Myoku May, a 16-year-old girl, who was living with her father — Bo May — and her mother — Veda May — in a little house in the swamps, was — as the sun was rising — rolling a heavy stone wheel on the narrow wooden bridge — which was leading to their small brick house that was on an isle — and she was very careful, for the wheel was no ordinary wheel; it was the Wheel of Life, and Myoku needed it for what she intended to be her masterpiece. However, Myoku was no master — she was just the daughter of a fisherman, and the daughter of a mother who was in the late stages of Alzheimer’s at 35 years old. “We’re almost there,” whispered Myoku, but in the middle of the bridge, Myoku had to stop, and slowly put the Wheel of Life on the ground, so as to make sure that it doesn’t roll off of the narrow bridge and plummet into the swamp, while she was running towards her mother, who was dangerously wandering outside. “Mom, what are you doing here?” said Myoku, as she tried to take hold of her mother’s arm to lead her to her room, but Veda did not cooperate; she was irritated and aggressive. “Let go of me, you little spoiled brat,” said Veda, pulling her arm away. “It’s me, mom, Myoku.” But Veda did not remember her daughter; she did not even know where she was. Feeling frustrated, Myoku grabbed her mother’s arm again, this time with more force, and brought her into her room. “Where is Bo?” asked Veda. She did remember her husband from time to time. “Fishing, as always,” said Myoku curtly, as she helped her mother to get into bed. “You should sleep.” But Veda asked again, “Where is Bo?” Myoku sighed, for Veda’s condition had gotten worse. The previous day, she wasn’t like this. Myoku left the room, and locked the door. She walked into her own room to check up on her masterpiece, or what was supposed to become a masterpiece, but currently the wooden contraption, which had piano keys attached to it, didn’t look like a masterpiece at all. There were cogs, pieces of wood, stacks of books, and blueprints on her desk. She sat down on the very edge of her chair, wiped her clammy hands on her green dress, and then rubbed her eyes. She had been struggling with this machine for a while; she had been obsessing over it, but Myoku was no genius; she didn’t have a special talent that she was making use of: everything she had been trying had been failing. And yet, Myoku wanted to complete her masterpiece before her mother died. Veda’s death was inevitable, and it could happen at any moment. Before she returned to the bridge — where she had left the Wheel of Life, which was supposed to be the heart of the machine — Myoku wanted to try to play on the keyboard, but she failed to play a simple melody. As soon as she felt the pain of hearing the wrong note, she sighed, and stood up to get the Wheel of Life; it was supposed to run the machine better than she ever could. At least, that was her plan. “I will never be good enough. The Wheel of Life will handle this,” she whispered to herself, and just when she opened the door, she heard a tapping on the window glass. She turned around, and there was an egret pecking at her window. Myoku walked up to the window, and opened it, because the egret had a letter attached to its leg, which did not surprise her, for this is how she communicated with her only friend, who was living in the forest in a hut. His name was Amos, and he was a frog; he had procured the Wheel of Life for Myoku. She read the letter quickly: Amos was telling Myoku about his new green lantern that the goddess of the forest had gifted him, and he also mentioned a mysterious metal ball that supposedly landed somewhere in the forest, and he wanted Myoku to join him on an adventure, so that they could find it, but Myoku threw the letter on her desk with the intention to write a negative reply later. “Sorry, Amos, but I’ve other things to attend to,” she whispered. Myoku didn’t have time for adventures in the forest, because her mother was sick, and she had to complete her masterpiece. Besides, the forest was an extremely dangerous place. Amos was living on the fringes of the forest, but the deeper one went into the forest, the more dangerous it became. Many people, who had gone too far, never came back. Myoku did not want to end up like them. Before she returned to the bridge, she quietly opened the door of her mother’s room to check if she was doing all right. Veda had fallen fast asleep. Myoku smiled, and, while she smiled, she covered her mouth. Myoku whispered: “Don’t die on me. It’s almost finished.” She walked outside, and just when she stepped on the bridge, her father, Bo, called her name. Myoku reluctantly turned around, and walked up to her father, who had long brown hair; he was standing knee-deep in water next to a little boat, and he was holding a spear in each hand. “Come here,” he said brusquely. Myoku did not move. “What do you want?” she asked, annoyed. “I said come over here. It’s time you learn how to fish.” Myoku’s left eye started to twitch. “I’ve already told you that I will never fish. I have something more important to work on.” “Whatever you’re doing, it’s of no use to anybody,” said Bo contemptuously. Myoku scoffed, and walked away: she finally returned to the Wheel of Life, and she started rolling it again. However, she didn’t get very far, for there was a snake on the bridge that apparently came out of nowhere, and, because Myoku hated snakes, she instantly recoiled, thereby letting the Wheel of Life roll towards the swamp. Myoku was sitting on the bridge as the snake was moving towards her; she thought it was over; she thought she was going to die before she could finish her masterpiece, but the snake got speared. “I’ve told you. You have to learn how to use the spear,” said Bo callously. Myoku ignored her father’s comment, and crawled towards the edge of the bridge, but all she could do was to stare despondently at the depth of the swamp. Myoku couldn’t swim. And even if she could swim, swimming in this swamp was suicide. The Wheel of Life was gone for good. “It’s the only thing that can run the machine,” whispered Myoku, as she shed a single tear that dropped into the swamp. “What the hell are you talking about? I’ve had enough of your nonsense. Get up, grab a spear, and follow me,” demanded Bo. “You’ll learn how to fish,” he added. Myoku jumped to her feet, and shouted, “I will not become like you!” There was a long silence. Bo was rubbing his neck; he was flushing, and Myoku’s eye was twitching. “Your boat,” she said quietly, and then she walked away. “What?” said Bo, following Myoku. “We’re going into the forest to visit Amos. He might know where we can find another Wheel of Life. They’re rare, but he should be able to find one,” she explained quickly. “Hold on!” shouted Bo. Myoku turned around, and he continued, “The forest? Are you insane? Nobody goes into the forest.” “Amos is living in the forest,” said Myoku. “That stupid frog?” “He’s my friend, and he’s going to help us.” “Help us with what? Can he heal your mother?” A short moment of silence ensued. “We have to get another Wheel of Life,” said Myoku, turning around again. “And what’s a damn wheel going to do for us? Why are you always bothering with these useless projects? Why can’t you just be normal? Why can’t you do something useful for once?” “You don’t have to come with me,” said Myoku, as she walked up to the boat. “But I am going to use your boat, whether you like it or not,” she said, and then she sat down on the very edge of the seat, wiped her clammy hands on her green dress, and grabbed the paddles. Bo jumped into the boat, too. “What about your mother?” he asked, sitting down hesitantly. “She’s sleeping, and her door is locked — she’ll be okay.” “I don’t understand what this is all about, but if it’s not worth it, I’ll spear you next.” “This shouldn’t take too long,” she said, and Myoku and Bo set out to reach Amos’ hut.
