Hello everyone! Welcome to my first NiGHTS fanfic, and second fanfic to ever be published on this site. I've had the idea for this story for a long time, and it grows a little every day. I decided to start writing it because I LOVE writing stories. My laptop crashed, and I was too stupid to remember to back up my We Will Always Be Enemies files. I've been itching to finish the next chapter and update the story. It's like halfway done. But..I can't finish the story when my computer won't even start up. So if you're one of the people who's reading that story, I promise I haven't given up on it. I don't know when I'll update again because my computer might be down for a while. But in the meantime, I decided to make this story using my family's computer. I actually made a vow to myself that I would wait to finish one story at a time instead of having a bunch of side projects when I created my account. But I didn't want to go so long without writing, and my ideas for this story are relatively strong even though my NiGHTS/Reala obsession only happened a few months ago.

Yes, the main character in this story is an OC. At first I was going to make it a NiGHTS and Reala story...but I couldn't really get into the whole concept. I mean since Reala is commonly accepted to be more masculine, yet NiGHTS we don't really know, I wasn't sure how to write a story that starred just the two of them. Do I make them siblings? Lovers? Friends? Rivals? And then I thought, maybe I should have all the adventure and drama tied together with a human Dreamer, Aka an OC. After all, I would be able to get into it more. I don't know why, but I have this thing with tying humans in with non-human things. It makes it more relatable for me, and hopefully for the reader. It's easier to imagine what they're feeling since we are all humans, ya know? Unless you're a banana or something. Then I can't help you.

This might sound weird, but I had already planned on making a NiGHTS story for a while. But after I heard this song called Rebirthing by the ever so wonderful Skillet, all the ideas suddenly flooded to me. Now, it's become one of my favorite songs, and everytime I hear it, I think about this.

In this story, NiGHTS is called a he, Jackle is called a he, and Reala is called a he. Please do not take the time to review just to tell me they're all androgynous. I KNOW THEY ARE. For some reason when I look at NiGHTS, neither boy nor girl come to mind. I just think...NiGHTS. I do not think of a gender right off the bat. So instead of making it a girl and having Reala be the opposite sex, I made them both like brothers, and Jackle's crazy laughs from NiD are too boyish for me to call him a girl. So that's that.

Please, if it bothers you then don't read. Find another NiGHTSxReala story and be on your way.

That said, I hope you find this story interesting. I'm really putting time and effort into this, and will update whenever possible. Please review if you have the time.

Oh and quick side note-Do do doooooo...do do dooooo = NiGHTS' flute music.

WARNING: This story is rated T because it will be discussing a subject that some people have a sensitivity to, and that is child abuse. Yes, I am against abuse in any shape or form, and no I am not throwing it into the story to glamorize it and use it simply for dramatic effect. This story is meant to teach us all a powerful message; something some of us may already know, but a higher percentage have overlooked. What that message is, is completely open-ended. You can decipher it yourself because it may come to you differently than it will to others.

If even the mentioning of abuse upsets you, I highly recommend you don't read this story. If you wish to proceed, thank you for your toleration and I hope you enjoy.

I do not own NiGHTS or any of the associated characters. But I do own Lydia and all the other OC's in this story.

When you come to the edge of all the light you know

and are about to step into the darkness of the unknown.

Faith is knowing that one of two things will happen.

There will be solid ground to stand on

or you will be taught to fly.

-Author Unknown

Lavender Light

"Hoooo," Owl sighed sadly, right as he dropped his stubby talons down onto his perch, and leveled himself still. His large head dipped downward, his feathers fanning out like unruly leaves, and his beady black eyes slowly scanning left and right. The aging bird tucked his faded honey-colored wings underneath themselves and looked up completely. He began examining the Dream Gate and all of its tranquil surroundings.

There was that water fountain, in all its divine and unnaturally pleasant beauty, spewing cyan-tinted water that pooled around the circular, silver-laced edges, in the center of the garden-esque environment that made up the entrance to the Dream World.

There were the enormous trees that stretched on up for endless miles until they nearly scraped the navy splashed skies. The thick, tangled branches, sinking their shadings across the world like overlapping vessels of shadowed blood

But tonight, just as it had been many previous nights, the Dream Gate did not appear as serene or beautiful as it had been before...when Owl had the company of a certain mischievous dream jester.

Owl sighed again, closing his eyes slowly and dropping his head further down, but not far enough for his loose spectacles to topple off.

"Oh, NiGHTS," he cooed, feeling a faint, burning ache as the name swam through his eardrums. His brain registered it as something painful. A sad memory that made his spirit throb.

Through all the frustrating times and frequent disrespect, Owl couldn't deny that he had indeed grown an attachment to NiGHTS, as many other people did, and loved him as if he was his own child.

