Lyka's words kept haunting me.
I am the most powerful of the thirteen medallions. I am the key to open Loowa's Kingdom. I will be the answer to end the coming war.
If what she said was true, why me? What was it about me and me being chosen to be given such power?
"It's time for you to come, Big Brother."
I was surprised when a child suddenly appeared in front of me. I was about to enter our main gate when he spoke.
"I don't have any money, kid. Maybe tomorrow." No emotion betrayed my face.
"Wow, so judgmental. I don't need you, you need me," he said smiling.
"What do I need from a child like you?" My response was as annoyed as I was feeling.
"Tell me first what happened to you all day?" he asked and sat down on the plant box in front of the gate.
"Why should I tell you? What are you doing in my life?" My voice rose for this naughty boy. "Go home, maybe your mother is looking for you. Why are you still on the streets?"
I turned my back on the child and opened the gate. I was about to close it when I saw the child holding something.
"Don't you need it?" he said. He had in his hands the book I had been looking for all day.
"Where did you get that?" I asked, stunned. When I saw him holding the book, my legs almost trembled. Was that my book or was he also one of the Medallion Keepers like Lyka and me?
"I can read minds also Big Brother, so ask me directly," he said. He shifted his position behind me and looked up.
"There are so many stars in our world. But in the game you're going to enter, your eyes might not be happy with what happens."
I approached him and stood beside him. "What do you know about the other world? Who are you and why are you holding a book?" I asked urgently.
He turned to me and smiled at me. "I'm Bie, your Medallion Master!"
"Bie? Short for? Billy?"
He suddenly laughed at what I said. "Okay, just call me Billy."
"If you're a Medallion Master, why are you so young? Shouldn't you be older? Is that your power?" I asked and it made him laugh even louder.
"I'm probably getting older. You'll also understand when you think about it." I just shrugged at his personality.
"That book, why do you have that?" I changed the subject.
"Because you're careless. I told you to take care of it. But what happened? I saw it in the trash," he said and I got goosebumps all over.
"You? You're all that?" I asked, amazed even more.
"It's me. I'm the hermit in the forest, the guard in the CR, the woman on the bench, and this boy you're talking to now."
"You mean you can change form? Be anyone you want to be?"
"Yeah!" His short answer dropped my jaw.
"Your power is great. The one I met earlier can see the future."
"You've already met a medallion keeper. So that means Matty has already given his power," he said, smiling but not looking at me.
"Matty? Who is that? Lyka's medallion master?"
"Yes. They used to be my friends until..."
"Until?" I asked waiting for the sequel to what he would say.
"Until our friendship was broken because of the medallion. We were jealous of the power that caused us to split up. That's why the medallions split up," he said. I noticed the change in his face. Sad. Full of pleading.
"Lyka mentioned to me that the Great One gave the medallions to his disciples. Are you one of the disciples?" I asked.
"Yes. There are thirteen of us. The force is stronger when the Body Power is complete. When the medallion separates, it is easier for the Director to beat us. So I want you to find them all, as their leader."
"Body Power? I'm the leader? I don't understand." I gasped. How could I be a leader when there had been no votes? Did they even want to follow me?
"You are the mind of the medallion, Ezekiel. They will all follow you. You are the Dark Master Mind. Your power is what everyone wants to get. So you have no one to truly trust, not even Lyka," he told me seriously.
"Lyka too? But she treated me well."
"Not everyone is innocent, you can't trust anyone. Sometimes their monster personality is hidden," he answered as we sat there together.
"I heard that from Lyka when we saw a nerdy student. His power was like the wind," I said.
Billy came up to me and held me tightly, making me nervous. "Hershel. Avoid him. He can't be trusted," he said and I was startled.
"What's wrong with him that makes you look so scared?" I asked him.
"I'm not afraid of him. His hands are just deceptive. He's the one who almost killed me in the City of Conrad. Sharpen your mind Ezekiel. I didn't choose you for no reason. I chose you because I know you can right the wrong," he said firmly and then let go of my arm.
