem of the south, a gem that changes its color under the moonlight. So what do ya think?"

Whispers spread to the crowd.

"Let's start with 100 pieces of gold."

"500." The man wearing a robe that seems a king would wear.

Dirma's hopes fall. His money is only 200 pieces of gold.

"How about 3000?" The old man with 2 girls on both sides said.

"Oh, 3000, I forgot to tell that there is a myth." Nobu said. "The myth is about a gem, the same in the front us, changes it color under the moonlight. And it has a power. It has the power to prolong the owner's life. Not to be immortal, but make the life longer. I am not saying that this is the gem, but what if the myth is more than a story."

"20,000." The frail old man said.

The 3 gentleman are looking to each other. They are waiting for each other's move.

"Going once," Nobu said. "Going twice..."

"This sword."

From the vantage point of Nobu, he can't see the owner of the voice but he knows that it comes from the last row.

"Make way for the man," Nobu said.

The people on the middle part to make way for the man. The man was Dirma. Holding the sword.

Some of the bidders notice that the sword is special. Not because of its power or resistance, but because of the former owner of the sword.

Master Naj is not just famous in the kingdom. He is famous on a lot of places.

Nobu is shocked, but it just for the show. A lot of people are talking. A lot of them want to own the sword.

"Hey Mister, I will bid the gem for you, but the sword will be mine." The man said.

"I will bid the gem for you and pay you on how much the sword worthy to you." A random man said. He is too small to be seen.

"No!" Nobu said. "We don't bid for each other's item. You only bid with me."

"But still I'm the owner of the sword. That small guy, I like your plan."

"Wait," Nobu said. "I will bid, 50,000 for the gem."

"Isn't that cheating?" The small man said.

"No, the rule is to whom may bid the highest may own the item. Only our item will be sold in this auction. I can still bid, I have my own money." Nobu said. "I'll bid for 50,000."

"100,000."

"1 million," Nobu said.

A man coughs to get the attention of the crowd. He goes near Dirma. It is Tir.

"So what now?" Tir said. "You win, then what?"

"Will talk later. This is the last item." Nobu said.

"Will you sell the sword after you acquire it?" A man asked Nobu.

"Good night everyone," Nobu said.

Nobu signals the 2 to follow him.

"I will be fair with you. I know you both are not stupid, so how much you want beside the gem?" Nobu said. "You created such a scene there."

"Are you a friend Nobu?" Dirma asked.

"Yes," Nobu said.

"If you are going to sell this sword, how much will it be?"

"200,000"

"Wow. 400,000 will be my selling price. Plus the gem, of course, the gem."

Nobu starts to laugh. "Yes, yes. You're smart. A deal it is." Nobu laid his hand forward.

Dirma accepts the deal. The same feeling he has when he had the deal with Death.

CHAPTER 8

With a 400,000 pieces of gold and the gem that he wanted, he traded the sword.

"You can now start counting your money," Nobu said.

"No, it is fine. You are a friend Nobu."

Their new problem is how they will bring the gold coins home without being rob. The gold is in a treasure chest.

"So what now?" Tir asked.

"We party," Dirma said.

"We should be thinking a way how to bring this home. And remember, I have my share."

"Yes, yes. Let's go to a different pub where we can find the most beautiful ladies in town. We should be partying. Let's think of that later."

"If that's what you want."

Dirma deposited the money into a local lock station. Technically you can leave an item into a vault. You will pay a fee for using the vault. They give us 2 keys in case the one of it got lost. It will be the proof if you want to redeem the item. It has a lock spell that can't be copied.

On Tir's eye, this must be the way Dirma lives. Powerful and free spirited, he can go to places since he can.

When they got inside the bar, Tir can smell the sin, the haze of lust inside the room. Tir notice that inside is blurred, but it is just the fog. He does not know why there is a fog inside. Maybe is it just the desire of every man inside that is flowing out their body.

Tir thought that if Dirma meets the Death then there should be some kind of a demon. And maybe when we commit too many sins, they begin to exist. Tir was sure that these are lovely ladies, but there is something that seems off.

With a pocket full of gold, every girl seems to love them. Two girls on Tir's side seem bored. He doesn't even request the girl. Dirma just wants Tir to experience this. The life and fun he misses.

Tir was given any amount of money he likes, but he let his share on the safe.

Dirma made the gem as a pendant. A girl holds the gem. Dirma snaps the girls hand and asks where the manager is. He then asked to change the girl that touches his gem. He told everyone that they don't ever touch the gem.