Who was NiGHTS? Why, he was a mysterious, playfully childish creature that had been alongside Owl at the Dream Gate ever since he betrayed the Nightmaren Army. He was neither a boy, nor a girl, for the creatures of his kind were genderless. Though Owl saw him more as a son amongst other things.

Explaining the kind of entity that was NiGHTS to another person was almost impossible. Even though it had already been clarified that NiGHTS was a being known as a Nightmaren, it was still a mystery as to where it was he came from exactly.

His personality, his immortal soul...he was practically the essence of dreams themselves. An essence of all the magic and luminescence ever to grace a breath in the infinite universe, all bottled inside one little limber purple body.

Master Wizeman was the one to create him from scratch...and how something so evil could make such a magnificent miracle was beyond Owl.

He wondered to himself, where had the presence of his energy been before his body ever came to light? Was it hanging in a limbo between worlds, neither dead nor living? And what created that magic in the first place? It had to have come from somewhere. And what did it consist of? What was he made of? That's what really picked at Owl's brain.

That aside, the important thing was NiGHTS had always been an amazing person in general, but more-so a trustworthy friend and of course a reigning hero. He was courageous, comical, and even selfless at times. He was incredibly immature like a small child refusing to grow up, and yet held determination like no other.

Currently, Owl had a small, yet growing issue that blossomed after he was bestowed with the responsibility of watching over the Dream Gate on his own. He couldn't help but notice the dreamers who currently visited the Night Dimension never grinned or giggled the way they had when NiGHTS was around. He never saw those shining smiles, or that unique sparkle in their eyes. There seemed to be less color and warmth about them. As if, whatever caused said attributes to drain simply couldn't be replenished.

Owl still played his part. He greeted them all at the entrance of the Dream Gate just as they mounted into the world that divided from their own. He played it off as if nothing was different, gave them more information about their Dream Worlds and the do's and don't's, and how they must steer clear of the Dark Ocean, whose black waves lapped at the bottom of the cliffs, if they valued their young, untainted souls.

Even though all the Dreamers were safe from harm, something was still missing. There was no playful purple jester here to meet them, to dualize with them, and then soar off into whatever wondrous adventure they could concoct together. Whether it was soaring through bubbled rings, collecting links of golden stars and shiny blue marbles, or maneuvering through depths of water, through sugar scented snowflakes, or directly up into space, towards the kaleidoscope colored stars.

Even the absence of threats and danger was becoming a bit of a bore. When it had still lingered about, NiGHTS made it his priority to end it before it got out of hand, and even though mishaps and mistakes ensued, it always turned out well in the end.

Now it was a much more depressing atmosphere.

Owl repeatedly tried the best he could to make all the Visitors be just as happy as they'd been before. He tried guiding them through Nightopia, introducing them to the dwelling Nightopians in hopes that they would find interest in them, and told them about all the many activities they could do whilst in their respective worlds. Heck, he even took drastic measures and attempted cracking the worlds corniest jokes in order to lighten the mood when Visitors went exploring. But Owl was obviously no comedian. His humor was stale. He failed to even get a small lip curl from the children... just about every single time. Maybe it had something to do with the generation gap.

But no. The answer was clear as day. Without NiGHTS, nothing went as it was supposed to. All the children who came to Nightopia never, ever broke free of their outer shells. All of them awoke at the end of their dreams feeling the exact same way they had when they first fell asleep, having made no improvement in their mind or spirit whatsoever, and still struggling against the same barriers from before. They were still glum, angry, bored, and troubled with their lives, as well as reality and now also with what Nightopia had to offer. Their heart and its contents had not made even the smallest bit of a difference, and their aspirations failed to come to light. It was as if they had never shown up there to begin with, like it never happened. Nightopia had no impact on them at all. That was definitely not how it used to be. And that wasn't their fault. Owl felt it was he who bore the blame.

But it doesn't make sense ...Owl thought to himself. It's true...It's not the children's fault that they can't have any fun here. But it certainly isn't my fault either! Nightopia is supposed to be a heavenly paradise! How could one possibly be so unintrigued by it? How can they treat it as if it's nothing?

To my knowledge, Nightopia is far more interesting than what the Waking World has to offer. The opportunities are endless! There are very few restrictions. The entire Dream Universe is colorful and vibrant, leaving nothing to the imagination yet everything at the same time. The bland world that humans reside in is the exact opposite. It doesn't add up at all.

But alas, that's exactly the kind of effect NiGHTS had on all the children he encountered. He was what made dreaming an activity of leisure. He was the one who made Nightopia seem especially beautiful and magical; he made it all an unforgettable experience, unless the children lost the memories of their dreams after awakening, that is. And that was happening more frequently now than ever before.

