My Daughter's Crown

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Story Two | Lekranian – A New Friend, A New Ally (i)

As Yue Mian travelled to a new town within the Naiad Empire, she stopped in a forest and decided that she was going to sleep here for the night because finding an inn to sleep in would be a waste of silver whereas she could just be close to nature instead.

She climbed up a tree and settled down on it. On the branch near her, she tied her bow and bag of arrows, also her sword. Placing her legs straight in front of her together and tying them. She wrapped a rope under the trees thick branch and over her legs, tying them tightly.

Folding her arms after placing her sack of clothes behind her head, she sat on the tree looking into the distant night sky filled with stars.
~The sounds of animals howling, insects creaking, the wind breeze blowing lightly against her face was calming. Her eyes slowly closed after turning misty; she took a deep breath in and exhaled. Listening to the sounds of nature taking its course in the distance. Soon she was asleep but woke up after she heard what sounded like a monkey’s cry and a tiger’s growl.

Staring into the distance, she scrunched her face and closed her eyes once again, drifting off into a deep and soundly sleep.
~~~Her right hand twitched slightly and was instantly grabbed by the other hand. Feeling her cold right hand she drew them both into her sleeves.

Feeling the cold air hit across her face, Yue Mian opened her misty eyes and mouth, exhaling foul air, producing a trail of smoke-like mist.

After opening her eyes she was met with a misty view of the forest. The sun had not risen, but the sky was dimly lit up. Her head was leaning towards the left side against her shoulder. Inhaling the fresh, wet and cold air, she straightened her head and body.

She rubbed her face with her hands trying to warm it up because it was freezing. When she was done, she looked down at the inside of her palms and it was slightly pale in colour with pink scattered throughout.

Exhaling deeply she placed them back in her sleeves and rested her head back against the tree. Looking into the distance she was surprised.

This was her second time sleeping on a tree and waking up to such a beautiful view was something she couldn’t get used to.

The dimly lit morning sky looked almost grey with light mist in the air. The cold morning breeze brushed along her cheeks and the beautiful bright green leaves on the tree branches – truly breathtaking, this beautiful morning.

The birds chirping all around her added to the beautiful scenery. On the tree across from her sat a cup sized bird; its belly feathers were white while the rest of it was black. The little bird sat on the branch and cleaned itself under its wings. Yue Mian watched the bird clean its wings – slowly falling asleep once more.

The sun slowly rose as she continued to sleep. The mist could no longer linger in the air and dissipated. The sun shone through the gaps between the tree branches lighting up the forest that was dimly lit before.

In the distance, a man drenched in blood wearing nothing but a pair of tattered grey boots and brown pants came running towards her direction.

Behind the man were three mountain tigers, two adults and the third which resembled a teenage mountain tiger. They continued to chase after the man. He was gasping for air frisky and kept turning his head to look at the mountain tigers behind him measuring the distance.

As the man ran he rolled under broken down trees quickly getting up and running again, jumping over rocks and other broken down trees in his way, making his way through the forest.

The mountain tiger in the lead neared the man in front and took the advantage given to it. It jumped onto a slanted, broken down tree that was still connected to the stump and pounced with much force in its hind legs at him. As the man continued running he accidentally slipped while the mountain tiger leapt, missing the man by a few inches and landing on the left side of him.===Seeing this he loudly yelped and continued running while staggering - Yue Mian’s eyes shot open. The man’s yelp woke her up not because it was noisy but because she was sensitive. Her eyes squinted as she looked in the direction from which the yell came in.

The left of her top lip twitched - she saw the man running towards her location with the three mountain tigers behind him, “heh” she scoffed after seeing the mountain tigers.

[My luck] she thought. Swinging her left hand over her and grabbing the sack behind her head, she pulled it forward and placed it on her lap.

She grabbed onto the rope which tied her down to the tree. Gripping at it tightly and quickly untying it. She jumped up crouching on the tree branch organizing her belongings at a fast pace.

She grabbed onto her bow and bag of arrows that were hanging from the next branch. Untying it, she held her bow in her right hand and picked up an arrow in her left hand, placing it against the bow and pulling back the bowstring.

While she did this, the adult tiger nearest to the man reached him and pounced on him, biting onto his left shoulder pinning him face down onto the ground, making him scream like a pig squealing in pain and terror.

Yue Mian lowered her bow and arrow slightly, a smile played on her lips making her chuckle - she enjoyed seeing others in pain. The man yelled once more and the other two mountain tigers caught up, each going for the man’s legs with the young tiger on his left and the adult on his right.

His scream pulled her back into reality and she aimed her bow and arrow in the direction of the alpha mountain tiger. She crouched balancing her body out. Pulling back at the string with enough arm strength and fixed her aim on her target, she let go of the arrow’s tail.

The man was still yelling from the pain that he was induced in coming from his limbs being gnawed on. He suddenly felt the pressure from his left shoulder ease slightly. He was laying on his stomach with his head facing the left side. His eyes widened when he saw the alpha mountain tiger drop beside him, they were looking directly into each other’s eyes.

The man felt joy seeing this and lifted his head to look at the mountain tiger properly.

