Category Archives: Dream Realm Games: Beginnings

Dream Realm Games:

Dream Realm Games: Those written as System cases for the Dream Realm Crusader Project, inspired by my very real dreams.  One’s not in here though, and that’s Legacy of the Dragon Mistress (Sabrina’s Legacy: #5 started for Mystic’s War of the Realms Saga)

Enjoy!

Dream Realm Crusaders: System Agents

Agent Ariana Sister

Agent Derrick Reading

later,

Agent Shadow Morehouse

Agent Luna Sister

Agent Aaron Schmidt

Agent Amethyst Schmidt

In this Dream Realm Chronicles Mini-Series, the Crusaders – Ariana and Derrick – are faced with some peculiar, yet troubled Young Dreamers. The Crusaders are confronted by a constant enemy – Sabrina’s Warriors. Every time they Crusade, their Young Dreamer clients are haunted by them, and it’s up to Derrick and Ariana to solve the Dream mysteries, as well as bring the Dreamers home safely, returning peace to their once-degrading lives.

Crime in Cozumel tells the story of a Young Dreamer named Chicago. Her dream – Mexican Mystery and Embezzlement. Thing is – Chic doesn’t speak a word of Spanish, has never been to Mexico, and never wanted to be a detective. She doesn’t even like mysteries! She dreams of flying from the Mexican island of Cozumel to Cancun…and a seriously dangerous mobster out to kill her – as Chicadita Morales. Enter the Crusaders. Ariana and Derrick help her solve the crime and put Chicago’s weary mind at ease. Trouble is…the mobster knows about them, and wants revenge on the Dream Realm Crusaders for butting in where they don’t belong. The mobster may be crafty, but Ariana and Derrick help Chicago understand why and how they can be craftier. Will they solve the mystery of the Crime in Cozumel before the Mexican Mystery turns into a horrifying New York Nightmare? Or are the Crusaders in over their heads?

Dracoran Advisor is when Ariana wakes up in a strange Realm, and must save it from destruction before she can return home. The Countess Dracora makes a deal she can’t refuse. Advise her in the delegations with the Mortalan King, Yorn. He attacks with his army of vampire hunters while she defends her land by sending her toughest warriors for the job.

Province Holly-Hell tells of Ariana and Derrick’s involvement in a personal matter with O’Dell, Elder Guardian of the Dream Realm. A Young Dreamer Sean is in trouble, and Ariana’s getting too involved with him. Derrick’s worried Ariana’s going to get into big trouble with the young poetic genius. He somehow knows what’s going to happen – O’Dell tells him it must be done – Ariana soon finds herself feeling sorry for the boy, and takes herself to his side. Confused, Sean tells all in his journal. It’s a desperate fight to find truth in an old family tale. The bad part is – she doesn’t know how to get back to the Dream Realm without her Locket, and Sean can’t understand why she’s there haunting him. Risking the Sisterhood secret she’s learning, she tells Sean who she is. A twist to the tale begins when Ariana has dreams of Derrick all over again, and she’s living her past in her head once again. How are Ariana and Sean’s troubles linked? A secret Sean shares with Ariana is all Derrick needs to bring her home, and a Forgetfulness Spell lets him forget she ever existed. Will he be able to prove Ariana being a Crusader is better than being with this young Dreamer?

New Enemy Lines tells of when the Crusaders go to the Dark Side of the Dominion to rescue a comatose Dreamer from his frightening nightmares. Orthos is up to no good, and its up to Derrick and Ariana to find out what, without killing themselves in the process. The Dreamer Mark-Antony is a special soul to the Mystics, though Ariana doesn’t know how until O’Dell gives her the news in a vision – its her son. Bound by the Goddess of Time, O’Dell can’t tell Ariana of her future as the Young Guardian. It somehow leaks out to Derrick Mark-Antony is one of his twin sons. Derrick is determined to save both Ariana’s mind and Mark-Antony’s spirit. Orthos knows what they’re up to, and will do anything to make sure Ariana and Derrick never meet, therefore, never fulfilling a prophecy brought to his brother O’Dell. Truth will always reign, and Ariana and Derrick soon live their lives as if they never met. Derrick seeing his ‘Dream Girl,” placing a name with the face…familiarity forces him to find her once more. In Ariana’s mind, her baby daughter is born before her time, dying instantly. A strange image of her perfect Romeo brings her the truth – this is an alternate reality, and they must somehow get back to their right times. Will the Crusaders save themselves before a legend is gone unborn?

Lost in the Dream Zone tells of a Crusader separation. Once Crusading, Ariana and Derrick can’t find each other! Ariana begins to dream of Derrick’s Realm, and Derrick dreams of Ariana’s. In Derrick’s, Ariana sees another woman – Adrienne Whitehead. Somehow, she’s traveled to the past and is learning his secrets! Derrick sees in Ariana’s a young Companion Katherine Hawk being banished to his love. What’s going on? Why can’t they find one another, and why are they in each other’s Dream Realms? A secretive Lu-Lu goes to Shannon and tells her of what she has to do. Only she’s able to save them, bringing them back home. Trouble is, Sabrina’s Warriors are getting in her way, not letting Shannon do her job. She brings together the original Crusaders to help – Big Guy, Cool Cat, Jammins, Chips, Nick, Shadow, and Love Joy. In the end, a Realm is brought back together, peace is restored, as are Ariana and Derrick’s memories before Crusading to each other’s minds. Will Lu-Lu and the Original Crusaders be able to keep themselves a secret from the duo? Or will Ariana find out about her twin before her time?

Foreign Lingo tells of a Canadian Dreamer trying to get back into her own country! She’s currently living on the streets of the border between Ontario, Canada and Detroit, Michigan. She dreams of finding a way home – truthfully trying to find her lost parents. With the help of the Crusaders, Danielle will be able to go home. Trouble is, the Crusaders have to help her interpret her lucid reoccurring dream. Sabrina’s brother Damian is haunting her, stopping the Crusaders and Danielle from finding the truth. Won’t anything stop him? They analyze the dream only to find her parents aren’t alive. Clues to exotic murders in the U.S. papers of Danielle’s parents turn out to be just a part of Damian’ dream games. His riddles only lead to dead ends – and Danielle to hysterics. A final piece of the puzzle tells Ariana the three of them are just pawns in Damian’ cruel game of Riddles. The newspaper article about Danielle’s parents horrid death shows only a picture, but the words are jumbled. What does Ariana think of Damian’ game, and will they be able to get Danielle home safe and sound?

To Change Time tells of a young Dreamer’s fateful destiny. Ashlynn and her brother AJ are together. Ariana does this mission on her own, unknowing. She is the Young Guardian helping Ashlynn to stay alive. Why does she envision Ashlynn being knocked unconscious by a falling object? She’s soon to find out. Who wants to hurt her, and why? Somehow, Ariana must find a way to change time so the object falls without Ashlynn herself being underneath it. In hopes a clue might turn up, Ariana asks AJ to search the disks she brought with her. Nothing, as AJ feared. Ariana begins to think bad of AJ, but what of it? Earthquake brings them to a halt, for the crowd of people gather in an office building. That’s where Ariana sees the vision again, this time clearer. The vent from her vision is above her, and Ashlynn is with her. AJ is not. The clock strikes five, and the vision shows of five-fifteen. A quick chant from Ariana brings a strange look to Ashlynn’s face from their hiding spot. Once explaining herself, Ashlynn thanks Ariana for helping her. Trouble is – where’s the object, and what is it? Ariana’s curiosity awakens new questions…and another chant from her brings the object to her hands gracefully. A camera, with AJ’s aura on it. Confession’s bring the trio back to life, with Ariana returning to the System unharmed. Not before she logs her adventure in her journal.

Hidden Obliteration tells of the Dream Realm’s almost awesome end. It’s been four years since their last Crusade for the System, and the Crusaders, Ariana and Luna Woods, Derrick Reading, Aaron Schmidt, Kitten’s Claw and Katherine Hawk, Wolf Stargazer and Toby Snow find their precious Dream Realm is falling apart, into an invisible oblivion. First, the Dominion crumbles from the pressure, then the Province seems to disappear into thin air, taking with it a lot of the Companion’s homes. It’s been a while since they last actually Crusaded to help O’Dell’s Realm. The Young Guardian and Elder Guardian O’Dell find out what’s going on. The Young Dreamers of the Realm have stopped visiting, and O’Dell is sad to regret they’ve also stopped believing. What will the Crusaders, Companions, Elders, and Mystics be able to do to reverse the ill effects? Soon, because no one believes in him, O’Dell begins to fade, and the Sisters’ Mystic Magic is the only thing keeping the Dream Realm alive with magic. The Sisters, who include Ariana, Luna, and the Hawk twins, Katherine and Kitten’s Claw, join in a powerful circle to bring back a Mistress responsible for all Mystic Magic – Mystica herself. She is the only one to stop the invisible menace from totally destroying the Dream Realm.

The Evil Twin Scenario, as Luna Morehouse comes to know it, is driving her mind crazy. Six years of being a twin – complete with her own, Ariana Reading – has her dreaming of evil and hatred. Could it be because the twins hadn’t been reunited until they were eighteen? Luna wants to find out. In her dreams, which Ariana mustn’t know about, Luna is a boy twin, watching his twin sister die a frozen death. Suspended in the air, Jeanelle is turned into a demon by someone unknown to either of the Crusaders. This lucid dream keeps her, and her husband Shane, awake and guessing. In it, her name is Jean, and wishes to revenge his sister’s horrible death, before whatever killed her murders him. There are many obstacles along the way, like the evil Dominionite Magic within, threatening to take her own Mystic Magic and turn it into something no one wants to experience. Will Luna be able to tell her own twin of the haunting dreams, letting the Young Guardian do her job, or are the Crusaders in for the ride of their short-lived careers? Who are these demons haunting Luna’s mind – and why her? Is it because she’s the Young Guardian’s own twin, destined for power immeasurable? Or is it for the simple fact of Mystic Magic? Will anyone be able to give Sister Luna Woods-Morehouse answers before her life is taken, and her whole family is left to mourn her own death?

The Almost-Perfect Murder Mystery:

Derrick Reading and Shane Morehouse are detectives for the Hill View Police force. Their wives Ariana Reading and Luna Morehouse are twins. The twins sense something going on with their husbands and warn them on their next case. Derrick knows he can’t keep anything from Ariana, so he tells all. They used to be Crusaders and detectives together at the System, so why not? He trusts her. Just as Shane trusts his wife. Together, the four Crusaders unite to put an end to the Chinese jewel-theft ring.

Meanwhile, in another part of town, is a mysterious Psychic woman, with a gift of premonition. She has scary dreams and visions of the two couples, but doesn’t know where to find them. For the following week, the twins and their husbands would get calls warning them off the case, as many amateur detectives do. This makes them even more determined to find out what’s going on and put a stop to it. Soon, they put all the pieces together and solve it. Only, they have yet to catch the Chinese in the act. Luna and Ariana come up with an idea. At the policemen’s ball, they literally invite trouble. The mysterious psychic woman crashes the party, finding them and warning Ariana of the danger.

After a long investigation, with the Chinese jewel thieves found, it’s time to lay the trap. Will the old Crusader team be able to catch them in the act? Or will the Chinese get away with murder? What about the mysterious psychic woman?

Games: Beginnings

#1: Crime in Cozumel

Prologue:

Project: Dream Realm Crusaders

Later that week, they waited patiently for Shannon to call them into her office. They waited just outside the door.

“What could be taking her so long?” Derrick asked impatiently. He tempered, running his fingers through his hair angrily. He never did like waiting for things.

“Calm down.” Ariana replied softly, watching him pace the floor. “I’m sure she’s just busy, that’s all.”

Derrick stopped to stare at her. “Are you using one of your powers to see that?”

Ariana shook her head. “No, I’m not.” She shrugged. “I just guessed.”

Derrick next to Ariana on the bench, and she rubbed his shoulders to calm him.

A minute later, Shannon opened the door to her office and appeared excited. “Come in, come in! Sorry you had to wait, team. I had some urgent System-Network business to discuss with Nick.” The Network was the System’s main rival, but Shannon and Nicholas McNathaniels, the Network’s Chief, were more than good friends. They were working on a plan to combine the two agencies into one.

“That’s okay, Shan.” Ariana grinned. “We both know how you feel about Nick.”

“So, what’s going on?” Derrick asked Shannon eagerly. “Your call said you had some exciting news. What is it?”

“I have a new assignment for you.” Shannon said. “It has to do with the Dream Realm, which I know you both are familiar with.”

“What’s the project?” Ariana asked, excited.

Derrick looked at Ariana, then at a smiling Shannon Ryan.

“It’s called Dream Realm Crusader.” Shannon replied, watching their reactions. “Using that necklace and a special watch I’m having Chips make you, both of you will Crusade to the Dream Realm’s Dominion and fight the Dominionite Master and his clan.”

Derrick gasped and Ariana’s face went dark.

“You mean, there really is a Dominionite Master?” Ariana shuddered.

“Yes, why?” Shannon asked her, worried for her.

Ariana looked at Derrick with fear in her eyes. He explained to Shannon what had happened a few days before when Ariana woke up screaming.

Shannon shook her head, understanding completely. “He’s started at you now, has he?”

Ariana shrugged. “I guess, but why me?”

