I grunted, feeling the fatigue toll on my body from all the mining, but I kept going. “We’re almost done, people! Just a bit more-” Said Cal, before he stopped mid-sentence. I could feel an ethereal presence behind me, and I felt myself turn instinctively along with my friends.
Although most camps had a nylmph shifter or 2, ours didn’t. We had gotten tested like all the other camps, but we failed, and we had gotten punished for it. But now, it seemed it had lifted, and someone was petty enough for us to come to our camp and aid us, but I’d never thought it was the Golden Doe, but not only that, someone I had met.
“Would you like herbal tea or water? Or maybe some fruits? I am truly sorry for the limited options, Golden Doe.” Elder Meki said, bowing to her. But she wasn’t looking at Meki, but rather, me. I blushed and turned my face, but I was honestly happy the inside that she chose me.
She just stared at me, and a couple awkward minutes passed. Elder Meki still bowing, she still staring at me, and me blushing harder than ever. “Rise, an elder like you does not need to stoop to my level.” Winter finally said, turning to Meki. “Do you remember me?” Although she wasn’t looking at me, I knew the question was aimed at me.
Of course, I remember you. I thought. You had been a bright and chirpy student but at the same time a shy and reserved person. So simple yet so complicated, and such a goody 2 shoes and not at the same time. I looked at her and answered honestly, “Of course, how could I not remember someone who was always there with me?”
She looked surprised, but then smiled and turned to Elder Meki. “I’m going to the forest with my keji.” I acted calm, but my mind was running a mile per minute. She beckoned me to follow her, as if she had lived in this camp for 5 years, when it was reversed.
My feet crunched the twig underneath, making Winter jumped. “Am I that loud?” I asked, wincing as my feet crunched another twig. With the rate we’re going, I might crunch a million twigs before we reached our destination. She turned to me and nodded painfully, and I could see her struggle to not run. Finally, we reached a meadow filled with white flowers and who knows what their names were.
’Collect about 10 pebbles near the river,’ Winter had told me. ‘It’ll be covered in moss and philodendron leaves.’ Except I don’t know a heck about leaves and all the pebbles were covered in moss and all kinds of different leaves. How am I supposed to become the partner of the Golden Doe if I don’t know what leaves she needs for transformation!?
I thought frantically. Then I grabbed the sack I had taken earlier before we went to the forest and started filling it with 10 pebbles of the normal shaped leaves, 10 pebbles with the Hawaiian shaped leaves, 10 pebbles of the circle-shaped leaves and all other kinds of pebbles that had at least 10 of the same kind of leaves.
I must’ve gathered more than 90 pebbles, and although they were small, they were heavy in bulk. But I kept on going until I reached the meadow, in which I laid on the ticklish grass while Winter was opening the sack, murmuring odd stuff to herself.
“Do you not know which is the philodendron leaves? It doesn’t matter, you got them anyway.” Winter said, grabbing the pebbles with the heart-shaped leaves around it. Then she laid them on the ground in a circle, where I saw she put all kinds of stuff. I’m going to watch a nylmph-shifter shift for the 1st time. I thought to myself, ashamed of my giddiness.
When she was done, she sat in the middle, and began chanting ancient dialogue, the circle glowing neon green. Then Winter started to levitate and her body was shining, and I watched in amazement as golden horns sprouted from her head, and her ears turned into a deer’s ears, a tail popping out, until it shined so brightly I had to turn away. When I looked again, Winter had become the Golden Doe.
Before I knew it, I reached out to touch her horn, and Winter took off in a flash. “Wait! I didn’t mean to!” I cried out to her as I crashed through the forest trying to chase her, making the birds scatter and the bunnies hopping away. But Winter didn’t stop, actually, she ran faster. What did I just do!? I thought to myself. Our relationship was going in a really good direction!
But while I was racking my brain as of why she was afraid of me touching her horn, I tripped on a big piece of rock. Omph I thought to myself as I grunted. Shit! I thought to myself as I frantically looked around, but I couldn’t see Winter anymore.
I couldn’t head back now. We hadn’t gotten a nylmph-shifter for about 4 years now, and if I lose the only hope we have, I’ll disappoint everyone. But I’ve never been in the forest, and I don’t know the 1st thing about surviving in the jungle. I just had to yolo it now.
I sighed. It’s been about 2 hours, and yet no sign of Winter. The sun was setting, and this was very dangerous. In the morning, you could only see about a dozen Azans in the distance, but in the night, they’ll surround us, whether we have light or not. I knew it wasn’t smart, but it was the only way now. “Winter! Where are you!?” I shouted, nervous as I looked everywhere, partly for winter and partly for Azans.
I was about to head back in defeat when I saw a glimmer of a gold horn. Winter! I was so relieved until I saw that she was surrounded by Azans. Aka angry crazed zombies, who could run faster than humans, and if they smelled or heard you, will try to kill you until your dead or they’re dead. Great. Just my luck.