“Olivia?” Ulin gasped in surprise, and she wasn’t the only one who was surprised with this small piece of news. The rest of the team members of Team Hero looked at Rashika as if she set her hair on fire! “But she’s dead! There’s no way for you to meet her!”
“Yeah I know she’s dead but..” Rashika reached in her pocket, feeling the cool metal of the key she retrieved. “In that dimension, you trapped me in, with all those nightmares, she came to me. She saved me from all the allusions your power cast, and she told me the truth about her past.”
“How can you be sure that your mother wasn’t some allusion I didn’t know I created?” Ulin wasn’t sure who she was trying to convince that Olivia coming back was a lie. Rashika, or herself? “It can be some kind of illusion you created perhaps.”
“I’m sure it wasn’t just an illusion,” Rashika assured, her hand removing itself from her pocket as she grabbed some cloth Hugo offered for her to wrap her wound around so it won’t spill some more blood until she properly treats it later. “She told me that she and Headmistress Olema used to be friends, that the legacy of the Sun Gang got into her head, causing her actions to get out of control. And isn’t it true that one’s spirit after death can visit their loved ones only four times per person?”
She could see the stunned look on Ulin’s face, as the instructor struggled to get out even though the possibilities of escape is zero. “That is true but it never happens! That’s just a myth people makeup to cheer those who lost their loved ones! There’s no way that it’s true! You’re lying I know you are!”
“Then check for the key that you took from me when you caught me and Eathelyn!”
Ulin’s eyes widen in confusion at the request Rashika made, but with a little hesitation, her hand went to her pocket where she was sure she placed the stolen key on. However, she didn’t feel the rusty old metal object, just empty space of the cloth material of her dress! “What? It can’t be...” She looked over at Rashika, eyeing the hybrid with strong suspicion. “You had it, don’t you!? Who gave it to you?”
“Let’s just say my mother gave the key an extra shine before our departure until the next time she comes to me,” Rashika shrugged but eyed the area for anyone lurking around in secret. “But we’ll have to take this conversation inside somewhere private.”
“This old ruin I trapped you two in?” Ulin questioned Eathelyn and Rashika, her hands and legs tied down against an old pillar with the same material used for the net, no tricks to escape. “Clever private place I must say but answer this Rashika...Exactly what happened in that dimension I held you in? Even I can’t tell what nightmares I keep my victims in.”
Now it was Rashika’s turn to have her eyes widen, but not in shock. More like fear since she knew that she couldn’t bring herself together to tell what she really saw. In fact, she couldn’t bear to think how her friends will react if she just suddenly says that she just meet a possible future figure of herself who turned evil! I can’t tell them about Ashika, she thought. What if they fear me because of that or treat me a monster! No, if they know then Headmistress Olema won’t hesitate to use that against us if she happens to know about this. She gulped, then cleared her throat to describe the delusion she was trapped in for a few hours until her mother showed up to help her.
“Well, I was at first trapped in an endless world of just white, clearly no sign of life until I was surrounded by visions of everyone I love and care about getting slaughtered so cruelly, it was a living nightmare. I couldn’t do anything to stop what was happening, all I could do was stand and watch helplessly,” She explained, hating the fact that she had to lie but it wasn’t a complete lie. Actually, to be honest, it was only half a lie, some parts were true, except for the fact that she didn’t mention that she was the one murdering everyone in sight.
She went on from the every detail of this half-lie she told, every person she witnessed dying an unfaithful death. Eathelyn couldn’t help but flinch at the mention of how Thuggort died, especially his older sister, and the boys winced at the detail of how they died. They could simply ask Rashika who killed them but decided that it would best to ask when she doesn’t look so tense about her experience. Ulin listened carefully, surprised that her power almost caused Rashika to have some sort of a combination of a heart and panic attack!
