A Mother and Her Shattering Son

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Chapter 1 – A Colorful World Filled with War

A world filled with dolls and crystals sounds like a place of wonder and happiness, but this isn’t so of this world. The Crystallis, who are dolls that originate from the crystal, became so prideful of their beauty that they were corrupted by it. Because of this corruption, they attacked the Flos, who are dolls that originate from the beauty of the world. The Flos are skilled when it comes to reasoning and strategy, however, the Crystallis excel in brute strength. The Flos and Crystallis have fought their war to a standstill and are still fighting a brutal world war that has ravaged this once beautiful world.

In all the chaos, innocents are naturally caught in the crossfire. Rosalia’s son, Rhodes, had been caught in an area effect spell that cursed him with decay so that his body slowly falls apart. Rosalia’s husband sacrificed himself so that the two could survive. Several other family members were caught in this spell, but enough managed to survive to fend off the invasion of Crystallis. A cure for Rhodes would’ve been easier to get back in the time of peace, but the only place in the world that holds the cure is in the center of conflict where both sides are constantly fighting each other day in and out, which is the origin point of both dolls. If Rosalia can bring Rhodes to the healing springs, then he can be cured. Despite being told the near impossible odds by repeatedly her neighbors, she goes out in the hopes that she can make it in time.

Currently, Rhodes has been falling apart but is in a coma-like state where he is vaguely aware of what’s around him. Rosalia has been carrying him on her back as she traverses the crystal forests. Since the world is at war, the vegetation in the forest has become hostile to everything that isn’t them as well. Rosalia has used a spell to make her left arm into a dangerous claw for self-defense.  Her right leg and left heel have become deadly sharp tools as well.

As Rosalia makes her way through the forest, she says to her son, “I wish you could’ve seen this forest when it was friendly. It used to shine more and give out delicious fruit. Now, everything here is dangerous, so we have to be careful.”

Rhodes whimpers a bit.

“Oh, I know you’ve been upset about me sacrificing pieces of myself so you can live. It doesn’t bother me, see? Each piece of me helps you continue living. Your mom isn’t upset nor am I weakened by it. I don’t need another eye if I can’t see you smile another day. Besides, even if we are separated, you will always have a piece of me with you.”

Rhodes reaches out for his mother’s hands. Rosalia pulls him around so she can hold him.

“Don’t you worry, my little prince. We’ll get you cured then we can live happily together. You’ll go to school, become a man, and maybe even get married. I’ll have to approve of your choice, of course, but then again, I shouldn’t be saying about that given the person I chose.

Or should I be blaming your father for choosing me? Who am I kidding? It was both our faults. We got into a lot of trouble the two of us, but it was worth it so you could be born. I just wish his relatives could accept our love for each other.”

A chiming in the forest gets Rosalia’s attention. She puts Rhodes behind her and activates a shield spell that creates a shell to protect him. Rhodes senses the danger as well and holds his hands close to his face.

“You’re going to be safe, my little prince. Nothing will beat me when your life is at stake.”

Shadows dart from hiding place to hiding place in order to get a good opening to attack. Since Rosalia isn’t giving them any opportunities, the Crystallis hunters attack her with one combined attack. The three jump up in the air and plunge their blades towards her. She blocks their blades as her claw arm turns into a shield. Since their blades are so heavy, she lowers herself then dodges to the side and uses her leg blade. It stretches out and cuts the heart core of two of the hunters, which shatters them. The last one manages to block the attack but is hit into a living plant that breaks the hunter into pieces.

The violence has made the vegetation in the forest extremely aggressive. The trees start uprooting themselves and attacking Rosalia. She defends herself as best as she can by leaping around while cutting down the trees and fauna. Since the forest itself is a constantly growing, old, and large entity, Rosalia stands no chance against it. Fully exhausted, she holds Rhodes as he cries.

“It’s okay. It’s going to be okay, little prince.”

A sudden realization then comes to her head.

“If violence is what upsets the forest, then maybe love can calm it down. How about a song? I was going to sing to this you later to lull you to sleep, my little prince, but it looks like I’ll have to now.

 

I know when to take it slow

And when to run at the speed of light

I know when to be patient

And when to act without thinking

 

I know when to smile

And when to cry

I know when to think with my heart

And how to always love

But I don’t know how to love like you do

 

When you love for no other reason than to love

When you love for no other reason than to love

For the sake of love

 

I know how to love when I’m loved

But you love even when you’re hated

I know how to love when the sun is shining

But you love even when the storms roar

 

I know how to love when I’m happy

But you love even when you’re in pain

I know to love when everyone loves

But you love when no else loves

How do you do it

 

When you love for no other reason than to love

When you love for no other reason than to love

For the sake of love?

 

Teach me how to love when I’m hated

Teach me how to love in dark times

Teach me how to love when I’m cold

Please, my love. Please teach me, my love

Teach me how to love for the sake of love”

Rhodes laughs and waves his hands around as if trying to clap. The vegetation and fauna of the forest go back to where they come from and rest. Rosalia breathes a sigh of relief then kisses her son.

“Did you like it? I hope you did. Let’s hurry out of here before more hunters come.”

Rosalia casts a healing spell on herself as she quickly runs to the fastest way out of the forest.

 

Chapter 2 – Causalities and Captives

Once she’s walked for a long stretch, Rosalia finally makes it to civilization though it is a bit small. It is a small village town that appears to have been recently affected by the war as people repair their broken buildings and homes. Destroyed crops are being plucked out of the ground as new ones are planted. Pieces of dying dolls are passed onto their families so they can continue to carry their family’s legacy while the enemy dolls are put together then wrapped honorably. Before, the Flos used to send carts of Crystallis doll shells to the enemy as a sign of respect for their enemy, but the Crystallis destroyed most of the carts because the Crystallis view the hollow shells of their comrades as useless and valueless. During these recent times, the Flos just bury the shells of their enemies in their own special grave site away from the graves of the Flos.

One of the normal civilians says, “I don’t get it. Why do we need to respect the bodies of their dead when they don’t do the same for their own? I’ve heard horror stories of what they do to the bodies of our soldiers. We should burn them all in a fire because that’s where their souls end up anyway!”

“Don’t be so disrespectful. I’ve heard dozens of reports that say some of the Crystallis travel over to honor their dead,” a relative responds.

“It’s just their pride that makes them do this,” a villager says, “Besides, we shouldn’t be like the savages.”

“You’re right. We should take the Crystallis that come over and hold them for ransom!”

“Stop saying and thinking such things! You’re no different than them if you truly think this way.”

Rosalia approaches the hateful person and says, “He’s right you know. We should find ways to love our enemies and be respectful to their dead. Being as evil as the worst of them is only going to make things worse.”

“Hmph.”

The hateful person walks away while their relative walks with them.

“We don’t see many understanding people like you around here. What brings you to our recovering little town?”

“I’m just passing through. My own little town was recently attacked by the Crystallis and my baby boy here was affected by a terrible spell. I have to get him to the springs to have him cured.”

“That’s a dangerous journey, but I won’t stop you from taking it. Some of our city guards would accompany you along the way, but whoever we have left are guarding us as we repair our homes and I don’t think we can spare even one.”

“I understand. I pray that your town stays safe.”

“You’re a strong mother. What is your name?”

“Rosalia.”

“Rosalia…I’ve heard that name somewhere before. You don’t happen to famous, do you?”

“If I was, I wouldn’t look like this.”

