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Dreams Come True 2: Diamonds are Forever

Dreams Come True 2: Diamonds are Forever

By shadowlugia249

 

Author's Note: I was rummaging through my brother's Yu-Gi-Oh! deck and I ran across a rare card and inspiration struck. Keep in mind that despite the name, this story is not supposed to conflict with the first "Dreams Come True". Nevertheless, I will do my best to make it just as great. Enjoy!

 

I like to think of myself as a collector for the rare and beautiful. Ever since my parents passed away, I have been using my inheritance to seek out anything that has historical or sentimental value.

I have acquired teak wood carvings, rare WWE belts, glass figurines, imported CDs, gold-plated Pokémon cards, you name it! But as satisfying as these items were, they just didn't seem... enough. I felt that I was missing something... something that would make my collection the pride and joy of collectors worldwide.

I wanted... diamonds.

But not just any diamonds like the ones that you find in any jewelry store -- I wanted something special. I didn't know what it was, but there was one special diamond out there that would earn me the status of "Immortal" as a collector... I just wish that I knew what it was.

 

There is a chain of abandoned diamond mines about 20 miles from my house. I usually go out there to walk around and dream of owning that perfect diamond. I went out there one day to explore a special shaft that I had seen roped off for some time.

This special shaft was water-logged and went at least 50 feet down before it went into a flooded tunnel. The shaft was too narrow for scuba gear and no one had ever made it to the tunnel at the bottom without coming up for air. It was literally Dead Man's Plunge.

But no one had ever tried it with an Aqualung before. Using my vast wealth, I was able to obtain a pair of the special air tanks for my dive into Dead Man's Plunge. An Aqualung is a small mouthpiece with a pair of miniature air tanks that contain enough compressed air to keep you alive for two whole hours for each device. It's amazing what revolutionary technology money can buy.

Other than the Aqualungs, I brought a helmet with a flashlight on it and a pair of nose plugs. I can't begin to tell you how many times I've gotten water lodged in my sinuses from diving underwater at the local pool! I also brought a spandex suit in order to stay decent while I was under there and a pair of swim goggles.

It was a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon when I entered the mine and headed in the direction of the flooded shaft. I wasn't sure if I was going to find anything, but I wasn't backing down on a challenge. I was going to solve the mystery of Dead Man's Plunge even if I ended up as a dead man.

Once the tourists had passed through the mine, I went to work. I pried loose the boards that I had loosened much earlier and stepped behind it. Once I replaced the boards from the other side, I set my stuff down and got ready. The start of the plunge was nothing more than a man-sized nook in the cavern walls. I had to crawl down a narrow tunnel in order to reach the water. The ceiling was so low that it took some fancy yoga to crawl out of the shaft and re-enter the tunnel. Thankfully, I reached the water without much trouble.

Inserting the Aqualung into my mouth, I slid into the narrow waterway and started swimming. There wasn't enough room to turn around once you got started, so I had to go all the way or die trying.

50 feet down, the waterway took an almost 90 degree turn forward. It was difficult, but I eventually wormed my way through the tunnel and started forward. If my parents could see what I was doing, they would literally have kittens!

About 200 feet into the tunnel, I noticed that the cavern walls smoothed out and became as smooth as polished stone. It was as if I was entering some stone ruins. No man could build such a structure in these conditions, so I didn't know what to expect.

Soon, the narrow waterway ended in a large, stone room. I could see that the water ended in a large, stone pool. I resurfaced, spit out the Aqualung and looked around the room.

Something was glittering around the walls, but my helmet light was limited to what I was seeing. I soon saw a strange sight. A shaft of white light was shining down from straight above and hit something reflective. However, the reflective item was either too tarnished or too dusty to reflect much.

I carefully climbed out of the pool and made my way to the light. It turned out to be a large, circular, glass mirror. It seemed to have a large amount of dust on it. Walking back to the pool, I took off my shirt and soaked it in the water. I then wrung it out and went over to the mirror, polishing it the best that I could. When I was satisfied, I stepped out of the light's path and stood dumbfounded at the outcome.

Ho... ly... God... It was beautiful! The light reflected off of several more mirrors and lit up the entire room. I was standing in a large, cavernous room carved out of polished stone 50 feet high and 100 feet long. Large, sparkling, white objects were lodged into the wall at random increments. I had to check to make sure that they were... yep; they were finely-cut diamonds!

I had never seen actual diamonds in a mine before, but I had a feeling that raw diamonds did not shine like glass when you first found them. I couldn't believe it! I had run into an undiscovered vein of diamonds!

But despite my lust for diamonds, they still didn't seem... sufficient. Granted, there were enough of them in the room to make me rich beyond my wildest dreams, but they were so... unsatisfying. There had to be something better than these.

I turned to one side and saw an odd sight. A set of stone steps led up to a pedestal overlooked by a large statue of a...

Wait a minute... was that a...? Yep, it was. It was a large, stone dragon that stood over a pedestal with a single, finely-cut diamond perched on it. I had seen statues of dragons before, but there was something... odd about this one. Its rocky hide appeared chipped and cracked in certain areas, especially on its large, stone wings. Two horns stuck out of its head and a third one was positioned atop its muzzle. It had three rocky claws on each paw and three of them on its taloned feet. A long, rocky tail curved around from its backside and ended in front of its feet.

