Brendel felt like he had seen this forest somewhere before. But it was not surprising to think that the dream of the Lost Names had merged with the fragments of his memory, and the dream itself was filled with his personal imprint.
He stayed by the river for a while and suddenly remembered. He remembered that when he was a child, there was a park near his home, and the pine trees in the park grew as tall.
Brendel's heart was suddenly pounding.
He remembered his childhood and his parents. They had been young then and was proud of him. When he was young, he was like any little kid, confident that he could carry his parents’ expectations.
But he had let them down after all.
Brendel had thought such disappointments were because of his own failures. In order to escape, he was thus addicted to the game. But it was not until he met that swordsman of Aouine- 'his' grandfather - in the dream of the Magical Golden Tree that he realized that he was so wrong.
But was there any chance for him to ask for forgiveness?
Was Lord Marsha actually willing to give him this chance?
Brendel could not help but pressed his fist against his chest as he watched the glow of the forest beyond. He remembered the days when there were festivals in the park and his parents would bring him along to participate in the park activities.
He knew it was just a dream.
But standing by the river, his body seemed to weigh a thousand pounds. The evening breeze was blowing and the woods were rustling. At this time there was a sudden sound of tiny footsteps in the forest, and Brendel looked slightly over his shoulder, his heart pounding.
"There's someone else?"
Brendel looked back and saw an unexpected person stumbling out of the forest- Prince Haruz. The young prince gasped sharply and also looked up at his teacher in amazement and bewilderment, but his eyes quickly turned red and were glimmering with tears: "Teacher Brendel...... I-I thought I would never find you again."
Brendel was stunned.
Never in his wildest dreams did he think that this little guy would wander into his dream. Although the Raider said that the dreams of the Lost Names themselves reflected only fragmentation of their memories and that the dream world was filled with the memories of others, in The Amber Sword it was based on the player's experiences, and sometimes other players would mess with another player's dreams!
But the thing was that it was now in modern times! Modern times! Modern times!
Brendel's head was a mess. What do we do? It would be a disaster if the young prince saw my dream. Although his family had not lived in a prosperous urban area when he was a kid, this small county was not exactly some shady area, and how was he supposed to explain it if Haruz saw all those reinforced concrete high-rise buildings, cars and other random stuff?
How about knocking Haruz out?
He immediately shook his head, that would be unlikely unless he wanted to murder the little prince here. Since Haruz had entered his dream, it meant that the two of them were on the same mission, and if the little prince could not redeem himself, then he would have to remain in the dream forever.
Brendel thought of this, but for a moment he was frozen.
What to do......?
That was the only question left inside his head.
"Teacher?" Haruz could not help but feel a little scared when he saw Brendel standing motionlessly by the river, looking directly at him, and stepped back slightly. He had never seen this Count look like this before as Brendel was always very gentle on a regular basis.
Although Brendel's demands were a bit harsh, Haruz was required of more by his sister, so instead most of the time he was very fond of this gentle countess.
"Uh ...... Haruz." Brendel whispered, deciding to distract the young prince first. After all, Haruz was young, so he might be able to muddle through.
"Yes?" Haruz, red-faced and thinly breathing, whispered in response.
"You know, we're in a dream world-"
"I know, Teacher. I heard what you said just now, and you said that we were in the dreams of the Lost Names and that these dreams are filled with our own memories." The young prince replied as earnestly as a well-behaved student.
He had been terrified to be alone in the darkness, but the sight of his teacher settled his mind. Brendel was the hero who had saved Ampere Seale, but to him, Brendel was the hero who had saved his sister.
That, more than any reason, was enough to make him trustworthy.
No, please, please forget that last sentence- Brendel's mind groaned.
He smiled slightly and said warmly, "Yes, Haruz, but you know that dreams are very grotesque, so don't make a fuss about whatever you see later. Don't forget that we are still in a dangerous situation."
Brendel laughed bitterly in his mind, literally wanting to pull out the Halran Gaia and stab himself to death.
Haruz blinked, his pointed ears moved ever so slightly. His silver eyes sparkled under the moonlight and nodded seriously, "I see Teacher. In fact, I used to have strange dreams when I was little."
As if there was no one else around, the young prince was not as shy as he usually was. He had been spending time with Brendel for several months now, and he naturally did not speak as unnaturally as he did at the beginning.
This was a relief to Brendel.
"You come with me."
He nodded and turned around, crossing the riverbank and heading towards the light source in the far woodland. Haruz, holding the Lion's Fang and followed. The light source ahead of them had grown brighter as they passed through a large black pine forest, but it was then that Brendel suddenly narrowed his eyes and gave a little sniff.
He stopped and saw a wagon with its doors opened in the woodlands not far away.
He looked back at Haruz, thinking that somehow it might a projection of the young prince's dream. But the young prince was also staring in that direction in a daze as if he did not understand what was happening.
But Brendel did not expect the posh man to see anything suspicious, and he artistically walked over to the carriage alone and found it empty. But there was an obvious puddle of blood on the seat, and the smell of blood permeated the forest, making it pungent.
"Teacher?" The young prince soon noticed something unusual about the carriage as well.
Brendel held up his hand to ask Haruz to be silent. Every detail of the dream had not been created out of thin air, this scene was either some memory of him, or the young prince, or was part of the lost dream of the Lost Names.
