Guardians

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Chapter - 18 The monster and the mistake

What did you say this was!?” I asked between bites.

“Minotaur meat!” Clover chimed.

I turned over the mushroom, meat filled kabob in my hand. It reminded me of steak, but like super tender and sweet. With an odd bacon-y after-taste to it.

I remembered the minotaur shaped Tenebris I fought. Then quickly took another triumph bite.

“Ummm, you okay?” Clover inquired.

“Just biting some old demons away.” I said with a mouthful of minotaur meat.

“Okay...well anyways, think you got the plant creation down?”

I nodded enthusiastically.

Clover spent a good few hours teaching me about plant creation and restoration. Our powers as I’ve been learning are all intuned with our parent’s job. We’re meant to protect and connect to our ecosystem. Still no idea why I did a fire ki blast though...

Clover’s theory is that my energy output filter is broken or something (whatever that actually means.) When I create things I tend to morph things a bit…

I tried copying her sunflower and ended up making the mario piranha plant (which acted like a regular Venus fly trap). Then I accidentally made a bellsprout kinda thing. But it wouldn’t stand up right.

We have to have contact with soil in order to do our abilities. Then use the energy we got stored up from the sun and get to creating. I wish Ellie was here. She’d probably have some art tips.

We decided to take a break since I technically hadn’t eaten anything all day. So we forest walked to the Evergreen Garden for some lunch. Even in the setting sun the rainbow leaves still glew like it was the dead of night.

Clover was the best family I’ve ever had. She was caring and optimistic. She really had a soft spot for floral arrangements and nature. And she was a Zelda fan! Top tier sister in my book!

She really loved the big tree in Evergreen. She dreamed of making something as beautiful as that one day for everyone. Plus she was obsessed with this nymph’s salad shop. She wanted me to try it. But I told her a warrior can’t live off rabbit food.

As we walked around the bazaar, the door from a small wooden shop flung open. And a tall light green woman flopped out onto the ground. We both stop dead in our tracks.

The women’s hair was a greasy black and tangled mess. I noticed small teeth poking out from her lower jaw. One to the far left and right.

“Is that an Orc?” I asked as I took another bite of my mushrooms.

“Ogre, Tolkin made orcs.” Clover corrected.

I snapped my fingers.

“Drat.”

“We don’t serve your kind here Ogre!” I heard a very angry voice hollar from inside the shop.

The ogre sat up and got onto her knees, burying her face into the dirt.

“Please sir! I need to buy that gem! I have the money! I’ll even pay double!”

“Get out, you monster.” He sneered right before he slammed the door.

I felt the warmth rise in me and I immediately jogged over to her. The hell was wrong with that guy!?

“Hey are you okay?” I asked, holding my hand out to her.

She looked genuinely bewildered and scared. She blinked a couple times and hesitated to reach for my hand. She eventually grabbed onto me and I helped her up. And I noticed that I was shorter than her. Like my head was chest level shorter (I’m surprised I could help her up).

“Y-yeah I’m fine. I’m sorry I bothered you…”

My eyes ran over her body, she was practically wearing a sack dress. Plus I saw hundreds of scars and bruises all over her body. Stryder’s voice echoed in my mind ‘You’re not a mistake.’ She needed to be reminded she’s not a monster.

“Don’t worry about it. Helping a pretty girl is my pleasure.” I chimed.

Her face blushed a lighter shade of green and she looked away quickly. She quickly stepped away and grabbed her arm.

“T-thank you..” She mumbled.

“So what was that all about just now?”

She kept her eyes to the ground as she talked.

“This shop doesn’t serve Ogres. But I thought maybe if I paid double he’d let me buy a gem…”

I looked to the shop and back to her. This dill weed…

“Just a gem right? What color is it?”

“G-green.” She mumbled.

I started to walk toward the little shop door.

“Eden what are you gonna do? You can’t buy it.” Clover reminded.

I leaned down and scooped up a pile of dirt.

“Don’t worry, Batman always has a plan.” I winked, and put the dirt in my pocket.

Then I entered the shop.

The shop kinda reminded me of a flea market. Just an all wooden shop with only stones inside. The front desk was a row of glass cases holding rows of shiney gems inside. Then there it was, a round shiny green stone. I smirked as I walked over to the front desk.

Here goes nothing...

“Oh I was worried for a second there! Thought you served Ogres!” I called out into the shop.

“No sir! None of those disgusting beasts in my shop!” I heard a man call out from behind the counter.

I saw someone stand up from behind the counter. First thing I saw was rounded ram horns. Which left me on guard and a bit speechless. Then came the curly brown hair and creamy skin tone. As he stood up it became very apparent he was a Satyr. Hairy arms and…hairy chest?

I moved my hand into my pocket with the dirt and started my plan.

“Right, I’ve had to walk out of a few shops around these parts. Glad someone can see the truth. Mind if I view these gems over there?” I asked as I walked toward the glass.

The guy chuckled.

“Most people around these parts are aware by now. Sounds like you had a personal experience with them?” The satyr replied.

He walked over to the glass case and opened it up from behind. He pulled out the case of gems that sat on a cushion.

