Episode One: Far From Home
Small footsteps pattered on the forest floor.
"Hello? Melody, where are yeh?"
A young boy came to rest beneath a large tree, breathing shakily.
"'Ey...! I-I'm sorry for hidin' in the woods! Yeh can come find me now!"
Only the dark, crowded trees of the forest rustled their leaves lazily in response.
Blumiere shook his head in frustration as yet another insect buzzed in his ear. He was tired of walking. His regal silks were covered in dirt, he was hot, exhausted, and… afraid. He cried out as the familiar buzzing filled his ears again. "Stop it!" he yelled, "Just leave me alone!"
Scoffing at himself, he shook his head once more. He sounded childish, yelling like that. Before he tripped on an upcoming tree root, Blumiere stopped walking, leaned against the nearest trunk, and closed his eyes.
This whole… escapade… everything. It's all… foolish. Childish. I never should have left…
His thoughts were abruptly cut off as an alarming pain struck his heart, causing him to lurch forwards and clutch at his chest. A terrified scream leapt from his throat. With each heartbeat the pain intensified; it felt as though needles were being pumped through his veins. His body shook as he collapsed on the ground, rendered helpless and still screaming in horror. As he curled up into a ball on the forest floor, Blumiere truly though he was going to die.
A youthful voice sounded from behind him, and immediately all of his pain was alleviated. He lay on the ground, confused. A shiver traversed his spine. What just happened to me? he thought, shuddering once more. One moment I feel like I'm having a heart attack and the next I'm perfectly fine…
"Sir…? A-are yeh alright?" the voice continued. It appeared to belong to a young male, and was spoken in an odd accent unfamiliar to the man.
Blumiere didn't move. He knew the child would run as soon as he realized the man wasn't human. "I'm fine, thank you," he replied softly, trying to sound as friendly as possible.
The sound of crunching leaves signified that the boy was moving closer, stepping cautiously towards the man who had, just a moment ago, been screaming and writhing on the ground. Blumiere closed his eyes, hoping to appear harmless. The footsteps drew nearer and nearer; he could hear them moving slowly around his head and, at last, come to a halt. A couple of painstakingly long seconds later, a small gasp escaped the child's mouth.
"Y-yeh're a… a blue-face…" The words were spoken in a shaky whisper.
Opening his eyes, Blumiere glanced up at a small human child. He had short, orange hair on top of his round head and sparkling blue eyes, currently widened in terror. A light dusting of freckles graced his cheeks, which were a light, human shade of tan, and he wore rough commoner clothes in fading reds and yellows. At this moment the young boy had his tiny hands fisted and held on either side of his face, bordering his wide-open mouth.
Before the man could say a word, the child took a step, and then began to flee.
But Blumiere was faster. He scrambled to his feet and managed to catch the child's hand before he was able to run even a meter. "Wait! I―"
"No! Please!" the boy yowled, trying to wriggle free. "Let me go! Please…! Please…!" He was crying out frantically, obviously terrified.
The man couldn't let go. He couldn't let this being go on to think that the people of his race were monsters. If he were to escape… There'd be accusations, and proof, proof that his tribe wanted nothing more than to capture and enslave the village. "Young one, I am not going to hurt you!" he exclaimed desperately. "I just… I need your help!"
To his surprise, this phrase effectively worked in calming the boy down. He stopped struggling to escape and stared curiously into Blumiere's glowing, dark blue eyes.
"Y-yeh do…? But yeh're a blue-face… Yeh can fix everythin' with yer magic, can't yeh?" He sniffled, using his free hand to wipe at his eyes.
Without going into detail, Blumiere replied, "No, I'm afraid I cannot. In fact," at this he knelt down so he was eye-level with the boy. Hesitantly he let go of the child's hand and took hold of his shoulder instead, just in case he tried to run again. "I can't use my magic at all right now. So even if I wanted to hurt you… which I do not," he added quickly, "I wouldn't be able to." He swallowed. He hated lying so blatantly, but surely, in a situation like this, it was for the better…?
