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The full moon hung over the starless sky, and eerie winds rustled the verdant leaves of the ma.s.sive oak trees. A tall building, one that towered over the entire developed city, was decorated with heaps of luminous lights, a scene that would be unheard of ten years prior. The town had exploded in growth and lights were now on around the clock. Police were better armed and numerous odd contraptions laid by the side of the roads, deterring any evil. Before, no woman would dare roam the streets at three in the morning. Now, many young maidens were enjoying a night's out of drinking, not fearing the dangers that might befall upon them.
And it was all possible because of one person.
All of the residents of Yume Metropolis were happily snoring away, enjoying the warmth of their beds, snuggled away from the cold winter winds. However, not all denizens of the town had that luxury. Inside of the gigantic building, numerous white-robed researchers paced up and down with flushed faces. Many of them had panda eyes and wrinkled foreheads, showing their overall fatigue from being in the laboratory for too long. Yet, none of them dared to complain.
"d.a.m.n it! I failed again!" An exasperated cry blasted through the narrow corridor and forced all of the sleepy scientists to awake from their drowsy naps. They all looked right to the end of the hall but eventually opted not to move. They were familiar with that hollering shout, so much so that some of the researchers had developed an immunity to the screams. Not to mention, when the woman shouted, there would always be that one man that would check in on her…
Soft, helpless footsteps echoed through the corridor as an average-looking teenager made his way to the end of the hall. Though the man didn't possess the best of looks, what he lacked in charm, he supplemented with intellect. Bespectacled, the man hid his eyes that oozed with wisdom from the common man's sight. Only those with enough experience could tell that the nineteen-year-old was far more intelligent than he looked. But right now, the teenager wasn't the indomitable researcher that boasted respect from everyone in the community. Right now, he was just a friend trying to cheer up his partner.
"Dream, how's the experiment?" A rhetorical question. The teenager could clearly tell that Dream had failed based on her ire and scream.
Just a stone's throw distance away from the door, a patch of white was sprawled all over the table. Dream's head pivoted up until her chin was touching the cold wooden table. She looked at the newcomer into the room, and her shoulders eased up a little. Still, the master scientist wanted to rant: "What do you think? Ak.u.mu! I just don't get it! Why can't I synthesize this stupid stone?!"
"Hah… Maybe you're just a little too tired?" Ak.u.mu shrugged his shoulders as he gazed out the window. It was already a few hours past midnight, and most people would have descended into wonderland. Only Dream and her fellow researchers would stay up this long. "Why don't you turn in for the night? Take a long break, and start fresh tomorrow?"
"Like h.e.l.l I could do that! I'm just this close to discovering how we can use mana crystals! Do you know how much we can accomplish if we can use this power?!"
"No, I don't think you understand, Ak.u.mu! If I could just use these Aether crystals to-..."
"... change the future of mankind and lead them into a brighter tomorrow." Ak.u.mu shook his head. Some things just never changed. He had heard Dream go on and on about her research topics for many years now. Ak.u.mu could even recite what Dream's next words were going to be!
"Yes, exactly!" Dream's pale white eyes beamed with an even brighter radiance than before. "I don't believe that I can't synthesize it right!" The now twenty-two-year-old leapt to her feet as she pulled up her sleeves. "Come Ak.u.mu, help me out here!"
"Hah…" The black-haired man sighed before helplessly walking over to the woman.
Ten years have pa.s.sed since Dream saved the impoverished Ak.u.mu from the vicious beatings of the merchant. In terms of a peak human's lifespan of four hundred years, ten years wasn't truly much. However, for Dream and Ak.u.mu, those ten years had brought endless changes to their lives. Immediately after rescuing Ak.u.mu, Dream allowed the boy to enter her tutelage, something she had done for many orphans she came across.
Dream was a beacon of hope for many orphans, Ak.u.mu included. However, more importantly, she was the force that was propelling Yume Metropolis to a brighter future. Dream's technical prowess and innovative ideas had transcended the scientific community. Her ingenious ideas could be sold for millions of gold, and her transcendent thinking had dramatically pushed forward the theoretical field.