When Myoku became too exhausted from rowing the boat, her father took over, as he shot a disapproving glance at her. They had been rowing across the quiet river, where sounds of chirping birds, buzzing insects, and croaking frogs were absent. Myoku turned around, rubbed her eyes, and then she felt, as the boat was coming closer to the forest, a deep-seated fear arising. She had a certain respect for the towering trees; they were implying that there was a greater mystery hidden at the heart of the forest, which was an intriguing notion to Myoku: the unknown was alluring and repelling simultaneously. The forest seemed to be deadly silent, and yet it felt alive. It was asking to be explored, and yet it would ruthlessly destroy anyone who was foolish enough to accept its challenges. “So what’s this wheel?” asked Bo after a long silence, and Myoku turned around with a wince, for she had been in a state of trance; the forest had captivated her. “I need it,” said Myoku curtly, staring at her feet. “For what?” asked Bo. Myoku knew that her father wasn’t actually interested. “It’s supposed to run a machine,” she said. “And you can’t do that with a normal wheel?” Myoku sighed, and made the naive mistake of trying to explain it to him, “This is not an ordinary wheel. This is the Wheel of Life, and I—” Bo interrupted Myoku with a disapproving noise. Wondering why she repeated that mistake so many times, Myoku turned around again. When they reached the shore, they could immediately see Amos’ hut; it was a small, simple shelter built of wood. They stepped out of the boat, and walked up to the hut, but Myoku suddenly paused. “What’s the matter?” asked Bo, who finally wanted to get this over with. “I think I saw a rat,” she said, trembling. Snakes and rats — Myoku hated them. Bo sighed. “You’re the one who wanted to come here,” said Bo, walking towards the rat, “and you’re the one who didn’t want to learn how to use the spear.” He threw his spear with ease, and the rat died instantly. In that moment, as a realization dawned on Myoku, she felt a painful, piercing emotion in her chest, which — if she had been alone in her room — would have made her cry on her knees, because she had just seen, for the first time, that she can’t do anything. The only thing she had managed to make over the years was an ugly contraption. Myoku knew that this realization wouldn’t have hurt this much, if she hadn’t had convinced herself that she was well on the path to greatness. Bo walked up to his spear, and pulled it out, while Myoku was staring on the ground, with one hand on her chest. “What you’re waiting for?” asked Bo impatiently. Myoku took a deep breath, and walked up to the hut’s door, wondering why her friend, Amos, the frog, hadn’t come out yet. What were they going to do, if he wasn’t at home? Myoku opened the door, and the first thing she saw was a spear hanging on the wall, which she recognized as Amos’ spear because of the little green lantern that was attached to it. Immediately thereafter, a stench hit her; it smelled like vomit, and then she opened the door even more — at last, there he was: Amos, who was sitting at his desk, dead. “Amos?” gasped Myoku, running towards her friend, as she covered her mouth and nose with both of her hands. There was a puddle of vomit in front of Amos, but Myoku had not realized yet that he was dead. She believed that he had just dozed off; however, Myoku’s father knew better; he could immediately tell that the frog had died relatively recently. Myoku jumped over the puddle of vomit, and when she was about to touch Amos, Bo grabbed her arm. “He’s dead,” he said callously, but Myoku resisted, she didn’t belief it, she wanted to wake him up. “He’s just sleeping,” she said with tears in her eyes. Bo pulled her even harder, calmly repeating the words, “He’s dead.” Bo eventually managed to pull Myoku, who was screaming in anger, out of the hut. “Let’s just go home,” said Bo. “We can’t leave your mother alone for this long.” After pacing around for a few seconds, Myoku sat down on the grassy ground. She seemed to have calmed down, but her heart was still racing: she had a vacant stare. “I can’t go home,” she said quietly. “The stupid frog’s dead. There’s no damn wheel. We’re going fucking home,” said Bo, as he walked towards the boat. “I’m going to find a new Wheel of Life,” said Myoku, slowly getting back on her feet. “I’m going to find it, no matter what. Whatever it takes.” “Why are you so goddamn stupid?” said Bo. “Your mother’s alone at home. You don’t know how much time she’s left. Just be with her.” Myoku did not listen. She was back in Amos’ hut where she was searching for information on her friend’s desk. She found an unfinished letter: Amos had gotten poisoned by a deadly plant, and he had hoped that Myoku might be able to bring him an antidote, but he hadn’t managed to finish his letter. “I’m so sorry, Amos,” said Myoku quietly. “I reckon he got poisoned.” said a voice behind Myoku. It was Bo. Myoku did not turn around. “He was going to notify me,” said Myoku, as she continued to look through the piles of paper on the desk. “Poor thing,” said Bo, coming closer. “I have antidotes at home.” “Wasn’t fast enough,” said Myoku, visibly repressing her emotions. “Let’s bury him. And then let’s go home,” suggested Bo, but Myoku continued her search until she found a journal entry titled “The Wheel of Life”. “I found something,” she said, still looking distraught. She read it out loud: “The Wheel of Life can easily be mistaken for a useless stone, but it is an extraordinary artifact, and only very few people are evolved enough to appreciate its subtle powers. A certain level of maturity and wisdom is required of the individual who wants to make use of its capacities. The Wheel of Life represents the mind, heart, body, and energy of a being. Anyone who has not mastered these four dimensions of one’s being can get obliterated, if one attempts to