“You’re the Young Guardian, right?” Shannon asked, and Ariana nodded. “Well, he wants to get rid of the competition, which is why the two of you must Crusade and fight him.”

“What about the project?” Derrick asked, holding Ariana close to him.

“Oh yes, the project.” Shannon thought for a minute, and then started her story. “It all started when Mistress Enchantra came to my Aunt Dixilynne before she was sent to the Dream Realm to live. She knew my mother Sarabeth had died at the hands of the Master Orthos.”

“That’s terrible.” Ariana breathed, interested. “Please, go on.”

“Enchantra told Dixie about the Master, and how he sought to destroy the Ancient Mystics.” Shannon continued her story. “The Dominionite Master, who calls himself Orthos, is a very cunning creature. He wants to take over the Dream Realm, which includes the Palaces and many Realms in the Province.”

Shannon cleared her throat. “This may seem complicated at first, but you’ll get it. Anyway, Dixie had to go back to the Dream Realm to live, and that’s how I became Chief here at the System.”

She looked at Derrick. “When Aunt Dixie left, your old partner told me of her dreams and how I was to hire you two to help with the fight. Derrick, you would be the first, next would be Ariana. There were two others, but I’ve forgotten their names.” Shannon explained. She stared into space. “Since you’re her Earthly Protector, I thought you would care to be more understanding toward Ariana’s new life.”

“My new life? What does this have to do with the project?” Ariana asked, interested.

“This is the project. With a little help from Katherine and me, you will literally Crusade to the Dream Realm to fight the Dominionite Master and his brood of Warriors using your Ancient Mystic powers.” Shannon gasped for breath and smiled at Ariana. “You’ll discover just how much you can both do in the Dream Realm then you can here.” She looked at Derrick and said. “Derrick, you’ll need to assist her when she’s actually practicing her new powers.”

“When do we start?” Derrick asked, glancing at Ariana. “What do we do now?”

Shannon laughed at his enthusiasm. “I always liked that about you, Derrick. To start, Ariana’s going to stay here with me while we go through what she learned. Later, she’ll join you with Chips, the main electronics genius around here. He’s going to set you up with something called a Life-Line. The watch will serve as a guide in helping you tell where each other are in the Dream Realm should you be separated. Got that?”

“Not really, but we’ll learn.” Derrick replied with a smile. He wrapped his arms around Ariana’s shoulders and asked her. “Right?”

She smiled and nodded, repeating, “Right.”

“Then what are you two waiting for? Christmas?” Shannon laughed. “Derrick, go see Chips. He’ll fit you with the watches, and Ariana, stay here. I want to practice with you.”

Derrick playfully saluted, clicking his heals. “Aye, Captain Ryan.” He kissed Ariana and was on his way.

Ariana and Shannon laughed.

“So,” Shannon began as the girls settled down. “How long have you known about your special abilities?”

“Since I was about thirteen.” Ariana answered. “Before then, I think it was just accidental.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I wanted things to happen so badly to people, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I just made things happen.” Ariana told her. “I even told a future to my friend, Aaron Theodore, and later, when I thought about him, I found out it actually happened. Aaron and I began to call it wish-craft.”

“He’s the one that fathered your child?” Shannon asked, cautious. She knew it was still a soft subject for Ariana, and decided not to say anything about it until now.

Ariana’s hand went to her stomach. “How did you know?” She whispered, awed.

“Everyone in the Dream Realm knows about the Enchanted Child, especially the Sisters.” Shannon told her honestly. “Named Kelina Erin, right?”

“I don’t know where the name came from, though. I just knew I was going to name her that.” Ariana said. “Just like I don’t know where you got the surname Sister from.”

“I do. The Ancient Mystic Sisters.” Shannon explained. “Both you and I are the daughters of an Earthbound Ancient Mystic Sister. With a literal family surname of Sister. Long story short, we’re not only Ancient Mystics together, we’re family.”

Ariana brightened at the thought of a family, but sat in silence for a while. “You didn’t tell anyone, mainly Derrick, about Kelina Erin yet, did you?”

Shannon shook her head. “I told no one that didn’t already know. I guess Kelina makes you an official Elder Ancient Mystic, instead of just a daughter of one.”

Ariana shrugged. “How do you figure?”

“You had her when you were thirteen, right?” Ariana nodded. “Well, according to the Ancient Mystics, you’re officially an Elder.” Shannon took a breath and continued knowingly. “The rules state: ‘Those females born of the Ancient Mystic are Young Ones until they conceive their first child, or turn twenty-one. Then, and only then, are they considered Ancient Mystics.'” She paused, explaining. “It’s different for male Ancient Mystics, called Wizards. You’ll learn that later. Anyway, from any Ancient Mystic’s birth, the powers are weak, and they only have the five basic powers of telepathy, clairvoyance, empathy, premonition and telekinesis. When a live birth occurs from an Ancient Mystic female, such as in your case, your powers are heightened to unlimited proportions and you’re called an Elder. It would be up to you to learn how to use them to your utmost advantage. However, such as in my own case, without the live birth taking place, the basic powers aren’t as developed. I’ll remain the title of Ancient Mystic until I bear a child.”

Ariana nodded. “This sounds really interesting, Shannon, but I thought you wanted me to practice my abilities with you?”

Shannon smiled. “Oh, I do. First lesson, controlling the telekinesis.” She stood and picked up a cup from another desk across the room. “Try bringing this to yourself.”

“How?”

“Just think about it coming to you, and it will.” Shannon explained. “Go on, try it.”

“Okay, here goes.” Ariana took a deep breath and stared at the cup. Her mind focused on it coming to her, and it started to. She became so excited, she forgot about the cup. In mid-air, it dropped to the ground. Ariana frowned at it, as Shannon stood aside, quietly watching.

Ariana shook her finger in shame at the cup. Naughty, naughty. She thought to it. Let’s try it once again.

She crooked her finger at it, telling it silently to come to her. It rose up from the ground and started to float again in thin air. When it reached her hand, Ariana looked at Shannon. “How was that?”

“I like that. Telling an inanimate object whose boss.” Shannon giggled. “Brilliant.”

“Really? Thanks, I guess.” Ariana liked what she could do, once she got used to it. Because of her beloved daughter, Ariana had unlimited Ancient Mystic power. “Any more?”

“Nope, sorry.” Shannon regretted, smiling. “I like your enthusiasm, though. I’ll tell you what. Next week, after your official Crusade to the Dream Realm for the System, I’ll show you more. Okay?”

Ariana nodded. “Speaking of Crusading, I wonder where my Romeo Reading went.”

“Why don’t you go see what he’s up to?” Shannon suggested.

Ariana saluted as Derrick had. “Aye, aye, Captain Ryan.”

With a nod, Ariana was on her way.

As she wandered the corridors of the System’s Fourth Floor, her head began to throb. Slowly and painfully, it began to ache. She tried wishing it away, but it wouldn’t go. Instead, it just got worse.

She touched her temple and started to massage it.

What’s going on? Ariana thought, but nobody answered. Why is this happening to me?

Finding a bench nearby, she sat down. Desperate for answers, she cried out for Derrick in her mind. She only hoped he’d be able to hear her.

II

Shane “Shadow” Morehouse fell hard for Aluna Sister. Even when he heard the vicious rumors about her and Derrick dating. When he confronted her with it, she told him the truth.

“I never really loved him as much as I love you, Shadow.” Luna replied, kissing him. She snuggled closer to him as they held each other tight. The couple were at Paradise Peak, a romantic hideaway they’d found not too long ago. “I told him the truth about us. He seemed crushed, and I promised I would be a best friend to him until he saw his Dream Girl. I know his Dream Girl is my twin sister.”

Shadow kissed her hair, thinking of the rumor Chips told him.

They were all wrong, Shadow thought. Luna loves me: not Derrick.

“Darn right, I do, Shane Morehouse!” Luna cried, kissing his lips again. Shane looked at her and she pointed to her temple. “From the moment we met, you were always something special to me.”

“No, I’m not.” Shadow replied, nearly blushing.

She didn’t respond. Instead, she had a pained look on her face.

“What’s wrong?” Shadow asked, concerned. He caught her as she almost fell trying to walk. “Are you all right?”

Luna held her temple, and repeated. “Please, don’t take her now, Orthos. We haven’t met, yet. I need her.”

Orthos? Shadow thought angrily. Dominionite Master Orthos?

He felt his Dream Locket grow warm, almost hot. There was something going on, and his girlfriend was right in the middle of it.

He held her hand and steered her in the direction of Doc Swanson’s office.

Before heading inside, she opened her eyes and glanced at her ring. It was glowing bright orange. Shadow never noticed it before, and decided not to ask about it now. He’d learn soon enough.

“She’s coming, Shadow.” Luna whispered without turning away from the door. “The twin who doesn’t know I exist is coming. She’s hurting. I can feel her.”

“Did you want me to go in with you?” Shadow held her hand and kissed her neck.

She nodded and he followed.

“May I help you, Lu-Lu?” Doc Swanson was sitting at his desk, reading over one of many patient files. He used Luna’s codename. “Something wrong with Shadow?”

Shadow shook his head. “Nothing’s wrong with me, Doc.”

“Ready yourself, please, Doc.” Luna said simply. “My twin is on her way here.”

Doc knew the story. Luna’s twin didn’t know Luna existed, and needed that fact kept secret from her until it was time. “Are you sure?”

Luna nodded ecstatically. “Yes. Please, Doc. Listen to me.”

He nodded. “Whatever you say, Luna. I know what remarkable powers of Clairvoyance you have.” Doc said with a tight nod. “I’ll ready the room for her.”

“Thank you, Doc.”

Shadow Morehouse only hoped Derrick’s Dream Girl, Luna’s twin sister, was going to be all right. The Dominionite Master Orthos and his Warriors were none to contend with.

III

Derrick was in the middle of studying when he heard a voice in his mind.

“Ariana.” He breathed. “Hold on, love. I’m coming.”

Quickly, he rushed out of the room and raced to her rescue. He found her on the bench, passed out. Could I have been too late? He thought, terrified.

Crouching to the floor, he felt her head. Noticing it was hot to his touch; he picked her up and carried her to Doc Swanson’s office a few paces away.

Doc was talking to Shadow, and his old partner Luna! Derrick ignored this and concentrated on what he came here for.

“Doc, what’s wrong with her?” He laid her body on a table. “I found her down the hall, passed out on a bench. I felt her head and noticed it was above normal.”

Doc nodded, stepping in to examine Ariana while Luna and Derrick stared. Once the boys met eyes, Shadow disappeared. They both knew what Ariana meant to Luna, so Shadow decided to make himself scarce.

“Why don’t the two of you wait outside the door until I can tell you the diagnosis?” Doc Swanson suggested.

“No, I believe we have to be here for her when she wakes up.” Luna replied.

“Alright, Lu-Lu, but be quiet.” He turned to Derrick through his bifocals and teased. “Both of you.”

They nodded, and watched while they let the doctor do his job.

Luna pulled Derrick back. “Has she been using her powers lately?” Luna whispered to Derrick, making sure the doctor couldn’t hear.

Derrick nodded. “Shannon practiced with her before. I got a message from her, telling me something was terribly wrong.”

Luna took his hand and squeezed. “Watch. She’ll be okay in a bit. I promise.”

Derrick looked at her, and still couldn’t believe the resemblance. Ariana didn’t know that she and Luna were identical twins, or that Luna even existed. “Thanks for caring so much, Lu.” His heart definitely was in Ariana’s hands, and he felt he would be lost without her.

“She’s my twin sister. Why wouldn’t I care?” Luna replied.

Doc Swanson returned to the duo. “She’ll be okay after a long nap.” He told Derrick, and Luna squeezed his hand again.

“Her mind is exhausted.” Luna remarked.

“How could you tell?” Derrick asked, not really sure he wanted to know the answer.

Luna looked at Ariana’s silent body and whispered quietly. “I sensed it.”

Ariana herself moaned from the table, and began to stir.

“If you still want to keep yourself a secret, Lu-Lu, I suggest you’d better leave before she wakes up.” Doc suggested.

Luna thought for a minute. “She’ll know soon enough, I’m sure.” Luna’s pager went off in her pocket and she looked down. “Saved by the boss. Shannon needs me, so I’ll be off.”

Luna left just in time.

Ariana’s eyes flickered open, and she began to sit up.

“Whoa,” Derrick breathed as he caught her before she could fall. “Careful, love.”

Ariana shook the cobwebs from her head. “What happened?”

“You fainted, I believe.” Doc told her. “If you remember, I am Doc Swanson, the Chief Medical Officer here at the System.”

Ariana remembered. She had seen him for her physical on her first day at the System, and recalled meeting his daughter Dana. The short, but smart doctor knew all there was to know about treating any of the human body’s ailments. Ariana nodded. “I remember. Nice to see you again, Doctor Swanson.”

“Yes, and the name’s Doc Swanson, or just Doc. I’ll need to see you in a couple of days, just to make sure you’re okay.”

“Thanks, Doc.” Derrick said as he helped Ariana stand.

“You’re welcome, Reading and Sister. Reading, get her straight to bed to rest, got that?” Doc commanded, smiling.

Both of them nodded, and left the office. Derrick leading Ariana by the arm to Fourth Floor and their room.

“Thank you, Derrick.” Ariana’s voice was barely above a whisper.