Rashika got to the part when she met her mother, describing the warm feelings she felt at her mother’s touch of comfort. She explained the tale she has been told about the previous Team Hero being close friends to Headmistress Olema! She didn’t leave out a signal detail of that heart warming experience with her mother! From the story, she heard to their last moments before Olivia disappeared until the next time they could meet each other once again.
The moment she finished her tale, she pulled out the key she claimed to have found in the dimension, it was rusty but it soon became a beauty silver metal key when she and her mother departed. “This is the key Eathelyn and I found, until Ulin took it from us but I somehow managed to get it back.”
“Could be that whatever wanted to terrify you half to death managed to grab the key from Ulin,” Eathelyn hypothesized. “But are you sure you haven’t met anyone in that world you were stuck in Rashika besides your mother?”
“Absolutely, the only person I met was my mother,” Rashika reassured, making sure she covered the panic that threatened to erupt in her voice.
“Maybe her mother got the key before she came to help Rashika,” Ozur suggested, feeling his hope rising. “I never thought I see the day that Rashika reunites with her mother...And if she could, then maybe my parents might visit me one day!”
“Don’t get your hopes up!” Ulin warned in anger. “Just because Rashika’s mother came doesn’t mean your parents would just show up to visit you! It never worked for me, so what makes you think that your precious family will come for you! They are dead alright, they’re not coming back! Why do you think you’re an orphan huh?”
“Hey! Stop talking to Ozur like that!” Hugo steps forward in defense. “Just because his parents are dead doesn’t mean that there could a small chance of him meeting them, even if it was only once!”
“Oh shut up!” Ulin growled, turning her head away from Team Hero. “You four have no idea what it’s like for me! All those years of waiting but only to wake up every morning knowing that she’s never coming back from the dead! She’s gone for good! I was too weak and naive that day!” Her lips trembled, she didn’t let Team Hero see her eyes. “I couldn’t save her, I let her get killed!”
“Who weren’t you able to save?” Eathelyn interrogated, but she tried not to sound too demanding, from the looks of how distressed Ulin sounded, too much pressure might cause her to explode!
“MY DAUGHTER!” She screamed until she gasped in shock that she actually spoke that very word she swore never to speak of again! Ulin looked down, her watery eyes shaking but she kept a serious face. “You didn’t hear that.”
“Your daughter?” Hugo gasped, putting the pieces of his mind puzzle together. “So that’s why no one is allowed to say the word, ‘daughter’! You had one, but something happened, didn’t it?”
“That was a long time ago and it’s none of your business!” Ulin tried to keep a straight face but she was having difficulty doing so. “Even if I did tell you; you can’t change the past, or do anything about the culprit. Besides...You just wouldn’t understand.”
“You’re right. We don’t understand what you’re feeling right now Ulin, but just by your reaction and anger towards the mention of your daughter,” Rashika came forward to the tied up mentor, not caring for a moment that she could be in a dangerous distance. “We can tell how much you are suffering, we all lost at least one person we loved once in life. You’re not the only one who is alone in the world, keeping your pain bottled up inside.”
Ulin stopped struggling, by that moment she went from a fierce scary teacher to a frightened, weak person who has been through a lot of trauma.
“Look maybe talking about this might get you to let out what you’re holding in for so long,” Eathelyn as well stepped forward to where Rashika stood. “We might be able to help, you just need to trust us...Like the Ulin we knew before.”
The mentor looked down, her fists got stiff but she couldn’t help but think about what those teens were saying. “Do you four honestly believe that you have the guts and strength to go against the Sun Gang?” Even though she asked that in a low whisper, the teens could hear her. “They kill without reason.” She gasped in fear. “They kill to pose an example. They kill to..to..Make people do what they want to do..”
Boy, am I not surprised, Ozur thought, having a good feeling that of course, the Sun Gang had a role in this. “Ulin, if it’s alright with you...Can you tell us exactly what the Sun Gang did to you?” He feared that he might have angered her since this seemed like a very sensitive topic for the mentor, who knows how she’ll respond to this.
Sighing in defeat, Ulin recalled the tale she had desperately wanted to forget but couldn’t, no matter how much she tried.