unleash the full power of the Wheel of Life. There are only three Wheels Of Life in existence. They were built by an old tribe, which — according to a myth — got annihilated by the Wheels of Life, for they were not ready for their own creation. Hundreds of years later, one of the Wheels of Life got destroyed, when a reptile, that was not evolved enough to handle the intense energies of the Wheel of Life, tried to use it for a poorly constructed machine. Another Wheel of Life, which I discovered myself, was in the abandoned library in the forest. Myoku, a dear friend of mine, asked for it, and I gave it to her, because I can’t use it, but she, as a human being — which is a more evolved creature — should be able to make use of its powers. I don’t know where the last Wheel of Life is, but I suspect it’s hidden in the piano in the forest.” Myoku put the journal entry back on the table. “Okay, now we know where to look,” she said. “Let’s go.” She was about to walk away, but Bo firmly grabbed her arm. “Are you crazy? We can’t go deeper into the forest!” Just when Myoku was going to protest, they heard a loud, slow stomping sound. The ground beneath their feet was shaking. Bo looked outside the window, and, in the distance, he could see a gigantic turtle; it was abnormally huge. “If that’s the kind of stuff that’s living on the fringes of this insane forest, then I’m definitely not going deeper into it,” said Bo. “You don’t have to,” said Myoku. “I will find the Wheel of Life, no matter what. With or without you,” said Myoku, and she left the hut. Bo sighed, and followed Myoku. “You don’t even know where the fucking piano is. Besides, the frog said that he isn’t sure.” “Amos was very intelligent. I trust him. And I trust my intuition. We’ll just walk into the forest until we stumble upon the piano.” A long silence ensued. Bo was rubbing his neck, while Myoku was staring into the forest. She could feel the fear very deeply, but her anger overpowered her fear. However, she didn’t feel courageous, for she was sufficiently self-aware to know that she was blinded by her anger, that she was driven by anger, not courage. She also knew that she had to calm down if she was really going to rely on her intuition, for her anger was cutting her off from her intuition. After a few moments of contemplation, Bo sighed heavily, and he walked into Amos’ hut. Then, he returned with another spear in his hand: it was Amos’ spear. “You’ll need this,” he said. Myoku nodded, and she reached out for the spear. She did not say anything. And Bo said nothing. Myoku and Bo silently buried Amos, and, after they were done, they continued their journey towards the piano in the forest.
As they were walking, the forest was getting denser, which made them lose their orientation. The strangest thing, however, was the eerie silence, and, in spite of the silence, the forest did not feel dead — it felt intensely alive. Myoku could feel the veins of the forest; they seemed to pulsate. After a few minutes, Bo said, “We have to stop.” Myoku slowly came to a halt. “Why? What’s wrong?” she asked. As Bo walked up to one of the many trees, he said, “You haven’t learned how to use the spear yet. Throw it. Hit this tree.” He pointed at the target tree with his spear. Myoku sighed. She knew she’d fail, but she threw the spear anyway, just to get it over with. She needed a lot of effort just to aim, which looked shaky, and when she threw it, she stumbled forward and groaned. She missed the tree by a long shot. Myoku stood there disconsolately; she did not move to get her spear back. Instead, Bo walked up to the spear, and, before he gave it back to Myoku, he lectured her, “Focus and intent. Focus is mental. Intent is emotional. When they’re both aligned, you can hit any target. If they’re dispersed, you will be scatterbrained, you will be powerless.” Then, he gave the spear back to Myoku, and they continued to walk. Myoku was immediately reminded of Amos’ journal entry about the four dimensions of being: mind, heart, body, and energy. She realized, once again, that she was not capable of anything. What had she gotten herself into? She was chasing a Wheel of Life, an object she wasn’t evolved enough for, in the depth of a dangerous forest, a place she wasn’t skilled enough for. The pain in her chest got worse, especially after Bo mockingly said, “What about your intuition? Are we going in the right direction?” But, of course, Myoku was totally cut off from her intuition. Even if they somehow managed to find the Wheel of Life, how were they supposed to return home? How were they supposed to survive in a forest that even Amos couldn’t survive in? Myoku was close to a nervous breakdown. Everything within her was screaming: the voice in her head, the dark feeling in her chest, the pit of her stomach. She wanted to turn around, and run back home, to her mother, to the safety of her room, to her ugly contraption. However, without the Wheel of Life, all of those things were meaningless. This was the point of no return. She had to keep on walking, no matter how severe the fear. Myoku plowed right ahead. She simply put one foot in front of the other. Eventually, the fear subsided, and she got rewarded by unexpectedly arriving at a clearing, in the center of which was a grand piano; it was covered in leaves. “There it is,” said Myoku exultantly. “I knew we’d find it.” As she walked towards the grand piano, the green light of the little lantern that was attached to her spear intensified. “You haven’t found shit yet,” said Bo. “Find the stone thing, and then let’s get the hell out of here.” Myoku removed the leaves, and uncovered sheet music; it was old and barely readable. Bo impatiently tried to open the lid of the grand piano. “The frog said it’s hidden in the piano,” said Bo, as he tried to break the lid with his spear, but that didn’t work. “Stop,” said Myoku. “That won’t work. It’s probably enchanted. I guess