This was a special, hand-made bundle of magical plants that had been dried out and wrapped in twine. Jenni had given it to him one day at school and explained what it was for.\n\n//This is made of White Sage, Mugwort, and Wormwood. All three of those together when burned make a powerful banishing smoke. You can use this to banish negative energy and exorcise evil from your home.//\n\nSeemed legit. Now he just needed to [[light it]] and see what happened.
Ace couldn't even stand the thought of the tainted charcoal on his hands, much less keeping such a frightening picture. He chucked it into the bin and ran to [[wash his hands]].
The swirling golden light that was emanating from Ace was pulsing down his arms to where his hands were clenched around the man's throat, searing his flesh and causing him to scream in agony.\n\nAito, who had realized that the necklace Ace still had on was causing his latent abilities to manifest, wasted no time and rushed to his charge. He gently placed his hands on top of Ace's to try and calm him.\n\n"Ace, please... you're killing him. Please stop." \n\nHe realized he couldn't forcibly take over control because that would leave Ace at the mercy of the other man, who still sat at the table, seemingly unphased by this turn of events. He was, in fact, not even looking at Ace, but was keeping his sharp eyes on Ty who was [[advancing down the steps]] slowly.
Ace hopped up and down into his pants and began quickly tying his school tie. "Why do you say that? Do you know what that thing is?"\n\nAito looked him up and down, pointing here and there to wrinkles and bits of lint on Ace's outfit. "I think so. It looks very similar to what Gwen described as a 'Shadow Beast, Type 3'. I've never seen one this close before and I always thought they were demons, but apparently that's not the case..."\n\n"Wait, Gwen knows what they are? Awesome, I'll ask Jenni if I can talk to her at school."\n\n"That's all well and good, just so long as you do it during your breaks and not in class! Now hurry, hurry..."\n\nAito ushered him out the door and off to the bus stop, making sure he boarded the bus safely before flying off on his own mission.\n\nBack on Ace's desk, the pages of his sketchbook glowed faintly...\n\n---------------\nChapter End.
As soon as the other man had disappeared, Aito took over Ace's body and stepped back from the man, who was now blue-faced and unconscious.\n\nAce still sat on top of the man, looking distant as he stared down at the face of his mother's attacker. Aito knelt down beside the unconscious woman, now able to check her pulse and carefully examine the large, bloody goose egg on her scalp.\n\nAbsently, he touched the necklace, which was now in the shape of a silver wing. Closing his eyes, he held his hands over her head and a [[soft blue glow]] began to shine.
Ace panicked, looking back and forth between Ty and the creature and backing away.\n\n"N-NO! Ty, you have to help me!! I can't!"\n\n"Ah, shut up and look, will you?" he pointed at Ace's right hand.\n\nThere, where his father's dagger had been, was a huge sword made of Damascus steel that appeared to be swirling slowly along the blade. It glowed with a faint golden light.\n\nAce gaped at it. "What... how..."\n\n"Looks like dear ol' dad left you a serious heirloom. Now stop bawling like a baby and fight, kid." Ty walked over to the bed and plopped down in a nonchalant manner, like a spectator. The only thing missing was the popcorn. "If you survive, I'll explain," he said with a grin.\n\n"If I...s-survive?" Ace balked, but he had no more time for questions. [[The creature was coming for him again.]]
<html>\n<img src="Images/Image (1).jpg" width="715" height="1061" usemap="#Map" class="mapper" border="0" />\n<map name="Map" id="Map">\n <area shape="circle" coords="360,738,37" href="javascript:state.display('reached', this);"" />\n</map>\n</html>\n\n\n------------\nAce swallowed the lump of terror in his throat and stared at the creature, which hadn't moved from its spot, save for tilting its head to the side inquisitively. \n\nIt made no response or indication that it was going to attack, so he slowly, shakily [[reached]] out to touch it...
However, instead of answering, Ty kept stealing glances at the black-haired boy who was sitting in the back of the car that had nearly plowed down Ace. He was staring unblinkingly up at the bus window Ty was looking out of.\n\n"...Is it just my imagination, or is that kid staring right at us?"\n\nAito gave a start and almost turned to look. "//Don't// look right at him, dumbass! Jeeze..." Ty muttered around his cigarette and looked casually out the window again.\n\nAito, quite unconvincingly, pretended to watch a bird as he tried to spot the boy Ty was referring to. He wasn't difficult to find because Ty was right - he //was// staring right at them.\n\n"Good heavens, he is, isn't he...?" Aito turned to Ace, whose involuntary interview was winding down as more people got on the bus. "That boy in the car with the black hair...[[do you know him?]]"
//Aito opened his eyes and found himself sitting in front of Jenni under an oak tree. "Yes, dear?"\n\nShe simply pointed at his arm. "[[Turquoise]]. Interesting."\n\n"...Sorry?" He looked down and saw the bracelet on Ace's wrist, which was now a brilliant blue Turquoise. "Oh! Oh... that's lovely. That's very good magic, Jenni. You're quite talented!" He smiled at her warmly.\n\nShe blushed a little and thanked him.\n\n"Do be careful though." He glanced around to see if anyone else was watching.\n\n"I always am. That's all I needed, thanks. You can [[go get someone else]] now."//
Ty had already manifested a sword in one hand and a ball of fire in the other. He glanced over his shoulder at Ace.\n\n"Doesn't that thing let us use our powers in your world? Why do I need that? It's right here."\n\n"Oh... r-right... I wasn't thinking..." Ace looked embarassed. Why hadn't he realized that?\n\nAito looked concerned. "Unless... you're not hurt are you?" He began fussing over Ace immediately.\n\n"Ah, no I'm fine. Ty please just make it leave..." said Ace, peaking around from behind Aito.\n\nTy grinned. "Oh, I'll make it do more than just leave." As if it understood, the beast [[lunged at Ty]].
Ace looked exasperated. How could this man think of something as mundane as school when this was going on? Sometimes, Aito was worse than his mother when it came to "responsibility." It could be rather annoying at times...\n\n"Okay... well what do I do? Should I just make it come to school with me or what?"\n\n"No, certainly not! There are other Aspectors at your school and I don't want you getting into trouble if it decides to attack someone."\n\n"But I have control over it!"\n\n"Yes, but how are you going to pay attention in class if you have to keep tabs on this beast? I know it's tempting, but keeping something like this under your control around hundreds of people isn't going to be so simple. I can't let you jeopardize yourself or any of the other students, not to mention your education."\n\nThis was getting dangerously close to a lecture, so Ace decided to leave it at that. "[[So what should I do?]]"
\n\nIn 10 minutes, he was dressed, packed, fed, and out the door to the bus stop. His neighborhood friends, James and Kyle were already there, huddled together with a stack of trading cards. They hadn't seen him yet so he paused on the opposite side of the street, half-hidden behind a phone box in the dim light of dawn.\n\n//I could [[skip out today]] and find out what's going on. If I [[go to school]], I won't have a chance to get information out of Ty or Aito until the end of the day... but then I won't see Jenni either...she might know something.//\n\nHe glanced at his watch. The bus would be here any minute. He had to decide.\n\nAito's voice piped up from nearby. //Don't you dare skive off, Ace! You can't jeopardize your education like that!//\n\nFrom somewhere else, he heard Ty chuckle, //Aah, lay off the kid, will ya? Let him do what he wants.//\n\n\n\n--------\n\n//Note to self: End it after he makes a choice. This shows the player that they can make moral choices, but keeps it short enough to manage.
When he had finally made it to his altar, he surveyed the objects there. He had less than 20 minutes before the bus arrived. He couldn't leave his mom alone with this thing.\n\nWhat could be useful in this situation?\n\n[[Statues]]\n[[Herb smudge]]\n[[Lighter]]\n[[Dagger]]\n[[Bowl of trinkets]]\n
At the top of the landing, Ace could hear voices coming from the kitchen. His heart pounded in his chest as he inched his way down the stairs, making sure to avoid all the creaky spots that might give away his presence.\n\n"WHERE IS IT, YOU BITCH?! YOU'RE THE ONLY PERSON HE WOULD HAVE GIVEN IT TO!"\n\n"I-I... please! I have no idea what you - AAH!" The distinct thud of something hard impacting flesh rang in Ace's ears. He didn't dare breathe as he finally made it to the banister that opened into the kitchen.\n\nHe stared at the [[scene]] unfolding below with wide eyes, shaky hands, and bated breath.
<html>\n<img src="Images/Image (7).jpg" width="794" height="1162" usemap="#Map" class="mapper" border="0" />\n<map name="Map" id="Map">\n <area shape="rect" coords="259,929,376,1025" href="javascript:state.display('You want my help', this);" />\n <area shape="rect" coords="278,1057,341,1084" href="javascript:state.display('not', this);" />\n</map>\n</html>\n\n-------\nAce's eyes widened. //Tell me he's joking...// \n\nHe had no other choice. He had to trust that the demon's aim was good enough to hit the creature without taking him down in the process. \n\nThen again, maybe he shouldn't trust Ty...\n\nHe hadn't known him for very long, so he had no idea what his intentions were. An "accident" like this would be the perfect opportunity for him to take Ace's unoccupied body for himself...\n\n"Well kid? [[You want my help]] or [[not]]? All you gotta do is say the word." Ty's grin widened. It was a look of pure mischievous evil, as if he was enjoying watching Ace struggle.\n\nAce's heart gave a leap of panic. //Wait, he needs my permission??// The room around him was going dark as his captor pulled him closer - although its attention was clearly on Ty now.\n\n\n----------\n//Note: \n\nIf you get his help, you might survive, but you'll be asking a demon to help you. You have no idea if he's trustworthy, so this could end badly.\n\nIf you refuse his help, you might die. You've already tried to fight this thing once with no result, but maybe this time, you'll figure out the trick to it.\n\nWhat will you do?
"Kind of. Look, it's a long story. Basically, they're a problem in Calahandria - you know, where Gwen's from?" Ace nodded. \n\n"And... sometimes, they come through and attack us here. I guess, since you know so much about us, they've decided you're a target too. That's just a complete guess, though. It could be something else. I just don't know, Ace..."\n\nAce had renewed determination now. "Well that settles it. We're sticking together on this. You know more about them than I do and I have no idea why they're after me, so we'll figure this out together."\n\nJenni said nothing for a while as she regarded her friend with a thoughtful expression. Then finally she gave in. "Okay. We'll investigate. But [[please promise me]] you won't do anything reckless."
He slowly took his eyes off of it and looked down at the dagger he was clutching in his hand. Was it protecting him?\n\nHis heart skipped a beat... Was his //father// protecting him?\n\nHe looked back up at it. That couldn't be... he would see his father if he was there... wouldn't he? He could see every other being that contacted him from the other side, but there was no one there now but the creature.\n\nOut of curiousity, Ace shakily got back to his feet and took a step toward the thing, dagger held in front of him like a shield. It didn't react, so he stepped closer, [[reaching out]] to touch it.
Nothing happened for several moments. Then the creature seemed to regain its senses and stepped toward them.\n\nThey both tensed, ready to retaliate, and Ace, not thinking, yelled at it again.\n\n"No, s-stop! Stay back!"\n\nAnd surprisingly, it did.\n\nHe and Aito exchanged confused glances, staring at the creature in front of them.\n\n"How are you doing that?" Aito asked, flabbergasted.\n\n"I-I'm not! I have no idea!"\n\nAito furrowed his brow, looking concerned. "[[Where did you find this thing?]]" he was suspicious that Ace had perhaps been dabbling with things he shouldn't have and had somehow summoned this creature...