The long night starts. Tir is shy but after some pint of the beer, they became the closes friends ever.

"What now?" Tir asked.

"Well I got the gem, we have a lot of money, and we are fine. You are now rich, Tir from beggar society. Help anyone you want. Feed the poor, do whatever you want."

"Yes, I will do that."

"Tir the helper." Dirma said.

"I like that."

"Let's drink for the night."

"I think I'm good. Maybe call it a night."

"Call it a night? This night is still young. Just wait."

Dirma paid the bill. They are laughing outside. Tir hopes that they are now going home.

"That was fun," Tir said.

"Yes, but still not enough fun."

"Let's call it a night?"

"No. Let's go there." Dirma is pointing to nowhere.

"Ok let's go."

They go inside a big tent. Tir never saw a lot of people that stays late for gambling. Some of them are in the auction so they are sure that some of them are rich.

In beggar society, people usually gamble in life. They live this way. They playing life as a gamble and they always play cards. This is what Tir is good at.

"I want to experience the thrill" Dirma said.

"Not that good experience for me."

"We are not here to earn money. We are here to spend it."

Tir does this for a living. He gambles to earn money. He even learns how to cheat on this. Some of the time he was beaten to death because of this. But when he won more than he needs, he surely shares what he earns to the street children by giving them food.

Dirma ended up empty handed and Tir doubled its money.

"Let's drink again," Dirma said. "I heard there is a nice party hosted by this rich person, I don't know. But let's go."

"Wherever you want," Tir said. He started to enjoy.

Everyone in the party are well dressed except them. Everyone turn their head when they enter. It is a domino effect when you notice that when a person looks somewhere and its face is intriguing, you have the urge to look to the same direction. Well because of that head turner effect, they are the apple of the eye, the star of the night.

"Hey, they are the one who own the blade of Master Naj." Someone said.

Dirma and Tir became the star of the night.

CHAPTER 9

They wake up in a room. It seems like they go auto pilot going to the brothel. This happens when your body works on its own because you are too drunk to control it.

The hard part is remembering. Tir still have his money from the gambling. Dirma is still in his new body. He is on the ground while Tir is in the bed.

Tir grab the glass and pour water from the pitcher of water. When Dirma notice that Tir is drinking, he grabs the glass and drank the water.

"My head hurts," Tir said.

"That is the cost of happiness."

"Then happiness hurts," Tir said.

They start their day with a coffee. The days turn back to normal to Dirma, knowing he will live. He only needs to go back to his body.

"May I see the gem?" Tir asked.

Dirma raised the pendant. A size of a thumb remains from the original size which is a whole fist.

"What happen?" Tir asked.

"They fooled us," Dirma said. "The gem is fake."

With his emotions come the burst of his skills. He destroys the table and set it on fire. Everyone in the living room of the brothel jumps to their feet. Some of them are ready to grab their weapon.

"We are going," Tir said.

Tir throws a purse that is full of gold.

They run. The first destination is the auction house. When they arrive, a lot of people are removing the tent.

Dirma grabs the guy coming near him. The guy's tools are now all over the place. Dirma is shaking the guy. The smoke is now building on the collar of the guy.

"Where is Nobu?" Dirma asked.

Tir tries to find Nobu. He goes running on the near establishments.

"I do not know."

"This auction is supposed to happen for a week. Where is he?"

"He orders us to remove the tent. I do not know. The last thing I know is that he going south."

Dirma raised his fist. Small sparks are now building in his fist. Tir pushed the both of them, even though Dirma can use his skill, he is still small. Almost same body built with Tir.

"Stop, he is gone. The best thing we do is find him." Tir said.

"What is your name?" Dirma asked.

"Obi."

"Obi, if he isn't going on south. I will find you and kill you."

They try to bribe the crew that Nobu left, but no one knows where Nobu will go. They only know that he will be going south. One of the crew points out that they should talk to the port master.

"Hey Dirma, we forgot ask something to Lady Laj." Tir said.

"What?"

"We don't ask how to use the gem."

"Yes, you have a point there."

"It could be that when you used it, the gem will be destroyed."

"But if that is it then, it means I should be back to my body."

"Yep, a lot of possibilities," Tir said. "What now?"

"We could go back to Lady Laj and ask her, but that will eat time. Or we could continue finding Nobu, if I am still alive after 3 days then it is good."

They started buying stuff that they may need for this new adventure. They withdraw a quarter of their money for the adventure.