I must play this properly; otherwise, it won’t open,” she said looking through the handwritten sheet music. “But you can’t play the fucking piano,” said Bo. “I’m not that good at it,” she said, putting her spear aside. “But I’ll have to try.” She sat down on the very edge of the old piano bench, wiped her clammy hands on her green dress, and then rubbed her eyes. After taking a deep breath, she attempted to play the first measure, but she misplayed the third note. Myoku sighed, looking at the thirty measures she had to play without making a single mistake. “This is impossible,” she whispered, but Bo heard her. “What about your intuition? It got us this far, didn’t it? It got us to fucking nowhere, so maybe it’ll help you with playing the piano.” Myoku was repressing her anger, trying not to react. “Such a useless skill,” added Bo derisively, as he was pacing around. Myoku tried again, and this time she made it to the second measure, but she got interrupted by the sound of footsteps. Myoku rapidly stood up, and grabbed her spear. “Did you hear that?” The sound of footsteps was growing louder. “Yes,” said Bo, “that’s more than one creature; they’re approaching our position.” Suddenly, three ferocious reptiles with spears emerged out of the dense forest. Reptiles were less evolved beings than frogs. They couldn’t talk. Instead, they immediately started to run towards Myoku and Bo. Myoku desperately wanted to help, and that’s why she threw her spear, but she didn’t hit any of the reptiles. Bo pushed Myoku away, and said, “Go, finish the piano thing.” “But they’ve outnumbered you,” retorted Myoku. “They’re just some imbecile reptiles. I can handle this.” Myoku returned to the grand piano, and tried to play the melody properly, while her father was fending off the reptiles. After Bo killed the three reptiles, another group of reptiles appeared. “Hurry up, Myoku,” shouted Bo, as he viciously speared one reptile after another. Myoku’s hands were shaking. She had to constantly begin anew, because she failed to play the right note, either because she couldn’t read the sheet music or because of her lack of skill. After a few minutes, she was able to get to the 16th measure, while Bo was being attacked by groups of five reptiles. He had picked up Myoku’s spear as well; he was trying to hold them back with two spears. “Myoku, you have to hurry the fuck up,” he shouted again. “Let me help you,” shouted Myoku back. “No, you’re not ready for this fight,” he said, sweating and breathing heavily. “Just open the piano, get the stone, and we’ll get the hell out of here.” Bo was drenched in blood, and he was exhausted: he was propping himself up on the spear in between the waves of reptiles. “Are you okay?” asked Myoku, as she failed at the 28th measure. Bo gave a loud groan to let her know that he was still alive. “Hang in there. I’ve almost figured it out,” said Myoku. The unsettling rustling of leaves had stopped abruptly; there were no waves of reptiles anymore, but Bo did not believe that it was over. After a few seconds of silence, the rustling began again, but it was slower, and yet louder: there was only one creature approaching the clearing. It was a large reptile. It had a much bigger spear, a much thicker skin, and it could talk. It looked at the heaps of slaughtered reptiles, and then, in a very deep voice, it said, “You’ve come to steal the Wheel of Life.” Bo turned to Myoku, who was still trying to play the melody properly. Then, he turned back to the large reptile — and looked up, because it was that tall — and said, “I don’t think it’s yours, is it? So technically, it’s not stealing.” “Do not be foolish, human. Once you’ve obtained the Wheel of Life, you will hand it over.” Bo knew that he couldn’t take this large reptile on, so he tried to continue the conversation until Myoku would be able to play the whole melody without failing. “You know, I’ve heard stories of reptiles using the wheel, and it didn’t go well for them.” The reptile threw his spear, and it missed Bo by a hair’s breadth. “Shut your mouth,” it said, as it walked towards Bo. When it was standing directly in front of Bo, it pulled the spear out of the ground, and pointed it at his throat. In that moment, Myoku finally completed the melody flawlessly. The lid of the piano opened on its own, and, as soon as Bo heard that sound, he ran away. “Grab the fucking wheel, and run,” he shouted. Myoku took the Wheel of Life out of the piano, and then Myoku and Bo ran deeper into the forest. The large reptile threw his spear, but it hit a tree. After running for a few minutes, they arrived at a shore. “I think we lost him,” said Bo, gasping for air. There was also a boat on the shore, which was a different shore from the one they had arrived at; it had clean water. “And there’s our ride home,” said Bo, as he walked into the water to clean himself from the blood. Only now, Myoku was able to take a good look at the Wheel of Life, but she quickly realized that she wasn’t holding a wheel at all. “Oh no, this can’t be,” said Myoku despondently. “What the hell is wrong?” asked Bo. “This is only a piece of the Wheel of Life. This is only the part that’s representing the mind,” replied Myoku. “Great,” said Bo, “it was all for nothing.” “It wasn’t for nothing. We just have to find the other three pieces.” “Have you lost your mind? We almost got killed on the fringes of the forest; we can’t go even deeper into it.” “We have to,” said Myoku, pacing around. “We cannot return now. I’m going to find the Wheel of Life, no matter what.” “If you keep going like this, the only thing you’re going to end up finding, is the wheel of death,” said Bo. “So be it,” said Myoku, as she jumped into the boat. “Where do you suppose to find the other three pieces?” asked Bo, and he jumped into the boat, too. “I have no idea. We’ll just keep going.” She grabbed the paddles, and started rowing — Myoku and Bo continued their journey.