The young boy nodded slowly. However, with each bob of his head his face fell more and more downcast. It looks as though he's going to cry, Blumiere realized with a start. Indeed, not a moment later tears filled the child's eyes. He looked away and sniffled in a restricted manner, alluding that perhaps this child felt he was too old to cry, and was ashamed for doing so.
"There, there," Blumiere mumbled kindly, "what's wrong?" He hoped the child wasn't crying in fear of him, but assumed it wasn't so because he hadn't tried to run yet.
The human boy's pale cheeks flushed pink in shame. "I-I was playin' 'ide and seek wit' me best friend, and I 'id in the forest…" he sniffed and looked away, "a-and now I think I'm l-lost!"
Blumiere's eyes narrowed slightly. The boy's words were beginning to slur, and that combined with his odd accent made his sentences very difficult to understand. But the last few words were coherent enough for the man to realize what he was saying. So we're both lost, then…? He decided it would be better for both of them if he kept that information to himself.
"Hush now, it's alright. I'll help you get back home." Blumiere quickly said, hoping to calm the young human down. He patted the boy's head, smiling gently in order to hide his panicked thoughts. What do I do now? If I keep wandering around with this child following me, we'll likely become even more lost. And of course that beast is still somewhere nearby… Realizing the boy was staring at him expectantly, Blumiere quickly moved on in conversation. "Now, what is your name, young one?"
"Ronan." The child's watery eyes gazed up at him.
"You may call me Blumiere."
Ronan's mouth twitched as it fought between a smile and a frown. "Yeh mean like the color blue? Like yer skin?"
Blumiere furrowed his brow. His name did emphasize his complexion, as he'd discovered long ago. "Hm. I suppose."
"Can I call yeh Blue?"
"Absolutely not," The man stated as sternly as he dared. "Now, let's get going. Do you-" Know which way to go? Blumiere caught himself before he finished the question. He'd have to figure this out on his own.
"Do I what?"
Blumiere shook his head. "Never mind. Let's get going." He examined his surroundings, trying to decide as quickly as possible where to go. He began to walk in the direction he'd come from. But what about that monster? I'd hate to run into it again, especially now that I have Ronan with me. He turned around, walking to the thicker trees where Ronan had just been. But he's been wandering for a while now too, surely. He would have just turned around if that was the right way. Conflicted, Blumiere finally decided to go someplace right in the middle. But that's the unknown… it could be the exact opposite direction, and perhaps the monster's cave is somewhere over here…
By now, Blumiere had paced three circles around the tree he'd been leaning against. Ronan followed him confusedly footstep by footstep.
"Do yeh know which way teh go?" he asked, innocently.
"Then 'ow come we aren't goin' anywhere?"
After some hesitation, Blumiere decided on, "I was chased here by a raving creature, and I'd rather not try to face it again. I'm trying to determine where it could have gone, so we can avoid it." That's partly true, at least.
To his surprise, Ronan laughed. "There aren't creatures 'ere!"
Blumiere assumed the child hadn't traversed these woods very often, which made sense, seeing as he was lost now. He considered arguing Ronan on the topic, but soon decided stating 'How do you know, you weren't chased by it!' was far too childish.
And childish acts had gotten him into this mess.
Instead, he replied, "Whether or not there truly are creatures, I'd prefer not to take any chances."
"But… If we don't get 'ome soon, it will get dark!" Ronan's voice was thick, and Blumiere feared he might start to cry if they didn't get moving soon.
The blue-skinned man smiled. "You're right, let's get going. I believe we just need to go straight from here." He took his first step in a random direction and, sure enough, Ronan followed his exact movements. Blumiere cringed, feeling extremely guilty. Like a lamb to the slaughter, he might be leading this child to his doom.
They walked in a straight line for nearly five minutes. Eventually, Ronan hesitantly broke the silence.