“Don’t try to talk. Wait until after your nap.” Derrick advised, kissing her tenderly on the lips.

She didn’t object.

When they reached their room, he sat her on the bed. After he slipped her glasses off her face, she immediately fell into a deep sleep as her head hit the pillow.

Before leaving her side, Derrick stroked her hair and kissed the top of her head. “Dream, my beautiful Ariana. Dream of your perfect world.” He stared at her lovingly. “Remember, I will always love you.”

At that, a small smile crept on Ariana’s face.

After all she had told him about herself, he would have to say they were both glad Ariana was at the System. No more abuse, no mean mothers and being treated like a slave, and no more running away.

Derrick grinned as he thought of himself as well. He was happy living at the System Not a day went by he didn’t think of his old life and family, though. They were always in his thoughts. Right now, he could care less about them.

Both he and Ariana were finally where they both belonged: In a more perfect world.

Chapter One:

First Assignment

Ariana and Derrick woke a week later to the phone ringing.

Ariana slipped her glasses on and picked up the line. “Hello?”

“This is a wake-up call. I have your first case on the Project.” It was Shannon Ryan herself.

Derrick sat up and stared at Ariana strangely.

Ariana never got the chance to respond. “Meet me in my office in ten minutes. I’ll be waiting.”

Click.

Ariana stretched, trying to wake up.

“Who was that?”

“Shannon. She’s got our first case on the Dream Realm Crusader Project.” Ariana told him with a yawn.

Now Derrick sighed. Shannon was always the early riser, and he hated it! “Let’s go.”

Ariana smiled at him. He never really liked getting up early. She was used to the early hours, and could tell he would never be.

She stood and faced him. “Smile.” She touched his cheek and kissed his lips tenderly. “I love you.”

Derrick couldn’t help but grin. He shook his head. “You always make me feel good, you know that?”

There was a twinkle in her eyes he couldn’t resist. “Of course. Now, come on. Shannon needs us in ten minutes.”

Derrick slipped his own glasses on and watched as she passed a hand over her bed, making it neat and tidy, as if she’d never slept in it.

“You’d better be careful with that.” Derrick warned her. “You don’t want to be sick again, do you?”

Ariana smiled at him. “I have my Romeo to rescue me.” She teased. “If you’re that worried, I’ll dress the normal way, without my powers.”

“That’s all I ask. Thank you.” He kissed her again and they dressed quickly, heading over to Shannon’s office in no time.

They entered the Computer Lab’s double doors only to find Shannon Ryan, with her long brown hair in a lazy bun, arms crossed under her chest, and dark eyes shining. A smile was on her lips, making the duo laugh.

“Is our first Crusade going to be a fun one?” Derrick asked with a grin.

“You’d better believe it.” Shannon replied. She walked in her adjoining office and grabbed a file from her desk, handing it to them.

Ariana and Derrick followed, watching her every move.

Shannon sat at her desk and began typing on her computer. “It takes place in a Dreamer named Chicago.”

“Don’t you mean the city of Chicago?” Ariana asked.

Shannon shook her head. “Nope. The Dreamer’s name is Chicago. Anyway, she’s dreaming of mystery and embezzlement in Mexico, which is strange.”

“What’s so strange about that?” Derrick asked, not bothering to look at the folder.

Shannon looked at them, counting on her fingers. “She’s not Mexican, has never been to Cancun or Cozumel in her life, yet she dreams of being a Mexican detective named Chicadita Morales. Now, Chic – as she calls herself in her Dream Realm and her real self, lives in New York City. Either of you been to the Big Apple before?”

Both Derrick and Ariana shook their heads.

“Well, now you’re going to get the chance.” Shannon smiled. She handed him a watch. “Chips gave this to me for you, Derrick. It’s called a com-watch. It serves three purposes. One, it of course tells time, two, it tells your coordinates in the Dream Realm and three, it’s a communicator.”

Derrick took it and put in on his wrist.

“And for me?” Ariana asked.

She sat up in her desk. “Remember last week, when I helped you with your powers?” Ariana nodded. “Well, your Mystic Powers, along with the necklace Lord Guardian O’Dell gave you, will take you anywhere in the Dream Realm.”

“You mean, we won’t be going to New York, but to this Dreamer’s own Dream Realm?” Derrick asked her, confused.

“Wait – I don’t understand. Didn’t you just say we’re going to get the chance to go to the Big Apple?” Ariana asked, taking the folder from Derrick’s hands.

“If you look closely, you’ll understand.” Shannon told her.

Ariana opened the folder to face a New York City address. The girl, a brunette with soft green eyes and permed hair smiled back at her from a snapshot. She touched the picture, and was in a clairvoyant trance in moments.

The face of a woman came to Ariana, smiling wickedly. Her black hair and pearl-black eyes scared her, making her sweat. The thoughts came to her in a flash, as if they were her own:

I’ve stared down my share of gun barrels. Most of them were loaded, and memories flash in my mind of my family. Chicadita isn’t one to be scared too easily. Chicadita Morales, that’s me. Mexican Investigator on the case of murder with the Spanish Mafia. I want to find which of them that killed my family, and who pulled the trigger on my partner. I seek revenge, and only in my dreams will I hope to get it…

Ariana dropped the folder and gasped. Did I just hear her thoughts? She stared at the papers on the floor, hands to her forehead. What was going on?

Derrick took her shoulder. “Ariana? What happened? What did you see?”

“I heard her voice in my head. She told me her name…and I heard her revenging thoughts.” Ariana whispered, continued to stare, slowly coming to her senses and looking at both Shannon and Derrick. “She’s scared, yet not scared enough to back off the murders of her entire family and partner.”

Derrick was afraid for her. “What does it all mean? This girl’s scared, yet she wants to revenge her families murders? Where do we come in? I don’t get it, Shannon.”

“You’ll go into her Dream Realm with the coordinates on the folder. Find her and solve the case.” Shannon paused. “Without being found out by the bad guys.”

“That shouldn’t be too hard, unless they have some way of seeing us.” Ariana replied. “The Spanish Mafia can’t be too tough, otherwise this Chicadita Morales would already be dead.”

“True, but so would the Dreamer Chicago.” Shannon pointed out.

Ariana gulped, knowing both Derrick and she were in trouble – deep trouble. “When do we start?”

Shannon smiled. “Study the folder again, if you can stay out of that trance of yours.”

Ariana smiled. “I’ll try.” She turned to Derrick. “Come on, let’s get started. I’m beginning to want revenge against them almost as much as Chicadita herself.”

That’s what your Mystic Powers do to you…Shannon smiled at Ariana. Good luck, you two.

#2: Dracoran Advisor

Log of the Young Guardian:

I awoke in a different world.

The night before, I’d had dreams of dread, pushing them aside in my mind while I thought about the case. I slept, as I usually would, ending up in a different place that my patrols had never taken me before.

I found a marketplace. How it seemed familiar to me at the time, but I didn’t think about that, either. All I thought about was going home to my partner and love, Derrick.

I stopped at a jeweler and asked him. “Where might I find the monarch of these lands?”

He bore his teeth at me. That was my cue to exit, quickly.

His eyes had been red and full of blood-lust. According to legend, I was in the presence of a vampire!

Not wanting to be bit or seen as a snack, I ran as fast as I could. I sensed a horde of vampires behind me, and I quickened my pace. I tried to lift off to the skies but I was Earthbound. This Realm was not like the Realm of Dreams. I couldn’t fly here.

So I ran.

The vampires that followed me were gaining on my trail, quickly. Before I knew it, they attacked. I started to gain the magic I needed to stop them but we all saw a brilliant, huge dragon in the sky. Black with silvery scales. I was in awe.

Before I knew it, I saw a brilliant white light and my world went dark.

I awoke to find myself in a darkened room. My prison was dark and cold. It had no windows, only a thick iron door. The only light I had to see by was that from underneath it, shadows of light from torches that peppered the hallway outside the door.

I stood and felt the door for weak points before I readied myself and my magic enough to escape.

It didn’t take long for me to get myself out of that prison.

I lingered for a moment or two longer than I’d wished once I found the Main Hall. That’s where I saw the Monarch for the first time.

She was lovely, beautiful even. Long black hair tied in a bun with some strands as braids on either side of her long pale face. She seemed to sense me watching, so she turned around to walk to her throne. “Come out of the shadows and into the light. Introduce yourself.”

Her accent was thick, sounding European. She sounded like many of the vampires I’d only heard from movies like Dracula. Was she originally from Transylvania?

I didn’t want to give myself away so I said. “I am a Dreamer, lost in this world. Can you tell me how to get back?”

“To know of Dreamers is to know of the Realm of Dreams.” The monarch pointed out. “Dreamers themselves do not know their status amongst the many Realms of Companions and creatures. They believe their adventures as mere dreams.” Her red lips smiled. “Now, tell me who you are, Little One or prepare to die in this Realm.”

I gulped, scared by the look in her dark eyes. “I am called Ariana Moon, that is all. I come from the Outer-Realm.”

“Have you special abilities that allow you to travel through the vast Realms of All the Worlds?”

I nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”

She sighed. “I feared as much. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Dracora, Countess of the Dragon Nations.”

I’d heard that name before, but at the time, didn’t know where from.

“The Realm of Dragons?” I asked.

Countess Dracora nodded. “Aye. This Realm houses the undead at rest as well as the Draconian People.”

“Undead, as in vampires?” Just to make sure, I asked the question in my mind.

“You would call us Vampire, aye.” She stared, patiently waiting and watching my every move.

I held my breath, not daring to move in fear of my life. After a moment, the Countess turned to her Guards. “Leave us.”

“Aye, Countess.” They chorused, and left.

I let out my breath.

Countess Dracora grinned, coming up to me. “Do you fear me?”

Echoed somewhere in the back of my mind, a male dragon was purring the same thing. Like a long-gone memory of another time. Was it also another place?

I nodded.

“You need not fear me, Little One.” She answered, purring. “I will not Feed unless I have need.”

I held my throat. “Let’s hope you don’t have need anytime soon.” I supplied, then cleared it. “Please, Countess, can you tell me how to get back to the Realm of Dreams? I must –.”

I almost gave myself away.

“Return and patrol, is that it?” Dracora smiled. “Patrol? Just what does a Young One like you need to patrol?”

Once I used Empathy on the Countess, I felt safer to speak aloud.

“I am the Young Guardian of the Realm of Dreams.” I stood tall and proud. “I help Dreamers with their nightmares and fears. I am also a Dream Realm Crusader, one of many chosen by Lord Guardian himself to make sure Dreamers are safe when they sleep.”

Dracora was skeptic. “Young Guardian. Never heard of you.”

“Have you heard of Lord Guardian?”

“Of course,” Dracora nodded. “We have had dealings with O’Dell in the past. He and his three brothers were once the most powerful of Djinn. O’Dell was always destined for greatness. So was his brother Orthos.” She supplied. “Instead of working together with the four Ancient Mystics, they started fighting.”

“You were there when they Originated the Realm of Dreams?” I asked, incredulous.

“The Realm of Dreams is part of the Dragon Nations, and those in it are my people as well.” Dracora said. “That includes the Originators.”

She wrapped an arm around my shoulder. “Come, Young Guardian.” She used my title for the first time. “Walk with me to the Dining Hall, the feast is upon us.”

I walked with her to the Dining Hall.

“If you’re a vampire, don’t you only drink blood?” I asked curiously.

Dracora shook her head. “Pure myth. We can eat normal foods, just like you.” She supplied. “What else do you know of us?”

“You can be destroyed by a stake to the heart, or a beheading.”

Dracora smiled. “So can you.”

“Fair enough.” I said. “What about this? You drain your victims of their blood and their lives.”

“Yes, and no.” She supplied. “We drink, but only from those we feel we can trust. Most of us only Feed from our own kind, and we do not drain our victims of their life-giving fluid.”

“Oh.” I said.

“You wish to go home to the Realm of Dreams?” She asked me, stopping us in front of a grand door. I nodded. “Help me and I will help you. Show me you are who and what you say you are.”

I thought for a moment. “I’m listening.”

“I am in the middle of delegations between the Nations and the Mortallan Realm.” She told me. “Be my advisor during the delegations.”

I bit my lip. “How long will it take?”

“That would be up to you, Young Guardian.” Dracora smiled. She opened the doors for us. “For now, the Feast awaits.”

I was a delegate for both sides, an advisor who used and relied on my Gift of Empathy to sense true intentions. I used Telepathy to warn either the Countess or the Mortallan King, Yorn of any foul play the other may be planning.

One night, I awoke in my quarters. I felt something wet on my neck. There were a few drops of blood on the pillow and I had a faint coppery taste in my mouth.

Once I dressed, I confronted Dracora. “You Fed from me!” She merely blinked. “Without my consent or knowledge.”

Why did that sentence sound familiar?

“I Fed, aye, I admit that.” Dracora supplied without emotion. “I also replenished you.”

“May I ask why?” I demanded, frustrated.

“I suffered from the Hunger.” Dracora pointed out. “So, I Fed, and I made certain you were replenished. You will see in time that what I did was a blessing, rather than a curse.”

“Lord Guardian’s not going to be happy about this, once he Senses what you’ve done.” I told her, folding my arms.

“I would think not.” Dracora supplied, again without emotion. I was beginning to hate when she did that. “I will tell him, though.”

“When you feel like it, I take it?” I sneered.

