As I made my way to the forest, I thought about what I was doing. I knew it was beyond stupid and reckless since I was only just eight years old. And as if that was the only problem, I didn’t even know where the flower was! But this was the only thing I could do for my sister. The doctor had said that without this flower or the elixir, there was no other hope for a cure. And Sylvia had said the flower was even stronger than the elixir! Which meant this was the best course of action.
When I finally made it into the forest, I looked around and gulped when I encountered a few goblins that were lurking around. I was afraid to fight them even though I had already fought and killed them in my previous life. I really needed to calm down and focus on my mission. And with that in mind, I resolved myself with a deep breath and focused on my surroundings.
With all the training and knowledge that I had now, I could easily kill them with little difficulty.
I held on to my father’s sword tightly and quickly strategized. If I moved quickly enough, the goblins wouldn’t get a chance to harm me. I needed to be quick and thorough, aiming for the killing blow in one go. Sylvia had taught me that missing the mark could mean the difference between life and death. And I was definitely not going to die now at the mercy of these goblins.
So, I moved swiftly, swinging the sword as fast as I could and cutting through the goblins. I didn’t stop to take a breath but just went on, leaping over fallen goblins as I attacked the rest of them. They tried to get at me but I was too quick. I remembered every skill that my father and Sylvia had taught me. This was not a training exercise anymore and I really needed to use those skills perfectly without hesitation.
I fought them and killed them one by one, until all the corpses lay at my feet. I had continued slaying the enemy before me until none was left standing.
I had never thought I’d come to the forest of my own free will, because I knew that deep down I was a coward. I wouldn’t have come here and faced these things willingly but now I had. Even though I was not fit for something like this, I was here now and standing in the middle of the forest at midnight.
I shook my head and looked ahead, venturing into the deeper part of the forest. Four hours later and I had encountered several rank C monsters, succeeding in defeating them all.
So, Sylvia and dad’s training really works, I thought to myself. They really had ingrained in me quality skills that were helping me now as I made my way through the dark forest. Even though I was a little bit afraid, I knew I could count on and trust in the training and skills they had taught me.
I clutched my father’s sword tighter and moved deeper into the forest. I felt a knot in my stomach as a pack of wolves suddenly appeared, taking me by surprise. They started surrounding me as a chill crept up my spine. My entire body was frozen, and I began to shake in fear.
I couldn’t do or think of anything except just the feeling of fear and dread as I remembered hat had happened in my past life. My classmate had betrayed me in the worst way, then I was thrown and fed to the wolves. I had been eaten alive until my head had been chomped by the wolves’ fangs. It had been a very traumatic experience!
I wanted to run and get as far away from this place as possible, but my legs wouldn’t obey my brain. They just wouldn’t move! Perhaps it was my fate to die here, at the mercy of wolves again. If so, someone must really hate me and enjoy playing with my life. But it seemed I had no choice and I sighed in resignation, accepting that if this was the end, then so bad. It wasn’t like I had any other choice anyway, because I couldn’t be able to fight them all.
But my sister’s life was in danger and she needed the flower in this forest to survive, I couldn’t afford to give up now. It was my fault that she was sick and I needed to do this for her, no matter how afraid I was feeling. I gathered my remaining courage and looked ahead, biting my lip as I tried to clamp down my fears. I felt a drop of blood form where I had bitten and it brought me out of my haze of fear.
I charged forward and even though I was shaking, I managed to slay two wolves. Fighting the wolf monsters would be suicide though so I started attacking them one by one. I began to run while fighting the wolves, but I soon realized that I was lost. I’d just been running randomly without marking my way, but it was too late to stop now because the wolves were gaining on me.
I didn’t stop running until a ruin came to sight, and I entered it, thinking I could find somewhere to hide. That’s when I realized that the wolves had stopped and were now turning back.
What is going on? I thought to myself in confusion.
It was a genuine relief to see them go, even though I had no idea what I had just stepped into. Whatever resided here, it was monster enough to scare the wolves and that thought alone filled me with fear. But I hadn’t had any choice besides to just run from the wolves and find a safe shelter. And this ruin had been safe enough from the wolves, but what was it that made the wolves turn away?