The dragon was looking humbly down at the diamond on the pedestal. It seemed to be guarding it. When I went to observe the diamond, I knew it was the one. It was about the size of a small rock and cut to absolute perfection. It the limited light of the cavern, I could practically see all the way through it! The cut was so precise and the light that reflected off of it was so bright that this had to be the most flawless gem of them all!

I instinctively reached my hand towards it to take it when I heard a gust of wind blowing suddenly. Freezing, I looked around. Other that the shaft that brought the light into this room, there were no cracks or openings in the cavern. I also had a feeling that something was watching me. There was absolutely no one in the room except for me -- I didn't understand why I felt this way.

Reaching for the diamond again, I suddenly heard a voice whispering in my head.

Oei uho kxo edo. Kubo ak.

"Okay... I'm hearing things. I'm leaving now."

But the further away from the diamond that I got, the more the voice pleaded with me to take it.

A doot oei! Fcoujo, kubo ak!

Common Sense told me to get as far away from the gem as possible, but something needed my help. I couldn't just leave it here! Taking a deep breath, I did it in one quick movement. I ran up to the pedestal, snatched the diamond from its stand and backed off.

Once my fingers touched its cool surface, the light in the room became so bright that I could have sworn that the sun itself was shining in it. The light seemed to radiate from the diamond and I suddenly felt tingly all over.

Then as quickly as it had happened, the light dissipated and the tingling feeling vanished. I shook my head and tried to make heads or tails about what had just happened.

"What have I gotten myself into?" I thought out loud.

Fortunately, nothing else happened, so I pocketed the diamond, put my stuff back on and crawled back into the water.

 

The return trip through the narrow waterway was much easier than the first time. I could see through the water much easier than I could before and getting out of the water was a lot easier than I had originally thought.

All the while, I reflected on the events that had just happened. I don't know what happened in that cavern, but I had finally obtained a diamond unlike any other mere mortal gem. The first chance that I got, I was going to take it to an appraiser and get its value. The only drawback was how I was going to explain how I came upon a rock of this size without stealing it. Regardless, I would deal with that when the time came.

I exited the mine and got back into my truck. I decided to keep the diamond in my pocket until I got home -- people would be suspicious if they saw a stone-sized diamond in the hands of a 20-year-old man.

For some reason, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was being watched. But somehow, it didn't give me the creeps when someone sinister is watching you -- it was more of a warm feeling that you get when someone cares about you. It was as if a guardian angel was watching me... somehow.

When I got home, I took the diamond out of my pocket and set it on a piece of sticky-tack next to my bed... just like a gem on display in a museum. I laid on my bed, admiring it and examining its fine luster. It was certainly a sight to behold.

I looked at the clock -- 9:50. Wow, where has the time gone? I figured I might as well turn in for the night and visit the appraiser in the morning. I did my usual evening cares and went to bed. I noticed that even the faint blue light of my stereo without the lights on was still enough to cause the diamond to shine brilliantly. In fact, even the moonlight was enough to cause it to shine. I eventually had to put a cloth over it to put it out. That was one shiny gem!

 

My dreams were filled with a strange presence. I could feel him as if he was standing right next to me. He felt friendly and inviting... as if he was my best friend. But I still didn't know who he was. The only thing that I could make out was his piercing-blue eyes.

Just then, he spoke in a calm and collective voice. Uho oei sedodk, Alex? I had never heard this language before, but somehow I knew he had said, Are you content, Alex? For some reason, his voice echoed in my mind -- he didn't need his mouth to speak.

"Yes," I said lazily. "I am. I'm glad that you're with me. My dreams have been very unpleasant lately."

Oei de cedwoh doot ke nehho ureik kxuk. A um xoho veh oei. You no longer need to worry about that. I am here for you.

"I know... but... who are you? I feel that I... know you from somewhere."

Ucc nacc ro scouh jeed. Fcoujo kubo mo rcojjadw. All will be clear soon. Please take my... "blessing"?

I had no idea what he was talking about, but I nodded anyway and hoped for the best. He then put a hand on my forehead and I felt a sudden burst of pain. It was as if he had placed a hot ember there and it was eating into my skin. The pain was so great that I squirmed in my sleep and my eyes started watering. He then lifted his hand and a sudden icy-coolness filled the spot where he had touched me. I was still smarting from his touch.

"OUCH!!! What was that for?! That really hurt! I thought we were friends!"

He sighed and closed his eyes. He didn’t mean to hurt me. He apologized and said, Ak aj nosojjuho. Unuco den. It is... necessary? Awake now?

I tried to ask him what he meant, but my dream short-circuited and I found the real world gripping at my consciousness.

 

I laid in my bed the next morning, trying to understand what had just happened. Other than the unusually-realistic pain, it was the most pleasant dream that I had had in a while. Normally, my dreams were recently filled with impenetrable cages that I was unable to escape, but this dream seemed more free and unrestrained.

Luck, I figured. It must have been one of the rare good dreams that I had once had like clockwork. But that burn on my forehead had seemed so... real. I couldn't explain it -- I had never experienced "real" pain in my dreams before.

However, it had now subsided, so I cast it from my mind. I had to get ready for my day.

I took the cloth off of my diamond and admired it some more. I was certain that a lot of people would pay a lot of money for a gem as large and as flawless as this one. I looked straight through it, noting how it captured even the tiniest light beam.