"Oh, uh Blue?"
"Blumiere… Didn't yeh say yeh needed 'elp earlier?"
The man glanced at the boy. This child is testing me, he thought, he suspects I don't know where I'm going.
"Ah, yes. I was looking for some wildflowers for my mother." Immediately Blumiere regretted his words. He drew a quick, shaky breath and glanced away, hoping Ronan wouldn't notice how he was trembling. He wrung his hands together, hoping to quell the shivers. I spoke without thinking…
Luckily, Ronan didn't have much time to notice the blue-skinned man's odd behavior, for suddenly the earth began to shake, and a rhythmic thumping hovered through the trees.
Blumiere's head snapped up, his eyes growing wide; he'd heard that sound before. Ronan looked around as well, though he wasn't scared, but curious.
It was drawing closer, more quickly this time than the last.
"Ronan," he said hastily, motioning towards a tree next to him, "can you climb?"
"Of course! But, Blue…"
"Then climb! I'm coming up too." Blumiere heaved himself onto the first branch. It wobbled underneath his weight, causing him to grasp the trunk fearfully. Looking up, he saw Ronan was already about ten feet higher than he was, sitting comfortably in the crook of a branch. Standing shakily, Blumiere began to slowly advance upwards.
"Blumiere," he managed to correct, his voice quivering.
"Sorry. Why are we climbin' the tree? I thought we were goin' 'ome…"
Finally pulling himself up to the branch below Ronan, Blumiere gasped in air, clutching the thin stick beneath him so hard his knuckles turned white. "The creature that chased me earlier is back. I figured-"
Ronan laughed at him, cutting him off. Blumiere, slightly offended, frowned and stared at the boy. "...What?"
The boy's laugh became a giggle, and he began to descend the tree at a speed much faster than Blumiere could have managed.
"Ronan, wait! That thing is still down there!" he started to follow him, climbing downwards at a slower pace. He yelped softly as the branch currently beneath him cracked and bent sideways, throwing his weight off balance and causing him to fall forwards a ways, before his arms caught on a lower branch, and he hung there, helpless. He struggled to find a place to rest his feet, but Ronan was already on the ground.
The black, round creature came into view; Blumiere squeezed his eyes shut, unable to watch.
"'Ey, Onyx! Come 'ere, boy!"
Blumiere cracked an eye open. Onyx? The thing has a name? Suddenly, the branch that was holding him snapped, and he plummeted to the ground, screaming. Many of the lower branches beneath him intercepted his fall, and by the time he landed he was on his back, gasping for the air that had been driven out of his lungs.
'Onyx' barked and jumped, causing the ground to shake and the familiar thud to reverberate through the trees. He began to advance on Blumiere, who gasped and scrambled away, backing up until he hit the tree. Onyx continued until he was right in front of Blumiere, who was trembling, one eye closed and the other staring fearfully at the creature.
"Onyx, down boy! C'mere!"
Onyx turned towards the voice, bouncing away.
Ronan stepped forwards, rubbing the smooth surface of his pet, beaming. "This is me pet chain chomp! 'Is name is Onyx."
"So I've gathered," groaned Blumiere, standing slowly and stretching out his back. I probably should have figured that in the first place. But why would someone want something so terrifying as a pet?
"And guess what? Now that Onyx's 'ere, we can find the way to me 'ouse! Yeh know the way, don't yeh, boy?"
Of course. The chomp had been his key to freedom all along. Blumiere glowered as subtly as he could manage and muttered, "Alright then, Onyx. Show the way."
Onyx barked and started off in the exact opposite direction they'd just been travelling. Ronan eagerly followed him. Blumiere reluctantly trailed behind, struggling to walk in sync with the tremors of the chain chomp's bouncing. He felt slightly humiliated, but didn't express as much; he remained silent and let the terrifying animal lead the way.
Eventually, he managed to look up at the sky through the trees.
The sun was setting. He was running out of time.