Actions

Work Header

Sharck of H3ro3s

Chapter Text

Well, here I am procrastinating again trying to figure out what to do and what's the next step to take towards my future. Wandering back and forth to work and home, each day seemed the same and daily activities became repeated involuntary motions through time. I'd wake up to an annoying alarm coming from my Android phone. I'd snooze it, it'd sound again three minutes later, I'd snooze it again... Three minutes later... Snooze... Snooze......... Haha. Well, pretty much I wouldn't get up out of my bed until about an hour later. I always tried to set my alarm ahead of the time I wanted to get up. However, in anticipation of how much time I had left to get ready and head to work I usually wouldn't get up until I HAD to. Basically, I failed every morning to get up on time. Go figure. 

This morning was a bit different though. For some reason I couldn't get my mind straight at all. I woke up much earlier than needed and didn't have to go to work 'til a couple hours later. I could only groan as I tried to force myself back to sleep. As I moved, something wet caught my attention. It was my t-shirt. I ignored this as sometimes I would get up and notice that I'd been sweating a little bit while sleeping. It gets colder at night and so the heater kicks in more which causes it to get stuffy throughout the dark hours. I was still a moment away from going back to sleep until I realized my shirt wasn't just wet, it was soaked. I jumped up and positioned myself in a sitting position to make sure I had not spilled any water on me. I had sat water right next to me as I fell asleep last night watching YouTube videos.

As I moved my legs to position myself to sit, I felt how wet my legs were as well, especially around my thighs. Hmm, I'm sure I didn't "wet" myself. I stopped doing that decades ago it seems like. I can't remember the last time I wet the bed. So, what was this then? Yeah, I must have spilled the water on top of me as I moved in my sleep. This wouldn't be the first time. I spilled water, thank goodness that's what I mostly drink and not something sticky, on me before and had a rude awakening when I got up that morning. It goes without saying that I had to change clothes and dry the ones I had taken off.

I normally don't sleep in anything but a t-shirt and some pajama pants anyway. I've been told by few that this is too much and can become uncomfortable and that I should consider wearing less. Sometimes I throw on some shorts if I feel it's going to be quite stuffy in the room but that's about it. It all depends on how much the air circulates throughout the room during the night. I have never tried sleeping naked, and I don't really feel comfortable trying it.

Having had enough of thinking to myself, I reached over and grabbed the cup to see if it was still full. I must have fallen asleep without drinking any last night as the cup could have easily lost a couple ounces just by slightly tipping it. The good news was that I had not spilt any water on myself. Haha. But then why was I so drenched? I really wanted to go back to sleep so that I could catch up on my snooze. There was enough time for me to grab a few more zees and at least a little more energy for work. I've only been asleep for about five hours and I try to maintain at least seven a day which is usually enough for any day, boring or active. I knew if I hadn't gotten enough sleep, it would be difficult for me to stay up after eating lunch around noon as I get hit with the food curse right around that time. Haha. I guess I can try and go back to sleep right? I'll just change clothes when I get up later.

 


 

Nope, I was still awake. I checked my phone again and only eight minutes had passed since I woke up. I am really going to regret this later on. I'll just give it some time.

I try and try to go back to sleep, but I just can't calm my mind enough. My mind is racing and I can't really explain it. I am anxious, confused, and I even feel slightly immobile. I could move my head and arms... but I couldn't get up.

"What the heck is going on," I caught myself saying out loud. I struggled to move, but all that responded was my head. My dog noticed my distress and eased his way towards me. At least that's what I thought. I turned to get a better look. No, this wasn't my dog was it? A fluffy cloud-like dark figure? I squint my eyes to get an even better look. It was pitch black in my room so that didn't help much. I could only make out the outlined figure heading towards me on all fours.... The figure sat by my bed. No, that was definitely my dog. For whatever reason I could finally make out the spitz sitting right next to me, now jumping up on the side so that his legs lay across my lap to stretch his barely woke muscles. He was probably worried and a little agitated with me. He sat right next to my bed in anticipation making sure I was okay. I closed my eyes and shook my head to rattle these thoughts away. My dog, fine dark-brown fur with a long bushy tail and pointy ears, resembled a fox in almost every way possible. I reached over to pet him on the head. He bowed to allow my hand easy access to the top of his neck. "Don't worry boy I'm just going crazy." He watched me for several more seconds and then walked off to go lie back down. I then am able to concentrate on my original concern, my inability to get up.

I simply hopped out of the bed as I threw the covers and sheets off of me. "Hmm, that's weird. I could've sworn I was stuck." I went to the bathroom and looked at the mirror right above the sink. I immediately notice that my clothes are not wet at all. That's good for me, but what was I experiencing then? What made my body feel so wet before?

I have to start getting ready soon. I didn't have any reason to be awake right now besides to lose sleep. What happened though? My head is unclear and my thoughts are scattered. Hmmm, maybe I will figure it out later. Just thinking to myself more than likely won't solve anything. I'll just go back to my bed to pass out.

 


 

"Good morning everybody," I say as I drag myself through the entrance doors by leaning into them, more so without conscious. All at once they say "Hello" in different ways.

I worked at a local movie theater. My co-workers were regular boys and girls. Nothing in particular stood out honestly. I mean sure, there were different races which means the diversity was present, but we all pretty much were there for one reason, and that's to earn money. We would come in and play around at the concession stand, run through the auditoriums as we cleaned between rounds, or just play card games when we had free time. Anything to make the day go by faster I guess. Every once-in-awhile a couple of us would hang out after work or go into one of the auditoriums and watch a movie.

Anyways I had something to do after work today so there was no room for my mind to be overcast. I figured that if I ran a mile or two things would clear up. Maybe I was coming down with one of those seasonal colds I usually receive at around the time the weather starts drastically changing. One week it would be snowing around where I lived, and the next the clouds would be racing across the skies bringing storms and tornado warnings across cities and districts. Even though I never experienced anything like what happened this morning, it could just be a headache or a temporary immunity problem. One thing was for sure though, the way I was feeling was definitely different than normal.

 


 

I got home after work, let my companion out after he performed his excited routine greeting to me, and quickly raced to the bathroom to take a leak. That's when I started having another episode. The walls became detailed with roses. Each one was about a foot long with a prickly stem and a bloody red color. They were etched on the walls as if they weren't actually attached. There were about ten all across the walls and the ceiling. I breathed in and noticed a faint scent that tickled my nose. I wrinkled my face in reaction and sneezed a couple times. After sneezing again, I realized that the smell had become stronger and started to take form. Well, it wasn't so much of a shape as much as I could actually see the smoke. I then noticed that the roses caught fire somehow and started to take shape. One by one they began to morph into tiny daggers. I noticed trembling and twitching within my hands. I stared at the daggers as I slowly reached for the door handle to make my escape, but regretted it. The burning daggers immediately turned their pointed edges toward me and accelerated. I didn't have enough time to act so I shrink against the door and closed my eyes turning my head to face away from the danger rushing towards me. I tensed my muscles expecting the worst pain imaginable across my whole body. The walls were angry and suddenly decided to thrust their daggers at me....

Nothing. I was afraid to open my eyes because I wondered if when I was ignorant enough to believe the danger had went away, I would have been very disappointed. I raised my arm and felt in front of my face. I didn't feel anything. I stretched my arm out to touch anything tangible. I did indeed touch something, but it was only the shower curtain. I opened my eyes to notice the walls had returned to normal the smell had gone away, and the smoke from the burning roses was no longer there.

I couldn't take it anymore. My heart was pounding and I caught the jitters really bad. I tried to let out a deep breath to calm my nerves, but it didn't work. I don't even remember what I was supposed to be doing up till now, but something told me it didn't matter. Whatever was going to happen was going to happen and I could do nothing to stop it.

The day wasn't quite over yet so I still expected some more episodes to come. I had not been hurt by them, but I still needed to be cautious. No one was home, but Fox and me. Fox is my little dog. He's more of a medium dog actually. He weighs forty-six pounds, but he's also chubby. His veterinarian said he needed to lose a few pounds to help his heart and to relieve some stress from his aching bones. He was close to his life expectancy even though he still could get around just fine.

I left him at the house as I went to go for a walk. There was a trail right behind my house where I'd frequently run. This time however, I just felt like walking. The trail served as a belt for one of the lamest lakes ever, Lake Poss. Poss was the name of some idiot who jumped in the water trying to commit suicide. He failed by discovering he could breathe underwater or some crap like that. Of course this was only a tale and was never proven. They supposedly named the lake after him because he one time swam out of the water to sunbathe and it was the first time anyone had ever seen anything like it. He's done this a few times since then. He'd come out and then he would simply walk back in. I never understood it and never cared for it. The trail was just a complete circle, but because the lake was so big the trail was about two-and-a-half miles long.

I continue walking until I get a funny feeling. I become drowsy and my eyes start to become heavy. "WHONK! WHONK! WHONK!" My eyes jolt open and I immediately look for the source of that alarming sound. "WHONK!" It sounded like honking coming from above me. I look up and find nothing. The sounds stop as well. "That was a short episode," I say to no one but myself. I look up again and still see nothing, but I hear a faint noise coming from the bushes beside me. I study the bush intensely waiting to make a move in case something unfamiliar was to hop out towards me. I didn't have enough time to make a calculated movement once I saw arrows, like one normally would need a bow to project, shooting right at me. I tried to move out of the way but tripped instead and fell flat on my face.

The arrows had missed but the pain somehow made a connection. I felt a sharp pain on my side. I realized my eyes were closed so I opened them to see something I wish I could explain or maybe just never see so I wouldn't have to explain. I am going to have to explain to myself that what I am witnessing is beyond unreal. This episode has taken a whole 'nother approach to illusions. I was in a world that was unrecognizable even in my most bizarre fantasies. I wasn't in a building but I couldn't see the sky. My surroundings were shrouded in thick maroon colored fog. The air was very dense and it was problematic to even simply breathe. My head became light and my body numb. The pain in my side doubled as if I had just been hit by another arrow. "Ahh!" I screamed. I closed my eyes as the pain had just crossed the barrier between bearable to agonizing.

"Oops, sorry," a voice apologized. I didn't see who it was but the voice had to have come from a man. It sounded very deep and masculine. I felt a light wind blow by me.

I heard footsteps approach which were graced with another voice, this time a female, "Rose Knight ar-... are you okay? I heard screaming." She sounded concerned and at her limit. She was breathing very heavy, almost heaving.

This Rose Knight responded, "I'll be fine Princess I just tripped over this poor guy." He must have been referring to me. "Why did you turn around, we can't let the King get a hold of you."

"I have more than just myself to worry about.... Now come on!"

"Right. Right behind you." The sound of footsteps became fainter and fainter. I quickly came to and opened my eyes to see who it was conversing but the air was so heavy I couldn't see more than ten feet in front of me.

Chapter Text

This wasn't looking good, this illusion somehow seemed real and I can't shake the fact that it might just be. This place looked horrible and nothing like what I am used to. My side was still hurting, but I was fine enough to get up now. I wanted to try and find out what was going on because there was no way that any of this was real.

I couldn't tell if there was a sun, but it wasn't dark. The tint in the fog made it look like it was the time of a setting sun. Enough of this though I guess, it's time to figure out something. I started to walk forward but then stopped and observed some more.

This place could easily be described as ominous. There was no evidence of life around me, something I'd imagine Antarctica is like for various parts of the continent. That being said, the temperature here was just right without the constant blowing wind. If any life form was around me somewhere, it stood a safe distance from me and didn't care to make itself noticeable at all. There were no signs of even vegetation in sight. I know that I could not see but a small distance in front of me and that may be why I didn't notice anything but the only thing under my feet was the bare hard dry ground that cracked in certain areas. I could feel the constant whip of air around me. I couldn't hear in the distance even when I concentrated. If I could see something it would be that much better, or worse. I may not want to see what's around me; this place wasn't exactly charming. Even still, I might as well walk until I find something.

I started to wander, paying close attention to what was right in front of me as that was all I could actually see. I looked over my shoulder frequently expecting any unfamiliar noise or figure to catch my senses. The air kept pestering my lungs. I honestly did not want to make this walk, but I knew I had to.

I'll try and follow where those other two characters ran off towards, maybe I'll find someone along the way. I know whatever made them run like that must've been very important. They seemed to have been in a rush so I probably won't catch up to them. I continued to walk forward. I couldn't see anything but fog so I really didn't understand how they were able to find their way through here.

The ground was hard on my feet and made the walk that much harder to endure. It was also quite difficult to focus since I had to put so much effort into willingly breathing the surrounding thick gas in. It didn't have a bad smell at all, it just wasn't easy to pass through my respiratory. I really hope nothing crazy happens to me as I've had enough of awful happenings for one day honestly.


I heard a light noise suddenly and stopped walking. It was haunting which caused me to freeze up as the sound came from behind me. I wanted to run but I knew that would be just as crazy as going to look for whatever made that sound. This is the first sound I heard since I started walking so whatever it was had to be close by. There's nothing to hide behind because I'm in the middle of nowhere with no prop or shrub to hide me. Whatever it was was bound to see me, I just hoped it was friendly.

I waited, but nothing happened. Did it stop too? By this point I realized just how scared I was and refused to turn around. "Hello?" I simply spoke facing away from where I heard the noise. It might not have heard me but I didn't care. I was denied a reply but instead of turning around, I continued walking.


After walking and getting used to breathing in the fog for what felt like thirty minutes, I came across a break in the thickened air where I could actually see a good distance. I was surprised to see what I did. Wherever I was, it was nothing I had ever seen with my own eyes. The air was cleaner, I could see miles away now, and I was standing on top of a large hill. I couldn't make out much but I could see that the sun had set and it was starting to get dark. There was a huge structure in the distance that looked like it contained a large community. I noticed sections that made the whole figure resemble a wedding cake, the bottom was much wider than the top. It could have been at least fifteen miles away and yet, it was still clearly giant. I sensed life coming from that way and could see little lights shine in the structure. I started towards it and heard noises. Yep, there was life over there after all. I went to jog and then heard another noise. I was happy enough to forget how scared I was before, so I turned around without much thought to see if someone was there.

I couldn't completely see the person but they looked very skinny and stiff. "Hello," I decided to greet this person. I couldn't completely see them as the fog still held them in its clutches. "Hey can you help me?" The figure just stood there refusing to reply. "Please. I don't know where I am and if you could help me that would be great. I really just want to figure out what's going on and why I'm here." Why wasn't this person saying anything? I know that is a person standing there. "Maybe you could tell me the best way to get to that place over there, that'll be a start," I said as I pointed to the large structure in the distance. For whatever reason the figure suddenly charged at me. Once it came into the clearing though, I realized that the figure was not really a person.

"What in the w-- whoa!" I had to quickly dodge to the side. This "person" might have been a person once before but now they were just bones. I was being attacked by a skeleton that was completely bare of any signs of having ever been alive and looks as though it went through decomposition of flesh a long time ago. I noticed the scythe in his hands as he swung it wildly towards me. I moved from side to side easily dodging attacks I had no idea I knew how to dodge. He'd swing his weapon at my head and I'd dodge by moving back or ducking.

"Hey, why are you... attacking me!?" I yelled in between missed attacks. I impressed myself until I got cocky and let him get too close. He landed a cut onto my arm. "Ahhh!!!" This would have been more painful if I hadn't been occupied. Blood started to run down my arm but I couldn't nurse it right this moment as I had to keep dodging and making sure to keep a safe distance. I jumped back and landed in a three-point-stance. I was really feeling myself now. I kept it up even stupidly dodging into the fog. Now I couldn't see my enemy unless he was close.

I still kept it up just narrowly making my escape from each of his attacks. I could feel his weapon slicing the air right in front of me. This guy just didn't give up! All was going okay until I started feeling a little woozy. This slowed me down considerably.

There was a pause. I couldn't tell if he ran off or just got tired of me dodging his attacks. I quickly ran towards the clearing and made it out of the fog. I was tired but I was not about to give up. I looked around for him but I didn't see anything. He was good at hiding so I backed away from the fog knowing that's where he most likely was. Sadly, I was wrong. I heard steps coming from the side and quickly looked to see him bringing down his weapon. I was too tired to move fast enough and tripped over my own foot and lost my balance. I couldn't recover and fell to the ground on my side. The skeleton had his opportunity and didn't hesitate to take it.

I guess I'll be waking up soon right, because this was a dream? Right? Well, I was already injured and it was very painful which probably meant I wasn't dreaming. Damn it, how did this end up happening? Where was I?

The skeleton started bringing it's weapon down upon me but suddenly collapsed. His bones just fell apart from each other like a miniature tower and formed a pile with a bow in the middle of it. His scythe landed right next to my legs as I heard giggling.

 

Chapter Text

It took me a while to get up. I couldn't get over the fact that I almost lost my life.

"Whoa that was close," a cheery voice breathed. "We almost let that guy bite it."

"Something that would not have bothered me," another female voice. This one had a more serious and lower tone to it.

"Awww come on, it's nice to help someone in need."

"What if we were not present?"

"But we were. If we were not here, he would have become another skelley," the one with a cheery voice said as she laughed.

"Whatever. Let us go, we have to meet the princess in her quarters."

"Wait! We can't just leave this guy. He's wounded."

"He is not our problem."

"You're no fun."

The happy one started walking up to me. I could get a good look at her and she looked weird, like a circus magician. Her face had a sweet smile with rosy cheeks plastered onto it. She had kind emerald eyes and lipstick that matched her red-violet hair. She had a top hat with what looked like a white long bushy feather duster hanging out the back on top of her head. The strangest thing about her though was the staff she held in her hand. It had a funky swirly design at the end of it. I had no idea what it was made of but it looked like it'd hurt if she were to hit me with it.

I slowly stood up and spoke as she reached me, "Thanks." I wasn't sure what to make of these two so I tried to remain poise in appearance.

"Oh it was nothing, right Greeny?" She looked over her shoulder at the other woman but received no reply. "You are badly injured. Why don't you come with us? You were going that way anyway right?" She pointed with her staff towards the direction I was headed before being interrupted by the skeleton.

"I... I..." I had a hard time speaking to her because she was so close to my face, only a mere foot away. I moved back just a little bit. "Well, the truth is I don't know where I'm going, I don't even know where I am. I am lost and I need to find a way back home. I figured I'd just go to that building over there and see if someone from there could help me."

She gasped and looked horrified. "Oh noo! You poor thing! You have to come with us now. Maybe the princess knows something."

The other girl finally chimed in, "You idiot, why would the princess know anything about him. For all we know he could be a spy who was sent here by the Demon King. He is probably just pretending to be stupid."

"The Demon King?" I asked not sure why I did.

"Humph, like you do not know. Do not play stupid games with us. Go about your way or I will make sure you end up like that skeleton over there." I noticed her tense up. "Leave, now!"

The circus magician stood in front of me and faced her partner, "Greeny, he's hurt. It would not be fair to attack him right now, and he hasn't done anything wrong."

Greeny wore a hood that covered her head and part of her face. I was unable to see her facial expression but it was obvious she wasn't smiling. Her hoody was green with her golden hair leaking out from around her neck and onto her chest. She approached us and stopped at the skeleton to pick up the bow. She was noticeably shorter than the magician.

"Look I don't know anything. I don't know about some princess, I don't know about some Demon King, I don't know about this place or why I was attacked by a freaking skeleton. I don't know anything."

"See Greeny, he's confused and hurt. No need to kill a defenseless man."

Greeny paused and put her bow behind her back. "Whether you were or not, I know you are not with the Demon King anymore or that skeleton would not have attacked you. Even so, let us get one thing clear, no matter what she says," she pointed at her partner, "I do not trust you. Do not think I will not kill you right where you stand if you try anything stupid."

It sure was hard to swallow right as she said this. "Got it." I held my breath and suddenly felt like I shouldn't move. I wasn't really scared but I didn't want to make any sudden movements and end up like the pile of bones next to us.

"Is your arm going to be okay?" The girl next to me asked with sincere concern in her voice.

"I think I'll be okay." Now that things had died down my arm throbbed viciously. Blood slowly continued to ooze out.

"We have to hurry. Your arm looks really bad and it's already getting scary dark."

Greeny chuckled, "Let us go then. We are not too far away."

"Yay!" The cheery one showed a large amount of excitement. "Come on guy. Hey, what's your name anyway?" She asked as she was making sure I was okay to walk on my own. "I'm Pyrona." She tilted her head to the back. "And that is Green Ranger, I just call her Greeny though." She giggled.

"Hi Pyrona. Hi Green Ranger. My name is Sharck. Nice to meet you two."

"Oooh, that name sounds so fishy." She giggled. "This is going to be so much fun!" She shouted into the darkness.

We started our trek down the hill towards our only source of light for the night.

 


 

The ladies knew exactly where to go so I followed them the whole way. Pyrona kept getting real close to me and inquiring about my past and what I was doing before they found me. I told her I didn't know anything besides the fact that I was living in my normal world and then all of a sudden I woke up in fog. I started to chat with her about my illusions prior to as well. She made me feel like I was a professional story teller as she "Oooh'd" and "Ahhh'd" at almost everything I described to her. I asked her questions too and she seemed more than glad to tell me anything I wanted to know. She told me a little about herself and where she came from and how much progression she had left before she reached her goal as a mage. I didn't really believe the whole mage thing, and the way she dressed just made it seem like she was role-playing the whole time. Still, I did think it was cool and that meeting someone such as her was just one of those experiences I was not meant to understand. I also wondered why she was so trusting of me. I mean what reason did she have? In all honesty though, I liked her and felt like I could trust her very much too. I really enjoyed her company, she seemed very kind and innocent. There's no way she'd do anything crazy and I truly felt that way about her though I barely knew her. Green Ranger was a different story however. I tried talking to her but she usually just ignored me.

"What about you Green Ranger, where did you come from?" At this point I thought she might not have been hearing me this whole time so I spoke a little louder. "Where do you come from Green Ranger?" I noticed her fingerless gloved hand ball into a fist. I turned to Pyrona, "Is she okay?"

"Greeny doesn't like talking that much to people she doesn't know yet," Pyrona replied. "Even I had a hard time getting her to talk to me. She's one stubborn elf." Green Ranger twitched and groaned loudly which made Pyrona look nervous. "Haha, oops. Anyway, how is your arm?"

"Ugh." I did need to make sure it was still there. It was almost completely numb now. "How much longer do we have? I really don't think I can take much more of this. I'm starting to get hungry and very thirsty. Can we stop Green Ranger, you keep walking and I'm having a hard time keeping up? Green Ranger?"

Green Ranger turned to me looking really frustrated, "Are you doing that on purpose?"

"No I really don't feel so go-"

"Be quiet!" Pyrona gasped at Green Ranger's outburst.

"Greeny that wasn't nice," Pyrona softly said.

 


 

For a while it was very quiet and solemn. Green Ranger walked all the way ahead of us, barely staying visible. Pyrona and I walked side-by-side, a few feet apart from each other.

I was at my limit and caused Pyrona to protest, "Ohhh no we have to keep moving no matter what. I really am sorry but you won't make it out here if we stopped now, you must understand please." She came close to me to help me continue walking. My pride was microscopic by now and I really just wanted them to leave me and let me be. There really was no reason for them to drag me along other than just an act of kindness. I knew that I was only slowing them down and that's probably why we haven't made it yet. Green Ranger probably knew this as well and was frustrated because of it.

We walked across a few camps, most were empty and damaged. There were no signs of life around and it felt almost like it did when I first arrived in this place. Some of the camps had things, mainly just clothes, sprawled out everywhere throughout them. There were little toys here, books there, tools, and other miscellaneous things. Fires were still lit, some were put out, and food was overcooked hanging over burnt wood. It was as if an evacuation was announced and everyone had to leave immediately. We came across one more camp and I had started feeling winded. I wanted to stop walking and knew all too well that I was getting to be overwhelmed and needed to stop and rest. My feet were hurting, I started getting chills, I couldn't see because it was dark, I was dehydrated and hungry, and my arm had no feeling whatsoever anymore. Every time I would want to stop and rest though, Pyrona would respond the same way, "We have to keep moving, if we wait too long you may not make it. We can stop going for a little while if you really feel like you have to but its best if we keep moving. Once we get to the castle, Lunar will make you feel much better, I promise." Hearing this gave me a little boost of confidence and desire to make it. We couldn't have had that much further to go. I could have questioned why they weren't tired or thirsty but they were used to this probably, I wasn't.

"Uhhh, okay. Can I at least get some water? How much longer do we have left till we make it do you think?" I started getting light-headed.

Green Ranger spoke for the first time in a while, "We have a little longer to go. It would be wise if we kept moving, we have been fortunate thus far. It almost seems too easy."

 


 

It took us maybe thirty minutes longer and we finally arrived at our destination. I could now see that it was just as humungous as I perceived it to be while viewing from a distance. Everything looked to be made out of some kind of stone and two torches sat against the wall opposite from each other by the entrance. They were the only source of light now because we couldn't see the interior of the wall anymore and everything behind us was too dark to notice even a shadow, apparently there was no moon or it was in the new phase. The wall was massive and extended as far as I could see. It was hard to separate the door from the wall, the only way to tell was to notice the slight indention on the edges of the door.

Green Ranger knocked on the entrance door and waited. We could hear groaning on the other side. Several seconds later a raspy male voice replied, "What's ya purpose here?"

"We're here to meet with the princess. She told us to come," Pyrona said to the person on the other side. Pyrona and Green Ranger walked up to the stone fifteen foot tall door.

They were standing right in front of the door when the man suddenly said with a little excitement in his voice, "Ahhh heroes. Welcome."

The double door opened ever so slowly while making a very loud noise that echoed loudly into our ears as it scraped against the ground. If anyone was sleep, they probably were awake now.

His head faced my direction, "Who's the lad with ya?"

"Oh he's our friend, Sharck," Pyrona said while adding, "He needs to see the princess too."

"Well he doesn't look so good there. Is he going to be alright?"

"Huh? Why would you ask that?"

"Pyrona," Green Ranger beckoned her over to me.

The door was opened and suddenly I felt the more sicker. I couldn't stand any longer and knelt down. Before I knew it...

 

Chapter Text

Sharck had fainted from overexerting himself, his body could no longer take it and demanded rest. Pyrona rushed over to where Green Ranger held him and immediately thought the worst. Green Ranger reassured her that it wasn't as bad as she thought, "He fainted. He is okay for now he just needed to rest. We should take him to Lunar as soon as possible though. His arm does not look normal."

"Hurry! We can take him to the priestess, she'll know what to do," the guard decided quickly.

Sharck's arm had changed into a dark purple color around the laceration and had started to spread said color all around his entire arm. Some of the night-owls were eavesdropping on the situation and stared on as the two women and guard rushed the sleeping man towards the one place where he could get the help he needed. They came upon a shrine not too far from the entrance, a place the holy priestess spent most of her time.

They quickly rushed the entrance with Pyrona yelling, "Hey Lunar, you here!? I know it's really really late but we need your help fast!"

The other two placed Sharck onto a bench and went to comforting him as he moved every so often in discomfort. The guard eventually left and wished the two ladies luck, he had to get back to his post. Seemingly minutes later, an individual walks in the entrance with objects in hand. "I'll take it from here you two, you go on." Accompanied by these words was a woman in a long white bath robe with matching hair. Her hair extended all the way down to her Achilles and was elegant, long, and swayed easily from side to side with a simple motion of her head. Her hair was white, but her body was young and her ears were long. She was an elf and was probably much older than she looked.

"Lunar," Pyrona exclaimed.

"Hi Pyrona, hi Green Ranger."

"Hey Lunar," Green Ranger greeted.

"Oh Lunar, we don't know what happened. Suddenly he fell down and hasn't woken back up. Is he going to be okay?" Pyrona shifted uncomfortably as she tried to keep calm.

"He fainted."

"Where is this man from, I have never seen him before," the priestess asked as she examined Sharck's body.

"Ask her, she seems to care enough about him," Green Ranger said while pointing at Pyrona. Pyrona only whimpered at the thought of being responsible for someone's death.

"Well, whoever he is he seems like he'll make it, but I won't know for sure until I thoroughly check him. Don't worry though, I'll take good care of him. I may be in training still but I have been practicing and studying well. I've improved quite a bit, so relax. You two have traveled quite a distance I'm sure, you're more than welcome to stay here and help me look after him if you wish."

"Actually, I think we better get going." Green Ranger looked over to Pyrona and said, "He will be okay now, we can focus on our real reason for coming to the castle in the first place." Pyrona disapproved but was persuaded to leave with her co-traveler.

"Come back tomorrow, he should be up by then," the priestess reassured them.

The two girls walked out leaving Sharck's life in the priestess's hands. As they walked away Pyrona still felt troubled. "You think he'll be okay Greeny?"

"I do not know and I do not care."

"Ohhh."

"We shall come back in the morning like she said and trust that he will be just fine. He was complaining about food and water and how tired he was the whole way here. He was exhausted apparently. What is troubling to me was his arm."

They walked away from the shrine and headed for the tower, the tall structure they last remembered the princess residing. Now that they were walking back through the same area they hurried through earlier, people stared at them. People were outside, some with their children, wondering what was going on and why heroes were arriving so late to the castle grounds. Something was up, and they could tell. Green Ranger and Pyrona could hear some residents asking questions with concerns in their voices, such as, "Daddy, what's going on?"..."Are we going to be in danger soon?"..."Why are they here?"..."I thought Rose Knight was the only hero we had around anymore. And they have weapons?"..."Dad, Mom, are we going to be okay?"..."Who was that poor guy they brought in here?... Was he dead?... Did they kill him?" "No fool they probably just beat him senseless in order to get information from him." "Didn't they take him to the priestess though?" As they walked along the path towards the tower they could hear bits and pieces of the conversations; these two women were the center of attention for the time being.

It was still late at night and most of the residents were tired from the long day, some deciding to finally head to bed. "This place has definitely changed since we were last here," Green Ranger said to Pyrona.

"You mean because we are big now?"

"Not at all."

"Because a lot of people are up so late?"

"No."

"It has been a long time since we were here. No one remembers us because we are big now."

"I assume you mean we were young but we were not that young when we last set foot on these grounds. Something is off, I can vaguely sense it."

"Look, there it is!" Pyrona managed to catch the tower in her sights before her partner in front of her.

Inside the tower seemed even larger than when viewing from outside. There weren't that many stairs, actually only three sets, each having tens of steps to reach the next floor. Each ceiling reached about forty feet from the floor on each level. The few rooms were very spacious, almost as large as an auditorium that could seat a couple hundred people comfortably. Several torches were spread throughout each floor lighting up the upper half more than the lower, giving off a hint of bedtime in the tower. A small hint of roses could be smelled throughout each hallway; it was getting stronger as they made their way up the stairs. As they looked out the large window engraved in the centermost portion of the second floor wall, they could see a balcony that was only accessible through the window. They also noticed that they were already higher up than most buildings outside. They finally reached the third floor and walked for a little while before coming to a pink colored large door with a man standing in front of it.

"It took you two long enough," a man with spiky blond hair and bangs that went down the sides of his face smiled and said. He wore a simple cream colored t-shirt with two roses that formed a heart right over his chest area and some basic black night pants.

"Rosie!" Pyrona walked up to the man and gave him a greeting hug.

"Hey Rose Knight." Green Ranger waved her hand.

"Hello you two. Long time no see. How's the other side of these walls treating you?"