Huh? I looked closer at my reflection in the diamond. There was something there that shouldn't be, but I couldn't make it out because of the cut sides. Putting a hand to my forehead, I felt the spot... nothing was there. I looked again. That spot was still there. Deciding to get a decent look, I got out of bed and went to my bathroom to look in my mirror.

Okay, now I was certain that the pain in my dream had been real. Smack dab in the middle of my forehead, between the ridges on my skin was a blue mark shaped like a moon. It was made out of some unusual blue material that was burned into my skin -- almost like a tattoo. But the color was sharper than any blue ink that you could inject into the skin -- more sapphire than anything.

I tried rubbing it vigorously, but apart from turning the skin around the mark a deep red, it was apparently stuck there. Now I had a choice to make: find a way to hide the mark and go ahead with my scheduled appraisal appointment or find another way to get it off.

I chose the former. I would deal with it later. I had an appointment to keep and I almost never missed an important appointment. Rummaging in my closet, I found an old Pokémon cap that was a little dusty but put it on anyway.

 

As I sat in the appraiser's waiting room with the diamond wrapped up in tissue in my pocket, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was still being watched. It was still the warm, comfortable feeling that everything was going to be alright, but I still had a feeling that I was being followed everywhere.

When I entered the appraiser's office, I carefully unwrapped the diamond and set it on her desk. The look on her face was priceless. She had apparently never appraised any diamond bigger than a pebble and now she had a rock the size of a... rock laying on her desk.

"Where did you get this?" she said, awestruck.

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," I said with a sigh.

She opened her mouth to respond, but something unseen seemed to change her mind and she shut it again. "Very well, let's see what we have here."

She took out a small hammer, a chisel, a crystal scope and a set of scales and weights. She began by setting the chisel on the diamond and tapped it several times at different strengths to make sure that it was indeed a bona fide diamond. To confirm this, she took out a square of glass and tested its hardness. We were both surprised when the glass not only scratched, but broke in half along the scratch with very little pressure.

The appraiser then put the crystal scope to her eye and scanned it for any identifying marks and to examine its shine. Not one mark was found, and despite being handled constantly by me, no smudges or smears were found either.

"This is a diamond like any other that I've seen before. The Hope Diamond has nothing on this gem. I've never seen this kind of cut or clearness in any other diamond that I have ever seen. You've got probably the most perfect gem ever!"

I was feeling apprehensive. At last, I had professional proof that this was a completely flawless gem. But to get its value, she had to weigh it. It was so heavy that she had to use her kilogram weight. It wasn't that heavy, but she confirmed that it was 835 grams in weight.

"This is just a rough guesstimate, but I would value this diamond anywhere from $40-$50 million minimum."

I nearly passed out. Ho... ly... God!!! I had a $50 million rock in my possession and I had found it just lying around! I thought I would have a heart attack from the sheer shock. I guess I might as well start finding a buyer.

But suddenly, I felt wretched for even thinking about selling it! This gem was one-of-a-kind. There was and there will only be one like it. Besides, I felt a sense of... connection to it. If I were to sell it, it would be like auctioning off my best friend to the highest bidder. And that would be just wrong!

Nevertheless, the appraiser took out a journal and wrote the statistics of the diamond down. She then signed it, ripped off a piece of paper and gave it to me.

"This is my official appraisal. If you ever plan on selling it, just give that paper to the buyer and they'll know what to do."

I took it, thanked her and went home.

 

I didn't feel like doing much for the rest of the day. The sheer shock of finding out that I owned a $50 million diamond and a strange headache that I had gotten seemed to suck all the energy out of my day.

I was watching my Final Fantasy VII movie when I found my eyes feeling droopy. I wanted to see Cloud take down that summoned beast, but I couldn't stay awake. I eventually fell asleep on the couch in the middle of the day -- something I almost never did.

 

He was back. I knew that he was there and I was happy that he was with me. Those piercing-blue eyes radiated calmness and understanding. Although I had yet to see his face, I walked up to him to talk to him anyway.

Beautiful, isn't it? he told me in that strange language. I understood him perfectly now -- no translation required.

"Beautiful?" I was slightly confused.

Of course. Look below you.

I did and the clouds parted. We were standing atop an immense snow-covered mountain, looking down on the world. It was so incredible to be standing at the top of the world with not a care in the world.

"Is this Heaven?" I asked him.

He looked at me and chuckled. No, this is Mount Everest. I like to come here when I want to feel on top of the world.

"Literally," I said and the both of us broke out laughing. He had a powerful yet gentle laugh. When he did, I could feel joy and ecstasy radiating from both our hearts. I was surprised that laughter like this had this much joyful feeling.

"You're unlike anyone that I've ever met before," I told him. "But I feel like I know you from somewhere."

He shrugged. It could be. I've only recently come back to the world. Maybe we've met somewhere before?

I shook my head. "It couldn't be. I've never made any friends in my life worth keeping. I've also got a sponge memory -- I'd remember you."

So it seems. He started walking away but stopped and pointed down at something. Want to go swimming?

"Swimming?! There's no water up here in the mountains!"

But this is your dream, he said, smiling. We could be in Florida for all I know.

"My... dream?" Whenever I had told my subconscious that this was "my dream", it would ignore me and say that it wasn't in my control. Now, however, I looked down and saw that we were indeed in the Florida Keys. "I... did this?"

