-Chapter 1

I thought my story was over, when I passed the proverbial sword from the lake back to Hiro. The universe had let me exist a little longer, at least until Hiro finished off the Organization. Then my time had come, and I went back to being a part of Hiro; Left without any purpose, any reason to be.

There is a saying. Be careful what you wish for.

I wished I could have a life again, that I could see all my friends again. I wished it upon a star, a shooting star I could see through Hiro's eyes.


The star heard that wish, sending it to another star out there, and from that one to another star, until the wish came to a star that could fulfill it, a star of a world where he could make a difference.

Rouxs, unaware of this, wondered if he'd ever get that wish. Wishes are dangerous things. You never know when one might get granted. You never know what twists come with them when they get granted.

Unaware of what was happening, as Hiro turned to sleep, so naturally did Rouxs. And in that sleep, something separated all that was Rouxs alone from Hiro, and gave him a form that was his own alone, taking nothing from Hiro.

As he slept, not realizing he had been created anew, Rouxs was taken to the world the wish had gone to. The wish altered the world, not much, small amounts, to take into account the newcomer that came into their midst. Memories were distributed around that showed he had lived there for all his life, all sixteen years, born and raised. He was given a family, friends. Would they be the friends he wished to see, or would he have to find those friends?

He was given a life, and all he needed with it.

Rouxs slept through the night in his own bed now, innocent of the consequences of his wish. Outside, high above his new home, a large shadow flew through the night time skies, a black spot that was only seen by where the stars were no longer visible, blotted out by its shape. Friends weren't the only thing brought here by his wish. And this owner of this shape wasn't brought here because of him. This had been brought here by a small bit of Hiro that had come along for the ride. Only a small piece. Small enough that Hiro would never know. Nothing about him would diminish in the slightest.

This was Rouxs' own story now, free from others. He had the life he'd wished for. Wishes are fickle things. Suggest that you regret having one come true, and they could turn on you, or they could try to alter things, try to make you change your mind.

This wish watched now, waiting to see what Roxas would think of what it had wrought.

I began to wake up. Hands gripped the sheets under the covers tightly.
I'm dreaming. I've gotta be dreaming. There's no way... this is real. I'm just with Hiro.

"Rouxs!" a voice called. "Your breakfast is on the table! I'm off to work -don't stay in bed all day again!"

Without thinking, he called back,

"Alright mom, I'm getting up already."

Did I just…

My eyes snapped open, looking around a room I don't recognize. There were bookshelves along one wall, with books only on the bottom two shelves, various little knick knacks on the next two, and the top shelf held only a pair of trophies. Without getting up I can't identify them.

Desk and chair in one corner. The desk showed that I follow the most common of filing systems, known as "First Available Surface". The floor too showed a similar filing -or lack thereof- with my clothes scattered around. It was some consolation that there was at least some floor visible around the patches of clothes and other belongings.

This is my room… except I'd never seen it before. Everything's so familiar, yet new. It's like I gained years of memories just by looking around.

But, my room or not, where am I? Where exactly is "here"? The answer came to me soon enough. Dragonbarrow. This is the town of Dragonbarrow. My home. I've got a family here, a life, friends… though not many it seemed, thinking about it. None of the few of them I could recognize as being from before.

I've always been known as an odd one out, because I liked dragons where everyone else was afraid of them.

I can't see why -they were impressive beasts, though their numbers were dwindling. Most thought this a good thing because of the havoc they would and frequently could cause, but I reasoned that it couldn't be intentional. Not all the time. If people would just try to talk to them, befriend them and help them, then maybe they wouldn't be dying out. Maybe there was a way to live with them peacefully.

It was that last thought that made me stick out. I remember knowing well not to mention it lightly, as few people would even hear of these kinds of views.

This line of thought was disrupted by my stomach growling. Breakfast was calling to me.

I got up and got dressed in a pair of loose fitting jeans and a sleeveless jacket, foregoing a shirt entirely. Anything tighter wouldn't feel right. I headed out of my room, and down the stairs. I didn't even have to think about where I'm going, like everything else it just came to me.

The lower floor of the house was one open space, kitchen, dining area and lounge in one. Smells of breakfast reached me almost before I could see it. Waffles, of course. It would be. That, with baked beans. Others told me it was hardly a real breakfast, but that hadn't stopped me before… apparently.

