Chapter 1: Aniversary
My first Nanatsu no Taizai fic! I got this idea while playing Windwaker HD some time back and it refused to leave my brain, so here it is.
It took me like 2 months to finish this damn chapter. I blame my paranoia for always doubting what I write. Also, it's been more than a year since I posted something, please excuse my rustiness.
I wanna thank my dear friend from the NnT Discord An()MAly for beta reading. You're the best.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Darkness, a darkness so silent, so cold. It would send shivers to anyone’s spine.
This was the first thing that swept across Elizabeth’s mind as she stared into the nothingness. Grasping the soft fabric of her dress, the young girl tried to remember what she was doing before, however, her mind was blank. It was as if she was not just trapped in body but also in mind.
She pondered to call out, to see if there was someone, but something in the back of her mind prevented her from doing so. Too scared of what may be lurking inside this darkness. A heavy breath escaped her lips as she composed herself and tried to see beyond the emptiness. A soft breeze gripped her attention, it was so weak that she normally wouldn’t have noticed, but in this darkness she was sure someone was calling for her.
“Hello?!” She called out, taking one step, only to freeze by the sudden splash and wetness at her feet. ‘Is this... water?’
Elizabeth took another careful step to confirmed her suspicions as she realised that it was not just the splash that she hadn’t noticed sooner. But the obvious noise of water pouring down
made her wonder why she didn’t pick it up before.
The same breeze brushed by her again and this time she was sure that there was someone calling, but she couldn’t place the words nor the source.
Slowly her feet carried her further, she had no idea where she was heading or if there was a way out, but she had no idea what else to do. Her footsteps quickened, she tried again in vain to spot any colour, light or shape. There had to be something, anything. A source where the water came from, a hole where the breeze originated from, an exit, but the only the sound of water splashing against her legs and feet filled the silence as she frantically searched for a way out.
‘Anything, anyone, I can’t be alone here.’ Her mind raced. Finally, the girl came to a halt, heavy breaths escaped her lips as she stared at the ground. Her long silver locks were sticking to her neck and face. She pushed her strands behind her ear. The breeze from before had disappeared and was replaced by an icy chill.
For the first time, she knew that she wasn’t alone. Frantically the girl spun around, gazing at her surroundings as she tried to pinpoint her unease.
Her breath was caught in her throat and eyes widened when she noticed something not far away from her. Two beads were gleaming as if staring right into her soul. She could not make out the shape, but she felt something ominous emitting from it. A sense of dread washed over her as she felt an even more sickening pressure towering over her. One even worse than what the darkness around her was creating. Everything inside her screamed her to run away; to run for her life, but she was too frozen in fear to make a move.
It approached her and at the same time she took a step back, her heart was beating so loudly as if it would shoot right into her eardrums at any time. A scream finally erupted from her throat as she felt the darkness engulfing her whole...
And she shot up.
Her vision was greeted by a clear blue sky, the ocean waves and the ceiling of the watchtower where she laid, but none of that registered over her rapid heartbeat, saggy breaths and her trembling body.
“Ellie! You’re awake!”
The young girl slowly turned at the owner of the voice and a wave of relief washed over her as she eyed at the familiar hazel eyes and violet bob.
“Big sister Veronica!” Elizabeth let out a sigh of relief as she embraced the woman.
“Hey, what’s wrong? Did you have a nightmare? I was worried for a second when I found you on the floor.”
“I’m sorry, I wanted to enjoy the view at the watchtower, but I guess I fell asleep... ah...” Elizabeth blinked, trying to recall her dream, but her mind drew blank. “I think I did dream of something, I can’t remember what the dream was about.”
Veronica scrunched her eyes, observing Elizabeth’s reaction carefully. “I’m surprised to see that my little sister is such a sleepy head. Don’t worry too much about it. It was just a dream, besides I can’t remember most of mine neither.”
She held her hand out for Elizabeth to take it, which she gladly did. Without much effort the girl was up, quickly removing any dust on her clothes before she turned to her sister.
“You know I’ve been looking everywhere for you. Everyone’s been waiting.” Veronica commented sternly.
Perplexity crept over Elizabeth as her eyes met Veronica’s. “Waiting? For what?”
“Are you still sleeping? Today is your birthday!”
At her sister’s statement, Elizabeth’s eyes widened. How could she have forgotten something so important? She turned sixteen today. Her cheeks flushed and she looked away, paying her attention to the sea in front of her. “I... did forget...” she admitted shamefully.
A chuckle escaped Veronica’s lips at her sister’s embarrassing reveal. “Really? With how small this island is, you know everyone else’s birthday, but forgot your own?” A teasing grin crept on Veronica’s face. “Anyway, big sister Margaret is still desperately searching for you. Let’s not make her worry too much.”
Elizabeth cast one more glance to the ocean. Clear blue waves crashed against the earth, retreating and crashing again in a hypnotic motion, The waves with unknowns origin and covered the lands, isolating her and every inhabitant inside the small, but peaceful island of Outset. She didn’t feel dissatisfied with her life, all the inhabitants knew each other, whenever someone was in trouble the whole island would come together to solve the problem. As if they were one large family, but curiosity always lurked at the back of her mind. What was there across the ocean? Where there more islands with villages like hers? Were the people nice or was it dangerous? What beauty was the outside hiding from her? But unlike her sister Veronica, she never felt a strong desire to go out and explore.