Lacking NiGHTS had left Nightopia with a serious blow to the core. It just wasn't the same without him.

Owl grimaced as the memories phased him. He remembered waiting on the same perch he was resting on now for NiGHTS' return...after he'd been whisked away by that horrible, evil Lord of Nightmare. Master Wizeman.

He remembered witnessing the horror as it unfolded right before his very own glassed eyes. Wizeman, NiGHTS' despicable and ruthless creator, had taken him away. He had never intended on destroying the little dream jester, but instead wished to replace NiGHTS' soul with another. A disciplined, more obedient one of course. One who would follow his orders. Owl couldn't even comprehend the thought of another cold, cruel spirit being in NiGHTS' place and dancing the puppet dance for the ruler of Nightmare.

Owl had known in his heart that the war had officially begun, and it would also come to a dramatic end, all in a matter of one night. Wizeman...vs. NiGHTS. The only thing the aged bird could do was wait for the results of whomever's victory, silently praying that NiGHTS would end it with being the one victorious, for the sake of the Dreaming World, and for the sake of the Visitors, their ideya, and their dreams.

But as days passed, and NiGHTS had yet to return to the Dream Gate, Owl slowly loosened his grasp on hope.

Just thinking about losing NiGHTS used to make his stomach churn. But now, he didn't need to imagine life without NiGHTS. He was already living it. It left him feeling empty. And it had been that way every night for months now. Owl was lonely. He missed the jester's voice, his frolicking, and his company altogether.

Owl then stopped midway through sulking. He remembered that as impossible as it seemed, there was some good in this outcome.

At first, Owl assumed Wizeman was the one to have destroyed NiGHTS. But then he noticed that after a while, not only NiGHTS...but all of the Nightmaren had seemingly disappeared. There was not a single sign of their hideous faces (not counting NiGHTS) anywhere in sight.

In fact, Owl no longer needed to warn Visitors about how dangerous the Nightmaren around here were, since they always failed to show up. The Visitors' Ideya was always safely kept within them, untouched and unharmed, because there were no longer any Nightmaren around to snatch it from them. And even more importantly, these days Nightopia was never in danger. Nightmare seemed to have given up on taking it over.

And that could only mean one thing...

It meant that Nightmare no longer existed. After all, Nightmare would never willingly give up its hunger for control.

NiGHTS had in fact won. He succeeded in defeating Master Wizeman. Because to destroy the Lord of Nightmare, was to destroy everything he'd created as well...including the hero himself.

Owl still found it heart-wrenching and difficult to picture NiGHTS disappearing forever. Even thinking on the subject now made his eyes glisten over with cold tears.

He was extremely proud of NiGHTS indeed. He succeeded in what it was he was trying to accomplish from the very beginning. He fought against his own reason for existence, which was robbing Dreamers of their dear Ideya, because he knew in his heart that it was wrong. He managed to end all the evil and bring Nightopia back into eternal peace and bliss, sacrificing himself in the process. It was the most heroic, noble thing Owl had ever seen anyone do...ever.

But he still couldn't help but miss him dreadfully.

He sniffled quietly as two streams of tears spilled over onto his cheeks, matting his feathers together. As more tears ensued, the lens of Owl's glasses became covered in the watery substance. Though his tears were clear, they left messy splatters in their wake, melting Owl's sight into a multitude of nightly colors. He paused and noted the minor annoyance.

"O-Oh my," he stammered, his voice cracking slightly from the tightness in his throat. "How bothersome. I really must get a hold of myself."

But right before Owl could make another comment to himself, he heard it.

A soft, childish song.

Do do doooooo...Do do dooooooooooo

"...Hm?" Owl pondered, craning his stumpy neck up towards the source of the noise, his golden beak falling open in awe. "What in Nightopia's name...?"

That music. Was that...? Could it be?

No. That's impossible.

Owl wrapped his wings over his head and hooted again. "...Goodness, I must be going mad!" he exclaimed quietly to himself. "I know for certain I'm the only one here! But for a moment, I swear I heard-"

Do do dooooooo...Do do doooooooooo

Owl's eyes popped open again. The insides of his glasses were still glazed over with tear droplets. He forced his wings back down, turning his head every which way towards the open skies.

"W-What? Who's there!" he cried out anxiously, fearing that he really was losing his sanity, or that an unknown presence was on the brink of ambushing him. And poor Owl had no means of defense other than panic flapping his wings.

As much as he didn't want to admit it, that had to be it. Someone was there, teasing him, taunting him for kicks. He couldn't have only imagined that sweet lullaby. It sounded far too real. But something like that...it couldn't have been real. It was already mad enough that someone had managed to enter this world without Owl's acknowledgement. But for the original player of the song to be the one producing the music?