It seemed like only yesterday that the incident happened, but it was actually five years ago. My sweet little Oralee, she was only fourteen years old turning fifteen but she was my sunshine in the darkness of the Demon World. My husband died because of an uncured illness just a few months before my daughter was born, so she meant a lot to me. She was born with the same beautiful pair of wings I have, beautiful brown skin, frizzy dark hair, and with my husband’s red Demon Eyes. I was just a housewife with a lot of skills in battle combat, but I made sure I spend every single day with Oralee.
I remember those nights when I would sit on my rocking chair with Oralee as a toddler, on my lap with that wonderful gray dress I’ve sewn for her. We would just hold on to each other as I would tell her stories that I would make up as I go; about battles, loved ones being reunited, sometimes I would even throw in some legends I’ve made up.
She’d smiled up at me, laughing at the funny parts of the story, begging me to continue and not to stop. And who am I to refuse such a request from my precious treasure. Whenever she went to sleep, I made sure I sang her her favorite lullaby; it was the only thing that could get her to sleep.
′Close your eyes, and sleep tonight
Mother’s here to protect you from the dark
Sleep until the sun comes up with its light
Let your dreams create the spark
Wherever you are,
In rain or shine, I’ll be by your side
We’ll make the darkness clear
You and I will join the ride
So sleep my little sunshine, sleep
I’ll be here when you wake
She was able to hear that song for a good ten years of her life, but for some reason, her hearing was beginning to weaken. I called for a healer, and after a week of checking Oralee, the healer came with the results.
Oralee was turning deaf.
The news shocked us both, she was going to turn completely deaf by the time she was thirteen, so the Sun Gang decided that it would be best that she would be home schooled for the years she was supposed to be in Lunar Star Academy. I was supposed to somehow show her all the ways of the societies, and the battle combat skills. Even though the news of my only child becoming deaf was overwhelming, I couldn’t help but feel glad that I get to teach and be with my daughter a little longer.
After she turned thirteen, she could no longer hear me, but we managed to find a way to communicate by using hand signs. Pretty much a year later we began her classes, and by the third day, Oralee was a master at using any weapons to fight which was told to be impossible back in those days. Even when she’s deaf, she was able to follow commands and act like a true warrior. She was such a powerful teenager, so full of determination, hope, pride, and confidence as if nothing will stop her from being the best of the best! Of course being her mother I was extremely proud of my daughter, who wouldn’t be, such talent she possesses!
However, we didn’t know that our time together would be cut short. That night, the night before her second year of classes began, before her fifteenth birthday…
That monster whom students call her a kind, nice, peaceful, wonderful, understanding woman. HA! A very understanding woman indeed.
Oralee was reading old books I held on to about strategy, and as for me, I was in the forging a new sword for her as a surprise for her upcoming birthday. That was until I heard a harsh knock on the door. I didn’t disturb Oralee’s studies so I went to open the door myself, believing that the guest was just a neighbor who came to ask how are we doing.
I was so sadly mistaken.
It was Headmistress Olema herself who just invited herself in with the rest of her Sun Gang group, even her husband Hellioh was there! I was so confused, I was sure she would come once in awhile to see our progress but never with the entire group! No one spoke, everyone stood in front of me, surrounding me in some way in total silence. I was the first to break the silence, I cleared my throat and asked Olema, “Is there something wrong?”
“Yes there is,” she began, her voice was so emotionless, you’d thought that she was a completely different person! “Apparently your daughter has proven to be far more talented and well powerful than any of the students in Lunar Star Academy combined! We have reason to believe that it was all because of your marvelous teaching skills you gave her this year.”
“Thank you,” I wasn’t sure where she was going with the praise but I had a feeling that she had more to say. “Is that all?”
