I slowly lower my weapon. "What was that? A test?"
"Face yourself," the voice annoyingly replies. "Face the beast you've become."
"Then what? What will happen next? What good is all of this? I can't change myself! I am what I have become!"
There is no answer. I wait, but the voice doesn't come again. So I sheath my sword and head back the way I'd come.
"Go," the voice said behind me. "Go back," so I walk back to the pond, unsure what I am doing, and what good will become of this.
When I reach the pond I look around. "Well? Now what?"
"You must over come three trials if you wish to redeem yourself." the voice calls.
"What!" I shouted into the empty air. "I've already lost everything! What should three trials matter? And what are they?" I could not contain my curiosity.
Suddenly I am no longer in the woods by the pond. I am in an old school yard.
"This is your first trail."
I paused before I entered, looking back at the unseen voice, and felt obliged to utter a grudging, "Thank you," before carrying on my way.
"See?" It called back to me. "You're redeeming yourself already!"
The playground is silent. The only thing moving is the swing....that is until the bell rings. Suddenly I am surrounded by second graders running around trying to get to the toys first.
"What the--" I muttered. I hadn't been in a place like this in fifteen years, since I discovered the magical world of Myriod, that I had ruled since I was fourteen and lived in since I was twelve.
They swarmed me like bumblebees, and I knew, though I don't know how, that I was supposed to single one out for something. And not a second grader. An older kid, maybe one of the sixth graders. I immediately scanned the playground, but there are so many people that an overview wouldn't do me any good.
And suddenly, as noticable as a light in the darkness, I see a small boy. He is hideing behind the oak tree in the far corner, obviously trying to hide. He has chestnut hair and wire-rimmed glasses and is staring hard at something....
I walk over to him, crossing the large field where the second graders are playing tag. They seem to pass right through me, oblivious that I exsist.
I approach the oak tree. There is an engraving on it that makes my heart skip a beat. The symbol of the Everreds, the evil force that has been trying to take over Myriod. Why is that symbol here?
Suddenly the boy turns around. His eyes widen, and his mouth begins to open in a scream. Quickly, I clamp my hand over his mouth.
"Shh," I say. "Don't scream. I won't hurt you."
He looks at me pleadingly.
"I'm going to take my hand away now. Ok?"
He nods. As soon as I remove my hand from his mouth, he utters the very words I do not want to hear.
"I know you."
"No," I say, attempting to reassure myself as much as him, though I know him as well: one of the young boys sent away from Myriod under my rule. "You don't know me. I promise. I'm not that person." I keep talking, but my words dissipate. There is nothing I can say that will make up for what I have done.
He continues to stare at me until he offers me his hand and shows me the object he had been staring so hard at.
"I had a vision of you in this crystal," he says, showing me the crystal. The gem is a saphirite, which only exists at the base of volcanoes in Myriod.
"How did you get that?" I ask, staring at the rare stone.
"I found it," he says.
I take the gem from his hands and look closely. Then, the world goes black. I can't feel anything. Suddenly, I'm at a castle. The Everred's castle. And there's another me. This me is fighting a red dragon with a sword. The crystal is embedded in the sword.
The me with the sword slashes and dodges, and the spectating me admires my own handiwork. I had always had a certain way with that sword. The dragon breaths a stream of fire, but I hold my sword up as a shield, and I am protected by the glowing hot piece of metal.
The dragon roars so loudly that the entire castle trembles. It bathes me with more fire and I block it, but there is no way I can stop the tail that is about to hit me--
Suddenly he is there. The only one who knows me, but the one who wants nothing to do with me. He blocks the tail before it can harm my doppleganger.
"No," he says, and I am horrified.
"Yes," I reply. "Peace must be granted." but he does not seem to care. He seems to like the dragon.
This time it is me who objects. "No," I whisper. "Not you. Please, no."
The next thing I know, I'm on the ground. The kid is staring down at me.
"Are you okay?" he asks.
I scramble up.
"We need to leave. Now." I say, grabbing his arm.
Before he can protest, I utter something under my breath. A portal opens in front of me, and I jump through it, the kid screaming and holding onto me for dear life.
Myriod has fallen into a state of darkness in the minutes I have been gone. I stumble blindly through the forests with the child's hand gripped in mine. The branches seem to cage us, and every snap behind us is menacing, as if we are being followed by a dangerous beast.
The kid claws at my grip, "Where are you taking me?"
I scream into the woods, "What do you want from me voice? Why did you bring me to this child?"
"Your first quest for redemtion has begun. Look into his eyes, and you will find him who you once loved. Before you lost your heart and refused to love a soul. Speak to him, and another him will speak to you. That is what you want, and you know so." The nameless voice replied to me.