"If I die, you can have all the money," Dirma said.

"Of course I will. You can't stop me."

They talk to port master.

"You know Nobu right? Where is he going?" Dirma asked. The port master looks to him with an eye of a devil. Tir notice that both of them are looking to each other's eyes. Tir pours coins on the chest pocket of the port master.

"South." The port master said.

"Where south?" Dirma asked

"I do not know." The port master said.

Tir starts to pour a pocket full of coins.

"To Nieverhan."

"We need boats to go there."

"There is no rental boat going to the south for today."

"We have money," Dirma said.

"Then create a boat out of your money."

"Why create if we can buy a boat?" Dirma said. He starts to get pissed.

"But is there any boat that will pass or go to Nieverhan. We won't mind hitching. We can also pay." Tir said.

"Wait here. I will get you a ride." The port master said.

"If that guy isn't that big, I will kick his ass," Dirma said.

"Forget it. He will help us." Tir said.

"Just wait until l gets my old body."

The port master came back. He lays his hand in front of us, signaling for the money.

"The boat will be ready after."

"How long will be the ride?" Tir asked.

"Before sunset, I guess."

"Could it be faster?" Dirma asked.

"Try flying." The port master said before walking away.

Dirma wants to start a fight. Tir stops him. "If you start a fight, we won't have any boat ride."

The boat came to the port. It is a cargo ship. It has 10 crews including the captain. Good thing that the boat ride will only be a whole day. They think that they cannot sleep here.

Before entering the ship, the crew checks if they have a weapon with them, but the crew eyes just grew big when they saw a bag full of gold. Tir brings 1/4 of their money. The captain asked 2000 piece of gold for this trip.

The port master instructed them to bring their own food or they will not like what they will find on their bowl for the lunch and dinner

When the journey starts, they feel something is off. The crew starts to become hospitable. They even remove half the items in the storage room to make Tir and Dirma comfortable.

"Notice something?" Tir asked.

"I'm hungry, let's have our lunch early," Dirma said.

"Not just that. Do you find them too polite?"

"We gave them money."

"And they saw all our money," Tir said. "They should be checking the weapons but when they saw the money, they just let us in."

"What are you telling?"

"Something is off. They look like savage or pirate. But they are more like an usher from a grand hotel."

"Do not worry. They are no match with me." Dirma said.

"I will believe you if you are in your old body. I think we are match. You just have a power."

"Still stronger."

After an hour, they have the urge to take a leak. Well, something surprises them. The door won't open. It seems a large object is blocking the door. It won't open even the both of them is pushing it with all thier force.

"Let's conserve our energy. They will open it. Let's be ready for the offensive."

"Ok, you are the war expert."

"Yep, the best war tactician."

"What is our plan again?"

"We wait."

"I can also think of that plan."

"But I said it first." Then Dirma leak.

CHAPTER 10

"Hey, shitheads," Dirma said. "When are you going to open up this shit so we can start killing each other?"

"Hey Dirma, I know you are supposed to be dead, and you got nothing to lose. But don't ask them that way."

"Hey shit-brains, need our money? Come and get it. Is this how you do it?" Dirma asked. "What are you waiting for?"

Something is scratching from the floor. It seems that they are removing the object that is blocking the door.

Dirma starts to snap his bones in his neck and knuckles.

"Does it help?" Tir asked having his hand over his hips.

"Well, it looks cool," Dirma said. "I'm going to get ready for this."

Tir grabs his two daggers, he wears the bag full of money, while Dirma just clenches his fist and sparks starts to build up.

When the door opens, Dirma runs to the door and does a jumping kick. He hits the first person at the front of the door, knocking that guy.

Everyone is stunned. Tir gets out holding his dagger. Every crew pulls out a blade: sword, dagger and kitchen knife.

"I think you preempted them."

"No, you are the one who kick the guy."

The crew starts to scream.

2 vs. 9, they are not even, but the former world's strongest man might balance the fight. Dirma starts the nearest person. The enemy doesn't know what his skill is. When Dirma's fist hits the enemy's face, the head turned more than it supposed to. A sound of twig snapping is heard. Everyone is looking what Dirma have done. Tir is still picking who might be the weakest. The enemy is now considering to just apologized. They think that they pick the wrong enemy.

Then the captain announces with his mighty voice "Attack all at once, stupid"

With 8 more enemies including their captain, Dirma and Tir should think of a better plan rather than attacking the weakest enemy first. The enemy spirits grew when they hear their captain speaking.

