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Book 1

Prologue

~~*~~

Cayden Huang was spending his lunchtime as usual with his friends in the classroom. He was engaged in a collectible card game based on a fantasy world MMO that was popular. The boy was here instead of the cafeteria because he felt alienated by the other students. This was a common thing for a teenage boy his age to feel. The other boys around the table were more like associates than friends and he was fine with that.

They weren’t rough or overbearing. And most importantly, they didn’t bully him for being different.

“Come on, Stan. Finish your turn. You don’t have enough mana to do anything,” one of the guys said.

“Hm… I’m going to play ‘The Knights of Heaven,’” Stan said as he placed the card down for the group to see. The two other boys gasped and demanded to know how Stan had such a rare card. What followed was a bunch of nerd terminology and spouting of different strategies.

Cayden didn’t hang out with these guys because he wanted to be friends, they were just the least annoying boys in his class that didn’t scorn him. Also, similar hobbies were a natural pull.

By the time he entered high school, he grew socially reclusive among his peers. He’d rather talk to the local college students from the university across the East River.

Perhaps he was just more mature.

Without realizing it, conversation with his male classmates devolved into ramblings about girls and sports. The girls were always about gossip and other feminine pursuits he’d rather avoid. Cayden was just bored with how they complained and whined like little children. He hated their lack of self-awareness and overall angst. You could be amazed at what a teenager in this day and age would find enjoyable. Was everyone always this stupid?

He could handle children just fine but teenagers were trouble. Adults too. Cayden couldn’t count the number of times he had to fix an adult’s issues for them. This technological age has made children of the older generation.

Everything around him was boring.

He thought about skipping a couple of grades and graduate but his life situation couldn’t allow it. Despite his misery, he had a path forward. Not many people his age could say that. Although he knew that focusing solely on his career was unhealthy, he didn’t care to make anything more of his time in this hellhole.

“Cayden, it’s your turn.”

Cayden yawned a bit and laid what he had in his hand on the table. “I use my remaining mana to cast a destruction spell from my mage. Game.”

The boys groaned and accepted their loss. He smiled at their frustration. They never were a proper challenge to him and he seemed a bit disinterested. But he genuinely enjoyed their playtime for moments like these.

Then, a knock on the classroom door was heard. They technically were supposed to be in the cafeteria so they all stiffened and stayed silent in case it was a teacher. Cayden immediately recognized who it was and opened the door. It was his friend, Samantha.

“Do you want to get lunch together?” She asked. He agreed and excused himself. He grabbed his walking stick and book bag and left. If any of his other classmates saw this, they’d holler and degrade him for being friends with a popular girl.

They got lunch and sat in the cafeteria. Once in there, the teachers won’t allow the students to leave until the end of the period. They both sat at a secluded bench near the corner of the large and loud room.

“I’m having trouble with Scott,” Sam told him.

“You want to talk about him, again?”

“Yes. I’m sorry to ask you this again but can I talk to Charlotte?”

Cayden felt irritated and responded, “Whatever you say to her, you can say to me.”

“I know. But…” She spoke in a whisper with a nervous smile. “You’re a bit…blunt.”

“So, you don’t feel comfortable around me but you’re fine talking with her?” Cayden was stupefied at what his friend was suggesting.

“You’re just a little too forward. People don’t like that about you.” He understood her connotation and it wasn’t mean-spirited.

“Neither of us had been in a relationship.”

“What are you talking about? Of course, what you had with Ryan was real! Even if it was built on a lie, it was real because you believed in it!” Sam held both her hands together over her chest and pleaded with him with puppy dog eyes. “Please?”

He relented and gave a smile to his dearest friend.

***

Why did he remember this? This moment seemed insignificant but this scene played in his mind with great detail as if it happened yesterday. Cayden jolted awake. He was sleeping on a bed in an unfamiliar room. The room looked out of place. The walls were made from bear brick and the floor was fastened together with wooden planks.

Not just the building but from the pillow he was resting on to the clothes he donned, everything seemed different. They had a more rustic feeling and looked hand-made rather than from machines. The perfect symmetry done by computers and machines was nowhere. Cayden looked out the bedside window and saw the ocean beyond a large port city he was over-looking.

A glance at the city told him he wasn’t in America anymore. It looked like a European city with all the classical-style buildings. He started to panic.

Where was he? Was he kidnapped and shipped across the Atlantic?

Cayden stood up from the bed and spotted a revolver on his nightstand. If he had a weapon than he wasn’t kidnapped, he thought. He checked the cylinder and saw it had a dozen shots and a center shell.