I just weakly sat down to try and catch my breath because I was really exhausted. I rested for several minutes until I felt like myself again before looking around the ruin.
I didn’t know for sure but I had a pretty good guess that this was the Guardian of the forest’s territory. The place looked really empty though and there was no sign of the guardian anywhere.
As soon as I thought that, a feeling of dread washed over me and I turned around to face the Guardian who had appeared behind me. A giant lion with big horns stood on two feet and I felt myself begin to shake in fear. I had no choice but even though the Guardian could kill me in just an instant.
I now understood why the wolves had left when I took in every bit of the lion before me. I could just see how powerful it was, powerful enough to even ward off the raging wolves. With that kind of power, no wonder this part of the forest was difficult to be in. And that’s exactly where I had found myself, as young as I was, trying to be a hero.
I suddenly knew how it felt like when little kids cried for their mothers, because they were hurt or afraid and wanted the most trustworthy person they knew in their lives to come and help them. I felt like I needed my mother too in that moment, or just someone stronger really to come and save me.
Maybe the wolves hadn’t killed me, but what if the lion did.
I startled when a voice sounded in my heard, strong and clear.
“Why have you entered my domain, child?”
The lion looked at me with suspicious eyes and I knew I couldn’t lie. I had to speak the truth or I would suffer the consequences.
I knelt down and kept my head bowed.
“I am here to search for the Moon flower. My sister is really sick and she will die if I don’t bring her the cure. I am begging you to please give me the flower so that I can save her.”
The Guardian just looked at me in silence as if trying to find the truth in my words. But I had spoken the truth and could only hope that he found it enough to help me and give me the flower. Without it, this whole experience would have been a waste. And my sister would have lost the only chance that she had to be healthy and well again. Even to live.
My heart was pounding in my chest as I waited to hear what the Guardian would say. It seemed that he was not one for many words but when he spoke, he spoke with such authority that made me tremble.
After a long and painful silence, he must have decided I was telling the truth about my motives because he asked, “Are you willing to trade your life for the flower?”
I paused and looked up at him, but he wasn’t done talking yet.
“You must make a pact to visit me and keep anyone from entering my domain in exchange for the flower. If you do not, then I will destroy the whole town without remorse due to you breaking the pact.”
I felt that sense of dread going through me again but if I could get the flower in exchange of keeping people out then it was nothing.
I nodded my head, “I agree.”
The Guardian stared into my eyes and smiled, reaching down to pat my head.
“Such bravery!” He said, then extended his other hand where a beautiful flower rested.
I couldn’t believe that I finally had the flower in my hands. I had actually succeeded! A part of me hadn’t believed that I could actually do it, but I was glad that it had all paid off. Despite what I had felt throughout this whole journey, it had come to this. The reason for my travel. The reason for my fear. The reason for all the fighting and running. It had all just been made worth it.
This flower represented a new beginning for my sister and I really wanted to cry with pure gratitude that the Guardian was letting me have this gift.
I reached for the flower and my eyes stung with unshed tears. “Thank you so much! Thank you, this means the world to me!”
He only nodded once before replying. “Now let’s make a pact.”
I nodded, “What do I need to do?”
“All we need to do is exchange a single drop of blood each.”
We proceeded to do just that and the pact was sealed. I had the flower and my sister could now be cured.
“Now our pact is in effect,” the lion said. You must now begin to guard and prevent anyone from entering my domain. No matter what, no one enters.”
“I promise that I will keep my promise and do as you ask.”
I meant every word that I said, and had no intention of risking finding out what the Guardian was really capable of when crossed. Sylvia had told me about the hero and the price he had to pay. I had to pay this price too. Because if I didn’t, then the lion would destroy people’s lives. I had already brought grief to my family, I didn’t want to be responsible for this too. Therefore I would honour the pact, just as the Guardian has honoured his side of the pact and given me the means to save my little sibling.
The lion didn’t say anything as I turned to leave. I needed to make it home now and give the flower to my parents so that they could help Alice.
As I walked away, the Guardian shouted.
“Go and get stronger!”
And I meant to do just that.