"Well, I've been doing really good and I picked up on my magic abilities. I've learned new tricks and I gained a lot of experience in my tribe," Pyrona said with a beaming smile expecting some congratulatory praise. Rose Knight suddenly laughed. "Heyy, what's so funny," she asked like a child being teased.

"Haha! I was expecting you to have your own magic circus rolling around by now, the way you used to play all those tricks on people. And you're still learning? What do you have left to learn, how to turn roses into daggers," he jokingly asked.

"That's not fair. It's not easy you know. Maybe one day I'll show you just what I've been learning."

Rose Knight started to regain his composure, "No that's okay that's okay. So, you two ready to see the princess?"

"That's the only reason we are here Rose Knight," Green Ranger said flat out.

"Huh. You've grown alot more serious since the last time I saw you. Wanna tell me what happened?"

"Nothing of your concern."

"Whatever. Alright go ahead, she's on the other side."

"You're not coming?" Pyrona asked.

"I already know what she's going to talk to you about, I was there. Go on. I'll be right out here in case you need me." He winked, though it went unnoticed.

"Okay. Come on Greeny."

The two opened the pink door and entered the room. The amount of pink in the room was a bit exaggerated in a way that made it seem like whoever decided on the room's color just went with one solid bright color for a girl. The wall on the left had designs of a family of three; a man, a woman, and a little pink haired girl. The next wall to the right held a very large window that one could get a pleasant view of the stars with. Along the next wall was a large king sized bed. Sitting on the bed was the princess herself, her hair longer than they last remembered and more rough and thicker around the edges. Her hair reached down to about mid-thigh, some of the length lying parallel to her leg on the bed, and completely covered her face as she faced downward. She wore a pink and white nightgown and was barefooted. She looked stressed and like she was deeply in thought before she realized the two heroes were standing there. "... Oh thank goodness you two are here. I'm afraid I have-" She noticed the heroes kneeling before her. "Ladies get up please. There's no need for that, you've known me far too long for such formalities." They both rose up. "I'm afraid I have grave news to tell you." She waited for a response.

"What is it Princess?" Both heroes said in unison and leaning forward as if to hear better.

"I went to the royal palace early yesterday." The heroes gasped. They both knew well how dangerous that place was to anyone after the Demon King captured it a long time ago.

"Are you okay Princess?"

"I'm okay Green Ranger, but... but..." She choked.

"Princess."

"... I caused heroes to die. They came to rescue me and... and..." She started to sob.

"It's okay Princess. We're here for you." Pyrona tried to comfort her by sitting next to her and embracing her.

"... Thank you." She started to calm down. "I should have never went but I had to see if my mother and father were still alive. So I snuck out after ordering Rose Knight to go check with the guards to make sure my subjects and their families were doing well. Once I reached outside the castle walls I made a run for the palace and knew too well how much danger I was running into. Still, I underestimated the demon lord. He knew I was on my way and set a trap. I was almost captured when heroes came along and distracted him long enough so that I could make my escape. I urged to stay and help fight but they all protested. Maybe they all would have made it if I would have just ran and tried not to help. Rose Knight was waiting for me outside the palace and we escaped. It was really hard to see heading back but we managed to make it." A long pause followed by a sigh. "I feel like a complete idiot now. I should have just stayed here. It would have been less troubling for everyone. I really appreciate you two for coming here." Another long pause. "I have a big favor to ask of you."

"Anything for you Princess," Green Ranger said.

The princess appreciated this greatly. "I need you to go look for any survivors. I may have seen a few heroes lying on the ground motionless but I'm sure they weren't all killed. I strongly feel that at least one of them is still alive. If anyone is, bring them back to me please. Knowing the demon lord, he won't kill them if he knows I'll go back looking for them. He won't expect me to send you three though." Instead of questioning her reasoning for sending them on such a suicidal mission, they wondered why she said three instead of two. They turned around to notice Rose Knight standing right behind them with a sheepish grin on his face.

"Don't worry Princess, we'll go and rescue all of the survivors and have them back before you can say 'Rose Knight is the best looking man on the planet'. Actually, we'll take a little longer so that you can finish that statement." The girls rolled their eyes.

The princess whole-heartily thanked the trio and then asked them nicely to excuse themselves so that she may relax. They all obliged and left her alone.

"Well, I'm very glad this is not a one-man mission anymore. Haha." Rose Knight said this to deaf ears.

The two girls were exhausted and ready to sleep wherever they could find some comfort. They knew they only had a few more hours before the sun would rise and they would be off on their mission to search for any maybe survivors. The princess told them that they could stay the night in the tower and they did just that. They found a room with two beds and slept there. The day tomorrow was to be another full one.

 


 

Lunar was hard at work with trying to cure Sharck's illness. She found out that it was poison in his cut arm that would soon take over his nervous system if she didn't act fast. By taking over the nervous system, his body would start to act on its own and eventually destroy itself. She knew her time was limited and began working as fast as she could. She prayed to Lunaria and asked the moon goddess for her healing powers to help with this occasion. She was still fairly new to this type of illness. Most of time she would heal a scrape, a broken bone, an infection, or something else that's of more natural causes. She didn't usually deal with the kind of dark poisoning that Sharck had somehow been affected by. For this one, and because of the amount of time she had left, she relied on the goddess for help.

Sharck had suffered severely since making it to the castle. He was now starting to twitch violently and started swinging his arms in her direction as if the cause of the pain was coming from her. He even had involuntary outbursts and would yell or holler while trying to fight. He was still unconscious but his body had chosen to fight. She needed a way to restrain him without getting too close. Her healing spell would not be as effective with him moving wildly, and with how bad the poison had spread through his body, she needed every ounce of power she could muster. She knew she was running out of time and hesitated to act at first. She knew how much danger she was putting herself in by allowing him to survive much longer in the state he was in. She started to second-guess her abilities and contemplated ending his suffering right then. Then she realized how worried Pyrona was, and even Green Ranger showed a little concern, of this person. She gained determination, grabbed her staff and jumped on top of Sharcks body, something she was told not to do when faced with a situation like the one she was currently in. She tried to keep him pinned down so he wouldn't move so much. His movements became more vigorous after feeling her body against his. She realized her rash decision and was scared with what would happen next. She closed her eyes and put all her might into holding him down. Sharck's body did react, but then it stopped. Realizing this was her chance, she quickly chanted the spell, "Lunaria, lend me your strength so that I may cure this poor body and make it what it once was before corruption. I call upon the power of the moon goddess! Let me cure him!" She slid her hand up to the neck of her staff and placed the head right above Sharck's wounded area. The staff started to glow and she could feel some of her energy starting to leave her. His arm started to glow as well and gave off a green hue. Lunar concentrated as hard as she could and could visibly see Sharck's arm ridding itself of the purple tint.

Something strange started to happen however. The purple color turned into a gaseous matter and formed a dark floating figure. It was getting bigger and bigger until it completely left Sharck's arm. It formed a face of a creature with rows of sharp teeth and bright yellow eyes, everything still in a gas phase. It smiled at Lunar and caused an immense chill to go down her back and then flew away out of the shrine. She had no idea what it was but she had never seen anything like it before.

After almost a minute, the spell was done and the priestess laid her head on Sharck's chest. She was exhausted and almost fell asleep until she realized how awkward it would've been if he had woken up to her lying on top of him. At worst she would have been labeled a creep, but she was more respectful than that. She waited and listened for a bit. He wasn't moving but he had a heartbeat and felt very warm. She took a look at his arm and it was no longer any color but it's rightful one; every trace of the poison was gone. The priestess couldn't help but feel a little worried when she remembered the dark shadowy figure that came out of Sharck's body. She wondered what it was and how he even managed to get it in him.

She felt weak and rolled off of his body and started to walk away to go take a nap. She needed to rest now and for a good reason, Sharck was going to live.

Chapter Text

I only remember falling down and Green Ranger heading towards me. All of a sudden, I was lying on a hard bed in the middle of a room. I could see outside, it looked like the sun had risen a few moments ago. I heard noise coming from people outside in the distance, no doubt they were up to start their daily activities. I got up not without grimacing from my aching muscles. It felt like I had just come from my first football practice back in high school. I then realized that my arm was back to its old self again. Somehow resting must have been all I needed, though I can't help but feel it was more than that. My cut was surprisingly completely gone. I checked my arm more thoroughly, not even a small scar. What did this mean? How was this even possible? While being in this world though, I started to realize just how possible impossible was.

I noticed a staff lying on the floor next to the bed I rested on, it had a crescent that sat on top with a light blue colored gem in the middle. I jumped off the bed, not without pain, and went for the staff. "Hmm, what is this doing here? Seems like something Pyrona would know about since she has a staff of her own," I thought out loud to myself. I started to walk around this place while getting a feel for my surroundings. This building seemed very well put together although there was no door leading to the outside, as every side was open to the outside except one wall. A little room sat next to the area I awoke. I walked up to the door and noticed that it was cracked open. Inside there was nothing but what appeared to be another bed and a white bath robe thrown on the ground. There was also another little door going into what I guess to be another room. I walked up to that one and noticed that it was closed. Since it was closed I figured the best thing to do was to knock and make sure no one was on the other side first. "Ah what the hell, why not." I disregarded my first thought and reached for the doorknob and turned the handle slowly.

This was a bathroom with a tub and a sink. The tub was filled with water and it smelled refreshing, steam still rising from the surface. Someone must have been here not too long ago, or did they leave the water here for me? I saw no towel or washcloth and I highly doubted I would see one anyway. On the other side of the bathroom was the toilet. It was very simple at best but convenient at the time because my body needed to get rid of some waste. What I didn't understand was why no one was here. Where was Pyrona and Green Ranger? Had they already met with the princess? I left the bathroom as I decided that using it further may be a disrespectful act to someone's property and I didn't want to cause any trouble. So, I figured I'd leave and go look for the girls.

"Ahh," I hissed as I walked outside and my eyes were introduced to the sun's rays. After shielding my eyes, allowing them to have a safe adjustment to the sudden brightness I had just entered, I looked upon a gorgeous sight. Within the castle walls was a complete opposite of what it was like on the outside. There were vendors all over the place and multiple little camp sites around and huts and tents covered the sides of the walkway. Many people were at work early in the morning buying, selling, chasing little thieves. Kids were running around chasing each other and some were off to the side plotting. People glanced at me, probably because I wasn't from here, but no one really seemed to care much more than just getting a good look at me. Compared to outside of these walls, the inside seemed pretty nice and carefree.

"Hi." I was zoned out trying to soak up this one-of-a-kind scene in front of me. I never saw anything like this, ever. I was inside of castle walls and witnessing the daily activities of its residents. I eventually broke free of my trance though, not before getting a greeting. "Hey Mister... Are you okay?"

I shook my thoughts out of my head. "Oh, yeah, sorry. Umm, hi."

A little boy laughed. "You sound funny. My momma told me that you not from around here, but you look like a human to me, just with different clothes and a funny way of talking. What's your name Mister?"

I hesitated because this child was bold to walk up to a strange man and be so calm. A woman was staring at me with a certain look that told me she was ready to take action if necessary. "I'm Sharck. And you?"

He positioned himself to perform a heroic pose with his hands on his hips and then took one hand and poked his chest with his thumb, "My name is Brawn and I'm training to be a hero like Mister Rose Knight. I want to protect the princess too!"

"Oh yeah? You seem a little young though."

"Yeah. That's why I train to become a strong warrior."

"That's great. But why do you need to protect the princess?"

"Cause everyone here knows that her parents were taken away so she needs people to take care of her just in case the bad guy tries and take her too. I won't let him though. I'll go 'zaaw!' 'poom!' 'pow!' and beat him up like this." He started punching and kicking the air.

I laughed. "Where did you learn that?"

"From watching Mister Rose Knight train in the arena with other heroes."

I watched him attack the air for a couple moments and then said, "That's cool. So where do you train?"

"It's over there!" He spun around and pointed in a general direction that showed me nothing but people.

"Ah. Well, I'm sure the princess is happy to know she has someone like you willing to fight for her to protect her."

"Oh really? Well, that's not the ONLY reason why I want to defeat the big bad guy."

"Huh. Can I ask you something Brawn?"

"Sure Mister Sharck."

"Who is the princess?"

He gasped and showed me a strange face, "You don't know about the princess!?" He recruited a few of the residents' attentions who were formerly minding their business. "She's only the most prettiest bestest girl in the whole world! When I get older, I'm going to beat the Demon King and then marry her." He blushed a bit. "Where did you come from Mister Sharck?"

"Me? Well I guess I am from a far far far away place, so far that I don't know how to get back." I could tell he was trying to figure out what I was talking about. "Do you know how I could meet with the princess? I heard she may know something about why I'm here."

He lit up and exclaimed, "The princess knows who you are? That's so cooool! I want to be able to meet her too." His head tilted and he frowned. "Awww man. You're going to try and defeat the Demon King so that she marries you aren't you? That's no fair! I wish she knew me." He hung his head below his shoulders.

I put my hands up with my arms parallel to the ground and waved them from side to side. "Haha, that's not why I want to meet with her! I was told that I should from some... uhhh... friends that I know. They told me that she may know how I can get back home."

"Who are your friends?"

"Uhhh... very... strong... people." I didn't know how to describe them in a short time.

"Oh like heroes?"

"Uhh... yeah. Actually, now that I think about it I need to find them as well."

I was going to keep talking but was interrupted by Brawn when he shrugged his shoulders. "It's okay. I get it. You are a nice guy so you deserve to have a pretty lady like the princess." His mood lightened up a little as he whiped his little nose. "Well, I'll just have to try and find someone else."

He didn't really pay attention to what I was trying to say about Pyrona and Green Ranger. "I just need to see her and try and understand everything that's all. Don't worry, I don't have any intentions of taking her away from you."

"Ah... well... she stays in that tower over there if you really want to go see her." He pointed at the tallest building within the castle walls.

I looked up at the tower and noticed it stood out from the rest of the area. Apparently if I wanted to meet with the princess, I was going to have to go to that tower. I wanted to meet with her, I had to know why I was transferred to this world and how long I was to remain here. If she really did know anything, then I had no choice.

"Brawn!" A woman called the little boy over.

"Coming Momma! I have to go Mister Sharck. See you later and good luck!" He waved to me as he ran off towards his mother.

People started gathering around me and looking up towards the tower. Some armored guy was standing in the front of the tower on what looked like a small balcony placed about forty feet up. More and more people came up and gathered around.

"Ladies and gentlemen! We have a special announcement from the princess on this wonderous morning. I ask that you all remain quiet so you do not miss any important information. Now, I present to you, Princess Lizeea!" The crowd clapped and cheered. There was no longer an uninterrupted path for me to walk through. Everyone had stopped what they were doing to come over and have a listen. The man put his arm out to the side and started backing away slowly while bowing. Everyone in front of me started kneeling down. I looked around to see everyone all around me had knelt down on one knee and faced downward. I realized that this was probably custom so I quickly knelt down too.

A female voice started to speak. "Thank you all. I do not deserve so much of your respect." Her voice sounded young. "I am one of you and shouldn't be treated so different. Please, stand on your two feet and don't be afraid to look at me." I heard shifting and people started to stand up, I eventually followed. We all stared upward to see a girl dressed in a pink and white dress. Her hair was long and all pink. The distance didn't really allow me to see her face that good. "As you all know we are at war with the Demon King and his group of demons." She spoke surprisingly loud for her to be as far away as she was; I could hear her clearly. "They have taken our king and queen, my father and mother, away from us and expect us to do nothing about it. They expect us to just sit around and mope hoping that they will bring them back to us. No, I say we go and take them back! I'm done playing games with the Demon King! He thinks he can take everything away from us and leave us with nothing! We are running out of resources. Our children and elders are becoming sicker by the day. Our muscles need food. We shouldn't have to depend on what little we do have. There's so much more outside of these walls but we can't reach them without putting ourselves in grave danger. Every day since the Demon took over has been a struggle for survival. We've lost the lives of many since this war started and it won't end until we stop it ourselves. We will get back what's ours and defeat him once and for all!" People started cheering.

"... I only ask for your forgiveness. I acted very foolish yesterday and tried something on my own. I tried to fight the Demon King." People were visually shocked at this but remained silent. "Yes, I tried to go to the Royal Palace and bring our king and queen back to us. I failed horribly and in the process some heroes sacrificed their safety for mines. I am sorry for my ignorance. But I wll not allow this to happen again! I ask for your trust in our ability to succeed. I have three heroes here with me today." Three figures walked up behind her. I immediately recognized Pyrona and Green Ranger. There was a blond guy with them. "Yes, you all already know of Rose Knight and his services to our land over the years. Now, we also have the lovely mage Pyrona whose magic capabilities are the best in the land and one of the best archers, Green Ranger, who is impossible to get near when she draws her bow." The crowd clapped. "With the help of these three we will finally end this senseless war and get back to what we know and love so much. Peace!" The crowd went into an uproar. These people seemed physically weak but they definitely had plenty of spirit in them. "Thank you all."

People started walking away and going back to their normal daily lives. It almost seemed like they didn't believe her, even though they cheered. Maybe the princess's anouncement was nothing more than just a show.

I stayed still and let the crowd disperse from around me. I looked back up on the balcony and had noticed that Pyrona was looking right at me. She waved her hand and yelled my name and then vanished. Green Ranger saw me too but didn't acknowledge me. The princess and the blond guy stood right beside her and stared at me. Green Ranger faced them and then they all walked back into the tower.

"Sharck!" I looked down to see Pyrona charging towards me. My eyes widened as I noticed her momentum was too great for her to not ram into me. How in the world did she get down here so fast anyway? I could have easily dodged to the side but I sorta welcomed it. She ran into me easily knocking me down. "You're okay, you're okay!" She held me real tight squeezing my ribs and causing me a little bit of pain. I laughed because I could feel how happy she was. "You had us worried last night." She looked at my arm and smiled. "You're cured!"

"Ugh, yeah but... could you get up please?" I said while still being squeezed.

"Oh sorry." She let go of me and stood up allowing me to get up. "You have to come see the princess. I told her all about you."

"You... you did?"

"Yeah, she wants to meet with you."

"She does?"

"Yeah!"

I wasn't prepared for such an attention. "Well, I don't know if I should right now. She just gave a speech and is probably trying to relax afterwards."

"Oh don't be so silly Sharck. She wouldn't mind."

"You sure?"

"Yes. I don't mind." The answer came from behind Pyrona and it was the girl. The girl that was just standing on the balcony, the princess. "Nice to meet you Sharck. I've heard so much about you."

Brawn was right, the princess was a pretty girl, with her long pink hair, her light blue eyes, and her pink lips and rosy cheeks. She looked about the youngest out of everyone I've seen up till now not counting the little boy. She wore a pink and white princess dress, the pink on her dress darker than her hair. She had a red neck band wrapped tightly around her neck, pink lipstick plastered on her lips, and a tiara that sat on top of her head. Her eyes were fixated onto me like she was intrigued in something she knew nothing about and had just discovered for the first time. Being in her presence made me feel like I was closer to the ground. Even though she was so young, probably a little younger than me, I still felt like I needed to have common knowledge about respecting royalty when facing her. A real live princess and her attention was on me.

"Hi Princess... uhhh," I said as I lowered my head and bowed, mad at myself for not already knowing her name.

"Lizeea. It's okay, I don't expect you to know my name already," she responded gently.

"Nice to meet you Princess Lizeea." She smiled. I started feeling uncomfortable while everyone stared at me.

"You look famished. I'm going to have lunch soon at the guild hall, you're more than welcome to come. All the brave heroes are always welcome." She looked at me up and down.

I felt I wasn't supposed to look at her so I kept my eyes aiming downward. "Sure, and thank you Your Highness." I was very hungry AND thirsty now that she mentioned it. I never did get any nutrition last night.

"Good. I look forward to seeing you again soon then." As she started leaving, the blond guy gave me a nod and then turned around and followed her. He looked pretty strong and well equipped with armor that covered his whole body. Even the areas that weren't covered by plated armor were covered by charcoal colored chainmail. The armor was silver with gold outlinings, matching his golden hair that went straight back from his face giving him a spiky look with two bangs on each side of his face. His eyes were light blue like the princess's. The only parts of his body that weren't covered in his medieval looking armor were his head and hands. He even wore a silver colored cloth that rested on his shoulders and covered his entire back, like a cape. He was dressed way too much for a simple lunch, that's for sure. He even had a sword on his side but I couldn't get a good enough look at it to determine how big and what shape it was. The young princess stopped and said something back towards us, "Make sure you two are there as well." The girls both gave a nod and the princess turned back around and continued walking towards the tower, the man slowly following.

"Well Sharck, you ready to eat? After we eat we get to have some real fun," Pyrona said.

"What do you mean," I asked.

"Well, we get to go on a quest and go save some survivors at the Royal Palace. It's our mission and it'll be a real adventure. I was going to keep that a secret and let the princess tell you but I couldn't hold it in any longer. I'm just so excited!" She held her hands up to her mouth and started shaking and shrieking from pure excitement.

"Calm down Pyrona. We have not departed yet. And besides, Sharck is not coming with us." Pyrona immediately stopped moving and looked at Green Ranger. "Do not worry, we will do just fine without him," Green Ranger said accustomed with her usual attitude.

"That doesn't seem right Greeny," Pyrona put her hand on her chin as she thought about what was just said. "We should take him with us, he'll only help."

"You mean like how he helped himself with that skeleton by almost getting killed?"

"Well, no that was because he was taking it easy on him. Right Sharck?"

"I'm still trying to figure that situation out," I said confused.

"Well I still think you should go Sharck and that's that. Besides, I don't think you will have a choice."

"What do you mean?"

"Uhhh, you'll see," she shrugged.

"Well, why do you guys have to go over there anyways? Didn't the princess just come from over there? Why is she making such a fast decision on going back?"

"If you would have payed attention you would have heard her mention her reasons, but it is not important to you since you will not be going. Just know that she has her reasons and they are neither something you would understand nor something you should concern yourself with," Green Ranger stated.

"... Well, can you at least stay and help me talk to Princess Lizeea before you go so I can finally leave? I'm ready to go. I really enjoyed your company and wouldn't mind hanging with you two some more but I have to get back to my own place. I only have to ask her a few questions, but I'm not confident enough to do that on my own honestly. Besides, I thought my only reason for coming here was to speak with her."

"That and to keep you from dying," Pyrona giggled while adding in.

"We are going to go eat too. You will be able to talk with her then," Green Ranger said. "You should thank Pyrona before you leave."

"Huh," I questioned.

"She was the one who wanted to save you and she was the one who asked the princess to invite you over to eat." Pyrona smiled at me to confirm that this was true.

"Well thanks. Thanks for saving me and healing me. I really appreciate it."

"Oh that wasn't me Sharck, that was Lunar who cured you. It's said that she has a special thing for sick people." She winked and softly jabbed me on the leg with the bottom of her staff as she said this. Just then I remembered that I did wake up in a strange place, and there was a staff lying right next to me that wasn't Pyrona's.

"You can probably see her once we leave," Green Ranger said to me.

"Greeny I think you might have missed some extra information fro-"

"Not now Pyrona. We need to head to the guild hall before we are late."

"Well... Okay."

We headed straight for the guild hall, which like the tower, was one of the tallest buildings within the castle walls. This building was in its own area for the most part, it had its dirt, statues of what I'm guessing to be historical figures, and lots of training facilities, each fenced in their own little areas. It looked like a place where warriors-in-training would reside and hone their skills to become true fully capable warriors. I noticed dummies, gear, weapons, targets, and crystal balls in some areas, some areas had obstacle courses with traps and dangerous looking spikey balls that sat hanging in the air, and then there was a little dirt pit that sat in the middle of it all. It was big enough to fit several people in and they could run circles around each other and it was surrounded by gates that looked like possible entry-ways, the only way in without jumping anyway. This was all outside of the actual building of the guild hall as we had been walking past all of this before actually entering the tall stoned building.

The inside was a lot bigger than I could comprehend by looking at the building from the outside. There was no way to tell just how big it actually was in the guild hall, but I knew the ceilings were high and everything looked to be made out of some form of stone. The floor was formed by large slabs of it, squared columns that changed into hexagons that widened at the top until merging at the ceiling were not few and some had torches on them and others had banners, and the large staircase leading up that was the centerpiece of it all... Man there was so much to take in here. To the left was a room filled with bookshelves stacked with books and another staircase that led downstairs, the aura here was very calm and not offensive at all, a good place to relax no doubt. In front of here was a rounded squared extrusion with an eight-pointed star a few feet in the center, and in the star was a circular outing that four circles attached by four lines were engraved. To the right was just a window that welcomed the sun into the room. It was rather large and sat a long distance away because in between it and me was a grand table that stretched lengths. I'm guessing more than thirty people could sit comfortably here. In the middle was the big staircase leading upward, and right in front of the staircase was another floor design that easily attracted my attention. The design was diamond shaped out-gravings at the edge of each point of one big diamond that held four smaller circles, one big circle with the smaller three symmetrically in the middle. It made me think of a magic circle.

The amount of people was not too impressive but enough to make it known that the guild hall was indeed an active one.

I started looking for the princess as she was the main reason I came here. "BERRGH!" Haha, on second thought...

"Wow, somebody's hungry." Pyrona heard the sound of my stomach.

"Yeah, I think I'm going to go ahead and eat. But where do I sit?"

"Over there with the princess of course."

Oh no. I could see where she was but I didn't want to sit next to her. That would just be too much pressure. I wasn't going to get to enjoy eating in this case.

I heard a sigh come from behind me and turned around to see Green Ranger already walking towards the table where the princess sat. "It should not matter where we eat guys, we shall get the same food."

"Leave it to Greeny."

The people didn't seem like heroes much to be honest. Actually, some of them were familiar looking to the folks I saw outside before heading this way. Maybe this was a recruiting lunch.

The princess's eyes lit up as she caught us in her sights. "Ahh yes, you made it. Thanks for coming." Pyrona gave her a hug and sat down along with me and Green Ranger. "So, you already know what you can have. Please, take whatever you want." I waited for everyone else to start eating before I dug in myself. Wasn't quite sure what to think of the food, it tasted good though and that's all that mattered. There was plenty of meat, vegetables, and bread, lots of bread.

The other people who weren't sitting close to us but scattered across the table were chatting and whispering to each other while eating. The four of us didn't say a word though. We just ate and sat amongst ourselves, I didn't mind this at all however. I did try to steal some glances at the princess as everyone ate, but each time I briefly looked up at her, she was staring at me, with the same intrigued look on her face that she showed when I first met her. I must've looked uncomfortable because the princess finally asked, "Is something wrong Sharck?"

Everyone looked at me. "Uhhh, no," I simply said with my mouth half full.

"You hunch over your food as if to protect it from oncoming thieves." She looked as though she was holding in a giggle. "Please, have more if you wish," she said while sitting behind an untouched plate. She must not have been hungry. I felt very uncomfortable at this point and stopped eating altogether.

"Princess, where are the others?" Green Ranger had placed her eating utensil down and decided to open up a conversation.

Losing that intrigued look she so discriminately displayed towards me, the princess replied, "Everyone is here Green Ranger. Not everyone cares about my food sadly. Ever since mother and father were taken away, the people don't seem to have the same respect for such arrangements."

"I thought for sure there were more heroes here the last time we were here. What exactly happened since then?"

The princess frowned before saying, "Everyone left Green Ranger. They left just like you two." She glanced at Pyrona. "I was saddened at first but I understood that you all had your own agendas back from whence you came. Rose Knight was the only one that decided to stay here and I thank him everyday for it. He has always been here to protect this kingdom and everyone in it." I could sense some bitterness in her voice. "If it wasn't for him we would have been whiped out a long time ago. That damned Demon King got what's coming to him, that's for sure." There was a moment of silence as she gripped her utensil real tight and then relaxed and sighed. "... Anyways, because I had this guild hall but no one here to use it anymore I decided to just have lunch here every-so-often and let whoever can eat eat."

"I am sorry Princess, I would have stay-"

"It's okay I completely understand now as I did then, there's no need to apologize. You had a family of your own to take care of Green Ranger and I should always respect that. That's why I'm glad you have come back to me after so many years." Her mood lightened. "Now, let's discuss this quest of yours. I know I have already told you what I want you to do but I feel I should go over everything again because I added one important detail. I want you to travel to the Royal Palace and retrieve captured survivors from our previous mission. If you can find my mother and father that would be great, and if you can kill the Demon King, that would earn you anything you want forever from me. Now, I know that this is going to be tough and you may not find anyone and come back empty-handed but it will not have been a waste. We will know that there are no survivors and that's just how it may be. Also, as you all know, this mission is not a peaceful one. There will be fighting most likely once you enter and there may be foes before you get to the Royal Palace. As heroes, every mission may be your last and most of you are not new to this possibility. If you do not wish to proceed then you are free to walk out now." She looked at everyone and gave each person a chance to speak up. When she looked at me she narrowed her eyes and lingered her stare for a bit longer. I wasn't going anyway so it shouldn't have mattered how I felt. After no one said a word she smiled big and gave a sigh of relief, "Whew! I thought you were going to walk out on me after that last part. Thanks guys, you really have no idea how much this means to know this kingdom still has your loyalty."

Green Ranger spoke up, "Well I do have a question Your Highness."

"Green Ranger it's Lizeea."

Green Ranger gave a small nod and continued. "... Everything you said just now seems to be the same as before. What is this 'one important detail' that you mentioned earlier?"

"Oh, THAT important detail is right in front of you."

"Pyrona?"

"No, him," the princess pointed towards me as she replied.

I turned around thinking there was someone behind me. Nope. Damn it. "Actually Your Highness I was only here to ask you a question."

"You can call me Lizeea as well. Now, what is your question?"

"How do I get back home from here?"

"Home? Is that not something you should be worried about after you get back?"

"Well, I am not going on the mission, I just came here to find out how to get back to where I came from."

"Where did you come from?"

"..." I didn't really know how to explain the whole situation or where I came from. Now that I thought about it, how could I make it back to somewhere I don't remember leaving from. I know that I was in a different place but how could I explain that in a way that she would be able to tell me where to go? This question was too vague to ask the way I did and I didn't want to get into too much detail, so I couldn't answer her.

"A little memory loss? Well I heard that you are a really noble hero who came from a place not too far away from Pyrona and Green Ranger, wherever that is. I don't know much about you besides what I've been told but if my most faithful can trust you then I don't see why I can't."

"Uhh yeah about that, ummm, how did you hear about me exactly? I am not- Ahhh!"

"Sharck here is puzzled about the fact that he is known about all the way out here even." Someone had hit me under the table and left a sting on my leg. Green Ranger looked at me as if she wanted me to stop talking and Pyrona had a smile on her face that said she was up to no good, so I couldn't tell who hit me.

"Well, I'm glad you came to help as they will need you on their journey."

"Wait, what?"

"You didn't object earlier and since you came here to hear about the mission I know you will accompany them. Thank you Sharck."

"Huh!? No no no no no, I came to figure out how to get to- Owww!"

"He came to figure out how to get to the Royal Palace since you never mentioned it. And you know what Princess, he's right, you haven't told us how to get to the palace."

The princess looked at me strange for a moment probably trying to figure out why I was in pain. "Ah... my apologies. I don't actually know how to get there. I was fortunate to find it when I did. I tried many times and failed many times. It's something that just has to happen when it happens. That's why I want you all to go and look for it. If you don't happen to find it within the next few days, please come back. Even you all won't last out there too long."

After a moment Green Ranger stood up, "I think we heard enough. Princess I think we understand everything now. If you don't mind we will be taking off. Please excuse us."