To his surprise, he saw what looked like a silver branch with feathers on it. He saw that on the other end of the stick was a pool of blood staining the white of the mountain tigers fur.

He jumped at the sound of a lowered roar coming from behind him, still on the ground he sat up and turned around to see what happened. The second adult mountain tiger was also laying on the ground with its eyes opened wide while panting hard with a similar branch stuck in its throat.

The young mountain tiger sat up panting, looking up at the tree where the arrows came from frightened.

The man looked up at the tree and squinted his eyes, looking up, he saw a young man who jumped and grabbed onto his sword; the weight forced the rope to loosen itself and the young man dropped down to the ground.

Yue Mian dropped her bow and ran towards the man with her black sheathed sword in her right hand. When she reached the man she kicked dirt at the young mountain tiger making it move to the side, a distance away.

Unsheathing the sword she dropped its sheath on the ground and placed both her hands on it, forcing her sword down piercing the alpha mountain tigers neck. Pulling her sword back, blood gushed out forming a pool of blood at her feet, soaking her boots in blood.

She scrunched her face in disgust, lifting up her left foot that was soaked the most, she shook it trying to shake off the blood. Doing this made her lose her balance which led to her hopping back on her right leg while waving her sleeves trying to grab onto something that wasn’t there. This action scared both the young mountain tiger and the man seated on the ground.

The young mountain tiger returned to them because its parents were immobile on the ground and was sneaking to its mother, but stopped once it saw her waving her hand with the sword in it around, scaring it away once again.

Yue Mian saw this from the corner of her right eye, turning her head and looked at it run away. She stopped hoping and sighed slouching her shoulders dropping her arms. Traced the tip of the sword along the bloody ground. She looked down at the man on the ground and pointed the sword at him, she said, “I’ll return.”***Yue Mian looked at the parting mountain tiger, her eyes widened with excitement and greed. She bit onto the left corner of her bottom lip and darted off while yelling - chasing after the mountain tiger. The man seated on the ground was confused, to him she looked like she threatened him with the metal object in her hand but her face told him something else. She was out of his sight but he could still hear her yelling and it seemed nearer than far away.

He looked around at the two mountain tigers and saw that the one who was near his left foot was still breathing while the other laid lifeless. He was still in a daze when he heard a loud growl coming from the distance. His heart shook making his body tremble. He struggled to get up but managed to and limped away as fast as he could.

In the distance where Yue Mian ran off to, she gave chase after the mountain tiger. She cut off its path while running by, throwing her sword out aiming at the tree in front of it which blocked off their path - stopping it from running.

The young mountain tiger stopped and looked at the sword that was lodged into the tree. It started trembling, turning around while growling and whimpering at the same time - looking at her.

She was still running and finally stopped not too far from it. It looked at her with its ears down as if it had been wronged. Yue Mian grinned as she looked at its pitiful expression. Folding her arms in front of her chest, giving off a chuckle.

The mountain tiger slowly lowered its body down and watched her as she walked over. It reached the ground the same time as she arrived - “Wham!!” she kicked it against the head making it growl loudly.

The mountain tiger was dizzy from the kick and fell unconscious. She skipped towards the tree, wrapping her hand firmly around the hilt of her sword, she gripped tightly and pulled it out.

She went towards the mountain tiger and helped it onto her back carrying it to where the man was seated. She arrived at the place where she left the man and found that he was nowhere to be found.

Eh?” she said after scanning the area. She moved to the tree and pulled out a silk rope from her sack and tied the mountain tiger to the tree after placing it down in a sitting up position.

Returning back to the mountain tigers who were dead she looked around for traces of the man.

After a while of searching around the area, she found a blood trail leading to the south-east of the forest on the ground. Following the trail, she found that there were traces of blood on the leave going down one path, deeper and deeper into the forest.

Yue Mian wasn’t in a rush but considering the fact that the man was injured, he could probably bleed to death so she needed to hurry and find him. Jogging along the path that had drops of blood scattered along it, she followed the trail for a while before finally hearing what sounded like someone breathing heavily, almost like a dog panting.

She paused in her tracks. Looking around her, noticing that there was a huge boulder up ahead. She frowned slightly. Chewing on the inside of her left cheek.

Listening closely, she swung her hands behind her back and began contemplating.

[The sounds seemed to be coming from behind the boulder but what if it is an animal?]. She looked down at the ground and saw that there were drops of blood along this way too the boulder.

chi chi chi She clicked her tongue against her teeth, [If it’s an animal, then so be it.]

Grinning slightly, she kept her eyes looking on the ground, lifting her right foot and stepping forward, doing this with her left foot as well and slowly turning her body to the side while walking, she tried her utmost to not step on the little branches scattered all along the path and dried leaves.

Slowly creeping up to the boulder. The closer she got, the louder it sounded. Coming from behind slowly, she stuck her head out that made her soft bun plop to the right. Grinning from ear to ear she was excited - she finally found him!!

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