This journey took me down a dark path, a path no one travelled on their own. I was getting a little cocky after my last adventure. A lone wooden signpost pointed north towards my destination. I was still a long way away and I was getting a little tired. The thought of setting up a camp for the night crossed my mind. It had been a while since I really travelled on my own, I missed having company. I sat on an old tree stump and sighed, a breeze touching my skin.
I was on guard but still naive. My uncle had taught me about camping in forests. I went over each step, effortlessly completed by my magic and I took a rest on the ground, unaware of the deadly creature that crawled up behind me. It silently hissed as I gaze into the fire. It was only when it was inches away from me that I realised its presence and I raised my hands up in defence but the creature knocked me back against a large tree, knocking out the air in my lungs. I struggled to get up and fight back but the creature stood up tall. The flickering fire illuminated its figure and I could clearly see its long centipede-like body with long spindly legs that clicked with every movement. Its face was covered with erratic eyes that darted around, fangs chitter as it lunged towards me. I pulled myself to the side, the creature smashing into the tree and knocking it down. I tried to hurl my strongest spells at it but they fell weak to its exoskeleton. It uses this to its advantage, it rammed into my side, its scaly exoskeleton grazing a chunk off my shoulder. I cried out in pain. I immediately felt the life drain out of me. I clutched my bleeding shoulder, trying to compose myself. I grabbed hold of a nearby tree as the creature pulled back to strike again. I tried to mutter a few spells but nothing worked. I gasped as the light in my hand fades away. No…This couldn’t have been happening. Not now! Not here! I grunted in pain and a shadow loomed over me.
“I thought you had the travelling on your own all figured out?”
I rolled my eyes at that familiar yet annoying voice, but a smile escaped my lips. Dwayne Oak, a rogue and a friend from previous adventures, swung in with a vine and drove his boot into the creature’s head. It shrieked as it fell back, crashing into the ground. He dropped to the ground and turned to me.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“Dwayne!” I screamed as the creature recovered.
He pulled out his sword in response. He deftly manoeuvred its strikes, attacking its iron exoskeleton. His efforts start to become futile, sparks flying away from each impact, setting some surrounding grass on fire.
“Erm…Kaya, do you want to help me here?” He cried out nervously.
I groaned in response as I used my last efforts to lift my hand and mutter a spell. In my last moments of consciousness, I saw the flames dancing around the creature, burning it alive, its ugly screeches echoing around.
I regained consciousness a day later, in the bed of a tent. I looked down at my arms and saw that it was all patched up but still wounded. Someone had been dressing it everyday, someone with careful hands. I sat up slowly, feeling a lot different than I usually do. I felt empty. I heard a few chatters outside the tent and I got up towards the opening, taking a peek. I saw Dwayne standing with an unfamiliar woman.
“I don’t know if she will last more than a few days…” the woman muttered softly.
“That is Kayarela Bibelis!” Dwayne said, “I owe her my life! If the antidote is out there I will gladly risk my life to go and get it!”
“But this is Mercy we’re talking about! You wander in there and both you die.”
I gasped at the mention of that name. Mercy. A land filled with pure chaos. No one dared to even step foot into that land. I remember the stories that a village elder told the children. It was no place for mortals. Behind me, I heard something crash onto the floor as someone scurried around. I immediately whipped around and a small figure appeared from behind a chair.
“I’m sorry if I scared you!” the figure came out.
I looked at her and noticed her animalistic figure. She was a human with rabbit-like features, a timid look on her face and her teeth chattering in fear. The curtains parted immediately and Dwayne stormed in, frantically looking around. His eyes fell on me and rushed over, pulling me into a hug.
“Thank god you’re okay!”he gripped me tightly.
The other woman entered the tent, looming behind us.
“And you’ll be lucky if you stay alive for a little while longer,” she muttered, “I am Avani and this is Lila.”
Dwayne ignored her and guided me towards the bed, sitting me down slowly.
“Are you okay?” he whispered.
“I…I think so…” I moaned, “I…I don’t remember what happened in detail…but at least you patched me up, right?”
Lila stepped forward timidly.
“Actually…I was the one…” she chirped, “and I just want to say that I am a huge supporter. You’re the reason why my family is still alive and-”
“Lila,” Avani interrupted, “save the appreciation until when she isn’t dying.”
“I’m dying?” I gasped.
“The creature you encountered is coated in venom. A hunting technique. Attacks their prey, any that escape will die within a few days, the creature will use the scent to track it. Quite stupid of you to be travelling alone down that path alone.”
“I just have a thing for…companions.”
“Word of advice, travel with company next time. Well, if there is.”
“The antidote comes from a rare flower that is grown in Mercy…” Lila started talking.
“Shut up, Lila,” Dwayne groaned.
Lila shrivelled back.
“So, that’s what you were talking about?” I uttered, “Mercy? Dwayne, you know that I would never let you go.”
“That was why I was going to leave this morning…” Dwayne shrugged.
I glared at him and he avoided my gaze. I stood up, nearly toppling over. Dwayne grabbed me, keeping me balanced.
“I’ll go,” I hissed.
“You know, when I first heard about you, I thought you would be a wise woman,” Avani scoffed, “but you’re just another idiot who was lucky enough to have powers.”
“Kaya, I’m fine to go alone, you don’t even have your powers,” Dwayne said.
I stood still. Hearing those words hurt me a little. I depended on my powers. A lot. And to think that the very thing that gave me purpose was gone. No wonder I felt empty.
“I don’t need them,” I grunted.
“Don’t be a fool,” Avani groaned, “you’re going to Mercy without powers and you can barely stand up!”
I looked at Avani.
“I’ve seen enough people die protecting me over things far greater to know when to protect myself,” I heave, “I may be some weak woman to you but I have faith…and it’s kept me safe so far. I’d rather die trying than die knowing a friend is in danger.”
“I’m still coming with you regardless of what you say,” Dwayne shrugged.
My breath became erratic as I headed toward the opening. Lila followed me.
“I can join you!” she hopped over to me, “I’m not as experienced in the medical field as you are but I know that you can’t do everything yourself. Please, let me come with you.”
“Lila, I don’t think you understand,” she hissed, grabbing Lila, “this is a very dangerous place. No one leaves alive. Kaya can’t protect you and neither can Dwayne. You’ll have to protect yourself and I don’t think you’re up to that.”
A fire burned in Lila at that moment, pulling away from her.
“I have faith in Kaya…” she muttered.
“You’re all fools!” Avani called out, “You will all surely die! Kaya, you say you don’t like putting your friends in danger. How is this different?”
I stood still for a moment and turned around to face her.
“It’s better to travel as a company,” I responded.
Merci pour la lecture!
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