Just a few years back, Dream had discovered the existence of Aether, a crystal rock that could store spiritual energy like any other cultivator or Spirit Beast. She had also figured out the correlation between elemental and spiritual energy, once thought to be independent of one another. Many cultivation techniques had undergone ma.s.sive overhauls after that discovery and Dream was the one who wrote the guidelines on how to change them.
Finally, although this fact was unknown to the general populace, Dream had drawn the blueprints for many innovative designs that were far ahead of her time. The Aether Car, the River Train, a tower that acted as a training ground… The list was endless. To call Dream a scientist would be an understatement. The woman was an incarnate of knowledge itself, and her countless achievements backed up that claim.
Though, there were days where geniuses had their slumps.
Once Dream had discovered Aether, she had been desperately trying to figure out a method to use it for her future designs. On paper, it seemed to be the perfect answer. Anything that required human or horsepower, could be replaced by the Aether crystals. Wagons could be changed into cars. Soldiers could be changed into cannons. The world would see much less death and much more development if Dream could synthesize Aether. Alas, it was easier said than done.
Dream had been stuck on the problem for a little more than six months now, which was extremely long according to her standards. Ak.u.mu had never seen Dream incapable of solving a problem for more than two months. Granted, there were a million things on her mind that distracted her. However, it still didn't change the fact that the greatest genius in history had no clue about using Aether.
Sighing, the teenager grabbed onto Dream's shaking hands and gently pulled her up. "You need to sleep. Don't you remember Justine's research into sleep? The longer to stay awake, the worse your cognitive abilities would be."
"But I'm almost there! Just one more try!"
Ak.u.mu furrowed his brows at her words. Was she a little girl? Or was she the greatest genius of all time? Ak.u.mu didn't know. What he did know was…
"No can do," the teen sternly replied. "If I let you be, you'll just keep on going until you pa.s.s out. As your friend, I can't let that happen!"
Dream tried to appeal with teary, puppy eyes, but Ak.u.mu couldn't be swayed. He was adamant about putting Dream to sleep, even if it meant knocking her out with force. "Some things just can't be forced, Dream. If you can't solve it today, just try again tomorrow! Now, go to sleep before I call the Elder here to drag you to… Dream?"
Ak.u.mu was expecting Dream to whinge and whine a little more, but oddly enough, she instantly turned silent. Looking right at the floor, the breathtaking beauty started to mumble like she was mentally ill, scaring Ak.u.mu entirely. "Dream? Dream? What's wrong? Ai… I was too late, she's starting to see hallucinations already!"
"No, you idiot!" Dream slid out of Ak.u.mu's grasp and smacked the back of his head. "I can't force it… That's right! Aether Crystals aren't man-made at all! How could I forcibly synthesize it? Thanks, Ak.u.mu! I've solved the puzzle! I now know how to use Aether crystals to power my machines!"
"Are you sure about that?" Sceptical, Ak.u.mu raised his brow and folded his arms. "Are you sure that it's not a ploy to throw me off guard so that you can continue experimenting?"
"Hmph! If you don't believe me, just watch! I'll need only five minutes!"
Although Ak.u.mu wasn't convinced, he still allowed Dream to continue on with her experiment. In five minutes, if she hadn't synthesized the Aether crystal, Ak.u.mu would forcibly pull the woman out of the lab and throw her into her bedroom. He watched in earnest as the woman quickly picked up the inconspicuous crystal that had been lying on her desk. Surely, there was no way that a single sentence was enough to give Dream an epiphany into solving the greatest problem she ever encountered… Right?
Three minutes later, white smoke began to flow out from the cracks of Dream's fingers, and a completely foreign spiritual energy filled the silent laboratory. The energy seemed ancient as if it had been crystallised for thousands of years. Under Dream's masterful control, the spiritual energy flowed from one hand to the other, dropping the jaw of the already stunned Ak.u.mu.
The black-haired teen had seen miracle after miracle being performed by Dream, but it was never at such a degree. Still stunned, the only thing Ak.u.mu could do was watch Dream's pearly white teeth being flashed as she raised two fingers up to make a V.