There was absolutely no way.

Owl paused again, his eyebrows knitting together.

His blurred vision suddenly focused in on a purple, pink, and yellow blob that was peacefully resting in the center of a dark backdrop. The darkness behind it was the trees. It was propped on one of the branches.

Owl gasped and jutted his head towards the strange blob. The quick movement caused the remaining tears inside his spectacles to slide off and drop down onto his vest, darkening the areas where they hit. Now his eyes were clear, minus the subject of his sight being framed by excess sprinkles of salted H2O.

What he saw stunned him completely. The old bird forgot how to intake oxygen.

There he was...

There...was NiGHTS...

He was doing that strange invisible flute thing with his hands, just as he had all the time when he rested at the Dream Gate awaiting the new Visitors.

It was as if he had never been gone.

NiGHTS lowered his brown hued fingers away from his mouth, uncurling them in the process. The little tune he'd been playing on his unseen instrument instantly froze into dead silence. He opened his enormous eyes and turned his head towards the elderly bird, smiling appreciatively.

His body dropped off the branch and he slowly glided down to Owl's level. Grains of glittering Twinkle Dust soared gracefully from his hands as he neared the ground. His dark blue eyes shined with a deep and beautiful aura.

"Why, hello there, Owl," he greeted gently, tilting his head slightly to the right. "It's been a while, hasn't it?"

His voice still had that familiar warm echo about it, acting as a mirror to every word he spoke.

Owl only gawked back at him. His beak trembled, the whites of his eyes enlarging in size as he desperately searched for the right words to utter. But it was like he'd forgotten how to speak English. There was a tornado of questions crashing through his head.

Somehow, NiGHTS looked completely different than from when Owl had last seen him.

Yes, Owl was old and his memory was faint, but he could never forget something as essential as what NiGHTS' general appearance was. And something about the way he looked now seemed incredibly off, yet suiting at the same time. The jester was adorned with a much more simply patterned clothing compared to his previous attire, while still maintaining the same color scheme and style. His gloves weren't present, leaving his light brown hands bare, and he had a large, circular collar strapped around his non-existent neck. The dark purple stripes on his jesters were slightly darker, and his overall color appeared richer in balance and contrast.

Either NiGHTS hadn't noticed these changes or he simply didn't care or mind them. He only giggled.

"Don't worry. Everything's going to be okay," he said, flying a little closer to him so that they were facing each other dead on. He grinned again, but this time bigger than before.

"It's okay," he repeated. "You're not going mad." His eyes glowed softly with reassurance.

The last thing he wanted was for the old owl, his friend and mentor, to have a heart attack from the shock, or fall into the belief that he had truly gone insane, or that NiGHTS was some sort of imposter playing a sick joke on him. NiGHTS wanted his bird friend to know that it was him, and he was just as real as ever.

"I know it seems hard to believe, but I promise, it's really me," he said, dropping his voice down to a whisper.

"I'm back."

...In a dream, I can see,

You are not far away.

Reala's eyelids quivered uneasily. His body was pulsating with a burning sensation. Even though his mind was pushed back into the dark chambers of unconsciousness, he could physically feel the last of his adrenaline dying, and his strength soaking back into him. And then something else within him triggered itself. He immediately tried to pinpoint what it was, but his mind kept fogging over.

He wasn't entirely sure, but it was almost like a new part of him was awakening. He could feel the source of his breath returning to him, accompanied by a strange, unfolding energy.

Anytime, any place,

I can see your face.

The unknown female voice reverberated quietly in his head, as if bouncing around in a wide corridor. By now, the red and black clad jester had regained control of his five senses, yet strangely enough, his limbs were still paralyzed. Every time he tried to do so much as even slightly budge a muscle, his body would respond with an internal tingling, like hot, grainy powder was being thrashed against the inside of his skin. It didn't hurt. It just felt incredibly odd.

Reala's black lips tightened in a mixture of curiosity and agitation. He realized that he wasn't by himself. Obviously, if he could hear someone's voice, that meant he couldn't be alone. And judging by the voice's smooth octaves, he assumed it belonged to a female.

She was either next to him, or in front of him. He wasn't sure. It was all incredibly hard to decipher with how dizzy he was. In fact, he couldn't even sense her presence at all.

Whoever she was, she was singing to him. Her voice loomed over him like a thin mist. It sounded rather distant.

He couldn't help but wonder...who was this person, and why in the world was she singing to him? Was she another Nightmaren, or a Visitor perhaps? A Visitor...sitting here and mocking the General with her silly show-tunes. Right there he felt like getting up and yanking her vocal chords out of her throat with his bare hand. He hated that someone was making a fool out of him when he was this vulnerable.