"One more thing before you go. There is equipment upstairs down the hall. Everything you will need, bags, gear, weapons, food and snacks, water, and more. Take everything you think you will need. Rose Knight will accompany you as you already know and he will be waiting for you at the gate. Oh and Green Ranger..."

"Yes?"

"Lead your team to victory." Green Ranger's eyes widened after hearing this and she gave the princess a nod.

The three of us walked up the big stairs and went up towards the right, there was a way to the left as well but it was dark and unapproachable. After walking up the stairs and coming to the second floor, there were a few rooms on each side of the hallway. Amazingly, each guarded room held items that were well put together. The guards didn't do anything aside from giving us side glances as we walked past them. Pyrona and I wandered around amazed at everything like an animal-loving child visiting a zoo for the first time. Green Ranger just simply started grabbing items. Most of the items looked like they were just for appearance purposes and seemed pretty useless for a battlefield. Earrings, headbands, necklaces, swords, helmets, cloaks, shields, and so much more sat in one room. I didn't see Green Ranger walk in here but Pyrona grabbed a couple earrings, a necklace, and a little orange charm. The next room had food, but mostly in the form of canned vegetables and bloody carcusses. There was also a ton of bread around. I was starting to get a weird feeling about all of this. What was the point of having all this prepared for us if we were to come back whenever we wanted to? It was a little too close to the feeling of having a "last meal". We all grabbed something from this room that we felt would last for at least a few days.

The next room held a few big sheets of cloth. "What are these?"

"They're mats Sharck. For sleeping on," Pyrona simply said while walking by me.

"Oh."

The mats looked very uncomfortable but were very light and easy to carry.

Green Ranger was waiting on us to finish as she stopped collecting things already. "You guys do realize that the more you carry the less you will be able to move around right?"

"Ya never know Greeny." Pyrona grabbed a couple more things and walked out of the room smiling. "Look what I found guys." We turned to look at her and saw that she held in her hands a dark round stuffed animal. "It's a black sheep." I couldn't help but laugh. "I know Sharck, she's so cute you can't help but feel a little tingling in your stomach." It was an adorable little thing.

"How did you find that, I didn't see any rooms with stuffed animals," maybe I could find one too.

"Oh, I don't know but she was just sitting right under the table in the last room."

"That's odd. But hey, at least you have a little friend now."

"Yeah, I know. She'll help us on our quest."

"How do you know that's not a boy?"

"... Because she's a sheep silly." Pyrona looked at me with a face that told me she knew I didn't think her answer was a good one.

I walked up to her and petted the cute stuffed creature wrapped closely to her bosom, "Welcome to the group little... uhh, sheep."

Pyrona stared into my eyes as I just happened to look up at her. She was apparently moved by my little gesture in welcoming her stuffed animal because she placed one of her hands on my face while giving me a smile, more subtle than her usual. "I like you Sharcky."

"Huh?"

"Look, she likes you too!" The black sheep was shoved into my face with kissing sounds coming from Pyrona's lips.

"Are you two done yet or should I go take a nap," Green Ranger asked a little distance away from us.

"We're coming Greeny!"

We left the upstairs and went down to the first floor where we had eaten. The princess and most of everyone else had already left, leaving only a few people left behind cleaning off the table. We made our way to the exit.

We went past all the training facilities outside then something strange caught my attention. "Hey, how come there's no grass around here?"

"The resources have been very limited since the Demon King has made the outside walls a living hell. Even sources such as water is scarce now. What bothers me is that the people do not seem awake around here. Not one person spoke to any of us as we sat at the table." Green Ranger must have been thinking about this for a while.

"Yeah, even the princess seems a little strange since we last saw her," Pryona added.

"Even though resources are not many, Princess Lizeea still decides to administer such gatherings. This kingdom will run out of food and water much sooner at this rate."

"I'm surprised you didn't tell her that Greeny."

"Hmmm... Anyhow, we need to get going. Let us hurry and catch up to Rose Knight so we can finally leave."

As we were on our way to the exit of the castle we didn't run into anybody I saw earlier outside. It's as if everyone had disappeared or turned in for the day.

"There he is! Heeey Rosie!"

He looked up and waved back. Then he started to laugh. "You all came over here like you were about to come after me. Well..." He jumped off the ledge he was sitting on. "Alright, let's get this journey started." He focused his eyes on me. He raised an eyebrow and asked, "You ladies taking a stray with you or what?"

"Oh he's not a stray silly, he's going to help us defeat the Demon King."

"Pfff! Yeah alright... Whatever, the more the merrier. Shall we get going then?" The two girls gave a nod. "Alright then John, open up the gate!" He spoke loudly across the big door.

"Ye got it Rose Knight," the guard responded.

After making a lot of loud noises, the gate eventually opened wide enough for us to pass.

"May the angels be with ya. Good luck to you brave heroes and make it back in one piece. We'll be waiting on ya," the guard yelled to our backs as we walked off. We knew where we wanted to go, where we would end up was anybody's guess. With Green Ranger steering our little quad-team we were bound to do good for sure I hoped.

 


 

 

Now, I never agreed to going on this journey and I could easily back down right now and just try and find my way back home. But then I thought about one thing, where would I go? I didn't know how to get back to where I was when I first got here because it was dark last time I traveled, and I still can't make out the details as to why I was brought here and who or what decided to "summon" me here. I was attacked by something I have never seen in real life and I almost died, if I had not gotten saved by the two ahead of me. I've seen enough movies and read enough stories to know that things like this usually happen to someone for a reason. I was okay with my life and I had fun every week, a pretty normal life and such. So, what was my reason? What was I going to do? There were questions I needed answered, but unlike a lazy student who just asked questions to get out of thinking for his- or herself, I am going to find clues on my own and then figure it out. This may be the dumbest thing to do because maybe someone knew about why I was going through this and I could easily fix this just by asking. Maybe I was still just dreaming a "realistically" long dream. Was I dead maybe? It didn't matter honestly and I shouldn't let it get to me. This was my life for now and I should simply adapt and try my best at whatever I'm going to be doing while here. As for right now, I'll go along with this driven out nightmare and figure out what to do from here.

"Is he stunned? Maybe the poor guy is having second thoughts. Hey!"

I hadn't realized I was daydreaming this whole time and had been left behind only for the blond guy and Pyrona to come back and snap me out of it. "Huh??? Oh, right... I'm ready for this." I took a deep breath, swallowed the knot that was formed in my throat, and I started walking.

The man guffawed, "This is supposed to be a hero, somebody who can help us? Don't make me laugh! Oh wait, it's too late! I'm already laughing!" He continued laughing.

Pyrona didn't seem to find any of it amusing. "Don't make fun of him Rosie. He's not used to this place yet, and he's not used to this. Just give him some time. Geez."

"He's not a little boy he should be able to speak for himself. Besides, he's been with you ladies all day, that's plenty of time for him to get used to anything." He walked up behind me and placed his hand on my shoulder. His restrainability was minimum and my whole body leaned over as it was jerked to the side. "Look, I haven't properly introduced myself. I'm the best guy around here, just stay with me and you'll survive. I can protect you like I protect everyone else. My name is Rose Knight but you can call me 'Sir Saviour the Fifteenth' because that's probably how many times I'll be saving your ass." He released his hand from my shoulder as he started laughing again. He looked at me up and down. "And what's this? Where's your weapon? What are you even, a mage? You look so weak and frail you must be. Haha. I can't believe the princess sent you with us."

"She didn't send him, he came on his own. He's better than you think he is Rosie so stop picking on him."

"And what's this Pyrona? Why are you speaking for him? Can he not talk for himself? Hey! What's your name?"

I had enough and finally decided to say something to this man. "It's Sharck."

He raised both of his golden eyebrows, "Ohh, so you can talk huh. Well," he held out his hand, "Nice to meet ya Sharck." I shook his hand to get an overbearing handshake that caused me to wrinkle my face. He smirked and said, "You're so damn weak it's a shame. I guess the princess believes we need a handicap against us. This should still be fun I guess.... Hey Pyrona, how about we make a bet."

"About what?" I could tell she was not really engaged in whatever he was about to discuss with her.

"Let's see how long it takes before he gets destroyed by some weakling. I'll say one hundred gold on the first person he fights." He laughed out loud.

"That's not funny Rosie. Why are you being so mean to him?" He just laughed out louder in response.

"Enough! We must go, now!" Green Ranger had walked back to us already showing displeasure in us three.

Rose Knight stopped laughing and shrugged before saying, "This isn't going to get any better if we don't make fun of the situation you know."

"There is no 'situation'. We just do what we were asked and that is all. No need to make this more difficult than it is."

He narrowed his eyes at her, "Hmph. Now that you are all grown you think you can just boss everyone around huh? Never forget to have fun, it makes it easier to deal with. I was just kidding Sharck, no need to take me so seriously." He walked passed her. Pyrona walked passed her too, not before smiling and whispering something to her. Green Ranger slowly shook her head at this.

As I started to walk and catch up to them she put her hand up for me to stop. "Listen, you can leave now. You do not have to come with us and put your life in danger."

"Huh? No I'm fine, I don't let stuff like that get to me."

"That is not what I mean. I know the princess wants you to come with us but it would be better if you walked off and went back to the castle grounds since you were safest there. Out here, you will find yourself fighting to stay alive a lot and there will be situations where you will feel like it is not worth trying to fight anymore and at this point you will jump at the chance of getting killed. I know you are not a fighter and I do not want you to lose your life for nothing, especially when there is a different option. Unless you feel it something you can handle, I suggest you turn back now. We shall not have any doubts, and we do not need any dead weight with us right now."

"..." I was surprised at what she had said to me and for the most part, I do agree with her. It would be wasteful for me to come along if I'm just going to end up getting in the way or dying even. Rose Knight was right, I was having second thoughts about this trip and I may regret not turning around just then even when Green Ranger spared me the embarrassment and shame of making such a decision of walking out on them in front of the other two. I appreciated this but I couldn't turn around, and I didn't know why. I only saw forward, there just was no turning around now. She waited for me to respond and I did, "... Okay." I walked around her to catch up with the others. I heard her curse as I left her alone.

 


 

 

We had been walking for what felt like over a couple hours. Nothing crazy happened. At this point I was so relaxed I don't think I could have possibly been scared if something jumped out at me. My reaction would be too slow for sure. Pyrona kept beside me for most of the time and Rose Knight walked off to the side not really being a part of the group. Green Ranger stayed in the front and listened for whatever may have been around, which was nothing. She did happen to catch a few animals that were on a stroll but nothing that would make me second-guess or worry for my life about coming along. Even still, the mood was ominous, like we were being watched and a trap was being planted craftly as we walked so carelessly.

Green Ranger spoke out, "There's fog up ahead."

"Yeah, I can see it Greeny. That means we are about to walk somewhere unknown right," Pyrona asked.

"Yes, so everyone stay close.... Rose Knight. Rose Knight?"

"I'm right here beautiful don't worry. You should be more concerned about him over there." Rose Knight walked from around a tall plant.

They all looked at me, "I'm fine don't worry." Physically I was but memories were coming back to me about what happened last time I was close to the fog like this. It spooked me for a moment.

"Well, let us move," Green Ranger said.

We all walked through the fog together real close. Everyone stayed in sight at all times. The air started bringing back memories and my lungs were in a fight taking a beating again. It was definitely more bearable this time around but it was still a nuisance. I coughed a couple times and that was it. Luckily after only about five minutes of walking we were in a clearing.

"That was pretty quick. We still didn't run into any trouble yet and it's starting to make me really regret wearing my gear. If I would have known it was going to be this easy I would have just brought my normal clothes. You think I look good now Pyrona, just see me with my good clothes."

"I... never said you look good Rosie."

"I know you did."

"Rose Knight please stop being so stupid and pay attention," Green Ranger fussed.

"Ehh, you can't deny what I just said when I said that we still didn't run into any trouble."

"I know and it has been this way recently. We still need to keep our guard up anyhow."

Pyrona approached me and spoke quietly, "How you doing Sharcky? Are you okay?"

Yeah, for whatever reason, Sharcky was my name now. "Yeah I'm fine. I'm actually doing pretty good now, I'm no longer as worried anymore."

She smiled a real big smile, "I'm glad that you're okay."

"I'll be fine Pyrona really. I can take care of myself." I didn't mind her being so nice, that was actually comforting. It was just weird sometimes hearing her say these kind of things to me and she hasn't known me for longer than a day yet.

She put her hand on my head, which was awkward because I was a little taller than her. "I know you can."

"Guys, look up ahead." Green Ranger called our attention onto some ruins.

"Is that the Royal Palace?" I asked.

Rose Knight confirmed that it wasn't. "This isn't the Royal Palace but what the hell is this?"

"Maybe it used to be a castle a long time ago," Pyrona started picking up rocks and dirt samples examining them with a monocle she pulled out of her hat.

"Whatever it is we may want to investigate. Anyone want to go?" Pyrona got excited and raised her hand.

Green Ranger crossed her arms. "I disagree with the idea of tampering with the unknown. We need to concentrate on the mission."

"Aww that's no fun!" The other two complained.

I wanted to see what was going on over there as well. It didn't seem like we were going to make it to the royal palace anytime soon and I was tired of just walking the whole time. I raised my hand.

"Yayyy! Even Sharcky agrees with this Greeny."

"Fine whatever, let us make this quick. Please be careful, and no one wander off," Green Ranger demanded.

The ruins was a decent size. What we were now searching in looked like a former castle of some sort, similar to the one we had stayed the night at minus the size. It was much smaller, the whole thing was made out of stone, and it hasn't been taken care of in a while, moss covered half of everything. Even sand had started to make its way to the inside. A river did run right outside the walls of this place and maybe that's why it was so much sand everywhere. The water wrapped around the building almost completely forming a moat. Broken bridges and gates had pieces strewn on the ground. Ripped cloth held onto worn stakes. There were steps and floors, though some of the floors weren't reachable as the steps had been destroyed. There was no life around. We all met back in the middle after exploring on our own for a little while, we still stayed close though thanks to Green Ranger.

"I wonder what the name of this poor place is," Rose Knight said.

"I believe this was a watchtower. I am not sure a name would matter at this condition." Green Ranger said while staring at a piece of broken wall.

"Maybe it's Watchtower." Pyrona said while still searching.

"Pyrona, surely you just made that up," Rose Knight said.

"Did not!"

The wind had started to pick up a bit and Green Ranger went into alert and readied her weapon.

"What is it Green Ranger," I asked her. She didn't say anything but grabbed an arrow and aimed it at me. "Uhhh..." I turned my head and closed my eyes preparing myself for instant pain as she released the arrow. I felt it shoot right past me, the feeling making me jump, and then I heard a loud howling sound followed by a thud. It sounded like an animal had cried out in pain. I exhaled and then yelled at her, "What the hell was that for!? I know you didn't want me to come but you don't hav- Huh?" The others had drawn their weapons as well. Pyrona and Rose Knight stood apart from each other so that all three of them formed a triangle around me. It turns out we were surrounded by skeletons and what looked like big monstrous four-legged animals.

Rose Knight smirked and reached somewhere between his armor. He grabbed a flower and placed it in his mouth. It was a rose. "Alright, time to have some fun."

 

Chapter Text

How in the world did we manage to get surrounded so suddenly is beyond me. I was just getting used to feeling comfortable too. Now I felt like crap again, shaking and scared for what was about to happen.

The skeletons were slowly walking towards us, as were the wolf-looking creatures that looked like they went through mutation. Green Ranger stood on a cliff that was several feet higher than us and already had another arrow out at the ready aimed at an enemy. There were several enemies and the skeletons looked exactly like the one from when I was first attacked. They all looked clean and completely free of residue, especially for something that must have previously come from being covered in tissue and blood. The only difference was in their hands, they didn't have any weapons. The skeletons stayed silent for a while and made no extra effort to scare us, whereas the creatures let off light growls as they moved in. These creatures had black slits as pupils, their legs were bare of any fur, their feet were large with very sharp claws, and their heads bared large teeth that were way too big for their mouths. Finally, an arrow went right through a skeleton and the enemies started running towards us.

Okay, here's when things got interesting. When these guys said they were heroes, I wasn't exactly sure what they meant; weapons and such made me think that they were just good fighters. What I witnessed made me realize just how weak and useless I really was relative to their power and skill. Rose Knight jumped gracefully out of the way of the attacks and countered with his sword. He held his sword with a firm grip and easily swung it around as he needed. His sword was a broadsword with little spikes at the edges that seem like they would make it hard to pull out of someone impaled with it. He would wait for the enemies to get close, seemingly having multiple close-calls, and then dodge out of the way and hit them. I didn't look at Green Ranger but I could see her arrows destroy anybody they touched. Her arrows glowed a faint green color and flew through the air like a diving bird homing in on a target. Pyrona's ability was the hardest to comprehend, she sent what looked like magic towards the enemies. I couldn't make sense of it now but I noticed that she shot small fire balls from her staff that destroyed the enemies. They had a hard time getting close to her, and when they did manage she would smack them with her staff and knock them out and then blast them into another world. I managed to stay away from any danger for the moment as I had plenty of protection from these three for sure. Between Green Ranger's arrows, Rose Knight's sword slicing, and Pyrona's magic, there was no worry for me at all. I wanted to help at this point but I would probably only get in the way and handicap the heroes.

More and more enemies came pouring out from the distance and under rubble but the heroes stood their ground and didn't back down. They kept at it, not missing a single beat when suddenly the wind picked up again and something big hit me in my back and caused me to fall fast face first. I slowly got up and wiped the dirt from my face. When I turned to look for what had caused me to take the face dive I saw that it was Green Ranger who had hit me. When I say she hit me I mean that she was a projectile with a path that my body, or better yet, the bag on my back interrupted. She had been knocked into me by a purple hooded person. She cursed then got up and brushed herself off.

This guy had a purple hooded coat that covered his entire body aside from his boots. The sleeves on his coat were red and the cuffs were off-white or grey. He had grey hair spilling out of the hood that covered his face. I couldn't see his face, however I did end up seeing his smile. He held one evil grin on his face and just by looking at him I could sense the bad vibe that oozed from him. "Hahahahaha! What a surprise!" This guy's voice was deep and echoed loudly in my ears. "I expected to see the princess causing all this disturbance over here on my land. Instead I see you four. Something doesn't add up here. What, are you doing here?"

Green Ranger spoke for all of us, "We are here to stop you."

"Oh come now..." He looked around as if he was trying to find something to catch his interest. "... Surely you don't really mean that. You came here because you want to be under my rule, correct?"

"Never you bad guy!" Pyrona yelled out.

He still wasn't giving us his undivided attention. "Bad guy? I'm the bad guy for protecting my land? It seems like that would be something you would understand seeing how much you fight for yours."

"You cannot play dumb with us, we know what you have done."

"And where's Atalanta and the other heroes you captured?" Rose Knight added to what Green Ranger had said.

The hooded villain yawned in response and then threw his hands up and shrugged. "Lizeea is such a cruel young woman. She sent you poor heroes here to die all on your own knowing you had no hope of survival. I may have a thing or two to learn from her and her evil ways before I kill her." He chuckled. "I tell you what, how about I make you a deal. You can go back to the kingdom and tell the princess that you are four live cowards, or I can rip half of your body in three and then send it to her, right before killing her. Your choice."

Green Ranger had had enough and didn't waste any more time by pulling out an arrow and shooting at him. Surprisingly he didn't move, even more surprising is the fact that the arrow hit him and bounced back landing at her feet. Pyrona shot some magic blasts at him that ultimately did no damage as they turned into smoke when they entered his personal space. They didn't seem to actually reach his body though, as if he was protected. Rose Knight had run up to where the hooded grey-haired person was and tried to slice down on him. This time he did move and smacked the knight down back towards us causing him to land at Green Ranger's feet. We were still surrounded but was no longer a concern to the enemies we were previously battling. This was good because this guy up on the little cliff was going to need all of our combined attention.

"Damn. He may be too strong for us," Green Ranger said under her breath.

"We have to keep fighting Greeny," Pyrona said.

"Rose Knight you okay?"

"Ugh, I've been better," Rose Knight replied.

The villain sighed. "Why don't you heroes ever choose the first option? You know being cowards isn't so bad, at least you get to live and see another day. I guess dying by my hands is a greater honor than I would have given it credit for. I'll have to make a note of that." Green Ranger shot a couple more arrows at him. "Hahahaha! That can't be it can it? Surely you have more power than that if you claim to stop me."

"We have to attack altogether. Someone has to get close so that he drops his guard and then I can take it from there." Rose Knight volunteered as the one to get close. Pyrona promised to make the guy up on the cliff pay once he dropped his guard. They all contemplated while facing the enemy. "Okay. I shall keep him distracted as you approach him and then you should be able to cause him to drop his barrier once you get close enough. We are going to have to give it our all on this one. Ready?" We all nodded, though I wasn't sure what my role was exactly. "GO!" Green Ranger shot her green-glowing arrows as Pyrona shot flaming balls out of her staff. Rose Knight ran around to the other side of the ledge. The whole time the enemy did not move. About ten seconds of mindless shooting at the enemy, the knight finally approached from behind up on the ledge to strike the strong enemy with his sword. Right as his sword made contact with the enemy's back, the two fighters in front of me attacked, this time in a different way. Green Ranger shot multiple brightened green arrows. She shot them so fast that it could be considered that she released them all at once. Pyrona held her staff pointed up at the enemy and charged it up while gripping it tightly. The staff shook in her hand and a rolling little light started to glow at the tip getting significantly larger by the second. She released it and slid back a few feet due to the recoil.

Nothing happened however, nothing good anyway. The arrows bounced everywhere and even found their way to some of the enemies that were behind us. Rose Knight was quickly dealt with and ended up on the ground. The enemy looked down at him with a toothy side grin glued to his face and then kicked Rose Knight hard on the side knocking him through an already damaged wall. He got up slowly coughing some of the dirt and dust that had just no doubt entered his lungs and held his side that was assaulted.

The other three of us stood where we were, not moving. I was several feet behind the two female fighters.

"Are we done already? I wanted to have some fun for once." The villain laughed again and again. No one said anything. They couldn't cause any damage whatsoever to him and he was making fun because he apparently already knew this. "You came to my territory and attacked my minions. I should just kill all of you right now and leave your bodies to be scavenged by them." We turned around to notice that there were even more enemies surrounding us than before. "On second thought, I'm feeling pretty good right now so I'll kill you quickly myself."

"Do your worst you bitch."

His grin faded away. "Hmmm, you must be the leader of this pathetic little group. Then by default, you must die first." He held his hand out with his palm open towards us, specifically at the one in front. A glowing purple light started to illuminate on his hand and took an immediate circular shape that emitted a lot of energy. If he was to send that thing our way we would probably be vaporized; somehow I could just tell that that thing had enough power to kill a person. "Say goodbye to your little archer you weaklings."

"I... am... unable to move!" Green Ranger squinted and grunted.

"Me too!" Pyrona faced the same problem.

"Damn it you coward, release this spell you have on us now!" Rose Knight managed to say still not standing up.

I was stunned and couldn't tell if I could move or not. The ball descended towards Green Ranger.

"GREENY!

"Damn you!"

This wasn't good, the ball was coming in mighty fast. Once it had gotten close, without thinking I yelled and threw my arm up in her direction, "NOOO!"

It had hit.

 

 


 

 

"... Hero, wake up." I did not recognize this voice. It had a very gentle tone though, one fitting for a mother speaking to her beloved child.

I awoke to see that I was surrounded by mist. I couldn't see anyone though. "Huh? Where am I?"

"..."

"Hello?"

"You have done well Hero."

"Who are you?"

"I witnessed what you did for that young archer."

"How do you know that? Where are you?"

"I am in your mind Hero."

"What does that mean?"

"You are unconscious."

"How am I able to talk to you, I can't even see you?"

Someone floated down from above me. It was a beautiful winged woman with blue eyes. She held a long staff in her hand that had a blue sphere, same color as her eyes, at the end of it with a crescent shaped stone furry looking animal standing on top. She wore a white cross-front dress with a golden cross attached at the hip. She was elegant in many ways. She wore a hood the same way the guy up on that cliff did, her hair flowing out from underneath; her hair was much longer. Was she working with him perhaps? He kills and then she meets us on the other side?

"How do you know what happened just now?"

"Your efforts were not in vain, even if you cannot see that yet. I have been watching over you for quite some time now."

I hadn't been here that long to be watched for "quite some time". I was getting a bit frustrated that this unknown woman was just talking to me like this. "What are you talking about?"

"Hero, you must never give up and consider yourself too weak to help your friends in battle. There will come a time where they must rely on you to defeat the Demon King. You must be brave and not dwell on what you can't do, but what you can."

"???"

"Remember this Hero. You must believe in your abilities. You and your league have what it takes to save this world. The guardian of light shines on you, on all of you." She started to fade away.

"Wait. What does that mean? Wait!" She fully vanished.

What in the world was this lady trying to tell me? We would fight and save the world by defeating the Demon King? I don't remember saying I would help save the world and if he was more powerful than the guy we just were destroyed by then I really don't see a sliver of hope in defeating someone more powerful like the Demon King. I don't know if what she said actually has any relevance to my current situation anyhow. Ugh, this place just isn't getting any better.

"Sharck."

"Huh?" I could hear a voice but it was different.

"Sharck!"

I felt someone pushing me. Suddenly I gain consciousness and realize that everything is dark. My eyes were still closed. I opened them to see Rose Knight kneeled over me, his eyes lighting up as he saw my pupils.

He sighed in relief, "Whooo. You're okay. Now come on, get up and help me find the other two."

That's right, we were just blasted by that super strong person.

"Pyrona! I found Pyrona Sharck and she seems to be okay!" I heard her coughing. "It's okay girl. You are going to be okay."

I walked up to them and noticed that Rose Knight held Pyrona in his arms. She looked at him as she was gaining her strength and softly spoke, "Hey Rosie." She coughed some more.

"Everything's alright Pyrona. Sharck, go look for Green."

"Alright." I went to look for her but she wasn't close, all the stirred up dirt in the air wasn't helping either. Between the dirt and the rubble that was everywhere, she may be right next to me but I wouldn't know it. "I don't see her Rose Kni-" Suddenly I noticed a shadow lying on the ground. I rushed over to see that it was Green Ranger. Her hood had been knocked off and lay a few feet from her. I knelt down to lift her head up. "Green Ranger wake up." She didn't open her eyes. "Green Ranger. Hey! Come on!" I gently shook her to get a response. She still did not wake up. I placed my finger softly right under her jaw...

Found it. It was faint but it was there.

"How is she?"

I looked up to see Rose Knight standing above me. "She is alive, she's just out cold."

"She probably needs to rest, she was hit with that blast directly. The fact that she survived is impressive on its own."

"Greeny's a stubborn girl, a blast like that wouldn't kill her. I'm glad she's okay though."

"What should we do with her, we can't stay out here right?" I asked.

"You'll have to carry her," Rose Knight said.

"Me?"

"Who else? You are the best one for it."

"How did you come across that conclusion?"

"Well, you can carry her... or fight."

"... Right." I knew I wasn't a fighter so his point was clear.

The dirt started to decline from the air and we started hearing familiar sounding growls coming from around us.

"Damn, they're still here!" They started walking towards us like rabid animals enjoying the fear on our faces before they devoured us.

"Protect Greeny!"

"Right, Sharck don't let anyone get near her!" I nodded and readied myself for battle.

The enemies rushed towards us, similar like before except we were one person down and we were still trying to recover from our previous encounter. They showed no mercy. The skeletons swung their arms fiercely attacking Rose Knight and Pyrona. The creatures snapped ravenously and even grabbed onto Pyrona's staff and snatched it away from her. She became vulnerable and had to back up and let Rose Knight take most of the fighting. He was holding his own but was getting backed down quite a bit. "Pyrona we have to help him!" Rose Knight had been captured and was the rope to a tug-of-war game between three wolves. Two had his legs and one his arm. They eventually took his sword away and threw it on the ground. He would punch one away, then another would grab onto him.

"Oh no, we are in trouble!" Pyrona was looking in another direction as she exclaimed. I turned to see what she faced with such a horrified look on her face, and what I saw was indeed a problem; one skeleton had picked up Green Ranger's bow and arrows and started using them. Good news is that he was a terrible shot. He shot arrows all over the place hitting many of his own partners. Unfortunately for us, it was so many that losing a few by these poorly aimed arrows made no noticeable difference. "Sharcky, I'm going to try and get Rosie his sword. Keep protecting Greeny." Pyrona ran over to where the enemies were still tugging on the knight.

I stayed kneeled down by Green Ranger looking around and keeping an eye on the skeleton with the bow. This was looking very bad already but then got worse. Some enemies decided to go somewhere else and started heading towards me. I did what I could to thwart them by throwing rocks and even punching one, though it did no good. They grabbed me and started trying to rip me apart. It hurt like hell the way the skeletons were tugging away at my legs and arms. I yelled and squirmed but I was too weak. Then, I felt one of my shoulders pop. "GRRRAAAHHH!!!" The pain was excruciating.

"Sharcky!" A blast hit one of them and killed it. Another couple blasts and only one remained. The last one managed to scratch my back with his fingers and then was killed with a beheaded blow.

Rose Knight had gained his weapon back and was fending them off. Pyrona went back to offer him help after making sure I was no longer in need of any. She left the one shooting the arrows still standing though. Now that my arm was dislocated, I just knelt over Green Ranger and formed a bridge with my body over hers to make sure no arrows landed on top of her. I probably should have yelled at Pyrona to blast him away but too much was going on, she had to help Rose Knight anyway. After a little while, I listened as I heard the commotion start to die down.

Footsteps approached followed by heavy breathing, "I think... we got em Sharck... They're running away. How is she?" I affirmably stated that she was untouched. "Good job... Man are you okay? Your back has a lot of blood on it. And your arm."

Another set of footsteps approached. I could hear her gasp as she knelt down to touch me, "Oh no Sharcky... I'm sorry." The sound of her voice made it seem as though tears would drop from her eyes any moment now.

"I'm okay thanks to you. Thank you both."

"Can you manage on your own?"

"Yeah I can, thanks." I pushed up on my one arm and stood up. Pyrona jerked her hand up at me when she saw me grimace as if she wanted to help me but decided not to. "I'll be fine guys don't worry... We kept her unharmed so that mission is at least complete."

"Right on."

We pulled ourselves together, gathered what we could of our belongings, and then headed out.

 


 

 

It had gotten dark after a little while. We had sat around a fire that Pyrona easily made and decided to rest a little ways away from the rundown area we battled on. Rose Knight had carried Green Ranger here and we all covered her up with some dirt and the little mats we grabbed from the kingdom. I dumped the remaining things out of my bag and placed the bag over her as she lay on the ground still sleeping.

Though we won the latest battle of the day, it was still no doubt on their minds that we were no match at all for the main threat. The purple hooded villain destroyed us without making any effort. For me it was worse when I failed to protect Green Ranger on my own. I was completely useless in all of this either way.

We sat by the fire for what seemed like an hour before anyone spoke. Rose Knight broke the silence, "Well, nobody died today. That's at least worth three stars right..." We didn't catch his humor.

"I want to go to sleep." Pyrona whined.

"Go ahead Pyrona. You too Sharck, I'll keep watch for the first couple hours."

"No. I'll keep watch, I can't sleep right now anyway," I said drawing pity from Pyrona who was saddened by my state and frequently glanced at me the whole time we were sitting there.

"You sure Sharck?"