Of course, he said, getting ready to jump. Your subconscious should know better than to ignore your command. Come on, the water's waiting!

He spread his arms and leapt through the air and into the water. I was right behind him. I jumped off of Mount Everest and splashed down into the Florida Keys. This was my dream and there was nothing that my subconscious could do about it.

The water felt so real to me -- it was as if I was swimming in a bath of pure warmth. I had never experienced a dream like this and I never wanted it to end!

Just then, he swam up next to me and spoke to me.

Do you want to do it?

If I was awake, I would have asked what he meant, but in the dream world, there was no need for reason or meaning -- anything was possible!

"Sure, why not?"

He looked serious for a minute. Are you sure? Once it's done... it's done.

I thought about it for a moment. I wanted the both of us to be happy and it was the only way that it would work.

"Yeah. I'll do it. I just hope it doesn't hurt like before."

It will cause some slight discomfort, but it's the only way.

But I wasn't backing down. "Do it."

He nodded and closed his eyes. Suddenly, the wind picked up and I started to feel very cold. I was so cold that my breath turned to ice crystals in front of me. But I didn't move. It was for the better and it was the only way that both of us would be happy. My skin became so cold that it turned hard and cracked in places. I was so cold that my skin turned a clear-blue color.

Just then, it subsided and was over. It was finished and I was one step closer to gaining his trust.

He nodded and closed his eyes again. It is done. You may awake now. I will see you tonight.

But I didn't want to leave him yet. "Wait! I still didn't get your name...!" Too late. I was already awake.

 

My headache had subsided but my troubles were just beginning. I looked at my body and screamed! My skin had taken the consistency and color of rock crystal! I had turned into a human geode! I got up and started panicking. What was happening to me?! I was having such pleasant dreams and then these things started happening to me!

If I had taken the time to examine my new body, I would have noticed that most of my body was made of smooth, flexible, crystal-blue... crystal. It was more of a biological mineral than an actual crystal. It was as hard as diamond, but as flexible as human flesh.

Wait a minute... "diamond?" Of course! That diamond was doing this to me! It was some sort of magical gem that was both granting me a good-night's sleep but at the same time was transforming me into a rock-like creature. Come to think of it, this all started when I had brought home that diamond from the mine.

Well, we'll just see about that! Grabbing the diamond and shoving it into my backpack, I got in my truck and drove to the nearest lake.

 

Taking the diamond out of my backpack, I looked at it for one final moment. $50 million or not, this diamond was more trouble than it was worth. I looked over the cliff, and with one swift movement, I threw it into the lake. It sank instantly and was out of my sight forever! The lake was not that deep, but I didn't care. Whoever found it would have the problems now!

I pulled up the hood on my coat and shoved my hands in my pocket. The drawback to this shiny new body was that I lit up like a beacon from 50 yards away whenever the light hit me, and I didn't want to attract attention to myself. People would mistake me for a freak and probably capture me if they could.

On a stray thought, I figured that nothing could penetrate my super-mineral body, so guns would be useless if it came to that. I then got my head on straight at headed home.

 

When I got home, I did my best to get a good night's sleep. I had nothing to worry about anymore; the diamond was at the bottom of a lake and my body would probably be returning to normal tomorrow.

Sleep eluded me until midnight when I fell asleep suddenly as if someone had knocked me out.

 

I was standing in a black void, completely alone and defenseless. I realized that I had condemned myself to endure my former dreams by disposing of that diamond, but I would rather endure them than go through another transformation like that. After all, dreams couldn't hurt me anymore.

And then I heard him.

You may have removed the beacon, but I can still find you.

Oh no. It's not possible!

"I can't believe it! I got rid of that diamond! You should be gone!"

But his voice was filled with disappointment and pity -- the exact opposite of what I was expecting.

I have finally returned to this world. The diamond was merely a doorway.

I felt horrible. I had allowed this unseen demon to return to the planet and prey on unsuspecting people again.

He merely shook his head. I am not who you think I am. My purpose is more complex than you possibly know.

"Who are you then?!" I shouted at him. "You never even bothered to tell me your name before you started changing me against my will!"

He sighed. If I had been doing this against your will, you would have felt more pain than you have been experiencing. You have allowed yourself to be changed.

"TELL ME YOUR NAME, DAMN IT!!!" I shouted myself hoarse. "WHO ARE YOU?!?!"

It finally looked like I had gotten through to him. He paused and collected himself.

If you wish to know, my full name is Hyozanryu Terramental Deagonna. I am the spiritual guardian of the planet.

(Author's Note: His first name is pronounced "Hoe-zen-rye-you" for those of you who haven't played "Yu-Gi-Oh!".)

I settled down a little now that I knew his name, but something seemed familiar about that name. I had heard or seen the name "Hyozanryu" before, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

"What did you mean when you said that you finally returned to the world?"

Hyozanryu walked closer to me so that I could see his body for the first time.

Wow. He was... a dragon! But he was unlike any dragon that I had ever seen before. His crystal-like skin was similar to my own and it covered all of his body except for two narrow strips of orange scales down his front. His arms were cracked, but looked very lean and muscular. He only had three claws on each paw, but they were thick, sharp, rocky, yellow talons that looked like they could pierce diamond with ease. He had the same number of rocky yellow claws on his digitigrade haunches with a fourth, slightly smaller claw sticking out of his heels. A long, smooth, flexible tail grew from his backside and reached the floor where it took on a life of its own, swishing and flicking back and forth.