How come she wasn't more concerned about him and how he was just laying there practically, if not completely dead? Instead of attempting to help him, she chose to sing.

That's just bloody wonderful.

You're that special one, that I've been waiting for,

And I hope you're looking for someone like me.

The notes she sang came out genuinely sweet, if not a bit haunting. Once again, Reala struggled to open his eyes. He was pushing against his inner limits, desperately trying to regain control of himself. He didn't want to continue laying there motionless. If anything, he at least wanted to open his eyes long enough to see who was there with him. Even though the voice was foreign and seemingly belonged to a stranger, he had to admit, he found a small bit of comfort in knowing he wasn't alone. It was almost like a reassurance that he was still alive. And at least the woman could carry a tune.

He tried to speak, but his mouth refused to open. His voice came out in a muffled whimper that kept itself hidden in his throat.

The voice didn't react.

In the nights, dream delight,

I want to see you standing there...

Reala's heart suddenly pounded against his chest. His mind clicked at the notes of the mysterious melody as they poured on. The realization of where the song originated from hit him like a wrecking ball. He knew it anywhere.

Then suddenly, as if it had never been there, her voice retreated.

In the nights, dream delight,

You are the one...

Before she could finish the lyrics, her last words cut off and gently echoed through Reala's mind, before dying off into nothing.

Now he really was alone.

After laying there blankly for a few seconds, the surprise finally passed.

That was it. That was the final straw. Reala weakly ground his teeth together, putting up a fight against his own body's instincts. He would never admit defeat. He had to get up.

'Oh, come on. Get up, you fool!' he wanted to shout. 'Get up! Get up! GET UP!'

Surprisingly, his strength flowed back to him all at once. A warm feeling coursed through his veins, weaving its way around him as if granting back his mobility. His eyelids shot open.

Reala instantly jumped up into a sitting position. He blinked his icy blue eyes twice, trying to get rid of the haze in his vision. He felt an ache forming at the back of his head, and pressed his palm against the affected area, rubbing back and forth. Since his sight wasn't sharpened, all he could see was a black and cerulean splatter of nothingness laid out around him. He gazed out at it in puzzlement, bringing his hand back around to the side of his face, out of view, and gently brushing it across his persona to make sure it was still there. Once his fingers met the golden fibers, he pulled his arm away, getting a little peace at mind in knowing it was still on his face where it belonged.

Once his eyes managed to blink into a clear view, he glanced around frantically in every direction, searching for any sort of indicator as to where he was, and what in the world was happening. Nothing was offering an explanation.

But then the warmth in his body quickly faded away and was replaced by an uncertain chill. A shiver ran down his spine.

After looking closer at everything around him, Reala couldn't help but become gravely silent with worry. There was no other way to put it. He really was surrounded by nothingness. There was not a single, solid form in his line of sight. There was no movement whatsoever. All he saw was a giant mess of dark, dank colors formatted as his surroundings. They all collided and morphed together, creating an endless abyss that swirled so slowly, it didn't appear to be moving at all.

Then something in Reala's mind clicked. His bum felt like it was pressed against something flat, and that must've meant he was on ground. He immediately turned over to look underneath him, but to his dismay, saw that there was in fact no ground. He was hovering.

It wasn't him doing it either. There was an invisible force down below, a current perhaps, that was holding him up and keeping him from falling. But he wasn't bobbing up and down like he would if it really were the air that was supporting him. He was perfectly still, as if sitting on something solid.

"...Where am I..." Reala asked out loud, half expecting an answer even though there was clearly nobody around him. But what about the girl who had been singing that song? How could she have just disappeared into thin air? Was it just his mind playing tricks on him the whole time?

Then, a deafening chime sounded above him. Reala, already discombobulated enough as it was, jumped slightly and craned his head upwards, peering at the space above.

What he saw made him gasp. It somehow triggered his memories. He instantly remembered everything that led to this point.

Above his head was Bellbridge.

The bells in the clock tower boomed out over the glowing town. It almost sounded like the clappers inside them were lolling around, creating a mesmerizing ring, like a sound produced by angels.

Without warning, millions of pictures painfully surged through Reala's mind, causing him to grab his head again, but this time with both hands. He grunted to himself and squeezed his eyes shut. They played out in flashbacks, or rather frozen images, of what happened to him right before he was knocked out. Him and NiGHTS had been fighting in a long awaited battle. Both of them, one on one. And...NiGHTS managed to beat him, somehow.

Now that he thought about it, he couldn't help but wonder. How could NiGHTS have won? How could he beat him...the leader of the Nightmaren army?

