Wizeman burst into laughter. It made Reala jump. He had never heard the boss laugh before. A deep, booming sound, it seemed to mock not just the stooped, heavily-built, vaguely reptilian man before him but also the sun, the moon, the stars, the entire Universe. It went on for a long time. The visitor did not look amused.

"You find my offer funny?"

"Wee?" repeated Wizeman, choking on another splutter, "You're going to put Nights Into Dreams on a wee"

"Sir..." began Reala.

"You're telling me you've never heard of the Wii?"

"Of course I know what a wee is! Nightopians go to the toilet too, you know."

"Sir..."

"I refuse to let you flush my game down the toilet!" said Wizeman, clenching all eight fists.

"Sir, its a games console made by Nintendo." said Reala before jumping up and darting into the rafters of the roof. Just as he escaped, a volley of fireballs shot across the room, scorching the mahogany walls of his palatial office on the top floor of the Twin Seeds clock tower. The visiting diplomat ducked down, pulling his head and tail under his body, and the fireballs shot over his head. However, the angry seven-foot cat who pounced on him seconds later managed to wrench his head back up and press an elongated claw to his throat.

"How do you want him to die, Sir?" Clawz purred.

"Let him live for now." Wizeman waved him away with a sweep of three hands, "He can send a message to our enemy that Nightopia is still fiercely loyal. Besides, he amused me. I haven't laughed for a long time. When we conquer Nintendo, he can be my court jester."

"But Jackle..."

"Will be given another, equally important job to do." said Wizeman, "Now escort mister..."

"Bowser." said the slightly scorched diplomat, "Dirk Bowser."

"Escort Mr. Browser to the door."

"Bowser!" corrected the man with a growl, but he was already being dragged backwards out of the door by an irritated Clawz.He gave Wizeman a look that reminded him vaguely of Rhys during the opening scenes of Phantasy Star 3.

"Mr. Wizeman, I suggest you venture out of your front door occasionally." said Bowser, "The world is very different now."

"Very different." he added as Clawz kicked him out of a nearby window.

--

"Sir, this really isn't a good idea..."

"Whyever not?" Wizeman demanded of the sweating Reala. "Nightopians don't survive very well in the waking world, sir."

"I know that!" he snapped, "That's why I'm possessing a mortal body! Puffy, find me a mortal body."

Reala watched the rabbit opera singer bounce away over the horizon and sighed.

"Sir, I still don't think you'll be safe in the outside world." he said.

"Nonsense. I have you and Clawz to protect me."

"The thing is..." Reala snapped his fingers, "Who would protect Nightopia from invaders while we were gone? What if the bad man comes back with an army?"

"You have a point." admitted Wizeman, "Okay, you and Clawz stay behind and defend our territory. NiGHTs will escort me."

"Yes, sir." Reala sighed. At least I won't be involved, he thought. Nobody can blame me now. He jumped into the air and flew across the grassy plains of Nightopia, where the Nightopians frolicked and listened to ambient industrial anthems recorded by Reala in Stick Canyon.

Ten minutes later, NiGHTs flew up to Wizeman. "What's this about an excursion to the outside world?" asked NiGHTs. He knew that Nightmaren only ventured into the outside world in exceptional circumstances such as finding another mortal who was out of touch with reality enough to potentially be trained as a Nightmaren.

"I want to see exactly what the situation is." explained Wizeman, "I haven't left the nightmare realm for three hundred years. A lot must have changed since then."

"Where exactly are we going?"

"Let's go to our capital!" said Wizeman, "It'll be bustling with people. We'll be able to find out the most there."

The two Nightmaren sat on the ground and meditated until their consciousness left their body. They soon located two children whose minds could easily be manipulated, told them to sleep and then possessed them. I'll give you control back later, NiGHTs promised the child, I just need a physical body to survive. They walked into the streets of Sega's capital city, New Radaxian.

Wizeman almost dropped his baseball bat in shock.

There was nothing left. What had once been a thriving trade capital was now in ruins, the walls crumbling, the roads torn to pieces, the big statue of Sonic in the town square pulled down. The untended gardens were overgrown, ivy crawling over the shell of the town hall. The Nightmaren leader walked over to the ruins and pulled out a small white object. A VMU. There was still battery power left in it. A rather despondent-looking Chao wandered along the screen.

"What happened here?" he demanded.

"Sir, I... I think we lost the war." said NiGHTs.

Wizeman crushed the VMU in his hand. "Why was I not informed of this?"

"Sir, we tried to tell you, but we never get free time to talk. Yesterday I didn't even have enough free time to breathe. It would have been very inconvenient if Nightmaren actually had to breathe."

"Excuses, excuses!" snapped Wizeman. He climbed the ruins to see if he could get a better vantage point. Surely there must be something left.

On top of the ruins was a boy. He was twelve years old, not too much older than the boy Wizeman was possessing. He was dressed very oddly for a young boy - he wore white plate mail and a cloak of pure ermine. He was picking VMUs out of the ruins and putting them in a sack. Over his shoulder was slung a rather intricately embroidered white flag.

"This is no time to surrender!" yelled Wizeman, quickly pocketing a VMU before the boy could nab it. "I beg your pardon, sir?" the boy's face twisted into a look of pure outrage, "Are you mocking the Highland battle standard? I am Prince Wein of Highlands, sir, and I do NOT surrender!"

--

"Sir! Be respectful of him! He's a Legendran monarch! They're famous for their ferocity in battle!" warned NiGHTs.

"I challenge you to a duel!" said Wein, drawing a sword and pointing it at Wizeman. The Nightmaren hefted his baseball bat and took a martial stance. NiGHTs sighed. It was obviously just going to be one of those days today.

Then, after a few blows were exchanged, Wein idly parried Wizeman's bat to one side and looked at his watch.
"Harsgalt! I'm late!" he swore, "I apologise for my rudeness, but I shall have to postpone our duel. Our premier bards are performing in the middle of my home province in half an hour!"

"Bards? You can't mean..." gasped NiGHTs.

"Dragonforce themselves are going to play a special morale-raising concert so that we can repel the Nintendo invaders again!" said Wein.

"Are there any tickets left?" "Well..." Wein scratched his head, "If you bow down to me, I shall give you free tickets!" "Never!" roared Wizeman, bashing the monarch over the head with the baseball bat. NiGHTs buried his head in his hands.

--

Two hours later, Wizeman and NiGHTs sat in the royal pavilion overlooking the stage. The band had been performing for a while and were taking a break. An enormous crowd from all over Legendra was gathered around the stage, cheering and roaring. Temporary peace had been declared for the special occasion and it felt odd to see Highlanders and Fandarians standing next to each other, casually discussing musical tastes. The only people nobody talked to were the beastmen of Bozack, who smelled bad.

"We're not the ONLY survivors." admitted Wein, "But we survived completely intact despite receivng the brunt of the attacks, and we're stll fighting. Legendran morale can't be broken!"

"I can see why, with bards like that!" said NiGHTs, watching Wizeman, who had run into the crowd and was now near the front, dancing wildly, "Thank you for inviting us, Wein, I think it really made a difference to Wizeman. I've never seen him happy before!"

"Do you promise to fight to the death?"

"I'm not sure Nightopians can actually die." said NiGHTs, "But I can promise this..."

NiGHTs jumped out of his seat, flew into the air and performed an elaborate paraloop, leaving a trail of sparkling light behind him. A few people gasped, an archer shot at him and a harpy screeched as it was knocked out of the sky, unable to fly away in time.

"We'll fight until we wake up!"

--

Dedicated to Sega.
May the dream never die.
--