Suddenly, he felt two hands on his back shove him hard and he tumbled head over heels across the road.\n\nHe rolled over in time to see Aito mid-leap, silhouetted by the morning sun, with his arm outstretched towards the rogue homework assignment. He snatched it gracefully between two fingers and landed beside Ace, dropping the paper on his face with a stern look.\n\n"Honestly..." he muttered shaking his head.\n\nAce grinned sheepishly and turned his attention to the [[scene across the street]].\n\n
<html>\n<img src="Images/Image (15).jpg" width="715" height="1118" usemap="#Map" class="mapper" border="0" />\n<map name="Map" id="Map">\n <area shape="rect" coords="520,170,681,310" href="javascript:state.display('miss the bus', this);" />\n</map>\n</html>\n\n--------\nAll three of their heads snapped to look at her as she brushed past them on her way to the bed.\n\n"Ace. ACE! Wake up honey, you're going to [[miss the bus]]! You've only got 15 minutes before it gets here!"\n\n
"Okay, do you have any idea what it wanted with me? What was it trying to do?"\n\nAgain, Aito looked unsure. "It looked as if it was trying to tear you away from your body, although I have no idea why. Gwen warned me that these creatures can attack our astral forms, but she assured me that they usually don't randomly attack people. It must have had a reason, but I can't imagine what that reason could be. You haven't been dabbling in dark magic or talking to any... suspicious looking people have you?"\n\nAce shook his head quickly. "No way! Well... unless you count Ty as being suspicious."\n\nAito's lips pursed into a thin line of disapproval. "Well. //That// remains to be seen. Tylandis is rather... unsavory if you ask me. I don't know //why// he's been hanging around you, but I wish he'd go back to wherever he came from."\n\nAce stifled a snigger. Aito had always taught him to give everyone a fair chance and treat them with kindness. He found it hilarious that his sweet angel disliked someone so much. "Admit it. You just don't like him because he's a demon."\n\nHe huffed at that. "Well that is neither here nor there! He is crude, foul-mouthed, indecent, and he puts all sorts of terrible ideas into your head. I //don't// like it."\n\nAce rolled his eyes, but still smiled. "Okay, okay..." He'd have to remember to ask Ty about all of this later...\n\n<<back>>
Ace didn't reply aloud, but moved over to a seat on the side of the bus that his two Aspects were on and looked out the window. He spotted the car that had almost hit him. It had kept an even pace with the bus because of the traffic and he could clearly see that there was a boy about his age in the back seat of the car. He had wild black hair and a piercing stare that was focused on Ty and Aito. \n\nWhen he realized Ace was there too, his gaze shifted to him. Ace blinked in surprise but didn't turn away. Their eyes locked for what seemed like a long and silent enternity, when finally the boy gave Ace the faintest ghost of a smile and [[waved]] ever so slightly at him.\n\n
Ace eyed a wooden bowl that sat next to the statues. It contained an assortment of random trinkets he had collected, such as interesting stones and feathers, but more importantly, there was a gemstone bracelet and a woven necklace with a silver disc-shaped pendant.\n\nBoth of these had been made and given to him by his best friend, Jenni, who was much more advanced at Aspecting than he was. She also happened to be very handy at enchanting magical items.\n\nWhen Ace wore it, the bracelet would change into a different gemstone depending on which of his Aspects was "in control" at the time. By default, it was [[Tiger's Eye for Ace]]. For Ty, (a demon who had taken up residence with him recently) [[it was Hematite]]. For his guardian, Aito, [[it was Turquoise]]. Each stone held different properties and either enhanced or complemented the wearer's natural abilities.\n\nThat was all well and good, but what he needed now was [[the necklace]].
<html>\n\n<img src="Images/000_Start.jpeg" width="744" height="1052" usemap="#Map" class="mapper" border="0" />\n<map name="Map" id="Map">\n <area shape="rect" coords="285,995,366,1023" href="javascript:state.display('room', this);" alt="room" />\n</map>\n\n</html>\n\n[[room]]\n----------------------------------\n//Author's Note:\n\nElements to experience during this demo (you don't have to include all of them in each branch of the story, but all of them must be included somewhere in the story. In other words, it's okay to travel down one branch and experience one of these but not the others, as long as the others are options elsewhere):\n\n- Astral combat: Ace should have the opportunity to engage someone or something in combat outside of his body so the user can get a feel for how Astral combat works. This includes the ability to take certain objects through the veil with him and use them as weapons, using his own energy as a weapon, etc.\n\n- Summoning Aspects: Ace can summon any of his Aspects at any point. The user needs to understand that summoning and communicating with Aspects is an important mechanic in this game.\n\n- Discovering clues about Ace's past: The user should get some idea that there is much more to this story than was is portrayed here.\n\n- Understand the rules of the world: The user should have a basic understanding that this world includes both Aspectors and regular humans, that humans cannot see what's going on in the Astral world and Aspectors can.\n\n- Collecting objects: Throughout this world, there are magical objects that can enhance your Astral abilities. Examples include physical objects that can be brought through the veil and used as weapons, objects that can enable the user to use Astral powers in the physical realm, objects that can trap other Aspects and bring them under your control, etc.\n\n---------\n\nTip: When making a choice, chosing the more combative path may not necessarily result in more combat action...
make a list of quests that the user can choose from. they can go back to this passage via a link on the side bar at any point in time. from quests, you'll be able to acquire important items that reveal more about your aspects and the plot.
It was an impossible choice in Ace's mind. Trust a demon with his life? What would Aito say?\n\nNo matter how desperate the situation, he couldn't bring himself - physically or mentally - to say yes. He'd rather die with a clean conscience than beg for the help of a devil.\n\nHe felt the life force draining out of him as memories started flashing through his mind again.\n\n//This is it... I'm going to die while that jerk just watches. He'll take my body for himself... I wonder if my friends and family will notice? [[Jenni]] will, I'm sure...//\n
With the lighter held as far out from himself as he could, he took a few cautious steps toward the thing and watched its reaction.\n\nIt clearly despised the fire, because it shielded its face with its arms and staggered away. However, it didn't leave the room.\n\nFeeling more confident, Ace walked right up to it and tried to light it on fire.\n\nInstead of igniting as he had hoped, it darted, imperceptibly fast, to the darkest corner of the room, where it skulked. It opened its maw and groaned in irritation, swiping out at Ace if he got too close.\n\n//This is taking too long... I'll never drive it out like this.// Ace, frustrated with the lighter, flipped it shut, but kept it in his hand as he ran back to [[his altar]].
//Yeah, thanks mom. I'm not 5...// he thought as he darted across the empty street to meet James, Thomas and Kyle at the bus stop. His three neighborhood friends knew nothing about his abilities, but today, he almost wished they did so he could tell them about the night he just had.\n\nKyle looked up from whatever it was they were huddled around (probably trading cards) and waved at him as he approached. "I was wondering if you were coming to school, man! There's the bus!" Ace looked down the street and sure enough, bus number 27 was rumbling at a stop sign, pausing on its way towards their stop.\n\nHe paused for a moment to catch his breath, which was long enough for a gust of autumn wind to snatch his homework away from his unzipped bag. "Aw, crap-!"\n\n//[[Screw it.]] It wasn't done anyway. \n\nBut I worked hard on that! [[Go after it!!]]//
//SCREW THIS.//\n\nAce yanked hard away from the thing, trying desperately to free his arm, which was now entangled up to the shoulder. He kicked at its body and clawed at the swirling mass of tendrils that had begun to encircle his neck.\n\nHe quickly realized that nothing he did was having any effect on this beast. His blows fell right through it and his strength waned faster with every strike.\n\nPhysical attacks did absolutely nothing.\n\nHe was mere inches away from being pulled into the thing's mouth. \n\nHe crushed his eyelids tight together, [[hoping]] that it would be painless...\n\n//Aito...! Help me!//
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He rummaged around Ace's room until he found a pair of black cargo pants, a black tank top, and a long black coat. He had insisted upon having these things the last time Ace's mother had taken her son shopping. \n\nTy hated coming out and having to wear the kid's clothes. Ace's sense of style was that of an adolescent anime fan, and his school uniform was way too stuffy, not at all befitting Ty's normal garb.\n\nHe pulled on a pair of heavy black boots and tied down Ace's wild blond mop with a black bandana. Lastly, he approached the boy's altar and pulled out a wooden bowl that contained [[a gemstone bracelet and a necklace.]]\n\n
//Ace was finally allowed to return to his own body. \n\nHe still wasn't quite used to all this switching around, but he was beginning to get the hang of it. At least he wasn't losing time when he wasn't in control now. \n\nWhenever he went 'inside himself' now, he could connect to what was going on in the physical world and see what the others were doing, much like they could when he was in control. \n\nEven if he was unconscious, they had worked out a way to synchronize their memories whenever they switched places, so whoever was out in Ace's body could transfer their memories of the time they spent in control to the person taking control next, essentially allowing them to 'download' an information package before they came out.\n\nHe grinned excitedly at Jenni. "That's amazing!"\n\nShe laughed, "Thanks. Another great thing about that is that if you pick up other Aspects, it will work for them, too."\n\n"Cool...So, how'd you do that?"\n\nShe smiled back. "A good witch never shares her secrets." She stuck her tongue out at him playfully.\n\n"Aw, c'mon! You can trust me."\n\n"Yeah, but you don't know enough about magic to really... get it, you know?"\n\nHe looked glum, but nodded. "Yeah, I guess... anyway. What's the [[necklace]] do?"\n\n<<back>>
He gave the flying paper a look of contempt and watched it soar away, smacking into the windshield of an oncoming car before it disappeared down the street. For no apparent reason, he shuddered as if someone had just walked over his grave.\n\nKyle laughed as the bus ground to a halt to let them on. "Hope that wasn't too important."\n\nAce just rolled his eyes. "Stupid Algebra homework... I'll just do it over lunch break." He heard Aito heave a diappointed sigh and he cringed a little. //Sorry...// he thought at him.\n\nThey clambored onto the bus and found their seats quickly as it shuddered into motion again, rumbling toward its [[destination]].
How could he //not// remember Gwen? \n\nJenni's guardian was a woman with a very strong presence and she left quite an impression upon anyone she met - including him. She was like every warrior princess he had imagined from Celtic lore - strong, brave, witty, and with a wild yet refined beauty about her.\n\nHe sighed and smiled thinking about her...\n\n<<back>>
Aito opened his eyes slightly, although he was still focused on the man. "I don't want this fellow to die, Ace. Besides the fact that it's wrong, I don't want you to have to face charges."\n\n"But I was protecting her! He broke in and tried to - !"\n\n"I know that, dear. But how were you planning to explain the burns? There's nothing in this house that could have done this."\n\nAce looked like he wanted to protest again, but couldn't come up with anything.\n\n"I'll tie him down and then I want you to [[call the police]] straight away, alright?"\n\nAt that, Ty snorted. "We should [[interrogate]] this piece of shit before the pigs take him away. The hell were they after, anyway?"\n\n------\n//Author's note:\nAgain, this is a place where Ace can make a choice, but for now, let's keep it short.//
Ace continued to sit there shielding himself from an attack that didn't come.\n\nCautiously he peeked at the monster. It had staggered backward, shaking its head in surprise. //What...?//\n\nIt regained its senses and lunged at him again. Ace tried to scramble backwards, but he didn't get far before it reached him once more.\n\nThis time, Ace saw why he had survived the first attack. As soon as it got within an inch or two of Ace, some invisible force sent a shockwave out, knocking the monster back.\n\nAce sat there blinking for a moment. [[What happened?]] Why couldn't the monster attack him?
It was his beloved guardian, Aito. It had been a while since Ace had seen this man in his full glory, and he had certainly never seen him this angry.\n\nWith eyes flashing and full of determination, the angel shot forth a brilliant stream of light from his hands, still shielding Ace with his wings as it impacted the creature's body.\n\nIt recoiled, but made no sound as it withdrew the clutching tendrils of darkness that had hold of Ace.\n\nThey both paused for the briefest of moments before Aito shouted "BE GONE!" and it dissolved into mist, casting what seemed like a contemptuous glare at [[Ace]] before departing.