"Yeah, go ahead and get some rest. At least you two deserve it."

"..." They both complied after first looking at each other and then went to sleep. Rose Knight sat up while he slept and Pyrona lay down on her side and faced away from the fire. They both were battered and beaten up. I was in a worse condition but they definitely had their battle wounds too.

I wasn't tired at all at the moment. I was unsure though. I was unsure if me coming along wasn't a big mistake. I second-guessed myself before but now I had credible evidence to back up my hesitance. I was useless on the battlefield and only managed to get beat up. Rose Knight was right, I was just too damn weak. I should have turned around when Green Ranger offered the opportunity. I could leave now, but then I would have to kill myself for leaving these guys by themselves while they were in the middle of their well deserved rest. Besides, walking back by myself now would be even more dangerous than continuing on this journey.

My back was in serious pain though it was covered up thanks to Pyrona. She had pulled some things out of her hat and nursed me. It was a bit weird as she pulled out bandages and other items used to dress up wounds, all from her hat. How the hell she fit all that stuff in there was beyond me. My arm was held up at my heart across my chest and my back was bandaged completely. She had gently put my shoulder back in its socket. I thanked her sincerely for it and she tried to smile in response. I tried to let her know that I would be okay, yet she was still so bothered by what had happened to me. It actually got to me to make someone so nice worry so much over me.

I sat for over what felt like an hour just thinking to myself until I heard someone say my name, "Sharck."

"Huh?"

"Sharck."

"Green Ranger! You're finally up!"

"Yeah. How is everyone? Is everyone okay?... Are you okay?" She had first glanced at the others and then focused her attention on me.

I looked away from her in an attempt to hide my shame and make it easier to talk to her. "It doesn't matter, we're all good now. I suffered some injuries but I'm fine. What's better is you're fine too." She didn't say anything. She simply sat down close beside me. Half her clothes were torn off or ripped but she didn't seem to care at the moment. She didn't have her green hoodie on either. I could see her hair was a mess, patches of dark spots were located in her hair. I assume it was dirt. "... He must have put a spell on you though."

"Who?"

"That strong guy up on the hill."

"Why do you say that?"

"Well, your ears are long. You look like a santa elf with all that green on now." I laughed a little at myself.

"... I do not know what you mean by 'santaelf' but I am an elf, so there is nothing wrong with my ears."

"What!?" She sighed at my reaction. "That's... wow! That's pretty cool!"

I looked at her and saw that she faced me with a strange face. "Huh? You think elves... are... cool? We may not be humans but that does not make us cold-blooded."

"Cold-blooded? No I don't mean it like that. I mean that I think that that is a great thing."

"You... like elves... and you are human. You are human right?"

"Yeah, I am."

"Hmm, where ARE you from exactly?"

"I... still don't know exactly."

"What were you doing all the way out there when we found you?"

"I was wandering around trying to find a woman and a man. In fact, it was Princess Lizeea and Rose Knight. Whenever I first got here, he tripped over me."

"Why were you looking for them, they did not mention ever meeting you before? So they did not know you."

"Yeah, at the time they were the closest things to human contact I had since being here until I met you and Pyrona... And again, I want to thank you for saving my life then." I noticed she smiled.

"... You are pretty pathetic. I shall see if we can hurry and make it back to the kingdom so you can stay where it is safe. You do not belong out here with us."

I hated that she felt that way, even if it was true. It was time to change the subject. "So, why did you keep that a secret?"

"Keep what a secret?"

"Your ears. You being an elf." I vaguely remembered Pyrona mentioning this when I first met them.

"It was not a concern of yours. The only reason I am telling you now is because you have already seen who I am."

"Yeah but, why hide it? I mean, I'm not one to judge."

She exhaled before saying, "We do not necessarily get along with humans anymore. Ever since the war broke out and the king and queen were taken away and never seen again, it has been very hard to get along with humans and their disgusting ways."

I'm not from here so I shouldn't count. "...So humans did something wrong to you then?"

"It was not just me, everyone was affected. They destroyed my people's home and murdered countless elves. A few of us did manage to get away but we are scattered now. I have not seen anyone since besides Lunar Priestess. I tried to stop the war but no one would listen to reason. They fought and destroyed until nothing was left. So much bloodshed, countless elders, children, parents, friends, and even animals. So many beings died that night." She stared into the fire as she continued to tell me about what happened. "I trusted one of those humans Sharck. I trusted him more than I trusted anyone in the world, even more than my own family at the time. He was my best friend. We used to love always playing around together, running and chasing blissfully ignorant of our surroundings. We would always play and make fun of other people as they walked by. They would get so mad and chase us, but they could never catch us two. We would do everything together. I used to love when we went out on hunts. I was one of the best young hunters ever. To see the look on his face as I would shoot my arrows at targets right down the middle, always hitting my mark. It was just natural to me. I was as accurate as anyone had ever seen. He was so jealous of me getting all the attention for it...

The world was so different then. Then suddenly, he came to the forest one day and accused me of leading a bunch of demons along with many elves and attacking the kingdom. He looked me in my face and accused me right in front of everyone. Of course no one believed him at first, but he was persistent. He would try and get me to follow him to places telling me how sorry he was for trying to accuse me of attacking humans and that he wanted to make it up to me. I was so foolish then to trust him and believe that he may have made a mistake; there were multiple times I was called out of my name because I was thought to be someone else so I figured he might have made the same mistake. He trapped me in a pit one time and left me there. I was stuck for a couple days. It was amazing how helpless I felt while trapped there, I shall never forget it. It even rained very hard for a while and started to fill up the hole." She paused for a moment. "Luckily Pyrona happened to be out 'exploring' or I might have not made it. I was too weak to climb out from not eating for a while. She saved my life that day and offered me some food and fresh water. She even offered to walk me back home but I wanted to go back by myself. It had already stopped raining, however, when I returned home, it was being burned down. I witnessed so much brutal slaughtering. I regret to this day that I ran away, I may have been able to save someone. The humans had come ready for battle and destroyed everything. I promised myself I would get revenge for what he had done to my people." She stopped talking and continued to stare into the fire.

"I'm sorry." I waited for about half a minute and then took this opportunity to ask a question. "What was the guy's name?"

She grew a frown on her face before saying with much disgust, "Ardyus."

"He sounds lame." She gave out a light laugh. I couldn't help but smile after hearing her laughter. "I got one other question though."

"Yeah?"

"Why do you still help the princess then? Surely she's human, and everyone else in the whole kingdom pretty much right?"

"She is of a little sister to me. I promised her a long time ago that I would always help her when she needed it, her or the king and queen." I understood this clearly enough. I yawned and stretched my arm and legs. She had made me forget about my uselessness and I could finally rest for the night.

We were silent for the remainder of the time. We sat next to each other in front of a big tree log, close enough so that our shoulders touched. Then she suggested that I get some rest before the sun arose. I agreed, closed my eyes, and went to sleep leaving her the only one awake.

 


 

 

I heard talking when I woke up the next morning. The sun had been blanketing me with its rays for what felt like quite some time now; I was hot. I opened my eyes to see Pyrona and Rose Knight casually chatting, both of them with good clothes on now. They had thrown their torn clothes on the wood to burn it. I noticed I was lying on my side and covered up by Green Ranger's hoodie. I was very dirty and could taste nothing but salt as I licked my lips. Pyrona noticed me move and walked towards me. "Wakey wakey Sharcky Sharcky!" Oh gosh, this was too much cheer first thing in the morning. She pointed down in front of me. "Look! There's food for you." I looked down and noticed a plate with greens, rice, and a piece of bread.

"Oh, thanks Pyrona."

"For what?"

"For the food."

"What food?" It was amazing how she could make herself look as confused as she did.

I wasn't sure what she was getting at. I raised my eyebrow at her, "The food you just pointed at right here in front of me."

"Silly Sharcky, I didn't make that." ... I couldn't help but stare at her. "What?"

"Hey Sharck did Green tell you where she was going?"

I looked over at Rose Knight to see him sitting on a rock facing away from us as he asked the question. "No, why?"

Pyrona shrugged. "She was gone when we got up."

"She'll probably be back soon, she may have went to go wash herself and change clothes," Rose Knight said.

"Oooh, Sharcky, in that case, you should go make sure she is okay." She wore a big grin on her face.

"You think she's in trouble?"

"Yeah, and someone has to go check on her, right. And besides, you still need to go take a bath too because... woooh!" She waved her hand up and down at her nose.

"Well, I haven't washed myself since I got here."

"Yeah, so go." She helped me up and rushed me towards a direction. She shoved some clothes in my arms and shoved me forward and told me to keep going until I see water. I would be able to wash there.

I was so busy trying to keep up with her I forgot to ask her if I had to watch out for any bad guys out here. We weren't that far away from the place we fought those skeletons and wolves at yesterday. Oh well, my arm was feeling incredibly better since last night and I couldn't tell I was scratched on my back anymore. I made a pretty fast recovery it seems, though I won't be trying to fight out here by myself. I hoped I would run into Green Ranger sometime soon so that she could help me find my way back. I only walked straight but I wasn't going to remember my direction heading here. I wasn't leaving any trails either, my mistake I guess. My number one concern right now was to make sure I didn't run into any trouble.

The walk towards the water wasn't bad, it was only a ten or fifteen minute walk at most. I arrived close to the water to realize that I was along a shoreline and that this was a beach of some sort. I saw quite a few animals on my way to the water, mainly birds. Now that I was at the water, I saw lots and lots of birds. I saw seagulls and long-legged white and black avian creatures. One thing, or person, I did not see though was the ranger. Where she actually was was beyond me. Bathing in the seawater though seems like a bad idea, there's just too much salt. Well it's all I had, either the seawater or I walk back without any form of bathing and still smell. Even fighters and such have to cleanse themselves every now-and-again. The birds acknowledged my presence and formed a path for me to get to the water. They didn't pay much attention to me other than when I got a few feet too close to them.

I threw my shirt and pants off and walked slowly into the water. It was cold but tolerable. I slowly submerged my body until I was completely underwater. The waves were very calm for ocean waves. I rubbed my hand against my body using it as a washcloth and pretended I had soap on it. I was knelt down in the water so even though my body was underwater, I wasn't that far into the ocean. This sand was going to be in every place of my body when I finished. Oh well.

I got out and waited for myself to dry a little under the sun and then quickly switched underwear. I find it strange how Pyrona knew exactly what to get me as far as clothes go. The drawers she handed me were white. The gear she handed me was a red headband, armor, some pants, some kind of short jacket, and some hard shoes. These items were a little big on me but they definitely were better than putting on the dirty ripped bloodied up clothes I had lying on the sand. The only thing left to do now was to go back to the camp where I had left the other two. I'll let them know that Green Ranger wasn't here.

Surprisingly I didn't get lost and arrived back at the camp to see that Pyrona and Rose Knight were waiting for me. "Did you find her Sharck?"

"Oh you look a lot better Sharcky."

"Thanks. No, I didn't find her. I was hoping I might have missed her and that she would be back by the time I got here."

"Well we have to start moving, we can't wait too much longer."

"Umm, I'm not very comfortable with that idea."

"Don't worry so much, I'm here remember?"

"No I mean she may need our help wherever she is and if we just started walking off without her, we won't be able to help her."

"Yeah, Sharcky's right Rosie."

"Fine whatever... Let's give her a few minutes then."

After about three minutes Green Ranger came walking up to us, her mind occupied. Rose Knight spoke loudly so that she would hear, "Welcome back Green! It's nice that you decided to finally show up! I actually wanted to leave you!" He started laughing.

"You do not have to speak so loud, I can hear you just fine."

"I'm just making sure."

"Alright guys, let us get going. We wasted enough time this morning. If we want to make it back to the kingdom within this week, we need to get a move on, hurry up and find the survivors, and then head back to the kingdom." Green Ranger never stopped walking, she walked through the middle of us three and kept going. We all turned our heads and stared at her as she kept walking without stopping to greet us after disappearing this morning. Rose Knight seemed like he wanted to exchange some words with her but refrained from doing so. We all started following her.

Chapter Text

Following Green Ranger for a while, we walked and walked for a long time and seemed as if we were getting nowhere. We were walking along the shoreline but stayed a decent distance away from the water. As usual, Pyrona and I walked close together, Rose Knight walked a little off to the side, and Green Ranger continued ahead.

He started lagging behind. "I have a question guys," he said.

"What is it Rosie?" Pyrona asked.

"Why did Princess Lizeea make Green leader?" Rose Knight asked as we continued to walk.

"Why does that matter?" Green Ranger questioned him.

"Do you even know where we're going? I feel like we've been walking for a while now and have yet to make any real progress. We continue on like this and we might as well walk back because there will be no survivors by the time we get there."

"Stop complaining."

He started raising his voice a little, "I'm not complaining, I just want to know what's going on. You're not telling us anything. First you disappear in the morning without letting any of us know that you were going to leave. We were by ourselves, luckily we weren't taken advantage of while we were sleep." He glanced over at me before he continued fussing at Green Ranger. "Second, when you did decide to show up, you say nothing about where you were or what you were doing. At least let us know that you are doing okay. And now, you have yet to speak to any of us about the current situation. Obviously we saved your ass back there and a 'thank you' would have been accepted at the least." He stopped walking. "But to say nothing? You are feeding my suspicions Green."

"There is not much to say right now Rose Knight. We were given a mission and have yet to complete it... and I intend to complete it, whether you are with me or not... Our mission is not to defeat the Demon King but to retrieve information by infiltrating the Royal Palace and bring any survivors back with us. That is it. Stop making it seem like there is more going on than that."

"What the hell is this really about huh? Something you care to share with your partners?" He emphasized the last word.

I butted in and asked a question of my own, "Rose Knight, haven't you been there before? Can't you tell us how to get there?"

He must have thought I was going against him with the way he faced me. "Sharck, do us all a good deed and refrain from asking needless questions. In fact, don't say anything. You should be one of the last people talking right now Mister 'IdontknowwhereIcomefrom'." He mocked me with a higher pitch in his voice.

"You spend more time babbling about needless things than anyone. It would only serve us by shortening our travel time if you simply told us something more useful." Green Ranger started messing with the dirt underneath her feet and kept a stern stare up at the knight.

"Useful like what!?" He started flexing his hands. "You are obviously hiding something and are trying to shift secrets on me!? Fine." He threw his arms out to the side as if welcoming someone to hug him. "It was luck." He let his arms drop down to his side and placed his hands on his hips. He looked downward as if thinking about what he was saying. "It was luck, that's all it was. I can't really figure out how to get there. It was just luck that I found it when I did with the princess. All we really did was walk straight." The princess had said something similar to this now that I thought about it.

Green Ranger's stern stare still intact, but now she slowly stood up. "What did you say?"

He rolled his eyes and sighed. "Oh I'm sorry I forgot your ears are too big to hear what I am saying to you! I said it was luck, you know, as in good fortune that we found the castle when we did!" He was really starting to get annoyed with Green Ranger and it was causing Pyrona to tremble a bit.

"Who found the, castle?"

"You are doing that on purpose now!" His eyelids went into his forehead and he strained his hand, gripping an imaginary stress ball.

"Rosie." Pyrona gave her pity look to him.

Green Ranger smirked, "You are wrong."

He was exacerbated. "I will not continue like this. I am a man and I will not be treated like this from some female elf. Good luck." He swiftly turned and headed in another direction.

Pyrona held her hand out for him to stop, "Rosie wait!" She turned to Green Ranger concerned, "Greeny why did you say that to him?" Green Ranger simply turned around and continued towards where we were headed before the interruption, a path almost opposite to where Rose Knight was currently headed. Pyrona turned to me, "Sharcky what's wrong with them?"

"I don't know. I'm just as confused as you are. I didn't know they were having problems with each other." I didn't know what was going on but I did know that we were no longer a group of four, and that was not a good thing.

"They weren't."

"What did Rose Knight say that was wrong?"

"I don't know. Ohhh, we can't leave them alone."

"Yeah. Let's go get them then." I went to walk but was stopped by a soft tug on my coat.

"We have to allow them to cool off before bringing them together again. We may need to walk without each other for a little while."

"Oh come on we can't do these kinds of things at a time like this. They'll be okay, they just need a moment of silence. No need to separate them."

"But they seem puffy cheeked and I don't want them to get more puffy cheeked."

"..." I thought about it for a moment and then said, "Well, how do you suggest we do th-"

"You follow Greeny." She said this quickly and with a look of gleam in her eyes that caused me to jump.

"O- okay. Wait, why do you want me to follow her? It would make more sense if you followed her right? She would feel more comfortable with you than me."

"Greeny isn't puffy cheeked. Besides, I am going to follow her too. I am just going to be waaay back here with Rosie. Once he stops being puffy cheeked, we'll catch up with you two."

"What is 'puffy cheeked'?"

"It's what Rosie is."

Sometimes understanding Pyrona took a little more than normal. "Okay. I honestly don't think this is a good idea anyhow. What if we run into a lot of trouble like last time?"

"It'll be fine, you'll have Greeny with you."

"We had three of us last time and had trouble getting rid of them, and I'm more worried about being able to help her than her being able to help me."

"We fought that other guy last time, remember? He beat us up good, that's why we were a little sucky when we fought those skelleys. Trust me Sharcky, please." She looked me in my eyes with pleading green ones while gently squeezing my face in between her small gloved hands.

Instead of questioning the obvious problem of us running into that purple-hooded strong guy again and it being just two of us this time, I simply gave in and said, "Alright, I'll follow. At least she won't be by herself. What if we run into trouble and do end up needing your help though?"

"Just call for us." Though I was hoping for a much better answer, I didn't question it. Green Ranger was way ahead now and it would require running to catch up to her within the next couple minutes. Pyrona winked at me as she turned to head towards Rose Knight, who was also a good distance away.

I took off to catch up to Green Ranger. It actually didn't take me long at all, it was as if she was waiting for me to get close to her before she started moving again. "Alright, so, do you know where to go?" I asked Green Ranger a little out of breath as I finally caught up to her.

"Does it matter?" She asked focused onward.

"Well, it would be nice to know where we were going right?"

"Perhaps ... Just stay alive."

I gulped and hissed at the same time. "You know you haven't been nice to me since I been here."

She stopped and faced me, "What good would that do?" I noticed behind her why she had suddenly stopped, not because she wanted to look at me with such an indifferent face, but because we had come up on some fog again.

Not this again. Each time we went into the fog it seemed like it would teleport us to another location no matter which direction we went. I only ever went forward, but it still just didn't feel... normal. It felt like something I've never experienced before, and I doubt anyone with every degree in the world could explain it to me. I really didn't want to go in there this time, especially now that there were only two of us.

"Do you want me to hold your hand?" I could sense the sarcasm.

"I don't think it's a good idea for us to be wandering into something we know nothing about."

She barely shrugged her shoulders, "Then I guess I go alone."

"Wait!" She stopped right in front of the fog. "I'll follow you." I placed my hand on her shoulder as we stepped into the fog together. We walked for a silent few minutes, her arrows chafing my hip. The fog was exaggeratingly thick as usual and all I could really see was the back of Green Ranger's hoodie.

When we exited the fog, I noticed that Green Ranger kept going and I begged for her to stop. "Sharck we cannot stop every few moments of walking."

"Let's just wait a bit, please." I remembered what Pyrona had said about still following us and maybe they would make it out of the fog if we just waited a little while. I placed my bottom on a big rock nearby and stared at the fog. Since silence would most definitely shorten our wait time, "Are you okay Green Ranger? You did seem a little annoyed earlier this morning."

"I am fine Sharck." She seemed fine now sure, but her short answer wasn't helping prove that.

"Hmm. Earlier you said that Rose Knight was wrong about something. What was wrong about what he said?" She moved past me and left me alone. "Wait where are you going!? We waited for like one minute!"

"We waited long enough, now let us go."

I didn't want to leave them because they may have still been in the fog just having a difficult time getting out. Wherever they were, I just hoped that they were at least doing okay.

We still walked along the shoreline, seemingly getting closer to the water. I followed her like a puppy, wanting to stop and look at the scenery, all while remaining cautious not to get left behind by her tireless feet. The water was endless and never stopped moving, threatening to try and reach us, and then retracting the action altogether only to repeat later. It was a bluish color at least, not what I'm used to back home where visiting beaches with greenish waters was not uncommon. For the moment, it seemed like Green Ranger and I were the only beings in existence, the noisy massive body of water providing us with soothing music.

"Are you well?"

"Huh?"

"How is your arm and your back?"

"Oh. I feel fine now, thanks for asking." I had forgotten about the wounds I endured in our previous battle. I wanted to make sure she was okay as well come to think of it. She had already changed clothes this morning, similar clothing as before, and it was too dark last night to notice any scratches or bruises on her, so now was a good time to check. Her hair was clean and she seemed to be without physical damage.

"What are you looking for?" She stepped back away from me as she caught me staring at her body looking for any signs of injury.

"Uhh... Well, are you alright?" I felt like a creep.

"I am very uncomfortable, thank you."

"Sorry. What I meant was, how are you feeling about knowing that we stood no chance with that last fight?"

She took a deep breath, "We shall get him next time. For now you should worry about yourself."

"How did you survive that blast back there? I mean it was powerful enough to knock us all out and we weren't even close to you."

"It is strange, I do not know. But that is not important. Let us focus on what is ahead of us." And just like that, I dropped it. She seemed fine at the moment so maybe another time.

I followed her as she decided to start walking on the sand and getting closer to the water as we progressed. We ended up at a different part of the beach than where I went to wash up. These waters were a lot rougher and rocks and wooden objects lay everywhere. The waves crashed against the shore, in the background were cliffs with greenery and large hills even further in the distance. This was a decent sized bay with dead sea creatures sprawled out everywhere, although there were some that were alive: some snails, a large starfish, and some birds.

Green Ranger suddenly slapped me on my arm and pointed ahead with her bow. I saw some figures in the distance along the shore. She readied her weapon and I knew what that meant. It was time to fight, again. The only difference this time was that she was going to NEED me to watch her back as the others weren't here with us.

They were just a group of skeletons, one significantly bigger than the rest. They seemed to be communicating with each other; all I could see was that they faced each other, most of the smaller ones facing the bigger one. They had a tent set up and what looked like a fire pit sitting next to them. Since we were in the open area I was surprised they didn't already spot us walking towards them. "Get down." I followed her order and knelt down. "Stay there."

"What are you about to do?" I felt myself getting nervous.

"I am about to take them out. I just need to get closer." She walked towards them a little and then stopped. "That big one there may be trouble." She turned to face me. "What can you do?"

"Uhhh... nothing?" I gave her an awkward grin.

"Never mind, I have an idea." She motioned for me to get up and pointed, "I shall get behind that rock so they cannot see me. You get their attention and once they get close I shall take them out with my arrows. They are mindless so they will not suspect anything."

"And what about the big one?"

"If I can get him alone it will not be that tough."

"Hmm. Well, I'm not doing it."

"We do not have that much time, just do it."

"Uuugh." How was I to know she would have my back? I stretched and readied myself while she had already went behind the rock and looked at me to start getting their attention. I just stared at her, and she stared back eventually throwing her hands up and raising her eyebrows at me.

"What are you waiting on!?"

"I think you should do this."

She slapped her forehead and shook her head. "Pathetic!"

I went to switch places with her but heard light growls coming from behind me. We weren't alone anymore. I turned to face several enemies, a couple wolves and a few skeletons. "AHHH!" I ran away from them, going the opposite direction of where Green Ranger was. I heard their footsteps right behind me and knew they were in pursuit. I heard a couple thuds and yells, bones shattering, and curiously turned to see what was happening. One of the skeletons was left and still chased me. I turned around to fight him as I didn't want to get too tired by just running and was relieved to see that he was already taken down. "Ah, ahh... ahh... haaa... whoo."

"Great job." Green Ranger had walked up to me and placed her hand on my shoulder as I was bent over catching my breath. "Now come on, let us get back to what we were doing."

"I don't care... I have to collect... myself first."

"... You did not do anything. Why are you so tired?"

"It's not tired... I'm just catching... my breath... after being so frightened. They were right there! It scared the hell outta me!"

"Pathetic. Let us go." She nudged me forward on track to where we were going.

Green Ranger had said that she heard more enemies down the way, I didn't see anything however. After we reached the camp, there were more enemies that did indeed show up. It was about the same amount as before except it was only skeletons this time. She shot some arrows as I just stood back and watched. The only thing really making noise was the shuffling and movement, the arrows making contact with bone, and the bones collapsing on top of each other. None of the skeletons reached me as she deployed her bone-seeking arrows that destroyed them before they could get close. They seemed pretty strong to me, but she made them look like thin tissue as her arrows easily ripped through them. She pulled out her arrows so fast, she would destroy one and then destroy another within a couple seconds. After she finished, we started searching around the camp to see if we could find anything. There wasn't anything really useful around; there were a few tools and a bunch of wood and weapons, some more animal carcasses, and some miscellaneous items. I found it strange that these skeletons had weapons with them but weren't using them. I had to figure out something, "You are pretty amazing Green Ranger. How long does it take one to become as skilled as you are in archery?"

"It takes a lot of training. Only few can do it."

"You think I can learn it?"

"No."

"Oh. Okay."

"... Usually a child develops their skill at a young age and then builds on that particular skill through lots of training. Mines was archery, I was actually one of the best at it back when I was young. You cannot just take time to learn something and expect to master it just because you spend a lot of time on it. It also has to be something you are already familiar with. It has to be a part of who you are."

"The only way to master something is to take time doing it though right? Consistently and continuously."

"What I mean is, there are some things that most people will never understand or be able to do even if they have spent their whole life training for it."

"I guess I understand... So how do I figure that out? I mean I don't have a skill but if I did, how would I know that I have one?"

She shot another arrow at an eavesdropper, destroying it, "... That is just something you will have to figure out on your own."

 


 

 

After moments of more walking and Green Ranger destroying skeletons, and occasionally wolves, we found ourselves at the fog again. "Alright, you ready?" she asked.

"Yeah," I falsely proclaimed.

"Stay close, we do not need to lose each other."

"Green Ranger." She looked to her side towards the ground. "What happens if I get separated from you? What do I do? Will I have a chance at all?"

A deep breath, "You had a chance to leave and return to a safe place. Your only option now is to survive. Do not die and return to the kingdom a hero." I thought about what she said for a moment and couldn't bring myself to move. She faced me and then placed a comforting firm hand on my arm. "You chose this and now you must face it."

"But, I didn't choose to be here. I was brought here without even being given a choice. I didn't even know about this place before I was brought here. I mean am I supposed to be okay wi-"

"Save it Sharck. No one chooses to be here."

"... Well, tell me this then, what is it like to be a hero?"

I could see a smile etch its way into her lips as she lowered her eyelids. "I shall allow that to be a surprise. Stay alive and you will find out sooner than you are prepared for." She turned away from me. "Shall we get going now?" I nodded and moved in close to her, my faltering hand on her shoulder, as we entered the fog.

Even though my breathing wasn't affected much at all anymore when being in the fog, I still made sure to pay attention and breath a little more carefully anyway.

I saw Green Ranger's head jerk, "I hear someone."

I whispered to her, "Where?" She kept turning her head as if to get a better understanding of where it was coming from.

"I, do not know." She grabbed her bow and went for an arrow. "Damn."

"What?"

"We have to get out of this fog so we can see."

"I'm with you but where is the opening?" The sand under my feet started getting harder and harder, like the ground was changing compounds.

"Follow me."

I could actually hear someone else in the fog with us now. It sounded like more than one person and were probably close by now and were watching us. I turned around to notice no one was behind us that I could tell.

We eventually walked out of the fog and noticed that we had approached a very large building. I noticed the atmosphere had drastically changed and we were in a familiar looking area. The sky was a dark maroon color and everything around seemed still, even Green Ranger, who stood staring at the building in front of us. This place reminded me of the area we fought the villain a little with how rundown this building was. It was made of stone but wasn't as large. It had a large number of steps that lead to the entrance however. Another difference was that it had a roof but only one floor. I could see right inside as the door covering the front entrance was knocked off to the side.

Green Ranger broke from her trance, "This is it!"

"What? What you mean?"

She turned to me, "This is the Royal Palace."

"What!?" I felt sick. "We should turn back then."

"No. We have to do this."

"No, we need to go find Pyrona and Rose Knight! I'm not about to go in there with just us two!"

"Hmm." She fiddled with her arrow holder, looking around herself as if she had just noticed a new grown tail. I, on the other hand, started panicking and made a run for it. She stopped me, however, by throwing her bow at my feet and tripping me. As I got back up she grabbed me by my armor and yanked me close to her, "Control yourself. This is not the time to be a coward. This is your chance to prove yourself. You either fight here or die here, but you will not run!" I sensed that she was trying to amp me up more so than scare. She looked me in my eyes, words seeming to get stuck right in her throat, and then released me before letting out a deep breath of exasperation.

I gained my composure. "Alright. I'm sorry I just, didn't know what to do. That guy is probably there isn't he!?"

She looked at the building and slowly answered, "He may be." She didn't even look like she knew what she wanted to do; she looked nervous.

"What are we supposed to do then!?"

"We move forward of course." Green Ranger did not say this. We both turned around to notice Rose Knight, him and Pyrona had finally caught up with us as they exited the fog.

"Hi guys!" Pyrona said in her usually happy tone as she smiled and waved at us. I needed that mood of hers right about now.

Green Ranger smiled back at her after accepting a hug. "I agree. Everyone ready?"

"Yep!"

"You know it Green," Rose Knight said.

We started walking up the stairs that lead to the front doorway. No one cared to mention the fact that we were separated.

It was very quiet as we got close. It was too quiet.

Immediately as we entered the palace, enemies started attacking us left and right. Skeletons and wolves all poured out from nowhere and tried to end us as quickly as possible. Skeletons clawed and grabbed at us as wolves bit and snapped. Green Ranger walked in first and didn't react fast enough and was overwhelmed by the large number of attackers that started beating up on her. The three of us behind her tried to grab her back outside but they snatched her away and continued viciously beating on her. We ended up getting pulled in while trying to pull Green Ranger out.

There were more than enough enemies to attack us as well and they wasted no time trying to tear us apart. Rose Knight had a chance to pull out his sword but it was swatted from his hand as he was in the middle of swinging it. He did end up punching one of the skeletons across the head doing damage but not destroying it. Pyrona gripped her staff and attempted to shoot magic at them and managed to hit one skeleton, killing it. That was all she could manage to do however, before they snatched her staff away from her and took her away.

I didn't see the heroes anymore as there was such a large quantity of enemies that I couldn't really see anything ahead of me past the few skeletons that now faced me; I might have seen one tall one walking around. Some of the skeletons were fighting each other even, trying to get to me. Something told me that whatever they were going to do was going to be painful as hell, even worse than last time.

They got to me and I just tried to absorb as much as I could. One punch, two punch, three punch, bite, four punch, five punch, six punch, and a right. A left and I felt as though I could take no more that night. I probably would have been knocked out already but they were hitting me everywhere, not just my head. After surrounding me, I was hit and bit on my back, legs, arms, and stomach. I heard screaming coming from somewhere close to where I was. It must have been Pyrona or Green Ranger having trouble fighting them off. Rose Knight still fought off attackers and was almost free at one point until some onlookers joined in. I felt myself lose my footing and fell back. The only thing I could think to do at this point was to ball up and cover my head as they kicked and bit at me. All I could feel were kicks and teeth grabbing my arm and tearing at it. These guys were just as brutal as before. For a moment screams and snarls were silenced and vision was darkened. The last thing I remembered before completely fading was that I should have ran while I had the chance and that I was to now die in a brutal way, in a brutal place, for no bloody reason.