It couldn't have been that he was stronger. Reala's physique was clearly superior over NiGHTS' dainty excuse for a figure. Could it have been...the determination...or simply the will to win? Had the desire to defeat Reala and Master Wizeman actually made NiGHTS to be stronger than he really was?

But that kind of logic didn't make sense in Reala's mind. How could wanting something actually make you physically stronger, more agile, and quicker than that of your opponent? Besides, it's not like Reala didn't have his own ambitions. Nothing in the entire universe would have served him more satisfaction than beating NiGHTS in that battle, or even killing him if it were necessary. He was sure Master Wizeman wouldn't have minded. In fact, he would have been happy that the little unloyal pest was finally out of the picture.

So...how come the determination hadn't worked for him? What kind of adrenaline had NiGHTS felt that apparently he had yet to experience himself?

Reala growled. To him, none of that mattered anyway. He possessed something that NiGHTS never even considered having, and that was, low and behold, common sense. It was quite simple, really. Anyone would know betraying their creator is a stupid idea. Something like that was begging for the worst kind of trouble. If he had just stayed in Nightmare, served his simple purpose and stole Ideya from Visitors just as all Nightmaren were created to do, he would never have been locked away in those Ideya palaces so many times. He wouldn't have gotten himself into countless messes. He would have never had to face the wrath of Master Wizeman...and regrettably, Reala would not be here, trapped at the bottom of Bellbridge, hardly able to tell up from down. All because of his counterpart's antics.

Wait just a moment. Where exactly is NiGHTS? What ever happened to those annoying little Visitors? And what became of our Master Wizeman?

Then out of nowhere, the volume of the clock tower's bells drastically increased. Reala could feel the vibration mounting through him to the center. It beat against him from the inside out.

Somewhere in the back of his head, he sensed something strange. It felt like something was slipping away from him.

He looked down and let out a rough gasp. His body was beginning to slip through the force that had him suspended in the air. His hindquarters, followed by his legs and back were slowly caving in through a gap.

The dense atmosphere started to fully disparate. Reala thrashed himself upward in an attempt to escape the disintegrating ground as he grunted with fury. His flying instincts weren't responding. His whole body refused to obey its own commands. His brain was working, but nothing else was.

What is going on!

Before he knew it, Reala had fallen completely through whatever force had once been there, and was now plummeting downward.

"Ah!" Reala shouted. His weakened shrieks pierced the night air like frosted blades. The yellow luminescence of Bellbridge slowly faded away from sight. In fact, the whole world was becoming darker, chillier, and more frightening than it had been previously. It was slowly but surely losing its light. His stomach clenched with uncertainty.

Just when things couldn't have gotten any worse, the persona mask that was tightly plastered against Reala's face began fluttering at the edges. As he continued to fall, the wind picked up and gushed against him. The mask gradually loosened before it was instantaneously uprooted off his eyes. It was whisked away, descending into the darkness.

Reala noticed its absence immediately. He tried to extend an arm in its direction, but his reaction was a second too late, and the persona was already far beyond his reach.

"No!" he choked out, watching as the golden texture of the mask shined for a few moments before it disappeared forever. The cold air crept its way onto the area around his eyes, washing over the newly exposed skin.

This had really gotten to Reala. Everyone knew that mask was far more than just an accessory in a Nightmaren perspective. It was a symbol. It represented one's loyalty to the creator and God of Nightmare, Master Wizeman. It showed that he respected his master. It showed he wasn't a bumbling idiot like NiGHTS, and chose to obey his orders rather than go against them for foolish reasons. That mask meant everything to him.

But then Reala gasped, screwing his eyes down at his own limb. He took a long look at his outstretched hand, mouth agape, and traced his eyes down his elbow, up his shoulder, then back to his hand. He finally gained control of his facial muscles and slammed his mouth shut, but his eyes quivered at their discovery in disbelief.

Instead of having his usual light blue fingers and pink tinted nails, his palms were pitch black, and his fingers were made up of sharp, neon yellow claws. He clicked his fingertips together, as if checking to see if it truly was his hand that he was gawking at. He was able to control it. So it really was his.

There were ovular red and purple plates fastened around his wrists, which had definitely not been there before. He didn't know what they were, nor what purpose they were supposed to serve. Better yet, he had no idea where they came from.

"...Is this some kind of cruel joke?" he said, his voice dragging out, before imploding on itself. "What happened to me!"

The curls of dark blue that cascaded around him evaporated, leaving nothing behind but an open oblivion of black. It bore a strong resemblance to the Dark Ocean. In fact, Reala was beginning to believe that's exactly what it was, if not just an infinite black hole.

Reala turned his attention away from his arm, getting the strange feeling that he was suddenly going blind. His vision was darkening, to the point that he couldn't look over himself for any other possible changes if he wanted to. The dark had rendered him blind.