The girl let out a sigh. Turning away from the ocean view and followed her sister. She spotted someone in the far distance when they were nearing the outskirts of the village where they lived. It was a woman who was slightly older than Veronica and Elizabeth, long indigo hair and gentle expression. Her eyes lit up when she saw the two women approaching.
“Margaret!” Elizabeth responded back as she held her elder sister in an embrace.
“I’m just glad that you’re alright, Elizabeth. But please you need to stop disappearing as you please. Do you remember how you had everyone looking for you last time?”
Under her sister’s stern gaze, Elizabeth’s cheeks began to burn in shame. “I’m really sorry. I will try to do better next time.”
Subconsciously she began to fidget with her fingers. “Veronica said that you were looking for me.”
“Ah yes, there is still time before the celebration. I have a surprise for you back home. That I want to give you.” Margaret explained.
Curiosity got the better of the younger sister. “A surprise? For me?”
The woman nodded. “Yes, but please don’t go off running again.”
Elizabeth however, did not hear her sister and ran immediately towards her house. Passing the bridge that was the entrance towards her village, she almost tripped in her excitement.
“Ah, watch out!”
With a yelp, the girl fell to the ground. She didn’t pay much concern to the voice until she noticed a hand reaching out to her.
“Howzer?” Elizabeth called out to the man who gazed at her worriedly. “My apologies, I didn’t see you.”
“Don’t worry about that, I was being stealthy on purpose... Damnit!” Howzer was looking up at the spot where he had his attention not long ago, only to see it empty.
“Were you looking for something?” Elizabeth asked, curiosity getting the best of her as she tried to look around for what could have gotten that man’s attention until she spotted something further away from them. “Ah, a pig!”
A round pink little creature with black dots was grazing away without a care in the world.
Howzer quickly covered the girl’s mouth before she became any louder.
“Shhhh! You’re gonna scare it away.”
After he was sure that Elizabeth wouldn’t make too much noise, did he release her. She curiously eyed her friend. “Why are you after a pig?” She whispered.
“Uh.. that is...” the blonde awkwardly rubbed the back of his head, hoping to come up with a good explanation.
“Don’t tell me,” a gasp escaped from her mouth. “Is it a birthday present for me?!”
Howser quickly tried to cover her mouth again, the damage had already been done. The pig heard the girl’s voice and quickly ran away from the two. The two ended up in awkward silence before the young man clicked his tongue in annoyance.
“Damn it, not again and I was so close this time.”
“I’m sorry Howzer, because of me the pig escaped, please let me make up to it! I’ll help you catch that pig!” Elizabeth exclaimed.
“That’s not necessary, I have Gil and Griamore helping me, I’m pretty sure they’ll be here soon. Why don’t you just go find your sisters? They were looking for you not long ago.”
Elizabeth immediately remembered the reason why she bumped into Howzer. She quickly got up and dusted off her dress before running off again. “Oh yes, thank you for reminding me.” She called out. “And I can’t wait for the present you have for me!”
Howzer tensed upon hearing her. “Don’t worry it will be a great, uhh present!”
Not soon after her house came into view. It was the largest house in the village, befitting for the ones in charge. With a strong push, Elizabeth stormed inside. Her breath ragged and her heart thumping frantically in her chest. She wasn’t sure if this was from her excitement or her exhaustion from running the entire way back.
“Elizabeth?” A man appeared in the hallway. Despite his old appearance, he was tall and muscular, his long grey hair tied and he had a long distinguished moustache and beard. “Where have you been?”
“Uncle Denzel,” Elizabeth answered, guilt creeping over her. “I fell asleep while I was observing the ocean at the watchtower.” A sigh escaped her mouth as she gave her uncle a sheepish smile. “I had completely forgotten what day it was.”
“Just make sure to inform anyone of your whereabouts next time alright. I wouldn’t be able to stand if I lost another family member and your sisters share these sentiments.”
Elizabeth clenched her hands as a heavy pain covered her heart in remembrance. “Yes, I will.”
“Don’t worry, leave these sombre feelings behind and enjoy the day. Today is a joyous occasion, now don’t let your sisters wait any longer.”
The girl hadn’t noticed when Margaret and Veronica had arrived, but she saw them standing near the stairs that would lead them to their chambers. “I will, uncle and thank you.”
“Oh, and before I forget, I need you to visit Sir Zaratras’ house. There are a few things I’d like to discuss with him.” Denzel called after Elizabeth before she headed upstairs.”
Zaratras was the head guard of the village and father of Gilthunder. He was a dedicated worker and had earned the respect of all the inhabitants.
“I will, uncle.”
Elizabeth reached Margaret’s room, the excitement from before had not died out. With a fiercely beating heart, she opened the door and spotted her two sisters at Margaret’s desk. The eldest one had her arms hidden behind her back. An elated smile was plastered on her face.
“I can’t believe you’re sixteen already, it feels like it was yesterday when you secretly tried to take candy from the cabinet.”
A slight blush adorned the youngest’s cheeks, but she allowed for her sister to continue.
“Here,” Margaret pulled out a small box. It looked so luxurious with its golden embroidery and dark blue colour. “I prepared this especially for you, Happy birthday.”
Carefully Elizabeth took the box and opened it. Inside it was a round, beautiful earring of a light blue shade, depicting the sun, moon and stars.
“It’s beautiful.” she breathed out.
“It has our family crest in it,” Margaret explained. “It’s one of the few things we have left of our ancestry.”
“Our family crest?” Elizabeth tilted her head upon examining the jewel. “I didn’t even know we had one.”