“That makes sense. Rosalia must be just a memorable name then. Is there a reason why you still defend the Crystallis even though they just destroyed your home?”

“Because they’re dolls like us. Even though they come from the crystal, we were still made in the same place by the same creator. We may think differently, but we’re still related, and our lives are both equally beyond value.”

“I see. Well, I’m sorry for taking up so much of your time. You can take some of our healing fragments to give your boy a little more time.”

“Thank you so much.”

“Don’t mention it.”

After healing Rhodes a little, Rosalia says goodbye then leaves the town. She travels down the roads as they should be safer than the forest though not by much. There’s still a chance the Crystallis might come down the roads or the forest might come to life and reach out to crush her.

Rosalia says to Rhodes, “I’m glad the townsfolk didn’t recognize me. There would’ve been trouble if they did. Anyway, let me tell you more about your father since he won’t be able to tell you himself. He was a brave and proud man. He risked everything he had including his life to be with me since he was from a royal family. The way he loved people and nature was breathtaking. He loved being in love with everything and everyone so much that he wrote songs and poems about almost everything. It’s where I get my songs from.”

Ahead of Rosalia is an incoming band of Crystallis. They have a huge black bull under their control, which is a huge black beast with black horns, a white face, and red and black eyes in this world. It struggles against the control of its captors along with the other creatures that have been captured.

“Poor things,” she says to herself as she hides on the side of the road in a tree, “The raiding party is headed towards the town. They won’t be able to fight against the bull and the other creatures along with the Crystallis. I want to do something, but what am I going to do?”

Rosalia thinks of a couple of plans before deciding on one course of action. She throws two fire darts, conjured by a spell, at the chains that bind the bull to free it. Once it’s free, it puts the Crystallis into a panic. While the bull rampages about, Rosalia frees the rest of the creatures. Once she does, the black bull stares her down with its face in hers. Neither her nor Rhodes are intimated, and this silent show of courage gains Rosalia the respect of the bull and creatures.

A larger party of Crystallis that’s half the size of a legion then show up in the distance. This party was dragged ahead by the creatures, who were craving violence. Now that they’re free, they rage against their captors along with Rosalia. They destroy everything around them with the aid of the forest. Fauna and vegetation come to life as some of the creatures are shattered in battle. Despite the strength of the Crystallis, the numbers and overall strength of nature and Rosalia overwhelm them.

Once the dust settles, the forest closes in on Rosalia, but the black bull and leftover creatures silently pick up for her. The vegetation and fauna return to the forest and the creatures do the same. The black bull nuzzles Rosalia’s face and pets the top of Rhodes’ head, which makes him giggle. It then goes back into the forest while looking back at the two. It accidentally bumps into a large tree and gets slapped by it, which makes Rosalia laugh. The black bull then pays attention to where it’s going after one last look back with a smile.

Rhodes giggles again.

Rosalia continues on her way as she says, “See? Not all of nature is bad. Now, where was I? Oh yeah. Your father loved singing and making songs. Here’s one that I remember that he sang every other day.

 

I can’t be away from you any longer

But part of me still resists

I wish I was stronger

 

When we are together,

It feels like Heaven

When I leave you,

Part of me is left behind

 

You give my empty life meaning

I finally have a person who loves me back

You have woken me up from my foolishness

I know what I must do

 

Because I can’t be without you any longer

You are who keeps me going

You are who makes me stronger

 

I’ll endure all the hardships

Fight all the battles

And suffer the worst pain

Because I can’t be without you any longer

I am reinvigorated because of you

I am reborn into a new man ready to take on the world

Whatever you request, you will have

Whatever you command, I will obey

 

You say that you’re not worth it

That you’re not worth anything

But you’re worth more than you think

You’re my light that brightens up the darkness

 

You give my empty life meaning

I finally have a person who loves me back

You have woken me up from my foolishness

I know what I must do

Because I can’t be without you any longer

You are who keeps me going

You are who makes me stronger

 

I’ll endure all the hardships

Fight all the battles

And suffer the worst pain

Because I can’t be without you any longer

 

I will do all you want and more

My love for you knows no boundaries or obstacles

So,

Will you please be with me forever?”

 

Rosalia feels something watching her. She turns around to see the black bull watching her. It appears to have been attracted by her singing, but now it goes back into the forest as if it is embarrassed to be caught listening to her singing. Rosalia smiles at the creature’s cute nature despite its looks.

“Your father might as well have been a love bird for all the love he showed to others. He was more charitable and loving than his relatives to the point where people were wondering if he was an angel. I thought a person like him was beyond my reach, but when I showed how charitable I was when I gave away everything I had on me for a poor person he accidentally missed, he fell for me. Literally and figuratively speaking since he fell off his horse to kiss my hand. It was sad and funny at the same time, haha. I still can’t help but laugh when I remember it happening.

Still, your father did his best to impress me even though he did make a fool of himself a few times…okay, a lot of times. I felt like I didn’t deserve it especially since I couldn’t return anything on the same scale as him, but when I expressed my feelings about this, he said, ‘Don’t you worry. If you give me your love, then I will have something that is worth more than the entire universe’. I don’t know where he came up with his words, but he made me fall for him so many times because of them. Being without him is going to be difficult…”

Rhodes makes a whimpering sound.

“But don’t worry, we’ll make it through this. Your father is always with us in spirit now. Trust me.”

Rhodes giggles and Rosalia smiles as she wipes away her tears and continues traveling down the road.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3 – Nature at its Worst

After a little while of walking, the road becomes lost as the surrounding environment is mostly destroyed with the flames of battle still burning.

“This must be where those Crystallis got their creatures,” Rosalia says to herself.

Because the Crystallis is known for violence and upsetting nature, both they and the Flos have developed their own spell that calms nature around them, so they can battle. This spell only covers the area of battle and takes a lot of energy to produce.

“This is probably why the Crystallis couldn’t produce another spell to protect themselves. Even if they could, the creatures of the forest weren’t giving them any opportunities to act anyways. You see, Rhodes? You have to respect nature otherwise it will turn on you.”

Further into the destruction, Rosalia finds a team of healers who are repairing the forest with their magic.

One of the forest healers approaches Rosalia and says, “Excuse me, miss. You should hurry along in a different direction. It only gets more dangerous from here.”

“I know that, but my baby boy has been afflicted with a spell that can only be healed at the springs.”

“That’s terrible, and you’ve been traveling on your own?”

“Yes, I have.”

“…I guess there’s no getting around it then. Lupin, send out a messenger bird to let them know this woman is coming with her child.”

“Alright.”

The doll conjures a dove made of light after speaking into his hand. The dove flies away in the direction of Rosalia’s destination.

“Thank you for your help,” Rosalia says.

“Don’t mention it. Just make sure that little one gets the healing he needs. I’m sure it’s been hard for you just getting this far. If the army near the springs can spare any troops, they should be meeting you halfway.”

Once they say their goodbyes, Rosalia keeps walking. The forest looks better as she journeys forward, but not by much. Crystal grass and foliage are growing at a fast rate because of the healing spell of the healers though it seems like something is wrong. The newly grown vegetation appears to know it was killed as it violently sways back and forth as if it wants to be reborn faster so it can obtain its revenge. Rosalia eventually meets up with a small group of Flos soldiers.

One of them says, “You’re the mother we’ve been looking for. It’s an honor to meet a woman who will risk her life and skin for her son.”

“Thank you for coming out to escort me. It’s been rough.”

“I can imagine. Let’s hurry along then. The fighting near the spring has calmed down for the past couple days so you should be able to bring your boy there with no trouble.”