“Oh no, no..” Olema stepped closer to me, her grim smile was as stiff as a stick, never to bend at any moment. “We are just here to hire you Ulin, to be one of our new instructors of Lunar Star Academy! But that’s not all..” She gestured her husband to move forward, holding on to some profiles. “You’re going to be the kind of instructor who’ll work for me to kill anyone who’s a threat to our worlds! Bandits, traitors, rebels, you name it, you’ll kill whoever I tell you to kill. You’ll start right away.”
A job at Lunar Star Academy was the best offer I’ve received, but the timing was so bad, I knew I couldn’t take it. “With all due respect Headmistress, but I can’t accept this offer. My daughter still needs to be educated until she’s accomplished her training, so until then I can’t right now.” I was ready to dismiss them, hoping that they could show some understanding but before I could open the door, two of the Sun Gang members blocked it from my reach.
Olema placed her arm around me, leading me away from the door, shaking her head as she explained without a care in the world. “Look, Ulin, I know you love your daughter and she needs to complete her training but that’s where your first set of orders comes in.”
“Where are you going with this Olema?” I was starting to become afraid on what she meant by the first set of orders. Olema shook her head, grabbing my forged pole ax, then handed it on my hands as she pointed to the room Oralee was in!
“We’re going to need you to kill Oralee, she seems like a huge threat to the Sun Gang...Besides we can’t just have a deaf demon who can do anything from a knife to a spear roam this earth. Who knows if someday she’ll turn on us and become the most villainous person alive. You’re the only one who knows her weakness, so kill her fast and right now if you know what’s good for you. Got that? I want Oralee dead right here, right now.”
I could hear myself gasp, taking a step away from her, hoping that I didn’t hear her correctly. “I’m sorry but you want me to do what?”
“Don’t play dumb with me, you know exactly what I told you! You’re not deaf like your daughter!” Olema didn’t care if I was Oralee’s mother or not, she wanted her dead whether I want to or not. “Remember your position in this world Ulin...You along with everyone in the Demon World and Myth World are born different, making each and every one of you a monster to us. Right now Oralee is an even bigger monster who needs to terminate before actual damage could be done...We can’t have someone stronger than the Sun Gang, not while we’re around.”
“But Headmistress, are you seriously asking me to do this to my very own child!? No! There’s no way I’ll kill her, I know for a fact that Oralee will never ever hurt a soul even if she’s a demon! She’s just not the kind of killing machine you believe other demons are!” I tried to convince her to reconsider, hoping that maybe there can be some way to prevent this but my words didn’t get through to her thick head!
“I’m not asking you, Ulin, I’m commanding you!” Olema’s voice raised, her patience was running out as her hands gestured her gang to pull their weapons out. “Kill Oralee right now or else we’ll take care of that for you! There’s no escape from this fate placed upon your sweet little treasure!”
“Not unless I stop you on my own,” I growled under my breath, my fingers wrapped around my ax real tight as I elbowed Olema with a ton of force! I could hear a loud thump from behind me, followed by the crashing sound of the dinner table getting broken into pieces because of the strong contact she had in that fall!
I felt a pair of buff hands land on top of my shoulders, one of the Sun Gang members were ready to lift me up to toss me aside but I was one step ahead of him! I grabbed his right hand, using all the strength I could muster to squeeze it until I could the bones crack out loud! The man’s cried of pain could be heard from around the house, as I got out his hold and kicked him in the chest twice through the walls outside, making him land on the ground unconscious.
After that, I found myself doing the same thing with three more Sun Gang members, sending them flying out on top of the knocked out buff guy. That was only time I was grateful that Oralee couldn’t hear, otherwise, she would have intervened and give Olema her chance to strike.
Soon I was down to just Hellioh and Olema up against me.
The couple fought me first but trying to throw punches at me, I had to dodge and block everyone so I can see a perfect chance to throw in my moves. I decided to finally jump back several feet outside, spinning my poleaxe. ”Typhoon winds of death!” My typhoon was sent flying inside to only attack the couple, but Hellioh somehow used his left hand to suck the whole thing in! Leaving not a trace of where it spun, even his left palm didn’t show any damage when he absorbed it!