Instead of leathery wings like the dragons that I had read about, Hyozanryu's wings appeared to be hand-chiseled from rough rock-crystal. I wondered if he could even fly with wings like that.

His head, however, was immediately familiar. I recognized the two pointed, yellow horns and the yellow, unicorn-like one on his face from the statue of the dragon in the room where I had found the diamond in the first place. Beneath two piercing-blue eyes was a muzzle with many pointed teeth in it that looked like shards of pointed glass.

Now I knew where I had seen him before! In my vast collection of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, there was one card that matched his form perfectly. It was called, sure enough, "Hyozanryu". It didn't have a special effect, but it WAS a Level Seven Monster, had 2100 Attack points, 2800 Defense points and read thus:

"A dragon created from a massive diamond that sparkles with blinding light."

Huh. This was too coincidental.

Hyozanryu smiled and explained. I was once this planet's guardian... but after a long period of peace, people stopped believing in me. They began to doubt my power and soon considered me unworthy of the title. To prevent myself from disappearing, I sealed my spirit inside a diamond until the time came for me to awaken again. You probably recognize me because the creators of this "Yu-Gi-Oh!" game based the card on a legend that they read about me.

That made sense. "But why me? Why are you transforming me?"

Hyozanryu sighed and looked sad for a moment. When I was reawakened, I realized that the humans' damage to the planet was beyond my control. I can't handle the damage by myself... I need a partner to help me with the planet.

"But I didn't want any of this!" I protested. "I have my whole life ahead of me! I was going to go to college and get a girlfriend! You're taking all that away from me!"

Hyozanryu stepped closer to me. I know what you are capable of. I have personally seen your future and your personality. You wish to be remembered by doing something worthwhile. However, designing houses has its limits.

I blanched. How did he know that I wanted to design houses?

People get remembered, Alex, but legends never die. If you accept my blessing, I can give you so much more that your mere human life can offer. Will you accept my offer?

I had to think about this for a while. Giving up my meager human life for something much... more seemed to have more good things than bad. After all, Hyozanryu said that he's been around a while, so I had a long life to look forward to.

"All right," I said finally. "I'll do it."

Hyozanryu smiled pleasantly. Very well. I will bless you with the next step in becoming my partner.

"What's that?"

He said nothing. Instead, his eyes glowed a bright blue color and I was transformed further. But it wasn't a physical change... it was more of a mental one. The limits on my memory seemed to fall away to reveal an infinite vastness. I could have dived deep into my mind and drowned if I didn't know the way back.

Not only that, but strange memories started filling my head. Countless millennia of life lessons and teachings that I did not understand entered my mind. Hyozanryu was passing on his vast knowledge of the planet to me. I began to understand things that would normally have confused me to know end. I knew the thoughts of every person on the planet, I could solve mathematical problems that geniuses could only dream of solving and I realized that the chicken came before the egg.

I blinked when that thought entered my mind. It made so much sense now that Hyozanryu was "teaching" me everything there was to know. I was surprised that I hadn't considered that possibility before. I was now beyond a genius. However, there wasn't a word for all the knowledge and life lessons that I now knew.

When it was all done, I looked at Hyozanryu-Terramental-Deagonna with some satisfaction. He had a long forgotten nickname that ancient civilizations had once called him. I think... no... I knew that his nickname was "Zann", which meant "Almighty" or "Strong One".

But those who knew him personally always called him by his proper name -- Hyozanryu -- meaning "Light of God". It certainly fit his form.

How do you feel, Alex? he asked me, his eyes returning to normal.

"I... feel... fine," I said, examining myself. I had experienced neither pain nor strange feelings that time. I looked around at the black void that we were in. "I wish this would clear up, though."

It will tomorrow night. By then, you will have transformed one more time before I return to the world.

"One more time? Why can't we do it now?"

Hyozanryu shook his head. The next transformation can only be done while you are awake. I gulped. Don't worry. It will be nothing like the previous incidents. You will feel no pain while it is going on. I can tell you, though, that it will occur at noon tomorrow, so you can be prepared for it.

"Thank you."

I automatically put my hand forward to shake his clawed one and Hyozanryu did likewise. It felt like shaking a semi-solid ghost, but Hyozanryu's had a firm grip. He wasn't completely "whole" yet, but that would soon change in a couple of days.

 

I woke up late the next day. It was 10:20 already!

"Wow, that dream went on longer than I thought."

I thought about the dream and realized that the extensions that Hyozanryu put on my mind were still there, confirming that this was all really happening. Not only that, but my shiny super-mineral body was still a part of me.

For some reason, I didn't panic this time. That dream had been so vivid and so realistic that I understood for the first time what was happening to me. I was becoming a god like Hyozanryu, even though I was becoming an almost carbon copy of him.

I realized now that I had given myself to Hyozanryu since the day that I took that diamond. I had condemned my own life the instant that I touched that gem. Hyozanryu owned me now.

But wait... He didn't "own" me. He considered me his partner... his equal. He knew that my fate was, and always would be with him. There was no other path for me.

But I didn't think of this as a punishment -- Hyozanryu was giving me a new lease on life. In all, I was getting a brand-new life handed to me on a... diamond platter.