"What's the wrong that I need to right?"
"You'll know when you're in the world of the Loowas. Just a reminder, trust no one. The Director will play chaos. Even your closest friend can betray you in the end. If you can't find the keepers of other medallions until tomorrow, the Great One will do it for you. Your time is running out. Hurry up."
And in the blink of an eye, he was gone. I didn't even know how he gave the book to me. All I knew was, I was already living in a mystery that I never even thought I'd encounter in my life.
I just shrugged my shoulders and walked into my house. I was staring at the book I was holding. I was still amazed, just like the first time I had seen it.
I opened the first page of the book and my eyes suddenly widened as the printed photograph suddenly moved. The gate of Loowa's Kingdom.
Gradually the two gate wings opened as if inviting me in. Suddenly the photo froze and it no longer closed. It just stayed open.
I waited for it to move again but I was disappointed. It just stayed open like a new photo glued to the first page. Could it be that someone had already entered Loowa's Kingdom?
Suddenly the hair on my neck rose. I had a feeling something bad would happen. To my surprised, the page of the book moved even though I didn't move it. It stopped on the seventh page and I saw thirteen medallions wrapped around a mask.
What did the mask have to do with the medallions?
One by one the medallions lit up and words came alive. I didn't expect it. Was this the power that the medallion masters owned?
First, the Dark Master Mind Medallion flashed that Billy said I already had. Followed the Powerful Blue Hand that I think was held by the nerd I saw in the cafeteria earlier. Yellow Mighty Vision was next, held by Lyka. And another medallion, that I didn't know who owned, also lit up.
Brown Body Shifter
Invisible White Soul
Fast Pink Feet
Sharp Gray Ears
Pure Healing Heart
Deceitful Green Clone
Red Mouth Commander
Gold Elastic Hair
Magnetic Light Skin
Maroon Snap Illusionist
In the name of the medallion alone, you could feel its powers. But why couldn't the Great One defeat the Director if his medallions were so strong?
I needed to find another medallion keeper as soon as possible because I knew Loowa's Kingdom was open and waiting for us to arrive.
I closed the book and lay down. I would be able to think better if I got enough sleep. I closed my eyes and after a while, I fell asleep.
The next day I met Lyka who was happily smiling at me.
"Goodmorning, best friend!"
"You look so happy, ah?" I asked.
"Because we have something to celebrate. Let's go to the back of the school and I'll show you something," she said happily as she took my arm. I could do nothing but follow her.
I stopped walking to see the old building that had been abandoned for a long time.
"We're in a restricted area. It's not the back of campus anymore. Then what are we doing here? It's strictly forbidden to go here. I don't want Dean Sumaway to suspend me!"
"What are you, Ezekiel? No one will notice that we are here. Because no one dares to come here except us," she said while pointing at some students who enter the old building.
I looked at them before finally going inside. Who were the daring students who were not afraid to enter inside that old building? Weren't they terrified to enter it? Even I, who was quite brave, whimpered when I heard Dean Sumaway's name. What if I got called to his office?
"What are they doing here? How did you know that students were going in?" I wondered.
"Didn't you read the book earlier when you woke up? There's a message in it every day. And this is the message the book says," she said.
"No. What's the message of the book?" I asked Lyka while my hands on my head.
"That's the hard part for you, you depend too much on your mind. Study and follow the book. That's the answer so you don't lose the game."
"Okay. Will do it next time. Thanks for the reminder." I replied.
"Let's go. We might be late for the meeting. Be careful. There are many pitfalls before we get to the old building. You'll be fine if you don't want to die here." After Lyka said that, she ran away. She was running almost limply. I watched her retreating figure until I could no longer see her at the height of the wild cane.
I started walking. Why would I run? I didn't want to get tired and sweat because the first class hadn't started yet. What trap was he talking about? It looks like Lyka is thinking too much.
I had been walking for a few minutes but I still hadn't reached the old building. I should have been there by now. I tried to grasp at what was happening but I was shocked that I hadn't even left my seat. How did that happen? Hadn't I been walking since earlier?