 


 

 

... I was dead and now in a dark place. It was very foggy and I could not see anything. I remembered being in a similar scenario before. "Hero."

"It's you again."

"I see that things have not been going so well for you and your partners."

"No. In fact, the last thing I remember is dying. I can't speak for the others though. How are they? Do you know?"

"Your friends are fine Hero, but they do need your help. You must go back to them."

"I guess you don't know, I can't." She didn't respond. "... Because I'm dead now."

"You can go back if you wish."

"How? Well it's not like it would matter anyway. I mean what can I do, get in the way? Distract the enemies? Face it, uhhh, my 'unconscious', I can't help them at all. They're much better without me. The most I can do is distract the enemies for a couple minutes, but I don't want to go through that pain again."

"You must do what you can and never give up. You must believe in your abilities."

"Why do you keep saying that?"

"Because it's true."

"What abilities? I can do a lot but fighting skeletons and mutated wolves isn't one of them. I don't see a point in me going back. Just take me home if you can please. I don't want to wake up this time. I just want to go home, back to where I belong and am safe."

"If you give up now, this world will be destroyed."

"I don't belong to this world, so why should I care if it is destroyed? I don't know this place, I've never been here ever, and I wasn't the one who wanted to come here. Someone brought me here and I need them to take me back!"

"Are you sure Hero?"

"Look, I appreciate your 'confidence' in me ma'am. You really did have me thinking I was actually going to be some superhero that helped save the world from this Demon King guy. But look at me, look at me! I don't even know where you are, but I'm not blind! I can see what you're doing and I do not care anymore! It was interesting, but take me back because I know you know where I came from!"

"Hero?"

"Don't! Just tell me how to get home, please."

"Where is your home Hero?"

"Uuugh! I don't know! You should know since you have been 'watching me' for a long time!" I was irritated in how her calmness was opposite to my frustration.

"Ahhh, I see."

"What?"

"I understand why you feel the way you do, why you are so irritated."

"Because I want to go home and you're not helping me, that's why!"

"No. It's because you want to help your friends but you feel you don't have the power to do it. You wish you knew how because you really want to protect them."

"First of all, they are really not my friends. I only met them a couple days ago. I know you just as much as I know them. So, why do you continue to call them my partners, and my friends? I don't know them."

"You have a lot to learn I see."

"Wha???" I didn't understand what she was talking about and clearly she wasn't paying attention to what I was saying, so I just tried to ignore her. She didn't even show herself this time anyway.

"Remember what I said before Hero, you must not give up and think of yourself as too weak when trying to help your friends in battle."

... I couldn't ignore her. "I don't even think they believe in my abilities. I mean, they're only letting me tag along because the princess asked them to. They know I don't have an ability and I know. The only one that seems to think I have this power, or at least tell me that I have this power, is you."

"You must believe in yourself first, then they can start believing in you too."

I threw my arms up because I had had enough. "You obviously don't understand what I am saying."

I could feel her approach me from behind and she wrapped one of her wings around me. "I understand. You don't have to worry, I will protect you my brave warrior." I could feel her softly rubbing her wing on my shoulders and back. She must have been trying to calm me down. "You can do as you please. If you want to leave, then walk away."

"Walk away? Where do I walk to!?" I had turned around to see that she had started fading away already. Something told me she was playing games with me, and was actually getting a kick out of seeing me start to lose it. For what it's worth though, it did seem cowardly to just up and leave when someone needed help. Honestly, I didn't want to just leave.

 

 

Chapter Text

The heroes were in quite a bind at this very moment and were facing defeat for the second time since their journey began. Sharck was now unconscious, and so were the rest of the team.

The skeletons were cruel and brutal but they weren't stupid enough to kill without being commanded to do so, fortunately for our heroes. However, there were quite a bit of them which made it so that they were able to do more damage to the heroes within a few minutes than they could ever possibly hope to do individually. These guys weren't much without a boss, and so they had one. This boss was the one to make the final decision on who lives and who is killed, the one who decides where to go and for how long, the one that plans on where to set traps and send scouts for enemies, the one that has an exponential amount of strength more than the ones he commands. He's been around for some time and had grown their respect and trust in him by brute force alone. They dared not disobey him for they were dealt with in the utmost harsh way immediately. If they had a ranking system, he would be considered their captain.

He was big in size compared to the rest, and more than likely this with his strength is what made him feared and respected by the other more diminutive skeletons. His eyes glowed a fiery color and he usually walked around with a massive scythe in his hands. He watched as the heroes took their merciless beating. He walked by and picked up each of their weapons as the commotion went on and placed them on the side against the wall. He thought to use them later in an auction to make some money. He already had plenty of it but was insistent on getting so much more. He was entitled to rule over this palace on his own and planned to do so without any opposition.

He noticed that the fighting was clearly one-sided at this point and decided to step in. He hated killing without the victim knowing of their fate before-hand. "Enough!" He took one of his followers by the skull and crushed it. "I told you not to harm them so much and you have already made them bleed all over. Now I have to make sure that they are still alive, and you know how much I hate wasting time!" Another special thing about this particular skeleton was that he could actually speak. "Back up!" His subordinates backed away and allowed passage to each of the heroes' bodies. "So disgusting flesh is. All it tends to do is leak all over and attract diseases... Hmmm, this one here isn't doing so well." He inspected Sharck's body with his foot and noticed the faint and uneven movements of the chest. He knew that this particular hero most likely would not make it through the night. His muscles were terribly torn through in one of his arms and he didn't look too tough as it was. He had already lost quite an amount of blood and was still losing more. The captain grew angry. He swung his weapon, killing a few skeletons. "Fools! When I tell you idiots to not kill them, I MEAN DON'T KILL THEM! The king wants them alive! I'll kill all of you next time!" He tossed the hero's body in a pile with the others. "Now take them to the cages with the other one!" The skeletons clumsily followed orders making more clatter running into each other than actually getting the job done. "Don't forget to separate them! We don't want any filthy breeding!" They eventually figured it out and transferred the unconscious heroes to their new residence.

The heroes were transferred through the building which was one giant hallway, except for a few rooms to the side and in the back. The hallway held a fireplace midway against the wall and windows along both sides, war banners hanging all around the entire palace.

The cages the heroes were taken to were commodious, though lacking in comfort. The male heroes were tossed into one cage and the heroines were tossed into an already occupied cell, the cells being a good distance away from each other.

There was a woman curiously looking on as the commotion approached her. Her long and brown hair reached all the way down to her thighs and was well kempt despite her current situation. The lady wore a long t-shirt with the initials 'D.K.' written on the back. The shirt was relatively plain otherwise and had no appeal.

When the cage was opened up she sat back and observed. She waited for the skeletons to walk away before approaching the heroes that lay motionless in front of her. She carefully touched one of the bodies to make sure they were still alive, shaking her head at how beaten their bodies were. She assumed they were fighters if they were able to survive such assaults and decided to place her hand upon one of them as a faint green glow appeared around her hand. The twitching and shifting could be seen from the body her hand was placed over. The unknown woman placed her hand on the other hero and performed the same action with the green glow around her hand. This one too started moving.

They both awoke around the same time and gathered themselves. Pyrona's reaction was of a little more shock and disbelief, but her and Green Ranger both didn't make too much noise when realizing that they were indeed locked up inside a cage next to a stranger. The stranger approached them calmly with an open hand. "Who are you?" Green Ranger decided to ask, Pyrona right behind her.

"You have nothing to fear, I didn't put you in this cage. The one who did is not here right now. I do need your help as I know how I can escape now."

"Who are you?" Green Ranger demanded.

"Greeny, we're doing okay now." Pyrona indicated that her wounds were almost absent and that she couldn't feel much of the bruising she knew she had endured.

"You are all heroes, yes?" The woman smiled at the girls and showed no advancement towards the archer's defensive stance.

"That is none of your business." The archer's defense was unmoving.

"Why are you feeling such a way towards me?"

Pyrona had left Green Ranger and stood in front of the odd woman, "I'm Pyrona, thanks for healing us." The mage beamed a smile.

The woman nodded in response, "You're welcome." Green Ranger was still not trusting of this woman but decided to follow her partner's lead and nodded at the woman as a form of greeting. "Listen, we don't have much time. We have to get out of here and save your friends over there.

"Can you not heal them like you did us?" The archer continued to question her.

"I would be able to but I don't have my book and I have lost a lot of essence from these skeletons. Without my book, my power is diminished drastically."

"You mind explaining to us what you are talking about?"

"I have a lot of power in the form of essence, which is used to conjure up spells. With it, I can level these guys with no problem, and heal your partners. I would still need my book however."

"We are supposed to believe that you just happened to get caught even though you have enough power to destroy them?"

"They took most of my essence and pressured it into little shards and scattered them everywhere."

"And how did they take your essence?"

"Ugh! I don't have time to explain this to you right now, you're going to have to trust me, at least until we get out of here." The green-wearing archer crossed her arms at the lady.

"What's the plan lady?" the mage asked.

"First..." She looked down and placed her hand under her chin. "I have to figure out what the plan is first."

"Great, you are supposed to be powerful but obviously not smart," Green Ranger said.

"Greeny that's mean, don't say that about the nice lady," Pyrona mused.

The lady stood up and raised her hand, aiming her open palm at the lock on the other side of the gate. With much effort, she managed to hit the lock, but no damage was done to get free from the cage.

"Wow! That was so cool!" The mage cheered in amazement.

The archer didn't give the talent much hype but did take notice that this woman's power resembled the Demon King's and that was reason enough to be suspicious of her.

"The first thing we need to do is figure out how to break free."

"Ugh... leave that to me gorgeous." Rose Knight had awaken on his own and was now getting up. The three women turned and looked at him as he stood hunched over touching around his face. "Damn. They could have at least left this alone. These guys have no class whatsoever. They beat a man up and then damage his most prized possession. And then they throw me in a bird's cage with a dead guy. Come on! I hope you two are doing better." He bowed clumsily to the unknown woman in the cage across from him. "So, what do you need me to do?"

"This is good, we need to get to you somehow so I can help you and your friend. Can you somehow get free? You may want to wake him up."

"I can barely move over here, and I don't feel anywhere near as bad as he looks. I can't even tell who it is, it's too dark to see much."

"We have to get our weapons and then we can easily get out of here." Green Ranger supposed.

"So we need to go and get your weapons first." The woman stated as a matter of fact.

"But how do we get out of here?"

At this moment, Pyrona realized that Sharck was not accounted for. "Where's Sharcky guys?"

"That must be the one over there in that cage with you," the woman spoke to the warrior.

"If that's the case... Oh." The beaten knight limped towards the body that lay a little distance away from him on the other side of the enclosure and lightly pushed against it with his hand. The women across waited for his assessment of Sharck's condition. "Hmmm... He's very cold but I do feel him breathing. Damn, they went a little far with this one."

"Is Sharcky okay Rosie?" Pyrona asked, a smile threatening to invade her dispositional facial feature.

"Uhhh, yeah he's just sound asleep over here."

"Wake him up, I want to speak to him."

"Pryona let the man sleep. We need to focus on getting out of here first, then we can wake him up. He won't serve any purpose in battle anyway."

"Shut up Rosie, he does have a purpose! Sharcky! Sharcky! Shar-hmmmm!"

Green Ranger wrapped her hand over Pyrona's lips. "Shhh! Stop being so loud Pyrona. If we are to escape then we must stay secretive, which means not warning everyone that we are awake." The mage shook her head.

"If we don't wake him then how will he escape with us?"

A guard skeleton walked in and headed towards the cage the guys were in. He opened it disregarding that the knight was awake and watching him. Though the knight was shocked how he had gone unnoticed, he took action immediately and jumped on the skeleton's back. The skeleton fought back and threw the knight off of him causing the knight to hit the ground making a loud thud. Rose Knight contorted his face as he stood back up to give it another try. He noticed that the skeleton wasn't paying attention to him and was only after Sharck's lifeless body. "You guys are going to get enough of attacking someone who's already down."

Meanwhile Pyrona noticed who the real target of the enemy was as well. "Get away from Sharcky you bully!"

Her partner didn't like her loud attempts to help. "Pyrona be quiet!"

"No, let me out of here so I can take care of him myself!" She shook the cage and made much noise on top of her boisterous yelling. "Pick on someone who's able to fight back you weakling!"

The skeleton, ignoring all attempts at being taunted, kept at what it had entered the room to do, to obtain Sharck's body and dispose of it.

"Don't try to ignore me you bastard." Rose Knight jumped on the skeleton again, this time grabbing him from the back while it was attempting to pick up the lifeless body. "Hah! Got you!"

"Yeah! Get em Rosie!" Pyrona was throwing her fist up in the air cheering for the knight.

"Ah! I can't... hold, on!" He was thrown down again this time landing a lot harder and finding it quite difficult to get back up. The skeleton had now turned its attention on him and started attacking after figuring out that he was now an obstacle that had to be dealt with first. "Agh! My body is too damaged. This is going to be a lot harder than I thought." The enemy walked slowly up to him and kicked as hard as it could, and continuously kicked some more.

"Rosie!!!"

"Shit!" Green Ranger noticed that more skeletons walked into the room and had approached the entrance of the cage and stood there guarding the gate so no one would escape.

"Rosie get up!"

He was taking too many kicks to the body to be able to get up. He yelled out in agony. One of the other skeletons walked in and retrieved Sharck's body. It approached the skeleton currently kicking on the knight and then left. After another kick, the skeleton finally stopped and also exited, closing and locking the gate behind it.

"Please, no don't take Sharcky! Sharcky wake up! Sharcky!!!" Pyrona had slid down against the cage and slouched over as she realized there was nothing she could do now to save him. She gave a feeble attempt one last time just to see if it would somehow magically open. It only mocked her by budging.

The woman standing by, only observing, had tried to change the mood a bit. "I have a plan." Only Green Ranger turned to face her. "I know how we will escape and get your fellow hero back."

"What is it?" The archer asked while glancing at her worried mage partner.

"I will use my power to break the lock, but I will not be of any use to you afterwards. I will only be able to guide you to the exit. Whether we make it or not, is unfortunately up to you all."

"That is it? Why can we not just break the lock ourselves? That will allow you to keep your power and help us."

"These locks are nearly impossible to break from the inside with no weapon. If you can get a good hit at it from inside then go ahead." The archer looked at the lock and noticed that it was too far out of reach to get a good hit on it, and that hitting it from inside would be more than uncomfortable for the person contorting his or her body to get to the lock and hit it effectively. "My power will work, don't worry."

Pyrona jolted up and quickly walked up to the woman grabbing her by the shoulders with a menacing look on her face, "You could have stopped them!? Why didn't you!?" She started shaking her. "You just cost me everything!"

A hand on Pyrona's back turning her from her aversion. "Stop it Pyrona! We WILL get him back. We have to listen to this woman first. Apparently she knows about this place, and until we know anything, she is our only option. Hurting her will not help us."

The woman had to release herself as the mage's muscles had locked her hands onto the mysterious woman. "... Do that again and I will destroy you. Now, like I was saying I will break the lock but you three have to be ready to fight. They won't like the fact that we will have escaped. And Knight?" She looked over at the other cage making sure the knight was listening, "I will try and help you with a small healing spell, just don't expect much from it. We have only one chance, if they catch us this time, we will not be able to get out, or worse."

"... Alright, we shall let you do what you have to do." The archer threw her suspicions aside for now.

"Thank you."

"I'm sorry Miss but how do you have so much confidence in us being able to escape without any weapons? Getting beat like this over and over just isn't something I favor," Rose Knight said.

"Do not fear. We will succeed in escaping."

"Fear? Me? No. Haha. I'm more interested in how you know that."

"Forget the pep talk, let us escape. We shall leave him here if he so desires." The archer grew impatient.

The woman closed her eyes and placed both her hands in front of her face so that her index fingers and thumbs formed a spade. She started mumbling to herself, and suddenly, a light purple glow formed around her hands. It grew brighter and brighter until it lit the entire room. The woman opened her eyes, "Are you ready heroes?"

"Aye aye," one of them responded.

The woman assumed everyone was ready and put her hands, still holding them the same way, out in front of her, extending her arms all the way forward. "Stand back!" The two heroes heeded her warning just in time as the light purple energy was released from the woman's hands. With the blink of an eye, the lock on the door was shattered and the door burst open breaking off its hinges.

Pyrona wasted no time checking to make sure it was safe to approach, she jumped out of the cage ready to destroy anyone in her path.

On the other end, her partner called out to her so she turned around and noticed that the powerful woman was now lying down. "You overdid it a bit," Green Ranger stated as she helped the woman to her feet.

"My life is... Our life is in your hands... now."

"Thanks for doing that, we owe you. Come on Pyrona."

The knight stood by amazed at what was happening. He couldn't imagine the woman having so much power even with so much of her 'essence' stripped from her. He wondered how destructive she could be if she found her spell book. Her little display had convinced him to go and at least try and help out the best he could. He would pose as a distraction if he had to. "Wait! Come get me, I'll go too. I don't know what I was thinking. I must have had a weak spell put on me." The others looked at each other and then decided to help him get out. He waited for his partners to break open the lock on his cage. They tried breaking it by pulling on it, no luck. "Hey guys, pick up those broken metal poles over there and use them." One of them grabbed a pole and broke the lock after a few hard swings. "Alright, let's do this." Although he needed help getting out and walking, he was determined to bring down the skeletons who had showed no mercy.

Pyrona helped Rose Knight walk and Green Ranger helped the drained woman. They exited the room moving very lightly and carefully, making as little noise as possible. A dead end was to their right, but it served as a good hiding place for they had escaped just in time as a group of skeletons walked in the room they were just in surveying and trying to understand how the occupants had escaped.

"They're about... to go and... alert the others," the woman said, skeletons moving right on an unintentional cue.

"Great, that means we need to go NOW. Pyrona, we may have to fight up ahead. Are you ready?" Green Ranger asked allowing the woman to lean on her for support.

"You betcha Greeny," Pyrona said as she pulled out a small broken piece of cylindrical metal she had picked up earlier. It was a little shorter than her staff but dangerously sharp at the edge and well capable of killing with the right amount of force.

"You don't... have to keep... helping me.... Leave me so... you can help... fight." The archer hesitated but knew that the woman spoke with sense. She too pulled out a simply broken metal pole.

"Alright, let us proceed Pyrona. We shall not leave you guys behind too far." The injured two nodded.

"I'll protect her if something happens Green, don't worry about it," the knight said with a grin on his face.

The two pole-wielders walked into the opening and started moving down the long hallway. There were quite a few rooms that ultimately entered this area at some point, so the heroes began grabbing unwanted attention and skeletons started pouring out of the rooms.

The skeletons charged without any attack plan. There were many but only a couple would get to the two defenders at once because they were beside a wall and could not get approached from the sides or behind.

The archer and mage started attacking together and destroyed them two-at-a-time. Some needed multiple hits before going down, most were one-and-done. They swung and stabbed as hard as they could to keep the enemies from reaching them. With each attack, they advanced one step forward; another attack, one more step. They moved in unison while marching forward, the injured behind them moving slowly along hoping that they won't have to take part any time soon.

"I'm sorry Knight. I was supposed to.. heal you," the woman said to the bruised knight.

"Eh. Don't worry about that, you did more than enough, we're escaping thanks to you. Just hang in there until we get a hold of some of those shards with your essence in them you were talking about earlier." He focused on not falling too far behind. "... Then maybe you can explain how you became so powerful." Although the knight was bruised pretty badly, he felt that he was alright as long as he wasn't doing anything too strenuous.

The heroines were beginning to miss more with each several swings. "Greeny, my arm is getting tired," Pyrona yelled out to her partner right beside her.

"Hang in there Pyrona, we can't give up no matter what."

"You're right. This is for Sharcky!" She yelled as she brought down her weapon on another formation of animated bones.

Just as the mage destroyed that last victim, the few who were still advancing suddenly stopped in their tracks and ran towards the front entrance to the outside.

The two fighters took this luxurious moment to catch their breaths and to make sure the other two were okay. They were more than just fine, they were protected and not further harmed, thanks to them.

"Look, your weapons," the woman pointed out feeling a tad bit better.

"Sweet." The knight helped her down to the floor gently, letting her prop her back against the wall. "Be careful, there's a whole bunch of broken bones on the ground."

"Hmm, this bow is useless without any arrows." The green archer turned to her partners.

"Hah! These idiots think that they can trample us even when we have our weapons? Wow, and I thought I could be stupid." The knight mocked their methods.

"Yay! My staff is okay!" Pyrona was excited.

"Something is not right here." The woman softly spoke. "We should not be able to obtain your belongings... without trouble or going through some form of challenging barrier. They must be plotting something really dangerous up ahead."

"I say we go straight through there and kick some ass."

"Shut up Rose Knight. You are still weak so you will not help much when they swarm us." The green archer said.

"Pshh, I have my sword back, I'd like to see them try and take it from me now. This time I'll make sure I keep a nice and tight grip on it."

Green Ranger thought about the possibilities of what was waiting on the other side as the woman had mentioned. Was there really a trap waiting for them outside, or even worse, the Demon King? If so, why were they waiting outside and why did they allow them to get their weapons? Did they finally realize that they were outmatched and actually decided to hightail it? Whatever the case may be, she just hoped her and the others were ready for it.

Pyrona approached her and placed a hand on her shoulder, "No matter what's on the other side, we're ready. Don't worry."

"... Let us go. I need you to have my back as soon as I exit this building. I know they are waiting outside," Green Ranger replied.

"Right behind you."

The elf walked towards the exit with the other two following closely. She prepared to be pummeled a bit as she exited; she saw something expected. A big skeleton stood in the center of a large circle made of smaller versions, all of their hands were behind their backs, his penetrating fiery glowing eyes staring at the trio. He spoke, "Why are you in such a rush to leave? At least help me clean up the mess you have made. These skeletons don't just- pick themselves off the ground you know. I actually have to collect them by walking around and picking up their bones. I HATE cleaning up after someone else. It's a big waste of my time."

"Nobody cares!" Pyrona yelled at him.

He didn't make an expression but he was obviously displeased by this outburst. "If you have what it takes then come fight me."

"You got it!" Pyrona, disregarding the number of skeletons that surrounded him, aimed her staff and shot a bolt of fire right at him. She could only gasp at what happened next as the ball of fire approached the captain. He brought his arm from behind him and had revealed that he held Sharck's head in his hand. The ball hit Sharck's body and burned him right on the stomach. Her eyes widened and she became terrified at the thought that she might have accidentally damaged him. She lost the grip on her staff and dropped down on her knees covering her face. Green Ranger knelt down and tried to comfort her.

"Oh you dirty bastard! You're going to pay for that one!" Rose Knight yelled.

"Shut your mouth you rude humans! If you speak again I will crush his little skull!" The knight narrowed his light blue eyes at him. "This little filth here is dead anyway, why do you care for his body so much? It amazes me how you could care for something so useless." He started pacing back and forth and sort of displaying Sharck's body as he spoke with his subordinates. "This here is the reason they fight us now. 'Ohhh, give him back. He's our hero, give him back.'" He was mocking no one in particular. "They always want to take things but never want it to end there do they? If we give them this, they will find another reason to fight us. These creatures do not understand peace, they do not understand our goal, our purpose! They do not understand why we fight! We fight for a greater cause, a higher purpose than these disgusting creatures and their filth. Look at this weak and pathetic excuse for a warrior. We are supposed to fear this!?" He started acting as if he was scared of Sharck's lifeless body and the skeletons surrounding him also pretended, at this point, toying with the body. "Our King's purpose is not understood by these so-called, heroes, and their close-mindedness. Their skulls, full of nothing. A waste of space I'd say. For this, we shall sacrifice them all to our Lord! The first one to bring me their bodies, ALIVE, will be my second-in-command. Now, let the battle, begin!" As he said this, he turned and pointed at the heroes. The skeletons all brought their arms forward and revealed weapons, which were pickaxes, sticks, and spears.

They all charged towards the entrance where the heroes still were, the knight standing defensively in front of the two females. At this point they all felt this was pretty much it. They lacked motivation and didn't see a way out of this. Battle after battle, these brave warriors had to endure over and over. The beaten were beaten continuously again and again. Their hope slipped away and it was understandable. Since the fighting began, someone was injured nearly the entire duration. What hope could they possibly still have after being captured, stripped of their strength, and short one member? They were still hurt and not fully recovered from the previous beating. The outlook was grim at best.

"Haaaa!" From behind the entrance, a small purple energy ball shot out at an incredible speed. Everyone shielded their eyes as a loud bang was heard and the ground shook underneath their feet. When removing their eye covers, they could notice a big dirt cloud a little distance in front of them. A dark mark on the ground with bones scattered along it had become visible once the smoke started to clear. The blast had disintegrated many skeletons and destroyed many more that were still inside the blast radius. Everyone, even the rest of the skeletons and captain, looked at each other confused. "Piece... of..... cake." The fighters turned around to notice that the powerful woman was standing awkwardly behind them just at the entrance of the palace. She was drained of energy once again and walked out a little further with much difficulty before collapsing.

"How in the world did you manage to do that?" The knight spoke to her unconscious body.

"We cannot wait to find out!" Green Ranger pointed a finger at the large figure rushing towards them. The captain was now furious and decided to attack himself, charging forward wielding a big scythe.

Rose Knight and Green Ranger ran towards the large enemy. They left the distraught mage and once-again-drained woman alone for the moment while they ran down the large steps and met the enemy half way. The captain swung his scythe so wildly and with such rage that dodging his murdering attempts was the only safe thing to do. They were still tired and never had a chance to get fully recovered, so they had to be extra careful. "So much for keeping us alive," the knight had jokingly said.

"All of you will die now!" His rage had blinded him and dulled his senses quite a bit. He had no strategy in his attacks and swung carelessly hoping to catch someone slacking. He went for the decapitation and nothing else.

Green Ranger mainly tried to distract as Rose Knight attacked from a different angle. This strategy worked well, but the captain was no idiot. He soon realized that the archer wasn't attacking because she couldn't, that or her attacks were too weak to do any damage to him. So he focused on the warrior only. "Crap!" The knight had noticed this and started falling back. "Oh no, not this again." He expected yet another brutal beating. Lucky for him he had backed into more skeletons who happened to be moving in slowly but keeping their distance to make sure they don't lose their head to any malignant swings. He was swallowed by their numbers and had to change targets. The skeletons now required his attention.

"AAARGH! You stupid idiot!" The big skeleton twisted wildly and tried to reach his back. Green Ranger had jumped on him and decided to beat him over the head with her bow, trying to crack his skull. Multiple jabs at him and he became concerned that she would eventually succeed in puncturing his head. He spun around several times which made her dizzy, though she kept at it, until he decided to just fall on his back. He fell so that where she was would hit first, and he put all his force into it. She was too focused, and possibly dizzy, to contemplate his motives and held on as tight as she could, which unfortunately would cause her great pain. She absorbed every shock that covered her body and was no longer able to hold on and lay flat against the ground with her appendages spread apart. She was all but dead.

The skeleton made a growling sound as he knew her condition and that the knight was occupied with his underlings. He went for the kill and brought his scythe down. Before he could complete the swing, however, he was hit with a big rock on the arm, making him miss his target. Without paying any mind to it, he gave it another try and the same thing happened, only this time, his weapon was knocked out of his hand. For a moment, he was confused and stared at his hands. Then he looked over at the woman who had blasted so many skeletons before, but she was still not looking so well, and neither was the magician.

"Who wants to die now!?" He turned around and saw Sharck, who looked even confused as he stared at his own arm, standing up with his functional arm outstretched in front of him pointing towards the captain's direction. "You! You should have stayed dead! Now I will kill you PAINFULLY!" He forgot about the archer, picked up his weapon, and ran towards the one he cursed. As he was halfway to his prey, he felt the ground beneath him shake and an arc of sun-colored energy passed by, nearly hitting him. "Aaargh! YOU! I hate all of you!!!" He shouted into the air as he saw where that attack had come from. The knight stood by holding his sword and grinning, no underlings around him.

"Now that I remembered I could do that, you're going down buddy. The next one won't miss, I promise." The captain was alone now. He felt fear for a split second but summoned up rage again to continue attacking. He now ran towards the knight who had challenged his ability to survive such a weak skill. A big rock hit him on the side. He had let his rage get the better of him and now he couldn't control his instinct to attack whoever was attacking him so he had started running towards the one who threw the stone. The heroes caught on to this and started hitting and taunting him from opposite sides of the battlefield, allowing him to run back and forth as if playing a game of monkey in the middle.

He kept running back and forth until finally, like before, he calmed down a bit and realized what was happening. He went for the frail man and would let nothing stop him. As he charged though, the same arc of energy that nearly missed him the first time had hit him this time, right in his back. He felt a part of himself separate from his body. He then threw his scythe at the one who damaged him, giving the knight a close call, and then continued charging towards Sharck. When he reached him, he swung his arm and hit Sharck across the chest, knocking him into the hard ground. Sharck had made no attempt to defend himself, which was strange to the captain. He wasn't finished however, so he went for Sharck again and then another one of his major bones was removed. Using arms was no longer an option.

At this point, he knew he was not likely to make it. Somehow these filth had gotten the better of him. He stared over at Sharck, who was groaning in pain; he looked over at the two females, who were in no condition to fight, one way or another; he looked over at the knight who was currently getting up, staggering; then he looked at Sharck and thought that one kill would be better than none. So he jumped high up in the air and flipped forward so that he would dive head first, hopefully crushing the man's skeletal system like so many of his skeleton partners had been. When he flipped over and was upside down, he noticed his demise was staring right at him.

"Here, taste my fire ball you jerk!" Pyrona's staff aimed right at his head as he was diving downward released a large blast obliterating his head and completely disintegrating his upper body. His legs fell a little away from Sharck's head. He was no more.

"Py...rona?" Sharck said weakly and was unsure of what had just happened and if the battle had just ended or not.

Pyrona only looked down at her partner, who was still in a lot of pain. She dropped down next to him and laid her head on his chest, and wept. She didn't cry for Sharck's condition, but for the whole incident. The fact that they were beaten and stripped of their weapons, the fact that they were caged like circus animals, the fact that one of them was taken away and thought to be dead, the fact that she had given up moments ago on making it out, and the fact that it was finally over, and that they were no longer in danger. She was a bit sensitive for weeping, yes, but someone had to.

Sharck placed his hand over her head and gently stroke her hair, her hat nudging against his chin.

"I have to admit, we really know how to make each other worry," Rose Knight said as he dusted himself off and was on his way to the two. "I'm beat. Not as beat as you are though. How are you feeling Sharck?" He coughed in response, but remained still. "Yeah, me too. Let's get some rest." He looked over at Green Ranger and the woman who has yet to give her name, "Hey, are you two okay over there?"

"I'll be fine, thanks. I just need some time. Great job heroes, that was some good team work. You all need to rest now. You all deserve it," the woman spoke, the archer remaining motionless and quiet.

"Heh. You know, that's not a bad idea. One thing though, now that things are calm and not so grim, you mind telling us who you are?"

"I'm Vienna."

"... Ah. Well, a pleasure to meet such a beauty."

"I'll watch over you as you all rest. I need some time to think things over."

"You want to think at a time like this, I'd say rest. Heh. No, it doesn't matter if you do or not, I'm going to stay up and keep watch. I have to stay up anyway. I have to make sure Green is okay, I didn't hear her say anything. Will we see ya tomorrow Miss Vienna?"