"Hehe, see! I did it!"
Dream's breakthrough stunned the world. A new method of providing energy, one that could create a new wave of technological advancements… Who wouldn't jump on that bandwagon? The Lantis Republic were the first great superpower to bite. They pumped in a large amount of gold into Yume Metropolis or to be more specific, the genius that was known as Dream.
When the city-state leaders saw the amount of money being pumped in, they tightened their control over Dream. Or to be more specific, they had given her a status far beyond that of any councillor that preceded her. Once again, like the scene from ten years ago, the entire government moved to give her the special status of Commander-In-Chief and State President. That meant that Dream had the authority to command any branch of government to do her bidding and she could overrule any decision made by the Elders of Yume Metropolis.
Naturally, there was a whole ceremony and a ball thrown in honour of Dream's new ascension. The top bra.s.s of the Himmel Empire, Kori Federation, Lantis Republic, Mercenary Guild, Blacksmith's League, Healer's a.s.sociation and many more government leaders attended the party, all in hopes of shaking hands with the once-in-lifetime genius. Also, they wanted to bolster strong ties with Yume Metropolis, a nation that was fast on its way to become a superpower.
However, as the sky began to darken, Dream disappeared from the lavish ballroom. The star of the show, the woman that every man wanted to meet, was nowhere to be found. As her bosom pal, Ak.u.mu was sent by the Governor to find and drag Dream back into the High Society party. Others were dispatched to find the young genius, but truthfully, they only needed Ak.u.mu. Without even batting an eye, Ak.u.mu brisked-walked right into the place that he knew that Dream would be.
Ak.u.mu's feet leapt down the stairs and glided through the halls at an astonis.h.i.+ng speed. Breaking out of the extravagant building, Ak.u.mu was greeted by the luminous moon that shone brightly over the night sky. With a smile, the teenager simply walked north. On such a beautiful night, there was only one place that Dream would frequent.
And he wasn't wrong.
Dressed in an haute couture, purple dress, the white-haired woman was oozing with cla.s.s. Her pristine, pinkish complexion coupled with her beady eyes, only made the gorgeous lake before her much more ethereal. Dream was renowned all over the world as a beauty, and this picturesque scene in front of Ak.u.mu only served to heighten that claim.
Noticing Ak.u.mu's arrival, Dream glanced over her shoulder and stuck out her tongue. "Ah, I was found out!"
"You can't hide from me, Dream..." Ak.u.mu shook his head and walked closer to the edge of the lake. He let his body weight go, and his b.u.m fell onto the gra.s.s floor. Now that they were side-by-side, Ak.u.mu could clearly see Dream's expression. Unlike her normal bubbly state, she was serene. However, that serenity only seemed to hold a level of complexity that Ak.u.mu could never decipher.
Dream blinked: "Are you here to bring me back?"
"..." The teenager looked down at Dream. It was rare for her to be in such a mental disarray. Although Ak.u.mu didn't know what was troubling her, he knew better than to bring a maiden back into the lair of wolves right now. "No, I'm here to look at the moon."
"Haha, what's with that?" Dream chortled.
At the same time, both Dream and Ak.u.mu looked heavenward, staring at the celestial body that awed the entire world. It was one of those moments that seemed to never end. Two people enjoying each other's company while they looked mindlessly at the sky…
However, nothing truly lasts forever.
"Hey… Aren't you going to ask me why I left?" Dream asked, her eyes never leaving the moon.
Ak.u.mu pivoted his head back and gazed at Dream's face. As he had expected, it was still bearing the same pain that he'd seen before. "Nah… You look like you don't want to share it. I won't force you to do something you don't like."
"Something I don't like, huh..." Dream didn't deny that claim and proceeded to smile. Taking one deep breath in, the peerless genius fell onto the gra.s.sy floor and sprawled all four of her limbs out. An unbecoming sight for an esteemed woman of her stature, but Dream didn't care.
With a smile far more radiant than the moon itself, Dream said something that would shake Ak.u.mu's soul for the rest of time.
"Ak.u.mu… Let me tell you about my secret… Let me tell you why I'm smarter than everyone else in the world!"
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