Then royal rumble starts. Dirma ko'ed another guy while Tir is attacking everywhere. The enemy steps back because of the attack.

Dirma grabs his dagger when someone stabs him. The truth is he is better on handling a blade. His body might be smaller than before, but he still has his skills on fighting.

5 enemies are now down. It seems that the enemy picks the wrong guy to fight with. But then something happened. A net comes from above them. Two of the enemy pulls a string over their legs. They are now down at the floor, they are taken all the hits. The enemy doesn't kill them, but they were done enough damage to make the two unconscious.

They wake up in the middle of the night, all the wounded enemy has been tended. 1 guy is guarding them.

"Boss, they woke up."

Then the 5 unwounded enemy shows up. The captain throws the bag full of money.

"Open it." The captain said.

The bag was locked with a lock spell, the same as the lock on the bank. It can be unlocked by certain person

"How can I unlock that if my hands are tied up?"

"Untie him."

"It needs to both of us."

"Be ready. Kill them if they move wrong."

While unlocking the bag, Dirma punches the nearest. Tir throw the bag of money on the other side of the boat and it fell on the ocean. Every crew runs in that side. While Dirma and Tir jump for the sea.

They swam as fast as they could. It seems that luck is on their side. The wave is rushing opposite the boat. They can get away from the enemy faster. The problem is having the moonlight as their only guide and swimming with their body condition.

Dirma starts to make a small light from his fist. Tir holds on to Dirma's shoulder. They just paddle into water not caring where they will end up. The time is running out.

Tir wakes up on the shore. He saw Dirma lying few meters away. He thinks that they failed. Dirma will surely die because they do not find the gem. He will also die in this barren island. The good thing is that Death will do it visit the same time.

Someone is getting near. Death is on his way or maybe not. Tir saw a shadow. He follows where it comes from. He saw a floral pattern, he try to focus to it. He saw a girl in a floral dress. Tir thought that maybe Death isn't ugly after all. She must be an angel that will ease the pain. Something is shining with this girl, it changes color. It became mesmerizing. Then Tir vision went dark.

Tir wakes up to see a female that is carrying a tray of food. He sits on the bed as fast as he can. He remembers the girl in the floral dress. Well, that isn't a girl. He saw a fair young lady.

Tir scans the room and he saw Dirma lying on the couch.

"Thank you, my lady, but why are we here?"

"The sun just rose. I just saw both of you a couple of hours ago on the shore."

"Thanks again. Can I have the water?"

Tir tries to stand up, he still has the energy. He tries to wake up Dirma and he slowly wakes up. Tir and Dirma look eye to eye and said, "Let's go."

"It is the end," Dirma said.

"My lady, where is this place?"

"The best town in the south."

"What specifically?"

"Nieverhan"

Both Tir and Dirma were surprised. Fate is still on their side. They need to find Nobu, and then maybe everything will be ok.

They think that Nobu is hiding it somewhere. The gem was so precious to be sold. That thing will make anyone immortal.

"We need to go," Tir said.

Dirma stands up, but nothing happen. He drops again in the couch.

"You need to do this," Tir said. "Last day, last chance."

Tir looks to the lady. "Will you help me, my lady?"

"Yes." Then the lady places the tray somewhere.

"Sorry on being rude, I haven't said my greatest gratitude. Thank you. What is your name by the way?"

"Ani."

Tir saw an image. He is back with his parents, playing with his sibling and friend. And he sees himself calling a girl named Ani.

"Have we met before?"

"I do not think so," Ani said. "There is blood dripping from your nose."

"Ow shit," Tir drop Dirma. He turns away from Ani remove the blood.

"Dirma we need to go." Tir raise Dirma again. Ani tries to help. Tir and Ani look into each other's eyes then something slips. It is a pendant. It might be the pendant that they are looking for.

"Does it happen that the gem you are wearing changes it color under the moonlight."

"Well yes, I think you saw it last night."

"Shit." Tir drops Dirma again.

CHAPTER 11

"Could you give us some privacy?" Tir asked.

"Of course." Ani said and standing there, waiting.

"We need the room. Sorry."

"Ah yes, I'll be back on the shop."

Ani looks back before she completely goes.

Tir is thinking what could be the best solution for this. He thinks that Ani needs the gem and Dirma also need it. He will be choosing between the two.

They both come a long way. They almost die but manage to survive. Tir thinks that if he gets the gem from Ani, there would be a chance that Ani will die, so it will be choosing between two.