After a few minutes, the green light of the little lantern, that was attached to her spear, became brighter. Myoku realized that the lantern and her intuition — which was more available to her now, because her fear and anger had subsided — were guiding her. Myoku stopped rowing; however, they were in the midst of a sea: there was no shore in sight. “Are you tired again?” asked Bo. Myoku shook her head; she could’ve continued to row for hours, if that’s what she was asked to do — that’s how much energy she seemed to have. However, that wasn’t what was asked of her. Instead, she had to pay attention to something that she was missing. “Oh, it’s your intuition again,” said Bo. “And what do you think we’re going to find in the middle of nowhere?” Myoku leaned over the edge of the boat, and she saw, in the depth of the sea, a warm light that was coming from a building. “There’s an underwater house,” said Myoku excitedly, as she pointed her finger at the surface of the water. “Great, but you can’t swim,” said Bo. “Technically, I just have to dive, and, with your help, that shouldn’t be a problem.” “Hold on to your spear,” said Bo. “I will pull you.” They put the piece of the Wheel of Life into a bag, tied the bag to the spear, and then they jumped into the water to hopefully find another piece. As Bo was swimming towards the warm light that was coming from the house, another realization dawned on Myoku: she truly was a spoiled brat. It was always her father who had to do most of the heavy lifting. She was merely the one who always got him into trouble. Myoku suppressed her emotions, and focused on the warm light; it was very close. Just before they reached the door of the house, a giant fish suddenly intruded. Myoku impulsively let go of the spear. Bo speared the fish, and returned to Myoku, who had passed out, because she was not able to hold her breath for that long. Bo wasn’t going to last for much longer, either, and, thus, he couldn’t just return to the surface of the water to get a breath of fresh air. Therefore, he continued to swim towards the door of the house. He opened the house’s door, and the water magically stood where it was: it did not flood the building. Bo, with Myoku on his arms, emerged out of the water, and entered a white tunnel, at the end of which there was another door. Myoku gradually recovered consciousness. “What happened?” she asked, getting back on her feet. “You fainted after a fish blocked us. I speared it. Now, we’re in the house.” Myoku felt even worse than before, for the emotions, that she had suppressed earlier, now returned, and this time they were stronger: she couldn’t just avoid them. Myoku believed that she should not have passed out. She should have speared the fish. She should have done the real work. After all, she didn’t have that much energy. Myoku sighed, and said, “Let’s continue.” She opened the door at the end of the tunnel. They entered a new area that they had not expected. This building wasn’t just a small house; it was a whole city. There were lanterns emitting warm light. There were little houses. There were even fish-like creatures walking around, and they were actually cute. “I think I like it here,” said Myoku. This place truly was a huge contrast to the forest. It felt safer. Myoku sat down on a bench next to a fish, and breathed a sigh of relief. “I had no idea that places like this exist,” said Myoku. “Come on, we have a piece of stone to find,” said Bo. “A piece of stone?” asked the fish. “Have you heard of the Wheel of Life?” asked Myoku. “Of course,” said the fish, “it’s a magnificent artifact.” “Do you know where we can a find a piece of it?” asked Myoku. “Yes,” said the fish, “I own a piece.” Myoku stood up exultantly. “Can we have that piece?” asked Myoku. “No,” said the fish. “Why not?” “I need it.” “For what does a fish need a Wheel of Life? You are not evolved enough to handle its energies. Besides, it’s just one piece.” “Well, I’ll find the other pieces, and then I’ll sell it at a high price.” “Geez,” said Bo, “this is a salesfish. Don’t waste your time with him, Myoku.” “We all have to make a living,” said the fish. “We have one of the pieces,” said Myoku. “Splendid,” said the fish, “then give it to me now.” Myoku was irritated. She turned to Bo. Myoku and Bo looked at each other for a few seconds. Then, Bo said: “I think you don’t understand. We need your piece.” “And I need your piece,” said the fish. Bo pointed his spear at the fish, and said, “Stop playing games, salesfish. What do you want for that piece?” “That green lantern looks valuable,” said the fish. “It is valuable. And we need it to find the other two pieces,” said Myoku. “Well, if you have nothing of value, I don’t have to sell it to you.” The fish turned around, and began to walk away. Myoku became exasperated. She was shaking with anger. Screaming, she ran towards the fish, and she speared him from behind. She dropped the spear without pulling it out. Shaking and weeping, she returned to the bench. “Perhaps that was an overreaction,” said Bo. “I could have talked to him,” he added, as he pulled the spear out of the fish’s back. “Or we could have stolen it,” he said, looting the fish’s bag. The piece of the Wheel of Life was in there, and that part represented energy. Bo put the piece into his own bag, and said, “Come on, Myoku, we have to be at home before the sun sets. Your mother has been alone for quite a while.” Myoku did not move. She had a vacant stare. She couldn’t believe that she actually killed a harmless creature. She had had many opportunities to kill in truly dangerous situations, but all she could do was to kill a poor, weak fish that couldn’t even defend himself. “I don’t want to go anywhere. I’m