“It’s old history, most information of our family has disappeared with time, but this is one of the view old relics that our family was able to save keep. Just see it as a fun trivia. Now come here and let me put it on.”
“I have the ice and needle here!” Veronica chirped, “Now Ellie, sit still and don’t even think about moving, or it will hurt even more.”
A chill ran through the girl’s spine. They were going to put a needle through her ear?! Sure she always thought her sister Margaret looked beautiful with her jewellery. But Margaret was still a small child when her ears were pierced. She didn’t remember anything of that moment. Elizabeth wouldn’t have that luxury.
Verona took a step towards her younger sister and simultaneously, Elizabeth took a step back.
“Come on Ellie, it will be over before you know it. The longer you wait, the worse it gets.” A whimper escaped her throat as she was grabbed by her wrist and pulled into a chair. “Now, stay still, you can close your eyes if it makes you feel less scared.
She felt an icy cold cloth being pushed against her earlobe. Instinctively she held her breath and suppressed the urge to run away by biting her lower lip. A few more seconds passed when she felt something pinch her ear.
“Ugh...” It throbbed and Elizabeth tried her best not to touch her ears, grabbing the fabric of her dress to distract herself from the pain.
Veronica was right that the initial pain didn’t last, but she wasn’t sure if it was worth it, with the immense pain she had felt back then and now there was this throbbing pain that she wished she could do something about. But for the coming weeks, she wasn’t allowed to touch her ear or the earring, only when she had to clean it to prevent any infections from happening. Why didn’t anyone tell her that having an earring would feel so uncomfortable?
“Just focus on your current goals.” She mumbled. “If I think more about the throbbing it only gets worse.”
Her uncle had asked her for a simple errand so she will focus all her attention on it.
“Well, if it isn’t Lady Elizabeth.”
Elizabeth snapped out of her thoughts, looking around for the person who called her. Her eyes landed on a man who was staring down at her from a balcony.
“Sir Dreyfus, did you cut your hair?”
Dreyfus was a tall man with a muscular build and dark hair. He worked as one if the village guards and was the father of Griamore. Despite his intimidating appearance, he was a caring man.
“Yes, I was ready for a change.” He admitted sheepishly. “I see you got a present already.”
An urge to touch her earring surfaced, but Elizabeth quickly grabbed her wrist before she would do something she regretted. “Yes, it was my sister Margaret’s present.”
“It’s a pretty present, but doesn’t it hurt?”
“... a little bit.” The girl bit her lip as she tried to forget the throbbing, and she was so close too. “Do you happen to know where Sir Zaratras is?”
“My brother?” Dreyfus raised his eyebrows in contemplation. “I think he’s still in his home.”
“I see, thank you very much and have a good day!”
“Thank you and try not to arrive late during the celebration. Your sisters were all over the place this morning.”
She should have expected that the short break she took would end up as the latest village news. Whenever something happened everyone else would be aware of the incident within minutes and Elizabeth’s private explorations were nothing new.
“I will.” She answered before she continued on her way.
Zaratras’ house wasn’t very far from Dreyfus’. Elizabeth quickly spotted the house of the head guard. Like most of the houses it had a similar design, a ground floor and second floor, however, Zaratras also had a separate area where he would train the trainees or even spar with his brother and fellow guards.
Elizabeth knocked gently on the door, waiting for the man to answer. “Sir Zaratras?”
Silence followed, the girl was about to call again when she heard a large ‘thump’ followed by a crash.
“Sir Zaratras!” Without thinking Elizabeth opened the door and searched around for the man.
Her village was well known for its hospitality, a deep bond of familiarity and trust was shared between everyone and thus the citizens only bothered to lock their doors at night.
The room seemed tidy at first glance, furniture neatly on their place, the books on their shelves, the vases clean and untouched, but in the far corner of the room, the girl spotted a tall man on the ground, his long silver locks were covered in pie.
“Lady Elizabeth, to what do I owe this lovely surprise?” A sheepish grin adorned his face.
“Sir Zaratras, are you alright? I thought you were in trouble...”
“Ah, no don’t worry about it. I was just... practising my baking skills.”
“Baking skills?” She repeated.
“I just wanted to make one myself! I wanted to make the best Black Cat fish pie ever prepared! But I’m a total failure in the kitchen! I thought this could have been a great break from my training, but my beloved fish pie has betrayed me!”
His cry of anguish hovered over the room and Elizabeth could only look speechless at the man. She would love to help him with his problems, but the girl wasn’t that talented in the kitchen either. She wasn’t even allowed to enter her own kitchen.
“Um, don’t worry Sir Zaratras, I’m sure you’ll be able to figure it out somehow.”
“Thank you for your kind words. Now on a different subject, I see that you’ve gotten your first present already?”
“Yes, my elder sister Margaret gave it to me.”
“It’s very lovely, but I guess it must hurt quite a bit.”
“Not as much as getting the needle through your ear.” The girl admitted sheepishly.
"Let’s get your mind off those painful thoughts then!" Zaratras exclaimed joyfully as he got up and removed the pie from his hair and took a taste of it. "Hmm, it needs a bit more salt."
Elizabeth could only blink at the man. "My mind of painful thoughts?" she repeated questionably.
The head guard nodded. "Getting your ears pierced is probably painful, besides you can see this as a birthday present from your new tutor."
Zaratras walked towards the wall where several practice swords hang. He grabbed two and handed one over to the girl. Elizabeth stared at the sword, looking as if she had found a foreign object.
"Sir Zaratras, I've never touched a sword before..." She mumbled as she fidgeted with the weapon.