He eventually closed his eyes, knowing there was no way around this, and no one to help him now. Of course Reala didn't want to give in so easily, but it wouldn't do any good if he defied his fate and chose to show no last dignity when it really mattered. He couldn't escape this...whatever this was. With how tattered he was and his new changes, he didn't even know where to begin with himself. He couldn't even fly.

He succumbed to the unforgiving, unwanted truth. There was not a chance in the universe that he would live. He should've already been dead...he wasn't sure why he survived in the first place. But now it was over. He was going to vanish in this black emptiness, leaving no trace behind. That's all there was to it.

His striped jesters flopped upward as gravity heaved the rest of him down into the darkness. With a final sigh, he loosened his body in the acceptance that he was going to die.

Here's to the end of Reala.

Deep inside the realms of Nightmare...

Within the large, shadowy fortress of Nightmare Castle...

Once you're inside, go down the hall.

Take a left, another left, and continue straight.

After a bit of time has passed, and your legs are partially sore, you will find yourself at a dead end, standing outside a twisted orange door. It's elongated so far up it nearly grazes the black and purple tiled ceiling. Give the silver handle a tug, swing it open, and enter if you dare.

The room inside is exactly what you expected and more. Bright and vivid...practically over-saturated with limitless color. It's up to the roof with oversized toys, the kind that would be much more suitable for a child's entertainment as opposed to anyone else. But funny enough, despite the innocence of all the novelties, there were also various instruments of torture lying about here and there. The blade of the guillotine in the corner had beads of red liquid spotting down its shiny edges, dryly stained. All because it hadn't been used in such a long time.

In that room, there lay another unconscious Nightmaren. His invisible body parts and defused cape were separated and sprawled out across the hypnotically designed floor. After a few moments without movement, the warm tones of his color scheme suddenly blurred at the edges. The cape released a low hum, emitting a soft glow around its frame. The Nightmaren's invisible form, for the first time in many years, began moving. But not at its will, for its owner had yet to awaken.

Yet it had come to life, and was slowly piecing itself back together like a puzzle until it had become whole again. The cape drew itself to him like a magnet, fastening to his back with a hiss.

Suddenly, the Nightmaren's inner system began working again, slowly spilling in with fresh warmth from head to toe. It wasn't long before his bright blue eyes fluttered little by little, before flying open entirely, allowing the slit pupils to shrink in adjustment as they swiveled in all directions.

His non-existent body was incredibly sore, but the confused Nightmaren paid no attention to it. He felt so lost, like a newborn infant taking its look at the world for the first time. He was driven more by curiosity to his surroundings than curiosity to himself. He suddenly jumped up with a gasp, hovering a few feet off the ground.

Despite being unconscious for so long, he still remembered how to fly.

The sudden movement made him extremely light headed, and for a moment his vision dimmed over with yellow stars. He nearly lost concentration of his flying instinct and almost dropped back to the floor. But after the stars cleared, he blinked and twisted around anxiously.

"W-What is this place? What is this all supposed to be?" he asked the empty air, shivering at the sound of his own voice.

He knew who he was. His own identity was a no brainer. But other than that, the surroundings were foreign.

"I feel like I've been asleep for such a long time..." he added. "And now I've awoken...and it feels like I'm in the future."

He then furrowed his eyes at the ground, the swirling and confusing patterns corresponding to his own shuffling thoughts.

"But never mind that. I could've sworn I just heard someone else here. What was with all that musical nonsense that I just heard?"

He was referring to the strange, feminine voice that had been singing him some sort of foreign lullaby.

"Hmm...I swear if I didn't know I was already insane in the membrane, I would've thought someone was literally sitting there next to me singing a song. It sounded familiar, yet, at the same time, I can't quite put a finger on it."

The Nightmaren shrugged it off. "Eh, whatever. Guess that just proves I'm as crazy as ever."

Then he stopped and took in the objects around him, as well as the ones shoved up against the walls and the trinkets that hung from the ceiling.

There were two enormous green and purple drums. A giant brown teddy bear. Then a red and yellow guillotine...

It was all incredibly overwhelming and nostalgic. The Nightmaren growled in frustration, since he couldn't remember a thing before his awakening. He spun around, facing the opposite side of his room and found that he was facing a large, carnival-themed mirror.

Pieces of glass were missing from some of the edges, and there were a lot of cracks that sliced through his jagged reflection. But it was nothing he couldn't make out. His eyes moved up and down, scanning his form before meeting back with themselves again. They sparked with interest.

Everything seemed to come together at once. Through short, broken flashbacks, everything suddenly made sense again. The Nightmaren's expression became drained of all inquisitiveness, and a sickeningly evil smile danced across his see-through features. He turned around and took another glance at his environment. It was becoming more and more familiar by each ticking second. The epiphany was sinking in.