When he opened them again, the room looked the same, except now, through his Astral vision, he could //just// make out a hulking dark shape pacing back and forth by his desk.\n\n//Holy... crap.... it's still there.// His heart pounded in his chest so fast he felt like it might collapse in on itself.\n\nHowever, he found that a small part of himself was actually relieved to see it because that proved that he wasn't dreaming it up.\n\nCarefully, being sure to keep his eyes on it, he made his way across the room to where [[his altar]] stood. Surely there was something there that he could use against this thing...\n\n\n\n\n\n
The driver of the car had screeched to a stop at the end of a pair of pitch black tire tracks and was clambering out of his car to come check on him. The boy in the back seat was staring at them.\n\nThe bus had come to a stop and everyone on it had their face pressed against the glass, gaping at him with open mouths.\n\nAnd standing by his three shocked friends was Ty, slow-clapping and nodding at Aito with a leering grin on his face.\n\n"Bra-//vo//, [[Nancy boy]]! That was an Olympics-worthy performace right there. I give it a 9.5, only 'cause ya coulda put a flip or two in there."\n\n
"Well...try sending it to the drawing. You may be able to keep it there until we can figure out where it came from."\n\n"Or until I get really good at controlling it!" Ace smiled, clearly excited that he had his very own monster at his beck and call.\n\n"Let's not get ahead of ourselves, now." Aito was clearly not going to let Ace keep it, but he humored the boy for now. "Go on and try telling it to return to the drawing."\n\nAce nodded and turned to the beast in the corner. He held up the charcoal sketch and said, "Monster, [[return to this drawing until I summon you again!]]"
He took the chance and decided to throw the dagger. He was actually quite good at that sort of thing, given the number of hours he had spent playing darts.\n\nHe took aim and hurled it across the room, aiming for the creature's eye.\n\nInstead of sinking in like he had hoped, it spun right through it as if the creature wasn't even there. With a loud -THUNK- it hit the wall behind the monster, the blade now buried deep in the drywall.\n\n"Crap!"\n\nFortunately, he was still next to [[his altar]].
No one in the room, not even Ace, had anticipated what happened next.\n\nWith an inhuman snarl, Ace dove off of the steps in an instant and tackled the man with the gun to the floor. The gun went off with the impact, blasting a hole in the wall, but no one saw the result of it because they were all gaping at Ace.\n\nHis whole body had erupted into a blinding golden light which was now fiercly swirling around him like a storm. His eyes were nothing but glowing white orbs of fury as he tightened his hands around the man's gurgling neck.\n\n"LEAVE.... MY MOM.... [[ALONE!]]"
He reached over and clicked the light on to survey his work. Upon seeing it in the light, he uttered a yelp and instinctively leapt back from the drawing.\n\nThough it was simply a messy charcoal scribble, something about it was so visceral, it embodied the fear he had just felt. He had a terrible feeling that if he kept it, the thing might just come alive and... \n\nSwallowing his heart again, he stared at it for a moment and then snatched it up. He crumpled the paper viciously and started to throw it away before hesitating...\n\n[[chuck it out!]]\n[[keep it...]]\n\n\n---------\n//note: insert script here to rememeber your choice//
Insert a small gallery here with doodles. Note: can you use a jQuery gallery inside of this application?\n\nMake a link on the sidebar so the user can view this at any time. Whenever he finds pictures or draws something important, add it to the sketch book.
\nWithout warning, it opened its gaping mouth and bent practically in half to get to Ace, coming towards him impossibly fast. Ace had no time to get out of the way. \n\nHe screamed //(He was sure his mom would have heard that...except she was drying her hair and couldn't hear anything over the noise of the blow-dryer)// and flung his arms up in front of his face, falling backward into a sitting position and reflexively shutting his eyes tight against the attack.\n\nThere was a [[loud pop]] and a flash of light lit that up the back of Ace's closed eyelids.\n\n\n------\n//note to self:\n\nOkay. Ace has this thing trapped on paper, so basically he owns this thing now. So what will happen if it attacks him? Can it? And if it can't will Ace realize why? Whether he kept the paper or not, it still won't be very obvious that the reason this thing can't attack him is because of the drawing. The only person capable of telling him about the drawing is Jenni or his crazy great aunt and uncle. \n\nAce will probably think it's the dagger protecting him, if anything.\n\n----------\n\nUpdate:\nChanged this branch so user can experience using a physical object in Astral combat.
Ace was exhausted, but he realized that even if he told her the truth, she'd never believe it. Instead, he just shook his head. \n\n"Nah, it's nothing. It was just a dream, mom. I'm fine, really."\n\nFor a moment, she looked as if she didn't believe him, but she didn't press him for more. She was obviously too worried that he was going to miss the bus.\n\n"Okay, well hurry up and get ready! I won't have time to drive you in this morning."\n\nAce nodded and went back to his room, relieved that he had avoided another awkward conversation about metaphysics with his mom. His [[previous experience]] with that had taught him better.\n\nStill, he was now alone in his room, possibly in the company of an invisible monster. He closed his eyes and [[reached out with his mind]], trying to see if it was gone.
That was enough to break her attention from her novel and she dropped it down to the table, staring at him with a threatening look on her face.\n\n"Who attacked you and where do they sleep?"\n\nHe laughed, knowing full well that was the reaction he was going to get. "Not who. //What// is more like it. Aito says it was a... Shadow Beast, 'Type 3'?" \n\nHe watched her inquisitively for a sign of regonition. Her reaction was more than enough to tell him that she knew exactly what he was saying. Her face fell and she looked paler than usual as she stared at him.\n\n"[[You were attacked by a Type 3?]]" she asked incredulously.
//Ty opened his eyes and winced at the bright sunlight that assaulted his eyes.\n\n"Ugh... why's it always have to be so damn bright out here?"\n\n"Hello to you too, sunshine. Haha... [[Hematite]]. That's appropriate."\n\nHe looked Jenni like she was speaking in tongues. "'Scuse me?"\n\nShe pointed at his wrist and he gaped at it.\n\n"Wow, kid... that's somethin' else."\n\nShe smirked at him and said, "It's so I know when you're out so you don't cause any trouble for Ace."\n\nHe grinned at her. "Aw. You're too sweet. Can I go now?"\n\nJenni giggled a little and said "Yes, you can [[go get someone else]]."//
They both jumped and whipped their heads around to look.\n\n"Oh good, you're awake. But you're half-naked! Ace, the bus is going to be here in less than 15 minutes! Get a move-on before you're late to school!"\n\nHis mother, of course, hadn't seen Aito, who turned and saw what time it was. "Oh, good heavens! I can't believe I've kept you this long! Hurry, hurry!"\n\n"Right, sorry mom!" He lept off the bed as she shut the door and yanked on his clothes. He grabbed his bag, stuffed the half-finished homework on his desk into it, and was halfway out the door when Aito called out, "[[Wait!]] You can't forget these!"
"What //was// that thing??" Ace looked expectantly at Aito for answers and the angel sighed heavily before making his way over to Ace's bedside and sitting.\n\n"Well... It's called a Shadow Beast, Type 3. From what I understand, it's - "\n\n"Wait, //Type 3//?? You mean there are others?" Ace looked horrified at the thought.\n\n"Well, yes, apparently." He didn't seem too certain of any of this either, but he continued. "From what Gwen has told me - [[you remember Gwen]] - Shadow Beasts are something of a problem in her home world. They're... how shall I put this... they're made purely of negative energy and they do the dirty work of their masters."\n\nAce looked incredulous. "You mean someone sent that thing after me?"\n\n"Mmm...Not necessarily..." Aito looked like he didn't believe that any more than Ace did, but he continued. "I find it odd that there was only one, though. Type 3 Shadow Beasts are soldiers. They usually appear in groups. But this one seemed to be acting on its own..." He trailed off, looking fretful.\n\n<<back>>
Picking up a bracelet made of 22 round beads, he slipped it on and watched as the stones turned to a shiny black hematite. \n\nHe [[recalled]] being present when Ace's witch friend, Jenni had given these to Ace. They had been outside under a large oak tree together when she had laid them out and explained what they were for.\n\n
Aito stood fast in front of Ace, keeping him protected from the huge fireball that erupted as Ty shot flames at the beast, laughing loudly as it blazed.\n\nAce watched, despite Aito's attempts to keep him from seeing it. He couldn't help it - //that// was awesome.\n\nThe creature roared and flailed its long arms in agony as the fire consumed its shadowy body, staggering away from its attacker.\n\nTy, who was clearly enjoying himself, comically prepared his sword like a baseball bat and swung hard. The thing was lauched through the bedroom wall and out into the morning light, where it [[dissolved]] into nothing.
He recalled when Jenni have given it to him...\n\n//"Ah yes. The necklace. This is a bit different and you should be VERY careful about who you let out when you have it on."\n\nAce sat forward a bit more attentively at that comment. "Why, what does it do?"\n\nShe picked it up and showed him the silver pendant, which was a simple silver disc at the moment. "This pendant lets the user manifest their astral powers into the physical world."\n\nHe stared at her. "What."\n\n"Exactly. And just like the bracelet, it changes shape depending on who's out at the time."\n\nHe continued to stare, slightly slack-jawed at this news. "So... you mean to tell me... that if Aito comes out, that will let him use his healing powers? And... Ty can set stuff on fire with his mind...? In real life?? That seems... uh..."\n\n"[[Dangerous]], I know. That's why Gwen made me put a damper on it. They can only use their powers if the situation is dire enough to allow it. Most of the time, it will just be a necklace, so don't worry..."//\n
Ace immediately brought the sword up to block the blow, his whole spirit shaking with the impact.\n\nTy had taken the time to teach him the basics of sword fighting, but he was terrified that this thing would easily overpower him.\n\nTheir blades ground together and tendrils of shadow seethed off of the beast's sword, entangling with the swirling golden light of Ace's blade, seemingly locked in their own fierce battle.\n\nAce realized he wouldn't win using strength alone, so instead of pushing back, he rolled out of the way like Ty had taught him, using the creature's weight to his advantage. \n\nIt fell forward and before it could catch itself to retaliate, [[Ace cried out and swung.]]
Aito glanced between the drawing and the creature that was huddled in the corner and paused to think before he replied. "You may be what's referred to as a Creative Aspector. They're extremely uncommon Aspectors who can do things like capture Aspects through creative expressions like art or even music... and some can even //create// Aspects." He looked a little uncomfortable at that.\n\nAce blinked up at him in shock. "Wait... you mean like... what do you mean, 'create' Aspects? I thought you were your own people, with your own lives... how can someone like me just... //make// a person??"\n\nThe creature shifted impatiently, making them both jump a little.\n\nAito just frowned, staring at the beast. "Never you mind. I'll explain later. Right now, we've got to do something about this thing, and //[[you have to get to school.]]//"
As terrifying as it was, Ace decided he should probably keep it, for future reference. He had a funny feeling he might need to show someone. Jenni might even know what it was. \n\nHe carefully smoothed it back out and gave it a quick once-over with some fixative to prevent it from smudging. He blew on it a few times to help it dry, then tucked it away in his [[sketch pad]].\n\nHe desperately wanted to get the tainted charcoal off of his hands, so he ran to the bathroom to [[wash his hands]].
<html>\n<img src="Images/Image (14).jpg" width="769" height="1124" usemap="#Map" class="mapper" border="0" />\n<map name="Map" id="Map">\n <area shape="rect" coords="29,658,161,1099" href="javascript:state.display('his mother swept in', this);"" />\n</map>\n</html>\n------\nAito took him gently by the shoulders and smiled enigmatically. "I know it seemed that way, but you have the power inside of you to fight against the darkness." (Ty rolled his eyes at this). "Had it succeeded in devouring your essence, I imagine it would have had quite the stomach ache before spitting you back out."\n\nAce gaped at him for a long time before finally replying. "You... you're kidding me, right? You were gonna let it eat me?!"\n\n"Now see here - "\n\nAce pulled back from him. "You BOTH know something! I know it! Tell me what's going on!"\n\nThey both looked at him and there was a long uncomfortable silence. But before either of them could reply, Ace's bedroom door burst open and [[his mother swept in]].