"They say there is a first for everything, right? You wouldn't want to be defenceless when you go travelling with your sisters."
The moment he uttered those words he regretted saying them out loud. Elizabeth looked at the knight as if he had grown a second head. Mouth wide open and her mind replaying his final sentence. "What?" It came out as a soft whisper, but it was loud enough for Zaratras to hear them.
A short silence lingered before the man answered. "I guess the secret is out then, " A sigh escaped his lips."This was supposed to be a surprise from Lady Veronica, so could you please pretend like you know nothing? Otherwise, I'm going to get scolded and I really don't want to sit and listen for hours while a whole supply of fish pies are waiting for me!"
"Sure, I will do my best." Elizabeth couldn't help but smile awkwardly. Zaratras' laid-back behaviour was nothing new, but no one could understand that undying love for fish pie that the man possessed.
"To make a long story short. Your sister had arranged a journey with you and Lady Margaret. Obviously, you would be accompanied by my son and some other guards, but she wanted you to learn more about the outside world."
Elizabeth had no idea to react, she felt happy obviously and elated and so many more things that she couldn't put a finger on. So many things went through her head. She and her sisters were going on a journey?! So that was why Veronica hadn't given her any present yet. When would they leave? What was she supposed to bring? What kind of places would they come across? Other towns? New people? Beautiful forests? Would she get seasick? Would she get homesick? Would they encounter danger? Too many things ran through her mind and she knew she was supposed to give Zaratras a reaction or he might think that she had become ill.
The knight's voice snapped her out of her thoughts, she blinked once only to realize she felt something wet- tears? She touched her cheek and she couldn't help but smile. "I'm sorry Sir Zaratras." She choked out. "I'm just so happy. I know sister Veronica had always wanted to go outside. To see the world, to go on an adventure, but to think that she wanted to do it together with us." Quickly she dried her tears before the next thought surfaced. "But how was she able to get permission? I thought we weren't allowed to leave the island."
Zaratras let out a chuckle. "Lady Veronica can be very convincing and she also had to agree with the conditions she was given."
"You mean the guards that will be accompanying us?"
"That's one of them." He admitted.
"And the sword training you just offered?"
Zaratras scratched the back of his neck. "... Tha-at was just a present from me."
Elizabeth looked at the practice sword she was given and then back to Zaratras, determination firm in her eyes. "Thank you very much Sir Zaratras. I will do my best to learn as much as I can."
Her arms felt heavy, so heavy, she was sure she couldn’t use them for a while. There were cuts and bruises all over her upper body. They were minor ones. But with her accompanied exhaustion it felt worse than it actually was. On a side note, her throbbing ear was completely forgotten. But she wasn’t sure if the pain trade was a good one.
“Hmmm, I guess that wasn’t so bad for your first try.” Zaratras mused.
“... Really?” Elizabeth breathed out between her gasps.
“But you do have a super long way to go. Your stance was completely wrong, you had way too many openings and you need to put more power in your attacks!”
Zaratras’ strict criticism blew away whatever confidence Elizabeth had. “I guess I’m not really cut out for this after all.”
“No, even if you have to struggle. As the head guard, everyone’s safety is my main priority and while I will not be able to accompany you or your sisters on your journey. The least I can do it make sure that you will be strong enough to defend yourself against any danger! So work hard, even if it seems impossible! Work hard and I will work hard on the perfect fish pie, despite my lack of cooking skills!”
There was an awkward silence between them. Elizabeth had lost her ability to respond while watching Zaratras. After a few more seconds she was finally able to gather her thoughts, at least he was trying to cheer her up. “Yes, thank you.”
Zaratras returned the equipment he was using and faced Elizabeth with a smile. “I guess I should see what your uncle wants to discuss with me. You can keep that practice sword, it’ll be hard to train without it otherwise.”
“Thank you, sir Zaratras!” Elizabeth couldn’t contain her delight at the knight’s kind gesture, “I will work hard. I will make sure the journey will be a save one and I will bring you a souvenir when I get back!”
“As long as you girls have fun and come back healthy, that’s more than enough for me,” Zaratras answered.
Zaratras escorted Elizabeth outside, where she was met by her sisters.
“My apologies Lady Margaret, Lady Veronica, I took some of your sister’s time,” Zaratras explained. “Now I’m sure I have kept your uncle waiting long enough. Lady Elizabeth,” he turned toward her. “May your day be an enjoyable one, we shall see each other during the celebration.”
Elizabeth watched the knight until he was out of her sight. She had not forgotten her promise with him, so she turned to her sisters, keeping her expression smooth.
“So, what was it that kept you away for so Long?” Veronica asked.
“Sir Zaratras was trying to make a fish pie, but that wasn’t very successful.”
“He really likes those pies.”Veronica mused. “At an almost unhealthy level...”
The three sisters chuckled at the thought of the head knight’s unorthodox ‘hobbies’ however their brief moment was broken when they heard an unusual screech from the distance.
“What was that noise? Are there invaders?” Margaret asked. Panic creeped over her being.
Elizabeth’s hadn’t paid much attention to her sister, her mind had gone blank as if being pulled by an unknown force, she bolted away from her sisters. It wasn’t until she heard them calling after her that the girl finally realised what was happening. She was heading towards the watchtower. Her heart was beating frantically as she made her way towards her favourite spot. At least if she could get to a place high enough to see what that screech came from she could... what was it that she could do? She didn’t even know what to expect.