too weak for the forest,” said Myoku. “Let’s just stay here. It’s warm. It’s safe.” “What happened to ‘I’m going to find the Wheel of Life, no matter what’?” asked Bo. “What’s the point? Mom can’t remember me. I can’t do anything. I’ll just stay here. I’ll die here. This is a nice place to die.” “Stop the histrionics,” said Bo, rubbing his neck. “Get up. We’re leaving.” Myoku wasn’t being silly. She was very serious. This was a peaceful place, and, thus, it was tempting to just stay: Myoku had no intention of leaving it. However, she was forgetting that this place wasn’t as peaceful as it used to be. “You can’t stay here. You’ve just killed a citizen of this city. Here, you will always be a murderer. Outside, you can still accomplish what you had set out to accomplish,” said Bo. “This society doesn’t seem to care,” said Myoku, “and I don’t care anymore, either.” Myoku was wrong. The police was already on its way. Bo held out the spear to Myoku. “Take it. We have to run.” Myoku had no choice. She swiftly wiped her clammy hands on her green dress, grabbed the spear, and then she ran away. Myoku and Bo reached the door to the tunnel, and then they swam back to the surface of the water, where their boat was still waiting. “Okay, now what?” asked Bo. “Do you want to go home?” Myoku rubbed her eyes, and then she grabbed the paddles. “If I don’t get to stay down there, we might as well finish this adventure. Let’s find the last two pieces.”
Eventually, Myoku and Bo reached a shore, and they continued to go deeper into the forest. “Do you want to try again?” asked Bo, pointing at a tree with his spear. Myoku nodded. She remembered the lesson: focus and intent. She focused on the tree, she ignored everything else, she set a firm intention to hit the target tree. Then, she threw the spear, and it hit the tree, but it rebounded; it didn’t get stuck in the tree. “I did it,” said Myoku cheerfully, throwing her arms up in the air. “You’ve failed.” said Bo coldly. “In a real fight, if your opponent had thick skin, you’d be dead.” Myoku lowered her arms dejectedly. As they continued to walk, Myoku thought about how weak she was. “I know what you’re thinking,” said Bo after a few minutes. “Change it. Change it into ‘I am strong’. You can do that, because it’s true.” It didn’t feel true at all to Myoku, but she tried to think that anyway. “That doesn’t mean it will be easy. In fact, it will be brutal: this forest is a vicious place, and, if you change that thought, you allow the forest to destroy everything that’s obstructing the strength within you.” That frightened Myoku. She was tempted to return to her old way of thinking, but she realized that that wouldn’t be beneficial, either. The old thought would get her killed, too. She realized that something had to die; it was inevitable. She had to choose which part of her didn’t serve her anymore. She decided to continue to think, “I am strong.” Myoku was surprised by what her father had been teaching her. She had always thought of him as just a fisherman who doesn’t know anything about life. “Never underestimate the power of intention,” said Bo after a few seconds, and Myoku was astonished, once again, at the wisdom that her father seemed to have. Myoku set an intention right away: she wanted to find the last two pieces of the Wheel of Life, bring it back home to complete her masterpiece, so that her mother, Veda, can enjoy it. After a few minutes, Myoku and Bo reached another clearing: there was a huge, dilapidated, and vegetated building. “Do you think we should look there?” asked Bo. At that very instant, the green lantern started to glow. “Yes,” said Myoku, “I think we should.” When they entered the building, Myoku realized that this place was the abandoned library that Amos had mentioned in his journal entry. It was a dark and gloomy place. Very little light was coming through the cracks in the roof, for the cracks were tiny, and the sun was already setting, and there were only two torches attached to bookshelves. “This must be where Amos found a complete Wheel of Life,” said Myoku. “Do you really think we’re going to find another piece here?” asked Bo. “Yes,” said Myoku confidently. “Because your intuition says so?” “Yes,” replied Myoku again, “and the lantern, too.” They could hear scratching and gnawing, and only now, Myoku realized that there were rats in the library. In fact, it was teeming with rats, but they were hiding in the obscurity. She tried to aim, but Bo said, “This is not the time to practice your aiming skills. There are too many. They could kill us.” “What should we do then?” asked Myoku. “Grab a torch, find the piece, and then let’s get out of here.” Myoku did as Bo had said. They both grabbed a torch, and continued to explore the library. The rats were avoiding the circles of light created by the torches; however, the circles of light were getting smaller and smaller, because the torches were burning out. “We’ve to hurry up,” said Bo. “In this quantity, they could tear us apart within a few seconds.” After a few moments, they reached a wall with a circle-shaped indentation. “That’s where the Wheel of Life must have been,” said Myoku. “But where is the piece, Myoku?” asked Bo, as drops of sweat appeared on his forehead. “I don’t know,” answered Myoku despairingly. “I need more time.” Bo walked up to one of the bookshelves, and said, “Help me with this.” Myoku and Bo pushed the bookshelf over. “We’ll burn this, before the torches burn out,” said Bo. They set fire to a few books, and then they threw the books, and the torches, on the bookshelf. “Great, this should keep them away for a little bit longer, but you still have to be quick, because now we have to get out of here before