<html>\n<img src="Images/Image (10).jpg" width="748" height="1100" usemap="#Map" class="mapper" border="0" />\n<map name="Map" id="Map">\n <area shape="rect" coords="-1,-3,814,1141" href="javascript:state.display('next', this);" />\n</map>\n</html>\n\n----------\nIt was suddenly engulfed in fire as the flames from Ty's sword raced outward from the blazing steel.\n\n[[next]]
"No! It just showed up and attacked me!"\n\nKeeping an eye on the creature, which looked like it was preparing to attack again, Ace edged closer to Ty, trying to hide behind him.\n\nTy stepped away.\n\n"Ohhhh, no ya don't. You got yourself into this, you're gonna learn to get yourself out." He grinned mischievously, clearly enjoying the look of shocked confusion on Ace's face.\n\n"W-Wha -? I can't fight that thing! Are you crazy?! Hey, wait!"\n\nBut before he could finish his protest, Ty chuckled and [[dove toward Ace.]]
<html>\n<img src="Images/004_B_escape.jpeg" width="744" height="1052" usemap="#Map" class="mapper" border="0" />\n<map name="Map" id="Map">\n <area shape="poly" coords="92,832,152,812,200,875,128,903" href="javascript:state.display('desk', this);" />\n</map>\n</html>\n\n------------\nAce jolted upright in his bed and stared frantically around the room for the creature that had been there. It was nowhere to be seen, although there was a definite heaviness to the air around him.\n\nHe suddenly needed to check to see if his body still worked, so he stood up and stumbled to his [[desk]].
Aito scowled at him. "Oh shut up." \n\nAce got to his feet and brushed off the dirt just as the driver made it to him. "Oh my god, are you okay?! You're not hurt are you? I can't believe you just ran into the road like that without looking!"\n\nAce looked mortified and muttered that he was fine, vaguely wondering if his mom was secretly psychic or something. With the help of the driver, he quickly gathered his belongings which had scattered across the pavement during his tumble.\n\nHe thanked the man and, zipping his bag securely, made his way back across the street to the bus. [[Aito and Ty]] followed closely behind him.\n
"Wait-!" Ace instinctively reached out and tried to stop it, but it was too quick. Before he could catch it, he found himself alone in his room once more, still clutching the dagger in his hand.\n\n"Huh..."\n\n"BUS IN FIVE MINUTES, ACE!!!"\n\n"Aah! RIGHT! ON MY WAY, MOM!" Ace jumped at the sound of his mom's nagging and quickly threw his things into his school bag. He yanked on his clothes and after pausing for a moment, decided to take his dagger with him, just in case. He sheathed it and tucked it behind his back in the waistband of his pants, praying that none of his teachers found it.\n\nWith that, he darted out the door, not noticing that the eyes of his charcoal sketch held a soft, menacing glow...\n\n\n------\nChapter end.\n\n//Author's note:\n\nFrom here, we can go in numerous directions, but it seems most natural for the next chapter to start with him at school. I'll come back to this.\n\nLooking back: Ace had no contact with his Aspects in this branch of the story. In order to introduce them as characters, I'll have to bring them in somehow in the next chapter.\n\nAlso, Ace needs the opportunity to engage in combat on the Astral Plane.//
Aito released him and looked him over once more before standing back up.\n\n"Well, come on. Let's get you back into your body. It's not safe here." As if heeding his own words, Aito glanced warily around the room once more.\n\n"I'm not sure if I can right now... this spirit switching stuff is so hard..."\n\nAito smiled his usual warm and patient smile, his handsome face softening a bit. "It's alright. Just close your eyes and visualize yourself settling back down where you're lying, just there. You'll feel it when you've reconnected."\n\nAce looked up at the tall blond man with uncertainty, but did as he was told and [[closed his eyes]].\n\n"Don't worry. I'm right here. Nothing can harm you."
<html><img src="Images/Image (4).jpg" width="850" height="1169" usemap="#Map" class="mapper" border="0" />\n<map name="Map" id="Map">\n <area shape="poly" coords="674,717,762,806,783,981,718,1103,642,1103,574,932,592,779" href="javascript:state.display('look', this);"" />\n</map>\n</html>\n--------------\nAce's panic left him immobilized, unable to fight back. A fleeting glimpse at his limp body below made him lose nearly all hope. The only thing left for him was to scream and pray desperately that someone would hear...\n\n"AAAAAAAGGGGGHHHH!!!! PLEASE! PLEASE SOMEBODY HELP!! HELP MEEEEEEEE!!!"\n\n Just then, he heard a familiar lazy voice pipe up from behind him. \n\n"Jeeesus, kid. What the hell are you whinin' about now?"\n\nAce twisted around to [[look]]...
(Flashback to an argument with his mom about the "voices in his head")
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<html>\n<img src="Images/Image (6).jpg" width="765" height="1052" usemap="#Map" class="mapper" border="0" />\n<map name="Map" id="Map">\n <area shape="rect" coords="75,198,231,259" href="javascript:state.display('Better hold still', this);"" />\n</map>\n</html>\n\n------------\nTy reached over his shoulder and manifested a large, wicked looking sword into his hand and grinned. He swung it in a lazy figure eight in front of him a few times and the blade ignited.\n\n"So... I guess you're hopin' I'll help, huh?" He smirked at Ace. "[[Better hold still]] if that's the case. Wouldn't want to lose any pieces now, would ya?"\n\n
Maybe it was because he was delerious from the lack of sleep or maybe it was because he felt horrible for lying to his mother when she looked so worried, but he felt compelled to tell her what had just happened.\n\n"Um... mom?" He looked as if he didn't know how to start.\n\n"What is it? Oh, don't tell me you're sick...I can't take you to the doctor today, sweety..."\n\n"No, no! It's not that..." he paused again, closing his eyes, then finally found the courage to spit it out. "I was dreamwalking again and there was this huge black creature in my room and I'm pretty sure it was going to hurt me so I escaped and drew a picture I had to tell you I'm sorry."\n\nThe words spilled out as quickly as he could say them, as if getting them out faster would make them sound less insane. He dared a peek at his mother's reaction.\n\nFor a moment, she just stood there blinking at him, trying to process what he had just said. Then, she relaxed, looking mildly exasperated. "Oh honey... you really had me worried!" she said with relief in her voice as she took him in her arms like he was a little kid again. "It was just a bad dream, but you're safe now. You're awake..."\n\nHe shoved her away. "No! [[You don't understand!]]"
"So. You gonna make the smart choice and walk away?" Ty grinned maliciously as he approached the other Aspect, sword at the ready. "Or am I gonna have to kick your ass?"\n\nThe man looked perfectly at ease as he continued to smile back at Ty. After a long pause, he slowly stood, hands up in mock surrender.\n\n"There's no need for threats. I can see that I'm outnumbered here." The tone of his voice and his demeanor held an obvious lack of concern that made it seem like being outnumbered was hardly worth his notice. He continued to smile condescendingly at Ty as they glared at each other.\n\n"However," he glanced at Ace, who was still blank-eyed and throttling Jasper. "This changes everything. You can be sure that [[we'll see each other again.]]"
"Uh... kid?" Ty looked down at Ace's limp spirit form and nudged it with a foot. No response.\n\n"Well, shit."\n\nHe stooped over and lifted the boy up, depositing him back in his body. Ace's spirit slid neatly back into place, but he remained unconscious. Ty frowned.\n\n"...Aito's gonna kill me."\n\nWith that, Ty flipped a pair of sunglasses out of thin air and slid them on. "Ah, that's better. Damned Day Star..." he hissed at the window.\n\nSuddenly the door burst open and Ace's [[mother]] came in.
Their eyes locked across the table and after a pause, Ace said "Okay."\n\n"PROMISE."\n\n"Okay, I promise! I won't be reckless if I can help it..."\n\nShe gave him an exasperated glare, but she seemed satisfied for now. She looked at the seat next to Ace and said "You won't let anything happen to him, right?"\n\nAce glanced over, almost forgetting that Aito was still with him. His angel friend smiled and nodded to Jenni. "Of course I will, dear. Not only is it my job, but I've grown quite fond of this one over the years."\n\nAt that moment, the morning bell rang, signalling them to their classes and they parted ways.\n\n--------\nChapter End\n\n
"Wait-!" Ace instinctively reached out and tried to stop him, but before Ace could protest, Ty vanished with a blaze of fire, leaving Ace alone in his room once more, still clutching the dagger in his hand.\n\n"Huh..."\n\n"BUS IN FIVE MINUTES, ACE!!!"\n\n"Aah! RIGHT! ON MY WAY, MOM!" Ace jumped at the sound of his mom's nagging and quickly threw his things into his school bag. He yanked on his clothes and after pausing for a moment, decided to take his dagger with him, just in case. He sheathed it and tucked it behind his back in the waistband of his pants, praying that none of his teachers found it.\n\nWith that, he darted out the door, not noticing that the eyes of his charcoal sketch held a soft, menacing glow...\n\n-----------\n\nChapter End.
Ace picked up the lighter and the herb smudge, glancing over his shoulder to see if the thing was watching (//does it even have a face...?//). He flicked on the lighter and lit the end of the bundle, waiting for it to start smoking.\n\nAs soon as he saw great curls of smoke rising from the bundle, he turned and approached the creature, his whole body shaking.\n\nThe creature whirled around to face him when it smelled the smoke, which made Ace nearly jump out of his skin. It obviously didn't like the smell of the smoke, but it wasn't exactly in a hurry to leave.\n\nAce blew the smoke toward it in a feeble attempt to get it to go, but it merely shook its head in voilent disgust and growled. It actually took a step toward Ace, its arm morphing into what appeared to be a sword.\n\n"Oh shit..." Clearly, the smudge was just pissing it off.\n\n//Not good, not good, not good...!// Ace backed away quickly, retreating back to [[his altar]].
Again, it froze in place, uttering a sound that was a strange blend of a growl, a whine, and an exasperated grumble. It clearly didn't want to be told what to do, but it seemed like it had to listen to Ace.\n\n"Really... how //are// you doing that? Did anything happen after you returned from dreamwalking?"\n\nAce shook his head slowly, thinking hard. Then he remembered the drawing.\n\n"The only thing I did when I woke up was draw a picture of it. Then I told mum what happened, but she didn't believe me so I called you..."\n\n"Curious..." Aito paused for a moment, then asked, "Where is the picture?" Ace nodded toward the desk, which was behind the creature.\n\n"[[Try telling it to move.]]"
