My mind always liked to play games on me, ever since mother vanished. Her disappearance created some sort of paranoia that I never imagined that I’d ever have. Friends would ask me to play with them back then but I just couldn’t. However, every time we would play any ball game, I imagined that the ball would spring spikes from the inside when it was passed to me. I ended up running away from games, ignoring friends, and avoiding going out. Every time I’d fall asleep, I saw that my friends and I would play tag, probably because at that point I missed the human contact. But every time someone touched me, I’d imagine them becoming a cloud of smoke and disappearing… just like she did. Liam was the one who pulled me out and started pointing out how my paranoia had become a sickness. He wasn’t that old and yet he had read up on it already. I don’t know how many hours he must have spent in that dreaded place but it was probably the first time we interacted after her disappearance.
And now, my paranoia is slowly coming back. I lack confidence. Following the old woman, I notice the leaves of the trees sway to the rhythm of the breeze. It almost looks as if they are waving goodbye, with the wind mocking us, a slight chuckle echoed. I stop as my heart skips a beat and I feel the urgent need to take a breath.
“Easy Lunar, he’s not going anywhere. He’s just intimidated” snorts the old woman, looking back at me. “Men, indeed, are sometimes useless beings.”
My paranoia shakes my mind once again. I look at Liam with dread in my eyes but his usual dull expression has not cracked. However, this time it almost seems he has a gleam of interest in his eyes. Something had caught his eye.
“Shall we move on ladies?” the old woman continues to walk, two steps and a tap from her cane. Liam follows her, and the wolf nudges at my legs, forcing me to walk after them.
As we approach, I can hear a mixture between fast running water, clashing of wood and steel, but also some sort of… battle cries?
I jump up at the sound of… a little girl?! As I land on the floor, I instantly turn around panting from surprise and see a little girl laughing uncontrollably.
“Finally! I found someone to scare!” she laughed presenting a huge smile that created dimples on her cheeks. As she embraced her stomach, she fell on the floor attempting to tame her joy but also giving me a chance to examine her. She has light caramel color skin that shown almost gold. Her brown wavy hair looked like a lion’s mane around her round face. And as she calmed down she looked upon us, with striking jade green eyes that were complimented by her thick line of eyelashes and thick eyebrows.
“Good to see you’re enjoying yourself, Mania” stated the old woman marking her presence in front of the little girl. “Shouldn’t you be overseeing your sisters’ training?” she asked raising her chin, glaring at Mania who had already realized her mistake.
“Yes…” she said standing up, looking guilty as if tucking her tail between her legs.
The old woman nodded. Without uttering a second word she turned around and on command, the wolf and Mania started to follow. I stepped next to Liam who started walking behind them as well. I glanced over at him and he glanced down to me. We both shared the same thought… probably. Who is this old woman!?
As we moved further down, we notice that we approached a river, surrounded by 6 pairs of women who fought with wooden staffs. They paid no attention to us until one of the girls fighting swirled dodging a hit and turned our way, noticing us. She instantly stood up straight, with the other girls following her stead. The old woman nodded and waved with her hand, signaling them to continue. The girls nodded back, turned to their pairs, took a starting stance with their staffs and engaged in sparring once again.
“They’re over there” stated Mania, pointing at two large wooden poles in the middle of the river ahead of us.
As we look up we notice two shadows jumping back and forth, fighting against each other. They seemed to cross paths in the air, as the constantly lightly dropped on opposite poles every single time. It felt like they kept on going non-stop, until the old woman gave a small shout to grab their attention from the fight.
“Come down when one of you wins” the old woman yells up to the two beings, and slowly turns to us with a snicker. “You might want to sit down. Sarah takes a while until she can take down Nef, unless Nef is serious.” Hearing that, we look at the two shadows again, as they collide once more.
From the distance, it appeared as if one of them striked down the other, forcing it to fall parallel to the pole. It seemed to attempt to pull itself up somehow, but the offensive shadow striked once more, throwing it to the river with a huge splash. The defeated shadow disappeared into the water for a while, as the winner landed to the river side, glowing from the obvious sensation of victory.