Chapter 1

I found myself standing in a wide field of tall green grass. Around me I could see verdant forest and snow-topped mountains in the far distance. The sun shone warmly on me from a clear blue sky, and a faint breeze blew through the area. All of this made me feel content and carefree, until I realized I didn't know where I was. As I tried to gather my bearings and find at least one place I can make a frame of reference to, my head came up empty.

That was when I realized I couldn't remember anything from my life. I couldn't remember any place I've ever been to. I couldn't remember my experiences, hopes, dreams, or ambitions, if I had any. I couldn't remember the people I've met. I couldn't even remember my own name-oh wait, it's Wallace. Okay, good. I was going to start panicking right then and there. I stood in place silently, hoping my name would trigger more memories about me. Unfortunately it did not, but on the subject of names I began to remember another. Iris.

That name triggered more memories. Iris's battle with the Demon King. Muwen, Levi, and Kazno. The Demon King's fall. Iris's memories being scattered across the world. If the only memories I had were about Iris, then that should mean something, right? Now I knew what I had to do. I had to find out about Iris. Where did she come from, what happened to her, and why did she embark on the journey to defeat the Demon King? I hoped that I would also regain my own memory along the way as well.

Having finally figured out a purpose for my existence in this unfamiliar land, I thought about where to start. Finding civilization would be nice. I took a half-hearted look around me, not really expecting to see a town conveniently close by. To my surprise and delight, I did see a small settlement a mile or two away next to a lake. Encouraged by the prospect of finding other people sooner than expected, I happily trotted in the direction of the settlement.

An hour's walking brought me to the small town of Belos, as indicated by a small wooden post on the edge of town. As I entered Belos, I felt a little reluctant to reach out for help. What if the inhabitants thought I was crazy? What if they were the kind of people who didn't trust strangers or attached a stigma to them? What if...

My anxiety must have been showing on my face, for I heard someone call out, "Hello, traveler! I don't think we have met before. Are you new to this city?"

Slightly relieved that I didn't have to go up to anyone to ask for help, I turned to the source of the voice and saw a young woman standing next to what appeared to be a bank. I jogged over to her and smiled as a greeting. "Yeah, I'm new around here. This city-Belos, right? Where exactly is it, on a global scale?"

"Belos is on the continent of Jiendia, which is in the world of LaTale. By the way, my name is Anen. I'm the head of the bank in Belos. What's yours, traveler?"

"Wallace," I replied. The word "Jiendia" didn't ring a bell for me but "LaTale" did. At least I was in the right world to start looking for Iris. "Thank you for telling me."

Anen studied me for a moment and suddenly smiled. "You're not from this world, aren't you?"

I gave a start, shocked that Anen could figure out such a thing that fast. "H-how did you know?" I stuttered.

"I've seen other people who act just like you," Anen answered. "It seems that people from other worlds can fall into this world. Not many do. I've seen more newcomers recently, though. I wonder why."

"Really?" I asked. Did my having fallen into this world have something to do with my vision of Iris and the Demon King? Was it the same for other people who've also fallen into this world? Why?

"You look shocked. You should look around this city and when you are ready, you should talk to Rohan. He is standing next to the fountain," Anen suggested. "I think he can be a better help to you than I am!" Anen laughed.

"Alright, thanks for everything!" I waved goodbye to Anen and proceeded to explore the rest of Belos. I passed by a restaurant and inn, as well as a clock tower. I glanced up at it to check the time, and saw that it was a little past noon. I started to think about getting something to eat for lunch but then was distracted by a small structure situated adjacent to the clock tower. It was two pieces of stone floating on top one another with a blue orb of energy supporting them in between. A glowing symbol was carved out on the top stone. Curious, I approached the stones and stood in front of them. I stretched out my hand to trace the lines of the symbol with my fingers, thinking it looked rather pretty. I gave a surprised yelp as the stones started to tremble and glow. A hologram of a young woman with white hair and violet eyes-Iris!-materialized in front of me. She began to speak.