As I ate, I thought about the newer things that came with this new world, new life. I retraced my line of thinking, trying to follow it again. Dragons. There were dragons here? No. Had. There had been dragons. But something had wiped out many of them, and those few that were left were seen as highly antagonistic. Humans were often seen as prey by them, not worth trusting. Using, but not trusting.

That's right. I remember now, if that was the right word for something I'd never remembered before. The town was at threat from a dragon, only kept at bay by periodic sacrifices made to it. The dragon allegedly contacted someone within the city, informing them of the one selected to be the sacrifice, and if it didn't get who it asked for, then it threatened to attack.

On the up side, so long as it at the very least gets someone, it was known not to be too disruptive when it wasn't the one asked for, but this hadn't happened for a long time. As usual, it was generally agreed that matching the request was in better interests. When it was talked about at all.

The tribute to the dragon had been paid regularly, on time and without fail for many years. A dragonstrike was something only read about in the history of Dragonbarrow now, and the residents tried to go about their life as best they could, pretending not to notice or know anything of the brutal payment they had to endure, once every month.

People who became sacrifices were usually given time to set their affairs in order, then spoken of as if they had just vanished. No one ever talked about what really happened to them; probably so they wouldn't have to think about it.

Most sacrifices, though unwilling, accepted that they had little choice if they wanted the town and the residents to remain safe. I had already decided long ago that if I ever got chosen, I'd do everything to stop it… if only to save Mom from that grief.

So, what about me? What do I usually do?

Go to school, the usual answer would have been, but this was the summer vacation. I have savings from my allowance, along with the odd-jobs I do around town, more than enough to survive whatever plans he came up with until school started again. Not that he wanted to go, but no one ever did.

It was decided. Even though my memories tell me that I know this place, I also know i've never been here before, and that meant I needed to explore. Learn about it. Breakfast was finished quickly and a skateboard fetched from under the bed -about the only place it wouldn't get lost to the mess slowly colonizing the floor.

One brief pause to make sure I had the keys to get back in when I got back, and then it was away, down one of the many side streets of Dragonbarrow. I was headed, if my new memories were accurate, for the Third Market Plateau.

Dragonbarrow had been built on a mountain, wrapping around all sides of it in a shape like a lampshade, and sculpted into many flat terraces that stepped up the mountainside in rings, which culminated in the imposing marble façade that made up the Governmental Offices. The town went deeper than just the mountainside, with a labyrinthian series of tunnels. The tunnels closer to the surface were still used, but the deeper ones were mostly forgotten about.

They'd once been used in the event of a dragonstrike. Whenever one happened, the populace scrambled for cover inside, usually hoping that what they owned didn't get toasted. One of the finer points of it was that even if you lost everything in the strike, you still had your life at least.

But with the agreement with the single dragon threatening the town, dragonstrikes had ceased, and there was no longer any need for the caverns inside.

I paused at a wall on the edge of one of the terraces, looking down the mountainside to the town below and beyond. Most of the surroundings were forests, with only a few carved routes through to distant lands, none of which he'd been to.

At the base of the southernmost face of the mountain, the woods gave way to the massive entrance that had once been a coal mine, once rumored to be connected to the tunnels inside the mountain. The well worn, rocky path from the south gate led to it, and past it toward a second, smaller but far more rocky and barren mountain. Or more accurately, a volcano. The dragon's lair, and the one place no one wanted to end up going, unless it was as an escort for the sacrifice.

Another memory surfaced, and I realized that there actually was something I was meant to be doing today. I'd taken a job a few days ago to cover for a watchman who'd fallen ill. I wasn't meant to be on duty in their place today -not normally, anyway. But today was the first of the month. Sacrifice day. The watchman I'm replacing was assigned to escort duty.

There was nothing for it, if I wanted to collect the pay for the job, I'd have to go through with this. I wasn't late, not yet anyway, but I definitely would be if I didn't get down to the watch house nearest the southern gate. At least another dozen terraces down, and each terrace was fairly large. The mountain hadn't been steep, or if it had been it wasn't any more.

At least one of the better points of having a skateboard in Dragonbarrow was that after a recent petition had been approved, the middle of streets were generally kept clear for those like me, allowing me to dodge the foot traffic easily. Even others on boards weren't that much of an issue, so long as he paid attention where other streets crossed this one.