by Adrian Parhamovich
<html>\n<img src="Images/Image (3).jpg" width="790" height="1145" usemap="#Map" class="mapper" border="0" />\n<map name="Map" id="Map">\n <area shape="rect" coords="259,758,365,787" href="javascript:state.display('fight it', this);" />\n <area shape="rect" coords="68,959,177,1008" href="javascript:state.display('scream for help', this);" />\n</map>\n</html>\n\n----------------\nAce's head burned with static, and in his panic, his rational mind realized it was the sound of his own spirit screaming that filled his head.\n\nQuietly, it thought, //I'm going to die... mom will find me in the morning and I'll be least I won't have to take that quiz tomorrow in Algebra...//\n\nBut his raw, instinctual survival kept kicking and screaming. He had to get away, but he wasn't sure if he could fight this thing off.\n\nAs its gaping jaws drew nearer, he realized he would have to, unless he could call someone for help.\n\nCan I [[fight it]]? Will anyone even hear me if I [[scream for help]]?\n\n\n---------\n//Author's note to Players:\n\nThe left path will reveal more mysteries and answer questions, but may not contain as much combat as you hope...\n\nThe right path will allow you to either fight or ask for help, but may result in losing control of yourself...//
<html>\n<img src="Images/Image (8).jpg" width="773" height="1094" usemap="#Map" class="mapper" border="0" />\n<map name="Map" id="Map">\n <area shape="rect" coords="159,1043,204,1057" href="javascript:state.display('fight', this);"" />\n</map>\n</html>\n\n-----------\nThe answer was clear. Between certain death at the hands of this thing and possible survival at the mercy of a demon he barely knew, there was no other choice.\n\nWith the last of his strength, he looked at Ty and gave the tiniest nod before going limp and closing his eyes.\n\n"Heh. Excellent." Ty's biohazard green eyes flashed. He was grinning wide enough now to show all of his teeth. He was clearly itching for a fight.\n\nHe darted across the intervening space and swung the flaming sword up from below, severing its hold on the boy. Ace collapsed on the floor and quickly scrabbled away from the [[fight]].\n\n\n
"Anyway, you said it was pulling me out of my body. It definitely felt like that's what it wanted to do. What will happen to me if I leave my body for too long?"\n\nAito gave him a lingering look that said everything he needed to know. "Well... if someone else - like myself - doesn't take over while you're gone... eventually your body will stop working on its own."\n\nHis heart sank. "You mean... I'd die...?"\n\nAito looked straight at him with a very grave expression on his face. "Yes. But not immediately. Your body would carry on, but it would be like an empty shell. To an outside observer, you would appear to be in a coma. If the connection were to be cut, after too much time, your physical form would perish."\n\nAce stared at his hands for a moment, then said, "That's why you're always telling me not to stay on the Astral Plane for too long without an anchor? Because I could die?"\n\n"Precisely. And now that there is a creature out there trying to cause you harm, you //must// be more cautious than ever before. I don't want anything to happen to you, Ace..."\n\nAce heaved a sigh. He knew exactly what that meant. No more dream walking. No more sneaking out in class. At least, not until this monster was gone. Boooorrrring. But he simply nodded and didn't say anything more.\n\nSuddenly, [[the door to his bedroom swung open]].\n\n<<back>>
Without waiting for an answer, Ty reached out to Ace and grabbed his hand. Again, there was a moment of swirling energy as the two switched places and before he knew it, Ace was back in his own body, still holding the dagger, which was back to looking normal.\n\n"See ya 'round, kid." Ty started to walk off.\n\n"Hey, wait! You said you'd explain! What was that thing? How did I do that? You know, don't you?"\n\nTy paused by the window, pulling another cigarette out and lighting the end with his finger. He grinned and looked over at Ace.\n\n"Later. It's [[time for you to go.]]"
"Aw, //HELL// no." Ty lunged at the man to stop him from escaping, but it was too late. He had already disappeared, leaving behind his partner and a soft echo of amused laughter.\n\nTy cursed and kicked the wall. He turned to see [[what the others were doing]].\n\n
"DON'T PLAY DUMB WITH ME, YOU WHORE!"\n\n"Now, now, Jasper. That's no way to talk to the lady if you want information. Besides, you're giving her far too much credit by assuming she's capable of decent acting."\n\nThe two voices belonged respectively to a rather deranged looking blond man in his 30's (who was standing over Ace's now unconscious mother with a full bottle of wine clutched in one fist) and to a tall, thin, and well-dressed younger man who wore a condescending smile. The second man, Ace immediately noticed, was clearly an Aspect.\n\n"Tch. Like I give a shit. This cow has to know where he hid that damn thing." He grabbed Ace's mother by the front of her house robe, which was slipping off of her shoulder, and shook her roughly. "Damn... I knocked her out..."\n\nThe tall man chuckled slyly and strolled over to the dining room table, tossing his luxurious chocolate brown pony tail over his shoulder as he sat down and crossed his legs. "Well, you might as well take advantage of the situation. No sense in wasting opportunities."\n\nThe older man paused and then grinned hungrily at Ace's mother, who hung limply from his hand. "Oh, you're as sick and twisted as they told me you were." His laugh sounded like gravel as he began stripping her out of her robe. "You just gonna sit there and watch, pretty boy? Why don't you make yourself useful and search the place?"\n\nBut before he could reply, Ace was on his feet, towering over them from the stairwell. "[[LEAVE HER ALONE.]] RIGHT NOW."\n\n\n---------------\n//Author's note:\nThis moment is another perfect opportunity to change Ace's fate. In the full version, he can chose to either stay hidden and watch (traumaaaaa!) or stand up to them. However, due to the need to keep it short, he's only getting one choice now.
Aspectors is an interactive graphic novel about a boy named Ace and his journey into the supernatural, otherworldly, and straight up insane reality of the Aspectors - people like him, who can communicate with, interact with, and sometimes "switch places" with beings from beyond the fabric of this universe - beings that other people can't see and don't believe in. His world is turned upside down when eerie, shadowy creatures start trying to eat his soul and wreak havoc on their world, and he is forced to learn how to master his Aspecting powers to save his new friends and change the world before it is swallowed by darkness.\n\n The story is currently being written and the art is in pre-production. The graphic novel will be released in weekly chapters once the story has been finalized.\n\nFor now, if you want a taste of what's to come from this interactive graphic novel, click below to explore the Chapter 1 pilot of Aspectors.\n\n(Pssst... If you want to see more of the art and less of the story, touch it and call for help. And definitely don't change your mind if you start to question your choice. ;P)\n\n\n[[Begin the Story]]
His blade sliced through the thick shadowy substance that made up the creature. It roared as the golden energy from Ace's sword raced outward from the cut and consumed the creature, spewing darkness into the room as [[it fell.]]
//Aito! Ty! Come here, quick! Please?//\n\nHe concentrated as hard as he possibly could on summoning them to his room. He //believed// as hard as he dared, and visualized them stepping through.\n\nHe heard their voices...\n\n//"Ace? Are you alright? What's going on?"//\n\n//"Seriously kid, you kinda look constipated..."//\n\nAce dared to [[open his eyes...]]
<html>\n<img src="Images/Image (2).jpg" width="749" height="1095" usemap="#Map" class="mapper" border="0" />\n<map name="Map" id="Map">\n <area shape="poly" coords="106,864,137,786,151,766,150,792,167,767,174,784,190,817,207,851,205,934,191,952,176,1064,156,922,161,884,171,871,149,857,126,876,114,879" href="javascript:state.display('swallow', this);"" />\n</map>\n</html>\n\n------------\nIn an instant, it shot out what he could only assume was its arm and grabbed his wrist, holding on tight. A shriek of primal horror erupted from Ace's throat as he desperately tried to pull away, but to no avail. \n\nThe swarming darkness that seethed throughout its form was wrapping itself tighter around his wrist, snaking faster up his arm and it suddenly began forcibly pulling his very spirit back out of his sleeping body.\n\nIt opened an expressionless maw impossibly wide and began sucking Ace toward itself, ready to [[swallow]] him whole.
//Ace? Is there something the matter?//\n\nAce was relieved to hear the pleasant English voice of his Guardian respond to his call.\n\nHe opened his eyes, and through his Astral vision, he could make out the tall form of his guardian standing in front of him with a look of concern on his face.\n\nAce opened his mouth to tell him what had happened when he saw it.\n\nBehind Aito, the beast that was in his dream was still in the room and it was advancing upon them. Aito had no idea it was there...\n\n//[["NO!!"]]//
<html>\n\n<img src="Images/Image (9).jpg" width="850" height="1169" usemap="#Map" class="mapper" border="0" />\n<map name="Map" id="Map">\n <area shape="circle" coords="223,618,135" href="javascript:state.display('core', this);"" />\n</map>\n</html>\n-----------\nThe monster recoiled, ignoring the boy now to face off with its attacker. Its red eyes blazed with fury as it too manifested what seemed to be some kind of shadow sword.\n\n"Ah... wanna fight me, do ya? Hehe... too bad for you, Fido. 'Cause you don't stand a CHANCE!"\n\nThe creature lunged at Ty, who quickly ducked and brought his sword up again, thrusting it right through the thing's [[core]].
include some very important detail that you will have to recall later. Maybe have someone ask if he remembers anything and present the reader with a list of choices. The correct choice gets you a vital clue. The incorrect choice takes a different path...
//Called "sky stone" or "stone of heaven" by some Native Americans, the vibrations of turquoise can build a spiritual bridge between worlds and give strong psychic powers to the bearer.\n\nTurquoise is considered to be a symbol of generosity, sincerity, and affection. It preserves friendships and can make friends out of enemies in time. \n\nTraditionally it is said to only bring good luck if given, not purchased. However, this is not always the case. One must take into consideration the innate energy of each stone individually.//\n\n<<back>>
He was bathed in a cold sweat. He'd have to be fast. \n\nSummoning all of his courage, he darted across the room at the phantom and [[swung]] with all his might.
Through his astral vision, he could see the forms of his two Aspects standing in the room between the creature and himself.\n\nMuch to his disappointment, they were not standing in the same world as Ace was, but just beyond it as usual.\n\n"Well now, looks like you got a bit of a pest problem, kiddo," Ty said, eyeing the creature with lazy curiosity. \n\n"I beg your pardon?" Aito had thought for a moment that Ty was making fun of him again, but when he saw where Ty's eyes were focused, he shrieked in surprise. "OHH! OH, good heavens...How on Earth did that thing get in here?!" Aito now stood in front of Ace, facing the beast with his huge white wings slightly open as if to shield the boy from the it.\n\nThe creature was now bristling with aggression at the two newcomers.\n\nAce gulped and tightened his grip on the necklace. "Y-yeah..[[can you help me?]] I don't know what it wants, but it was in my room when I woke up, standing over me. Here, I've got that necklace Jenni told you about, if you want..."
<html>\n<img src="Images/005_B_desk.jpeg" width="744" height="1052" usemap="#Map" class="mapper" border="0" />\n<map name="Map" id="Map">\n <area shape="poly" coords="164,894,271,870,319,878,502,881,616,860,545,956,532,1051,221,1048,230,986" href="javascript:state.display('result', this);" />\n</map>\n</html>\n\n-------------\nHe made it to his desk and groped around in the dark for a piece of paper and a spare bit of charcoal. He HAD to remember that creature. He didn't know why, but it was important to get it out of his head and onto something tangible.\n\nFrantically, he scribbled the fading image into the fibers of the paper, charcoal dust spraying all around. He glanced over his shoulder more than once, trying to shake the itchy feeling that it might still be there, just behind him.\n\nHe snatched a red pen and made two orbs where its eyes were. When he felt satisfied that the monstrosity was on paper, he shakily gripped the paper and held it up to see the [[result]].
The ride to school was thankfully uneventful. Ace and his friends eagerly left the rumbling beast behind as they made their way to the cafeteria to find their friends. He spotted Jenni in her usual corner, reading by herself and pointedly ignoring everyone else.\n\nHe rushed over to sit with her, dropping his heavy bag and sighing to announce his presence. She didn't look up from her reading, but gave a small wave with her hand.\n\n"Holy. Crap. The morning I just had." Ace glanced around the crowded cafeteria to be sure they were out of earshot before continuing.\n\n[["I got attacked."]] Despite how terrified he had been at the time of the ordeal, he had a broad grin on his face as he told her.\n\n
<html>\n<img src="Images/Image (11).jpg" width="700" height="1088" usemap="#Map" class="mapper" border="0" />\n<map name="Map" id="Map">\n <area shape="rect" coords="44,899,108,977" href="javascript:state.display('Come to think of it', this);" />\n</map>\n</html>\n-------------\nIt staggered away and without warning, dissolved down the air vent in Ace's bedroom floor.\n\nAce stared at the vent, half expecting it to burst back out, but nothing happened.\n\n"S-shouldn't you go after it?" he asked hesitantly.\n\nTy had put the flames out and swung the sword back behind him where it vanished again to wherever it had come from. He lit another cigarette and took a long draw from it.\n\n"Nah. They're weak against fire. I'd be surprised if it survived. Though come to think of it..." he trailed off as he looked around the room, then out the window.\n\nAce got up nervously and watched him. "[[Come to think of it]], what?"\n\n
Ace suddenly snapped out of his trance and scrambled over to where Aito was working. "Is she okay?? Please tell me she's going to be okay..."\n\nAito simply nodded, his eyes still closed as he healed her. Ace watched as the goose egg faded and the color returned to her face.\n\nAs soon as he was sure she was alright, Aito shuffled to the unconscious man. Although Ace continued to fret over his mom, he scowled as his guardian began to heal the man. "[[Why are you even bothering with that bastard?]] You saw what he was going to do to her..."\n\n
//He closed his eyes and searched within himself, reaching out for Aito's energy.\n\n"Hey, Aito...? Can you come out here for a second?"\n\nHe felt the angel's presence and suddenly he was there in front of him, smiling down at him. "Is there anything the matter, Ace?"\n\n"Oh no, it's just... she needs to talk to you for a sec."\n\nHe nodded. "Of course. But it will have to be brief."\n\nAito took Ace's hand and suddenly they had [[switched places]].//
He snatched up the lighter. He figured if the thing was made of darkness, maybe it wouldn't like the light.\n\nHe turned to face the creature, swallowing the lump in his throat that he was convinced was his heart.\n\nWith a single motion, he flicked the lighter and lunged at the creature, waving the dancing flame at it wildly.\n\nIt recoiled, taking a step back. Obviously, it didn't like fire very much.\n\nAce grinned with a bit of [[renewed hope]].