"Just Vienna is fine and yes, I will stay with you until you are all better and healed, I promised that before you helped me escape so I'll keep to it."

"We all helped each other, so no worries. I do have a question though, but maybe for another time." The knight sat down next to the archer on the step and leaned back to get some rest, forgetting what he had just said about staying up to watch.

The heroes slept as Vienna thought to herself. She would rest too, but the passage of time was the only rest she needed. She thought about the heroes and their simple accomplishment and teamwork in such a dark outlook. They were cornered but these heroes weren't going to go down without a fight, and they didn't. Even still, they were quite far from ready to tackle what was ahead.

 

Chapter Text

I woke up to someone kneeled over me, some lady I have yet to meet. Her messy brown hair covering her chest and a bit of her face while she stared at me with fair skin and light blue eyes. She had her hands over me and was apparently mumbling something to herself. With coherent speech, she said, "Good, that's another one... How are you feeling? Are you able to move now, or do you think you need more?" I could hear her ask me these questions but I wasn't fully alert or awoke to comprehend enough and respond with an answer. The lady turned her head and spoke over her shoulder, "This one doesn't speak?"

Someone else approached. "Eh, he'll be fine. We just need him to be able to get up so we can go ahead and go. I don't think anyone is going to want to carry him." It sounded like Rose Knight. "Green over there is capable now, thanks to you."

"Yes, she should be doing well enough by now." Her calm stare back towards me, "This one seems different, however."

"Oh yeah? How so?"

"I'm not sure. Where did you find him?"

"Pyrona had said that he came from a very far away place. Only someone with a big brain could understand what that means or why he was all the way over on this land."

"Hmm." The woman continued to stare at me, the red sky above her giving a contrastable mood to her facial expression. Clouds raced across the sky and the wind blew sand and dirt around and over my face multiple times already. Her hair danced around her face, causing an annoyed look to creep into her otherwise calm expression.

I guess I could ask her something myself. "Hey, wh- Agghhh!" I had tried to sit up on my arms but only succeeded in producing a whole lot of pain for myself. I then started remembering that I was beaten up pretty badly before falling asleep on this hard ground.

"Don't move. Save your strength. It would appear that you are not healed enough." She smiled at me, her hair still dancing around her face. "At least you are able to talk now." She placed her hands over me once more. "What is your name hero?"

"Sharck." I could feel an ease entering my body. My body hurt less with each movement and I felt that stretching was less required with each passing second.

"Sharck, I'm going to need you to stay still for me and don't try and move okay?"

"Okay."

Rose Knight just stood back and watched as the lady started mumbling again. She had on some long plain brown t-shirt. I couldn't tell if she had anything else on or not as very high up on her thighs was visible to me- not that I was looking too hard. Her legs were nice though, and her skin looked flawless.

"This is taking up a lot of time. There has to be some way we can help you so that we can hurry up and go," Rose Knight said moving in a bit closer to where I lay.

"Patience. It will take even longer the more you disturb me you know." He breathed in response and then walked away and allowed her to continue.

After only a short moment, I could feel complete relief on my muscles and noticed that I didn't feel like I was being crushed anymore when I tried to sit up. The woman looked a little tired now. I slowly, with some difficulty, stood up and thanked her as I put my hand out to help her up. I wasn't sure who she was, but somehow she healed me and I've had that happen before. "You're Lunar right?"

"Who?" She leaned forward and turned her head to the side a little.

"Lunar, the priestess who saved me last time right?" She slowly shook her head. "You healed me back at the kingdom I think." She showed no signs of me being correct. "Huh. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to call you someone else."

She smiled and said, "Vienna. Nice to meet you." She had finally grabbed my hand so that I could help her up. She dusted herself off and I could see her thin figure while I watched her hands press her shirt against her body. "How are you feeling now? Try and see if you can move around okay."

"Alright." I did just that, I moved around for a little while to make sure I was okay to do so on my own. "I think I'll be good."

"Good. Now here, take some of this bread for your stamina and drink this." She handed me a large loaf of bread and some sort of liquid placed in a vial, both of which she pulled out of a bag I had just noticed. The bread was bland at best, nothing like the meal I received yesterday when I woke up. The drink had the nastiest aftertaste my tastebuds had ever quarreled with in a very long time. I tried to give her most of it back, but she told me to keep it and that I would need it. "You have to keep yourself replinished when you are in constant battle. You lost a lot of blood and somehow miraculously survived and was able to recover." She narrowed her eyes at me, "Sharck, who are you? And by that I mean, where do you come from?"

"Huh?" I was taken aback by her sudden question. As I looked up to the side I said what was becoming customary by now, "Well, I come from a far far away place."

"Then why are you here?"

"Uhhh, well, I don't know."

"I find it hard to believe that you are all the way out here at a time like this and you do not know why. Hmmm..." She stared at me intensely as if trying to see through me causing me a little discomfort.

"Sharcky you're up!" Whew. I knew who that was and boy was I relieved that she interrupted my brief interrogation. Pyrona came over to me and gave me her usual bear-hug. I was expecting it to hurt, and it definitely did. I silently whimpered, but enjoyed the tight embrace. "Yay! Now we can go back to the castle where it's safe."

"Yeah, I believe we can go now. We have to report back to the princess." Green Ranger came up behind Pyrona and greeted the woman with a nod. She then looked at me and asked, "You think you are ready to walk back?"

"Yeah, I am." I gave a simple reply and stretched my legs for the long journey I knew they would have to endure.

"Good, let us go then."

"Wait!" Rose Knight said walking towards us from a distance. "We can't leave yet."

"Why not? You were complaining about taking too long before and now you are saying that we cannot leave."

"Green listen, I was talking to Vienna while you all were still on your sides. No, I do not expect a thanks from you because I know I will not get one. Anyways, she told me that there was another survivor, one woman with blond long hair. It has to be Atalanta, and we can't come all the way here and not bring her back with us especially now that we know she is still alive."

"Rose Knight, Atalanta is not the only blond woman that exists in this world," Green Ranger responded.

"What if it is her Green? What if we leave and it really was her that Vienna mentioned? Come on 'Leader', make a good decision." Green Ranger didn't seem to care until he said, "Remember, we have to bring back survivors."

Green Ranger turned towards Vienna. "Do you know how to get to where you last saw this 'woman with blond long hair'?" Vienna only replied by pointing in a direction behind Green Ranger. She turned around and then asked if we all were ready to go. 'Yes' was our unanimous answer. We went on our way, everything being the same in terms of how we were as a group. There was only one thing that was different now, we had another member with us.

The area was as dry and red as ever. The ground cracked into symmetrical sections of dirt, hard and unwavering to our feet stepping into it. The sky was still red colored and offered no peace as the dark purple clouds continued to threaten us with downpours. The wind even whistled to us constantly as it swept against our faces.

It seemed strange really. We kept running into trouble and would almost be dead after each battle. Somehow though, we end up pulling through. Damaged and beaten sure, but we pull through in the end and see another day. It doesn't take us long to heal, which is weird, and then we are ready to go at it again. I was really only tagging along because I didn't know where I was and they seemed helpful as far as helping me stay alive.

Mutated wolves, skeletons, a big skeleton, I have fought with all of these creatures. I do not feel any better about it, I just feel like I'm less ignorant of my situation, which is a good thing. I like to give myself a little excuse as to why I get beaten up, but the heroes should be more than capable for sure. Or have they not fought these kind of creatures before? Even still, the heroes seem as though they know about these enemies and even the Demon King. A good question is, how come they get beat up so badly, like me. Oh well, they recover really fast too so there's nothing to actually be concerned about. My 'subconscious' was also a mystery. I just couldn't understand how I was able to see the same person with the same voice inside my head when I was knocked out. It just didn't make sense. The only thing I could gather was that things were just different in this world and that's just what it was.

 


 

We had walked for several minutes when Vienna suddenly spoke up. "I never did say this but, thank you for saving me brave heroes... Thank you so much for rescuing me out of that monster's cage."

Rose Knight replied, "You're welcome. Trust me, we weren't going to let those brainless idiots do anything to ya."

"Yeah, we are always glad to help!" Pyrona beamed a smile at her.

Vienna gave a small smile back. "From now on, we shall fight together. I will make sure that I do my best to help you all." She glanced at all of us.

Pyrona nudged me on my shoulder, "You hear that Sharcky, she may be able to help you get back home." I could feel her warm breath against my cheek.

"Uhh, yeah, maybe," I said.

"What's the matter, don't you want to go back home?" She gave me the weirdest look.

"Yeah, I do but I really don't know how to describe where I was to anyone here. I don't think it would make sense anyway. It's like I just appeared out of nowhere and I can't just say that and expect anyone to know what I mean, or understand what I'm trying to say."

"Nonsense. You don't know until you try. We can find it. Leave it to us and we will help you find your home." Her outlook on certain things was just outrageous at the least sometimes. Even if I did find it, how would I get back? I don't remember coming here on purpose so how would I get back at my own will? "Though, maybe you shouldn't leave. Maybe you're supposed to be here. Have you ever thought about that?"

"Stay here?"

"No Pyrona." Green Ranger poked her nose into our conversation.

"Awww, you're no fun Greeny!"

"We need to worry about something else right now so enough of this senseless talk." Nothing further was said as we continued walking.

We all eventually approached fog again. Vienna had suddenly stopped and trailed off mentally for a moment while staring ahead. She then told them what they probably wanted to hear. "Around here is where I last saw that woman," she said as she pointed into the fog.

"She may be past this fog then," Green Ranger surmised.

"I agree, we should go," Rose Knight said.

"What if she's in trouble?" Pyrona asked.

"That would be why we need to stop standing around and go." Rose Knight then proceeded with going ahead alone.

"Ohhh, it's getting scary dark again, I don't want to go." Pyrona whined and grabbed Green Ranger's arm only to have it yanked away from her.

"Get off of me! Stop acting silly and move it! The idiot obviously cares about nothing, even his own life, so now we have to go save his as well. Alright everyone, try not to separate this time. You ever had to deal with this before," she asked Vienna specifically.

Still looking ahead and starting to walk forward she replied, "Shouldn't we hurry and follow the knight?" As she was asking this question, she entered the fog herself.

Green Ranger looked at Pyrona and I, suspired, then simply followed the others.

Pyrona stood close to me looking ahead, not taking a step forward. "Pyrona, I... I want to thank you for what you said earlier, about helping me find my home. That means a lot to me you know. You've been helping me ever since I got here even though it's only been a few days. Thanks." She just kept staring forward. "Pyrona? You okay? Pyrona?" I touched her arm and she slowly turned her head to face me. "What's wrong?"

"Sharcky..." She said this as if she was thinking out loud, not necessarily speaking to me.

"Pyrona, what's wrong!?" I became nervous, thinking that she saw something that I couldn't.

She squinted, shook her head, and then smiled at me. "What? Come on, let's go or we're going to get left behind," she said as she grabbed my hand and pulled me into the fog with her.

By now the fog had no noticable effect on my breathing whatsoever. I could probably stay in it for a while and not even cough once. It was a nice change.

Pyrona held onto my hand as we hurried through. We exited in a very short time and met with Green Ranger and Vienna.

The fog had amazing capabilites. We were no longer in a desert-like area anymore; the scene was now green, blue, and brownish-grey. The grass was plentiful and showed no signs of ever being extinct; the sky was clear and blue, the sun shining as bright as it did back like where I'm from on the miserable sunny days of Summer. There was a big waterfall that dropped from a mountain into a reservoir in front of dirt just across from us.

"Where's Rose Knight," I asked.

"The idiot is somewhere trying to get us into big trouble," Green Ranger answered.

"We should go after him while he is still okay," Vienna said. "We have no choice but to swim across."

"We should not rush into this kind of situation. I have had a bad feeling ever since we exited the cloud. Something dangerous is around."

"Maybe it's a whole bunch of bugs," Pyrona said. She earned a stare from the other two.

At this moment we all eventually assumed that Rose Knight swam across the water, until Green Ranger found a very shallow portion we could carefully walk across and never step more than a couple inches into it. We walked through the reservoir and noticed that there was much more hidden from our poorly angled vision earlier. Behind the waterfall was a very dark cave. I suppose that it won't be much of a difference soon, whether we are inside or outside the cave, as the sun was starting to hide itself. The cave didn't seem that big around and multiple people probably could not walk side-by-side comfortably once in it. The ceiling looked only about eight feet high.

"We must hurry," Vienna looked at all of us as she said this. Green Ranger slowly entered the pitch-black cave. It was about time for us to find shelter anyways.

"I can hear Rose Knight up ahead," Green Ranger said as we walked further in.

"We're coming Rosie!" Pyrona's voice echoed throughout the tunnel loudly.

I started seeing a small blue light up ahead as we continued searching for Rose Knight. It became bigger the closer we stepped towards it, and once we reached this light, there was a massive change in the amount of space around us. The ceiling was probably well over one hundred feet high now, there was water everywhere beneath us, and the light I saw was coming from crystals embedded into the ground all around, some were even in the water and on the walls, all with the brightness of a halogen vehicle headlight. It looked as though we could plummet to the pool of water below us if we weren't careful enough as there was nothing that would keep us from falling over cliff-like bridges. Where the hell were we?

"Wow, this looks beautiful!" Pyrona exclaimed.

"Yeah, it is. The outside doesn't compare at all to the inside," I had said.

"Look, there." Vienna had pointed towards where Rose Knight was fighting with some skeletons on top of one of the wide bridges. He was a good distance away but I could still make out the fact that it was him. Green Ranger had already taken out her bow and ran down a decent sized downward slope to get to where he was.

Rose Knight wasn't in too much trouble, he was just preoccupied it seemed. He would dodge and have a perfect counter ready, but wouldn't take it. Instead, he just kept running forward as if the skeletons were more like obstacles than enemies. What was he trying to get to?

"Alright you two, are you ready?" Pyrona, her shoulders and chin up higher than normal, asked Vienna and me. We both nodded and followed her down the same path Green Ranger had taken. We could see the other side of the wall, however, it still took a little while to get to the other two.

"Rose Knight... why are you being such an idiot!?" Green Ranger questioned him as she shot and swung at some skeletons. He didn't reply and kept trekking through the enemies. "Listen if you keep running forward carelessly like- that, we are going to be in- ugh, big trouble!"

"Then turn around and go back! I'm not leaving until she's with me!" Rose Knight had finally stopped to turn around and reply before being hit and knocked down by a group of skeletons. They were closing in on him as Green Ranger stood by stunned or unconvenced, but we arrived at their location and dealt with them in no time.

"Are you two okay?" Vienna asked walking up to Rose Knight to help him up, ultimately getting rejected.

"Rosie what's wrong?" Pyrona asked. He let out a breath and opened his mouth to say something, but then we all heard a voice and turned to face the direction it was coming from. It was a woman's voice.

Rose Knight yelled out something and then took off towards where the voice came from. There was a path, nearly concealed by two walls, that was similar to the neck of the entrance except the ceiling wasn't low. Rose Knight ran into the path in the wall without giving us any chance to question his reason for being so brash about all this. Green Ranger and Pyrona followed suit.

"It must be the woman that I saw." Vienna said out loud. "Let's go Sharck."

"Wait Rose Kn- Damnit!" Green Ranger yelled as she hesitated. She turned and yelled back at us, "Quickly, let us rescue her so we can get out of here!"

"What is it Greeny?" Pyrona asked as she tried to keep up with her.

"I do not know but it just does not seem right here. I also do not believe that that woman would warn us of nothing." We all eventually caught up to Rose Knight who was yelling while searching around in another big open area. This one was even bigger, about three times bigger, was lit up just as nice, was even warmer, and the ceiling and flooring wasn't as covered with stalagmites and stalagtites. Also, there were no cliffs or bridges at all. There was still water but more like big puddles than a pool. "Is she here?" Green Ranger asked Rose Knight, while searching.

The cave was much deeper than I had initially thought. This time there was no other side of the wall, or at least I could not see it. We were probably far enough in now that finding a way out was an impractical choice. I don't know about the others but I blindly followed Vienna here so I won't be able to find my way back.

"I don't see her. Did I imagine hearing her voice?" Rose Knight had swiped one of his bangs from in front of his face, trying to focus on something invisible on the ground.

"No. I heard her too." Green Ranger assured him. "She also warned us to tread carefully."

"This place is definitely gloomy," Vienna said.

"And look, there's big giant footprints." As soon as Pyrona said this, the whole cave started to tremble. Everyone widened the distance between their legs and stood in a defensive position.

"Something is close," Rose Knight said.

"Prepare for combat," Pyrona had said as she pointed her staff.

"Uhh!!!" Vienna grabbed her head and dropped down to her knees. I ran over to help her but she swiped at me and shook her head.

"Guys Vienna is in trouble!" I yelled to everyone.

"You all are in trouble." We all looked around to discern the voice and its source. It was boisterous and echoed throughout the entire cave causing it to shake some more. "Mortals, how dare you disturb my sleep? You shall pay with your lives if you do not leave at once!" The tremors became more violent, each rough tremor a couple seconds after the former.

"Show yourself! You sound tough and you talk like a big guy but you are still hiding!" Rose Knight said to the voice. The creature behind the voice slowly showed itself as part of the big figure came to light. This thing was huge, dark, and scaley. It was dinosaur in size and looked reptilian even. We had disturbed a big dragon and it looked ready to feast on its prey, or maybe cook us first. He growled softly threatening us to leave while we still could, though no one seemed phased. His dark scales probably represented armoured plates all around his body, his tail was long, and his claws dug into the ground. He had streaks of glowing red all around his body that lit up when he growled. His eyes were the most noticeable feature on him in this dimly lit area, as they shined a fiery-red color and seemed to pierce right through us. "We only came for the woman! We don't want to fight but we will if we have to!"

"So be it. Feel the wrath of the demons! My eternal fire will consume you!"

It was time for another big battle already huh? Darn, and I still wasn't ready. It probably didn't matter anyway, we were about to take on a dragon. A dragon!

The dragon wobbled towards us and sliced his big claw through the air we previously occupied barely a second ago. "Running will only make your end come much more painfully!"

"Eeeek!" Pyrona screamed as the claw had almost hit her after being swung at her again. He swung at anything and everything, nothing was safe. He slashed his claws, hitting walls, knocking chunks of the cave out of the way, he swung his entire body around trying to make sure we didn't escape.

"Any ideas!?" Rose Knight yelled out still making sure to dodge when necessary.

"Surround him first!" Green Ranger yelled back at him.

"Sounds like a- Ahh!" The dragon's tail knocked Rose Knight into the wall. He flew quite a distance before landing in a pool of water. He didn't stay down long and was back up after staggering a bit. "Watch out for that tail!"

They ran around constantly, dodging and trying not to get hit more than anything else. No one had yet even tried to attack. The dragon was too big and he wasn't slow at all. His movements were swift and very well calculated. If I had to guess, I'd say he's been disturbed too many times before and was very well experienced in attacking groups of people.

"I will take him out with an arrow! Distract him!" Green Ranger had yelled out to us. He must have understood her as well as he swiped his tail towards her causing her to lose her balance. He was quickly at her side and went to bite down on her, but a small flame had hit him on the side of his mouth, interrupting him just long enough so that Green Ranger could get back up on her feet and run.

I watched all of this happening and then realized that Vienna was still in a bad position, in very dangerous proximity to the dragon. If he knew she was so close to him, he would probably easily just scoop her up and eat her. She might have been safe because she wasn't moving, but I wanted to help her anyway. I ran over to her, dodging a couple indirect attacks from the dragon. The cave itself is what was causing me to have to move so much. Sharp sediments fell everywhere as the big black dragon caused earthquakes within the cave. Luckily I reached her after only a few close calls. "Vienna! Come on it's not safe right here!" She was still crouched down holding her head. I tried to pick her up but was hit on the head with something. I was stunned for a moment, and didn't notice that the dragon had us in his sights. He ran towards us full force and swung a claw going in for the kill. I held Vienna close and shielded her as I closed my eyes expecting unbearable pain, something I still just wasn't used to... The pain did come, but it wasn't too bad. Vienna and I were thrown to the side landing some distance away from everyone else, her landing several feet away from me. My head was hurting, but I was more than okay to keep going. She was in a pretty safe zone for now, so I tried to run back to the battle. Before I took off, I was grabbed on my leg. I looked back and noticed that it wasn't Vienna, but some other woman.

"Don't go back out there just yet... Please, listen to what I have to say first." This woman pleaded as she coughed in between sentences. Was she the same woman we were looking for? It didn't matter, I didn't have time to think about this while the others were fighting for their lives. I tried to tell her that I had to help the others and I couldn't stop to listen. "No!... If you go back out there without a better plan you all will end up dead!" I don't know why, but somehow what she just said made me stop and listen. This or the fact that she was coughing quite a bit. I walked up to her so she wouldn't have to shout. "That dragon is not to be taken lightly at all. He's very smart.. and knows what he is doing. I've been watching you fight and noticed that you all are on the defense and haven't switched to attack... Your bodies will start to tire out soon and you will slow down without ever landing a single hit."

"That means we just have to beat him well before we tire out then." Besides, we did land a hit.

"He has high stamina and will tire out well after all of you do. He is just toying with you, he is much stronger than you..."

"What happened to you? Did the dragon do this?" She said nothing, but looked to the side with an annoyed look. I could see the discoloration on her body. "Can you help?" Why did I ask that? She looked like she was the one in need of help.

"No. The only thing we can do is get out of here. Look, you don't have to save me but at least make sure you and your friends make it out while you still can." I then noticed that she had a big boulder lying on top of her legs.

I rushed over to push it off of her, she hollered whenever I tried to push it though. I didn't know how to get it off, if I moved it at all, she would scream out. Ugh! I couldn't just leave her here but this was taking too long!

"EEEK!" I could hear Pyrona scream.

"I'm sorry but this is going to hurt a lot. It's the only way." I didn't know if it was or not, but I didn't have time to figure it out. She lied to me and said she would handle it. "Ok, one. Two. Three!" I pushed as hard as I could as she hollered with just as much effort. I removed the boulder and made sure she was okay after she calmed down. She thanked me, then I was off.

I ran towards the dragon. Everyone else was still standing as far as I could tell.

"Hmmm... I suppose I shouldn't play with you much longer. Heheheh..." I thought I could see the dragon smile as his body started to light up. The streaks of light that covered his body glowed immensely and he opened his mouth. Oh no.

"Everyone, take cover!" Green Ranger had yelled this. A second later, all I could see was in flames. It was so bright that I could barely see anything and had to shield my eyes with my arm. Next thing I knew, I was struck on the side and knocked into a wall. Ignoring the pain, I got up to see what had happened. The place was still lit up but I could see the dragon moving away from me.

Once the fire cleared I could see that someone was in the dragon's claw. "Ahhh, here's one. Hahaha!" He had Rose Knight pinned against a wall. Pyrona and Green Ranger ran towards him as he was being crushed. He screamed out in pain.

"We're coming Rosie!" Pyrona yelled out.

The dragon simply shifted his tail and kept the others from getting close. Green Ranger shot arrows at him and even hit him in the neck but it didn't stop him. In fact, he only laughed at their attempt at harming him. Rose Knight screamed out in more agony. "Rose Knight, hold on we are coming!" Green Ranger shouted at the laughing dragon.

After watching this for more than I could take, it was time to see what I could do. I was good at hurling rocks last time so let's see what happens this time. I picked up what I could find and hurled it as hard as I could. I don't know if it hit him or not, I don't recall seeing or hearing it after it left my hand. I do know that it didn't distract him. Pyrona and Green Ranger were shooting him with what they could, to no effect.

"We need to break through his armor somehow!" Green Ranger hollered out.

"Hmm, you may try, but it will only be a waste of time." The dragon said as he continued to fend off the rescuers of the person in his clutches. He started laughing again.

I tried again and still no reaction. He was still toying with Rose Knight, enjoying his agony. I gave it one more try and threw a decent sized rock the hardest I could possibly throw, and surprisingly, it exploded on his back. The rock hit its mark and made him cry out. The blast had a purple glow to it and caught his full attention as glowing liquid started oozing out of his back. The good thing is that he let Rose Knight go, but the problem with this is that he quickly turned to me. Ohh crap. I could count on two hands how many seconds he actually stared at me. Then, he roared his frustration out and charged at me, tail wagging wildly, keeping the others from attacking his back. I turned to run and noticed Vienna was behind me, looking exhausted. "Run!" I yelled to her and grabbed her arm and ran to take cover. I could feel the heat touch my back as I jumped into a ditch conveniently right next to her and big enough to fit a few people. I heard the dragon roar out loud again.

"How!? Come out of hiding so that I may rip you apart!" He sounded like a fiend for my flesh. I heard him roar again.

"I hit him!" I heard Pyrona yell. The dragon yelled out some more, and then ran away from where Vienna and I were.

"Vienna, are you okay?" I asked her as she sat right next to me.

"Yes, thank you." She replied.

"Stay here, I'm going to go back and try and help." I jumped up to go help the others again. The cave lit up constantly now that the dragon was spewing out flames from his mouth. His attitude changed a bit as his movements became less fluid and more rigid. He waited and clawed at specific movements now.

"We have him where we want him!" Green Ranger shouted out making sure to dodge an incoming claw.

"I made it to Rosie Greeny!" Pyrona shouted to Green Ranger.

"Good Pyrona, now... help him get out of t- ooof!" Green Ranger was knocked into a wall. She was grabbed by the dragon's tail while still in mid-air and tossed a further distance than when first hit, causing her to hit another wall. The dragon roared as Pyrona had landed a hit on him again. Those big hurling fire balls she constantly shot at him didn't seem to hurt him too much, but they definitely demanded his attention each time they successfully landed on his back, especially now that he had a wound. He turned to Pyrona and then started running towards her, but he stopped mid-way and started lighting up again.

"Pyrona, get down!" I yelled knowing she was about to get barbecued. Fortunately she didn't listen to me and ran for it. She was definitely close to the heat but she looked generally fine.

For the moment it seemed like we weren't going to get much further in subduing this creature. The more we fought, the harder he fought back. We were in a stalemate and couldn't pull through here. The issue is that he still had plenty of reserved energy sitting somewhere in his body. He was still able to move around as fast as when we first started this battle. I could tell that the others were starting to get tired because they wouldn't even move until they had to to avoid sudden death. I was going to help them, but there was clearly nothing I could do. I guess I could try throwing a rock and maybe it would explode again. So I threw rocks as I watched on, the two ladies still dodging and trying not to get hit. I didn't see Rose Knight, and Vienna was not too far behind me.

What was left to do, I couldn't wound him again? Green Ranger was eventually taken out and lay against the hard ground. Pyrona didn't stand much of a chance by herself. She was dealt with quickly once her partner was down and out. Darnit, I had to help! The best thing for me to do was to hurry before it's too late.

"Sharck!" A voice shouted from behind me. It was Vienna.

I ran and slid down next to her. She was still where I left her and still looked exhausted. "What is it? Are you okay?" I frantically looked for any signs of bruises or damage on her, not that I could see that well in this place or that I would know what to do if I did find something.

"Nevermind that. I need you to take me to where that woman is. I need to help her."

"You? Are you sure?"

"Yes. Please, take me to her. I have to try and help as much as I can." What was Vienna trying to prove? She looked as though she needed help.

"Alright, let's go. Hurry." I could hear her groan as I moved quickly away from her only stopping so she could catch up. We didn't have any luck finding the woman.

"Is she over here?"

"Uhh, I thought so. No way she moved, her legs were not in good enough condition." I heard the dragon roar loudly.

"Not. So. Fast!" The cave brightened again as the dragon said this. I turned to see what was happening and noticed he was aiming right for us. The flames came towards us just like before except there was nowhere to hide in such a short time. I put my arms up to shield myself and hopefully keep my face from getting burned. I closed my eyes as I could only strain, holding my breath in anticipation of the pain of being burned while my nerves were still fully active.

Well, I could feel the heat, but it didn't actually burn me. I opened my eyes and noticed a wall of dirt in front of me. Vienna seemed okay as well as I turned around to her and noticed she was just fine. She stared at me funny though, or maybe she was staring at the wall. I didn't have any time to comprehend who had just saved me, or if that wall was there before, I had to take cover assuming the dragon was still after me.

"Sharck, look!" Vienna yelled to get my attention. She pointed at some big crevice in the wall of the cave behind us. "I believe this is a way out." I didn't see what she was talking about unfortunately. "I believe this way leads to outside. Let's gather the others and make a run for it." She still didn't look so good, but I was going to trust her and believe she wasn't experiencing delusion.

"Alright, I'll go and tell the others. You go ahead and go. Wait for us on the other side." I told her.

"No, I won't leave until you all are here." She just stubbornly stayed knelt down on the ground.

"Okay. I'll be right back." I took a breath and then headed for the dragon, who had apparently switched his target moments ago. "Guys are you all okay!?" I didn't receive a response. The dragon was still focused on something. I picked up a rock and tossed it, no effect. I needed to make sure everyone was okay and not dead. I would need to get out of here right now if they were already lost. I tried yelling again but no response still. I was close to the dragon now. "Green Ranger! Pyrona! Rose Knight!" Why couldn't they hear me? The dragon lit up his body and released some flames. I couldn't tell who his target was because his body was so big and I couldn't see around him. I was able to see a dark figure lying down on the ground to the side of the dragon. I ran up to it, meanwhile making sure the dragon was still preoccupied with whatever held his attention so well. It was Pyrona. "Pyrona, get up. Come on." She twitched but she wouldn't wake up. She noticeably suffered a few burn marks on her side. I looked around for the other two, then decided I need to just take her to where Vienna was. I carefully picked her up bridal-style and hauled her to where Vienna still waited. Vienna quickly ran towards me once she realized that Pyrona was not doing so well.

"What happened?" She asked.

"I'm not sure, she must have been burned by the flames. She's still very hot," I told Vienna.

"Alright leave her with me and- watch out!" Her eyes grew big and she hastefully moved towards me and grabbed my arms with both of her hands. I wasn't sure what was happening but I never felt anything. However, I did see this strange light around me. It was like I was in a tunnel of fire, like maybe I was in a glass globe and suddenly surrounded by dancing orange clouds. I couldn't feel the flames, but could clearly see them. I looked down at Vienna, who was squinching her face and Pyrona, whom I still held in my arms. For this moment, I could almost certainly tell that I was experiencing something unimaginable. I turned around and the dragon was right behind us.

"Woman, who are you?" He asked. "The power resonating from you is a lot like my master's, only a lot less. No matter. You will die like the rest. Prepare yourself. Any last words?" His lips curled back forming a grin on his scaley face.

"Try this one! Heyaah!" It was Rose Knight. He swung his sword downward nearly slicing the ground and sent some form of energy beam in the shape of a crescent at the enemy. The dragon's demeanor showed no signs of any worry. The energy hit him right on the mouth. The dragon only curled his lips and gave off a menacing smile while turning to look at Rose Knight.

"Hahaha! Was that supposed to hurt?" The dragon chuckled.

"No, but this should- now Green!" Rose Knight yelled out and I could barely notice that Green Ranger stood opposite of where the dragon was facing. She shot off a volley of arrows at the back of the dragon's neck. He screamed out and started to turn around, swinging his tail as to hit everyone. "See this is what happens when you go against someone like me, you pay for it. Haha," Rose Knight said to the dragon.

