Weston stared blankly at Zack. “Say what?”
Zack smiled. “Yep, Garrett Heaton gave me Galadhar. ”
“The Garrett Heaton? You met Garrett Heaton?” gasped Weston, stunned. “The hero of the Gladiators World? The strongest Gladiator in the world. That legendary gamer-”
“Yes, yes, that's him,” Zack interrupted, a little taken aback by Weston's shock.
“No way, you're joking,” said Weston, staring at him. “You can't be serious.”
“How else would I have been the Paladin, then? Or rather, how else would I have to Gladiate while making sure I don't get hurt?”
“No, Garrett Heaton is still the current Guardian Paladin, not you! He's still a Core Gladiator!”
“That's true, but impossible at the same time,” said Zack.
“The Synchron Organization. What's the legend behind the Core Gladiators thing?”
Weston frowned. “There's a heart of the game of Gladiators. In the world of Gladiators, a connection keeps it all alive, it pumps energy to the game, and syncs a human into the digital world, submerging a whole body into it. The Core Gladiators are three pillars that work together to keep the Core, as the heart is known, alive and safe. These three pillars, the Core Gladiators, are three powerful Gladiators who are gifted with immense power to deal damage to other Gladiators, or to themselves, and even the Core. But it doesn't just hurt them mentally, like us gamers, but also physically, like if my knives, Spector, are to cut one of them, they will bleed, even in the game itself.”
“And who are those three pillars, as of now?”
“Garrett Heaton, the Guardian Paladin. Annika Heaton, the Walking Whisperer. Rune Deatherage, the Dragon Knight.”
“That's correct and wrong,” said Zack. “Annika Heaton and Rune Deatherage are supposed to be dead. Guess what happens when one or two of those Core Gladiators disappear or die.”
Weston just stared at Zack, unable to make a guess.
“Gladiators will collapse,” Zack explained. “The entire virtual reality of Gladiators will collapse with the Core, and that's the end of the Synchron Organization, and this city called Redwall. All Gladiators will die if they don't Log Out of the game, our weapons will be destroyed. It's the end of the world's greatest game.”
“No way . . .” said Weston. “So what's with all this happy-go-lucky attitude? Why is it still functioning?”
“It means that Garrett, Annika, and Rune are now only part of history,” said Zack. “Those guys may be the current Core Gladiators, but they are only known as those at the moment, because the true current Core Gladiators, including me, aren't known to the world yet. I'm now the current Paladin, but my strength is still weak compared to Garrett Heaton's. But that's what I came out of my small city for.”
“To help Garrett,” said Zack. “You know how he's been labeled as missing? The hero of Gladiators?”
“Yeah . . . though they do mention that he pops up out of nowhere once in a while,” said Weston. “Last time was a week ago where he appeared in Rome playing against a group of ten in the virtual world and knocked them out easily.”
“He's in Rome, huh . . .” said Zack. “My brother said that he's out to look for the other two Core Gladiators beside me. Mainly, the most dangerous one.”
“The most dangerous?” said Weston. “Oh, wait, let me guess: the Dragon Knight with the Omega mark on his key, right?”
“Yeah, you got that right,” said Zack. “The person who's going to be my opposer, the Gladiator who will be my ultimate enemy or the negative of the battery that's the Core.” He frowned. “It's all going according to the Fates, I guess.”
“The Fates? Do you by any chance believe in Greek mythology?” asked Weston.
“No. I only referred to the fact that it's like my future is being prophecized the minute I took Galadhar,” said Zack. “The Dragon Knight can be both an ally and an enemy. It's the only pillar that can choose to protect or destroy the Core and bring down Gladiators.” Then he glanced at Weston curiously. “How are you familliar with the Dragon Knight?”
“I'm only familiar with the rumors concerning it,” said Weston. “I guess it's not that hard for me to believe you now. It makes sense, the way you fight. And you're here to help Garrett Heaton?”
“Yeah,” said Zack. “To look for the other two pillars of the game and link them to Synchron. Then the mystery will end. Otherwise . . . if Rune and Annika didn't have any successors the way Garrett had me be the next Paladin, then it's a mystery to how Gladiators can still function without its Core Gladiators.”
Then Zack stomach rumbled.
“That's the result of two days being asleep,” Weston laughed.
“That was embarrassing!” Zack complained.