By the time she arrived at the watchtower, the girl was already out of breath. She panted heavily as she leaned over, trying to gather any energy she had left. Ignoring the heavy feeling in her legs, her rapid heartbeats, she climbed the stairs towards the top.
“Ellie, stop running away like that! You’re going to make everyone worry! I’m sure uncle and the guards have heard it. They’re gonna take care of the situation! Now let’s go home!” Veronica called behind her.
Elizabeth wasn’t surprised that Veronica was able to catch up with her. Out of the three she had the highest stamina and physical prowess, but it didn’t stop Elizabeth from trying to help in any way possible.
She frantically looked around the horizon, seeing nothing but blue. She tilted her head a bit higher and froze as she saw a huge figure flying in the air.
“What’s wrong Elizabeth?” Margaret had finally caught up with the two and the moment she had climbed up, she noticed her younger sister tense posture.
Veronica followed Elizabeth’s gaze her eyes narrowing suspiciously as she spotted the creature. “Is that a bird?”
The bird, which Veronica identified was much larger what someone would expect from a common bird. Dark feathers and a strange mask that could be either used for protecting its face or hide it. It had approached the island before the sisters could make a move. Elizabeth gripped the wooden railing harshly. Fearing that the bird would attack their home, however, a sudden flash made the bird freeze in its action and then... sank into the ocean. From the corner of her eye, Elizabeth noticed how it seemed like it had dropped something. Her eyes locked on the strange figure as it disappeared into the woods.
Whenever I write I always pretend like I'm filling in a slate. The audience sees a blank slate, my words fill the line arts, a proper world building fills it with colour. So I have to pretend that everyone isn't smart and doesn't know who what or when. Otherwise, I'll become even more paranoid.
I love my readers, so please don't see this as an offence.
Chapter 2: Prologue to a Journey
And the next chapter is up! I feel so relieved that I can finally post this piece. It took me less time than chapter one. I guess once you get the hang of your story things will go more smoothly. Doesn't meant that I haven't struggled to get this out.
I wanna thank you lovely readers who read, fav, reviewed and special thanks to my beta and friends! I couldn't have done it without you guys!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"What... was that seriously a bird?!" Veronica couldn't contain her disbelief as she stared at the direction the bird had disappeared to. "Birds aren't supposed to be that big! Why did it fall in the first place? Hey, Ellie where are you going?!"
Elizabeth hadn't listened to her sister's questions, she climbed down the watchtower, ignoring her sister's call until her feet met the ground again. "I saw it. When the bird fell it dropped something or someone! I have to help!
"What are you saying?! It's too dangerous, let Griamore and the others handle it!"
"That's going to take more time! What if they're injured?! Don't worry, I'll be careful!"
"Elizabeth, please listen!" Margaret called after her youngest sister as she was climbing down the ladder. When she was sure she was on solid ground again, she grabbed her sister by her hand. "You can't run around like you did when we were small. Gil mentioned that monsters have been sighted in the forest!"
"Monsters?" Elizabeth could almost not believe what she was hearing. "You mean like the ones in the fairytales they used to tell us?"
"No, those stories are told to children so they won't misbehave. I haven't seen them myself, but the forest isn't safe to enter. So please Elizabeth,"
Elizabeth shook her head before her sister could finish her sentence. "I understand your concern sister, but I don't want to sit and do nothing while someone could be in danger. You and sister Veronica should go and call for Sir Zaratras and the others."
Ignoring her sisters' continuing pleas, the girl headed north, towards the mountains where the Forest of Fairies was situated. The forest had earned its name due to rumours of fairies living inside the forest. Elizabeth, along with her sisters and friends often sneaked out in their younger days to play and search for the rumoured fairies. However, they had never sighted one. The forest was located deep within the mountain summit. It had a beautiful view of the whole island, the rocks enclosing the woods gave it a mysterious feel. The only entrance was a tiny cave. As the years passed, the girl visited the place less and less and now with the new rumours of monsters appearing, it made her wonder how much the place had changed. Where did those monsters come from? A different Island? Where they common out there? It was hard to imagine that they swam the whole way just to inhabit a forest on a tiny island. Or where those monsters the real identity of the rumoured fairies? As Elizabeth reached the bridge that would lead her to the forest she abruptly stopped to catch her breath. Tilting her head, her gaze was fixated on the other end of the bridge.
"It's been so long..." Her hand hovered over the hilt of the training sword. Her frantically pounding heart, which could be either from exhaustion or her nerves, felt like it had been ringing inside her ears. Elizabeth closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Keep your mind calm. Composure is the key to victory." She recited the lines Zaratras has told her during their practice.
With her new formed resolve she grabbed the railing of the suspension bridge firmly, how she was able to run across this bridge fearlessly in the past was a mystery, and carefully crossed over. The bridge looked worn down and the strong winds blowing past did not help her in feeling any more secure. A feeling of relief overtook her the moment she stepped on solid ground again. The ageing of the bridge was probably the main reason why she stopped coming.
Without thinking Elizabeth glanced over the cliff, watching all the houses in her village. She spotted Sir Zaratras' house, Guila's, Jericho's, Howzer's, Sir Deathpierce, Arden, Deldrey, Sir Dreyfus' and further away even her own house. Seeing how small everything seemed from high up, Elizabeth couldn't help but wonder. If she and her sisters were to go on their journey, would her village look even smaller upon their return?
"Ah, what am I doing? I have no time to get distracted." Without taking a second look, Elizabeth quickly hurried into the woods.