If he chooses Dirma, he would be killing Ani for taking the gem or he can just be quiet to Dirma and let him die. Well, Dirma is supposed to die. He is just finding a way to live longer. He holds the life of the two.

Tir leaves the room. He follows where Ani walks out. He saw a store full of ornament. Ani is on the table and doing a something, she is carving something to the wood.

"How long are you doing this?" Tir asked Ani.

"Ow. It is you." Ani said. "Since I was small, it is family business, trying to continue it"

"Where are them? If you don't mind."

"Well they are not here. They stay on the woods, hunting. I just want to continue this business, that's why I stay here."

"Ahhh. Yeah, follow your heart. Right?"

"Yep. How about you?"

"We are on an adventure. We are trying to find something. We've been rob by the crew of the boat, we are supposed to go here and faith brings us here."

"So what makes you come here? Is it really worth your life?"

"To him," Tir looks back. "I am here just to help."

"You are a nice friend," Ani said.

"Your pendant looks cool by the way," Tir said.

Ani looks to her chest to check if the gem is visible, but it isn't. She taps her chest to check it. It is still inside her shirt.

"Thanks," Ani said.

"I like stories, does it have a story or how you get that?"

"I do not know the story behind it. My earliest memory with this gem is when I was 5 or 6 years old when I received it as a gift. Other than that, I can't remember earlier memories."

"It looks cool. Maybe had some powers, don't you think?"

"Well maybe, my father told me that before my grandmother dies, she said that it will protect me, never remove it from me. I actually accidentally remove this. I end up sick for a week. I think it really protects me."

"Thanks again. I do not have any money now, but I have a ton of money in a bank from where I came from, I will pay you."

"Do not worry. No need to rush."

It is on Tir to decide who will live. Dirma, the one that he helps, or Ani, the one that help them.

The way Tir analyzed the situation, Dirma must let go. He might not wake up anytime soon. He will just wait until Death takes Dirma. He will wait until Dirma vanished into thin air.

Tir is walking back and forth, talking to himself. He hears a bell which is installed on the door of the store. He stops for a second and then continues talking to himself. A moment later a sound of woods falling, he also hears a snapping sound of a thick wood. He rushes to the door on the blink.

He saw 5 men running out. The door is a wreck. He runs to the door to see who it was, and then he notices something familiar. The man was wearing the same clothes as Nobu. The other men look like familiar too. He looks back to the room and saw Ani lying on the floor. Ani seems sleeping peacefully, but he is so pale. Seems his soul has been absorb. The gem was gone.

"Ani, wake up. Wake up."

"Tir, it's so cold."

Tir grabs Ani. He put Ani on the couch where he slept. He grab Dirma on the bed and drop him into the ground. He doesn't care if Dirma will get hurt or mad.

Tir place Ani on the bed. He gets a lot of bedding, when he touches the forehead of Ani, it is hot. He grabs the first bucket he see and find a clean cold water, he even go to the neighborhood to find a cold water. Some of the neighborhood is outside checking if what the ruckus is about. Tir asked for help that they had been attacked and Ani is now having a high fever.

When a neighbor volunteers that she will look out for Ani and Dirma, Tir starts to investigate on where he can find Nobu.

On Tir's investigation, he found out that Nobu is setting up a new auction place here. Nobu might even be selling the gem for a priced.

He goes back to Ani's house to check. Ani's fever was gone, but she is still weak and pale.

Dirma is now on a better shape. He can now move on his own. He caught Dirma's eating a lot, trying to gain his strength. Tir is now analyzing on how he will tell to Dirma the circumstances that they have. Tir has a theory why Nobu do it. And maybe this is their entire fault.

"Tir, let's eat. My last day alive."

"Dirma, I found the gem," Tir said. "We are at Nieverhan."

"Let me see."

"I said I found it. Not I have it."

"So let's get it."

"Nobu has it. It is guarded, it will be auctioned, I guess."

"Let's do it. I will die today no matter what happen, I might as well die fighting."

"I think we have another problem."

"What?"

"The gem was stolen by Nobu, the real owner is 50/50."

"What? From who?"

Silence, and then it sink in.

"We almost had it," Dirma said.

"No," Tir said. "We killed her."

"What? That gem makes her life longer." Dirma said. "We do not do anything."

"We are the one who point it to Nobu."

"What? What are you saying?"

"Remember at the pub," Tir said. "While we are talking to the bartender?"