“Shocking isn’t it?” Olema chuckled, leaning forward with her gloves that actually made swords come out of the fingertips! “My husband can use his left hand to absorb any kind of magic you throw at him, and later use it against you!” Her ten swords swing from every direction as I dodged each blow, the blade of my poleaxe blocking five of swords!
We found ourselves having our blades in a weapon version of arm wrestling, each of us giving all we got to take down the other! While she didn’t focus on her surround, I used that chance to kick her to the ground once more! In a flash, I snatched those glove words of hers right out of her hands, leaving her utterly defenseless! I used some daggers I kept in my pocket to keep her down for a moment before I can throw the final blow. For a moment I thought I was going to beat Olema, then grab my daughter to run away from our world and hide in the shadows for the rest of our lives! However, since I was so busy putting my focus on Olema, I didn’t pay attention to the whereabouts of Hellioh...Until I heard a strong familiar cry right behind me!
There right at the spot where the giant hole in the house was, stood Hellioh, holding his spear dangerously close to…
There, right there tied up defenseless with a crossbow right above her chest was my daughter, looking so scared that she might cry but being such a strong girl, she stood her ground. I was so distracted with a sudden fear and panic for my daughter’s safety that I didn’t realize that Olema was freeing herself from the pinned daggers! Before I could even realize, I shrieked in agony, feeling a sudden hot burning pain spread across where my left wing used to be, soon followed by the sticky flow of my own blood falling from the wound! Slowly turning around, I saw what was left of my wing, on the ground for a moment before disappearing into dust, and Olema right behind with one of my daggers on her hand dripping with spots of the crimson liquid!
With the remaining strength I had since I was starting to lose more blood than I had to, I punched that woman to the side, looking over at my daughter, who was on the verge to cry in shock by what had happened that moment! I tried to smile back at Oralee, hoping to reassure her even through the stinging I felt on my back was hellish but how can I if she was being held against her will by Hellioh! The chains that tied her up seemed to be made out some sort of a different kind of metal if she couldn’t break free from it like how I taught her a couple months ago! I could see Hellioh tightening the rope, making her more uncomfortable and my anger boiling!
Without hesitation, I ignored the agony I felt and raced towards Hellioh to free my daughter and show him a lesson for ever thinking that he could harm her! However, I could sense Olema going after me, so I was fast enough to unleash my Demon Eye to slow time down but she was the one who stepped ahead of me! Since I was so busy focusing on her weapons shown, I didn’t bother to try to see if she was carrying any other weapons underneath her sleeves! Out of nowhere, she pulled out a pair of bolas that she shrunk but made them full size to throw at me to trap me on the ground defenseless!
Apparently, those nets were made of a material that absorbs my powers every second that passes by, making me weaker and worthless to the point that I was shaking!
“Pathetic,” Olema sneered, grabbed harshly me by my hair, forcing me to look straight at Oralee’s frightened eyes. “You should have known better than to fight the Sun Gangs top members! We are stronger than you.” She looked up at Hellioh as if he was waiting for the signal to fire! “Now let this be your first lesson on obeying your orders Ulin...No one, absolutely no one disobeys me..”
I saw Hellioh lift his spear up, ready to stab her right in the chest! “NO, DON’T DO IT PLEASE! SHE’S MY ONLY CHILD!”
“Oh I’m sorry,” Olema mocked unsympathetically. “But your only child has to die so she won’t pose a threat to the Sun Gang, she might become a rebel. But don’t worry, Hellioh won’t stab her, ” She then signaled Hellioh to toss the weapon to the side, almost causing me to have some relief until he tossed Oralee back inside as if she some rag doll! “He’s just going to set out the bombs we planted while you were occupied fighting everyone else and have your house burn along with your daughter...Hellioh, turn on those bombs!”