Dracora merely smiled. “Do you not need to be returning? I am sure you are sorely missed.”

Damn her for changing the subject!

“Show me how to get back to the Realm of Dreams, as you promised.” I demanded. “Delegations are over, the two of you made a pairing of it and my services as an advisor are no longer required.”

Dracora grinned, nodding. She knew something. Why wasn’t she telling?

She had a Guard named Trenor show me the way to the Borderline of the Dragon Nations and my own Realm of Dreams. He told me the only way I could get through the Firewall, short of flying over it was to pass through a magic-made doorway. I thanked him, stepping through the doorway and back to the Realm of Dreams.

I returned to the Outer-Realm with quite a headache and a memory of myself with a dragon, more specifically, the dragon I’d seen my first day in the Dragon Nations.

I also returned to my loving partner and boyfriend Derrick at the System. He told me that I’d been sleeping for most of the day. How could that have been possible? I knew the Dream Realm knew of no time, but how could what went on in the Dragon Nations happen in several hours? Hadn’t I slept in the quarters in Dracora’s castle? Hadn’t it felt like a month of delegations with Yorn? I didn’t understand it, but I had other things on my mind so I couldn’t think of it anymore.

#2: Province Holly-hell

Prologue:

Visions of Hell…


Derrick Reading could tell he was in trouble from the get-go. His Com-watch glowed – something was wrong in the Dream Realm, and his love, Ariana Sister, was hurting…Where was she?

Derrick could faintly see a vision as he Crusaded with his watch. A young man stood in front of his class, reciting a poem. The poem was melancholy, yet invigorating. He could’ve sworn Ariana was in the audience, entranced by his every words….What was she doing there?

As if sensing him, Ariana turned and gave his eyes a saddened look.

He woke up then, confused.

Derrick looked at the clock – Three in the morning? What was he doing up at this hour?

He shook his head and put his glasses on, staring into the darkness.

Is something bothering you, my love? Ariana’s voice was soft in his mind, telling him she was there.

He looked over at his partner. His Dream Girl of so many years was safe now.

Truthfully, only knowing her personally for a short time, he felt he knew her all his life.

In his mind, not sure she could hear him, he sent, I had visions of the Dream Realm. Another mission, maybe?

Now she was the one to sit up and turn the light on. “Perhaps. Only way to know is if you tell me what you saw.” Ariana put her glasses on and stared into his brown eyes.

He was silent. Should he tell her he saw her with another man? “I saw you, with a Dreamer.”

“How so?”

“You were in his class, and I could feel you hurting.” Derrick shook his head, trying to get it straight. “Not like the last case, but worse. I wasn’t there, but you were.”

“What do you mean, I was there?” Ariana was confused now.

“Actually by his side, in his class. Not just a Crusader.” Derrick explained. “Somehow, you’d taken yourself to his side. Why, I don’t know, and I hope it doesn’t happen. I don’t want to lose you.”

Ariana blushed. She looked into his saddened eyes and told him. “You’ll never lose me, Derrick.” She smiled. “I’m not that easy to get rid of.”

He smiled, bending over and kissing her lips. “Lets not think about it anymore tonight. I’m tired.”

“Mmm.” She added, agreeing. “So am I. Good night, my love.”

“Good night.” Derrick said, but it went unheard. She was already asleep.

His eyes fell to the glowing Locket around her neck. It was the shape of a globe, with a unicorn head incased in a dream-catcher’s webbing. In order to examine it closer, he took it from around her neck.

Derrick sat on his own bed, staring at the Locket a special uni-peg friend of theirs had given Ariana when she was younger. The Elder Guardian of the Dream Realm had given it to her in her time of need, for when she needed to escape the horror of her orphanage master, Mrs. Helen Gertrude.

He yawned, and placed it around his neck, to see what would happen.

Little did he know what was going to happen next.

He lay his head on his pillow, falling asleep again that night.

Derrick drifted to the Dream Realm, once remembering the chant she’d always said in her sleep. In front of him was Lord Guardian O’Dell himself. His vision of a uni-dragon – half unicorn, half dragon, was intimidating. O’Dell wasn’t smiling.

“What have you done, young Derrick?” He scolded. “How dare you take the Locket I gave her from around her neck!”

Derrick knelt, scared. “I apologize, Lord Guardian. I didn’t mean to do it. I – I – I was curious.”

O’Dell shifted to a full dragon, fierce and angry. “Do you know what mortal curiosity does to the Dream Realm? Curiosity sends it into a frenzy.”

“I’m sorry, Lord Guardian. If there’s any way I can reverse my actions, I would.” Derrick replied softly.

“Since there is not, and what is done is done, I shall send you home, unharmed.” O’Dell calmed down, knowing who this Young One was to be. His vision changed once again with his mood. This time, he was a human male with long black hair and a multi-colored gem in the middle of his head. He was tall and wise, despite his abilities. “I send you with a warning, Young Derrick.”

Derrick listened intently. “Anything, Lord Guardian.”

“Be careful of the Mystic Powers. If only a trickle of it goes to someone unwilling, it will reek grave consequences.”

Derrick didn’t know what he was getting into. What had he done by taking the Locket from around Ariana’s neck?

He would soon learn.

Derrick woke up late the next morning. He looked beside him and shook his head. Ariana’s bed was made, and rarely does she actually go on with her day without waking him up first.

Where was she?

He heard a buzz and was happy when the door opened to reveal Ariana herself, carrying a load of books.

“Morning, Sunshine!” Ariana cried with a grin.

Derrick noticed she wasn’t wearing her Locket. He looked down to his neck and saw it. He took it off, replying, “Morning. Why didn’t you wake me?”

“I thought I’d let you sleep.” Ariana said, shutting the door. She placed the books on the table and walked over to Derrick. “What have you got there?”

Didn’t she recognize her own Dream Locket? “It’s your Dream Locket. I, uh, found it on the floor beside your bed.”

She took it, looked at it, and put it around her neck.. “Thanks for finding it. I’ve been looking all over.”

“You didn’t recognize it at first, did you?” Derrick asked, looking into her silver-blue eyes.

“I guess not,” Ariana replied softly. “I have our next mission already.”

“What about it? Where do we go this time?” Derrick asked as he watched her flip through the papers on the table.

“It’s weird.” Ariana replied. “We’re going to a city near Hill View, Michigan.”

Derrick perked up. He used to live in Hill View with his family, but that was before the System. Long before. He didn’t dare say that aloud, for fear of hurting her feelings because she didn’t have a family of her own. “Hill View? Where near Hill View?”

She studied the front page of the folder. “Looks like the Capital City itself, Lansing. To a community college to help a young man – lets see, what is his name? Here it is – Sean Kimball. He’s an interesting Dreamer, actually.”

“Why do you say that?”

“He’s a Creative Writing Major.” Ariana told him. “Any writer would make an interesting case.”

“Where have you been?” Derrick asked her, heading to the bathroom.

Ariana was silent, and didn’t say anything.

He came out and she was still sitting at the table, staring into space. Derrick could tell something was wrong. He watched as she rubbed her head.

He planted a kiss on the nape of her neck, but she didn’t turn to him. “What’s on your mind?”

“The dream you had last night has been on my mind since.” Ariana told him softly. Her fingers played with the necklace. “O’Dell won’t admit it, but with this Dreamer is in trouble. Only I can help him.”

“Does that mean you’ll be Crusading without me?” Derrick was saddened. She turned to him and planted a kiss on his lips.

“Yes, but you don’t have to worry about me. I’ll be sure not to get into any trouble with him.” Ariana said. “I’ll call you if I need you to join me. I promise.”

“I just can’t help feeling you’re going to be involved with him, that’s all.” Derrick said. “I love you, and I would hope you love me, too.”

Ariana hugged him. “Yes, my Love, I do love you. Very much.” She said. “Shannon told me it would complicate things with Sean if you came along. I’m to act as a student at the college.”

“A very young student.” Derrick pointed out. “That complicates things in itself.”

“The university understands my age, and has agreed to house me with him for a short time.” Ariana told him. She felt some hidden apprehension about letting her go within Derrick. She kissed him. “You don’t have to worry about me so much, okay? If I can survive years of orphanage hell, than surely I can handle myself on campus.”

“How are you going to help him?” Derrick was tired of arguing. “What’s the case?”

Glad he was willing to let her go, Ariana outlined for him. “He’s lived a hard life until now. He’s at the college on a writer’s scholarship in order to pay for his education. You see, he’s…how should I put it?…an orphan. Only I can understand what he’s gone though in order to solve the mystery of his past. His dreams constantly haunt him – not like Orthos or Sabrina would, but worse.”

“So this guy is going to be your classmate?” Derrick asked her.

“Not only that, I’ll be roomed across the hall from him.”

“You’re kidding.”

“I wish I were.” Ariana said sadly. “Which means, I’ll be Crusading every night, feeling his every sense, and if it comes to it, I’ll become him.”

“Promise you’ll be careful with this Dreamer client?” Derrick made her look at him before asking.

“I’ll try to control my Mystic Powers, if that’s what you mean.” Ariana said. She was silent as she walked away from him to pack a single backpack. “I promise you, Derrick. I’ll come home as soon as I’m finished with him.”

Derrick wasn’t so sure, but had no choice than to let her go. If Shannon sent her, he’d have to oblige.

#3: New Enemy Lines

Prologue:

The Dream Master’s Domain

Orthos was tired of hanging about at Dark Tower – he wanted to cause some destruction! Since being sent to the Dark Side of the Dominion, he’d been bored by his brother, O’Dell’s plans and Mystic principals.

“There has got to be a way to change my brother’s vision of the future!” Orthos cried to himself.

The Elder Guardian of the Dream Realm was Orthos’ brother, keeping a close eye on his actions in Dark Tower.

“Have I not already rid myself of those disgusting nieces of mine? Did that not help a little?” Orthos encountered. He roared loud and long, his dragon-vision growing more immense as he grew angrier and angrier. “Sabrina! Damian!” He called to his children, who were in front of him in moments. “Find some way to rid me of O’Dell’s successor! I know he has one – get rid of them!”

“Yes, Father!” Damian snarled.

“Gladly, Father!” Sabrina hissed, her eyes grew red.

Dark Tower was silent as they left.

Too bad for them, A Future Dreamer saw it all…

The Dreamer made his way back to the Gate of Forever, hoping to return to his own time. He was met by the Goddess of Time, Ocarina.

“You escaped from the depths of time, have you, Dreamer?” Ocarina frowned upon him. “You will learn.”

With a wave of her ivory gown, she left him. The Gate of Forever closed, leaving the Future Dreamer named Mark-Antony in his past – long before his birth.

“Why have you left me here, before my birth, oh Goddess Ocarina?” He yelled into the air. “I’m not ready!”

To his cries he got no reply.

“Great. First, Andrew plays a trick on me, sending me to before our birth, then I hear the Dream Master himself ready to rid himself of Lord Guardian O’Dell’s successor, which means certain hell for the entire future Dream Realm, and now, I’m left in the past by Goddess Ocarina herself!” Mark-Antony kicked a rock, only to have it hit a hoof.

He looked up, only to find himself face to face with the Lord Guardian himself, O’Dell. He knelt to him. “My Lord Guardian.”

O’Dell’s vision was that of a uni-dragon. His head and neck was of a dragon, with a Unicorn’s horn, and his jewel in between his eyes underneath it. The rest of his body was of a horse, a multi-colored tail housed a violet magic ribbon. “Young Dreamer, you are not of this time, are you?” O’Dell was concerned.

Mark-Antony shook his head. “I’m from the future, My Lord.”

“How did you get here?”

“My fellow Futurian, Andrew James, has played a joke on me, trying to get me back for what I had done to him.”

“What did you do to him, pray tell?” O’Dell asked, smiling.

“I, uh. Lets just say I put him in his place with a girl, My Lord Guardian.”

“As much as I like pranks, Young Dreamer, I must know how Goddess Ocarina feels about this?”

“My Lord, she closed the Gate of Forever, and I must get back.” Mark-Antony never met his eyes.

“Look at my eyes, Young Dreamer.” O’Dell shifted to a human male before he met the Young Dreamer’s eyes.

Mark-Antony obeyed.

“You know something of this time, do you not?” O’Dell whispered. “Do you wish to tell me?”

“Not really, My Lord.” Mark-Antony didn’t know what to say. Should he tell O’Dell what he’d witnessed at Dark Tower?

“It is concerning the Dream Realm, is it not?”

Mark-Antony gulped, nodding. “Yes, My Lord Guardian. The very future of it is at stake.”

“Tell me what you know.” O’Dell said sternly.

Though scared, Mark-Antony told all he’d overheard.

“Do you have a place to stay in this time?” O’Dell asked, then answered his own question. “Of course not, no Companion knows of your existence, yet. Ah, you will stay with the Mystic Sisters, Enchantra and Challandra until you can find your way back to your own time.”

After agreeing, Mark-Antony acquainted himself with the Sisterhood. O’Dell, on the other hand, had other things to tend to.

First, his successor must know of the Future Dreamer.

On his way to her Dream Realm, O’Dell ran into the Goddess of Time herself, Ocarina.

“O’Dell, you cannot tell her of him.” Ocarina stopped him in his tracks.

He flew down with her, shifting to a full human male. “Why not, Goddess?”

“I bind you from it.” Ocarina scolded him. “He is a Mystic as well. Can you not tell your own kind?”