"Yes, yes"

"Nobu was there, he hear the myth. He used it to get Master Naj blade from you. Maybe he collects a better info and sail to this town. We are the one who gave him the info. If we don't talk about this, he won't know the story."

"It is just a coincidence. Why don't you get the gem from the girl in the first place?"

"We don't kill people. That is not how it goes. You don't take others life to be alive."

"She just used the gem to be alive. She is dead meat like me."

"No, she is not. I think that gem heals people. She is now sick, you see."

"So what?"

"Let's get the gem back. It is our fault."

"And what, Let me die?"

"You are dead. Nobody told you to be back here."

"Nobody told you to help me."

"You owe that person a life. What we will do is to get that gem back and save her."

"What about me?"

"Face your destiny. It is your fate. You might live longer because of the gem, but you won't go back to your old body. So what is the sense?"

"If you are not going to help me, and then I will do it alone."

CHAPTER 12

Dirma walks out. He doesn't want to die or to be Death. It is now between him and the girl. Tir has a point that they are the one that gives Nobu the idea. It is like a dot that has been connected.

Nobu uses the information to deceive them on the auction. He will meet the Death later. He thinks that maybe, his fate is to die. No matter what he does, he cannot escape death. That is how the universe works.

He saw a bunch of kids playing. He remembers when he was little. He always wants to be the strongest hero. He wants to rescue Elizabez.

He saw a girl sitting on the ground. She was bullied by his friend. Some of the kids poke her with a stick. Dirma's going to shout at the children, but before he released his breath, a small kid jumps in front of the girl. His chest is out, with a face that is ready to fight.

"Stop hurting her or I will punch you all."

The bullies start laughing synchronized. The brave kid was pushed and fall near the girl. But that doesn't stop him, he stand up with his head high. His chest is still out.

The big boys try to push him down again but before his hand reaches the brave boy he pushes it away. He tries to shove the big boy, and he successfully pushes the big boy.

This provokes the big boy and said. "Attack him."

This is just a kid fight. He wants to help the kid but for them, this is just a game that they will laugh when they get old. The brave boy punches anyone who comes near. The punch isn't fatal, but a single punch on the face makes the kids think again, to fight or not to fight.

It is now 1 vs. 1. The brave kid vs. the big kid, only the big kid is so stupid to get hurt for something that is wrong.

There are some shuffles between the two and in the end, the big kid win. The bad kids go away after the brave kid falls down. The situation got boring, so the bad kids went away.

Some lessons in life: (1) Not because you are on the right side, that means you will win. (2) Not because you are brave means you will always win the fight. It is not just being brave. You are not the only one who is brave on the battlefield. (3) Sometimes we need to fight for the right even if we are alone and we will be defeated. At least we try to fight what is right. (4) Bravery doesn't come from strength.

The girl helps the brave boy. He just got small bruises that are normal for a kid that to have in his life.

When the girl tries to help him on standing up, the brave boy stands so proud like nothing happened.

The girl kisses the brave kid onto the cheek. "Thank you."

"It's nothing. Strong people protect the one who is in need."

(5) But great strength comes from bravery.

Dirma saw his young self in the child. He was that person before the name, the fame and money. Becoming the strongest man change him. Not physical but psychological. He forgot what he really is fighting for, he became arrogant and selfish. He only sees what he is worth and what will other think of him. He can't believe that he died because of a dare of eating 5 ladybugs. And now, a girl has to suffer because of him.

He gets his mind ready for making things right. Not because he is in a different body make him a different person. He is still Dirma, the strongest man on Earth. He can still use his skill. He goes back to Ani's house. He find Tir ready, he manages to got some daggers and sword, he was getting ready to fight.

"Where is my weapon?" Dirma asked.

With a smirk, he throws the broad sword to Dirma. It was lend by the neighbors

"What make you help Ani?" Tir asked.

"You said it. We need to help the one in need."

"Do have any plan?" Tir asked. "I need a plan from one of the greatest commander."

"We do not need any precise plan. Just get in and I will do all the fight. And you get the gem."

Tir promises Ani that he will be back. They take Ani somewhere safer. The neighbors look out for them. They promise that they will do everything to get the gem back.

Dirma and Tir wait for the auction to start. They slip out to the backstage. They wait there for the right time.

Accidentally, they saw the blade of Master Naj. Dirma grabs the blade and gave it to Tir.

"Use it. That is better than your dagger."

"I am not a thief. I've been a thief before, but I've changed."

"No one is accusing you. I'm the one who stole the blade."

"How I wish this blade has a power."