My eyes widened in anxiety, for the first time in my life I was speechless. I couldn’t believe that I such a fool falling for such a trap! I thrashed around the nets, forgetting about the fact that it was sucking all my energy out, that bottom slices of my hair were getting ripped, and that I’m still weak from the loss of my wing! At long last, my fists met Olema’s stomach one last time, making her release her hold on me, and shook those bolas nets right off me! Even though I was tired out, I ran towards my home as fast as my legs could ever carry me! My breath was shortening, my head was spinning but I didn’t let that bother me, not even the fact that Olema didn’t bother to make a run get me, not even Hellioh, who stepped aside to join his wife!
I was only inches away from the entrance, the only hope of getting my daughter out, but I was too late....
“My house exploded, sending me flying and leaving everything in flames then to ashes, no sign of Oralee surviving...” Ulin concluded the tale, tears flowing down from her eyes slowly to the ground. “The lily that showed her soul was burnt to ashes from the looks of the disaster. Ever since that day Olema held me as her prisoner in this very place, stuck in a dimension replaying her death over and over for six months until I finally gave in to her to work for her, to do whatever she commands.” Her eyes of despair were staring at her right palm as if there was some memory it held. “So I’ve been doing all her dirty work as I waited for the spirit of my daughter to visit me but she didn’t, so since then I’ve done nothing but keep my emotions in, never letting them control my actions...My emotions just lead me to my failure and regret.”
Eathelyn was the first to step up after the silence gap between teacher and students has been going on for quite enough. “You could be right...Your emotions might have led to your failure, but it’s those emotions that make you learn from those mistakes so that next time you won’t make that mistake! It’s those emotions that make you strong, they kicked in when you wanted to protect your daughter.”
“But that wasn’t enough!” Ulin cried, not even caring if she was tied up and spilling waterfalls. “Oralee still died, I just know that she’s mad at me for letting her die like that! Causing all her dreams to disappear into ashes! You tell me! How can you tell if it’s your emotions that’ll help you win!? I was a failure, you can’t change that!
Team Hero was silent for a moment once more, their minds telling them that this story Ulin told them was just a bag of lies, but their hearts and souls told them that she was telling the truth.
Ozur looked over at Rashika, who looked over at Eathelyn, who finally looked over at their team leader Hugo. Their team leader stepped forward, releasing one of his swords, only to slice it through the rope that tied her up! Ulin stared at the teens in shock, until Hugo spoke in truth. “You are a failure that’s true but that was in the past. You are strong since you kept those emotions in but you’ll be even stronger if you let them out but tame them.”
“Yeah, if you have tamed emotions that are at the same time free, you’ll fight anyone off, even Olema. Now I may have never met Oralee, but I bet you that she isn’t furious with you.” Hugo could hear Ulin gasp as he continued. “She’s probably waiting for the right moment to see you again, maybe when you finally find your way down the right path again. Or could be that she’s making sure she can see you when you’re in a situation even worse than you thought possible.”
Their mentor stood still in disbelief, she couldn’t tell if Team Hero can make a difference than anyone she met. However, she had but one question that she asked them: “What makes you four believe that you have what it takes to stand up against the Sun Gang?”
He then turned around, walking towards the exit with his friends as he held his right hand out for her. “Come with us then, we’ll talk at our headquarters...And if you want the answer to that question, you’ll just have to wait and see.” His left hand dug in his cape to pull out the locked mysterious box. “Right now, we have some hope to open up. So are you in this or do we have to keep you in here for a while?”
She was quiet, her mind filled with ′what if’s’ and ′whys’ , those never ending scenarios of what could have been in her past and future. The words Hugo spoke of then repeated into her head, could it be that she was strong, that her emotions were her strength, and for that strength to be used properly, she had to tame it? Can I really find my new path here? Starting with those four?
Not needing to speak, Ulin wiped her tears away to make her straight face, then took Hugo’s cold hand’s, and then follow her students. She was in this mission Team Hero were about to take on, however, one question was stuck in her mind as she followed. Does Team Hero really have what it takes to change these worlds?