THE MARK OF A HERO

PROLOUGE

There once was a little girl named Valeria. She was around the age of six. One night she had a dream, a nightmare really, that changed her life for the worst. In her dream she saw pure, pitch black darkness and heard only creepy carnival music. When she heard that music she immediately started to walk toward the front door. Val didn't know what she was doing because she was still asleep having that horrible nightmare. She walked out the front door and started walking down the street. Wherever she walked all of the lanterns went out so there was total darkness where ever she went. She kept walking down the street, her eyes still closed. When she made it to the woods near her village she turned and walked straight behind a tree. Then there was a blood curling scream, a moment of nothing and then there was no longer total darkness. All of the lights went back on, but there was no longer any one named Valeria. Her parents had never had a child; no one ever knew a girl named Val. She no longer had a soul, so she no longer existed. Now her soul was replaced with a mark; the mark of a hero.

THE STORY BEGINS

Val woke up. "Where am I?" She thought. Then she realized something. "Who am I?" She sat up and looked around. There were trees everywhere. "I must be in some kind of forest or something." She said to her self. She looked behind her. She saw a path. It looked like a way out. She looked the other way. It looked like it led deeper into the woods. It also looked like something horrible had torn through it. There were claw marks on the trees and the bushes were missing some leaves. She noticed that the birds never sang here. They just sat perched on the branches and did nothing. She tried to decide witch way to go. Then she realized something else that was a little strange. She didn't really have emotions. She didn't know to go out of the woods or deeper into the woods because she wasn't adventurous or curious, but she wasn't scared and she didn't exactly stick to common sense either. She just decided randomly to go deeper into the woods. She started to head that way. Then she heard an extremely loud screeching noise. Then and there she experienced her first emotion, fear, as a creature with enormous pincher hands, razor sharp teeth and slimy looking skin tore through the bushes and started running toward her. The birds started flying toward the exit and she decided they knew what they were doing so she followed them. As she started to run she noticed her legs felt like jell-o. She tried as hard as she could to keep running. The creature was gaining on her. She felt dizzy. Then she just couldn't take it any more. She collapsed on the ground. She was almost out of the woods. She looked up and noticed how close the thing was. She tried to get up but she felt faint. She looked up again and to her horror the thing had caught up with her and was standing about two feet away from her. It screeched again and it was so loud this time Val had to cover her ears. It raised its head and screeched once again, but this time its pinchers transformed into claws. It swiped at Val and at that moment she experienced a new feeling, pain. Blood began pouring out of her shoulder where it had scratched her. She screamed in pain. She now knew what it could do to her and how it could make her feel. So now she was determined to get away from it. She made her self get up and start running again. Luckily for her the thing, whatever it was, wasn't fast to react. She got a head start. It screeched in rage and started running again. Val felt faint again, but she didn't want to experience pain so she kept running. Finally she ran out of the woods and didn't stop running for a while. Her shoulder was still extremely painful. She stopped and sat down to catch her breath. The thing had stopped chasing her now. But she still heard it screeching in blind fury at the top of its lungs. It made her shiver. She got up and looked around. The pain in her shoulder faded in and out constantly. The bad thing was that she didn't know how to make it stop. She started walking down the road. She saw a little village down yonder. She hoped the people there knew how to make her shoulder stop bleeding. When she got there a man, a woman and six children ran up to her. "Are you OK?" the woman asked franticly. Now that she no longer had the adrenaline in her body, her shoulder was more painful than before. "Now that you mention it, I feel really dizzy." She said as she lost all feeling and fell onto the ground unconscious. She woke up staring up at a ceiling in a small house with all six of the children staring down at her. "Back off and give her some air." the woman that she saw earlier was saying to them. They all backed up and the woman came to sit next to her. "What happened?" Val asked. "You tell us." the man said. "Harold." the woman said scolding him. "You fainted." one of the children said. The woman started wrapping a bandage around her shoulder. "My name's John." the oldest of the children said. He was tall and had sandy colored hair. "I'm Anna." one girl said. She looked to be about the age of seven or so. Her hair was a very dark black. "I'm Ted and this is Tommy." a boy said pointing to what looked to be his identical twin. They were almost the same age as Anna. They had very blonde hair and wearing the same cloths. "I'm May." a girl that looked like she was a year or so younger than John. Val noticed that there was another girl, but she didn't introduce her self. She was young, about five. "Alright let's let her rest every one." the woman said when she had finished wrapping the bandage. Everyone left but the little girl. She walked over to Val and said "I'm Sarah." "Hi." "You can have Mr. Snuggles. Mommy says that I'm too old for him." She said. She handed Val a very worn out stuffed bunny. Then she experienced another new feeling, happiness. Sarah smiled a very beautiful smile at her. "By the way, I think you look pretty with all of those sparkles on you." "What sparkles?"