I heard a crack in the distance so I suddenly ran towards the high ridges.
"Where is it?" said a woman I did not know. I heard no one speak but I knew in her mind she'd thought about it.
The sound I had heard was getting closer and closer to me. I was suddenly terrified because I didn't know what was going on around me. Were these the traps Lyka had been referring to?
A scream almost deafened my ears. Suddenly the footsteps that had been approaching me moved away. I followed the almost dying cry of a man. I could feel the pain with every word that came out of his mouth.
I came to a halt and saw a small man with three arrows stuck in his right leg. He sat on a rock and forcefully removed the arrows stuck in his leg.
I was shocked when a familiar woman suddenly appeared. I thought she would help the man but she just laughed at his condition.
"How are you, little boy? Looks like you don't deserve your power. We're still in the human world but it looks like you're going to die of the disease. What if we were in Loowa's Kingdom? Poor Kid!" She laughed, walking away.
I followed the woman's gaze as she raised her right hand. In a flash of snapping her fingers, the place I was standing on changed. The grass leading to the old building turned into a desert. The twigs became large cacti.
How did she do that? Was this her power? To change places with the snap of her fingers?
I turned again to the man who had been struggling with the disease. He was lying down as if he could no longer bear the pain he was feeling.
I ran to the man and felt his wrist. I was suddenly horrified that it was no longer throbbing. I shook his chest. He was gone! The man was dead.
But how? Who did this to him?
"In the world you had entered, you must have no pity! There is no place for those like him who are weak and defeated in this battle." These words startled me. I looked behind me and saw a man standing at a distance.
"I feel like you're weak too. But the power that envelops you is intense. What's your secret?" he asked me seriously once he was closer to me. "I smell danger."
"Who are you?" I stuttered.
"You'll meet me later, that's if you can finish the first game," he said while running away from me.
Because of what he had said I ran too. I ignored the man who had been killed for fear that the same fate would follow me. Now I understood Billy. I didn't just enter a war. This was a game. It was a game where if you didn't fight, you'd surely lose.
I avoided the large cactus that almost hit me. They seemed to be after my blood. It felt like this is the right time I could release my inner "great badass" that my friends Jerome and Limwel referred to me as.
In my avoidance of the cactus, I did not lose sight of the running of the tall man. He moved swiftly. Even I was taken aback when I looked at his lightning speed. He may have been the holder of the Fast Feet Medallion.
I sat on the first stairs I saw when I got to the front of the old building. I was tired and was sweating profusely all over. Finally, I had also arrived at the old building.
"Stand. You're the only one we've been waiting for," said a tall man with no emotion on his face. Did he have no manners? Didn't he see that I was too tired?
"I'll count to three. If you haven't stood yet..."
"This is it. I'll get up. I wasn't even given a rest," I said bitterly. It seemed like I had been on the campus for an hour but I was already tired.
I just followed the man and didn't ask what was happening.
My eyes were amazed at what I saw. The exterior of the abandoned old building had been nearly demolished in the long run, but the interior looked almost like pure gold. From flooring, walls, ceilings, and interior designs, it was like I was standing in an expensive hotel where only a millionaire could check-in.
Lyka greeted me with a smile. "I thought you wouldn't come," she said.
"You're still here?" I asked.
"It's been about four and a half hours," she replied.
"Huh? It feels like it's only been 10 minutes," I said.
"In the world of humans, yes. But here in the world of the Loowas, one day of yours is equal to one hour in our world."
My jaw dropped with what she said. Was it true? Because if it was true, it was so cool.
"Come here," I stopped when I heard a familiar voice. Right! It was Alvin. And I was right in my suspicion that he had a medallion. "We were bored waiting for you," he added. I would have answered but the man on the stairs spoke.
"Shut up, everyone!" he said sternly.
"Maybe you know why you're here?" he asked.
"What's the reason we're here?" a gentlewoman asked politely.
"You haven't read the book?" he asked.