I could feel the heat and the churning of the dirt beneath my fingers as the creation began. Just focus on the gem and corn.

All the stones looked like pearls.

I reached down with my free hand and felt a few of them, inspecting them like I knew what I was doing. Each time learning exactly what each stone was. I needed to distract him.

“Well my father was a forest elf who braved dungeons. He was a collector of fine gems and dungeons. He lost his life to an Ogre a few years back. You can say I’ve taken up his craft.” I chuckled.

I lifted a light green stone and looked it over. It was a Peridot. This was the stone I was gonna steal.

“I’m sorry to hear that. I know you elves and ogres don’t really get along.” He sighed.

“Peridot,” I called out. I set it down and picked up another. “Chrysoberyl.” I called out.

I did this again and again. I noticed the wide amber eyes of the satyr.

Got ya.

“Wow! You really know your stuff kid!”

“Thank my nerd dad.” I chuckled. “So if you don’t mind me asking. Did the Ogres do something to you?” I asked as I grabbed the peridot again.

I lifted my hand out of my pocket hiding the seed behind my thumb. Please be shiny! Please be shiny! Please be shiny. I touched the peridot with my other hand.

I glanced up at the shop keep. When I met his eyes, he looked away and grabbed his arm. Good, he was uncomfortable. I slipped the peridot into my sleeve and rolled the seed into my fingers.

Now for the moment of truth. I hesitantly looked over the seed from my fingers. First thoughts, it was almost shiner than the Peridot. Second thought it looked like an egg. Clover would be disappointed, stupid broken filter.

“My village was ransacked by Ogres a couple years back. I lost my daughter and my wife to the attack.” He choked out.

I hesitated putting the seed in there. That’s when the veil of self righteousness faded. I can see why he would follow the trend...

“I’m sorry to make you relive that..” I muttered.

It just occurred to me that I never once questioned the ogres reasoning for this stone. I slipped the peridot into my sleeve and set the seed down in its place.

“It’s fine, I really appreciate what you Elves do. Protecting the woods for us all.” He replied, finally meeting my eyes again.

I stepped back and away from the box and gestured I was done.

I guess thinking about my mom left me a little naive. The fact is I have no reason or proof to verify anything, not even his story. It could just be a cover for racism. But that look in his eyes, the pain..

Nevertheless, even if his story is the truth. That’s no excuse for racism.

“Oh stop, I’m just a dungeon crawler. Save the praise for the real heroes,” I chuckled as I waved him off. “Anyways, I like your stuff. I’ll be sure to do business with you in the future.”

He smiled back at me and nodded. “I’ll look forward to it sir, come again! I’m sure your dad would be proud!”

I forced myself to smile and walked out the door. My mind was racing a bit. Analyzing the shop keep and the ogre girl. While also wondering about my chances of getting caught.

As I walked up I saw the shocked and enthusiastic faces of the girls. But I couldn’t put on a smile for them.

“So Eden what happened?” Clover asked.

But I just ignored them and waved to the forest.

I started walking toward the woodline then delved deeper into the forest. When I felt like we delved deep enough I stopped.

I dropped the peridot from my sleeve into my palm and held it out to them both. Clover and the Ogre both looked at me in shock.

“B-but how did you…?”

“Tell me why you want this stone so bad?” I asked sternly, “No games.”

She jumped when I asked and began to fidget with her fingers. Her eyes didn’t meet mine and stared at the ground.

“I-I umm, I wanted to make some friends..”

I was puzzled.

“What?” I asked.

“My friends said that an ogre like me should be more grateful for friends like them. That if I really was their friend, I would get them more gifts.”

“That doesn’t sound like a good friend.” Clover chimed in.

“No no! They are! Everyone hates Ogres...No one wants to be around me. I really should be more grateful!”

I tossed the peridot to her and she caught it.

“You’re not a monster.” I declared firmly. “And I don’t care what your family’s done. My name is Eden Stark.” I raised my hand. “And I want to be your friend.”

She blushed even harder now. She was silent for a bit.

“Y-you mean it?” She asked nervously.

“I did just steal a peridot for you didn’t I?”

“You what!” Clover roared.

But I ignored her.

“A-are you sure? You’re an elf after all…”

“Who cares about any of that. I’m not my family, I’m me.”

I smiled at her again.

“Come on, let’s get some lunch. We can get to know each other better.” Clover chimed.

“Let’s not stay here though. I did just lie and rob a jeweler. And we’d attract a lot of attention. She’s kinda...tall.” I tapped my chin for a second. “What’s your name by the way?” I asked.

“Toz.” She mumbled out.

“I’m Clover, nice to officially meet you Toz!”

Then my phone went off. It was odd because it didn’t have a special ringtone to it. I picked up my phone and looked at the screen. My eyes widened at the unknown number. I answered.

“Hello?”

“Is this Eden?” A woman answered.

“Yeah, who’s this?”

“I found your name and number on a phone alarm next to a guy I’ve been healing for a bit. I think you’re his emergency contact.”

“Woah! What happened!? Is he alright!?”

“I’ll send you my location.” She replied and hung up.

Rushon, what’s going on...

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