this place burns down.” Myoku returned to the circle-shaped indentation, which was high in the wall, and it had cracks in it. She considered asking her father whether he can throw his spear to break the wall, because she believed that it’s more than just an indentation; it could be hiding something, but then she thought better of it: she wanted to do it herself. Myoku focused on the indentation, set an intention, and then she threw her spear. It hit the indentation, but the wall didn’t break. Myoku tried that a few times, while the fire was expanding: other bookshelves were burning, and it was a big blaze by now; it was out of control. Suddenly, the indentation fell apart, but it wasn’t Myoku’s spear that broke it. She looked to her father, who said, “I’m afraid, we don’t have time. You can practice later.” Bo positioned himself under the hole, and said, “I’ll give you a leg-up.” Myoku searched the hole, and after a few moments, she said, “I think I’ve found something.” “Great, let’s get out of here,” said Bo. “This is the part that’s representing the heart, and it was hidden right behind a complete Wheel of Life,” said Myoku, putting the piece into the bag. As the roof was collapsing, Myoku and Bo ran towards the exit, but they were stopped by a familiar creature: the large reptile kicked in the door, and blocked the exit. “For fuck’s sake,” said Bo. At this point, the library was extremely hot. There was smoke everywhere. The sun had set, and the moon was visible, because large parts of the roof had collapsed. “You’ve been collecting the pieces of the Wheel of Life,” said the large reptile. “Seriously, this is not a good place for a fight,” said Bo. “Hand them over now, and no fight will be necessary,” said the large reptile. “I’m afraid, we can’t do that.” With his spear pointing at Myoku, the large reptile started running towards her. Bo aimed at the reptile’s left foot, and threw his spear. The large reptile fell on his knee, and immediately thereafter Myoku threw her spear, screaming, “I am strong.” The spear pierced through the reptile’s right eye. The large reptile keeled over, and Myoku and Bo gave each other a high-five. “That was fucking amazing,” said Bo, pulling his spear out of the reptile’s foot. “But how do we get out of here?” The exit was in flames; there was no way out. “Come on, Myoku, your intuition. What does it say?” asked Bo, coughing. Myoku had a blank stare, as the fire was closing in on them. After a few seconds, Myoku said, “We’ve come quite far.” “No, you can’t be giving up. Not now. Your intuition. One more time,” said Bo desperately. “It’s over,” said Myoku. Bo saw that Myoku was right: there was obviously no way out of this situation. He embraced Myoku, and hoped for a quick death, but then it began to rain, and it was an unusually heavy rain. Within a few seconds, the fire went out. “How did you do that?” asked Bo, rubbing his neck, and distancing himself from Myoku. “I haven’t done anything,” said Myoku. A charming woman stepped into the library, which had been turned to ashes, and she had a green dress and antlers. She slowly walked towards Myoku and Bo. “Who are you?” asked Bo. “I am the goddess of the forest,” replied the woman. “Did you make it rain?” asked Myoku. “I did,” said the goddess. “Can you heal my wife, too?” asked Bo. “I don’t have such powers, but I know what you’re seeking, and I can help you to find it.” Suddenly, they heard a loud, slow stomping sound. The ground beneath their feet was shaking, as a gigantic turtle, which was abnormally huge, broke through the burned wall. “He will be glad to take you to your destination,” said the goddess. “How do we even climb on that thing?” asked Bo, and, at that moment, the turtle opened its mouth. “He prefers a different transportation method,” said the goddess. “Are you serious?” asked Bo. Myoku shoved Bo, and said, “Let’s go.” Myoku and Bo walked into the belly of the turtle. Just before the turtle closed its mouth, Myoku waved, and said, “Thank you, goddess of the forest.” The turtle started moving, and, surprisingly, it was moving faster than they had expected. The green lantern’s light was too weak, and, thus, the belly of the turtle was almost completely dark. Myoku and Bo couldn’t see each other. They remained silent for several minutes. Eventually, after reflecting on their journey, and thinking about how it’s about to come to an end, Myoku asked, “Do all intentions find fulfilment?” Bo thought about the question for a few seconds, but, then, he said: “No.” “Why?” asked Myoku without delay. “Fear is the biggest reason why an intention fades away without ever finding fulfilment. It’s easy to fulfil intentions that come from a place of fear, but intentions that are worth setting will require you to become at least courageous, if not more than that.” Myoku had to think about the fish, and how her action had come from a place of fear. “I really didn’t want to kill that poor fish,” said Myoku, tearing up. “I know,” said Bo. “There are many things in my life that I’ve done out of fear. When I was young, I wanted to paint, but I realized that that will not put food on your plate, so I had to learn how to fish.” Myoku was astounded to find out that her father had been an artist. “So sometimes it’s better for potential not to actualize?” asked Myoku. “Perhaps,” said Bo. “Who knows, though? You can never tell, when you’re stuck in the known, what’s good or not good for you. It always seems better to just remain in your little bubble, and maybe sometimes it is.” Suddenly, the turtle came to a halt, and it opened its mouth. Myoku and Bo walked out of the belly of the turtle, and they continued their journey to find the last piece of the Wheel of Life.