"I read it. But I kinda didn't understand," the woman replied shyly.
"But you get here alive? Impressive," the fat man said, laughing as he clapped delightedly. He was the man under the dark sky yesterday.
I also watched the others inside the fancy place. We were all students. We are on the same campus.
"Enough," said the emotionless man.
"You are all called here so that you can know that the Loowa's Kingdom is open. And the Great One is waiting for you all."
"Great One? Shouldn't the one waiting for us be the Director's Black Spirit?" a man asked. Didn't he die earlier outside the building? Why did he come here? What power did he have?
The man looked at me and smiled. I suddenly turned my gaze to the man in front of us.
"You're right. The Black Spirit is also waiting but the Great One needs to prepare you first," the man said.
A dazzling woman suddenly appeared. I didn't know if she was human or not. She simply wore a long dress and a gold crown on her head. The left side of her face was covered with a mask. She had long hair, a pointed nose, and red, thin lips. One of her eyes seemed to be on fire and shining, giving us a ray of light.
"Welcome, Medallion Keepers. Congratulations, you passed my first test," said the woman called the Great One. So did it mean what happened before was just a show? But the coolness in her voice was amazing, like a rhythm that was pleasant to the ear.
"You are the chosen ones of my choice. My medallion masters have helped my world a lot. So I hope that you will also help for the second war to come," she added.
"Second war?" I asked and it made Alvin laugh so hard.
"You don't know why you were chosen? This is why the medallions were passed to us because the first war is over. In the second war, a different set of Medallion Keepers will fight and then we'll pass on the medallion to the new ones," Alvin said while staring at me. Why didn't I know that?
"That's if you can't finish the Director's game. When you release the Black Spirit from our world and bring it home to your world, there will be no war in the world of the Loowa," said the Great One.
"If so, when do we start?" asked the nerd with the glasses I had seen in the cafeteria before. Billy had said he was a powerful and deceptive monster.
"Before you know the first step, first introduce yourself and what medallion was awarded to you," said a man who looked like the Great One's guard or maybe her assistant.
"Try to introduce yourself first," groaned the fat man.
"I'm Jaypee Santos. 201 Medallion Custodian. I'm in charge of all the information about your powers. So don't insult me because I could take away from you the right to hold the medallion," he said harshly. "Let's start with the first one who got here and end with the last," he said as looked at me.
"Alvin Espiritu. I hold the Brown Body Shifter Medallion. I can change my body to the shape I want," proudly said the arrogant Student Council Governor. I'm sure he was the first one to get there with the way he confidently introduced himself.
"Ronnie Thomas. I hold the Deceitful Green Clone Medallion. I can multiply my body as many times as I want," he said to my surprise. So that meant the one who died outside was just a clone of him?
"Don Kenneth Legaspi. I hold the Powerful Blue Hand Medallion. I can release fire, water, and air from my palms," said the nerd with the glasses. That was why Billy said his hands were poisonous. He was also the one who released the air I felt in the cafeteria.
"Lyka Castillo. I hold the Yellow Mighty Vision Medallion. I can see what happens in the future," she said cheerfully. Lyka was full of positivity.
"Toffer Anderson. I hold the Red Mouth Commander Medallion. I can subdue everyone. As in everyone, people, animals, things, or even storms. I can also unleash a deluge if I want to," smiling, he said. Did this mean he was the one who made the sky darken with thunder and lightning yesterday? That was why I had seen him whispering.
"Ciara Mae Agoncillo. I hold the Pure Healing Heart Medallion. I can heal a wound made by man or of any creature, no matter how small or large," she said. She seemed to be the most innocent of all the people there.
"Fritzie Almedia. I hold the Sharp Gray Ears Medallion. I can hear everything no matter how far away it is. No matter how soft or loud, I can hear it all," said a shy woman. Her face was painted with nervousness but I guessed that she could be hiding something.