Despite the passing years, Elizabeth had to admit that the forest hadn't lost its beauty, lush green shades that reminded her of the beginning of spring, the tranquil silence that would sometimes be disturbed by the rustling of the trees, the fresh smell of nature that quietened her mind and the forest's density that prevented the sunlight from properly illuminating the area. Despite the familiarity Elizabeth had also noticed a change, she couldn't describe was it was. The only thing she was certain was that there was something wrong. As if the current stillness was a cold one that warned her to not approach, to leave the forest and get herself into safety.
The girl tried her best to navigate carefully without making any sound that could alert any possible enemies of her presence. The forest did change, she became aware of how there was not even one animal in sight. No birds chirping, no squirrels trying to gather food. The trees that once seemed approachable for a climb had increased in height and now towered over her from afar. Elizabeth couldn't help but feel a bit at a loss. Where was she supposed to start? What or who was she supposed to search for or where did they land? It's been so long since she was here. Everything felt so foreign to her.
After accidentally stepping on a twig, Elizabeth froze. Her gaze switching from left to right, was it her imagination or did she heard something? However, a rustling noise confirmed her suspicions. It wasn't exactly what she heard before, could it be the lost person or was it one of those monsters her sisters warned her about?
'Pugo?' That didn't sound human at all. Was it an animal that lived now in the forest? Or was it from the being she saw falling into the woods not long ago? Human or not Elizabeth still felt the need to help the poor creature.
The girl continued her exploration, stumbling as she tripped over fallen branches or rocks. She nearly wondered if the forest was void of life, but the moment those thoughts went across her mind she spotted something in the distance. She grasped the hilt of her sword tightly, slowly approaching her target while making sure she stayed hidden, until...
"Kyah!" Elizabeth let out a yelp. Having realized that she had lost her footing, she found herself flat on the ground. After letting out a pained groan, she opened her eyes, staring at the tree branches up in the air and the ledge where she fell from.
The girl had no time to get distracted as a sharp screech tore through the air. Snapping the girl's attention back to the ground. Whatever that was, she wouldn't be surprised if it was hostile and it had obviously heard her.
Elizabeth got up quickly, not paying attention to the dirt or cuts on her clothes. She grabbed her sword, hoping to get the upper hand with a surprise attack, however, what had appeared was not something she would expect.
It really didn't look like any of the monsters described in the children's story, but then again what would she know about monsters, she didn't even know they existed. The creature had a pitch black skin, it was about half her height, a face with the resemblance of a pig and it walked on two legs, unlike the pigs she knew. Just looking at it gave her goosebumps.
"Stay away! Please don't let me hurt you!"
Yelling at a monster was pretty much like talking to a rock and Elizabeth was aware of it, but she couldn't help it. Maybe if her yell would intimidate it, or maybe it was sentient enough to understand that she would prefer not to hurt another living individual. Who was she kidding, the only way to safety was to force her way through.
Bracing herself, the girl placed as much force as she could muster in her legs and lunged at the monster, she tried to recall everything Zaratras told her as she swung the sword. Elizabeth felt the blade making contact with her opponent and the creature screamed. It didn't go down as she had hoped. Instead, it lashed out with its claws. The girl quickly shied away, almost dropping her sword in the process. Her arm felt like it had caught fire. She took a quick glance to look at the red scratching marks, it was bleeding. But she had neither the time nor means to treat her wound as the monster took no break and lunged at her, forcing the girl on the defence.
This was definitely not like the sparring match with Zaratras. She had no time to breathe, rest or even regain her bearings. This creature was out to take her life and possibly take her as an evening meal. If monsters ate humans, Elizabeth wasn't sure if they were omnivores, carnivores or herbivores. She was hoping for the latter at least.
The girl was certain that if she kept going, that she would run out of stamina soon, so she did was every person in her situation would do, Elizabeth took a run for it. Ignoring the screech of the monster as it chased after her. She knew that she could at least outrun it, with her legs being twice as long.
The girl didn't pay any attention to where she was heading. She just kept running, climbing or jumping over obstacles that got in her way, quickly getting up whenever she fell and only once in a while did she look behind her shoulder to see if her pursuer was still on hot tails. After what felt like an eternity to Elizabeth, she stopped in front of a platform, it was steep, but she was sure that she would be able to climb it. Taking one more glance behind her shoulder, she could still hear the screeches of the monster, it was getting louder by the second. Without a second thought, Elizabeth jumped. She ignored the pain in her arms and the bruises on her legs that she got while running and forced herself up. The monster appeared right at that time, screeching and jumping, but its legs were too short to reach the girl.
Elizabeth scurried away from the edge, stopping only when her back hit a wall. A heavy sigh escaped her lips once she felt the adrenaline leaving her. She hadn't even realized how much she was panicking until now. Her body was shaking uncontrollably, she was panting for air and she felt like her heart could jump out any minute. That was her first life-threatening encounter and it went so much different than what she had hoped it would be. Was the outside world as dangerous? What if the monsters were to decide to come into the village? Have they always been here? She could not recall these creatures during her childhood. Then was there some sort of magical portal those creatures came from? Why did they settle on this island in the first place?
Her attention shifted to her wounds. The bleeding had diminished, but she knew that if she didn't get it treated she could risk an infection, and when did she get a gash on her knees? Her dress was also a mess, covered in dirt and cuts from her escape. She was sure to get a scolding when she got back.
"Ah, the lost animal!" While carefully pushing herself off the ground, she immediately remembered the strange sound she heard. She couldn't leave without the poor human or animal, after getting this far.