"Actually I think there is," Dirma said. "It absorbs the user's power and incorporates itself."

"I do not have any power."

"Well, I do. Let my destruction be your destruction. My explosion be your explosion."

Someone check the backstage, it is one of Nobu's bodyguards. He might saw them, but he thought that it might be his imagination. He looks on the item and then he drop on the floor. The punch of Dirma on the temple connects.

"1 down," Dirma said.

"Not yet."

The bodyguard stands up. His whole body is now covered with black rocks. It is shining that make an impression as a black metal.

"I think we found the new strongest man on earth," Tir said.

"Yes and that is me."

Using his dagger, Dirma attack the bodyguard. With every hit, the stone was removed little by little. It also seems that the bodyguard was hurt. It was his skin, not an armor.

CHAPTER 13

"That was easy," Dirma said.

Then the bodyguard falls. The stones shatter away.

"That was a little bit loud," Tir said.

"I think we only have a 30 or a minute to find that gem," Dirma said.

"Maybe less," Tir said.

Nobu hears the sound from the backstage. He stops talking. He looks at the side of the stage and nods to the bodyguard.

Every step of the bodyguard makes a sound. It seems that a rock falls from a higher ground on every step.

This time, it is 2 vs. 2. With every attack of the golem guard, they counter it to with their attack using the weapon. With the skills of Dirma with the sword, winning to the both golem guards was easy.

Nobu go to the backstage to check the sound.

"What the?" Nobu said.

"Where is the gem, you thief," Tir said.

"You are holding that sword. Technically that is mine. So who is the thief now?"

"You gave us a fake gem, and you stole the real gem from the girl."

"You can have your sword then. We are even now."

They rush to Nobu. Nobu anticipated them by throwing a metal ball. The ball opens up and created a dome. The ball created a chronosphere. A chornosphere holds the time of anything that is within it scope.

"Molt, your turn," Nobu said.

A golem guard shows up. This will be easy for them. 1 against 2. Nobu walks away.

The chronosphere is now gone. "You follow Nobu and I fight this one," Dirma said.

Tir run across the guard. The guard swings his hand, Tir was ready for the impact, but it didn't reach him. Dirma countered the attack. "Go."

The guard pushes Dirma. This guard seems stronger. Dirma spreads his skill into his blade. The blade has a fire look aura in his dagger.

The guard starts to warm up, literary. His body is now glowing, the crack of the stone seems to have. He is more like a lava man rather than a rocky man.

"I heard that you can use destruction. Guess what, so do I."

Tir is now on the run. Nobu is now on sight. If only Nobu would stop. Tir will surely kill him with a blow of Master Naj sword.

"Stop following me," Nobu said.

"Give me the gem," Tir said.

"Never, I want to live forever."

"The owner of the gem will die because of you."

Tir grabs a rock in a size of a fist. He throws as it hard as he can, and bull's eye. Nobu is now falling hard. Tir turns him upward and saw the blood all over his face.

"Give me the gem," Tir said

Dirma has been beaten up.

"You're lucky I'm in this body," Dirma said.

"Why? Are you a shapeshifter? Transform now if you can."

"No, I'm the Dirma the strongest man in Earth."

"Well, if that so, let me kill you so I'll become the strongest man."

"No, you won't," Dirma said. He pulls his broadsword.

"Now is the time. I thought you'll never use that." The guard said. "And by the way, the real Dirma is far stronger than you."

In a blink of an eye, the lava flows in the chest of the guard.

"And this Dirma is much stronger than you," Dirma said.

The guard's body slide where the lava was flowing. In a blink of an eye, Dirma cut right thru the guard. A pool of lava is on the floor. The broadsword is having an aura that is so stable, a skill that can pass thru anything.

Dirma run outside. Trying to find where might Tir and Nobu be. He feels the exhaustion, he run anywhere his foot lead him. After 5 minutes of running he hears Tir shouting.

"Just give me the gem," Tir said.

"No way," Nobu said.

"I will kill you."

"Kill me first," Nobu said.

"Ok, Tir stands up. I will kill this faggot." Dirma said.

"You are here," Tir said.

"I think I still have a few hours to live."

"I know. I mean you win over that burning-I-don't-know-man."

"Of course, I am the world strongest man. I just cut him in half" Dirma said. "And you, Mr. Nobu, I will cut your head in a count of 3. So where is the gem?"

"Kill me."

"1." Dirma cut Nobu's left arm.

"Oh shit. Take it, take it."