He felt himself drifting through a thousand scattered thoughts - he recalled memories from the day before, snippets of songs he had heard, faces he'd seen out the bus window, math problems from his homework, Aito's soothing voice, and the horrible face of that nightmarish creature all flowed around and throughout him as he sank back into his own mind.\n\nThere was a brief moment of clarity as everything went silent for a fraction of a second, and he suddenly felt heavier than before. He opened his eyes and looked at where Aito had been standing only moments before, but saw [[nothing]].
//Hematite, besides its association with the blood, has also been known to be called the stone for the mind. It brings with it grounding and calming which in turn creates mental organization and focus. (Because let's face it. Ty really needs to not be so impulsive...)\n\nHematite decreases negativity and can help balance the mind - body - spirit connection, it draws negative energy away from you into itself. It acts well as a stabilizing force.\n\nIt is a good stone to have around when you are being bombarded with vibrations and energies other than your own.//\n\n<<back>>
<html>\n<img src="Images/003_opened his eyes.jpeg" width="744" height="1052" usemap="#Map" class="mapper" border="0" />\n<map name="Map" id="Map">\n <area shape="poly" coords="115,860,288,795,290,844,131,919" href="javascript:state.display('that', this);" />\n</map>\n</html>\n\n\n\n------------\n...and found himself staring face to face with a dark form towering over him.\n\nHe froze in panic... his first instinct was to run but his body was frozen, still paralyzed in a semi-conscious state.\n\n[[that]]
<html>\n<img src="Images/002_himself.jpeg" width="744" height="1052" usemap="#Map" class="mapper" border="0" />\n<map name="Map" id="Map">\n <area shape="rect" coords="101,958,247,1028" href="javascript:state.display('eyes', this);" />\n</map>\n\n</html>\n\n------------\nAce felt what would have been his heart (if he wasn't floating in mid-air, clearly above the body with the heart in it) leap into his throat. He was stranded on the Astral Plane. He had to get back to his body.\n\nClosing his eyes, he dove toward his bed, hoping this would somehow work.\n\nIt was easier than he had expected. It seemed that merely thinking about it created a connection and suddenly he was lying in his bed again, though still not entirely conscious... \n\nIn his dream state, he slowly opened his [[eyes]]...
As soon as they were settled into their seats, Ace began dodging questions from his school mates left and right. Meanwhile, Aito gave Ty a sideways look of disapproval.\n\n\n"//You// did that, didn't you?"\n\nTy, who had lit up a cigarette and propped his boots up on the seat across from him, looked at him in mock surprise. "Who, //me?// Now why would I do something like that?" He grinned as Aito took the bait, gleefully watching his suspicion morph into indignation.\n\n"The //nerve// of you... I ought to have you banished back to your superiors!"\n\nTy frowned. "You don't //really// think I did that, do you?" Aito replied with a raised eyebrow.\n\n"Tch... well I didn't." Ty folded his arms stubbornly and looked out the window. "Believe me, as much as I hate being stuck to this kid, I've got orders not to let anything happen to him. They'd reem me a ''few'' new ones if //I// did anything to him."\n\n"Oh, really? And [[of what interest to them is the boy's well being?]]"
<html>\n<img src="Images/003.5_choice.jpg" width="744" height="1052" usemap="#Map" class="mapper" border="0" />\n<map name="Map" id="Map">\n <area shape="rect" coords="335,745,503,778" href="javascript:state.display('touch', this);" />\n <area shape="rect" coords="486,847,570,887" href="javascript:state.display('run', this);" />\n</map>\n</html>\n\n\n\n\n\n---------\n//Wait...what if I never see this thing again...? I'll never know what it was...\n\nThen again, this gripping terror... I could really die right here if I don't run...//\n\n\nTo escape... or to reach out... //what should I do...?//\n\n[[touch]]\n[[run]]
At this point, he didn't care if it was dangerous. In his opinion, the situation was definitely dire. He put on the necklace and faced the creature, which was staying well clear of Ace's altar.\n\nHe paused.\n\nThen he realized that he had no idea what his astral powers were. He had never done anything special except summon other Aspects... \n\nSuddenly an exciting thought occurred to him. If summoning was his power, and this necklace manifested those powers into the physical world, maybe he could finally bring his friends through to Earth!\n\nIt was one of his greatest wishes to be able to //actually// be with them - to hang out with Aito, to really //feel// what those gigantic wings felt like, to //see// them with his normal eyes and not his third eye, and to actually be able to show the rest of the world that they were REAL and not just imaginary friends.\n\nWith renewed determination, he clutched the necklace and closed his eyes. //Maybe this time... [[maybe...]]//\n\n
Time to switch...\n\n[[Aito]]\n\n[[Ty]]\n\n[[Back to Ace]]
//"The stones on this bracelet will change depending on who's out at the time. That way, anyone who knows you guys can tell who's in control just by looking. Go ahead and try it."\n\nAce slipped on the bracelet and immediately, it changed into a string of [[Tiger's Eye]] stones. "Woah! That's awesome, Jenni..."\n\nShe smiled modestly. "Now, [[go get someone else]] and watch what happens."\n\nAce closed his eyes....//
"Huh?"\n\nHe turned and saw Aito was pointing at a small wooden bowl on his altar. In it was a special gemstone bracelet and a necklace Jenni had made for him.\n\n"Ah - right." He snatched them up and stuffed them into his pocket as he ran downstairs. In short order, he had packed a lunch, crammed some Pop-Tarts into his bag, and was out the door with little time to spare. "BYE MOM, I'M LEAVING!"\n\n"HAVE A GOOD DAAAY! [[AND LOOK BOTH WAYS BEFORE YOU CROSS THE STREET!!]]"\n\n\n-------------\n//(note to self: during the car incident, he loses the necklace in the street, but doesn't realize it until much later)//
After hurriedly drying his hands, he nearly jumped out of his skin when he opened the bathroom door to find his mother in the hallway. She looked disheveled and worried.\n\n"Ace, honey? Are you okay? I thought I heard you yelling...You know the bus is going to be here in less than 20 minutes, right?"\n\n"Oh...r-right." Ace looked uncomfortable for a moment, trying to decide what to tell her. Should he [[mention the creature]]? Or just [[shrug it off]] as nothing?\n\n\n-------------\n//In the left story arc, Ace relies more upon the help and advice of the people around him.\n\nIn the right, he's more independent, taking action into his own hands and seeing the results for himself.//
The same boy from the car was standing next to one of the concrete pillars in the covered walkway that led to the entrance.\n\nHe smiled that same faint smile as he saw Ace, who was still rooted to the spot.\n\nTy was braced, clearly uncomfortable with the kid, and Aito watched with worried curiousity, but their attention immediately shifted as a tall brown-haired woman in a pencil skirt stepped around the pillar to face them. Like them, she stood next to her charge, slightly beyond the perception of everyone but them. \n\nHe was definitely an Aspector.\n\n----------\nChapter End
The answer was obvious. He had to find out about the creature and there was no way he'd be able to concentrate if he went to school anyway.\n\nWith his mind made up, he slipped away down an alley to the next street so as to avoid an encounter with the school bus. He decided to head over to his friend David's auto garage for answers. David was a friend of the family and had been like an older brother to Ace for many years. He was also an Aspector and was someone Ace could go to for answers in times like this.\n\nAs he jogged away, he heard Aito's voice. //Well, I hope you don't expect any answers from me. Perhaps if you had done the right thing, I would have helped you, but now you're out of luck. I'm off to do my own investigating.// he said edgily before leaving.\n\n"I'm sorry, Aito...but I have to do this."\n\nAnd with that, he made his way down the street.\n\n--------------\nChapter End\n\n//Author's note:\n\nFrom here, the user will begin their investigation for information on the creature, starting with David.
Hanging on the wall over his altar was a small, symbolic dagger made of Damascus steel. It was the only thing he had left from his father and it held a very special place in his heart.\n\n//Guess it's worth a try...//\n\nAce took a deep breath and grabbed it, turning to face the creature. It was much taller than he was, with impossibly long arms. He'd have to [[get close to it]] to use the dagger, or maybe he could [[throw it]]...\n\n\n------\n//note to self: \n\nScript: If they choose to throw the dagger, you could make it so the dagger is now unavailable as a choice when they return to altar. The down side to that is that they lost the opportunity to go down the dagger story branch...
<html>\n<img src="Images/Image (5).jpg" width="754" height="1121" usemap="#Map" class="mapper" border="0" />\n<map name="Map" id="Map">\n <area shape="rect" coords="60,924,115,973" href="javascript:state.display('So then...', this);"" />\n</map>\n</html>\n\n\n--------------\nWhat he saw gave him a shred of hope. It was Ty - a demon who had taken up residence with him recently.\n\nHe had a mixed look of surprise, irritation, and lazy reluctance - as if he had just been interrupted in the middle of a cat nap. \n\n"Tch... gimme a break. What'd you do to piss this thing off anyway?" he grumbled as he got to his feet, crushing his half-finished cigarette under his boot and running a hand through his jet-black hair.\n\nThe creature swiveled its head to get a better look at the new intruder.\n\nAce would have responded with a smart remark, but as his neck was being constricted by a shadowy tendril, all he could muster was a pathetic gurgle as he flashed a look of panicked anger in Ty's general direction.\n\n"[[So then...]]"\n
Making sure to keep and eye on the beast, Ace tried to explain what had happened.\n\n"Well... I was asleep. I think I might have been dreamwalking again. When I came back, this thing was standing over me. I don't remember anything from my dreams though. Do you think it followed me back?" Ace was clearly terrified of it, and Aito relaxed a little now that he knew Ace hadn't summoned it on purpose.\n\n"Well... I can't say for sure. I've heard of these creatures before, but I have no idea why it would take an interest in one individual. Unless..." He suddenly looked very worried.\n\n"Unless what? What do you know?"\n\nBut before Aito could answer, the creature decided again to come closer, this time reaching towards them.\n\n"STOP! STAY BACK!" Ace said, now realizing [[he had control over it.]]
<html>\n<img src="Images/Image (12).jpg" width="743" height="1113" usemap="#Map" class="mapper" border="0" />\n<map name="Map" id="Map">\n <area shape="rect" coords="257,764,389,954" href="javascript:state.display('get evicted', this);" />\n</map>\n</html>\n--------\nTy lingered by the window before turning and sitting on the bed. "Nothing. Don't worry about it, kid."\n\n"I'm not a kid! Tell me what it is! You know something, don't you?"\n\nTy smirked. "Yeah, so what if I do? What do I get for telling you?"\n\n"You don't [[get evicted]]," came a curt reply from behind Ace.
He heaved a resigned sigh as he made up his mind. He couldn't skip out. Jenni would wonder where he was and the thought of her face when she found out that he had skipped school after the morning's events was more than enough motivation to head to the bus stop. She could be very scary sometimes...\n\nNow that he was set on going to school, he could hardly wait for the bus to arrive. He wanted to tell Jenni everything that had happened, even if she didn't have any answers. He hated having to keep this stuff to himself.\n\nAs the bus rumbled to a stop, he got on and settled into his seat, too preoccupied with his own thoughts to notice the strange man who had invited himself into Ace's home across the street...\n\n----------------\nChapter End\n\n//Author's Note:\n\nDun. Dun. DAAAAAAHHHHH!\n\nWho's the creep across the street? Maybe you'll meet him in a different version of the story...\n\nFor now, the user will head to school and begin his investigation on the shadow creature. Meet other Aspectors, gain new allies, and solve the mystery of the beast from beyond.