She got up and walked to the closest mirror. She saw her reflection and gasped. She no longer looked like she was six. She was as tall as a fifteen or sixteen year old girl. Her blonde hair was long and looked like it hadn't even been brushed in ten years. What also surprised her was that her body looked like it had faded or something. Her bright blue eyes stood out against her pale skin. "You see the sparkles?" Sarah asked. She did see a little twinkling here and there. "Yeah." What was going on? She didn't remember growing up or having a having a family or friends or even her own name. Here she experienced confusion. Then the woman walked in the room. "Would anyone like a snack?" "Ooh, me. I do." Sarah said happily. "Come on then." She followed Sarah into a big room where she saw every one eating delicious looking bread. She sat down next to John. "You want some?" He asked her pointing to some bread. She shook her head. She was too shaken to eat. "More for me!" He said. "John." The woman said scolding once again. "Sorry." Val noticed that everyone was staring at her excitedly. "I'm sorry dear, I haven't introduced myself. I'm Tracy." The woman said. Val nodded a greeting. "My name's Harold." the man said. "So what's your name?" Anna asked before Val could say hi. "Yeah what's your name?" The twins prompted. "Uh. My name is ….um, uh……I don't really know what my name is." She stammered. "Well if you don't know your name then where are you from?" John asked. "That's a good question." "How old are you?" Anna asked. She shrugged. "Where are your parents?" Sarah asked. "Parents?" "Yes dear, your mother and father." Tracy said. Then Val experienced sadness. She didn't really know why though. She wasn't even sure she was real or not. "I don't have any." She said in a mist of deep thought. How was this possible? She didn't remember anything about her past. She couldn't remember any places she had been other than the forest. "How about we go shopping to find you some new clothes." May said. "Yeah" Anna said excitedly. "Ok then, we'll go shopping. Come on everyone." Tracy said. They all headed out the door. Val was amazed at the many crowds of people walking around outside. May grabbed her arm and tugged her along with the rest. "So, you're as tall as me. Let's say you're sixteen." "Um, Ok." "Let's go try on some clothes and see how you look." Anna said. She tugged on Val's arm. "No, let's go do your hair." May said in an arguing tone. She tugged her toward a building toward the left. "Clothes" Anna said. She tugged Val toward a building to the right. "Hair" "Clothes" "Hair" "Clothes" They argued. "Look, let's go try on some clothes and then you can see what hair style goes best with my outfit." Val said. "Ok" They said. Anna grabbed Sarah's arm and May grabbed Tracy's arm and they were all dragged inside the building to the right. May ran straight for a dress that looked expensive. It was black with a gold belt with embroidered dragons on it. It was exactly Val's size. Val looked upon it with amazement at its beauty. She hadn't seen anything more beautiful in her life. (Or so she thought) "You like it?" May said and brought it up to her. "Yes. It's beautiful." Val replied and took a hold of it. It was made of silk and soft to the touch. "Well it looks like it would fit you perfectly." Anna said. "Try it on! Try it on!" Sarah yelled and tugged on Val's hand. "But your shoulder…" Tracey said and pointed to Val's left shoulder where her bandage was. Val had completely forgotten about her injury. It no longer hurt. "Well take the bandage off then!" Sarah yelled and slipped it off for she desperately wanted to see Val in that beautiful dress. Everyone expected to see hideous slash marks where the thing had scratched her, but there was no wound under the bandage at all. They all stared at the spot where she had been hurt, mouths hanging wide open. "But… how ….you… the ……. huh?" May stammered. "That's impossible." Tracey said with a strange look of fear on her face. Why was she so scared? Suddenly Sarah snapped out of it and yelled at her to try on the dress so she did. The boys walked in at the same moment that Val stepped out of the dressing room to show the dress to everyone else. "There you are girls. We've been looking for y-…." John said as he caught sight of Val standing in the middle of the room. His mouth instantly dropped open at the goddess of a girl in a black dress and a gold belt with dragons on it. The twins whistled simultaneously and Anna slapped them both on the head. Here Val experienced embarrassment. "That's definitely the dress for you." Sarah said awed at the beauty. "Now hold up. How much is it?" Tracey asked. "I'll go ask the owner." Val said desperate to get away from the stares of the boys. She walked into a dimly lit room at the back of the store. The first thing she noticed was a sword in its golden sheath resting on the wall. "Yes, what would you like?" an old woman's voice called out from the right. Val turned her head toward the voice. She saw an old woman sitting at a table. She was wearing a gray robe the same color as her messy gray hair. Around her neck she wore several bead necklaces. Her back was hunched over and she continued to stare at the table. She was slightly frightening. "Uh…um how much is this dress?" Val stammered. "It won't matter." the lady said mysteriously. "Um…" Val said. "It won't matter once you see what I have in store for