“How is he a Mystic, Goddess?” O’Dell asked.

“The Young Guardian’s son. One of them, anyway.” Ocarina replied. “They are twins, he and Andrew James. Certainly, you know of Young Guardian’s destiny?”

O’Dell sighed, “Aye, Goddess.” Far be it for him to question the Goddess of Time.

“I forgive you ahead of time, and all will be as it should be soon.” Ocarina promised him. “I assure you.”

“Thank you, Ocarina.” O’Dell said softly, nodding his appreciation. “May I deal with my brother Orthos now, Goddess? Your Young Dreamer has told me –”

Ocarina smiled. “I understand what he has told you. Go ahead, O’Dell, Elder Guardian of the Realm of Dreams.”

With that, she disappeared once again, leaving O’Dell to deal with his brother.

This was going to be harder than he thought. O’Dell only hoped his successor had visions of it before it was too late.


Chapter One:

Disturbing Dreams

The boy was in her mind. She didn’t know who it was, but she knew something was familiar about him.

Ariana Sister searched the Province of the Dream Realm, only to find herself face to face with the most seductive demon mistress she ever knew.

Sabrina the Dream Maiden smiled upon her. “Guess what, Young Guardian? Tonight, you die.”

As Sabrina attacked, Ariana used her powers to stop her. “I don’t think so, Sabrina. I’m not done destroying you, yet.”

Sabrina’s eyes glowed red, and she was free of Ariana’s power in moments. “Do not worry. Before you awaken for another day, I will have my revenge on you.”

Ariana couldn’t help but laugh. “How do you figure, Sabrina? You’re stuck in the Dominion, hidden away in Dark Tower. You can’t travel to the Outer-Realm, and you know it.” Ariana faced her with a grin. “All you can do is haunt my dreams. Guess what, Sabrina? I’m not letting you get to me.”

Sabrina disappeared in a flash of smoke. “Beware of your present, Young Guardian. You may not have much of a future!”

The final words scared Ariana into waking up.

Ariana woke from her nightmare in a sweat. Memories raced in front of her.

This has happened before, when her Dream Realm was in shambles, and she wasn’t able to fix it.

Back then, it was Orthos teasing her mind, making her a pawn in his jokes. This time, it was his evil daughter.

She sat up in bed and headed to the balcony without putting her glasses on. She didn’t want to see what was in front of her. She knew what it was, she just didn’t want it to take her back to her past again.

The balcony may have been the perfect spot to think for she and her partner and boyfriend, Derrick Reading, but it still brought her mind back to her past. She leaned over the rail in thought.

The days of the Orphanage weren’t too far gone, and just thinking of the night sky took her back there. The hell of Mrs. Gertrude’s hand on her backside all the time, the bruises on her body, having to lie about her aches and pains. At night was the only time to escape – to the Dream Realm.

She would look up to the night sky and think of the perfect Realm. Her Companion friend Katherine knew of her troubles, and would try to help her confidant leave the hell to go to the Dream Realm.

The Dream Realm was the perfect place, until Sabrina started getting to her.

The words came back to her mind, and Sabrina’s warning rung loud and clear. “Beware of your present, Young Guardian. You may not have much of a future!”

Her eyes began to tear. Lord Guardian O’Dell, help me. I’m lost in my own Dream Realm. I help the Dreamers of the Outer-Realm as you ask, but I can’t even understand my own disturbing dreams. What am I doing wrong?

The answer of course, was silence. If O’Dell could hear her, he wasn’t answering her calls.

Ariana sat on one of the chairs and was lost in her thoughts.

She never knew Derrick had stood above her, then sat on the chair in a free spot.

He touched her cheek and she turned to him with tears in her eyes. “I’m so confused.” She said softly. “Why does this always have to happen with me?”

Derrick hugged her, letting her cry in his chest. He pet her hair, hoping to soothe her pained thoughts. “It’s okay. Tell me what happened.”

“Sabrina came to my Dream Realm, as I was playing with some Dreamers.” Ariana began as she settled down. “She warned me to beware of my present, and I may not have much of a future. What does it mean?”

Derrick wasn’t sure, but he wanted to calm her anyway. “Have you gone to O’Dell or the Mystic Sisters?”

Ariana shook her head. “I called to him in my mind, but O’Dell didn’t respond. Do you think they’re ignoring me?”

Derrick shook his head. “Why would they ignore you? You’re the Young Guardian – O’Dell’s own successor when it’s time. You’re too precious to them – not to mention me.”

“You really mean it, Derrick?” Ariana asked, just to be sure.

Derrick responded by kissing her. “Convinced?”

Ariana nodded her head, snuggling closer to him. His arms always comforted her when she cried, held her when she was troubled, and soothed her every ache. Derrick was her imaginary Romeo, from so long ago.

“Let’s go back to sleep, Ariana.” Derrick yawned. “We’ll talk more about it in the morning.”

That’s what Ariana was afraid of, but didn’t dare say anything to him. She just went along, as if the morning was going to come and take away all their pains and worries.

She climbed back into bed, hoping her feelings of a dreadful future wouldn’t come true.

She also hoped Sabrina was just messing with her. Ariana didn’t know what she was going to do if she didn’t have her Romeo, Derrick Reading.

#4: Lost in the Dream Zone

Prologue:

Fight For Survival

Fifteen-year-old Luna Sister-Woods lay sleeping with her partner and boyfriend, Shane “the Shadow” Morehouse.

A vision identical to her own screamed out in pain – “Help me! I can’t – hold on!”

Luna wanted to race to her twin, but was bound not to by Lord Guardian O’Dell, ruler of the Dream Realm. Ariana wasn’t to know of her family yet, and Luna knew it now as she watched her twin grasp for life.

“Somebody – help me!” The cliff was giving away, little by little, rock by rock. Ariana tried to climb up the cliff, only to slip lower.

Ariana fell, and both twins screamed.

Luna found herself sitting straight in bed, huffing for breath.

Shadow woke with her. “What’s wrong, Lu?”

“I dreamt of her again.”

“Who? Your twin?”

Luna nodded her head. “Yeah. Only, Derrick wasn’t there. Where was he while his partner and love was hanging off a cliff, grasping for life?”

Shadow shrugged. He knew Derrick Reading well – he was the one to bring Derrick to the System so long ago, and now it seemed forever and a day ago. “Don’t worry about it much, okay. Especially since you can’t save her.”

“You’re right, but there’s got to be an answer.” Luna was determined to know it.

“To what?”

“The question – Where was Derrick at the time?” Luna countered. “There’s got to be a way I can tell him without Ariana finding out.”

Shadow yawned. “Come on, Lu. I’m tired. I have a quiz tomorrow afternoon, and I want to be well rested.”

Luna sighed. “Alright. I’ll figure it out on my own.” She lay down and rolled to her side. “‘Night, Shane.”

“Good Night, Luna.” Shadow roll over so he faced her. She may have been a spoiled brat sometimes, but when it came to the Dream Realm and Mystic Magic, she was more stubborn than a herd of mules.

That’s what he loved about her.

In the morning, it was a different story.

Ariana woke with a strange feeling in her mind. Why did I dream I was hanging off a cliff? Who was that I sensed there, and why didn’t they help me?

She was beginning to tire of the strange dreams. Now that she was a Dream Realm Crusader, they only got more confusing with every mission. Trying to figure the dream out, she wrote in her Dream Journal.

Twenty minutes later, she sat back and read what she’d written.

“What are you studying so intently?” Derrick hugged her from behind, and placed a kiss on her cheek.

“The strange dream I had last night.”

“Wanna talk about it?” Derrick sat down next to her.

She told him what she’d dreamed, making sure to mention the strange ghost-like presence. “I was falling off a cliff, and no one was there to help me. Not even you. I sensed someone there with me, but they didn’t bother to help.”

Derrick knew the stranger well, but was bound by O’Dell not to reveal her name. “I wonder what it means?” He asked.

“That’s what I’ve been wondering for the past half-hour.” Ariana replied. “I wasn’t a Crusader – I was just myself. I don’t know where in the Dream Realm I was, and couldn’t control the horror I felt.”

“That’s strange.” Derrick supplied, standing. “Did you want to join me at the Café for something to eat?”

Ariana nodded. “Sure, just let me put this away.”

She closed and threw her Journal into the air, making it disappear. Ariana smiled.

“There, I’m ready.”

Derrick shook his head. “What have I told you about that?”

“What? My Mystic Powers?” Ariana asked him innocently. “What’s the use of having them if I can’t use them?”

“True, but you still have to be careful.” Derrick warned. He was thinking some time ago when she first practiced her powers too much in the beginning, wearing her mind out. “I don’t want you to burn out again.”

Her silver-blue eyes twinkled, and he couldn’t help smiling.

“I mean it, Ariana Louise.” Derrick teased.

They kissed.

“I know…” She began, but her eyes caught the air, and she stared into space.

Derrick knew it all too well. Ariana had gone into an involuntary clairvoyant trance, and there was nothing to stop it until what she saw made her jump ‘back to reality.’

He stood in front of her and listened in, watching closely.

Ariana, on the other hand, was lost to the real Realm. She knew what to do, but couldn’t.

She had to come back before the vision consumed her.

She began cursing in French, ranting and raving in the language. Derrick knew Ariana couldn’t carry a conversation in French yet, she was still learning. He feared something was indeed taking over her.

Derrick stood back, out of her way. Her necklace – Dream Locket that O’Dell had given her years ago – was glowing black.

Black!? That could only mean one thing.

Sabrina the Dominionite Maiden was at it again. How?

Derrick listened, understanding only a few words in French – “Orthos will reign,” and “Time is the enemy.”

She quieted, and began chanting in English. Softly, though he still didn’t understand what she was saying, she rocked on the bed, hugging herself. She chanted to get herself out of it and took a deep breath.

Finally, she opened her eyes.

“Oh no.” Ariana whispered, once realizing where she was.

Derrick walked over and sat beside her, wrapping an arm around her waist. Their eyes met, and he quipped with a grin, “I told you to be careful.”

Ariana laughed softly for a second, then asked him. “What happened? What did I do this time?”

Derrick blinked twice, to make sure she was serious. “How many times had you done this?”

Now Ariana smiled. “I asked you first.”

“You were speaking perfect French, arguing with yourself. That, or someone I couldn’t see.” Derrick explained. “I understood only two sentences – ‘Orthos will reign,’ and ‘Time is the enemy.'”

“I wonder what it all means?” Ariana shrugged her shoulders. “First the dream, and now the confusing vision.” She looked at him. “What else did I do? Maybe it’ll help?”

“You didn’t do anything else, but I noticed that Locket of yours turning black.” Derrick replied.

Ariana gasped. She and Derrick chorused: “Sabrina.”

As if on cue, the phone rang. Derrick answered.

“Hello.”

“Derrick, I have to talk to you. Alone.” It was Ariana’s twin, Luna. “It’s about Ariana.”

“How?”

“Tell her it’s Shannon, wanting you on a mission alone or something. Make it up, I don’t care.” Luna replied intently. “It’s really important.”

“Where?”

“The Café.” Luna said quickly. “In ten minutes.”

“I’ll be there.” Derrick hung up.

“Was that Shannon again?” Ariana asked.

“She needs to see me alone.” He told her. “Will you be alright now?”

Ariana nodded. “I should be.” She said, then kissed him. “I just need to take a shower. That always helps me think.”

“OK then.” Derrick headed out the door. “I’m warning you – be careful.”

Then he was gone, and she headed to the shower.

“You know, Luna, it’s pretty risky for us to meet like this.” Derrick met Luna at a booth. “What’s up?”

“Did she have a strange dream last night?” Luna asked, gesturing for him to sit.

“Yeah.” He thought for a moment. “Did you?”

“Yep.”

“You wouldn’t happen to have been the strange presence in her dream, were you?” He asked.

“Not by choice, mind you.” Luna replied. “Did she sense me there?”

“Would I know about it if she didn’t?” Derrick asked her with a grin.

She smiled back. “Good point.” She played with her necklace – one identical to Ariana’s own Locket. “I brought you here for a reason.”

“What is it?”

“Please, take care of her.” Luna pleaded. “I don’t want to lose her to that witch Sabrina.”

“You won’t, trust me.” Derrick placed a hand on hers. “I love her, Lu. Why would I want to hurt her?”

Luna shrugged. “I don’t know.” She took her hand away, embarrassed. “I just had a feeling something would happen, and I’m warning you now.”

“Do you know? I mean, can you tell me what’s going to happen, so I can make sure it won’t?” Derrick replied.

“All I know is that Sabrina has something to do with it.” Luna stared into his eyes. “I’m sorry, Derrick.”

She stood then, leaving him. He stopped her.

“I have something to tell you about Sabrina.” Derrick started, telling her of the vision Ariana just had.

Luna’s eyes began to water. “I was afraid this would happen. It’s beginning now.”

“What’s beginning now?” Derrick whispered, making her eyes meet his.

“The vision she had is going to come true.” Luna replied. “As for the French? Well, think about it, closely.” She wiped her eyes with a tissue. “I’m sorry, Derrick. I shouldn’t have brought you here now. You’re right, it was too risky. I was just so worried about my own dream, I had to tell you.”

Derrick hugged his former partner. “That’s okay, Luna.” He whispered in her ear. He kissed her cheek, tasting a salty tear. “You have a right to worry. I’ll see you around, okay?”