Elizabeth leaned on the wall. Waiting a bit until she was sure that she had enough strength, her eyes quickly caught a strange crack on the wall. It was large, almost covering Elizabeth's height, but it felt more like it was carved instead naturally cracked from time passing or a strong force. She remembered how back then the children used to spread rumours; how it was an entrance to the fairy realm and that the fairies created that crack to mark the entrance for their fellow clansmen. The rumour came to be as this was the only location that wasn't thickly covered by trees or bushes.
"A forest inhabited by fairies..." Elizabeth repeated the words she heard a long time ago. As a child she was certain that she would be able to catch a fairy, but do fairies really exist? She was pretty sure they were just stories, like vampires, werewolves, demons, living dead and even monsters. Then again she did encounter a monster.
Elizabeth tore her attention away from the wall, towards the noise, unlike before she could hear it clearly now. She knew she was close.
"Hold on, I'm coming!" She called out as she ran towards the sound.
The path led her towards a fallen tree which oversaw a clearing and on the opposite of the clearing Elizabeth spotted something pink stuck in the trees.
"Is that... a pig?!"
A fairly large well-rounded pig with short legs and a clover-shaped birthmark on its back was struggling to get out of the branches it had landed on. Elizabeth thought it was the cutest pig she had ever seen. Was this poor pig destined to become dinner for the large bird? Or did the heavens send it as a present to her?
Her fatigue and injuries completely forgotten, the girl hurried over to the pig, only to forget how high up she was. Elizabeth let out a yelp as she fell flat on the ground.
It wasn't like her clothes weren't doomed already, but she was sure that she would need a lot of time to clean herself up and look presentable for the celebration and a clean set of clothes. Something she had almost forgotten about. A sigh escaped her lips as she lifted herself from the ground. There goes her favourite dress.
While the girl's thoughts wandered off she picked up a strange sound. It almost sounded like... it came from above? Elizabeth tilted her head towards the sky and she got immediately greeted by two creatures similar to the one she faced not long ago, that dropped out of the sky.
Panic scourged through Elizabeth's being as she looked in horror at the two beings. Going against one was already impossible, but two and with no way to run, It's not like she could leave the poor pig to become dinner. Not after all the trouble, she went through just to reach the animal. She could do this, her first battle had given her an idea what she could expect. She would not make the same mistake again. She would find a way out of it and return to her sisters alive!
With her sword in hand, Elizabeth pointed towards one of the monsters. Instead of recklessly attacking like the last time, she would wait for them to take the first move.
One of the monsters staggered towards her and to her astonishment collapsed on the ground. The girl had only seconds to register what had happened before she heard the familiar screech of its companion. A large gust of wind forced her to close her eyes. Before she realized it Elizabeth felt a heavy weight on top of her as her body hit the grass.
Slowly Elizabeth's brain caught up with what was happening. The feeling of cold earth and grass on her back, the blue skies and sunlight that shone through the small opening between the trees. The weight on her body, the sudden yelp from the person on top of her and the... hands groping her chest?
"He-hello?" Was her only response as she finally took a glance at the person on top of her.
Her blue eye met bright green ones, staring back at her questionably. The person on top of her looked surprisingly young. Blonde messy hair, his face was round and childlike and his hands were groping her freely...
"Hmm, good. It seems like you didn't break anything." The strange boy or man responded as he leisurely got off her.
Elizabeth couldn't help but feel flustered, confused and embarrassed. "... thank you?" She was pretty sure that that wasn't the method to check for any internal injuries.
The male looked back at her and offered his hand and she couldn't help but notice how short he was and is he carrying a sword on his back? Is he a swordsman? "You do look like you got quite the beating." He continued.
Without thinking she took his hand and stared at her current state. It was far from presentable. "Yes, I... fell down a few times... and I was caught off guard by one of those monsters. Did you just fall from the sky?"
"I guess you can say it like that. So, what's a lady doing in these woods?"
"Oi, don't ignore me you swine! I was almost eaten alive twice, got stuck in this tree and you're just going to harass women?! Where is your conscience?!"
The voice she just heard came from the trees right where the... "Is that pig talking?!" Elizabeth stared at the pig who was still stuck in the tree. Her eyes lightened up in excitement, events from before completely forgotten.
"My name is Hawk, pugo."
She definitely found the pig adorable.
"Sure, I'll get you down." The swordsman answered. He unseated a curved short sword and cut through the air. To Elizabeth's amazement, it sliced through the tree that held Hawk with ease.
"Pugyaaa!" The pig screamed as it fell on the ground.
"There you go." The stranger mumbled without taking one look at the pig.
"Damn you! Watch where you aim! I almost became a skewered pig!"
Elizabeth stared dumbfounded at the one-sided scolding from the pig. His companion didn't seem bothered at all. "Is he your pet?"
The boy looked at the pig for a second before turning his attention back to Elizabeth. "Hmm sorta."
In the end, her dream of owning a pig was still far away.
"By the way, where are we?" Hawk asked when he finally took notice of his surroundings. "That bastard chicken just grabbed me like that! How dare he try to turn me into dinner, Pugo!"
"You're lucky then that it dropped you on top of this mountain." The boy answered.
"Wait a second you just went out to attack that damn bird not even thinking that I could fall into the ocean and drown? Or what if I fell in a volcano or a fire!"
"I guess we'd be eating roasted pig then."
"You heartless swine!"