you." the woman said in her scratchy voice. Val said nothing for she was confused and slightly scared. "Would you like to see what I have in store for you?" the woman asked and got up. "I guess." Val said because it seemed that she didn't have a choice. The woman walked up to her so their faces were merely a half an inch apart. "What I have in store for you…" she said reaching under her robe. "is… death!!!" she screamed and revealed a shining dagger from under her robe. Fear once again erupted through Val. Some crazy old lady had a dagger and was trying to kill her. (OK, that's not strange at all. O_o And don't you start thinking that I'm crazy too!) The lady slashed at her heart and Val jumped away just in time. (d._.b It's a DJ!!!! Yes, I had to do that. Now back to the story!) The jump was almost in-human because of the strength and swiftness of the move. Val didn't know that she could do something like that. The lady swung again this time yelling in rage. Val jumped again. They did this several times before, without thinking, Val did a back flip and in the same motion, kicked the lady against the wall where the sword rested. Val became uneasy. Something was tugging at the edge of her mind. It was a feeling of warning. Then that feeling went away and was replaced with a feeling of dismay, anger, and hurt as the lady's figure changed before her eyes. A black light filled the room and when it went away, the thing that she had seen earlier stood before her in the place of the woman. Val was petrified with fear as the thing screeched angrily. It ran toward her and she snapped out of it, ducking from its swinging claw, and ran behind it. She couldn't control her body. It had a mind of its own. She grabbed the sword, took it from its sheath and held the elegant beauty in her right hand. A symbol that looked similar to a complex Indian kolam was printed on the pommel. (A kolam is a doodle in India girls use to express their artistic ability. Some can be 3 steps, some can be 7 steps, and some are complex. They're basically just 3, 7, or more, dots with continuous line or loops around them. The better they are drawn, the more good luck and health they are supposed to bring to the girls, or sometimes boys who draw them.) Its hilt was a shining gold, the same color as the sheath. The thing charged at her again, its sharp teeth showing. Val took a graceful leap over it and landed on the other side of the room. Val couldn't believe it. It was like she was a super hero with super powers. Whenever she jumped, it was more like a glide than a jump. And her movements were so graceful it seemed as if she had been training as a master swordsman for her whole life. (Or swordswoman, but that just doesn't sound right to me. I'll just use the term swordsman for now because we all know she's a girl.) Suddenly the blade of the sword began to glow. The thing saw this and screeched in blind fury again. Its beady eyes grew red and it swung as hard as it could at Val. She lifted the sword and it locked with the thing's razor sharp, bloody claws. She kicked it with in-human strength and it went flying. It slammed against the wall and slumped against it, unconscious. Suddenly Val's fear was replaced with extreme hate, blind fury, sadness, dismay, and more and more hate for everything. It was eating her alive. Then an awesome pain came to the back of her hand. The combination of the physical and emotional pain made her drop to her knees on the wooden floor. The rage flooded her and the pain in her hand grew worse and worse. "Why is this happening? What's going on? Why me?" she screamed in her head. The rage, the anger, the sadness; It was over coming her. She looked up at the thing. "This is all happening because of that! It's all its fault!" She thought. The pain was way too much for her. She gripped the hilt of the sword tight and with all of the strength she had left, lunged toward the thing. She swung her arms down and the sword, which was glowing very brightly now, pierced the thing's heart. That instant the pain in her hand went away and the horrible emotions faded slightly. The thing's body then just dissolved right in front of her eyes. The sword landed on the floor was a loud crash. Val suddenly awoke from the trance of pain and gulped for air. It was like she had been underwater for a long time struggling to get to the surface. Her body was numb and like jell-o. She went to the floor again and continued to breathe heavily. "What happened? Did I hurt anyone? …… How much is the dress?" she thought. Her eyes caught hold of the beauty lying before her. The sword had stopped glowing yet it still had its sheen. Its sheath was on the other side of the room. She grabbed the sword and walked over to it. She slid it in with a slish and held it tightly. "You're mine now." she said in her head. She decided to pretend nothing happened so the others wouldn't worry for her. She was thankful for them. They had saved her life and she didn't think it was right for her to make them worry over her. "Sooo… I guess the dress is free." She thought as she slid the sword in her belt. She stepped back into the main room of the store. She gasped when she saw that everything, including all of the dresses, was gray and that everyone had a blank look on their face. Nothing moved. "Hey, wake up." she said and snapped her fingers. Suddenly everything was bright and colorful again and everyone's faces went back to normal.