Just as Ace's mother was starting to panic, Ty took over control and Ace's eyes fluttered open.\n\nTy did his best impression of a sleepy 14-year-old boy as he rolled over and blinked up at her. "Mmm...?"\n\n"Get UP! It's after 7! The bus will be here soon and you're not even up!"\n\n"Right, okay I'm up..." Ty groaned and stretched dramatically as Ace's mother left the room again. He glared after her resentfully.\n\n"Great... just great." He stood up, feeling a little awkward in a body much smaller than his own, and began [[looking around for clothes]].\n\nHe looked down and realized that not only did he no longer have his cigarette, there was very little chance of getting one until the boy woke up again.\n\n"Tch... and here I thought I'd left Hell behind..."
The creature looked taken aback as it struggled against the order. But despite its protests, the drawing began to glow and the shadowy beast was sucked into the paper like iron shavings to a magnet.\n\nAce and Aito stared at it for a few moments to see if anything else happened, but all was still. Ace lowered the paper and admired his work with new respect. "Cool..."\n\n"No, that is NOT 'cool,' Ace. That is dangerous and we'll need to work on controlling this new power of yours." Ace rolled his eyes, but didn't say anything else. He carefully placed the paper into his sketchbook and shut it.\n\n"Now. Get yourself ready to go to school before you miss your bus. I'm going to ask around and see what I can find out about this creature. [[I have a suspicion]] that someone may have sent it after you, but I can't imagine who or why."
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//Jenni.//\n\nA spark suddenly ignited his heart. His eyes shot open as his spirit filled with an energy like he had never felt before. \n\nImmediately, he had a moment of clarity. With a strength he didn't know he had, he tore his arms free with a guttural scream, just long enough to reach up and clutch the red orbs that were distracted by Ty.\n\nIt gave a roar of surprise and pain, releasing its grip on Ace as it reflexively reached for its searing eyes.\n\nAce screamed again and the room filled up with a golden light, emanating from his very core.\n\n"GO... AWAY!!!!" Ace ripped his clenched fists away from the beast with a burst of radiant light.\n\nIt staggered backward, arms blindly reaching out around itself. Ace's fists were smoking as the eyes dissolved into a black mist.\n\nSuddenly, the room filled with [[light]] again, but not from Ace. \n
He didn't know what to do. His own mother probably thought he was dangerously insane now and he couldn't get her to understand.\n\nIt //wasn't// a dream.... was it?\n\nThe only thing he could think to do was ask someone who knew about these things, but he barely had time. The bus was going to be at the stop across the street in 15 minutes and he was still in his boxers.\n\nLeaning against the door, he closed his eyes and reached out with his mind.\n\n//Hello? Aito? ...Ty? Are you guys there?//\n\nAt first there was only silence. He thought for a second that he was doing it wrong again. He had only recently learned from his friend Jenni how to contact his Aspects and there was a good chance that he was just talking to himself.\n\n//Hello...?//\n\nAnd then he heard [[a voice in his head...]]
<html><img src="Images/Image (16).jpg" width="729" height="1082" class="mapper" border="0" />\n</html>\n\n-------\nAito glanced at the clock, which read 6:59. "Oh, good heavens! You'd better go! Hurry up, now. We'll talk later." He ushered Ace over the to bed, muttering to himself about what a horrible caretaker he was, letting him sleep in like this...\n\n"But - !" Ace tried to protest, but he snapped back into his body as his mother shook him insistently. He woke up, feeling groggy and unrested. "Whassat...?" He stared up at her, bleary-eyed and annoyed.\n\n"SCHOOL! Bus in 15 minutes! GET UP!"\n\n"Right... I'm up, I'm up..."\n\n"Honestly!" She shook her head and hurried out of the room to finish getting ready for work.\n\nHe looked at where the others had been, but in this state, they were barely visible to him. He sighed and got out of bed, pausing with his eyes closed.\n\n"I won't forget," he said quietly to them.\n\nIn his mind, he heard a noncommittal grunt from Ty and Aito replied "Yes, yes, now get ready, quickly!"\n\nChapter End.
Suddenly, a blinding flash of bluish white light blazed into existence, accompanied by a rush of wind.\n\n//"RELEASE HIM!!"//\n\nAt the sound of the familiar English accent, Ace dared to peek at what had happened and he could hardly believe it. An enormous pair of white wings stretched out in front of him, effectively shielding him from the dark, black thing that had hold of him.\n\nThe individual they belonged to had his arms spread wide and was firmly [[standing his ground]].
//He closed his eyes and searched within himself, reaching out to Ty's energy.\n\n"Ty? Could you please come out here?" \n\nTy materialized in front of him, scratching his balls. "Yeah, whaddaya want?"\n\n"...Er...Jenni needs to talk to you."\n\n"Alrighty then."\n\nThey joined hands (he insisted on taking the non-ball-scratching hand...) and suddenly, [[Ty was in control]].//
Without thinking, he darted after it - straight into the path of an oncoming car.\n\nTime seemed to slow down as he reached out for the flying paper and realized the car was only a few short feet from him. \n\nHis eyes grew wide in surprise as he met the gaze of the person behind the wheel, whose shocked expression mirrored his own.\n\n[[There was no time to get out of the way.]]
Ace didn't have time to think.\n\nHe braced himself for the attack, sword in front of him at the ready. As he got into a fighting mindset, the glow intensified along the blade.\n\nThe creature, which had manifested its own shadowy sword, lunged at Ace, [[swinging the blade down at him.]]
Ace sat forward, getting as close to her as he could. "So you know what they are then?"\n\nShe frowned, looking down at the table as she thought. After a long pause, she said quietly, "I... I think you should keep away from me from now on."\n\nHe gawked at her, his heart dropping into his stomach. "//What??// No way! What the hell kind of answer is that?" His voice had an edge of panic to it, increasing in intensity as she stood up and gathered her things. He couldn't imagine having to go on without her in his life.\n\nHe leapt to his feet and grabbed her arm across the table. "[[Please don't go!]] Please... I don't know what this thing wanted, but we've got it under control... You don't have to be afraid, just...Please don't leave me..." His voice cracked a little as he looked at her.
She stopped picking her books up and looked at him, ignoring the stares they were getting from other tables.\n\n"I'm not afraid for me, Ace. It's you I'm worried about. You don't know these monsters... they're really dangerous." She sat back down, resigned to stay.\n\n"All the more reason for us to stick together!"\n\n"You don't understand. They might be after you because you're close to me..."\n\nAce was at a loss for words. He simply gaped at her, waiting for her to continue. When she didn't say anything more, he finally asked.\n\n"Wha... Okay.... Why... What do you mean? [[Are these things after you too?]]"
...Nothing happened.\n\nThe blade //swooshed// right through the thing's body with no effect whatsoever, leaving Ace wide open and inches away from it.\n\nIt looked down at him, staring at Ace with expressionless eyes.\n\n"Oh crap..." Ace was screwed. He stood frozen in place, unsure of what to do. He reflexively shut his eyes as the thing came at him for [[another attack]]...\n\n//"THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, KID?!"//\n\n\n\n----------\n//note to self: The dagger doesn't work on astral creatures when he's on the physical plane, but if Ace were to leave his body while holding the dagger, it would come with him through the veil and become a very powerful sword in the Astral Plane. Although, I want him to think it's useless at first.\n\nSo at this point, he can either drop the dagger and not find out that it's useful. OR the creature can try and drag him out of his body again (or in this story arc, for the first time), inadvertently pulling the dagger through with him....\n\nI think I'll save the Dagger for a plot device later.\n\n------\n\nUPDATE: Get Ace out of his body! Use this branch to discover the use of physical objects in the Astral Plane.\n\n-----\nCreature can't pull him out because Ace has it trapped in the drawing, but the user doesn't know that.\n\nAce will have to either leave his body on his own or one of the Aspects can take over, forcing him out. I don't think Aito would force Ace out onto the Astral plane because he's too protective. However, Ty would, just to prove to Ace that he can fight.\n\nLet's have Ty butt in at this point.\n\n//
//"So why Tiger's Eye?"\n\nIn her usual textbook fashion, Jenni explained. \n\n"It enhances courage, brings passion and physical strength, and allows these attributes to be tempered with mental clarity and a joyful outlook.\n\nAs a power stone, Tiger's Eye has a wonderful reputation for attracting money and luck. However it has some powerful spiritual uses as well. The liquid movement of light across the stone makes it an excellent tool for vision or divination work.\n\nHistorically Tiger's Eye has been used in protective medicine. Roman soldiers would wear engraved stones during battle, it is especially helpful against dark magic. A good luck stone, it is also used for discerning the truth in any situation."\n\nAce blinked. "Wow. Uh...thanks."\n\nShe shrugged. "I always associated you with luck, joy and passion. As distractable as you are, I figured you could use some mental clarity and...let's face it. You and your mom could use a little more wealth."\n\nAce looked embarrassed. "Haha... yeah, guess you're right."//\n\n<<back>>
Seeing that Ace wasn't moving, the boy approached them himself. "Hi. It's my first day here. Think you can show me around?" He kept the same distant smile on his face as his eyes bored into Ace. Over their heads, the woman held a similar, knowing smile on her face as she met the cold and wary experssions of Ty and Aito. \n\nNo one spoke.\n\nThe boy blinked (finally) and then seemed to come to some realization. "Oh! I didn't introduce myself. My name's Barris and this is Sylvia" he openly gestured at her, attracting a few stares from passing classmates.\n\nAce caught their looks and let out an awkward laugh. "Aha... yeah... I'm Ace... nice to meet you, Barris..." Barris tilted his head and looked up at the other two. \n\n"Ah, I'm Aito. How do you do?" Aito smiled politely and bowed slightly, trying to maintain common courtesy, despite the strange situation.\n\nHe elbowed Ty, who snorted, taking a long draw on his cigarette. He blew the smoke slowly out, not bothering to turn his head from Sylvia and simply said, "Ty."\n\nAce glanced around nervously again and finally said, "Look. We'd better get inside... and - " he lowered his voice, "try not to be so obvious about them, okay?"
They both looked up, startled to see that there was another person in the house. The taller man narrowed his eyes at Ace, glancing over his shoulder at the the other Aspects. Aito had his arm outstretched in a vain attempt to stop Ace and Ty was glowering at the man in the kitchen, tightening his grip on his sword.\n\n"Well, well... No one told me she had a boy with her. And he's an Aspector, too. This could prove to be interesting..." he continued to smile, but his eyes bore into Ace's, cold and calculating.\n\nThe older man in the kitchen pulled out a gun and pointed it at Ace's mother, laughing darkly. "Or what, pip-squeak? You think you can do anything?" He slowly licked the side of her face, still grinning up at Ace.\n\n[[Ace felt something inside of him snap.]]
Confused and making no effort to hide it from his face, he waved back. After that, their car peeled away from the bus as it turned on its way to pick up more students. The boy watched Ace until they could no longer see one another, and Ace finally glanced at Aito and Ty, silently thinking to them //Never seen him in my life. That was creepy...//\n\nHe settled down in his seat, not saying much for the rest of the ride as he shut his eyes and listened to everyone's chit chatting. \n\nBefore he knew it, the bus screeched to a halt at the school's round about and everyone was scrambling for their bags and squeezing past each other to get off one by one.\n\nAce, still followed by his Aspects (they weren't about to take any chances and leave him alone after this morning), stepped off the bus and looked up toward the cafeteria. \n\n[[He stopped dead in his tracks.]]