The dragon roared as he started to back away. He kept trying to face all of us, swinging his tail wildly as he moved. He backed into a big opening, perfect fit for his body. "I'm done playing with you all. I'll let you leave now, but heed my warning, once my master comes and sees what you did here, she won't hesitate to find and kill all of you." After saying this, he lay his head on his front two legs.

"Oh and we are supposed to let you live after saying that!?"

"No Rose Knight, don't bother him anymore. He's letting us leave, we should take this chance to get out of here while we still can." The injured woman was sitting up a little off to the side of Rose Knight.

"What are you saying!?" The woman only glared at him. "Tch! Let's get out of here then." He pointed at the dragon with his sword. "You are lucky this time dragon. Next time, it's just you and me, dragon-to-man." The dragon lifted his head and then lit up. "Okay, okay! We're leaving!" Rose Knight said as he threw his arms up.

"This way everyone." Vienna guided us to that opening she mentioned earlier, which was quite difficult to notice without viewing at the right angle from the side. Rose Knight picked up the woman and we all were on our way through this back passage. It was similar to the path we took to enter this cave. It was very narrow with a low ceiling. Oh, and it was dark, pitch dark. The only thing about this one was that we had to take a couple turns.

It did eventually lead to the outside, and once we reached outside I noticed that it was night time, the only source of light being the moon and the hundreds of stars that were actually bright tonight. Usually Pyrona would light up her staff for warmth and more visible light, but she was currently out of it.

Rose Knight cared for the blonde, Green Ranger cared for Pyrona, and Vienna and I just sat together.

We were on sand now, and the zephyr probably contributed to the much cooler temperature. The air was fresh and I could clearly see every star in the sky. I could hear the water near us moving, and in the distance looked to be some trees.

I accidently brushed against Vienna while trying to turn and look at our surroundings. "Sorry," I quickly said to her. She didn't seem affected by the physical invasion, but she looked pretty solemn about it.

"... I apologize Sharck," Vienna suddenly said to me.

"Yeah, -- wait, why are you apologizing?"

"I'm not very good at my duty."

"Huh? What are you talking about? What duty?"

"I'm supposed to keep all of you safe, no matter what."

"I don't get what you mean."

"I promised I would look after you all, and yet, you were almost killed."

"I thought you were just going to help us, not become our guardians."

"You all have a lot of hardships ahead of you and won't be able to withstand such beatings for much longer. The enemies are only going to get smarter and tougher as you progress. Your body and mind will eventually give out with such an amount of stress on it constantly... I may just not be strong enough." As she said this I could look at her face and see that she really felt responsibility about us fighting.

"... How do you know this?" She didn't respond. "Well, don't worry about me, I'm probably not going to join this group anymore once we get back to the castle. I'm tired of this. It's too much." I looked at a few cuts and scrapes on my arms that I knew I would no longer see when waking up in the morning. I still didn't get how my body was able to heal so quickly in this world.

"You want to leave?"

"I just want to get back home and not have to deal with so much stress." Green Ranger was still trying to wake Pyrona and Rose Knight was talking to the blond chick.

"You know Sharck, you have not told me where you are actually from."

"I'm not from anywhere." She faced me and I could tell that she was trying to figure out what I was getting at. "Haha. That's not entirely true of course. Just consider me an- alien." I thought this would make her laugh or at least giggle.

"Okay." Vienna stood up. "You may think me troubled in mind, but maybe it is best for you to leave now."

"Huh?"

"We have been fortunate thus far." She stood in Namaste pose. After waiting a moment, she asked me a question. "Tell me something, is it peaceful, the world you come from?"

"Huh? Well, I guess it is for me."

"Your world is not in need of heroes to fight and protect those who need help?"

"Well, yeah, sort of. It's not like these heroes though. They don't fight dragons and such. They protect from bad happenings if they can but not dragons and skeletons."

"A hero doesn't only fight skeletons and dragons." She sat back down next to me and gave me her full attention.

"Well, no- I mean, uhh- well, they fight nature or bad guys."

"Nature?"

"Yeah, like fires and floods. Animals sometimes."

"So even in your world, there is war, yes?"

"Yeah, I guess so."

"Yet you are very eager to go back."

"Because this isn't my world." She seemed to be waiting for me to say more. "Well, I guess our worlds are not THAT different. I really don't know. I do know that I haven't been here that long Vienna, and I don't see myself being here that much longer... Still, I can already feel a small attachment to these guys... This, may be why I don't walk away the next chance I have to do so. I just can't leave them if I know I can help some kind of way."

She smiled. "Perhaps you should stay then."

 


 

Pyrona had awakened by now and was in a bit of pain though she was able to walk and move around decently enough. The best part was seeing her cheerful face as she noticed the blond woman sitting down next to Rose Knight. A moment even a heartless person would tingle a little inside after witnessing.

Well, for what it's worth, we made it out. Thank goodness. And the best part about it is that we saved someone in the process, and now it was time to go back to the castle. It was a happy moment, sitting by the fire under the moon's light. Rose Knight was extremely happy and laughing, Green Ranger was all smiles, Pyrona was her usual self, a little extra even, Vienna was quiet but she seemed at peace for the moment, and Atalanta, I later found out that that was her name, she was more than glad we came for her. Her legs were still damaged, but she seemed happy. It was a very joyous moment. I hardly knew anyone here, but just seeing how good this moment was for everyone really hit me in the heart. Sure, we almost died in the process, a few times actually. It seemed like every battle would be our last, but we kept fighting. Haha, I felt like a real hero. After all was said and done, I did take part in helping these heroes save those two women. I don't want to say they couldn't do it without me, but I did help. I wasn't just tagging along anymore, I really was a factor in this group. I was part of a group of heroes. I wanted to go back home still... but the more I thought about it... I don't know. I feel like it honestly wouldn't hurt if I stayed just a little while longer. I mean who knows, maybe I can help save this world like that woman with the wings said. You know what they say, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." There was no point in fighting this strange occurrence of arriving in this world, instead, I should enjoy it. So I shall.

We did what we came to do, we completed our mission. Our objective was to find out if there were any survivors left, and if so, bring them back with us. Otherwise, the knowledge of knowing that there were none would have been just the same. Welcome Vienna, and glad to meet you Atalanta. Now, onward to the castle, we have good news for the princess.

 

Chapter Text

"Brrr!" I had awoken and noticed that the others were still sleeping. Most of us were okay with the idea of resting right next to the place we were almost killed and that the one who wanted to kill us was not only still in the cave we were lying next to, but gave us reason to believe we would be in even more trouble if we stay much longer. We were convinced that he would not be able to get out of the cave anyhow.

The campfire that Pyrona had started before going to sleep had went out and I had woken up to the zephyr giving me the shivers. I was curled up as tight as I could possibly be, my knees were all the way up to my chest and wrapped tightly around with my arms, and still was not warm enough. "Brrr!" The light breeze was still too much for me to handle comfortably at the moment, but the others looked fine and comfortable. I got up to take a walk since I probably won't be able to go back to sleep anytime soon anyways. I'll just sit a little closer near the water and just marvel at such a sight, and maybe go for a little walk along the water just to see what's out there. Probably not too far though. There was plenty of moonlight tonight so I could actually see rather well.

Call me stupid if you like, but I liked the adventurous aspect of venturing out alone sometimes, not necessarily looking for trouble either mind you. I just wanted to look around, without the hassles of being attacked. An observer, that's what I would call myself. I liked to look at things live their life. The joys of enjoying someone else's predicament without actually having to go through it myself. The things I could experience virtually was mind-boggling. Maybe that's why Youtube was so entertaining to me and I could lose countless hours to it a week. A vast amount of videos depicting all kinds of content that I could watch all day if I didn't have to live my life as well. I wonder if this world had internet, and if so, would I be able to use it. I seriously doubt anyone has time for it here though. At least the moon was pretty, it's been so long since I actually just sat out and enjoyed it, along the much smaller looking stars. These kind of things amazed me. I wonder if my family and friends were missing me right now. What about Fox? I wonder if he's okay now that I'm not there to feed him. He is a smart one though. If he somehow made it here with me he'd be much better at surviving, that's for sure. I wonder what these guys would think of him. If someone else was brought here, I wonder if I would meet them. Ugh, so many things going on in my head right now.

"Sharck."

"Ahh!" It felt like I jumped out of my skin as my body tensed. She was sitting right next to me with an expressionless face as she stared towards the horizon.

"No need to be scared. I just wanted to make sure you were okay."

"How did I not see you until now!?" I took a few deep breaths.

"You were walking while gazing at the stars. You sat down without ever losing focus." I could only look at her as she said this in a manner of answering a question that's been asked thousands of times. "Are you well?"

"... Yeah, I'm fine Vienna. You just startled me."

"I apologize."

"No it's alright. What's up? You too cold to go back to sleep too?"

"Uhh, no."

"Really? But all you have is a shirt. Looking at you makes me even colder. Brrr!"

She examined herself. "How do you lose heat by looking at me?"

"Uhh, I mean you look cold, that's all. You want my cloak or my boots since I'm not wearing them right now?"

"That is okay. You should wear them if you are cold." Yeah that does make sense. "Is something troubling you?"

"No, I'm fine, really. I'm just cold and I know I won't be able to go back to sleep, so I decided to just sit around and look at the sky. It's beautiful. The sound of the water is pleasant too." I shivered some more just thinking about the cold.

"Do you want me to wake up the others so that you can warm up?"

"No, that's okay. Thanks though." She stood up anyway and walked back to where the others were. Moments later I could hear her footsteps approaching. A blackened log dropped right next to me and she sat down, the small piece of log between us. "Why'd you bring that over here?" Whether she ignored me or was lost in reverie, I tried to smile. After we stared at the moon for a while in silence I decided to compliment the moon again, which resulted in a response from her.

"Lunaria." Lunaria? Sounded like a disease, but what does that have to do with the moon? "The moon goddess." The moon goddess? "She would be very pleased to hear you speak of the moon in such regard."

"Really!? Wow. I wonder how it would be to meet a goddess."

Vienna closed her eyes and curled her lips, "Not any different than meeting a person you have never met before. You will never know unless you do battle with one or she tells you." She had to have been joking. I'd never fight a goddess, however, being here made me realize that things are just not normal and that that was just as possible as all this just being a really long played out dream. I stared at her for a moment. She was staring at the sky leaning back on her arms, legs outstretched in front of her. Her dark curly hair hanging all the way down to the ground in her current sitting position. Her feet were bare. I stood up and went to go get the boots. When I came back, in the same way she dropped the log I dropped the boots, right in front of her though.

"Here, put these on if you're not going to go to sleep. At least protect your feet from the cold."

"That is not necessary."

"You've been without shoes this whole time?"

"Yes."

"Wow. Well I'll just leave them there then because I do not need them either."

"Sharck." She stared at me.

"Yeah?"

"Are you still cold?"

"... No, not at all." I wasn't that cold anymore anyway.

"Then you must get your rest."

"Oh right, yeah. Thanks." I went back to where I had lay down earlier and continued what the cold breeze had interrupted. The others were still sound asleep.

 


 

 

"Wakey wakey Sharcky Sharcky!"

"... Ugh. Morning Pyrona." My eyes were not ready for the sun's rays as I tried to open them as slowly as possible. Pyrona was standing beside me. I get up on one of my arms and take a moment to look at the large amount of sand everywhere. We came from a mountain where the water comes out and runs from around us to the dense looking woods to our rear.

"Look!" As I fully opened my eyes I could see her pointing down in front of me at a plate of food on the ground.

"Oh thanks Pyrona."

"For what?"

"I meant for showing me that it was down here."

"Oh you're welcome Sharcky! Eat up, it's good!" She started with so much energy in the morning.

I wasn't sure if I would have to get used to eating with my hands or not, but the food was delicious and seemed very nourishing. I wanted to know who made it so I could properly thank them for it. The meat was cooked just right for me, juicy, loose, and tasty. The vegetables were outstanding, seasoned just right. I will say that the food was much different than I'm used to, but good either way. I probably discouraged others from getting near me as I ate, my smacking chews were so loud and my eyes rarely left the food. I could still listen in on what was being discussed.

Rose Knight said something in a low tone like he was whispering a secret to Atalanta. "Some things don't change even when I was close to death I see," Atalanta responded with an indifferent tone.

"Come on, surely you missed me a little more than a lot." Rose Knight had started leaning in slowly towards her, although he was sitting right next to her already.

"I was only gone for a couple of days." She stared up towards the direction away from him, and held a pretty unwavering unamused serious look on her face.

"I know. That's too much time to miss me." He, on the other hand, held a silly smile on his face, showing teeth.

She whipped her head around to face him and gave a little grin of her own. "So how is Her Highness?"

He drew back and sat up straight, no longer showing any unwelcomed physical advancements. "She is doing alright and she will be very happy to see that you are still alive and well. She was worried very much about you, you and the others."

"We all were worried about you," Pyrona had said, mostly listening and standing next to me.

"That's good that Princess Lizeea is okay. And thank you." Atalanta sighed. "I'm not sure if I'm the only one that's alive or not."

Green Ranger added, "We checked and there was no one at the Royal Palace." Green Ranger was sitting off to the side by herself.

"Well we did find one thing. We found Vienna." Rose Knight said. I had not realized that Vienna was gone until now as I witnessed her walk up to the group from the small forest's direction. Her person, as usual, was apathetic.

Atalanta said with excitement in her voice, "Vienna, I still can't believe that you're okay. I knew you would be because if I made it then surely you did too. Seeing you is just more of a relief... Vienna, are you well?" Vienna said nothing, but continued to give Atalanta her undivided attention. Suddenly, Atalanta quickly stood up and took quick steps toward Vienna. Rose Knight prevented Atalanta from reaching Vienna by grabbing her arm. She turned quickly with an enraged look, but Rose Knight did not let go.

Vienna then said calmly, "I apologize, but I do not remember meeting you. I shall formally introduce myself, I am-"

"Vienna, damnit!" Atalanta had interrupted her. A little pause and then she turned to face everyone while holding a hand out. "She is Vienna."

"We already know that silly Atty," Pyrona had said.

"Right, she helped us escape from the Royal Palace, which was infested with bones," Rose Knight added.

"Yes, but because of Demon King you do not remember everything. It is at least good to know that you are no longer being held or tortured. And where is your book, and your armor," Atalanta had inquired.

Vienna responded, "I do not know where my book is. I am looking for it, and with it, I can assemble my armor."

"I think you look rather good with just a shirt," Rose Knight said while laughing.

"... To something that actually matters, who was left to guard Her Highness," Atalanta asked, looking mainly at Rose Knight.

He took a moment to stop laughing before responding, "Uhh, John."

"John?" Her eyes widened as she responded.

"Yeah, he's the main guard on duty while I am here."

She placed her hands on her hips and closed her eyes while shaking her head. "Noble Rose Knight, what were you thinking?"

"I was thinking about how I was ordered to go out on a mission, without the princess."

"But you left John in charge of her protection! You would have done just as good if you had left no one there!" She started pointed her finger at him.

"She ordered me Atalanta. You know I can't just ignore her orders no matter how simple or stupid they are. Whether I agree with them or not, I trust in the kingdom's leader to give out proper orders. I don't question them."

"She is young and does not rule over the kingdom!"

"She will eventually anyway." Rose Knight shrugged his shoulders.

Atalanta stepped up to him. "Why would you say something like that!?" Rose Knight just turned his head so that he looked away from her. "She is in morbid danger now Rose Knight, I hope you understand this. We have to get back to her. This is the second time she has made a fool out of you and your 'noble' protection. The first almost got her killed. The second may destroy the kingdom, or worse."

"What could be worse than destroying the kingdom?" I sensed sarcasm from Rose Knight's tone.

Vienna gave her insight. "With the princess killed and the queen and king already gone, Ivalice will go into a state of chaos. Every part of the land this kingdom protects will no longer be protected and there will be no place of peace. Inside the castle walls is the only place left in this area that is free from threat. With that gone it will only be a matter of time before rulers of other lands hear of this, plan to take over, and destroy Ivalice and all of its glory. Everyone will eventually succumb to the power of darkness and start to go mad. People will not hesitate to kill each other. This is what will happen, and it will please the Demon King."

Rose Knight threw his hands up. "Okay okay! But as a noble knight who has stood by the castle and its royalty since I was born, I will follow- without thought, the orders of the Royal King, Queen, or any other heir to the family. You know this already. I did not make a mistake, she has plenty of others to protect her. I'm not the only one, just the best."

"And the dumbest. We have to get back to her quickly before it's too late. I just hope Demon King hasn't found her yet." Atalanta said.

"We were heading that way anyway," Green Ranger added after she stood up.

"Then let's go, we should hurry."

Rose Knight raised a finger and said, "I think that should be up to our leader."

"Leader? Who?"

"Our Lady Archer here."

"Green Ranger? And who's decision was this?"

"Princess Lizeea made Greeny captain of this crew," Pyrona said.

"I don't get why that matters now. You know we have never looked at one to be higher than another." There was a long moment of silence.

Then, Pyrona busted out laughing while staring directly at me, although Rose Knight spoke. "Uhh Sharck, you need to chew that before you choke." I heeded his warning and slowed down and chewed more before each swallow. I was disappointed when I realized the good food was already gone. All that was left was bread.

I smiled at them with a feeling of embarrassment because I had lost myself in the food. Good food was something I wasn't familiar with. I would cook back at home, but I wasn't good at it at all. The only thing I could cook with some talent was a simple breakfast. I could make an excellent omelet too. None of that really matters anymore, not in this world anyway.

"Sooo, what's our destination?" Pyrona suddenly asked.

"More like 'where', and I do not know. We obviously do not want to go back into the cave and we cannot go that way unless we want to swim for a while. I say our only option is to go that way." Green Ranger had motioned towards the cave, the river, and the woods, respectively. The woods was maybe a five minute walk away.

"I have to agree with this," Atalanta said.

"Alright then, let us go. Everyone ready?" We all nodded.

We took off towards the woods. The running water hugged onto the outer portion and wrapped around the side. Once we entered the woods everything seemed different, like a completely different world. The air was different, there were vibrant mushroom looking plants the size of cars on the floor of the woods, plenty of pink and strawberry colored candy-caned shaped plants, blue and purple berries, moss covered cobblestone, vines hanging from trees, and tree roots that were well above ground. The trees stood at least a hundred feet above us. This woods was amazing and probably the most naturally beautiful place I have been to since coming to this world. So much nature and a sense of tranquility here. Right after the wild experience in the cave, this area has become a real relaxing change. "SMACK" Annnd of course there were bugs, which mosquitoes were one of the many species.

In the distance we were coming up on civilization. There were houses, some in the very large trees with the roots hanging above ground.

"Wow! This place looks cool!" Pyrona showed excitement.

"This is beautiful," Vienna said.

"This looks like an elf village," Green Ranger noticed looking around, her mouth slightly agape. I didn't remember seeing her put her hoody back on, but most of her head was now covered.

It wasn't long before we saw some individuals coming towards us. These were two adults, one much older looking than the other. The older was probably a wise one from this place who's experienced quite a bit, aside from the arching of the back. He wore a crown of sorts full of colored leaves. Both of these guys wore no shoes. The younger fellow wore a robe while the older was topless. "Welcome." The older one said bowing his head a little and extending one of his arms, his other arm holding a stick. We all bowed our heads in greeting.

"Thank you. We are only asking permission to walk through, we are not interested in disturbing you any more than this," Atalanta spoke.

"Everyone is welcome here, so please, make yourselves at home, at least while you are here," the elder said. Atalanta bowed her head.

"You all look like fighters. Are you all heroes?" The younger fellow asked with a lot more excitement in his voice than the elder.

"We serve the Kingdom of Ivalice," Green Ranger simply stated.

"Then you are heroes! We shall celebrate! Let us throw a party this evening for the arrival of more heroes," the younger fellow exclaimed, glancing at all of us, his hands clasped together.

"There is no need to throw a party for us, we are just passing by," Atalanta said.

"Where are you bound then? Surely you are not passing by because there is nothing but trees that way. The Bahlric River, and a mountain on the other side of that." He pointed to the opposite direction from where we entered the woods. "The only reason you would be passing by is to see the Cayman Army."

"What is the Cayman Army?" Pyrona asked.

"Yes, I have never heard of the Cayman Army. How long have you known about them?" Green Ranger added.

"The Cayman Army is full of fully armored warriors and archers that are rumored to do as they please, but claim they have no affiliation with the Demon King. A group of individuals who believe in the Demon King's ideology and nothing else," the elder stated.

"We have not seen them yet, and believe me when I say that is a good thing," the man said as he laughed. His smile quickly disappeared as he shook his head. "I sincerely hope you are not planning on going after them."

"Do not worry, we are not planning to disturb anyone. And if we do run into them, we will make sure not to involve anyone in this area with such an affair," Atalanta reassured him.

The man walked up to her and grabbed her hand and quickly bowed showing gratitude to her. He looked like he went in to give her hand a kiss, but Atalanta repossessed it. She looked as if she wanted to strike him down immediately with her big heavy sword that glowed a bit for a short moment.

"Do they not know that you are here?" Green Ranger asked.

"We cannot confirm that they don't, we only know that they have yet to attack us and that we must keep it that way. We are not ready for a battle from any army, especially one that size," the elder said.

"How do you know about their size? How do you get this information about them if you have never seen them?"

"A hero once told us about them, and that's the only information we have been given. For all we know, they may not be over there anymore or they may have never been there. What we don't want to do is find out that they are still there or to accidentally trespass on their land. The best thing to do is to get prepared for the worst and keep praying to the angels for the best."

"That's why you heroes coming have been such a blessing for us! Thank the angels! Without you we all would still have to live in fear and uncertainty about our final days," the young man said.

"Thank you for the information. We shall surely take it into consideration," Atalanta said.

"Rumor has it, whoever they decide to attack will hear drums. An intimidating warning if you will." The villager clapped his hands and jumped in excitement as he said, "I'd love to talk more about this peculiar army, but I must help prepare for tonight." He bowed and then sort of skipped off.

"Something is off about this. I am confident that now would be the worst time to celebrate," Vienna said to Rose Knight and me.

"Lighten up gorgeous. They said we are going to have a party. You know what that means don't you?" Rose Knight said this with a sinister grin on his face. We waited for the answer. "... It means brew, food, and women, everything a man needs. So, I think we should enjoy this before wandering off again. It would be rude not to enjoy what they are going to take, probably all day, to prepare for us." He winked.

"Shouldn't we get to the castle already? We already have plenty of food and rest, we can make it back soon if we don't stop now." I gave my suggestion.

"You heard what these natives said, there is nothing that way except an army of people who have nothing better to do but kill other people. I say we relax, have fun, and then go out looking for trouble."

"You said that you were going to throw a party for the arrival of 'more' heroes? Does that mean that they are still here?" Green Ranger asked the elder.

"Yes, two women. One is looking for her, uhhh, flying horse." The elder's eyebrows furrowed.

"Two women huh. I'm really looking forward to this party now," Rose Knight said.

"Do you perhaps know them? The one with more years of experience in this world is wandering around the village helping us with anything we may need at the time, all the while she is asking about her, uhhh, magic creature. I still do not quite understand what she meant by that, but she has been very helpful since her arrival so we do not bother. The other is back in my place resting up. She has suffered a terrible fate. Would you like to see them?"

"No, right now we would just like to rest a bit and get a better understanding of this Cayman Army before we head out that way if you do not mind," Atalanta said.

"Yes, come with me." The man slowly lead us deeper into the woods. Houses were becoming visible now, and I could start to see groups of people walking around. We soon came to a stop, then the elder led Atalanta away, Green Ranger and Pyrona were not far behind.

"Ehhh, I am going to go and meet some of the villagers. Do not follow me." Rose Knight demanded of Vienna and me before walking away.

I watched him walk away for a moment. He seemed like he was hunting for something. "So Vienna, what do you want to do? We can-" I turned around to notice she was walking away. "Great." I guess it's time to explore this lush place on my own.

This place even had some of the houses built in some of the trees. Loose bridges held together by a couple of thick ropes connected these treehouses. Wood flooring surrounded some of the trees, some seemed to have a purpose of being used as steps to get higher into the trees and others formed intersections high up in the trees. Giant mushrooms sat at the bottom of most of the moss covered slates on the ground. The sections were apart in a way that looked as though a long time ago it had better upkeep, but the natural weathering and maybe tree roots had started pushing up on the rock slates and cracking and ultimately separating them. Houses on the ground were made of brick and maybe wood roofs. This place was a rainforest if I ever saw one and definitely was very muggy and moist in the air, but that wasn't enough to take away from it's loveliness. We were in the open area now, like a large opening with a forestry surrounding.

I could hear some activity in some of the houses and see some of the villagers walking around. This place was smaller than the castle, but it felt more peaceful and secure here even if they did mention the lurking Cayman Army. There were nowhere near as many people here as far as I could tell and food had to be plentiful because there was green all around, fruit from some of the bushes around some of the houses. Also there was plenty of water right outside this place. I feel like I could walk around this whole village and be done in about thirty minutes, round trip. Still, there was so much to see here that I have not seen before. The houses up in the trees were the most bizarre thing as I did not see anyone up there, but I figured that they were very important. One thing was for sure though, I needed to explore this whole place before going to the elder's. Maybe somebody here could tell me how to get back home, to my own world.

I walked up to one of the villagers while she was washing cloths at a house, "Hello Ma'am. Can I ask you a question?" She continued rubbing water with her hands against the cloths. She was wearing a very simple dingy looking gown. "Do you know of anybody that may know something about other worlds?" She stopped and stared at me. Her face was stale and unemotional. She then walked into the house, which was more of a hut. A man soon exited, followed by the woman.

"What do you want?" His voice was raspy and he looked tired and mean. He was wearing simple clothing as well, just a shirt with quite an amount of holes in it and some messy loose-fitting pants.

"I'm trying to find another... world and I don't know where to find it so I was hoping someone from here would know about other worlds and how to travel to them."

The man looked at his wife and she looked at him. They both blinked in synchronization. "Another what now?"

"Another world."

"I'm sorry but, we don't have that stuff here in this village. You may have to ask Pring about that one 'cause we don't know or you can try diving into the river, maybe you'll find your answer there." I noticed two little girls in the doorway. He must have noticed me looking at them because he narrowed his eyes and signaled his wife to go inside. I hope everyone here wasn't like this family. "Look, if you don't mind, I'd like to get back to what I was doing. I suggest that you go ask Pring that one. Maybe he knows."

"Okay. Thank you." He went into the hut and closed the door. I thought I could hear the woman yelling. Hmmm, I should probably not ask these kind of questions to just anybody. I couldn't imagine someone asking me these questions. Then again, I'd just tell them, "A space shuttle."

My feet, legs, and ankles were starting to hurt a lot now. A nice hot bath was in order to top it off. The last time wasn't even much of a wash. I need soap, hot water, and a tub, or at least something I can submerge myself in. All this walking made me start to notice the simple aches on my muscles. I walked around some more until I came upon a group standing to the side ahead of me. They were in front of a house, and that one guy that I met earlier was here. "Ah it is you! You are one of the heroes we are preparing to celebrate for! Where is the rest of your group?" He spoke like an announcer and showed excitement in almost every word.

"I am wondering that myself. Do you know where the elder's house is?"

He gave me a confused look for a moment and then eagerly said, "Ah yes, I can take you there if you wish."

"Yes please."

"Uhhh, don't you think you need to stay here and help us with this? You are the one who knows what is supposed to go where after all." One of the guys said to him before he could lead me away.

He sighed and slapped himself on the forehead, "Darn that's right. I'm sorry but I can't leave this matter right now, it is too important. I can point you in the right direction, you can't miss it!" He pointed in a general direction and described, with that certain voraciousness of his, what the house looked like. Based off of his description I knew almost nothing more than before. If it wasn't for someone from the group calling out to him he probably would have took forever anyway. I thanked him and just assumed I had to go straight.

I probably looked lost how much I looked around at my surroundings, turning my head like a pendulum to get a good look at the nature of this place. The area I was at now had a lot of tables and one big slab of wood in the inner center of the tables.

"Hero."

"Huh??? Did someone say something to me?" Was someone calling me a hero? I'm no hero, but I was the only one around at the moment. So who said that?

"I am glad to see that you are still doing well and that you are willing to stay a bit longer here in this world with us."

"Uhhh, yeaaah. I thought I had to be unconscious for you to talk to me." She was talking to me while I was awake?

"I am just checking in on you and I wanted to let you know that I am still watching over you and your group."

"So you can talk to me anytime you want then?"

"It is not quite that simple, but yes."

"Cool. So, can you tell me about this village?"

"Our conversation must be brief, I apologize."

"Is everything okay?"

"Yes, do not worry. Just be careful."

"Okay. Thanks?" Was this actually necessary?

"Are you okay sir." Shoot. Someone had just spoke to me probably thinking I was just talking to myself. I tried to smile at this woman and play it off as if it was just a simple reverie. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you," she said.

"Uhh no, I'm fine. I was just having weird thoughts, that's all," I replied.

Apparently I said something crazy because she opened her eyes up at me, jumped, and quickly wrapped her arms around me. "You must go see a healer, now!"

"Get off of me you crazy woman!" I shouted back and tried to fight my way out. She was too strong though and I only succeeded in hitting my head and giving myself a headache.

"Don't worry, I won't let this happen again!"

"Let me go!" People started walking towards us now and I was no closer to getting loose.

"Rurn started acting crazy too, and then her eyes started freaking out!"

"What!? What are you even talking about!?"

I stopped struggling which caused her to loosen her grip only a little. "Okay, maybe you're not as bad as I think."

"Let me go!" She slowly released me as I jerked away from her. "What the hell was that about!?" I rubbed my head to make sure I didn't have a knot.

"Is something wrong Madam Valkyrie," a man from what appears to have been a gathering crowd asked. We drew a small crowd towards us, some of the people looked like they wanted to fight.

"No I am fine, thank you. I am just worried for this fellow. He spoke like Rurn did."

"Isn't Rurn the young hero you brought with you," another guy asked.

"Yes. She should be resting now at Pring's place."

"You have been helping us around with so much we'll gladly help you with anything, just let us know." Most of these guys, all of them males, gave me vehement stares as one of them said this.

"Don't mention it. Truly, I was just concerned about this man's mental state." The men started walking off now. The big woman turned to me and smiled, "I'm sorry, I may have reacted pretty fast there. I was just worried that you may have been in trouble." She offered me her hand, "I'm Valkyrie. How are you?" She gave a really firm handshake. She looked to be about a couple inches taller than me and her very thick hair stretched down to her butt, one thing I'm starting to notice about females that I have met since coming here. They definitely let their hair grow long. For fighters though this wouldn't make sense in a battle as it would most likely just get in the way while twisting and turning. Maybe it was attributed to their "essence". Anyways, her eyebrows were sharp and gave her a slightly intimidating look, like she was serious, but looking at her mouth she obviously was smiling. Her armor left her stomach wide open and only covered her breasts, neck, arms, and legs. She looked well underdressed for any battling occasion. Maybe she was royalty here and just liked to show skin. "Hey, have you seen a pony walking around anywhere, maybe flying?"

"No, I have not seen any ponies."

She frowned and looked all around her. "I was separated from him after I fell from the sky. I haven't seen him since."

"I do not know. Maybe he is looking for you." I admit I was still a little annoyed with her for grabbing me earlier so I didn't pay much attention to what she was saying.

"I don't know if he came here or not, but this is the first place I found. I only found Rurn before I got here."

"Who is Rurn, you keep bringing her up?"