I looked at the clock again. It was almost 11:00. I had just one more hour until I became one with Hyozanryu. I might as well make the best of my last hour as a human.

 

My last earthly meal was one that I would be proud of. I cooked up my favorite platter -- biscuits and gravy -- and spent the waiting time writing my will. I wrote that I was leaving the country and would not ever return. I left my entire collection -- as much as it pained me to do so -- to my younger half-brother, Tanner. He would certainly get more use out of my things than my sisters would.

I then realized something: I didn't have to say good-bye to my family. I could still visit them in my new form; I just had to put the responsibilities of the planet before those of my personal life.

"Boy, this expanded mind of mine sure comes in handy," I said to myself.

Signing my will, I served my biscuits and gravy and dug in. The clock read 11:45. 15 minutes to go. There was just one thing that I wanted to do before I transformed for good. I rummaged in the cupboard for my instant-picture camera. I was glad that I didn't have one of those digital cameras now; I wanted instant phototographic proof of what was happening.

I set the camera on the counter and set the timer. I then rushed back and posed for the picture. Five minutes later, the photo was fully developed and I let out a curse. The flash had reflected off my diamond-like skin and had blurred the picture!

I gave it one more shot without the flash. Five minutes later, I had a perfect picture of me with this super-mineral skin -- a perfect memento for my family. With 30 seconds to go, I laid on my bed and closed my eyes. Hyozanryu may have said that it wouldn't hurt, but I wanted to be ready... just in case.

At exactly 12:00 noon, I felt my body go rigid. This was it! It was finally here! The first to change was my insides and my bones. Several squishing and snapping sounds were heard inside my body as my organs shifted and my bones reformed to match my now growing form. I went from six-foot-two to seven-foot-four. Along with that, I felt my feet raise up on my toes, which had melted together and hardened into three rock-hard, yellow talons. A fourth, smaller, similarly colored taloned grew out of my heel, just like Hyozanryu's. I instinctively rolled on my side as a long, flexible, slightly cracked tail grew from my backside and took on a life of its own by flicking and swishing off the side of my bed.

My hands were next to change. My index-and-middle and my ring-and-pinky fingers melded with each other and became rock-hard, sharp, yellow talons just as my thumbs became the third claw on each hand. I now had clawed hands just like a dragon's.

Finally, I felt my neck elongate a little and my head rearranged into a dragon's pointed skull. Along with that, two pointed, yellow, crystal horns grew backwards from the top of it and pointed diagonally upwards. A third, similar horn grew from the tip of my muzzle like a unicorn but much lower on my head than it normally was on one. My eyes also narrowed and changed color from brown to ice-blue. To top it all off, my teeth became pointed, sharp and numerous inside my new maw like pointed shards of glass.

 

During this whole time, I didn't feel any pain. Instead, it was more of a pressure-like feeling of having your body stretch out on you.

When it was all done, I tested out my newly-transformed body by gingerly standing on my digitigrade claws. Well, that was one good thing -- Hyozanryu was a biped. I thought that I would have to practice being digitigrade, but my balance seemed to come natural.

Meandering over to my bathroom window, I examined my new body with interest. I noticed that I still had my t-shirt on. Ripping it off with a powerful claw, I marveled at my blue-plated chest. Hyozanryu had orange plates, so this was one way to tell us apart. Everything else matched him to a "T" except for one important thing.

"Uh-oh," I tried to say, but all that came out of my throat was a low growl. I swallowed and tried speaking again.

No good.

But then I remembered that Hyozanryu spoke using his mind, not his vocal cords. I had to keep that in mind.

Getting back to the important issue, I felt my shoulders for what should be mine, but I didn't have -- wings! Whoever heard of a wingless dragon? Why didn't I have wings? Hyozanryu had them!

You are not ready for them yet.

HUH?!?!

I ran out of the bathroom and into my living room. It wasn't possible! I was clearly awake, but I was hearing his voice as clear as day!

Sure enough, Hyozanryu Terramental Deagonna was standing in plain sight in my living room. He was really there! But... he didn't appear completely... what's the word... "whole". He looked more like a ghost than anything else, but he was still real -- I could see his feet leaving an impression in my carpet.

Hyozan... ryu? I said, not entirely believing my eyes.

It is me, he responded. I probably should have warned you before I decided to just... appear in your house like this.

No kidding! I said, still trying to get over the shock. I have a bone to pick with you!

Hyozanryu chuckled. "I had a feeling that you would notice the "difference"."

"Difference?! I thought we were equals!"

But he shook his head. I cannot just give you your wings. You must prove that you are ready to become my partner.

For some reason, I had failed to see this coming. Why didn't I see this coming?!

What do I need to do? I asked.

Hyozanryu stepped forward and put his clawed hand on my shoulder. Nothing much. All you need to do is retrieve my diamond from the lake that you threw it in.

"That's it?"

That's it.

I was suspicious, but I couldn't prove it. Fine. I'll see you when I find it.

I left to go to my truck. Hopefully, being a dragon didn't hinder my driving skills. However, I didn't see Hyozanryu let out a sigh. We will see about that.

 

Once I found the lake, it was relatively easy to swim to the diamond. I realized that I could hold my breath for an outstanding amount of time before I needed air. Dragons were also great swimmers, as I found out while swimming underwater to look for the jewel.