The band of soldiers escorts Rosalia with her in the center to guard her against attacks from all possible directions.

A soldier asks her, “What’s your name?”

“Rosalia.”

“Hmmm. That name sounds familiar.”

“A guy in the town close to here said the same.”

“It’s a rare, but memorable name.”

“That’s because of a woman by the name of Rosalia was one of the reasons this war started,” another soldier interjects.

“Now I remember why that name is so memorable.”

Feeling awkward, Rosalia says, “But I’m not that Rosalia.”

“I wish I knew which Rosalia was that one so I could ask her what she was thinking. I’m not mad at her because I know that her action was only the straw that broke the camel’s back and nothing incredibly important on its own. Marriages between Flos and Crystallis aren’t as rare as they seem.”

“Still, she should’ve known better,” another soldier comments.

“It should’ve been a more private marriage.”

“How could it have been when she married royalty?”

“What happened to the husband anyway?”

“He was supposed to be hiding out with Rosalia, but I’ve heard that the Crystallis sent a group of its most powerful warriors to kill them and the word going around is that the husband is dead, but a number of people who were hiding out with him are alive including his wife and their child.”

Some of the soldiers start becoming suspicious of Rosalia and start looking at her funny.

She says, “But I’m not who you’re thinking about.”

A soldier says, “There’s no way this Rosalia is the one we’re thinking about. This Rosalia cares so much for her child while the other one was selfish. Do you really think that a peasant who wanted to marry royalty would risk her life this way?”

“That Rosalia is probably hiding herself with her husband’s riches ten feet under,” another soldier adds.

This relieves the tension in the group as Rosalia quietly breathes a sigh of relief.

“Hey, I don’t remember the forest being this big when we first passed through here.”

“Yeah, you’re right. Be on your guard.”

The soldiers unsheathe their weapons as they move slower while paying attention to everything in their surroundings. A large tree then falls on them to separate the group before fighting against the group to further separate them and push them into the incoming hordes of fauna and vegetation. The group gets separated further as the creatures of the forest break the group apart to make them easier to shatter.

The black bull from before comes to rescue Rosalia as it charges through swarms of creatures. It gives Rosalia enough room to breathe. Since the black bull is dangerous, the forest uses its connection to the creature to try to bring it under its control. The bull’s mental strength is weak, but it doesn’t give in to the forest’s influence, however, it can’t completely control itself, so it smashes everything around it in the hopes that Rosalia won’t be one of them. Unfortunately, Rosalia is hit while using the bull’s rampage as a chance to escape. She is hit into a tree but manages to get away from it before it can shatter her.

Rosalia is surrounded by fauna and vegetation while she is heavily injured. She is trying to heal herself, but she can’t do it fast enough to the point where she can run fast or leap into the air. The forest appears to be livid because it was burned and torn down. Singing looks like it won’t help this time, so she grips Rhodes and covers him as much as possible as a single fauna approaches her with its blade-like arm out ready to strike.

The anticipation of it kills her, so she brings her head up in time for the fauna’s blade to enter her missing eye. Since a doll’s shell is mostly empty with the only thing in it being its core, she feels no pain.

Rosalia says, “Shatter me, but spare my son. Please, save his life when I am dead.”

The fauna pulls back its blade again then brings its blade down on Rosalia’s neck but only makes a small crack on her neck. This supreme act of true love calms down the forest and it gives Rosalia respect that few dolls have. The creatures and fauna bow to her and let her walk away. Despite walking away with her life, she’s still injured and is slowing healing herself. Rhodes senses his mother’s injuries and cries for her.

“Don’t worry about me, my little prince. I’ll be fine.”

He continues to cry.

“Shhh.

Don’t be upset

I am here

Don’t be afraid

I’ll always be with you

 

Look at me and see my smile

I am telling the truth

You can always trust me

 

We’ll always be together

No matter the distance

No matter what happens

Even in death, even when I’m gone

We’ll always be together

 

Your weakness means nothing to me

You’re stronger than the tallest mountains

Braver than the mightiest heroes

No matter what happens, I will always love you

 

We’ll always be together

No matter the distance

No matter what happens

Even in death, even when I’m gone

We’ll always be together

 

I may not always be next to you

You may not always feel my presence

But our bond is permanent

Nothing can break it

I’m always here

I’m always with you

Forever and ever

Just look in your heart

And you will see me, always with you”

 

Rhodes has fallen asleep with a smile on his face. Rosalia smiles as well as she’s finally healed herself enough to numb the pain as she continues on to her destination.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4 – Hunted for the Crime of Love

Rosalia’s healing magic allows her to be mostly healed, however, it and the previous battles have exhausted her. She collapses from exhaustion, but she makes sure to have Rhodes on top of her, so she doesn’t suffocate him. Sensing his mother’s unconscious state, he cries out for help and receives it not long after. Rosalia is taken to a relief camp where victims of this violent war are taken to be healed and to be helped. She awakens in a bed just in time to overhear a conversation between two Flos.

“She’s definitely the Rosalia who married that Crystallis prince. Several people have confirmed it.”

“But is she everything the rumors say she is? The soldiers that carried her here said that she’s been sacrificing her life to save her son and that she gained the respect of the forest. How rare is that? Even our best mystics can’t manage that.”

“We have to keep her here. Even though she has her sympathizers, there are still people who want her dead, shattered into pieces then throw into fire.”

“What about her son?”

“They don’t care as much for him. There are some that say Flos and Crystallis relationships and their children are illicit, but this is a mindset that has only popped up recently.”

“We need to get her to the springs, or her boy is going to die. How are we going to proceed with this?”

“We aren’t that far from the main army camp near that location.”

“That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy going through the crowds then going through the dead lands to get to the springs.”

“We’ll have to do something and quickly. We’ve healed her son, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve given him time we can waste.”

“Excuse me? Can I see Rosalia?”

“Who are you? Are you a relative or a friend? Hey, you can’t go in until-hey!”

A loud knock on the window close to Rosalia startles her. When she looks over, she sees a Flos civilian with a weapon.

He breaks the window and says, “Die you cursed woman!”

Rosalia dodges the man’s attacks as he enters the room as she says, “I didn’t do anything to you!”

“You were the final nail that started this war! My family is dead because of you! They died in Crystallis territory. Who knows what those cursed dolls did to their remains?”

Rosalia tries to cut the arms off her assailant to incapacitate him, but she accidentally cuts his head off as well. The man swings around violently while screaming out in bloody vengeance. Something shakes the building she’s in until it breaks into her room. It’s the black bull from before.

“Aren’t you a sweetie for always coming to my aid?” Rosalia says while petting it, “Now, come on. Let’s get out of here!”

Rosalia takes Rhodes and put him on his back with his shield protecting him as she gets on the back of the black bull. Several Flos attempt to shatter Rosalia by throwing spears, hammers, and swords at her.

“Kill that woman, but don’t hit the baby!”

“Cut the legs off the black bull first!”

The Flos then try to take down the black bull, but their weapons bounce off its thick skin. They then get on horseback and chase after Rosalia. She knocks them off their horses as she protects herself and her child from her assailants. The black bull swipes at them to shatter several off their horses.

“We can’t do anything! Pull back!”

“You’re under arrest!”

Rosalia looks back to see a few guards arresting the people who were attacking her. A guard waves at her and she waves back as a sign of thanks. Even Rhodes waves back with a smile.

