Mom's ocean hair drapes over her shoulders like cascading waterfalls. I recall being envious of it when I was really young. Her eyes are like gleaming sapphires that could stare into the souls of anyone. I used to think they were really pretty. She looks into my eyes judgingly as Dad comes to her side to join her. He has hair the color of soot, but his cheekbones are sharp; his light goatee is so vivid in this reverie. We have the same emerald eyes but nothing else in common-I got everything from my mom. But why do I see them, looking at me at that way they used to before they died? Disappointedly.
Their faces turn into the wooden floor and the bright lights from the lamps. I look down at my constricted body, unable to even scratch my back. Sullenly I gaze at the floor, seeing no way out of this place. I manage to get on my knees and waddle to the bedroom window. Judging by the sky, it's almost morning. Like soldiers marching for battle, villagers hold their torches over their heads, chanting, "Let the Light prevail!" and "Wisp of the Light," and, "Darkness will fall."
"This isn't right," I hum, the duct tape clamped tightly over my mouth. What could I, a little girl, do? Master Shade is gonna get hurt for no reason. There's no way he killed those Wisp, I don't believe it. If I had told him, if I had just opened my mouth, he wouldn't be fighting back. I sink back to my corner and close my eyes while resting my head on my knees.
Seth, this is exactly what you want? No, you'd probably want me to die by your own hands because you're really mean like that. What would you do if you were the one tied up like this and unable to do anything? Would you just let yourself do nothing and wait for death to come after the war or would you just kill everything in your path-I shouldn't have thought that. You're not a killer and neither am I.
I imagine myself as Seth, stuck in this room with no one to watch me or talk to me. Getting back to my feet, I look around the room for the sharpest thing in here. Oh, I think I remember! I was making a sandwich and when I was cleaning the counter, I got scratched by the corners. "Ouch, I'll be more careful next time," I reminded myself. Seth wouldn't say it like that, he'd say "I was too careless." I dash towards the counter, turn around, and press the rope against the sharp edge. Without knowing if the edge cut into the rope, frantically, I rub and rub by tipping on my tippy-toes.
"Come on," I say, but comes out, "Hm, hmm!"
Nothing. "Hm, hmmm!"
Come on, come on, come on! "That's the best you can do?" Seth would say if he was watching. Something moist rolls down my cheek as I more vigorously scratch the rope, hoping that this idea works. I'm gonna prove you wrong Seth, watch me. "Arrhmmmm!" Oh, that sound! I heard a tear, it was small, but it was a tear. I picture Seth in front of me, smugly watching me struggle. A quick flash of my Mom and Dad sullenly gazing down at me pumps the adrenaline. Fiercely, I stretch my arms until the rope finally snaps and drops to the floor like a lifeless snake. With a soft moan, I gently remove the duct tape from my mouth and finally let out an exhausted sigh. I lean on the counter for support, avoiding touching the sharp edge.
"I-did it," I whisper between pants, wanting to go back to bed after such an ordeal. But then I remember Michele's warning about coming back and torturing me in jail. Putting the duct tape on the counter, I run to the door and jiggle the knob until I accept that no one is in the inn and I'm locked in. "There's no way out?"
No. I didn't go through all that just to run into another dead end. I hustle to the window and spot a few more people heading towards the Dark Forest. Just looking down makes me sick…but I don't have a choice. I pull out my staff bow and take in a deep breath before driving the bow into the glass. Like falling stars, the glass precipitates to the grass and goes unnoticed by the oblivious war men. It's still too far for me to jump down, I need a cushion or something. I grab the bed mattress and throw it out the window, landing over the dangerous glass shards. Then I take the sheets frantically from the floor and look down. I can't do this, my throat is getting tight. It's as if the rope retied itself around my neck and is strangling me all over again.
"Chicken," taunts imaginary Seth. With my eyes shut tight, the fear suppressed momentarily, and with the sheet held over my head, ready to open to like a parachute, I run to the window, duck my head so the frame doesn't hit me, and allow myself to fly.
I can hear them marching loudly into my domain. Never have I ever set foot in Wisp's temple, yet she comes hither with an army of foolish villagers behind her. After I was transported here, I never had anyone to truly share a bond with. The only human I can recall having a bond with was Dunstan, but that was a long time ago. Mia reminds me of him sometimes, but that doesn't matter now.
"…Light prevail! Down with Shade!" angry battle shouts echo throughout the forest. The time for looking back is not now-I must face the present, no matter how harsh it might be. Silently, I conceal myself in the shadows of pre-dawn as the flames grow hungrily.
"Stop," Wisp commands them. "He is here, I can sense him already. Are you hiding from me, you coward?"
"I was waiting," I insist, emerging from the shadows of the trees. Fear quickly flashes across the face of each and every human behind her when they get a good look at me, but then they shook it off with an invigorated battle cry.
"Wisp will prevail you demon!" an unidentifiable woman shouts. The triumphant clamor and raised torches adds more power to Wisp.
"They have faith in you, a very unwise choice."
"You left them no chance when you killed one of them. And my Wisp."
"I do not know what happened to your Wisp. Perhaps they grew sick of the Light."
"Scum of this earth," another village spits. "Your Darkness turns everything living into pure evil. You are not wanted in this world."
"That is a shame, I don't plan on departing."
"Shade, don't get too confident. We both know why you came to this place and how your Darkness calls to the hearts of these unfortunate humans," says Master Wisp. As I merely glance at the villagers' faces, I can see the Darkness growing along with their hatred of me.
"There is Darkness in every one of these people," I point out, much to the disapproval of the villagers. "You cannot create a heart of pure Light."
"Nor can you go around killing innocent people!" a villager interrupts.
"I act out of self-defense."
"Lies!" they all yell with their torches pointed at me scornfully. "The Darkness must die!" Wisp has led these people to loathe me, and all because of what happened years ago. What happened back then is still holding her now, seeing me only in contempt. And I see her in the same way.
"Today Shade, we will fight for the Light and the other Wisp," Wisp steps forward, ready to unleash her Holy Light. The flame that has engulfed her head reaches up to the sky ravenously. It is time that our spat is settled. I have waited this day since I departed from Dunstan.
"So be it. I will fight for each shadow casted in this forest." As I clench my fist, the piercing cry that I instantly recognize put our fight on hold. A cry that takes me back so many years ago to when I failed Dunstan. A cry that shoots through the angry clamor of the mob of villagers. A cry loud enough to wake up a sleeping dragon miles away.