With the other hand, Nobu grabs the gem inside the pocket in his vest.

"Take it." He throws it away.

Tir was stunned. He did not expect it to happen. Dirma gets the gem from the ground, raise it up to the moonlight. It changes its color, changing color every second.

Dirma looks straight to Tir. Tir feels something is wrong with Dirma. Dirma might keep the gem for himself. No one can stop him now even if Tir has the sword of Master Naj.

Dirma seems to be hypnotized by the gem. He looks to Tir and place his hand on his side. Dirma senses the fear on Tir's eyes.

Dirma throws it to Tir. "Gotcha."

"I thought..."

"That's not mine." Dirma holds Tir shoulder. "This was the best adventure that I had. I almost forgot what a hero means. It means to help the one in need. I'm the world strongest man, and you are the world best hero."

Then a shot was fired. Tir's chest starts to bleed. He falls down.

"You son of a bitch," Dirma said.

Nobu is holding a steampunk gun. It is starting to recharged. Dirma runs to him. Before Nobu shot Dirma, he kicks the gun away.

"Try to guess on how I will going kill you?"

"Cut my head."

"No, that is for the humans."

Dirma crushes Nobu's head with his feet. The sound of the crushing skull satisfies Dirma. He runs back to Dirma. "You are not going to die." Dirma piggybacks Tir. This is all he can do with his body.

"Dirma, just give the gem to Ani."

"No, you will give that to her."

"No. Give it or we will both die," Tir said. "Just give the gem to her."

Tir jumps out Dirma's back.

"Go."

"Will be back, do not die without me," Dirma said. "I will be death. Let me be your Death."

"Ok, go."

When Dirma is out of sight, Tir falls.

Dirma runs as fast as he can. When he came to the place where the neighbors keep her, he goes straight and gave the gem to Ani. He asked everyone to come with him.

Dirma seems to have more energy. He run at full speed and manages to get to Tir first.

Tir was still alive, some people that passed there help him and gave him first aid.

"You will live Tir."

"Yeah. Thank you."

"Shit, my eyes is blurry, I think it is time. Thank you for reminding me."

"Take this." Tir gave Dirma the coin that was given by Lady Laj. "You used up all your coins. Have that lucky coin."

"Thank you for everything. This time, I'm ready to die. I'm not the same old Dirma that die over eating 5 ladybugs. I guess I'm more like a hero like you. This adventure changes me in my last days on earth. I'm lucky to meet you." They start to laugh. "Thank you. And so long Tir."

Then Dirma was blown like a dust. He was gone.

Dirma was on the other realm. He is still on the same spot. No one is around. Death shows up from the dark corner of the wood.

"Dirma."

"Death."

"I told you, you can't run away." Death said.

"Did you say that? I think I forget it."

"Ready to be the next death?"

"Do I have a choice?"

"No."

Then darkness approach. A veil is starting to show up from thin air. He is now covered by a black veil.

The previous Death is an old man. He wears nice clothes. He was a King before. Like Dirma, he tries to go back to his life, thinking he will live. But he ends up being Death.

"I just want to get a rest. Thanks for the coins and wanting to be Death."

"Yeah. I think I will enjoy this job."

"Actually, the job is good. Goodluck."

EPILOGUE

Tir survived. He lives for 108 years. He greeted Death as an old friend. But technically, Death was his old friend. But aside from that, he misses Ani. Ani travels to the next life earlier than him. It is time to see her again.

"It's been a long time Dirma."

"You look shit." Death said.

Death transforms into his old body.

"Wrong body," Tir said.

"Sorry. How about this one?"

"Better," Tir said.

"Let's go to the next life," Dirma said.

"Not yet. Don't you want to know why I almost sacrificed my life for Ani?"

"Well, you can't stop yourself being a hero."

"No. I am the one responsible for Ani's condition." Tir said. "She doesn't remember it, but when we are just kids. I've done some black magic which makes Ani sick. The gem dispelled it, but only when she is wearing it. Our memory was erased. Then I vanished from the town. You see the neighbors are magicians. After you passed away, they just healed me."

"So that's the story. But you know what, the gem can't make me live. You are correct. The good thing is that I don't run away after you give it to me." Dirma said. "And guess what, Sanelastonite was the name of the gem."

"I'm ready. Let's go."

Dirma shows the coin to Tir. "Are you ready? I'm coming with you."

"If that is the case, who will replace you?"

"This businessman." And this man that forget to live because he wants to earn more money, he will became the next Death.