Ace staggered away from it and landed on his butt on the bed next to Ty, watching in disbelief as the creature vanished like ashes scattered in the wind.\n\nTy took a long, smug draw on his cigarette and stood up. "Good job, kiddo," he said, turning and smiling down at him proudly.\n\n"Uh... Yeah... thanks...?"\n\nTy finished the cigarette (which looked rather odd to Ace, since the cigarette was on the Astral plane and Ty was in Ace's physical body. To someone on the outside, it would look like Ace was pretending to smoke and invisible cigarette...). Then, crushing it under foot, he turned to Ace.\n\n"Guess I'd better [[let you back out]], huh? Can't miss your bus, now. Aito will kill me if he finds out I made you late."
They waited for what seemed like a small eternity before Aito finally lowered his arms and folded his wings, turning to inspect his charge.\n\nAce was sitting on the bed looking shocked, half in and half out of his body, which was still lying there unconscious.\n\n"Are you alright?" Aito leaned close with a look of parental concern, checking him for any sign of damage.\n\n"Y-yeah... I think so..." Ace was shaky and still unsure as to whether this was really happening or not.\n\nAito breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank goodness for that...I thought for a moment..." he paused, seemingly at a loss for words. He suddenly looked cross and said "What were you thinking? Why didn't you call for help sooner? That beast could have taken you away..." He pulled Ace close into a protective hug.\n\n"I..." Ace felt guilt wash over him. Guilt at making his guardian worry, and shame for being too weak to save himself. "[[I'm sorry...]]"\n\n
<html>\n<img src="Images/Image (13).jpg" width="769" height="1112" usemap="#Map" class="mapper" border="0" />\n<map name="Map" id="Map">\n <area shape="rect" coords="5,968,98,1072" href="javascript:state.display('Are you kidding me?!', this);" />\n</map>\n</html>\n--------\nThey both looked up in surprise at the new voice and saw that Ace's guardian, Aito had arrived. He towered over Ace at an impressive 6'4", though he was slender and graceful. He placed a gentle hand on the boy's shoulder and looked down at him. "Are you alright, dear?"\n\nTy scowled and leaned back against the wall. "Thanks to me. And where the hell were //you//, Nancy boy? Aren't you supposed to be his Guardian?"\n\nAito frowned slightly, looking down his nose at the demon. His huge white wings gave an indignant twitch. "//That// is none of your concern, Tylandis. I knew he was in no danger." Ty grimaced a bit at the sound of his name.\n\nAce whirled around and gaped at him. "No danger?? [[Are you kidding me?!]] I was almost eaten alive by that thing!"\n\n
Ace nodded again and swallowed his fear. He looked at the creature, whose eyes seemed to flicker in irriation.\n\n"Step aside and let us pass. Go stand in the corner." Ace pointed to the farthest corner from the desk. To his mild surprise, it grunted and did what it was told.\n\n"Woah. Cool..." He followed Aito over to the desk, where he retrieved the charcoal drawing. "I was thinking about getting rid of this, actually. It creeps me out..."\n\nBut Aito immediately shook his head. "No, you mustn't do that. This is binding the creature to you and if it gets destroyed, you will most likely lose control of it."\n\nAce looked wondrous. "But... How? [[How did I do that?]]"\n\n
Aito blinked in surprise as Ace screamed aloud and pointed past him with a look of horror on his face.\n\nHe turned around and yelped as he saw the creature, instinctively stepping back and spreading out his huge white wings to shield Ace from it.\n\nBut the beast had stopped in its tracks and seemed to be [[waiting for something]].\n\nThey both stood staring at it in anticipation.\n\n
Ace pressed him for more information. "You said 'their masters.' Who do they work for? Anyone who asks them or someone specific?"\n\nAito shook his head and shrugged. "I'm afraid I can't say for sure. I honestly don't know. That's something we'll have to ask Gwen when we see her again."\n\n<<back>>
For a moment he panicked, but he remembered that he was now in his physical body and had to look a different way in order to see his guardian. He closed his eyes again and reached out with his mind to his friend. \n\nUpon opening his eyes for the second time, he resolved the form of a tall, thin, androgynous man - ageless and pure as he had always been. As usual, he wore a crisp, clean button-down shirt the color of his ozone-blue eyes and a neatly pressed pair of light khaki pants. His golden hair was swept back into a tidy pony tail and he wore his usual patient smile as he watched Ace sit up.\n\n"There you are. Better?" his voice was distant, like a thought, but much clearer.\n\nAce nodded slowly and sat on the edge of the bed, feeling unsteady. He had a million questions...\n\n[[What was that thing?]]\n[[Who do they work for?]]\n[[What was it trying to do?]]\n[[What will happen to my body if I leave it for too long?]]\n
Ty nearly jumped out of his skin...or... Ace's skin. Whatever. Lost in thought, he had almost forgotten that Ace was running late for school.\n\n"Pff. Like I'm gonna go to school for him..." he muttered to himself as he fastened the necklace around his neck. The silver pendant transformed from a solid disc to a winged sword encircled by serpents.\n\nSurveying himself in the mirror, he seemed satisfied. He snatched up Ace's school bag (completely by-passing the homework laying on the desk) and strode out.\n\nIt was time for a little investigation.\n\n------------\nChapter End\n\n//Author's Note:\nSo from here, the user would play as Ty and hunt down clues to unravel the mystery of the creature. For now, the demo ends here.
He glanced at the two statues on his altar. On the right was a bronze statue of a man with deer antlers and a staff. On the left was a resin statue of a woman with billowing brown hair emerging from a tree. They represented the god and goddess of the universe, presents from his great aunt and uncle.\n\n//I really don't think praying is going to help at this point...// Ace thought skeptically.\n\nBut even as he thought that, part of him said a silent prayer anyway, just in case...\n\n<<back>>
Ace felt his body get jerked backward, narrowly avoiding the swipe of what appeared to be a blade made of shadow. Someone had grabbed the back of his boxers, giving him a horrible wedgie in the process of pulling him out of the way.\n\nThe creature looked up in surprise.\n\nAce turned to see who had just saved him. Standing behind him, looking sleepy and annoyed was Ty, a demon that had recently taken to following him around. At 6'3", he stood nearly a foot taller than Ace, with long jet-black hair that looked creepily alive. He was dressed in a black tank top, black cargo pants, and wore large black shit-kicker boots. He had a long, wicked-looking broadsword blazing in his right hand and propped up on his shoulder. A cigarette dangled lazily from the corner of his mouth as he surveyed the creature with shrewd, biohazard-green eyes.\n\n"Ty?!"\n\nTy unceremoniously scratched his balls. "Yeah? [[You tryin' to get killed or what?]]"
<html>\n<img src="Images/001_room.jpeg" width="752" height="1044" usemap="#Map" class="mapper" border="0" />\n<map name="Map" id="Map">\n <area shape="rect" coords="14,942,231,1014" href="javascript:state.display('himself', this);"/>\n</map>\n</html>\n\n\n\n-------------\n\nAce looked around his room, from a slightly higher vantage point than usual. Everything was just like it was when he was awake. \n\nThe bookshelves, his posters, his homework on the desk, his bed... and [[himself]].\n\n
Ty grimaced and shielded his eyes. The morning sun had bled over the horizon and was pouring into the open window from behind Ace.\n\nWith that, the creature dissolved and disappeared down the air vent in the floor.\n\nAce stared at the vent for a moment, half expecting it to return, but it didn't. He turned and gave a triumphant smile at Ty before [[collapsing]].
Ace's face burned with anger and embarrassment as he pulled back from his mother's embrace. She looked taken aback at this response.\n\n"You don't //get// it! This wasn't a dream, mom! I was wide awake! There's a big difference between //dream-walking// and dreaming... It was //there//, in my room, standing next to my bed!"\n\nHe watched as her face changed from surprise to disbelief and finally to concern. "Ace... honey..."\n\n"I'm NOT making it up!!"\n\n"I didn't say you were! If you say it was there, it was there." She glanced into his room, obviously humoring her son's raving. "But there's nothing there now, so it's okay. Right? Everything's okay now?"\n\nAce scowled. Why had he told her? It sounded crazy now that he actually said it out loud. She probably thought he was trying to get attention.\n\n"Now, sweetheart... it's 5 minutes after 7. You've //got// to get ready or you're going to miss the bus..."\n\n"Tch... whatever...okay." He stalked back to his room and [[slammed the door]].
Ace's mind swirled and everything went black for a moment. When he looked up again, he was still standing there facing the creature, but when he looked to where Ty had been standing, he wasn't there.\n\nHe looked around and immediately wished he hadn't.\n\nHe saw himself, standing in the same spot he had just been, but his face was grinning with the same dark smile that Ty usually wore.\n\nTy had taken over his body, kicking Ace out onto the Astral plane with the creature.\n\n"[[He's all yours, kid!]]"
"Alright~! Home run, bitch." Ty looked smug.\n\nAito gave him a disapproving glare before turning to Ace. "If you're sure you're alright, you must get ready to go to school, straight away! Hurry now."\n\nAce looked at his bedside clock and panicked. He only had 7 minutes to go! He dashed across his room and yanked on his school clothes, quickly checking himself in the mirror as he stumbled into his pants.\n\nJust as he was finishing packing his bag, there was a loud crash and a scream from [[downstairs]]. Ace froze. Aito and Ty exchanged glances before rushing after Ace, who had bolted out his bedroom door to find out what was going on.
Without noticing him, she swept past Ty, who had taken out another cigarette and lit the end with his finger.\n\n"Ace. ACE! Wake up! The bus is going to be here in less than 20 minutes!!" She shook him insistently, but he didn't wake up. "Ace??"\n\n"Oh great..." Ty grumbled. He looked around, wondering why he was the only one here, then sighed and took a step toward the [[bed]].
//"Ah yes. The necklace. This is a bit different and you should be VERY careful about who you let out when you have it on."\n\nAce sat forward a bit more attentively at that comment. "Why, what does it do?"\n\nShe picked it up and showed him the silver pendant, which was a simple silver disc at the moment. "This pendant lets the user manifest their astral powers into the physical world."\n\nHe stared at her. "What."\n\n"Exactly. And just like the bracelet, it changes shape depending on who's out at the time."\n\nHe continued to stare, slightly slack-jawed at this news. "So... you mean to tell me... that if Aito comes out, that will let him use his healing powers? And... Ty can set stuff on fire with his mind...? In real life?? That seems... uh..."\n\n"Dangerous, I know. That's why Gwen made me put a damper on it. They can only use their powers if the situation is dire enough to allow it. Most of the time, it will just be a necklace, so don't worry..."//\n\n"[[BUS!! 5 MINUTES!!]]"
Aito finished healing the man and then wrapped him up with cellophane. He then stood up, looking expectantly at Ace, who took his guardian's hand to switch places.\n\nMomentarily, Aito stood next to Ace, back in his usual Astral form and Ace was in his own body once more.\n\nTy watched them, then smirked and said to Ace, "You should give him a good whack on the head. You know. So it looks like you hit him from behind to stop him."\n\nAito started to protest, but Ace interrupted. "He's right, Aito... How am I going to explain this without some kind of evidence to prove it?"\n\nAito frowned, but said, "Well, just don't... cause any serious damage, please."\n\nAce nodded and, looking a little green, picked up the wine bottle, used a dish towel to wipe off the previous finger prints, and then smacked it across the guy's skull.\n\nPlacing the bottle on the floor, he took up the phone and called the police. His mind was reeling with everything that had happened this morning. He glanced at the microwave clock, which he realized read 7:42. He laughed bitterly to himself. \n\n//Guess I'm not going to school today.//\n\n---------------\nChapter end (for now...)
This time, nothing happened as Ace reached within an inch of its surface. He actually managed to brush his hand through the creature's arm before it tried again to swipe out at him.\n\nAgain, the attack was deflected. \n\n//So... it looks like I can touch it if I want, but //''it''// can't attack //''me''. \n\nHe looked at the dagger, confused. Why hadn't the dagger harmed the creature, then? Was it just there as a protective charm?\n\nHowever, he didn't get the chance to experiment further, because the creature, clearly frustrated, stalked away with a snarl and [[disappeared]] as a cloud of darkness down the air vent in his floor.