“Okay, big guy. We need to get to the springs. Can you get us there?” Rosalia asks the black bull.

It smiles and snorts in response as it goes faster.

“Woah! Easier there! We don’t really have anything keeping us on you.”

The black bull wants to be careful but can’t because it senses danger ahead of them, so it charges ahead faster.

“Be careful! Are you trying to knock us off? What’s got you riled up?”

A barrage of various kinds of magical arrows comes raining down upon Rosalia. The black bull covers Rosalia as it turns over on its side to take the arrow barrage. A group of Crystallis assassins then appear out of the shadows.

“It seems like she came to us on her own. That’s good,” one of them says.

The barrage of arrows has temporarily incapacitated the black bull, which leaves Rosalia open for attack. Fortunately for her, the forest is on her side and a tree’s vines block the assassins’ attacks. It then comes to life and shatters her attackers and uses its healing magic on the black bull.

“Thank you,” Rosalia says to the forest as she gets back on top of the black bull.

She rides off to her destination, which should be close now.

She then says, “You heard it, my little prince. You’re the son of royalty and a peasant. The son of a Flos and Crystallis. I didn’t think our love would be the final thing to push our people into war because our love was pure, but that’s what happens when people hate each other. They use every excuse they can find to kill the people they don’t like. Don’t be like that, my little prince. Learn to love everyone around you. It doesn’t matter if they hate you. Always wish the best for the people around you because if you aren’t willing to love them then who will? Everyone makes mistakes, so be willing to forgive them and you will always be forgiven.”

The black bull then senses something and charges ahead. It takes Rosalia and Rhodes to a cliff where they see a large battle between Flos and Crystallis soldiers. Dozens of dolls are shattered while others suffer in pain as they’re carried out by their companions and healers.

“This fighting has to stop.”

The forest heeds Rosalia’s plea and moves to stop the fighting. Unfortunately, the fighting and suffering make nature violent as it fights back against those who fight its restraints. Even the black bull is itching to join the fight, but Rosalia calms it down by calmly rubbing the back of its neck.

“The forest might be in a rage, but since I have its respect then a song could calm it down. This song is for, my little prince.

 

I close my eyes and see

A world that’s beautiful and filled with glee

Even in the dark and gloom

A place past all of the doom

 

Everyone has lost hope

They think I’ve lost my mind

But all they do is mope

Are they blind?

We can live in a better world of our dreams

 

Every day I push ahead

For the dreams in my head

The dreams that keep me awake

That keeps me going

To bring you a place to keep your love glowing

I’ll build you a place

That is perfect for your smiling face

Each part of it is made to make you happy

For those gloomy days

 

Everyone has lost hope

They think I’ve lost my mind

But all they do is mope

Are they blind?

We can live in a better world of our dreams

 

Every day I push ahead

For the dreams in my head

The dreams that keep me awake

That keeps me going

To bring you a place to keep your love glowing

 

No matter how small

No matter how tall the obstacle

I will be with you through it all

Nothing will be impossible for you and me

To make the world I see in my dreams

To make the world I see in my dreams

Every day I push ahead

For the dreams in my head

The dreams that keep me awake

That keeps me going

To bring you a place to keep your love glowing

 

Together we’ll make this world anew

Everything I do is for you

Know that our dreams will come true

Of The World I’ll Give To You

 

I am going to make sure you live in a better world, my little prince. A world of happiness, love, and peace. It’s going to happen one day. Just you wait and see.”

The forest successful restrains both armies and transfers its calming feelings to the soldiers who retreat with their wounded and shattered brethren. Some even help their enemies gather their bearings. As Rosalia smiles, parts of her son start to fall. A branch from the forest heals him, but his condition has worsened.

“Don’t worry now, my little prince. We’re almost there.”

The black bull sprints at full speed to the springs, where a massive battle larger than this one is about to take place.

 

 

 

Chapter 5 – A Mother’s Duty

Even before reaching the area around the springs, Rosalia knew she was going to have a tough time. The forest around the around is completely dead. It senses that Rosalia will need help, but it’s too weak to regrow anything and all the nearby fauna and creatures are still recovering. Broken siege weapons and the shattering pieces of soldiers litter the ground. The stench of death is pungent in the air and the sounds of despair and anger echo.

Ahead of Rosalia is a large Flos encampment that has been made into a miniature castle with a wall and various small guard towers around it. The fighting has gone on for so long that you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking this encampment was a small town for how large it is. There are other encampments like it around the springs, but this one is the command site and the largest. Rosalia heads into the camp once the guards recognize her.

A Flos commander meets up with her, and says, “You’ve come a long way through dangerous obstacles to come here, Rosalia. It’s impressive for a mother with a past such as yours.”

“I don’t think you want to cause me any trouble.”

“Oh no, we don’t harbor any feelings of hate towards you. We just want to get your son to the springs. I don’t even think what you did counts as a crime that we can punish.”

“Good. Do you have a plan? My son doesn’t have long.”

“Yes, but it’ll be messy. I think it’s best if you stay here.”

“I have my black bull and the forest can come to my aid. I can come with you.”

“Can’t you command your bull and the forest to protect us? Why do you have to come with us?”

“I’m a mother. I’m supposed to protect my child.”

“I see. Since it doesn’t look like I can change your mind, we’ll start moving out.” The commander then turns to his soldiers. “Come on, men! We don’t have much time!”

The forces of the Flos start deploying and put protection mages around Rosalia so they can form a shield to protect her. The other encampments deploy their forces to attack the Crystallis ahead of time to clear a path for her. Once they head out, they see the Crystallis army heading for them. Both armies converge on the springs in the middle of the battlefield as their siege weapons launch their barrages on both sides. The battlefield becomes a violent mess of soldiers as Rosalia makes her way to the springs. The shield protecting her is quickly destroyed and the mages who made them are taken out. Other Flos soldiers come to her aid, but they have to engage with the Crystallis in order to protect her and aren’t able to stay by her side.

A barrage of fireballs land near Rosalia, which knocks her off the black bull. The area around her is mostly clear and the springs are in sight, so she makes a run for it as the barrages continue to rain from the sky. The black bull sees that one of them is about to directly hit her, so it leaps out to protect her from it, but is shattered into pieces.

“Thank you,” Rosalia whispers as she runs with everything she’s got.

The springs are only steps away when an arrow barrage comes down upon her. Most of the arrows manage to hit her and pierce through her shield. The last arrows pierce through her core, but she manages to put Rhodes in the springs.

“I love you, my little prince,” she says as she shatters.

As Rhodes lays in the springs, his body not only heals but he is also transformed.

Crystal robes made for a king, eyes like the moon, hair as red as fire, and doll shell like the finest porcelain. Since Rosalia’s death, the forest has gone on a rampage. It breaks through both the Flos and Crystallis forces to the springs where it mourns her death for a few seconds before focusing its rage on the Crystallis army.

Rhodes then says to the forest, “No. Do not do this. Spare them. My mother wanted a world of peace and love, and that is what I will give to her.”

Seeing that the forest has trouble controlling itself, Rhodes begins to sing a song to calm it down. Rosalia and his father join him in spirit to strengthen his song.