“I hope mom is okay,” said Myoku, as she walked through the dark forest. The green lantern — which had gotten brighter after they had come out of the turtle — and the moon were their only light source. “I did not expect this to take this long,” she added. “It’s not over yet,” said Bo. “Never check out. You never know what might happen in the next instant.” He walked up to a tree, and said, “That’s why we’ll continue your training. You know the drill.” He pointed his spear at the target tree. “Seriously? I’m tired. I just want to go home,” said Myoku listlessly. “Vigilance is key. Just when you think it’s over, the most unexpected event occurs, and, if you don’t have the wisdom to see such things coming, that can get you killed. So let’s see how well you can throw the spear, when everything’s obscure.” Myoku threw the spear: it hit the tree, and it got stuck in the tree, but Myoku did not have the power to celebrate her success. Apart from that, she expected her father to criticize her, but Bo said: “Well done.” They continued to walk, and, after a few seconds, Bo added, “Maybe more speed wouldn’t hurt.” A few silent moments passed, and Myoku realized that the green lantern was trying to move as though it was magnetically drawn to something. She thought that was strange, but she continued to walk, until they arrived at a rock, and, on that rock, there was a metal ball; it was illuminated by the moon. “I forgot about that,” said Myoku. “Forgot about what?” asked Bo. “The metal ball,” replied Myoku. “Amos wrote me a letter about it. He wanted me to search for it with him.” The metal ball was enormous and rusty; it was vegetated, and it had a porthole. “Well, we found it,” said Bo. “Go and see if the piece is in there.” Myoku took one step towards the rock, but then she came promptly to a halt, because a colossal snake came out of hiding. It slowly emerged behind the rock. The snake’s monstrous head was at least as immense as the metal ball. Myoku’s greatest fear had returned, and it was now bigger than ever before, and it was guarding her goal. One thing was for certain, Myoku couldn’t just run away. She knew what to do: she reminded herself of her true strength. She set a powerful intention. She focused more intensely than she ever had in her life. At last, she threw her spear. The spear flew at a phenomenal speed, and it hit the snake’s massive head with great force. The snake fell dead. Its head hit the ground with a thud. “That was easy,” said Myoku, walking towards the rock. She clambered up the rock, and opened the metal ball’s porthole. Myoku wasn’t surprised to find the final piece in there; that’s exactly what she was expecting to find: the part that was representing the body. She came down from the rock, pulled her spear out of the snake’s head, and said, “The Wheel of Life is complete. Let’s finally go home.” The green lantern was drawn to a river. “I think this river could bring us home, but there’s no boat,” said Myoku. At that moment, a boat appeared in the distance: it was moving on its own, and it was relatively fast. “The goddess of the forest,” whispered Myoku. Before the boat arrived at the shore, another snake appeared behind Myoku. Actually, it was the same snake, but it was its second head, and Myoku and Bo didn’t notice it. It bit Myoku’s right shoulder. Bo speared the head, but it was a snake with three heads. Bo threw his spear and it hit it right between the eyes. Myoku was lying on the ground, convulsing and screaming in severe pain. She was vomiting. Bo picked Myoku up, and jumped into the boat. The boat moved on its own at a great speed. While Myoku was writhing with pain in Bo’s arms, there were reptiles and fishes at both banks of the river, and they were throwing spears, but the goddess of the forest was protecting Myoku and Bo by creating shields made out of roots. “It hurts,” said Myoku, crying. “I know,” said Bo, tearing up, “I know. Don’t worry. You’ll make it. I have antidotes at home.” Bo was in denial, for the whole boat was covered in blood. “We’re almost home,” said Bo. “I’m sorry that I haven’t done more; that I wasn’t better,” said Myoku. “You have done enough. You are enough,” said Bo, weeping. “You must go into my room, and use the Wheel of Life,” said Myoku. “You will do that, as soon as we get home,” said Bo. “Promise me that you will do it. Show it to mom. Set that intention, will you?” said Myoku, and then she passed out. Myoku experienced an all-encompassing and eternal field. It was infinite. Myoku realized that she couldn’t die, and that her mother was not going to die, either, and that no such thing as death was even possible. After a minute, she woke up, and whispered, “Everything’s going to be fine.”
The boat arrived at the little house in the swamps. Bo picked Myoku up, and ran across the bridge to get the antidote, but he stumbled, and fell on the ground. The little green lantern that was attached to Myoku’s spear broke. The green light came out, and it flew to the depth of the swamp. Within a few seconds, the green light returned with the complete Wheel of Life that Myoku had dropped into the swamp. The green light dissolved. The ground was covered in blood, and Bo couldn’t deny the truth anymore. He was crying. He had two Wheels of Life, and Myoku had died on his arms. He slowly walked into Veda’s room. She was still lying in bed, for she was too weak; she was dying, too. Bo went into Myoku’s room, and he saw the cogs, pieces of wood, stacks of books, and blueprints on the desk. He also saw the contraption. He carried the machine into Veda’s room, and attached one of the Wheels of Life to it; he completed Myoku’s masterpiece. “Where’s Bo?” asked Veda. She didn’t really remember him, or anyone, anymore. She had been repeating that question mindlessly. Bo sat down next to Veda, and the machine started to work. Marbles began to fall on the piano keys, and they played a beautiful melody, while pictures of Myoku, Bo, and Veda were appearing. Bo was sobbing, and even Veda started to tear up. “Myoku, my sweet daughter,” said Veda. “Our strong daughter, Bo,” she added with a hoarse voice, and then she died quietly. Bo kept sobbing until he fell asleep next to Veda. On the next morning, as the sun was rising, he picked up Myoku and Veda’s body, put them into the boat, and returned to the forest. He buried his daughter and his wife next to Amos. Then, he went back home. He fished. Sometimes, he painted. But, most importantly, he continued to live.
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