"This is the year B 1201," Iris began. "You have an urgent message. This world is in danger. I need your help. Please, come and find me. This is a Returning Stone. You will find one in every city and town you travel to in LaTale. Similar ones called Stones of Iris are scattered everywhere in the field. You must find every single Stone in LaTale to have a complete picture of my story. Only then will you be able to find me. I'm counting on you!" The hologram of Iris faded away, and the stones lost their glow and returned to normal.

As I stood there trying to process what happened, a booming but friendly man's voice called from behind me, "I see you've activated our Returning Stone!"

I turned around to see a rather large man with curly brown hair and a bushy mustache. "Um, I guess I did," I said a little sheepishly.

He laughed. "It's alright, young one. I am Rohan."

"Oh! Anen from the Belos bank told me to come to you. I'm Wallace."

"Anen sent you, eh? You must be another one of those people." Seeing my uncertain expression at his statement, Rohan hastily added, "I didn't mean it in a bad way! I was just surprised at how many new travelers showed up in Belos over the past couple of days or so. These travelers are the ones who've fallen into this world. I assume you're one of them too...?"

"Yeah," I answered. I explained to him about how I saw the vision of Iris and the Demon King and how I fell into LaTale with nothing but my name and the memory of my vision. When I was done, Rohan nodded knowingly.

"I've noticed how you have the same symptoms of everyone else: a case of amnesia and that vision. I don't know why this would be so, or how you had came to acquire those things. What I can tell you though is what to do from this point on. You've listened to the hologram of Iris from our Returning Stone, yes?"

I nodded. Rohan went on, "After Iris defeated the Demon King, she was engulfed by a wave of darkness-the Demon King's retribution. Her memories were then scattered all over the world of LaTale. Those memories lay dormant in Returning Stones and Iris Stones, waiting to be activated and tell Iris's story. Some stones house the memories of other people from Iris's party, which will help you along your journey, should you choose to embark on it. I'd tell you to look for all of them, but Iris's hologram had told you already."

"I probably should do it anyway. I have a question, though: who exactly was Iris?" I asked Rohan. "If I'm going to go look for her then I should at least have some idea of who she was."

As Rohan paused to remember, his face took on a nostalgic expression. "Iris... she must be seventeen by now. She was a kid when she first left here. Iris is a descendent of the Derr Clan, and was supposed to be the clan leader. However, she cannot take that role because she is half-human. When blood is mixed between a human and a Derr, the child will be born as a human. Iris, however, was born as a Derr. That didn't matter, though; Iris is still half-human. Her grandmother was a Derr. She was killed by Agasura when Iris was five. She was a good old lady..."

"Derr Clan? Agasura?" I asked.

"I don't want to talk about it anymore. I'm sorry, it's just..." Rohan trailed off.

I immediately understood and gave Rohan an awkward pat on the shoulder for consolation. A moment later, Rohan gathered himself together and gave me a small smile.

"You should talk to someone else about the Derr Clan or Agasura. Keber in the weapon shop knows more about them. Speaking of Keber, you should also ask him for a weapon."

"Uh...a weapon?" I squeaked. "I don't think I know how to handle one..."

Rohan looked at me, half-pitying and half-amused at me. "You better learn how to use one, then. Jiendia isn't safe to travel around without one." He looked at my still-despairing face and shook his head at me. "I'm serious. Without a weapon and at least some experience, you won't survive traveling to the next town, let alone the rest of Jiendia. You won't be able to find Iris if you're dead, you know."

"Alright, then..."

"I'll tell you what: Go to Keber, get your weapon, train some, and then come back to me. If I think you're ready, I'll tell you the best place to start looking for Iris. Don't look at me like I haven't thought about looking for her myself; I'm an old man, so I'm as good as dead out there. By the way, Keber's shop is just down the street. Look for the building with swords and armor outside. You can't miss it." Rohan held out his hand for a shake.

Reluctantly I stuck out my hand and shook Rohan's. As much as I felt intimidated by the prospect of using weapons to defend myself, I knew I probably had to learn how to use them sooner or later. Besides, Rohan would tell me how to find Iris, even if no one else in Belos knew.

"It's for your own good. I've seen people like you turn away my offer...they didn't fare so well outside of Belos," Rohan assured me.

I nodded and waved goodbye to him, resuming my walk through Belos.