 

“You might be weak

But you are also strong

You might be angry

But I’ve seen you happy

You might hate

But you can love

 

And because of this

 

You are everything to me

You are all I’ll ever need

Even when the world is falling apart

Even when life takes its toll

You will always be my everything

 

 All the wealth

All the diamonds in the world

Everything in the universe is nothing compared to you

 

Your value is limitless

Nothing is worth exchanging for you

If your life were in danger, I’d give my life so you could live

 

And because of this

 

You are everything to me

You are all I’ll ever need

Even when the world is falling apart

Even when life takes its toll

You will always be my everything

 

You are everything to me

You are all I’ll ever need

Even when the world is falling apart

Even when life takes its toll

You will always be my everything”

 

The forest calms down and releases energy that calms down everyone on the battlefield. The springs burst forth and showers the battlefield. There is no longer any hatred between the two armies. No one feels like fighting anymore and the two sides come together and apologize for what they’ve done and promise to stop fighting. The vegetation around the springs spring back to life as love being is spread. The springs themselves begin to spread throughout the world because of the sacrifice of Rosalia and shower the world with its calming waters.

Rhodes hears in his head his mother’s voice that says, “The war will end very soon. I told you that I would make sure that you would live in a world of peace, happiness, and love. I may not have expected it to be this way, but I know you’ll be happy and safe. Find the love of your life and don’t let them go.”

“I will. Thank you, mom.”

 

The End

A Father and His Dying Daughter

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Chapter 1 – A Peon Among Giants

There are many fathers roaming the desert wastelands of the earth. Most carry their families and homes with them to settle down somewhere until they die. Everywhere, but the top of the world is subpar that is likely to be attacked by the tortuous fiends. These fiends are demons with completely black skin. They bother the families endlessly until they die or are enslaved. Those resilient enough to make it to the top of the world are said to live forever. It’s a terrible journey that takes a harsh toll on the soul, but that could be said for life in general. Few people have the strength to make the pain they go through worth it.

Me? I’m just a father without a wife and a sick child. My wife died from a sickness she caught out in the desert, and now my daughter has the same disease. I’ve been going from town to town looking for a cure, but no one can help her. The only place I can think of that might have a cure is at the top of the world, so that’s where I’m going. My little princess is all I have left. I don’t care if I die along the way. All that matters is that she gets to a healer and lives.

The rest of the fathers that walk the desert with their family on their backs are taller than the buildings they carry because of their task. Me? I’m a speck compared to them because of mine. I may be smaller than them, but I can make do with what I have. I’ll make the journey and get my daughter to safety. I will. Don’t worry little princess, you’ll reach your castle. Just hand in there.

I’ve been wandering the desert for weeks now or has it been days? I haven’t been keeping count. It’s not like I need to. The path I’m following is said to lead to the top of the world. Where the sun sets is where it’s supposed to be. My main method of transportation is walking because riding the backs of the fathers makes me a target for the fiends, and I feel degraded by it as a father.

My little princess and I are taking shelter in an abandoned building to rest. The abandoned buildings scattered about the desert are from dead families who let the dangers of the desert overtake them. It’s a good thing for us that their building stopped over a stream with fish inside it. I hope they had painless deaths. As for us, we’re having a fish dinner. Of course, my daughter is eating most of it. Despite her sickness that makes her sleep most of the time, she’s still able to drink and eat. She’s also able to smile. A bright smile, in fact, that lights up my dreary world. To keep up her smile, I usually talk to her.

“Did you like dinner today? I’m sorry that I ran out of spices to give it extra flavor. That’s what happens when you’re constantly traveling around like how we are but don’t worry your little head princess, we’ll find you help soon.”

She appears to be uncomfortable.

“I know how many times I said that we’ll find you help soon. How about I sing you one of my songs?”

Her smile gives me her approval.

“All right then. Here we go. To restore your hope in your father, here is a song called, Dreams of a Fair Maiden. I came up with it after stargazing for a while. I know it’s not the best, but I hope you like it.

 

Close your eyes, pretty girl

You’ll get your rest,

Peace, and pearls

You’re blessed

With a beautiful face and dreams so wonderful

Of a place above the stars, bright, and colorful

 

Oh, share this dream with me

Won’t you share this dream with me?

Let me see what you see

A place where souls are redeemed

 

Close your eyes, pretty girl

Let me be your servant

So you can dance in peace and twirl

Angels watch you from afar

Wonder and guess at your majesty

Even they are impressed by your fantasy

 

Oh, share this dream with me

Won’t you share this dream with me?

Let me see what you see

A place where souls are redeemed

 

Pure and priceless

Fair and righteous

You’re so much more than you know

A joyful face that glows

Soul pure as snow

Dress as blue as the sea

Oh, what a beauty to see

 

Oh, share this dream with me

Won’t you share this dream with me?

Let me see what you see

A place where souls are redeemed

 

Won’t you share this dream with me?

Oh, what joy would it be to see

I’ll wait for your reply

To see your dreams that are far beyond the sky

 

What do you think?”

She smiles and blushes.

“Thank you for the compliment. I’ll try to make up another one for the next time we stop to rest. For now, you should get some rest-”

Big and loud footsteps shake the ground beneath us. Fathers are moving through this area to get to the top of the world. That means they’re going to attract the fiends to our location. We better get moving. I haven’t gotten much sleep, but that doesn’t matter. If we stay too long in one area, then the fiends are likely to attack us. They always appear out of the desert or hide in the buildings. I’ve only managed to escape them because I’m so small and the help of a towering father if one is nearby.

Going out of the building, I run alongside a towering father. I look up to him hoping to have some friendly chatter with him, but he looks about done. His feet are moving as if he’s running, and his building behind him is shaking. The fiends are right behind him. I duck back into the abandoned building, so I’m not spotted. He looks back and his building accidentally falls off his back due to his carelessness. The father shrinks as a result. As his building behind me is raided, he is caught and enslaved along with his family. I’ve rarely heard of families escaping enslavement, but I hope they do.

The fiends run off with their prey and leave us alone. Once they’re out of sight, I leave the abandoned building and continue my journey. My daughter is squirming uneasily right now. It’s probably due to the fiends and what happened. She’s sensitive to it even though she can’t see properly.

“It’s okay, princess. That won’t happen to us. I promised you once and I’ll promise you again. Besides, what kind of father would I be if I let you down.”

She stops squirming and peacefully falls back asleep. It’s okay, my little princess. I won’t fail you. Nothing will stop me from getting you the help you need.

 

 

Chapter 2 – Living in a Desolate World

When someone dies in the desert, they become like the sand in the desert, and their cloaks become a cloud in the sky. I wonder how many people walk around and step on the dusk left behind by the people who die here.

“They say if you pass away at the top of the world, then you become stardust. Isn’t that an interesting idea?”

My little princess smiles and even lets out a soft giggle. That’s what I want to hear. My daughter isn’t going to let a life ending disease stop her from laughing and smiling.

“Hey, do you see that in the distance? It’s a settlement. Let’s hope we find some good people in there who can help us.”

I’m down to my last coins, but the goal seems to be so close. I’ve been closer to the sunset than I’ve ever been. All we need is one last push. The settlement we’re approaching is full of houses of various sizes ranging from small to large. I don’t blame the fathers for stopping out here to make resting places for wanderers like me. It’s just that I wished they made this place look a little safer for their sake. They did decorate the place with dark blue and light gray colors mixed in with some black.

There are people walking around and making idle talk around the small market. They glance at me as I pass them then whisper among themselves before talking at their normal volume again. I hope they have good things to say. I don’t want to start a fight. The people here seem good, so I also hope that I’m among decent folks who will help me. Browsing around the market, I find bottled water. Small ones of course, and fish. Lots of kinds of fish. These two things are really the only things we eat in the desert. I heard that the top of the world has something called vegetables, bread, wine, and fruit. I’ve never had or seen any of these things before.