Even this wasn’t right. The bullets and chamber size didn’t match any size standard he knew of. He could tell by comparing it to the relative size of his hand. There were too many inconsistencies here to the reality he knew. But somehow, this weapon in his hand made him feel more secure and calmed down.

He hid the pistol in the back of his pants and opened the door to his room cautiously.

There were people around but they seemed unconcerned. Cayden made his way downstairs and into the small foyer. He looked around a bit and headed outside when the lady receptionist called out to him.

“Mister Cayden, are you leaving for the day? Would you like a meal upon your return?”

It was a simple question and she sounded like they were already acquainted. More importantly, she spoke in a language he wasn’t familiar with and he understood what she was saying! He could recognize most languages once hearing it but her dialect was unknown to him. In an attempt to keep a low profile, he answered her question.

“Yes, will you please?” He replied, speaking in the unknown language.

“We certainly will. One of our maids will bring you something upon your return. What will you like?”

“Anything is fine,” he said. It was only a simple exchange and he wanted out! How was he talking in a language he never heard of before?!

After leaving the inn, Cayden wanted to scream to the sky at the predicament he was in. However, in his frustration, he remembered something.

He died.

It was funny how that fact could slip his mind.

One look in the sky told him where he was. There were two moons, one red and the other yellow. They both had green mysterious lines that created a circular maze pattern on the surface.

He wasn’t in America anymore nor was he in Europe or Earth for that matter.

Cayden died and was reborn in this fantasy world of Theia.

He was currently in Gillesport, a port city of the Vultian Empire. He could smell the sea and feel its cool touch in the wind. This city seemed very peaceful and picturesque. The stone-paved street he was on was very active with children playing and many different people going about their respective jobs.

It seemed a lot of the people’s work here consisted of the transport of goods to and from the docks. They rode horses and stagecoaches with rubber tires to carry their cargo to the steamships. There was also a streetcar on rails that was powered from the steam billowing from its exhaust which transported goods and people. It seemed like this world was starting to industrialize with all the steampunk-like machines.

The beachfront was lined with many ships with huge funnels venting white clouds on their decks. But the industrial technology wasn’t the most eye-catching thing on the sea. There were towering arches of marble pillars and buttresses, twice the height of the ships sailing under it.

Cayden wandered the streets as he prodded his memory. He was looking for anything that could give him more clarity to his situation. Then, a hand suddenly grasped his shoulder.

He turned around and saw a girl staring at him with her unnaturally colored white irises. She was a beauty under her cloak’s hood with her luscious long caramel hair and cute face. The girl was a few inches shorter than himself and was leaning on her cane.

“Charlotte?” Cayden asked without much certainty.

“I was looking for you. For what reason did you leave the inn?” The girl asked in her eloquent and gentle voice. She was fuming. A rough-looking man with a prosthetic left arm followed her while carrying a small white wolf baby on his wide shoulder. Even with that cuteness clinging to his shoulder, he was kind of intimidating.

Cayden didn’t know what to reveal and thought it best to play off his lack of knowledge like with the receptionist, “I just wanted to take a look around.”

“Do you have amnesia?”

She sighed, seeing through his lie immediately. He was startled by her perception.

“Do you remember what has happened since we came to this world?”

“No… No, I don’t. Charlotte, what is going on? How are you here right now?” Cayden began poking her and found that she was tangible. She wasn’t in his imagination. The girl brushed off his hand angrily.

“We reincarnated to this world together. Remember? We were reborn as a slime and a whole lot of people tried to kill us. It would be hard for anyone to forget something like that happening.”

“I can only remember fragments…”

She drooped her head as if giving up on something. “Guide. Analysis, please.”

“Yes, Madam.” A male voice from nowhere appeared in his head!

The necklace Cayden was wearing shined and an orb of light came out of the gem. The orb seemed to be the embodiment of the voice he just heard. It was at this moment that Cayden remembered another important detail.

This world had magic.

“Madam, it seems his memories are shattered. It will take some time for them to be absorbed back into his soul.”

Upon hearing that, the girl released another long sigh. “I was afraid this might happen… Did you hear that, Samuel? What is your opinion on this matter? Do you believe we should move forward with the expedition?”

She asked the one-armed man behind her and he replied, “I think we should go regardless of Cayden’s present state. Any further delay will risk losing the package.”

“I suppose we must. Come along, Cayden,” the girl grabbed his arm and began to pull him along. She was a lot stronger than she looked. However, he shook her grip off.

“I’m not going anywhere until you explain to me what’s going on!” He shouted.

“For goodness sake, we don’t have time for this,” she said and poked his forehead with her two fingertips.

He lost consciousness.

Cayden needed to remember what happened to him during his time in Theia and what led him to this point.

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