"Anyway, I think it's better not to stay here much longer. I want to find that bird and finish it off properly, I'm really in the mood for some chicken." His attention turned to Elizabeth. "Could you guide us to the exit? It would be troublesome if the swine gets lost again."
"Speak for yourself!"
"Sure. I know a shortcut from here... well I hope it's still here. It's been a long time since I came to this place and thank you very much for saving me. I know it wasn't your intention, but I'm still grateful. Ah, I forgot to introduce myself, I'm Elizabeth."
"Elizabeth? That's a pretty name. I'm Meliodas, you know Hawk."
"It's a pleasure to meet your Elizabeth. Pugo." Hawk introduced himself again.
Elizabeth glanced around the bushes, hoping to recall which way she was supposed to go. The forest of fairies wasn't exactly large, but the density made it hard to spot a pathway. Especially with all the overgrown trees and bushes.
"It's supposed to be around here." She muttered. Her train of thought was quickly interrupted when she felt a pair of strong arms holding her up and the girl couldn't help but let out a yelp.
"I think that's the path you were referring to." Meliodas was holding her in his arm with ease. Surprising the girl with his strength, his youthful appearance and short stature were unexpectedly misleading. However, the way he handles a sword should have been proof enough that he was experienced in combat and possessed strength.
"Can't have you pushing yourself in that condition of yours." He continued. Elizabeth let out a squeal when she'd felt him squeezing her breast.
"You know that you're allowed to hit him." Hawk commented from behind them.
Meliodas took a leap and landed on top of a ledge which gave him a decent view of the forest's layout. His gaze halted when he spotted the monster Elizabeth had faced off before.
"Hold on tight." He told her.
She had no idea what he meant with that, but before she could react he jumped again. Forcing the girl to cling tighter to him. She heard the sound of a sword unseating and when she opened her eyes again they were on solid ground. Not further away was the monster that attacked her before, body split into several pieces and laying in a puddle of its own blood. Elizabeth froze at the sight, but what started her more was that the body began to disintegrate in seconds. It happened in a blink, no one would have been able to guess that it had been there only seconds ago.
"Alright, That should clear this place of any possible threats."
"Did you really had to go that far? I mean, one simple swipe could have done the trick." Hawk asked while he looked at the spot where the corpse once was.
"You can never be too careful," Meliodas answered as he seated his sword and headed towards the exit.
The fresh wind against her skin felt like a huge relief for her. How long was she inside the forest? She was sure a couple of hours had passed, the sun was shining brightly high in the sky, unlike this morning. Gosh, how she had missed this bright light. The difference in scenery had such a huge impact. It was almost unbelievable that not long ago she was in a life-threatening situation. She couldn't wait to run home and clean herself up. Obviously, she would need to tend her wounds first.
"Uh, you can put me down," Elizabeth commented as she realised that Meliodas was still carrying her.
"Are you sure? You look pretty beaten up."
The girl nodded. "Yes, don't worry about it. The majority of these injuries happened because I tripped and fell." She admitted, a slight pink blush crept over her face as she recalled her clumsiness.
"If you say so." Meliodas placed her carefully on the ground. "If you're not feeling well or if your injuries are still bothering you, just tell me okay?"
Having recognised the voice, Elizabeth quickly turned. Her sisters Veronica and Margaret stood on the other side of the bridge along with Gilthunder, Griamore and Howzer. While her elder sisters both looked alarmed when they saw her state, a flash of relief washed over them the moment their younger sister made eye contact and smiled at them.
"Sister Veronica, sister Margaret!"
The two sisters immediately ran towards Elizabeth and the girl in return rushed towards her sisters. Ignoring the instability of the bridge.
Next thing felt like a complete blur to Elizabeth. First, Meliodas grabbed her hand and pulled her back, preventing her from crossing over. Second, the giant bird appeared out of nowhere, screeching in anger as it flew over the bridge and to her horror grabbed her sisters.
Veronica and Margaret screamed as they were suddenly carried into the air. Gilthunder and Griamore yelling as they tried to save them. Gilthunder tried to send his lightning magic at the bird hoping it would distract the bird and drop the girls, but none of his attacks made constant.
And Elizabeth, in her utmost terror tried to reach her sisters. She struggled in Meliodas' grasp, yelling, screaming, begging him to let her go. He was protesting, but his words didn't reach her. She couldn't hear anything except for the bird and the desperate pleas for help.
"Please let me Go! Sir Meliodas! I have to help them! I have to save my sisters! Please! I beg of you! Veronica! Margaret! Nooo!" Her face was covered in tears she couldn't even see clearly anymore, but none of that mattered. Her sisters were taken from her. Her family. She had to do something!
"There's nothing you could have done! Please calm down, Elizabeth! The only thing it would have resulted in is you falling to your dead!"
"Nooo! Veronica! Margaret!"
Meliodas held her firmly, no matter how much she struggled she couldn't break free. The only thing she could do was cry in his embrace until exhaustion finally caught up to her.
Which one of you was expecting Hawk to be the piglet in need?
I'm really curious about my readers' thoughts on this. I want to surprise you guys in the best way possible. Even though I had my doubts about the last part since I wrote that on an empty stomach... but at least I found it acceptable.
And for those who had been expecting Ellie to put up a decent fight. Sorry to burst your bubble, it's too early for that. Ellie isn't a fighter by nature. Zaratras has also pointed out her inexperience before, despite the Bokoblin being a super weak monster, they would still pose a threat to a person with zero combat experience. However, she is brave so when there's someone in trouble she WILL do her best to save them in any way possible.
Thank you for reading.