“Excuse me,” I ask the vendor, “How much will this all be?”

“Ten coins,” he says in a gruff voice that sounds like its full of sand.

“I only have eight. Will you accept that? I’m trying to keep my sick daughter relatively healthy until we reach the top of the world.”

“I don’t do sympathy discounts, especially in times like this when resources are scarce.”

“Resources are always scarce. How about I pay you what I have then repay you after I drop off my daughter to a doctor who can cure her?”

“I’m truly sorry, but I can’t. I have to take care of my family too. We’re going through tough times as well, and I’m not sure how much longer we can stay here. You can only buy what you can with what you have.”

“Okay, I understand.”

I pay with what I have, take what I bought, and walk away from the vendor. I can go another day or two by only eating scraps. I’ve done it plenty of times.

“Dang it,” the man behind me says before grabbing a few things and running to me with them, “Take these.” He gives me a little more of what I need. “I can’t, as a father, let another father suffer because I want to save me and mine. Take your money back as well.”

“Thank you so much but keep the money. You need it more than I do.”

“Thank you, my friend.”

The sky starts to light up. Oh no.

“Quickly, come inside my house!”

Bolts of fire start falling from the largest star in the sky. This happens from time to time for reasons I don’t know why. Maybe the Heavens are sending fire to cleanse the wicked from the world and remind the faithful of their fate if they choose to turn away. I take cover with my new friend inside his building. While watching from the windows, I see a couple people get hit by the fire bolts. Poor souls. Buildings such as these that hold wholesome families can withstand the bolts being thrown at it. Other buildings aren’t so blessed.

Once it’s over, most of the town is destroyed. I hear moaning and crying in the distance.

“I think we might be the only survivors,” I say.

“Heavens have mercy on the souls they took for judgment,” my friend says, “This place was not a friendly place to be in. We were going to move anyway. Did you say you were headed to the top of the world?”

“I am. That’s the only place I can think of that could have the cure for my daughter.”

“We might as well head there too. Huh?”

We hear a stampede coming our way. It must be the fiends coming to pick what remains.

I tell my friend, “Quickly pick up your things and go!”

“What about you?”

“I can make do. Just get out of here!”

“Okay! I hope to see you at the top of the world or above the stars, my friend.”

“I hope to see you there too.”

My friend grows huge enough to carry his building away while I find a hiding place within the rubble of the destroyed settlement. I dig out some of the rubble out of a building and hide in one of the destroyed rooms. The rubble here should keep me covered while allowing me to see outside. The moaning and crying have turned to into screaming, but that ceases quickly.

“Oh no. Don’t start crying,” I whisper to my daughter.

She hates the suffering of others no matter who is suffering. She’ll cry when she can feel someone dying.

“Here, I’ll sing you something to soothe your soul.

 

Don’t worry,

About it

It’ll end in a hurry

Because I am committed to you,

 

Oh no, I think the fiends might’ve found us. I might’ve sung too loudly. I’ll have to fight them.

“Rest here for now, my little princess. Your knight needs to protect you.”

She murmurs a little with a worried expression on her face as I lay her down.

“Don’t worry. I’ll keep singing for you.

 

Nothing will hurt you, little princess,

I won’t let them

I’ll defeat them in an instant

Just you rest and watch”

 

I loosen my cloak so I can fight. It’s been a while since I last fought, but I must defend my daughter. Once I get out of the rubble, I face down two fiends.

I wave my hand at them and say, “Come on.”

The fiends race towards me with a smile and black liquids running down their mouths. I run towards them and fight them with my bare hands.

 

“Don’t cry,

I know of your struggles

We’ll fly high

Away from your troubles”

 

I’m able to beat them by using them against each other. I’m a small target while they’re vicious and only out for the kill. That makes them easy to fake out, so they hit each other. It’s just a manner of breaking their heads and necks from there. A couple more fiends come from the destroyed buildings.

 

“It doesn’t matter how many will come

I’ll always stick by you

Never surrender no matter the outcome

This is my destiny, I’ll see it through”

 

Two more down, but I’ve been scratched a couple times during the attack. Oh great, three more show themselves. I can’t give up now. My little princess seems worried.

 

“Nothing will hurt you, little princess,

I won’t let them

I’ll defeat them in an instant

Just you rest and watch”

 

Whew! I didn’t think I’d make it through that.

 

“I’ve defeated them all

What did I tell you?

Your father will never fall

This will always be true

I know the song is more of a poem, but I hope you still liked it.”

My daughter laughs and giggles. I’m not sure if she’s doing that because I won or if she’s laughing at my song. Whatever the case is, I fix my cloak and head away from the destroyed settlement. I probably should’ve bought bandages and healing oil. My wounds are pretty bad right now. My daughter’s presence can heal me a bit, but-Oh, is that?

“Did you think I would abandon a friend like you?” my friend from before says.

“Haha, I guess not.”

“Let me give you a ride to the top of the world. I think I might’ve seen it on the horizon.”

“Let’s go then.”

I go into my friend’s building as he carries us away from the destroyed town.

“Now we’re going to get there faster, little princess.”

My daughter smiles and giggles. Now that’s something that always makes me feel better.

 

 

 

Chapter 3 – Let Me Hear More About You

It’s always good to make new friends. My wounds are healed, and I’ve finally managed to eat enough. I haven’t had a full belly in God knows when. My wounds are healed thanks to the supplies my friend has, so I don’t need to worry about dying anytime soon. The daughters of my friend attentively watch my daughter as she rests with their mother behind them and with her hands their shoulders.

I ask them, “Have you ever seen a little girl like mine?”

“No,” one of them shyly says.

My daughter wakes up and notices all the attention she’s being given. She giggles and reaches out towards us.

“I’ve never seen her frown at anyone. She loves everyone she meets.” I hold her out to the girls. “Go on. You can hold her.”

Their mother gently smiles as her daughters carefully hold my daughter. My daughter makes a sound that sounds like she’s saying hello. This makes the girls and I smile.

“Hello, friend, how about you let the girls enjoy their time together while we talk. I want to know more about you and your daughter,” my friend says.

“Sure. I’ll be right up.” I then tell the girls, “Have fun with my little princess.”

They say they will as I climb the stairs. When I get to the top, I sit on the roof and admire the view. There are a few destroyed buildings out here. It looks like a lot of people went this way to get to the top of the world. That must mean we’re on the right track.

“I’m sorry I don’t have any spare chairs for you, my friend.”

“It’s no trouble for me. I’ve been walking for days. It doesn’t bother me that I have to stand for a little while longer.”

“So, tell me. Where do you come from?”

“Way down south.”

“That must be rough. The south is close to where most of the fiends reside. I haven’t heard good things about the people there either.”

“There are more than you think.”

“I believe it since I know you. Do the southerners think the same of the northerners?”

“Most do, but I don’t and neither did my wife.”

“Speaking about her, where is she?”

“She died a little while ago from the same disease my daughter has.”

“That’s a shame. How did you meet your wife anyway?”

“She was on a trip with a few friends when she stumbled upon me. I had just tracked down a group of people who were working with the fiends. They were going to attack my wife and her friends, but I caught up to them and beat them all up. Unfortunately, I was badly injured after the fight. It was like the Heavens brought us together since my wife was there to save my life. After I explained what happened and we got to know each other better, we got married.”

“You said she was on a trip with a few friends? Was she with her father?”

“No, just a couple women and men.”

“Was she royalty?”