It was exactly where I had last seen it, within throwing distance from the cliff above and buried slightly in the sand. This was cake...

...or was it? The instant that I touched the diamond, I felt my mind ripped from my body and it disappeared into a white void somewhere deep inside the diamond.

 

(Author's Note: Everything in this section is based on real dreams that I have had in my sleep. I am not making this stuff up!)

Ohh... where am I?

I woke up floating in the middle of space. Stars floated all around me in this endless void.

What's going on? What is this?

This is your subconscious, Alex, said a familiar voice.

Hyozanryu? Where are you?

I looked all around me, but I couldn't see him or anything else except stars and space.

I knew from the start that your heart was pure, but your mind was shut tight, he continued. In order to fully become immortal and initiate the final transformation, you must conquer your fears and unlock your mind. You must defeat your deepest, darkest nightmares!

Oh no. You can't be serious! I can't face my nightmares like this!

Hyozanryu, however, wasn't changing his mind. This is the only way to fully free yourself from your former self. Remember, in dreams, anything goes. Good luck.

Hyozanryu, wait! But he was gone. I was all alone now.

I had trained myself in my sleep to build up a resistance to my nightmares, but I never thought that I would have to confront them for real! This was madness!

But then my heart kicked in. I realized that the only way out of here was to conquer my nightmares so that Hyozanryu and I could finally be together.

Turning to face the first one, I said to myself, Bring it on!

The nightmares started out with an easy one. Bees. Lots and lots of bees. Millions of bees were buzzing around me, threatening to sting me silly. I gulped. This wasn't a nightmare; this was one of my actual fears! My subconscious was challenging me with a real world fear.

I couldn't move from the fear of being stung. I couldn't believe that I was going down in the first round. But then I noticed that I still had my super-diamond skin from the real world and it hit me. If bullets couldn't pierce my body, then bee stings would have no chance.

Feeling confident, I ran open-armed into the swarm of bees. They tried to sting me but merely bounced off my smooth hide like water on steel. They had no effect on me.

Suddenly, the bees vanished and a new nightmare, a real one, presented itself. "Oh... crap," I swore at myself. I don't know what real world experience triggered this, but pins were an absolute terror in my dreams. They dove at me, but despite me trying to hold them back, they drove themselves into my skin, piercing it easily. The pain, for once, was real. I ripped the pins from my body and tried running away, but more and more of them drove themselves into me, weighing me down and slowing me to a crawl. I was going down hard.

Just then, I remembered Hyozanryu's words: "Remember, in dreams, anything goes." I had an idea -- an unconfirmed defense -- but it was worth a try. I flicked my hand in the air and an I.D. Card appeared out of nowhere. On the card were the words... get this: "King Pin". (Can you believe the pun?!) I had acquired this from a character in a previous dream called the "King Pin". He had given me this card to flash anytime any pins threatened me.

Immediately, the pins pulled themselves out of me and vanished instantly. They feared the King Pin and wanted nothing to do with anyone that had connections with him. So much for round two.

Now the nightmares were starting to play dirty. Instantly, a scenario where I had been in total control of appeared. I had complete order in my dream and I was able to tell anyone what to do. However, my sister was starting to get the upper hand. She thought that she could just come in and tell me what to do. I knew what I had to do for this one.

This is my dream! You can't tell me what to do!

But my sister wouldn't hear it. She continued to dominate and I continued believing that I was in control. I can shut this down if I just wake up! You won't have a choice!

I let out a breath of blue fire to show that I was in control. But just like I expected, she held up a mirror and the flames bounced back at me. I tried clawing her, but they seemed to roll right past her, missing her completely.

I hated this! When your own subconscious knows what you're doing and immediately counters it -- that was the worst!

There was only one way to deal with this. I focused my power into forcing myself to do one thing: wake up. I could feel my body stirring and I eventually got my eyes open.

I was lying in bed in the real world, taking a time-out from the assault. I have had too many bad experiences from falling asleep right away and reliving the same dream, so I went over to the bathroom to get a drink of water and then went right back to bed to continue the assault on my subconscious.

The next challenge was one that infuriated me to no end. I started out at the farm where I had grown up most of my life, but I had convinced myself that I lived in the city. I wanted to go to the city, so I started floating off down the road to my other house.

However, when I reached a certain part in the road, I immediately found myself back exactly where I started! I had made a turn in the road and ended up back in front of the farm! I hated when this dream occurred and I hadn't yet built up a resistance to it!

On a hunch, I went to go find my dad, who was still alive in my subconscious, and pulled out a ticket. The ticket read thus: "I, Alex Schaefer, have been given permission to leave the farm and return to the city of Willmar."

He didn't think it was authentic, but he couldn't prove it, so he let me go. Instantly, I was transported to the street that led to my house in Willmar.

But this part also had its drawbacks. I started down the street that I knew all too well, but the further I went, the more unfamiliar it became. I was soon walking down a rough, overgrown dirt road, even though the road was really paved.

I solved this problem by pulling out a picture of my house and the road became clear as day. Score another one for me!

If I knew my subconscious that well, then there would be two more challenges for me to deal with. I was right on the money when I found myself inside a massive shopping mall with more stores than you could visit in a lifetime. I saw a lot of people walking around -- nothing to suspect that this was one of my nightly challenges.