"Janet Macaraeg. I hold the Maroon Snap Illusionist Medallion. I can change the setting of a place with just a snap of my fingers," said the familiar woman. Right! She was the woman who was angry with Lyka and tried to stone her in the canteen. She also hadn't helped Ron's clone. A cunning girl.
"Darwin Pentalosa. I am holding the Fast Pink Feet Medallion. I have great running speed. Simple power that can't be beaten in a battle," he said confidently. I saw no difference in him.
"Clarice Nomar. I had the Invisible White Soul Medallion. I can become invisible anytime I want to," she said seriously. I thought that her power could be deceptive too.
"Ruffa Mendoza. I am holding the Gold Elastic Hair Medallion. I can lengthen my hair. It's as strong as steel that nothing can damage. If I tied my hair to a tree, I can pull it out along with its roots," she said with a poker face. Her aura was both unique and scary.
"Vergel De Guzman. I had the Magnetic Light Skin Medallion. I can't be hurt by any weapon. It just sticks to my skin. It means your powers won't work on me," he said laughing. He had a point. But what if he was skinned alive? Could he still laugh then?
"Ezekiel Montemayor, in possession of the Dark Master Mind Medallion. I can read the minds of others," I said briefly staring at everyone except Lyka who was just smiling looking at me. They looked at me in shock at what I had said.
"What's wrong?" I asked sheepishly.
"So Billy gave you the medallion. She saw something in you that we can't see," Jaypee said seriously.
"You are the ones chosen by the medallion masters because they know you are the ones who deserve to use the power they have given them. Don't disappoint them," said the Great One.
"So what's next?" Janet asked calmly.
"Let's play," Jaypee said as he smiled. For the first time, the madman showed some emotion on his face.
From our standpoint, the setting of the place had suddenly changed. The hotel-like old building turned into a dark cemetery. I was suddenly startled by something cold that enveloped my body.
"Let the game begin," said a demonic voice which made me even more nervous.
I thought it was just the wind touching me, but I was shocked to feel someone hugging me from behind. I looked at the hand that was slowly moving to my stomach. "What the hell? F*ck you!" I shouted as I removed his hand. I confronted him and I wasn't wrong. A decaying corpse had embraced me. In my fear and nervousness, I hurriedly ran. Dead people seemed to want to meet and chase me. I didn't know where I was going but I needed to get out of there. In the depths of the night and the smoke coming out of the tomb and in the emptiness, I had a hard time escaping them. "Ezekiel, behind you!" A man shouted. It was Ronnie. I turned around and saw two dead bodies approaching me with worms all over their bodies. I retreated which caused me to be out of balance and knocked me down into a tomb. Because of the hard fall, I could hardly get up. I just stared at the two corpses that wanted to attack me. I didn't know what they would do. They looked scary a
"Hey!" Jerome tried to get my attention, poking me. I wasn't paying attention to his stories; I just couldn't erase from my mind what had happened earlier."What's that?" I asked him without any emotion."Ezekiel! I'm asking why you were with Lyka earlier? Are you dating her?" His question was just sad."Of course not. We just met. Are you jealous?" I asked with a smile."Why should I be jealous? I just don't trust her. There seems to be something strange about her. Is something wrong?" he asked seriously, looking at nothingness."I saw her last night. She was talking to an unfamiliar woman. Probably her relative." he said, frowning at me. What if she was talking to a woman? What's the issue with that?"But what amazes me is that they were holding a book as if they didn't know what it was. The woman was trying to snatch it away. Lyka didn't want to give the book. The
"Where are we?" Fritzie asked irritatedly as we walked through the thick and messy forest. "I don't know either. Are we doing it right, Zeke?" Ronnie asked. "I'm not sure either. But I think we're on the right track," I said. "Let's just follow the path where the women went earlier" "Why did you stop?" Ronnie asked as Fritzie stopped walking. He was the one in front of us. "I hear something. Let's hide!" Fritzie replied then quickly pulled us into the corner of the forest. Slowly we peered over the tall grass that covered us. "Them again?" Ronnie said when he saw the two women walking. "That's a different woman. If you look closely, they're thinner. But they're wearing the same clothes," Fritzie replied. "Let's go to our pets," said another woman. I understood what she said. What pet was she referring to? "T