Luna smiled then, nodding.

She left then, and he let her go.

****

Derrick used what little Mystic power he’d learned to free himself from Damian’s dungeon.

What had given him the power? Was it the Protector’s Pendant he’d had around his neck?

It didn’t matter now…all that mattered was going to Devil’s Peak and saving his love, Ariana, from an otherwise horrifying death.

“Help! Derrick! Somebody – help me!” Ariana’s screams were louder as he went along.

Not knowing whether or not she could hear him, he yelled into the air. “I’m coming, Love! Hold on, please, just hold on!”

In the depths of Witches Kingdom, in the Dominion itself, that’s where he found her.

Instinctively, Derrick fell to his stomach beside her, reaching his hand out. He saw her face was cut and bruised, and she didn’t have her glasses on her face.

“Hurry, Derrick! I’m slipping!” She panicked, and her kicks were sending rocks down the cliff.

“Just relax, Love.” He was trying to relax himself as well. It wasn’t easy when the love of his life was hanging of a cliff in front of him. “Stop kicking. You’ll lose your grip that way.”

She listened, but was still frightened.

“See if you can grab my hand.” He instructed.

With one of her own, she carefully reached. Closer and closer her fingers inched towards his.

“That’s it…careful…” He whispered under his breath.

Her whole body shifted lower, and she screamed. He grabbed at her arm, but missed. “Ariana!”

She caught herself before falling to her death. “Derrick…I’m scared.”

“Use Magic if you have to.”

“I can’t. Sabrina.” Her voice was shaking. She could hardly speak.

The Maiden’s name was all he needed. “Not this time.” He replied, and reached further down, inching himself closer.

Time to take a chance. “Listen to me. I need you to reach up and take my arm. I’ll help you the rest of the way up.”

“Too risky.” Ariana replied. “You want me to die here?”

“It’s the only way.” Derrick replied, a tear misting in his eye. “Please, Love. You’ll have to trust me.”

Slowly, she took one of her arms and tried to reach his outstretched hand.

Quickly, he grabbed it.

Only half-way there. Time for evasive action. “Now, on the count of three, reach your other hand. I’ll be here to help you up.”

Ariana took a deep breath. Her hair was in her eyes, but she ignored it.

Together, they counted. “One, two,”

On ‘three,’ Ariana let go, and Derrick was there to catch her.

With all his strength, adrenaline pumping in his system, he pulled her up, taking her in his arms.

It was a long haul, but they still had to get home and treat the wounds.

As she clung to him, Derrick could hear her heart beating faster, slowing as she calmed herself. He pet her hair and kissed her forehead. “Shh. It’s okay. You’re safe with me.”

She cried into his chest, scared, but gracious tears. “Oh, Derrick! Thank you. You’ve saved my life once again.”

“Hey, I’m your Earthly Protector.” Derrick pulled her face back to meet her silver-blue eyes with his brown. “I’m not letting you get away that easily.”

The feeble attempt of a joke made her smile. He kissed her lips, dirty and cut as they may have been.

He smiled, leading her away from the Peak. “Come on, Love. Let’s go home.”

To her, home sounded wonderful.

#5 Foreign Lingo

Prologue:

Lost Kin

Danielle tossed and turned, trying to keep herself warm on the cold streets of Detroit. She was alone, she was afraid, and she was cold.

She whispered a French lullaby softly to herself, reminding her of her lost parents. She didn’t know how it happened, but it did, and now she was left on the streets to fend for herself.

Please, whoever is listening. Help me find my parents. She thought in a French-lilted accent in her mind. She was Canadian, but borne of the Estate-Unis – United States. I’m afraid of the monsters in the night.

It was Ariana Sister who heard the call – and she wanted so badly to rush to the young Dreamer’s side.

I promise, Dreamer Danielle. I’ll help you find your lost parents. Ariana sent to her. Please, hang on.

Ariana awoke from the dream with a tear running from her cheek to the pillow. She knew how awful it was to live alone, with no one to call your own. No home, no parents, no one but yourself. She’d lived it all too often. With a heaved sigh, Ariana closed her eyes once again, welcoming her pleasant Dream Realm sleep.

In the morning, Danielle stretched her muscles.

“Oy!” She heard a male voice growl. “Ya gonna have ta move, Danny-girl!”

She looked up to face her alley-mate, Terry. Just as herself, Terry had no last name.

She scooted to make room for the muscular elder man. Judging by his clothes, he hadn’t showered or bathed in months. Realizing herself, Danielle thought the same thing. “Pardon moi, Monsieur.” Danielle replied softly.

“No ‘arm dun, eh love?” He replied in a thick British accent, nudging her arm.

“Oui, Monsieur.” Was all she could muster, in order not to wretch from the smell. She stood.

“Off t’find yur folks?” Terry asked. “Tis early?”

“Oui,” She replied again. “I have to find them.” Her English was bad, so she carefully pronounced the words.

“G’luck, Lass.” Terry saluted.

As she turned to leave, “Merci, Monsieur Terry. Au Revoir.”

At that, she was on her way once more. The day ahead of her might have looked bleak, but the yesterdays had been much worse. Somehow, the thought gave her hope.

“Ariana!” She heard someone calling her name. Ariana shook out of her trance to face her boyfriend and partner, Derrick Reading.

“I’m sorry, what were you saying?” Ariana asked, embarrassed. Had she gone into another clairvoyant trance and not known it?

Derrick’s brown eyes danced. “Nothing, Love.” He said. “I was just telling you about my last class. That’s all.”

“Oh. Okay.” Ariana turned to the meal in front of her.

Why should she have this expensive food when there was a young Dreamer out there, somewhere, with next to nothing?

“What are you thinking about?” Derrick dared to ask.

She looked up. “I heard a Dreamer’s cry for help.”

Derrick stared. “Are you going to?”

Ariana nodded. “Of course. This young Dreamer is just like me – lost all alone, looking for her lost family. I want to help her.”

Derrick placed his napkin on the table from his lap. “How do you supposed we do that?”

“We’ll Crusade.”

“I guess it would be alright, just as long as you’re careful.”

“Of course I’ll be careful, Derrick.” Ariana replied. “You’ll be with me.” She paused. “That is, if you want to join me in Detroit.”

Detroit? Derrick thought. What was a Dreamer doing in such a terrible city? “When do we start?”

“Right now.”

Derrick looked into her silver-blue eyes. “You do know we have to tell Shannon, don’t you?”

Shannon Ryan was their boss at the detecting agency of the System. She made the rules, and they were expected to follow.

“Sure.” Ariana told him. “I’ll log everything, for future reference, of course.”

Derrick laughed. His lovely Ariana Sister was a card sometimes, and she really knew when to liven up his moods. Staring into her eyes tenderly, he said, “I love you.”

Ariana blushed. “I love you, too. Now, let’s go before this Dreamer gets away from range.”

He nodded, and they left their forgotten meals at the table. Derrick knew by ‘range’ Ariana meant her Mystic Powers were triggering again. She sometimes had no control over them, and he was always afraid of losing her. Derrick almost lost her during the last Crusade, and he didn’t want it to happen again.

Certainly by him being there with her this time, it won’t happen – right?

They were at the Commons Room in no time, ready to Crusade.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Derrick asked her.

She squeezed his hand. “Yes, Derrick. I do. I lived her life for a while on the streets, and I know how scary it can get late at night. I just want to help her.”

They held hands and chanted together in one voice:

“Moy Yam Tor Ham Day,

“Take me away,

“My heart, my soul, and All I seem,

“Take me now to the Realm of dreams!”

Derrick could feel his Realm spin around his body. He didn’t dare open his eyes before they arrived.

Ariana felt it from the bottom of her being, her Mystic Magic taking them to the Dream Realm, without sleeping. Their whole bodies disappeared there, and they found a vision of the Dreamer Danielle.

Quickly, they jumped through the Dream-scape, being careful not to lose grip of each other’s hands.

They landed in an alleyway, late at night.

Ariana and Derrick opened their eyes when they heard a scream.

“Aw, bloody day!” The rough voice startled them.

Ariana was the first to speak, while her partner was getting used to the time change. “Please, sir. Don’t be afraid.”

The man looked at the bag in his hand, then threw it against a wall. “Neva’ ag’n will I t’uch anotha’ drop.”

“That’s all very well, sir, but you can’t tell anyone we’re here.” Derrick was back to his old self in no time.

“Can you tell us if you know a girl named Danielle?” Ariana asked him cautiously.

The man stood, then stepped back, scared himself. “Aye, I do. What of it?”

“We’re here to help her find her parents.” Derrick replied.

“She left ‘while ago.” The man replied.

“Which way did she go?” Ariana asked him.

He pointed to the left, and the couple were gone, leaving the man gawking in wonder.

Derrick and Ariana found her nearly an hour later, begging for change.

A few paces away from Danielle, Ariana took Derrick’s arm. He leaned and listened to her whisper,

“Let me handle this, okay?”

He nodded, smiling. “Gladly. I’ll be right here, waiting.”

Ariana strode over to the pretty red-head.

Danielle didn’t know what to expect. “Hello.” She squeaked when Ariana stood beside her.

“I’m here to answer a dream of yours.” Ariana said softly in French.

Danielle looked at her strangely, then Ariana explained her purpose.

“You were listening to my thoughts?” Danielle asked in French. Ariana nodded. “Who are you?”

In English this time, Ariana introduced herself. “My name is Ariana Sister. I once lived a life like yours.”

“Where are you from?” Danielle wanted to know.

Ariana held her arm out for Danielle to take her hand. Cautiously, Danielle took it.

“That’s the interesting part.” Ariana replied in French with a grin. She walked over to where Derrick was waiting.

“Who is this?” Danielle asked.

“This is Derrick Reading, my partner and boyfriend.” Ariana replied. “Derrick, meet Danielle, the Dreamer girl I told you about.”

Derrick held his own arm out, but Danielle looked at it strangely.

“Don’t be afraid of us, Danielle.” Derrick said softly. “We’re here to help you.”

Danielle stared at him, a confused look on her face. Derrick repeated it in French, to which she smiled.

“I know. Thank you.” Danielle nodded. “I don’t know how to repay you for your kindness.”

“Wait until we find your parents with you.” Ariana hugged the girl’s shoulders. “That will be thanks enough.”

#6: To Change Time:

Prologue:

A Double Dilemma

Ashlynn and AJ waited at the bus terminal for it to arrive, taking them far away. Away from the pain, anguish, hurt, and despair of their parent’s death. AJ knew his twin sister was in mourning – so was he, to a certain extent. He was glad it was all over.

Where were they going? Not even Ashlynn knew. They were just going – away.

AJ held onto her hand, and wiped a tear from her cheek. Their eyes met and a silent message was between them: “It’ll be okay. I promise.”

Ashlynn snuggled to her brother’s chest, glad he survived the horror with her. He was the one to save her from the burning house. Now they had nowhere to go…no home…no hope.

The bus came round the corner, and AJ clutched his camera with one hand, his sister’s waist in the other.

Before boarding, AJ looked at the clock.

The time had come to say goodbye, and move on.

It was Derrick Reading who woke up from the dream. Quickly, he woke his partner up from her slumber.

“Ariana, wake up.” Ariana Sister moaned her response. “I had a Dreamer vision.”

She was awake now. Ariana turned on the lamp and put her glasses on. “You what?”

He sat next to her, explaining his dream.

“How odd, for you to have a Dreamer vision.” Ariana remarked.

Derrick nodded. “No kidding. What’s more is they’re in town.”

“Where in Shore Point?”

He shrugged. “I honestly don’t know, but I’m sure you’ll be able to sense them soon. They’re in trouble.”

“Aren’t they all?” Ariana remarked. She climbed out of bed. “Let’s wake Shannon. She’ll have to authorize us to leave the System in order to find them.”

Derrick knew Shannon Ryan was the boss at the System, a teenage-detective agency in lower California. What she says, goes, he always thought.

In moments, the duo was at Shannon’s room door. She was there, waiting in front of it.

“What’s up, you two?”

“We need your permission to leave.” Ariana replied softly.

Shannon yawned. “When, and for how long?”

“Now, and as soon as the Dreamers’ case is solved.”

“Whatever that may be, right?” Shannon smiled at her cousin Ariana.

Ariana smiled, hugging Shannon. “Thanks, Shan.”

As they left, Shannon cried, “Be careful out there, you two!”

To herself, she thought, I hope they don’t get into any trouble they can’t handle.

Ariana and Derrick left the secure housing of the System only to find it was raining outside.

“Great. I should have watched the weather more.” Ariana admitted.

“No problem.” Derrick smiled at her, covering them both with an umbrella. “Does this help?”

Ariana giggled. “Yeah, I guess so, but it’s not that far to the limo.”

“I know.” Derrick kissed her cheek. “I just didn’t want us to get wet.”

“Heaven forbid we ruin Landry’s seats.” Ariana giggled.

“‘Eh, dat ain’t nuttin’ to laugh ’bout.” Came a husky voice from behind them. They turned to see Adam Landry himself, the head chauffeur of the System. He tugged at his tie. “I take pride in my work.”

They laughed, and Landry grinned, taking Derrick’s umbrella.

“Where to, guys?” Landry seated himself in the drivers’ seat after opening the door for them.

Ariana and Derrick looked at each other. “The Shore Point Central Mall.”