But I was wrong. As I walked around, I noticed that the number of people was depleting very rapidly. Soon, the stores began to close and I knew that I had to escape the mall or risk being locked in.

However, this mall was unlike any real world mall. You could go one way and end up in a completely different store than when you started. Also, you had to go through certain stores to get to find the isolated exits. The gates were coming down and I was running out of time. I had to find the exit before I was locked in!

And then... I saw it! An exit door was closing fast. I had to do a slide in order to reach the door by the skin of my teeth! I was wedged in the door just as it was about to close! With a tremendous squirm, I made it out...

...right into the final nightmare. I knew that this was coming from the start! It was my most despised of all my nightmares -- cages. But not just any cages. These were wire mesh cages that were very easy to break out of.

The catch? Once I got out of one, I immediately found myself inside an even bigger one. What's worse, every time I broke through another one, I would run into another, larger one and it would be even more difficult to break through.

There was no way to break free of the endless cages, as I soon found out. I just had to find a way to render them useless. What was it? I was running out of energy. Soon, I was to the point where the cage was over water.

Water! That's it! I had a "friend" of mine in the water that could always protect me from anything. I just had to break free of the cage and get in the water before the next one materialized.

Come on... come on... I was running out of steam.

YES!!! I broke through the cage and went into a 200-foot pencil drop into the water! Fortunately, this was a dream and I couldn't hurt myself.

 

(Author's Note: Okay, the madness stops now.)

WHOOSH!!!

I finally woke up under the water where I had retrieved the diamond. I quickly swam to the surface for a breath of fresh, clean air. It felt like the Breath of God on my cracked face!

I... did... it! I gasped.

I was in tears for the first time since becoming a dragon. I was so happy that my nightmares would never haunt me again! I put a claw to my eye and felt a hard substance chip away from it. Taking it in my paw, I examined it. It was a fragment of diamond! I had created a priceless gem with... my tears?

Dragon’s Weep Diamonds, said a familiar voice. They are made when a dragon feels pure bliss or pure sorrow.

I turned and looked up. Hyozanryu was hovering above the water just above me with a rare smile on his face. He was mostly solid, but you could still see through him a little bit.

I was about to say, Hyozanryu? But what actually came out was, Brother?

I was both shocked and confused when I said that. However, Hyozanryu extended one of his claws to pull me out of the water.

You did it, brother. You conquered your worst nightmares and proved that you are pure of heart and mind. Come with me.

I reached my own claw out and took his. The instant that mine touched his, a piercing-white light that was even too bright for my eyes burst from our linked claws. I suddenly felt something growing from my shoulders and I knew that I had gotten my authentic dragon wings. I also felt myself rising from the water to match Hyozanryu's eye level.

I looked him straight in the eye and smiled. He was now completely solid and had officially returned to the planet. The two of us looked at each other for the longest time.

Then I produced the massive diamond that had started all this, which was still in my other claw, and handed it to Hyozanryu. Words could not express the joy that radiated between us. Instead, we turned to the sky and flew off together. We were two gods who had finally returned and were about to take our rightful place in the world.

 

Several hundred years in the future, Hyozanryu and I looked down from the heavens and reflected on what had happened since the day my life changed forever. The world had been at peace for the past 300 years. Crime was at an all-time low, war was unheard of and people were sleeping much better because of our... ahem... "divine intervention". We had done so much for the planet that the thanks we received in the dream world was sometimes overwhelming.

Due to our actions, we had obtained the worldwide status of living legends. Even though we didn't plan on it occurring, an entirely new religion practically sprang up overnight. Wow.

Even though we were gods, we still got our fair share of publicity by appearing in out-of-focus shots. Due to our diamond-like skin, only people that didn’t use flashes could capture decent shots of us.

We didn't always do things for other people. On our own time, however, Hyozanryu and I would go on flights through the oceans or the night skies. On one occasion in the oceanic depths, though, I discovered that the "friend" that I had met in my dreams was, in fact, a real creature named Lugia. He was a bird-like creature that had been around just as long as Hyozanryu had. What's more, he also had a brother named Altair that had gone through a similar transformation like I had. The four of us soon built a trust among us and we all took on our own responsibilities in taking care of the planet. Lugia and Altair managed everything in the oceans and Hyozanryu and I dealt with all sky-related matters. The four of us shared the land-based issues among ourselves.

Life was good and it only continued to get better as time went on.

 

Sometime in the distant future, I had gone out with Altair to patrol the continent of Asia for any land mines that had been left over from an ancient war. Despite working around the clock on some days, it would take over 1000 years to find them all. Regardless, we had plenty of time to deal with it.

Hey, Ashura, said Altair, calling me by my true name as we scoped out a section of India. Have you ever thought about taking back what you gave up to be a god?

I had expected this question sooner or later.

Sometimes I can't stop thinking about it.

And...?

I shook my head. I wouldn't give up my position even if I had to relive every last nightmare that I went through to become one.

I thought not.

Then why did you ask? I teased him. You're psychic!

I wanted to hear what you had to say. You can't blame me for asking.

No... I guess not.

Altair and I prepared for another low pass over the minefield to check for any stray mines.

Hyozanryu once told me that dreams can become realities given the right circumstances.

Altair sighed and branched away from me to continue searching elsewhere. I guess dreams do come true.

I smiled and continued on my way.