“You could say that.”

“No wonder why you call your daughter, your little princess. What’s her actual name?”

“I never gave her a name. My wife never got the opportunity to approve of her name no matter how she struggled to talk. I don’t think it’s appropriate to name her without my wife’s approval.”

“Makes sense, but you’re eventually going to have to give her a real name.”

“I know. I don’t even think it’s appropriate for me to be riding with you. You can let us go at any time and I won’t mind.”

“It’s no trouble to me especially since you said the top of the world is not going to be too far from here. I thought the same weeks ago when my family settled down in that settlement.”

“What stopped you from going all the way?”

“Fatigue from the long journey and challenges, but now I feel bad for doing so. You’ve been traveling from the south. Have you ever stopped to rest for a while?”

“I don’t rest for more than a day in one place.”

“That’s what I feel bad about. You’re much stronger than me despite not having as much.”

“I have my daughter. She’s alive and still smiling and laughing. That’s all I need.”

“Don’t forget to take care of yourself as well. Your daughter can’t survive without you.”

“I keep myself moving. If I die by the time she reaches a proper healer, then I’ll die happy.”

“Do you really want your daughter to be an orphan?”

“No.”

“Then stop thinking that way. I’ve seen dozens of orphans in this world who are alive because of their parents’ sacrifice. Not many survive on their own.”

“You’re right. I’ll try to make sure I’m healthy enough to take care of her.”

“Maybe you can even find another wife?”

“No. My queen was my one and only. There is no other.”

“It’s till death do us part, my friend. It’s okay to get another.”

“I’ll think about it if the time ever comes.”

“Alright. What is your vocation?”

“I’m a farmer, but I’ve also done guard work.”

“So, a lowly farmer and guard married a queen? Isn’t that a fairy tale I could tell my girls?”

“It could be if you put in more story details.”

“I’m not much of a storyteller.”

“Nonsense. All of us have a writer within us. We’ve been exchanging parts of our story to each other, haven’t we?”

“Exchanging stories with a friend is different than making up your own.”

“It’s less different than you think. Can you come up with songs then? What about a poem?”

“If I can’t come up with a simple fairy tale, then what makes you think I can come up with an original song or poem?”

“I’ve made a few of my own that I sing to my daughter.”

“Let me hear one.”

“You got it. I call this one, A Knight’s Service.

 

This love is a love that can set the world on fire

Your will is my desire

For my life is yours

You are the one the world will adore

 

In your service, I fight

From dawn until midnight

Your knight will never fall

For you, I will give it my all”

 

The girls come up from downstairs.

“It looks like you got an audience. Well, don’t stop. Give them a show.”

 

There is no threat I cannot defeat

Without you by my side

Not even Hell’s heat

Nor the Devil’s pride

 

In your service, I fight

From dawn until midnight

Your knight will never fall

For you, I will give it my all

 

When the battles are won

And the day is done

I will rest at your side

You who are so beatified

The girls cheer and clap. Even my daughter and my friend claps and cheers.

“You’re quite the poet, aren’t you?”

“That poem? It was a song I sang to my queen. She thought it was really cheesy, and I have to admit it is too.”

“Hey, girls like that kind of stuff.”

An explosion is made in the distance.

“Did you hear that?” I ask.

“Girls, get back inside,” my friend says as he slightly alters his path.

“What’s going on?”

“Use the binoculars I have downstairs.”

I get the binoculars and look into the distance where I see a battle happening. Massive fathers carry siege weapons on their backs as they attack a castle town. The town sends their forces to meet their attacks as the two forces clash in battle.

My friend says, “I knew there were tensions around these areas, but I didn’t think it would escalate into war. The north is supposed to be more peaceful than this.”

“Sometimes the best of people are actually the worst underneath. You know I heard a saying that the sinner who is sorry for his sins is closer to God than the just man who boasts of his good works.”

“It’s true. We should keep going and let those ‘good’ people duke it out among themselves. We can’t help them now.”

“May the Heavens have mercy on their souls.”

My friend and I continue on our way to the top of the world as a battle rages behind us.

 

 

Chapter 4 – A Past Revealed

My friend and I have been traveling for quite a while now, but the closer we get to the top of the world, the more the sun shines in front of us when it sets. I’ve finally gotten enough rest from all my walking. Speaking about walking, I wonder how my friend is doing. I go up to him and ask him.

He says, “I’m doing fine. To be honest, I’m pushing myself to go far because you told me about how far you’ve been traveling. It should be alright though. I have a feeling that we’re almost to the top of the world.”

“I have the same feeling too, but you shouldn’t push yourself too hard. Even I took breaks every now and then, and what was that advice you gave me?”

“Haha, okay. I’ll remember to take my own advice. Hey, friend, before you go, don’t you think it’s strange that there aren’t that many buildings out here? You’d think there be more due to how close we are to the top and the lack of resting places.”

“I doubt many would give up after going this. I think it’s a good thing that we don’t see that many abandoned buildings around here. It only gives me the hope that the city at the top of the world has expanded with what’s missing here.”

“That’d be good, and I didn’t think about that. The more people that make it to the top of the world, the more that grand city there will expand so that people come across it sooner.”

“Well, what did you think happens when more people become part of that city? They need more space for the growing number of people, however, slow that rate may be.”

“The thought didn’t even come to my head.”

“What do you think the city is like then?”

“Something beyond my simple imagination. I haven’t even come with a story or a simple poem song like you. You must have your head in the stars with that imagination of yours, my friend.”

“It’s another thing that helps keep me hopeful.”

While looking around, I see something in the distant. Oh no.

“We have to move faster!” I say.

“What’s going on?”

“A convoy of large people in armor mixed with smaller ones with siege weapons are approaching us. They don’t look friendly. They might be bandits.”

“Are you sure they aren’t knights? I’ve heard of wandering knights in this area that protect people from bandits.”

“Well, these don’t look like those people.”

“Alright. I’ll try to run and hide us away from them as best as I can. Hold on down there!”

My friend runs as fast as he can. The armored attackers behind us launch a barrage of arrows at us along with large ropes. We manage to dodge the attacks, but we don’t have any cover until now. Just ahead is a graveyard of destroyed and abandoned buildings. I guess more people than I thought gave up around this point, but that isn’t going to be us.

We use the buildings as cover as my friend swerves and runs through the maze of buildings in a way to confuse our enemies. He then hides us within a hollowed out building. After a while of waiting and silence, he leaves the building. It seems like we’re safe. I heard movement going in the opposite direction. I hope they keep going that way. My friend is cautious he creeps around the buildings while carefully looking around.

Ah! We got caught from behind. My friend is tied up and we’re surrounded. It looks like they split off part of their forces in order to throw us off.

A man, who looks like the commander, says, “Cavallo, your days of escaping the law is over! You are to be executed for your crime of being in relations with the queen. Your being together cost her life.”

“You really are a knight, and your name is Cavallo?” my friend whispers to me.

“Yeah, you thought I was lying?”

The commander continues, “However, we will bring the young princess to the top of the world in order to have her cured and for her to take the place of the queen.”

I respond, “You can’t enact your corrupt laws on us! Your laws influenced by the fiends. That’s what cost the lives of my queen and her subjects.”

“You betrayed your role as a knight.”

“You should talk about betrayal, ‘friend’. You were supposed to pick up for me and change your ways. No wonder why it is said that we should love our enemies as our friends because they’re generally the same people.”

“I serve the crown.”

“I serve the Heavens.”