It looked like an assassination scene, and the young prince would certainly remember such a scene well enough at his age without failing to recognize it. Brendel himself did not seem to have any similar memories of his own, and he figured that the only thing left might be part of the lost dreams of the Lost Names.
Brendel could not help but bring attention to the fact that in this dreamscape, the task was redemption. So the lost dreams of the Lost Names were a very important clue - the legendary Lost Names wandered the Black Forest in order to recover their lost selves. Most of them were motivated by remorse, and thus most of the tasks in the dreamscape were to make up for it.
He lowered his head and soon spotted spots of blood around the wagon.
Brendel immediately tracked these bloodstains and walked on, and had not gone far before he found his target by a black pine tree. It was a dead young man with a dagger in his back, rickety with his head hanging low, almost all of his body’s weight resting on his knees, and was long dead.
Haruz could not help but let out a soft 'ah' sound when he saw this scene.
"Do you know him?" Brendel asked.
"I don't know." The young prince shook his head.
"Then let me have the authority to examine the body." Brendel walked over to the body and he picked up the young man. The young man looked decent, and the clothing he wore showed his noble status, presumably a son of one of the noble families.
He picked up the other man's money bag first, but as soon as the bag was in his hand, it disintegrated into sand and dust. Brendel was slightly startled, the Raider had spoken of this phenomenon, and since everything in the dream was a residual memory, most of the details did not exist except for the most profound parts, so it dissolved into nothingness upon contact with him.
But it was at this moment that a thin piece of paper fell from the dissolved money bag.
Brendel picked up the piece of paper but found it blank.
With a brief pause, he realized why. In this scene, this piece of paper might be the most vividly remembered by the Lost Names, who had firmly remembered the piece of paper but not what was written on it.
Brendel checked the young man's body again and found that there was really nothing else of greater value. But he took a look at the seal ring on the young man's hand and made a note of what the thing looked like.
"Mr. Brendel?" The young prince stared at the piece of paper in his hand, a little puzzled.
"This is the clue. But not enough to make it remember more, we need to move on to the next scene, where we'll help it trace everything back to who it really is in this dream." Brendel looked at the piece of paper in his hand as well and then replied.
Haruz realized something, "We're going to help it find its name, aren't we, Teacher?"
"Pretty much." Brendel was pleased with his student's comprehension.
"But since it has forgotten everything, how can we help it remember? It must have been wandering this forest for many ages, and even that history is lost under the dust, can we really find the memories it wants from nothing?" Haruz frowned his thin eyebrows, looking a little curious.
"You remember, it's not exactly a memory here, right. There are memories of you and me in this world too-" Brendel stopped suddenly, wishing he could slap himself. But the words were out of his mouth, and he only continued with immense chagrin, "We're examining its dreams, and it's examining ours, and people's experiences are always similar, and the same scenes might evoke its memories-"
With that Haruz nodded and looked at his teacher with some respect.
"Why are you looking at me like that?" Brendel felt a little awkward facing a young man who was blushing and still looking at him with big, bright eyes.
"Grandmaster Fleetwood used to tell me stories before he died, too. I, I don't know if it's a bit disrespectful to think this way about the dead, but I don't think he knows as much as you do as a teacher."
Now this is good flattery. Brendel felt a little light, especially since he knew that the young prince was too innocent to lie. He patted Haruz's head, "Everyone has their own specialty."
Then he straightened up and let out a sigh of relief. Once he was in mission mode, those random thoughts from before faded a lot, and his whole body calmed down.
"That brightly lit place over there looks like a small town, I think we should be able to find some clues, let's go over there together." He looked over at the edge of the woodland and said knowingly.
Haruz, unaware of what was going on, nodded as he held the Lion's Fang.
Brendel put the young man's body away, knowing it was nothing more than a dream, but he did so out of respect for the dead. It was said that most of those who had lost their names wandered the woods out of remorse, that most of them had been spurned in life. But Brendel believed that if a man was remorseful, there would at least be a place in his heart that was pure.
Just for the sake of this self-sacrificing heart, it was worthy of reciprocal respect.
Then they moved on. There was only a short distance from the edge of the woodland, if it was in the real world, the young man's corpse and the wagon would not have been discovered in such a short time, but this was a dream, and as Brendel had said, in dreams, only the existence of memory itself was pursued, and reasonableness did not exist here.
Light flowed into the forest, sketching the edges of the forest in long, slanted shadows. Brendel followed the light in the opposite direction from the shadow, and he crossed the edge of the woods, and suddenly it opened up before him.
But he froze slightly.
Beyond the woods was not the park he had imagined, nor the expected reinforced concrete buildings, no cars, no high-rises.
A classical city lay beyond the forest, with a moat and scattered towns outside. Stars were brightly lit, and a towering wall cut across the city, encircling it.
A little closer, an avenue led through the forest to the distant gates of the city. Many tents were set up on either side of the avenue, brightly lit and filled with fruits and vegetables and wine barrels outside. There was even a stage set up not far away, and he saw clowns performing on it, with performers singing and dancing merrily.
It looked like some sort of festive celebration in the countryside of any part of Aouine.
But the contrast was so great that for a moment Brendel could not help but stay still. Until Haruz stepped out from behind him and cried out in stunned silence at the sight of the city in the distance, “Ah!”
Brendel knew exactly why.
It was as if he recognized the city.
The royal capital of Aouine.