“Central it is.” Landry replied, tipping his hat. He sat back and put the car in drive. “What’s da mission?”

“I knew you’d ask that.” Ariana smiled at his reflection in the rear view mirror.

“I’m da limo driver – shouldn’t I know where da System’s operatives are goin’?” Landry quipped.

Derrick relayed his dream to Landry, then the mission. “We have to find them before they get themselves killed.”

“Dat bad, eh?” Landry commented with a strange look on his face. “Well, I wish da best to ya.”

“Thanks, Landry.” Ariana replied. “We appreciate it.”

“‘Course ya do.” The limo driver winked. “I understand.”

This made Ariana giggle. The limo stopped in front of the Shore Point Central Mall.

It was still early, so hardly anyone saw them arrive.

“Thanks for the ride, Landry.” Ariana replied, stepping out after Derrick. “We’ll call you when we need you.”

“Alright then. See ya.” With that, the limo left.

Oddly enough, it had stopped raining. Ariana shrugged it off, thinking nothing of it.

“Well, where should we start?” Derrick was dying to know.

Ariana’s stomach growled. “First, we eat. Then we look.”

Derrick took her hand. “I agree.”

After a light lunch of sandwiches at the local diner inside the mall, they headed back outside. Ariana watched as a bus unloaded a handful of passengers, and she spotted a couple huddled together, scared.

“I think that’s them.” Derrick had seen them too. “I didn’t actually get a good look at them. The only thing that stuck in my mind was the boy’s camera.”

“Right.” Ariana teased. “Whatever. Let’s go.”

With a sigh, he followed Ariana to the couple.

“Excuse me,” Ariana called, getting the boy’s attention. She and Derrick caught up with them. “Can we talk to the two of you?”

The boy recognized Derrick. “You!”

Derrick didn’t know what to make of it. “I’m not here to haunt you, no matter what we dreamt.”

“We’re here to help you.” Ariana finished.

The boy held his mate closer. “Get away from me! Can’t you see you’re upsetting her?”

Indeed, his mate was on the verge of tears, she was so afraid.

Slowly, Ariana placed a hand on the girl’s arm. She closed her eyes and gave the girl an image of what she was. The girl looked at Ariana with a small smile.

“Ash, don’t let ’em get to ya.” The boy scolded his mate.

“Somehow, I trust them.” Ash replied in a whisper.

Ariana took her hand from Ash’s arm. “Are you okay?”

Ash shook her head. She turned to the boy. “AJ, I want them to help us.”

AJ sighed, giving up. He turned to Derrick. “Why did you haunt my dream?”

“I swear – I didn’t do it on purpose.” Derrick replied. He looked around. “Can we go somewhere alone?”

“We don’t have anywhere to go.” Ash began to sniffle.

Ariana hugged her once AJ let her go. “We’ll take you somewhere safe. Follow us.”

Ariana turned to Derrick and nodded. “I’ll call Landry. He’ll take us to the County.”

The County was a secret meeting place where System operatives could gather and discuss things otherwise unable to be said. It was a little run-down house up the hill from the System building itself. There were many passageways to the house from the System, left from when the agency began.

It didn’t take long for Landry to arrive.

“Ash, AJ, I’d like you to meet our friend, Landry.” Ariana’s soft voice announced.

Landry tipped his hat, knowing not to say a word.

“Where are we going?” AJ asked Derrick. “You still haven’t told us your names.”

“Our names are Ariana and Derrick.” Ariana replied. “We’re special agents from a secret agency called the System, not far from here. Right now, we’re taking you to a house not far from the System itself.”

“There, we’ll be able to talk in private about the Crusader mission.” Derrick explained.

Both Ash and AJ stared at one another. “Huh?”

Ariana and Derrick explained how they knew the couple. “I’m what’s known as a Mystic Sister.” Ariana replied. “I’m also the Dream Realm’s Young Guardian. Somehow, my partner here has found you in the Dream Realm, lost and alone. Myself, I had a vision of a death of one of you, only right now, I seemed to have forgotten which one.”

“What’ she’s trying to say is this – We’re here to save you, help you, and keep you alive.” Derrick replied. He looked to AJ pleadingly. “We can only do this if you trust us.”

AJ looked at his lap, then his sister. “Do you think we should?”

Ash nodded. “We have no other choice now.”

“I hope you guys know what you’re doing.” AJ remarked. “Otherwise, we’ll all be up a creek without a paddle.”

Ariana and Derrick looked at one another and thought the same thing.


Chapter One:

Peculiar visions

Ash followed Ariana through the corridor of the building. They held onto dear life when the ground shook. Earthquake!

Ash was so scared – where was AJ when she needed him? Her own twin brother wasn’t even there to help her get through the quake.

“AJ!” Ash screamed, but no words were heard above the noise.

She and Ariana crouched in between a doorway, arms over their heads. Wet, scared tears ran down her cheeks, and she curled into a ball.

Were they going to make it out alive?

Ashlynn woke from the dream, panting. Ariana was there beside her, patting her hand.

“What happened, Ash?” Ariana whispered, making sure not to wake the boys.

It was three days after they met Ariana and Derrick, and more than ever did she fear for her life.

Ashlynn didn’t know what to say. Were these people the cause of the pain, or the cure? “I dreamt I was…in an earthquake, only it wasn’t here.” She stood and looked around. “This time, you were in it, protecting me.”

Ariana followed her friend to the window. “This dream has happened before?”

Ashlynn nodded, and told her the story. “For a month, I’ve been having that dream. Only, I don’t know what it means. Before my parents died in a horrible house fire, which the only survivors were AJ and myself, I began to have it. It doesn’t have a beginning, or an end. Since meeting you, you have been there, protecting me.”

“The weird thing is: I usually dream of AJ, my twin brother protecting me. He always has.” Ashlynn’s voice turned sad. “This dream, he hasn’t been there.”

“Did you see him in your dream at all?”

“Not since the fire, no.” Ashlynn replied softly. “Do you know what it means?”

Ariana thought for a moment. This dream could be the very thing that brought them to her. It may as well be the mission. She shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it.”

Ashlynn yawned, covering her mouth. This made Ariana smile. “For now, let’s get back to bed and welcome sleep. Okay?”

Ashlynn nodded.

Ariana headed to bed silently. As her head hit the pillow, she began patrolling the Dream Realm. It had been the second time since Lord Guardian O’Dell had named her the Young Guardian. The first of her stops was to Ash’s own Dream Realm, just to make sure she was really okay.

Ariana noticed an earth-shattering crash overhead, from a fallen painting.

There was Ash, tucked in a corner, shaking. Ariana rushed to her side.

“It’s okay, it’s only a dream.” Ariana tried to assure her. She looked up at the clock – why?

Five o’clock? What did the time have to do with Ashlynn’s dream? Ariana asked herself, not really sure how she knew Ash’s full name.

Ashlynn pointed to the distance. Ariana followed her gaze, where she saw a vent overhead.

Someone came up behind them, while the commotion of the quake was still rushing. A crowd of people were scattered in a panic, but this person behind them was the only one standing still. Ariana sensed him and turned to face AJ.

“Here are the disks you asked for.” AJ handed her a package.

“Nothing was on them, right?” Ariana asked, shielding herself and Ashlynn from anything else that could fall.

AJ shook his head. “Now what?”

Ariana shook her head. “I don’t know. It’s not my dream.” She turned to Ashlynn. “What happens next, Ash?”

“This is where I die.” Ashlynn whispered.

Ariana and AJ gasped.

Ariana wanted a say in this. “I’m not going anywhere, and neither are you.”

Ashlynn stared at AJ. Ariana followed. Ashlynn’s face was saddened, as if she knew something about AJ Ariana didn’t.

Ariana held on to Ashlynn for dear life. She wasn’t about to let her die in her dreams, especially since a Dream Realm Crusader was working on the mission.

Ashlynn’s body disappeared, and another vision came to Ariana’s mind.

Her friend was underneath the vent when something bulky and black came out of it. In slow motion, Ariana looked at the clock again, noting fifteen minutes had passed. Ariana couldn’t make it out.

Ashlynn was reaching out for Ariana’s hand, but AJ held her back.

“What is to be, is to be. Leave it alone.” AJ warned under his breath, then turned to Ashlynn’s terrified face.

Time crept slower, and Ariana watched in horror as the black object fell atop of Ashlynn’s head, knocking her unconscious.

AJ let Ariana go, and she rushed to Ashlynn’s side.

Ariana the Dream Realm Crusader was afraid as she held Ash’s lifeless body. No chant could save this Young One’s life. Not here, not anywhere.

She only hoped Ashlynn’s dream was just that – only a dream.

#8: Hidden Obliteration

Prologue:

Guardians Visions

Ariana Reading tossed in her sleep, a certain trouble plaguing her mind.

“Young Guardian….bring the Crusaders…” It was Lord Guardian O’Dell’s voice, coming from the Dream Realm.

“What’s going on, Lord Guardian?” Ariana’s dream-self asked into the air. She had a feeling – a dread – going through her mind.

Never before had she been this scared.

She looked around, and still had no reply from the Elder Guardian of the Dream Realm.

“Guardian!” She called into the air, then took flight.

It was an ability she’d recently learned from the unicorn Guardian. She flew and surveyed the Dream Realm, not finding Lord Guardian O’Dell anywhere.

She called his name this time. “O’Dell! Where are you?”

Somehow, it was different. She looked down and saw a cloud of – oh, she didn’t know what it was, it just scared her to bits. The cloud seemed to be devouring the Dream Realm – piece by piece, bit by bit.

She had to make it to the Mystic Sisters’ Palace. Turning around, she flew until she saw the Palace below her, and descended to where Enchantra was waving her down.

“Young Guardian!” Enchantra breathed. “Thank goodness you have come!”

“What’s going on, Enchantra?” Ariana asked the Elder of the Mystic Sister twins. “Where’s O’Dell?”

“In here.” The woman replied, taking her to the den. In a corner, she could faintly see Lord Guardian’s vision – but he was different.

“Is he losing power?” Ariana asked, not sure she was ready to succeed him if he dies. She went to him and touched the jewel beneath his horn, getting an instant vision.

The cloud of destruction was on his mind, and he was fading fast.

“Young Guardian,” O’Dell whispered. His voice was raspy, and his image was half-unicorn, half-dragon. “Bring the Crusaders.”

“Why, My Lord Guardian?” Ariana asked, petting his once-colorful mane. “What’s going on? Why is everything disappearing?”

O’Dell moaned in pain. Ariana hugged him, a tear coming to her eye.

“Go – tell the Crusaders of the silent destruction.” O’Dell instructed. “Keep believing, Young Guardian. Please.”

“In what? Keep believing in you? I don’t understand.”

In moments, O’Dell was sleeping, resting from whatever he was fighting.

Ariana kissed his jewel before sitting up. She turned to an awaiting Enchantra. “Are you able to tell me what’s going on in the Dream Realm?”

“Only a clue, Young Guardian.” Enchantra hugged her. “A secret destruction will wipe the Dream Realm away if the Crusaders don’t help Dreamers believe again.”

She was woken from her slumber, as was her sister Luna Morehouse beside her at the System.

“Woah,” Ariana whispered in the dark.

“Intense.” Luna concluded.

“Want to tell the guys?” Ariana asked her.

Luna nodded. “We have to. You tell Derrick and Aaron,”

“And you tell Shane, Shannon, and Nick.” Ariana replied. “The Crusaders must reunite before we go back to Hill View.”

“A secret destruction?” Luna asked her. “What does that mean?”

Ariana shrugged, and stretched with a yawn. “Too bad about Mark…” Her face was reminiscent.

Luna placed a hand on her twin’s shoulder. “We have Panther, don’t we?”

Ariana smiled, knowing who their new Companion friend Panther really was – Mark Grey, her adopted brother. “Yeah, and Marie, don’t forget.”

Luna replied. “We have more Crusaders than we ever had before. Maybe the original Crusaders will help us with this?”

“O’Dell didn’t tell me which Crusaders, so I guess Shannon’s will help as well.”

Luna stood and snapped her fingers with a frown. She wanted to use magic to change her clothes, as she was used to doing in a hurry, but got nothing. “I forgot, we’re Earthbound.”

“That’s right, little sister.” Ariana replied. “No Mystic Magic for a year.”

“How can we help if we have no Magic?” Luna asked her sister, finding herself an outfit to wear and changing into it.

Ariana did the same, and they ended up wearing identical outfits with different-colored T-Shirts. Ariana’s was purple while Luna’s was pink. “I don’t know.”

“I mean, we Crusade with the Mystic Magic, don’t we?” Luna asked.

“I’ve been going to the Dream Realm long before I ever even heard of Mystic Magic.” Ariana reminded her. “Let’s go and tell them, before anything else happens to O’Dell and the Sisters.”

Luna nodded and the girls were gone.


Chapter One:

Crusader Unity

When the girls met up again, it was in the Commons’ room, where they found everyone gathered.

Their cousin, Shannon Ryan, came up to them. “The Dream Realm’s fading away.”

Ariana nodded. “I know. I visited the Palace and they told me.”

“We saw it crumbling in places, but we don’t know what to do about it.” Luna added.

“All you know is to get the Crusaders together and Crusade to help – right?” Shannon confirmed.