Tik. Tik. Tik. Tik. Tuk. Tuk. Tuk. Tuk. Ticks that made my hair stand on end. It was like a clock hand rushing through time. "F*ck! The MarMar Building is going to close," Don Kenneth swore almost uneasily at what was happening. We had been walking for a while but we had not seen the door to the building. Suddenly out of nowhere Ronnie's twin, or should I say, his clone, multiplied himself to find the way to the City of Compenyo. The two Ronnie talked and less than a few seconds later, the original spoke. "I've found the way. Follow me," he said seriously. He walked hurriedly, almost running at a speed. We just kept following him until we reached a large wall with no door. "How can we get into that, there's no door and the wall is too high. We can't climb that!" Clarice snapped. "Is there another way maybe?" Fritzie said as she pointed her ear to the wall as if to find out what was going on inside. "We don
"Argh," Ronnie yelled in the other room where the pellet placement was being carried out on him. "Ronnie's screaming which means the procedure is painful. I hope we can handle it," Fritzie said, who had been trembling with fear. "You can do it if Don can," Janet said staring at Don Kenneth. He hadn't been as loud as Ronnie but he couldn't hide the discomfort on his face when he came out of the room. "Are you ready Fritzie? You're next," Toffer teased and we laughed. Honestly, I was afraid of what could happen to me when I was fitted with a pellet. I felt like I wouldn't be able to handle it. "Oh, the first step is over. How are you feeling?" Darwin asked as Ronnie came out. I didn't know if I should laugh or feel sorry for his face. He looked utterly uncomfortable. "Let go and the pain you're feeling will go away too. Fritzie, you're next!" Toffer beckoned at Fritzie. "Can Clarice go first? Or can we go together?" she ask
"Sh*t! All the exits are closed!" Don Kenneth said, annoyed. Earlier we went around this very spacious building but we didn't see anyone get out. "If only the powers could be used here, I could do something!" Janet said angrily who had previously been irritated by what was happening. "I think it's okay." Fritzie replied. "Yes Fritzie, it's okay! But the reason why we don't use it because the creatures here can't know what we are. Right?" sighed Janet who was giving her a poker face. "Okay. But how can we find the antidote if we don't know where it came from?" Fritzie asked. "Viancs said the poison came from the City of Gen-Train and someone from them may have already entered here. It's not so wrong that we thought to go out of this building and find the answer in the City of Gen-Train because the answer is already here as well," Ronnie said watching the Penyos slowly run out.
"Arrrrggghhhhh!" I heard Don shout. Even though my face was so sore I still forced myself to stand up and saw him raise his hand releasing air and forcibly removing the crumbling walls. I could do nothing but just look at him. I was so mad at myself. I wanted to be angry. I wanted to hurt myself. Why did I choose to put the Director before us? "Bro, that's enough. There's nothing we can do," Darwin said try to stop Don from losing control. "We can't be lacking. We can't be missing anything," he replied, already on his knees at what was happening. I saw tears trickle down his two cheeks. "Maybe we can get everything back to normal," Janet said as she flicked her fingers to adjust the setting of the place. But nothing changed. "I may be able to change the setting of a place, but I can't afford to bring it back to normal," she added. Only now I saw her become sad despite her dull face. The rest of us were also emotionless as
We had been walking for a few hours but hadn't yet reached the very top of the mountain. Almost all of us were tired but Daryanara didn't look tired at all. "Aren't you tired yet, beautiful lady?" Ronnie asked. "Recruit Man De Anie?" Daryanara asked, making me laugh. "What did she say, Zeke? Why are you laughing?" he questioned with a raised eyebrow. He wanted to know what the beautiful lady who was with us had said. "That you look like Ramba!" Toffer shouted and we laughed. I noticed that Don Kenneth hadn't said a word since earlier. Rambato approached him and touched his pants. "What the hell! Stay away from me!" he shouted