“And that is why you must be put to death along with your accomplices.”

My friend says, “Do it! Kill me you slaves of the fiends but spare the life of my friend and family.”

“That can be arranged, but your family will be killed alongside you to pay the full price.”

“You monsters!”

“No! Spare their lives. Just them to the top of the world with my daughter. I submit my life to you,” I say.

“Then your friend must deny you,” the commander says.

My friend says to me, “Are you sure you want to do this? I can defend you all until I’m put down.”

“Don’t. Keep your family and my daughter safe. There’s less risk in it, and I might not be able to protect all of us.”

“…Fine.” My friend then says to the commander, “I do not know this man. I met him at the settlement I was at and helped him, but now that I know the truth, I deny ever knowing him.”

“Good man,” the commander says as he orders my friend’s release. “Now come down, Cavallo for your execution.”

I make my way down as I hear my daughter crying. It’s going to be okay, little princess. Your father will save a place for you in the Heavens. Once I get down to the ground, I’m beaten by the many soldiers around me.

The commander says, “That was for the disrespect you showed the crown, you disgraceful knight. Now, your execution.”

A blade is held above my head and is about to come down, but the fiends arrive.

One of them says, “This was not part of our deal, commander. You were to execute the child once you obtained her.”

“We bow to the crown, fiends.”

“You bow to us.”

The fiends attack as the soldiers retreat towards the top of the world. I guess they neither party sees any use in me now. They’re all gone now. Thankfully, I’m still able to walk. I have to get to my daughter. I have to protect her. It’s my duty as her knight and most importantly her father. I have to!

I’ve been here before. The bottom of the barrel. When my wife died, and I had to escape the kingdom. I didn’t think I was going to make it, but my queen came to me in a dream and kissed me. In that kiss, I got her message of hope. I have to keep going no matter how I feel. I rip apart my cloak so I can move faster. To get myself to move even faster, I sing myself a song that I came up for my queen and princess.

 

I’m the worst because I’m inconsistent

Making Heaven so distant

I’m useless because I can never be perfect

My sins leave me wrecked


But I can’t just stay here forever


The Bottom is Where I Start

Where all broken hearts fall apart

or become beautiful works of art

The Bottom is where I awoke in

Our pains unspoken

But I won’t be broken


I’m delusional because I believe in God

I’m an idiot for thinking I’m flawed

I’m insane because I’m not full of myself

in a world that’s in love with itself


But I can’t just let them put me down forever


The Bottom is Where I Start

Where all broken hearts fall apart

or become beautiful works of art

The Bottom is where I awoke in

Our pains unspoken

But I won’t be broken

 

Never to going to give in

Never going to give up

Never letting my light dim

 

Never to going to give in

Never going to give up

Never letting my light dim


The Bottom is Where I Start

Where all broken hearts fall apart

or become beautiful works of art

The Bottom is where I awoke in

Our pains unspoken

But I won’t be broken


The Bottom is Where I Start

Where all broken hearts fall apart

or become beautiful works of art

The Bottom is where I awoke in

Our pains unspoken

But I won’t be broken
From the bottom is where I start

The pain has given me a strong heart

And I will never fall apart

I’m approaching the top of the world now. It’s a city of lights that looks like a town made of castles. It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of. Oh! There are the knights being chased down by fiends. The guards from the city defend them, but I’ll get to my daughter. Just you hold on for me, my little princess.

 

 

 

Chapter 5 – A Father’s Duty

Without my cloak and my daughter on my back, I’m able to stand up straight and leap around the buildings. I watch as the knights find a healer. They enter into a hospital and leave a few of them outside to guard. I sneak past them and watch from outside a window. This is great for my daughter. She’s being healed by a professional healer. This woman is wearing a dress made of flowers and leaves. It’s like she’s a fairy godmother. I’ve never seen foliage except in the kingdom’s gardens and in art.

Now that my daughter is healed, it’s time to rescue her. Her skin is more colorful, and her eyes are more open. She’s expressive and calls out for me. Don’t worry, princess. Your knight is here. Before I can jump in the window, the knights leave the room. I go out to the front and take out their guards.

Once they exit the hospital, I say to them, “Let go of my daughter!”

My daughter calls out to me with her arms out as she struggles out of the commander’s arms.

The guards of the city become suspicious of the knights and say, “I thought you said this was your child?”

“It is. She belongs to the kingdom.” The rest of their forces converge on the hospital to save their friends. “We thank you for your services.”

The commander retreats with his protectors and my daughter as his forces clash with the city’s guards. They stand no chance because the city has better guards, so I chase after my daughter. The knights run through the crowded streets then retreat into one of the taller buildings of the city. They take a storage pulley up to the top floor. Fire starts to rain down from the stars and sun in the sky as I climb the castle. The city’s defenses manage to take out some of the fire bolts, but a number of them make it past. Once I get to the top, the commander’s four knights fan out and start to surround me.

He says, “This ends now, Cavallo. You can’t survive against us.”

“Don’t underestimate a father.”

The knights underestimate me because I fight with my fists and I manage to break their armor and weapons with my fists and kicks. I then knock them out and send them down the pulley.

“I won’t make the same mistake as those fools.”

“You’re already making one.”

I fight the commander and despite his fancy sword skills, he’s nothing without it when I break it in half. I then beat him down to the ground.

“Kill me already,” he says.

“No,” I tell him with a stern look in my eyes, “I’m not like you.”

“You’d wish you were.”

“Uck!”

He cut me open from my stomach up to my chest with the sword I broke in half. I knock out the commander then throw him aside. My daughter…my little princess…I have to hold her one last time. I crawl to her as the firestorm above the city gets worse. I’ve never seen it rain down fire this bad. I’ll protect my little princess with my body. That’ll be my last duty as her knight and father. She’s crying right now.

“It’s okay, little princess. I’m here and I’ll protect you to my last breath…”

As I breathe my last, the blood that comes out of my body becomes a cloak that enwraps my daughter and transforms her into a beautiful young woman.

Eyes like the stars, hair-like purest purity, dress like rose petals, and a golden crown on top of her head that was made by her mother in Heaven.

She looks up to my soul as I ascend to the Heavens and says, “Thank you, father, for teaching, singing, protecting, and loving me. I love you.”

“I love you too, Aurora.”

Aurora steps off the building a walks on the air as if it was a staircase.

“I got this from you, father. I hope you like it.”

She then begins to dance and sing in midair, which slows down the fire bolts to almost a complete halt.

 

Let me sing you a song as the stars and sun bleed

Dance and be merry, but take heed

 

Purified, I become the aide of all

So that no one will die

None will fall

 

Coming with a gift of life

Wisdom abounding, cutting through the fire like a knife

 

The fire in the sky begin to blow up like fireworks in a festival. People below begin to dance and cheer for my princess.

 

Let me sing you a song as the stars and sun bleed

Angels rejoice as love is shared

Alleluia, yes, join me

 

Purified, I become the aide of all

So that no one will die

None will fall

 

Just look at was done

My father sacrificed his life

For his only love

This is the truest love given to all

 

Purified, I am the aide of all

So that no one will die

None will fall

 

All the firebolts in the sky are gone now. Aurora floats down to the ground and is praised by the people. She smiles and waves up to me. I’ve done it. This was my true purpose for coming here. Even though it seemed like something small, it became something bigger than the castles at the top of the world. Now that my duty is complete, I rejoin you, my queen to be by your side forever. Let us rejoice and pray for our daughter as she starts her new life.

 

The End