The twins nodded, not asking how their cousin knew. Shannon was a practicing Telepath, and was even learning a little clairvoyance. Her silver-blue eyes were serious when she turned to Ariana. “Well, you were there – tell us what’s going on, Young Guardian.”

Ariana gulped. She didn’t like being called that by anybody but the Dream Realm’s Companions, O’Dell, and the Sisters. “Gather around me. With your Magic, we’ll Crusade to the Dream Realm and find out.”

Shannon had temporarily forgotten the twins, being newly married two months ago, were Earthbound. No Magic, no Crusading (until now), nothing having to do with the Mystics. They had to learn to live on their own without resorting to Magic at a whim.

She thought of something, and wondered aloud. “Do you think Julia would be able to help out?”

Luna shook her head, knowing Julia was Shannon’s new-found twin. “One,” She counted on her fingers, “she’s not a Crusader. Two, she hasn’t been to the Dream Realm before, and three, her Mystic Magic isn’t powerful enough to make the journey.”

“Luna’s got a point.” Ariana heard someone over her and turned to see her new husband, Derrick Reading. “Julia’s not experienced enough to handle the demons of the Dream Realm.”

“Alright, no Julia.” Shannon replied. “But maybe…”

The twins and Derrick watched as Shannon blew on her fingers, whistling loud enough for everyone to turn. Loraine “Love Joy” Joyce, Cindy “Cool Cat” Carmichael, Bridget “Big Guy” Guy, Jamie “Jammins” Stewart, Nicholas McNathaniels, Derrick Reading, Shane “Shadow” Morehouse, Aaron Schmidt, and the twins paid attention when Shannon called.

“Listen up, people. It’s my understanding all of us had the same dream, to which Ariana – the Dream Realm’s Young Guardian – starred in.” Shannon replied. Her agents and cousins nodded. “Now, according to Lord Guardian O’Dell, who is slowly losing his magic, the Dream Realm itself is fading away in a secret destruction. Ariana has witnessed this first-hand, and tells us O’Dell said to bring all Crusaders together.” Shannon turned to Ariana. “Does this mean the Companion Crusaders as well?”

Ariana nodded. “Katherine and Kitten’s Claw, along with Wolf and Toby,”

“Not to mention Panther and Marie now,” Luna interrupted.

“They all have their own Companion Magic.” Ariana told her.

“This is terrible!” Cool Cat cried, nearly in tears. “Our Lord Guardian’s in danger, and even he doesn’t know what’s going on.”

“I want no part of any Magic, Shannon.” Nick spoke up with a scowl. “You know what Sabrina almost did to me.”

It was true, Shannon recalled. Sabrina, the Dream Maiden, had reminded him of the death of his father in the Dream Realm Wars. According to her, Nick had killed his own father in cold blood. Shannon and the other First-Generation Crusaders knew differently, and now, so did he. It was all Sabrina’s doing – putting Mr. McNathaniels under a spell and placing the blame on Nick.

“I’m still recuperating from the emotional wounds caused by her in the Crusade.” Nick replied.

Ariana, even not really knowing the circumstances of his odd behavior, had to speak up. She was angry at him for even thinking of Sabrina’s actions. “Nick, you have to understand something –”

“No, you have to understand something, Ariana.” Nick spat. “I don’t want any part of Mystic Magic. That’s what killed my father, and I don’t want it to kill me.”

Ariana was silenced, but stared into his eyes. “You don’t want to lose Shannon. She’s the only family you have left. That’s the truth, isn’t it?”

He looked away.

“We have to help O’Dell.” Shane said. “With or without you, Nick.” He turned to the group. “Who’s with me?”

“I am.” Ariana, Luna, Derrick, Aaron, Big Guy, Cool Cat, Jammins, Chips, and Love Joy all gathered around Shane.

Looking at Nick, Shannon said it too, then joined them in the giant circle.

“If you think I’m letting you leave without me, Crusaders, you’ve got another thing coming.” Nick realized he was duped and joined in the circle.

The Crusaders began the chant, and were on their way to the Dream Realm’s Mystic Palace.

#9: The Evil Twin Scenario

Prologue:

Luna’s Switch

Jean! Jean! Where are you? The voice was in Luna’s mind, coming from the distance.

“I’m Luna, not Jean!” She tried to call back.

Help me, brother! I’m frozen in time –

Horrifying terror stripped Luna of her wits, and she tried to get to whoever was calling her.

Brother?

What was going on? Had she done the same as her sister – become a Dreamer, by accident?

“Where are you?” The question on Luna’s lips turned from a female voice to a male.

Luna held her mouth. What’s happening to me? Am I turning into a boy?

No time for such stupid questions. Now was the time to find –

Who was she?

A name came to mind, and Luna called. “Jeanelle? Where are you?”

Luna’s head started to hurt, and she could feel herself getting closer and closer to the girl.

Never mind the gender switch, Aluna Lynne Morehouse! Get to that girl and save her before she –

A scream rung out of the air – and the girl was out of time.

Luna could faintly see an image in front of her now. The girl, black hair, olive skin, no doubt black eyes, was suspended in air. Her hair fell away from her perfectly-featured face.

Suddenly, she couldn’t move. “Jeanelle!” She cried, not really knowing where the name came from.

“Dare to defy death, my daughter!” An evil creature – not unlike the Dream Merchant, and twice as ugly – cried out in the air. His tall blue body was covered in navy rags, but the eyes. The eyes, she’d seen before….

Where?

Dominionite Magic? A simpleton Dominionite playing with her mind?

Couldn’t be… the Dominionites all perished or were returned to the Grey Area of the Dream Realm when the Dominion’s own Wall fell.

Who was this gargoyle-like creature?

Wait – he wasn’t a gargoyle, but a troll. Or was he both?

What was this grotesque creature, and why was he holding the raven-haired beauty hostage in a frozen trance?

Another scream rung in the air, and the girl, Jeanelle, was dead.

In a puff of blue and grey smoke, the creature, whoever he was, disappeared.

With her own mouth screaming out “Jeanelle!” Luna awoke in a cold sweat.

Luna Morehouse, sleeping at the System’s headquarters, her son Caleb Ryan, and husband Shane were beside her. She had pushed the two beds of Fourth-Floor’s own Ginger Room together. Across the hall were the Readings, her own twin’s family: Derrick Reading, Ariana – her identical twin sister, and the children, Kelly Erin, Bradley Allen, and their twin sons, Mark-Antony and Andrew James.

Luna now looked at her son, Caleb, who was snuggled against his father. Her eyes fell to her husband and his special necklace, draped loosely around his neck.

I hope Shane doesn’t wake up, sensing this with the Protector’s Pendant, Luna shook her head, standing.

When the twins were reunited after eighteen years apart, the boys, Shane Morehouse and Derrick Reading, had become their Earthly Protectors. With the special Protector’s Pendants each wore, the boys were able to literally sense their loves in trouble. The Protector’s Pendants held a little of the twins’ own Mystic Magic, and were able to use the Magic whenever the girls were in danger of any kind. Trouble and danger came to Derrick and Ariana naturally, being Ariana as the Dream Realm’s Young Guardian. Usually, Luna tried to stay away, being the more responsible twin at times.

Right now, she wished this dream was haunting Ariana instead of her.

Luna made her way to the balcony and leaned over the metal railing.

What does the dream mean, Lord Guardian? Can you tell me? She wondered in her mind, closing her eyes. Of all the Mystic Magic and power Luna had, she still couldn’t keep the danger and excitement away.

After all, she was the Young Guardian’s own twin sister.

In her dream, why was she a boy, named Jean?

Luna sighed and felt arms wrap around her waist, letting out a small moan.

“Why are you so troubled, sweetheart?” Shane’s warm voice soothed in her ear.

She turned to face him, tucking a strand of reddish-blond hair behind her ear. “I had a dream.”

“So I heard.” Shane’s joking face made her smile. Luna looked over his shoulder at her – their – son. Shane kissed her lips. “He’s fine, Luna. Relax.”

Luna hugged him. “I know, Shane. I’m just worried for him, that’s all.”

“Tell me another one.” Shane joked, kissing her forehead.

Luna smiled a little, laughing softly.

He kissed her lips again. “You know, no matter how long we’ve been together, I never seem to tire of kissing you.”

“Nor I of you.” Luna’s silver-blue eyes sparkled.

After a moment, the couple still held each other tight.

“Shane,” Luna spoke up softly, standing in her place. “Will we always be together?”

Shane pulled her face away. “What makes you ask me that? You know we will. When we married, I promised my love eternal.”

“I know you did, but I can’t help wondering.”

Shane was silent. She was speaking in tongues again, and he didn’t exactly understand right away. “Does this have anything to do with your prophetic dream?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know what it means, but I’m scared, Shane. Really scared.”

“I could sense it.” Shane replied, answering her silent question. “Right now, do you think you could pull yourself away from the balcony to go come to bed?”

“I’m not tired.” Luna protested, then saw his grin.

“Did I say anything about sleeping?” He teased, picking her up and kissing her passionately.

Trust Shane Morehouse to take the short-lived pain away in a romantic frenzy. That’s what she loved about him, and was the very reason she married him.

Chapter One:

Vision Explained – sort of

In the morning, it was Caleb that woke Luna. “Wakey, wakey, Mommy!”

He pulled the covers from her face and flooded her with kisses.

“Alright, I’m up!” Luna had to laugh at her rambunctious three-year-old.

“Auntie Ariana’s here!” Caleb cried in her face.

What did her sister want?

Luna woke with a yawn, and her son was off her chest in moments, after a bear hug and kiss from her.

She looked up to see her twin sister, along with her children around her.

“Kelly, Bradley, why don’t you take the twins and Caleb to play?” Ariana suggested.

Kelly gasped lightly before saying, “Yes, Momma. Come on, Bradley.”

Kelly took Bradley’s hand and led him, and the three identical boys, out of the room.

Ariana sat down next to her sister, looking her in the eye.

“What’s up?”

“The dream you had last night.” Ariana replied.

“How did you know?”

“Come on, Lu. I’m the Young Guardian.” Ariana teased her. “It was on my mind, and woke me up when – what was her name?”

“Jeanelle,” Luna gave her, interrupted.

“Jeanelle. Yes. When she screamed, I saw your face. You turned from a male to yourself again.”

“I guess so.” Luna replied with a shrug. Then she thought about the girl. “Were you the girl?”

“No, thank O’Dell.” Ariana breathed. “If it were, I would’ve died as well.”

Luna shook her head. “How do you know?”

“I’ve been Crusading longer than you. I know the rules, I’ve played the cruel game.” Ariana replied. “Doesn’t matter now. What’s important is keeping this from Shannon and the other agents.”

“What about the boys?” Luna wondered.

“Shane and Derrick will, of course, have to know. As for our sons and my daughter and step-son, well, they’ll find out in time.” Ariana promised. “Thing is, I have to help you, and you have to help me.”

“Is this some kind of twisted twin thing?” Luna asked with dread in her voice.

“Worse.” Ariana’s eyes were serious and her gaze was tough enough to kill. “I sense evil in you – some unknown dark side to the Mystic Magic.”

“What could make Mystic Magic evil?” Luna wondered.

“I don’t know, and I don’t think I want to find out.” Ariana shook her head. “Unfortunately, we’ll have to follow your dreams night after night while you’re here, just to fight the dark magic.”

“To keep Shannon’s wedding a wonderful occasion, we have to keep my –”

Now Ariana interrupted her. “Our,”

“Our dream mission a secret from her.” Luna replied.

Luna stood up and raised her arms, surrounding herself in a violet-and-red ribbon of Mystic Magic. It changed her image from in nightclothes to a nice pair of jeans and a stylish blouse.

Ariana smiled, shaking her head. “Come on, Lu. Let’s see how our boys are doing.”

“I’m surprised you don’t disapprove of my using magic.” Luna replied as they walked Fourth-Floor’s corridor.

“Why would I? I’m only your twin.” Ariana teased her. “I love using the Mystic Magic at times, too, you know. It’s a good feeling knowing we’re no longer Earthbound. Being here, I can be myself – the whole, Mystic self.”

“Derrick and Shane don’t like us using our gifts, you know.”

“Sure, I know. I also happen to know that Derrick was at first afraid of it. Then, as we began to Crusade for Shannon years ago, he began to lighten up, and trust me. He knows now how I can control myself, and even how to get me out of a trance, if need be.”

“Of course.” Luna wrapped an arm around her twin’s shoulders. She was very lucky to have her.

Ariana laughed and the twins headed to the playroom.

????

It felt good he was able to help her so long ago, when they first met. Sure, he was once afraid for her, afraid she’d kill herself with her unknown power. Afraid of losing her to the same fate Mr. McNathaniels, the late leader of the rival agency, the Network, had. Afraid of being left alone again. It was too sad to remember, but it was a part of him.

His perfect Dream Girl had indeed come to life years ago before the Crusade. He had helped her open up and was understanding, if somehow confused, of her Mystic Magic abilities.

Now, it was Ariana’s turn to help a fellow Mystic. It was going to be hard, he knew, but he also knew she could handle it. She was the Young Guardian, guardian of all Dreamer’s never-ending nightmares and advisor to the Realm.

He took her with him to bed, finding it in his heart to make her every ache and pain go away by a simple act of love-making. He loved her so much, it hurt. No amount of Mystic Healing would be able to take that pain away. Derrick Reading wouldn’t allow it.