"...This...is my room..." he mumbled in a low voice, sustaining his excitement. His orange and yellow claws balled into fists and quivered with overpowering joy.

"...I...I thought I was dead...I thought I was dead and well on my way to Hell...Hmm...Maybe I was dead. Yes, maybe. But now...I'm alive..."

He nodded. "Yes...somehow...not sure how...I'm alive..."

Then, the reality of it hit him with full, bittersweet force. The Nightmaren let it boil inside him before he finally exploded with a booming, demonic laugh that rebounded all over the room. His multi-colored jesters flopped down around his head as he whirled throughout the air.

"I'm alive! I'm alive! I'm not dead! I'm actually ALIVE!" he sang loudly, spinning in circles with his arms extended outward. He relished the moment with pure indulgence. His body was not only functioning again, but it also felt completely renewed. It was like a new strength had been born within him. It gave him a sense of raw power.

It felt really good.

He cackled again.

"Jackle the Mantle! Back from the dead, baby!"

He linked his claw around the coiled neck of a nearby Jack-in-the-box toy. Jackle peered into the clown head's lifeless eyes, then without warning planted a big, noisy kiss right over its painted mouth.

"Ehehehe! Isn't that right, Mr. Clown thing? I bet you missed me too, didn't ya!" he leered at it, layers of insanity lacing between his words as he pulled away from the toy's face. "Haha! Yep! I knew you did!"

He released its neck and went back to laughing and dancing all around his room. His blue eyes glittered with delight. Jackle had not a care in the world. This was all too good to be true.

"Oh YEAH!" he hollered. His voice fell into a slur.

"Jackleeeeee...the Mantleee..." he sang again, kicking his shoes around to match up with the tempo. "Jah-Jah-Jah Jackleeee...Back from the DEEAAAD-"

But then, a thought made its way into Jackle's delusional brain. He froze right in the middle of another twirl, leaving his cape to momentarily wrap around him. His smile instantly pressed into a thin line, then turned down. He placed a finger on the edge his his lip, pondering curiously.

"Well gosh...Come to think of...I was dead, wasn't I? That means...that...huh...that means..."

He gasped, suddenly feeling insulted.

"N-No way! That means someone killed me! My death...it was not just any death. It wasn't some sort of accident! Yeah...I think I remember now! I was freaking murdered wasn't I!"

Jackle's long, blazing cape fanned out behind him, gently swaying like a sliver of smoke. His happiness rapidly depleted and was replaced with an angry, ravenous feeling. Instantly, Jackle was ready to slice the next person he saw to bits with a nice, crisp deck of playing cards. He couldn't remember the last time his anger had reached this kind of extreme, and he couldn't understand why it was building this quickly.

Though it might have had something to do with the fact that someone actually had the nerve to kill him.

"But who did it...is the real question." he seethed in a voice that could be barely recognized as his own. He scraped his overlapping fangs across each other. "Who would do something like that to that to me... lovely, beautiful me..."

Jackle suddenly whipped around and faced the giant brown teddy bear he'd noticed earlier, taking a closer look. It's precious little innocent face somehow reminded him of a certain purple menace. And then...it all came back to him in spurts of scenic memories. His eyes went massive.

In that short moment, Jackle let out a slow, hot breath of air. He hovered closer to the teddy bear, looking back at his own bulging reflection in its lustrous marble eyes. Without a second thought, he lifted his hands and clamped them down over the marbles, ripping them out effortlessly from the bear's sockets with a loud, enraged shriek.

The marbles dropped to the ground and shattered upon impact. Bundled strings of swirly cotton protruded from the teddy bear where its eyes had once been. Jackle panted in cold fury.

His eyes then did something they'd never done before. Through the heavy breathing, they faded from blue to dark purple, then to a hazy scarlet, and then finally they transcended into a luminescent shade of crimson red. His frown suddenly twitched at the corners, and he found himself grinning maliciously.

"NiGHTS," he said in a low, dangerous voice. "...NiGHTS..."

Right then, NiGHTS lazy smiling face appeared before him in his mind, making his already dangerous gaze harden even more.

It was NiGHTS who killed me. I remember now.

No one gets away with killing me. No one gets away with killing Jackle the Mantle. No one.

He jumped backward and shrank down into the depths of his toys and torture tools. A twisted glint formed in his red eyes. Everything inside him was now screaming revenge.

"Oh NiGHTS, soon I will find you.

Wherever you are now, even if I have to search high and low, I will find you.

And this time, I'll be the one returning the favor."

His grin then widened.

"This time, I'll kill you myself."