"She is a lost girl I found a few days ago out on her own. She now needs a lot of rest."

"If I find a... pony, I'll try and find you and let you know." A pony, like a horse?

"Thanks, I'll be walking around looking for him myself." She started walking off until a small group of three approached her. I just stared on and listened.

"Hi Madam Valkyrie," they said as they all saluted her.

"Hello Charles, Brenda, and Frey." They were apparently ecstatic that she said their names. "What are you three up to?"

"We're just going on an adventure. We want to see the mountain near the Bahlric River." The biggest one, Charles, appeared to be leading this escapade. He was probably the eldest out of the three.

"Sure, but I have to talk to your parents first before I let you go." Immediately after saying this, their moods changed drastically, especially the two little girls.

"Their parents don't let them do anything. I had to sneak them out just to get them away from their house. If they go back now then they will be in a lot of trouble for nothing. At least let them have fun first please Madam Valkyrie."

"Charles you shouldn't take them from their parents. Their parents may be worried about them." The boy said nothing. Valkyrie placed her hands on the girls' shoulders. "Listen, you can come with me and help me look for my pony, but I won't lie to your parents if they happen to hear that you two are with me. Okay?" The girls probably heard nothing but "you can come" as they shivered in excitement throughout most of her statement. They hugged Valkyrie tightly. "You can come too Charles." He nodded with glee. One of the girls must have asked her something about me as they were already walking off because Valkyrie glanced at me. I couldn't make out what she said.

So I was alone again. I could actually see Rose Knight talking to a crowd of mostly women. He seemed pretty happy with the situation. I could see a lot of others active and moving things around. I guess these were busy times.

Based on the guy's description, the elder's house was only about one hundred yards away. As I approached it, I saw them all walking out. "Hey it's Sharcky!"

"Hi guys." I waved at all of them and only Pyrona seemed to care enough to wave back. The other three must not have heard me.

Pyrona ran up to me and gave me a hug. "Hey Sharcky we have a lot to tell you!"

"Hold it Pyrona," Atalanta said.

"Why not!? He's with us."

"Yes, he is for now. Still, we are unsure of who he really is."

"Oh pooey!" Pyrona looked at me and whispered, "I'm still going to tell you later." She winked.

"Where's Rose Knight and Vienna," Green Ranger asked me.

"I don't know. I never saw Vienna once we all separated and Rose Knight was with a group of people not far away from here," I said.

"Hmm, we need to gather everyone up," Atalanta said.

"Oh so we are about to leave then?"

"Not quite yet, but I have something I need to discuss and Rose Knight needs to be here to hear it."

We walked and climbed to get to some vacant house in the tree, which Green Ranger was the only one who opposed such an idea. The house way up in the trees were very tight and fit for probably only a few people comfortably. Green Ranger said that they looked more like lookouts than houses, which she did speak about these treetop structures only serving the purpose of a better place to stay out of sight during troubling times. Though, they were so visually distracting, it's hard to say that they were ever used for hiding up in the trees. The wood we walked on was sturdy. There was no sign of abandonment up here in these houses. The question is why didn't anyone live up here if they were maintaining it. One of them said that we were we sent here to rest, but why? Were we really looked at as superior people here?

"Okay, I need to rest for a bit. I feel like my soul was partially sucked out of me ever since I battled with Demon King. When I wake up we can leave this place and hurry back to the castle." Atalanta approached a sturdy looking bed and lied down.

"Want me to tell you a story before you go to sleep?" Pyrona asked.

"No. I'd rather you just let me rest," Atalanta said as she faced away from us.

"Okay, we'll go and look for the others then. Come on guys!" We walked down the spiral wooden steps that led back down to the ground.

 

Chapter Text

"To know about a threat this long and make no attempt at preparing a defensive countermeasure makes his concern hard to believe."

"Yeah Greeny I agree." Pyrona simply followed close behind.

"We must be on guard while we are here. The sooner we leave, the better. For now, let us hurry and find the other two so we can discuss our way back to Princess Lizeea."

Green Ranger, Pyrona, and I were on a search for Rose Knight and Vienna after leaving Atalanta so she could rest a bit. After going on our way down the spiral wooden tree steps, the two ladies started conversing in a low volume about this guy named Pring. Whatever it was that they felt the need to say was obviously something that should not be said out loud. I only caught some of it, but they conversed for a while before we finally caught up to Rose Knight.

There was a large wooden building with enough noise coming from it to keep anyone near deprived of sleep. It was the only noticeable building within a hundred yard radius with its several posts outside where one could lean on for support. There were people standing around outside and inside, some were holding drinks, some were happy and laughed out loud constantly, and one or two looked to be sleepy or sick. This place looked like somewhere a socializer would opt to go.

Rose Knight seemed to be having fun, two women also laughing with him. Pyrona had called out to him, but he didn't appear to hear her. Then she called out to him again even louder and he looked up and then grabbed the two women by their waists, turned around, and started walking in the opposite direction by going into the building. Pyrona stood nonplussed at first until Green Ranger had decided to forget about him and go look for Vienna. "Stupid Rosie. Now he won't know what our plan is." We searched and searched some more, wandering.

 


 

"Hey did you happen to see a pony around here anywhere?" Maybe Pyrona happened upon it and weren't sure who's it was. I whispered, as I didn't want to be caught asking about such a thing. "I met this woman named Valkyrie earlier and she said that she lost her pony after she fell off from him. I haven't seen anything that resembles a horse so far so I was wondering if you might've had better luck finding this creature."

"We were at the old man's for a long time so we didn't see any ponies."

We were walking along a greenway seemingly on the outskirts of the village with nothing but tall trees dominating our surroundings. Still, you could hear commotion to our side even though there was no one to be seen as we were out a little ways from the main part of the village. Our feet crushed the still life under us, making a light crunchy sound with each step taken. Pyrona had pointed out a few things with the plants and told Green Ranger and I how some of the colorful ones were deadly if eaten without cooking them properly first. She also exclaimed how excited she would be if we visited her back at her home so that we may learn of some of her customs. Green Ranger had mentioned that she already knew of some of the customs Pyrona shared with her before, causing Pyrona to thrust her lips out and pout.

"Did you see a girl named Rurn there?" I had suddenly remembered Valkyrie and other locals mentioning her. "I don't know her myself, I just heard that she's one of the heroes here."

"Oooh, maybe she's the pony and she escaped," Pyrona gasped loudly, "or maybe she's in trouble and the Kuyman Army got her! We have to go save her!"

"What are you talking about Pyrona? We have to find Vienna. Calm down," Green Ranger said and was probably very used to Pyrona's quotidian childlike behavior.

"Hey Sharcky," Pyrona had grabbed onto my arm and started walking with me, leaning a little into my body, "let's leave Greeny, she's boring." Green Ranger had noticeably rolled her eyes.

"Where do you think we should look?" I asked. I wasn't quite sure if just walking this trail was going to get us closer to finding anyone.

She pulled me close to her as she leaned in. "Actually, I wanted to tell you something."

"Huh, what is it?" I tried to say as quietly as possible.

"We are looking for that pony. I just lied to you because we are not supposed to tell you our plan so I didn't want Greeny to hear me. Atty said that we should find him to fly back to Princess Lizeea and make sure that she is okay. So if you find him, use him to fly back to the castle and check on her okay?" I nodded slowly, trying not to draw attention to us from Green Ranger who was a little ways ahead of us thanks to Pyrona tugging on me to slow down.

The wind was calm and the sun peaked through the trees every several steps. It was very moist in the air, albeit not hot. Pyrona lay her head on my shoulder and kept her eyes closed. I stared at her just wondering what she was thinking about with such a satisfied smile on her face. She was starting to cause me to sweat just a bit on my held arm.

We came up on a different part of the path. The trail was now more narrow and not as obvious. "Oooh let's go check near the water way over there!" Pyrona let go of me and ran into the woods. Green Ranger sighed and walked after her. Before I started following both of them I heard a noise coming from one of the bushes nearby. I noticed that someone small was staring at me though they weren't doing a good job hiding themselves as they stood out beside the bush and not behind it.

"Hey." Hmm, whoever it was must've felt threatened by my sudden movement of my hand and disappeared. I narrowed my eyes to get a better look and also noticed that the bush was hiding an opening within the woods. I cautiously approached where I assume the person was to make sure what I saw wasn't just an illusion. This person resembled a small child who appeared to be out here on their own. In the ways of a good samaritan of the world I wanted to make sure that this was not a child left behind. Now that I think about it that child was probably one of the girls that was with Valkyrie and may have been lost and scared. I couldn't do much, but I could at least make sure she was okay. I went for the bush and prepared for the child to jump out at me trying to break me out of my composure, however, there was no one. I separated from the others for now, but that was okay as I was in a generally safe area so I didn't have to worry about getting into any fights. So, I ventured into the open space that was somehow hidden behind the small bush.

I stumbled upon a small lake or pond of some sort. Wasn't Pyrona just talking about running toward the water? There were animals here and there and a plethora of plants and flowers scattered about. These plants looked rich and didn't seem to be missing on nutrition. Did this water have something to do with this perhaps? It was beautiful, but very strange. I never saw anything like it.

I looked up and noticed a brownish-orange bird standing on a branch a few feet away from me with its head cocked to one side. I stared at it; it stared at me. I tried not to move much and startle it, but then it flew away as I heard a splash, like a small rock had dropped into the water. There were noises all around, but this was a very distinctive one. I searched and searched until I came across a green gem, a few feet away from the water. This gem was a pretty big one and the sunlight was hitting it just right to give off an impression that the gem was emitting light itself. I wanted to take it to the others to see if they knew what it was or not, but it was surrounded by barbed stems anyhow so I couldn't just pick it up without regretting it. It was just out here on its own near the waterside plant life, but no way I was the first person to come across it, right? Man, everything about this place was just something to marvel at. I leaned in to get a better look at the gem because I couldn't stop staring at the it. Suddenly, I felt my head take on an excruciating throb, so bad that I fell on my side. I tried to get up on my feet, but felt woozy while on one knee, then the feeling of a strong force banged against my skull again...

 


 

I was staring at the water I remembered walking up to earlier. The surface of the water was a lot lower, and the top of the trees were not so high anymore. My arms and legs weren't functioning properly and my head was in so much pain. I couldn't move and my hands were stuck to my side.

The water was the centerpiece of this entire little area outside the village and was as reflective as to allow me to only see the surface. It was also very still despite the fact that there were hundreds of creatures out here that needed to no doubt quench their thirst or take a good bath. Birds were singing, bugs were chirping, and little critters were scurrying around. This place seemed sacred at the least and I didn't want to barge in on anyone's sacred grounds anymore than I was already doing. I looked to my right and left focusing my hearing and sights toward all directions. I still could not figure out what was going on or why I was stuck against a tree. Plants that I didn't remember crossing suddenly formed a large barrier around the water.

"Thought you were going to get away with stealing did you?" A young light bluish-green hair colored girl stood below me. She had a very soft-spoken voice. Her hair was fairly long and was did up in the back in a curly twin pigtail fashion. "Too bad. Now what do I do with you?"

"Hey! How did I get up here!?" I shouted. She shrugged her shoulders and then walked under me so I couldn't see her. Something sharp and hard poked me in my back. "Oww! What is that!?" I saw the little girl again.

"Why are you here?" She went under me again and instantly, something poked me in my back again, this time I'm sure it broke my skin barrier. I hollered and couldn't imagine the pain I was feeling on my back.

"I didn't do anything, I'm stuck here!" I wanted the pain to stop more than anything as I tried to break free.

"Tehe." That giggle, the giggle I heard earlier before I ended up stuck to this tree.

"Hey! You put me in this tree didn't you!?" She turned and looked around a bit and that's when I noticed that she was wearing big butterfly wings on her back. She stared at me for a moment until she picked up a basket and held a flower up towards me.

"My flowers mean the world to me. If you dare come back here and trespass again, I will not be nice about it." The tree suddenly loosened its grip and dropped me onto the ground right near the girl's feet. My back was still in pain and it was very difficult to push myself up. "Leave." She looked serious and mean up close, even though her voice was still so childlike and soft. Her eyes were green and she had little freckles on her cheeks. Though her face suggested she was really young, her floral clothing argued otherwise. She held one hand on her hip and the flower filled basket in the other.

I tried to look up at her and say, "Sorry, I did not know." I eventually successfully pushed myself up and painfully walked away, not without a feeling of something gripping my chest and making it a challenge for me to breathe. My head was still hurting for sure, but now I was able to focus on another physical trite. I left just as simply as I had come into this sacred area. After passing the entrance bush, I continued on the path that Green Ranger and Pyrona had taken. I had to make sure I found them now.

 


 

"Sharcky, where were you?" Pyrona asked me in a manner that said she would not accept anything absurd. I had slowly walked up to Pyrona and Green Ranger after my encounter with the little girl. They were a little distance away from where I last left them so it took a long time to get to them. My back was feeling so much worse that I tried to bend over or something else to stretch it out because it was starting to tighten up badly. All I could do was breathe and give off a light pant. "Say something Sharcky, and stop stretching."

"Ugh! Sorry, my back has been killing me lately."

"What happened?"

"I found a girl."

"Vienna?"

"No. Some other little girl that had some kind of power and threatened me by holding me to a tree and poking me in my back. I think she might've hit a nerve."

"She does not have power because she is stronger than you," Green Ranger said after continuing to face the water.

Pyrona gasped and wrapped her hands around my face to cover my eyes. "Maybe she was a part of the Cayman Army and was spying on you!" She let me go and bent low to the ground and started circling around me searching around for something while using her hand as a visor. She whispered, "Someone tried to kill our Sharcky and now we have to find them and make them pay." She walked up to Green Ranger and pointed at her. "You look mean enough." Green Ranger only glared in response. "Aww come on Greeny!" I was going to say something, but then my back removed the ability of forming words to escape my mouth. I groaned and Pyrona placed her hand over my face. "Shhh Sharcky, you are in shock. Don't worry we will find the Kooman Army spy and bring her to justice." Green Ranger examined me for a moment, then decided that we should continue searching. "Maybe we'll find her while looking for Vienna," Pyrona said.

I never thought the Cayman Army would be spying on us. That would kind of explain why they weren't attacking yet. Maybe word got out that heroes were here and that stirred up enough from the army to send some spies. Whoever she was, if no one else saw her then I'm going to start pretending that I didn't either.

We were a little further away from the village now and the river was right next to us. It was a pretty big one and we would have been fools to try and wade across it. "This is another path to the village. If someone were to attack from here, the village would not be ready," Green Ranger suddenly said to Pyrona. "Why did Pring not mention this?"

"Because we're visitors silly Greeny. He asked us if we would stay for a little while and help fight, but Atty told him no."

"Maybe this way leads back to the castle." Green Ranger stared across the river. As if to deter her from making a terrible mistake, a big bug flew towards the water and was slapped down by a wave crashing against a rock. "We just have to be very careful going across it."

Pyrona started searching the raucous waters, using her hands to form circles around her eyes. She pointed ahead, "Look, there's Vienna! Hey Vienna!" Pyrona shouted even louder as we walked up to her. Vienna was kneeling down to the side near the river then turned to face us, revealing a big rock placed in her arms. "Oooh what did you find?"

"Hi heroes. Did you find out anything from the elder?" Vienna had asked.

"Pring told us quite a bit of lies," Green Ranger said. "It is as if there is no real threat outside of this village."

"We believe he's hiding something," Pyrona added. "How come you didn't tell us you were leaving?"

"I apologize for leaving, I just wanted to see if I could find my book and some more of my shards," Vienna said.

"Did you find any?" I asked.

"Yes. I found a few, and now my stone glows as you can see." The three of us stared at it in wonderment as the gem in her arms gave off a soft glow. In fact, it was similar to the one I found earlier, except it wasn't as bright and it was a different color shade of green. "Everyone will be out of mil before I get my powers back to one hundred percent." We all stared for a little while longer. "I haven't found many in a while so I think I'll put it back." She hugged the stone tightly and it shrunk until it disappeared. I was astonished at Vienna's seemingly immense power. She was a mysterious woman to say the least and it bothered me that someone of her power could be captured and made powerless.

At a moments notice, my back stiffened and went numb as I fell backwards onto the ground. My hearing and vision went away for a bit, but I could still feel a few hands on me almost immediately after nearly fainting. I didn't even realize I was yelling until someone had put their hand over my mouth and I could feel the vibrations. I could feel someone then grasp my face into their hands.

 


 

I only remember waking up lying on a hard surfaced bed. I opened my eyes and noticed someone was in here looking out the window across the room from me. They were someone I have yet to meet apparently and they were the only one in the room with me. I tried to move and only managed to turn my head. "Stay with him okay. I'll be right back. Make sure you call Mister Pring if he happens to wake up." The person at the window nodded and then slowly walked towards the chair near my bed to sit down. The hoodie on this person overshadowed their face, but I could tell it was a girl. A young girl by the looks, bandages wrapped around her face. She stared right at me, but said nothing.

The room I was in looked like a log cabin. There was wood as walls, like logs of wood even. The window was just a square and was more of an opening, so I'm sure bugs had free entry, with no glass in-between. There were drawings or paintings of people all around the room on the walls, tools or sticks leaning against them, and a dirty rug right at the entrance way of this room. It was still light enough outside that I could see most, but I did not see a light source within this room.

"...Sir, I don't think it's a good idea to startle the army. Surely they will confess that we sent them."

"We don't have to tell them anything. The angels have blessed us this day... Whoever decided to attack that man in the forest has given us a boost in getting just the type of help we need."

"The King and Queen of Ivalice."

"That's it. Now go check on him." One of them had just entered the room I was in.

"... So, is he still breathing?" A moment of silence. "Uhh, girl! I asked you is he still breathing!"

"He is sleeping." The girl beside me suddenly said. She continued to stare at me.

"Good. Let him continue to rest, but keep an eye on him. I have to finish with the preparations... I sure hope he knows what he's doing."

After he left, the girl slowly reached for me, hand sliding from the edge of the bed, and raised her hand to slowly place it on my leg, only to react immediately after doing so. She gasped and jumped up in her seat. She bowed her head, "I'm sorry, I didn't know ye were awake." She turned her head and shouted, "Sir, this man is up now!"

I could hear him curse as he approached the bed reproached, "How are you Mister Sharck? Glad to have you here with us again. Can you hear me?" I nodded. It was the same guy that directed me to the elder's house before. "Can you speak?" I tried to say something but couldn't at the moment. "Hmm, still unfortunate news. Can you move any?" I shook my head. "This won't do. Did you see who stabbed you in the back? Do you know what kind of spell it was? Could you tell if it was someone from the Cayman Army?" I shook my head. He turned to the girl and asked, "Where is Lady Valkyrie?"

"She had to go take children home. She should be back soon." This girl never really looked at him when she spoke.

"Ah, she wouldn't be able to do it anyway. We need a healer for this poor man." He turned to me. "Don't worry, we will get you the right person for this. I'll go personally to get you a proper healer." He walked out but not before turning to the girl saying, "Keep an eye on him while I'm gone. His life is hanging on a quite thin rope." The girl nodded.

Minutes went by and the girl never said a word. She looked pretty dingy to start with, and it looked like she had crust lines down her face coming from her eyes. She apparently didn't care to ask me any questions or was told not to say anything to me at all. Maybe she was just tired.

Moments went by.

"Hey, Rurn! It's time to go." That familiar sounding voice again when I first woke up. "The children are back home and it's almost dark. Has Mister Pring come back yet?"

"Yes, though I think we should take this man and get away from here."

"Now? Sharck, how are you feeling?" It was Valkyrie who had just walked up to me and tried to sit on the bed only to realize that there was no space. I explained to her that I couldn't really move any part of my body aside from my head. I told Valkyrie what had happened to me while going into the forest and finding the glowing crystal, to waking up next to a tree, to losing feeling in my body. She looked astonished and asked the young girl a few questions about meeting anyone who might've done it only to receive very short answers. "Well, I'd love to try and figure out what to do but I can't do anything for you. I guess we have to find the girl who did this and then figure out how to fix you. You're going to miss the celebration." She walked up to Rurn and placed her hand on her shoulder. "Do you think that maybe Pegasus went there- where this Cayman Army is?"

"I only know that I can't tell." The girl said to Valkyrie while facing up at her. "I am ready to go."

"Are you sure?" Valkyrie asked. The girl reached towards my leg like before, but did not actually touch it this time.

"I am sorry sir." She nodded at Valkyrie, which caused Valkyrie to hold her hand out. The girl grabbed it and stood up slowly allowing Valkyrie to pick her up and head towards the door. Suddenly a sound came from the window, like the wind had blown a branch or something hard at the wall. We all three looked to see a small head pop up. Valkyrie quickly placed the girl in her arms down and stood in front of her. The person in the window jumped in and stared at them while glancing at me. I could tell who it was, and I was scared.

"Who are you?" Valkyrie asked.

The girl looked into her basket and fiddled through it. She then pulled out a flower of some kind and held it in front of her. With not much as a second, some light of dark color, moved towards Valkyrie and the girl at high speed and caused Valkyrie to fall to one knee, groaning. The young girl with the hoodie started feeling around. The girl with the flower looked frustrated. "Ugh- another one!" she fussed. She placed the flower in her basket and jumped out the window. On her way out she cursed.

Valkyrie had grasped her head while mumbling something about not knowing who the girl was and why she suddenly felt so tired and drained of energy. After a little while she seemed fully okay, but she was yawning quite a bit and seemed to need some rest. She walked over to me and said, "Sharck, I didn't like that friend of yours much." She smiled and placed a heavy hand on my chest. "I'll be leaving now to take her back and get some rest. Come on Rurn, let's go." Valkyrie placed one of her arms around Rurn, and they left together.

 


 

"Hero."

I knew exactly who this was by now. "Hello again." Her wings were huge, big enough for someone three times my size to wrap up in like a pig in a blanket. She was yet my size, albeit a bit smaller. Her blue eyes stared down at me as she floated casually a couple feet above the ground. The look she gave me was one of understanding, yet authority.

"You have to be more careful."

"I'm trying to. So many things seem to want me dead."

"You must be careful not to wander alone. You are less likely to be attacked again with more of your friends with you."

"But I left their side only for a moment. Why can't you protect me, you said that you would?"

"I cannot protect you if you do not place yourself on the right path. Facing danger with ignorance will not be rewarded."

"How was I supposed to know that a little girl would try and kill me?"

"You have met someone very important. Do not fret. They simply didn't know if you were to be trusted."

"So- you know that girl?" She nodded. "Who is she?"

"This is not important. All you need to know is that you will not have that same issue again. Here." The floating woman of supreme capabilities placed her hands on my shoulders and closed her eyes. "Now you should be able to find your friends. Don't let them get too far away."

"Okay. I understand I think... Wait, what did you just do?"

 


 

I had suddenly awoken and was able to move a little afterwards with no issue, almost like I had never suffered a back numbing puncture before. I do remember someone saying that it would take some time. I was able to get up, and the first thing I wanted to do was find the others before that girl with the butterfly wings came back and I was alone.

There wasn't much more to this place. I could see that there were a couple of lanterns lit. There was a table or desk with a couple of unfinished plates and some papers on them. There were a few stools throughout the room exactly like the one Rurn was sitting on and a bunch of things in the shadowy corners and crevices close to the walls. The front door was open and I didn't much hesitate to go through it.

As I exited the house, I could see the elder standing right at the bottom step. He stared at me as if I had done something wrong. "Your friends have all left you," he said. I questioned him. "I am sorry. They said they were going back to the castle. They were very upset that you were injured by some soldier from the Cayman Army, but there were more important tasks. I promised them that you would be safe here. This seemed to ease their minds enough to allow them to continue without you." I tossed the idea around in my head as he walked up the steps towards me. He grabbed one of my hands. "Wait here." I watched him slowly go into his house. A short while after, he came back with a prudent smile on his face. He grabbed my hand again, "Here." He placed a little orange trinket in my hand. It was about the size of the palm of my hand and it had a little teardrop shape in the middle filled with some fluid. "The girl with the big hat wanted to give this to you before she left." I placed it in my pocket. I didn't feel like any of this was true, but it was only a matter of time. "You may stay as long as you like." His friendliness turned me away. I felt like I had just spoke with Pyrona. How did they leave so fast?

As he walked past me into his house, I looked up and saw the houses in the trees. I quickly ran towards the spiral planks that went upward around the tree to get to the upper level. I skipped up the steps and shoved my way through the imaginary door and noticed that nothing was there. No one was here. It was dark, the only thing lighting up this place was the stars outside. I noticed other houses that were bridges across and checked them. Finally, I found one house with a light in it. Surely one of them stayed back and was willing to wait for me. They wouldn't just leave without saying something to me. I think. The house with the light was not empty, it had some cloths, bloody bandages, and two beds. There was Valkyrie's armor as well. This must've been her room.

"Ello." The voice of a young girl forcing me to jump out of my skin.

"Sorry, I thought- Wait a minute, you are the girl from the elder's house, Rurn." It was surely her. I noticed that her hoodie was still placed on her head and she stood at a window, sort of like she did when I had awoken. She didn't look at me when she spoke, but I could hear her clear enough.

"Ye are that man from before. Mint ye are feeling better."

"Yeah, uhh." Silence. "Hey do you know how to get back to the castle where the princess is?" It was a long shot, but maybe she knew something.

"I can't answer that question."

More silence. "Okay I'll leave now, I'm sorry for invading, I thought this belonged to one of the people I came here with."

"Sounds like yer problem." I waited for about ten seconds to see if she would at least turn to tell me to get out, but she just stayed standing next to the window, staring. Maybe she was sleep.

"Right." I was about to leave and continue my search when I saw flashing lights and the sound of drums. It was dark now so the lights were welcomed for my troubled night vision. A lot of screaming suddenly plagued the atmosphere. The noise was one that only a crowd of excited people would make, that could be heard all below me.

That's right, the celebration! I remember speaking to Vienna about it and wondering if she would go. Maybe the guys were there and haven't left yet. I could see somewhat from where I was as I went to cross the bridge, but I wanted to get closer and actually see people so I could confirm.

I had reached the party moments later and noticed that there were a lot of people here dressed up almost the same. The women wore cloths that wrapped around their bodies and draped over their shoulders. Some of the guys I saw earlier were noticeably here because they still had distinct robes on but mostly all other males were shirtless with what looked like mini-skirts, no one had any shoes on. The celebration had already started before my arrival and there were drums, flutes, and singing and dancing all around. A wealthy amount of food was placed on the large table that sat to the side. The crowd of people was unexpected to say the least. Most of the villagers I had not seen today, but I had no idea there were so many in this place. I watched some of the dancers as they moved in a long line. The elder was at the table eating and laughing enjoying the festivity I'm guessing. People were sitting next to him at one table that was right next to the table with the food. After drinking from a cup, a girl jumped up and joined in the dancing and got in the back of the long line as people cheered for the new addition to their group. I didn't see anyone in particular that I knew. Darn, did they really leave?

"Oh hey there Sharck!" It was Valkyrie, dressed completely different than the last time I saw her. She had on what all of the other ladies had on. "Nice to see you here." She gave me a big smile. "So are you enjoying this celebration?"

"Well, yeah it's definitely different than what I'm used to seeing. So much excitement and joy." The truth was that I was just looking for the others, but I kinda got pulled in seeing all the energy put into this celebration.

"So what do you think?" She did a complete twirl.

It took me a few seconds to understand what she wanted me to comment on. "Ah, it looks great on you."

"Thank you. I wasn't going to wear it but I promised Brenda and Frey that I would so here I am." She wore a goofy look on her face as she pulled and pinched at it. "It's a bit tight on me though."

"Where'd you get it?"

"Frey gave it to me and said that she bought it." It didn't look brand new. "I didn't want to disappoint them."

"Well you look nice."

"Thanks." She slowly sat down at a table next to us. This table had food and other waste all over it and a few others were sitting there already, but there was enough space for us to sit down without intrusion.

"Did you happen to see Pyrona? What about Vienna?" She shook her head and shrugged her shoulders. She didn't even know who I was referring to, which means that they never met her though they already knew about her.

She yawned. "What about that little girl that attacked us earlier? What was she doing and why did she attack? Do you know?" I pretended not to know anything and just shook my head. Honestly, I didn't know much of anything except that that girl loves attacking people. "Whatever she attacked me with made me really exhausted all of a sudden. I may not be able to stay here much longer because of that."

"Well, did you find your horse?"

She yawned again and frowned. "I looked everywhere for him and I still couldn't find him."

"Maybe he isn't here in this village."

"I looked outside the village too and still didn't see him. I even called for him and he didn't show up. Usually when I whistle or call his name he would show up in no time."

"Is it possible that the Cayman Army captured him?"

"Huh, I've heard that name before from some of the villagers, but why would they want to capture him? I don't think he would get caught so easily anyway. You see," she put her index finger up to her face like a person who had just come up with an idea, "his name is Pegasus and he can fly." She must have sensed the shock in my expression. "Uh huh, that's why I don't think he would get caught just like that. There would need to be a large number of people, like an army, with bows and arrows to shoot him out of the sky." I was unsure of why she acted like she had no idea that there was such an army that existed, and in fact, threatened to invade. "Yeah I know, he's so amazing."

"I think we need to go to the Cayman Army, maybe he is there; then we can find him, and maybe my way back home."

Maybe she was just tired, but she looked at me with a threatening look about her. "It makes sense now. I know where you're from."

I stood up, "You do!? Do you know how I can get back then!? Maybe who summoned me here!?"

She shushed me, "Don't talk so loud!" She looked all around us. Seeing her so serious all of a sudden made me nervous.

I stuttered for a moment until a loud voice sounded in the air. We all faced the speaker. "Everyone, everyone, we have special guests with us on this very eventful night!" It was the guy that was with the elder when we first arrived in this village, the guy that also spoke to me when I had awoken. "What brought them here, I do not know, they may just be passing by from what I gathered. What I do know is that they are here now and we must celebrate their stay, for they are heroes! Yes that's right, heroes! We have been blessed with the arrival of..." He paused and then looked a little confused. "...Hmm, I thought there would be some new heroes here today. Uh, anyway- you all know of Madam Valkyrie as she has helped a lot of us with our regular boring daily lives." He was very theatrical while he gave his speech which made people laugh. Someone had walked up to him and whispered to the side of his face. He looked over at me. "She is not the only hero here. One of them is at Mister Pring's home. This poor fellow was brutally attacked by a Cayman Army spy. The poor poor thing. This torture, this cruelty of living in fear! This- doubt that we may never see our children become strong men, nurturing women! We live in stress that our home would be destroyed, burned, taken from us! Our children kidnapped, our women raped! I cannot take it anymore, and I know you can't either! This will end very soon, for there is one good thing about that special hero who never had a chance against the spy. He has caused his brothers and sisters to take action against the demon that has plagued his body with paralysis! Yes, they have begun their assault against the 'Demon' Army! They will rid us of this nuisance so that we may finally enjoy our lives, together, in harmony!" The crowd responded positively. The party continued. I turned to face Valkyrie, but she was no longer there. I was hoping that she hadn't left because I felt very uncomfortable with what he had just said. The elder stared at me for a while, so I decided to slide my way out without getting much attention and left to find Valkyrie.

I went up to the treehouse that I expected Valkyrie resided. I came across nothing but an empty room full of unused light. Even the girl was no longer here, the bandages were gone, and the only thing that remained was the cloth that Valkyrie had on earlier. I spooked myself by knocking into one of the beds, causing a little toy to fall onto the floor.