Guardians

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Chapter 23 - The Fire Temple!

I took a moment to really let this scene sink in. This hulk Hogan! Left four dead! Streetfighter DLC character is my spirit animal. This thing is supposed to be the thing that’s connected to my soul? The thing that’s basically my other half?

“Back in the great Nut war of eighty five I killed squirrels and badgers bigger than you.” The general muttered off to himself.

Now for the other elephant in the room. Nutterbutters, his name was general NutterButters. That wasn’t a title, that was his name.

I squinted my eyes and stared at him. He had his arms folded and was going on tangents. He kept talking about this great Nut war he was a part of. I looked over to Max, who was still in meditation mode. And guess what he had? Butterflies! He had rainbow colored butterflies all around him!

It’s like dealing with charming all over again…

“That’s interesting…” I heard Arrow say.

“This can’t be right! What is this thing!? Did I fart or something during meditation!?” I cried out.

“I bet you would too. Just like a twig.” The squirrel huffed.

I just growled.

“No, these things only work one way. You can’t make a mistake. Especially a child of Gaea.” Arrow said. “Plus Max over there has called out a rather ancient familiar.”

Max slowly opened his eyes. He seemed calm, at peace. But then he opened his eyes and saw me. And he literally jumped and all his colorful butterflies flew away.

“Santo cielo!” He cried.

“Edens espíritu animal.” Arrow replied with a rather nice Spanish accent.

The squirrel jumped off my arm and I started hearing many voices around the forest. I’m assuming everyone else just heard animal sounds though…

I closed my eyes and focused on the shape and size. And I slowly became horrified. It was a horde! A horde of squirrels!

I quickly stood up and watched as my familiar proudly strolled to the edge of the woods. Arrow and Max didn’t say a word. They just watched.

“Eden, what’s happening?” Max asked.

“It just occurred to me. My familiar’s name is General Nutterbutters. Which would stand to reason he’s a general of something.” I muttered.

“Sir!” I heard hundreds of squirrels call out as we all could finally see the hundreds of different kinds of squirrels appear.

They all surrounded us. Filling every tree like leaves to the branches.

“What,” Arrow mumbled.

“I think my familiar is the king of squirrels,” I said as I slowly walked over to him.

“General, I am the general. I’ve had that title since the great Nut war of eighty-five.” He grumbled.

“R-right,” I muttered.

“Alright listen up maggots! This is my new master! His name is twig boy!”

“Hey! It’s Eden! My name is Eden!”

“Caren.” He said.

“Eden!”

“Fine, I forget you fleshy folk is sensitive. Anyways, Oden here is my master. But I refuse. So I’m giving him second in command to the great Nut soldiers. So Adon here is in charge when we’re not fighting the good fight.”

Did, did I just become a squirrel commander?

Before I could even process this I felt him smacked the back of my knees. I dropped to the ground and I felt his warm and firm grip on my head. And it was at this moment I realized. He could just totally kill me.

“You must be honored to be adorned by the great General, child. Be lucky I am gracious enough to bestow this onto you. I rather not have my kin die. You seem like the nerd type. Just like my late nephew. You’d probably die without help.”

He moved his hand from me and I slowly sat up. And then, just like he was the hulk! He leaped from the ground and disappeared into the forest with all his army. Well except for one brown squirrel. He quickly scurried over to me and looked me over.

“Oden is it?” He asked.

“Eden..” I sighed.

“Yes well, I am General Nutterbutters Advisor. I am to act on his behalf has your familiar.”

As he crawled up my arms I noticed his flaps. Then it became clear, he was a flying squirrel!

“Can you talk to animals?” Max asked. “And if you can. What just happened?”

“I would like to know as well.” Arrow chimed.

“The spark’s notes version. My familiar wants me to lift a tree in order to prove I’m strong enough to be his master. So out of pity. He gave me control of a squirrel army.”

Ya know. Saying all of that out loud. I didn’t even believe what I just said. Did my life just turn into a bad cartoon?

“I’ve heard of This squirrel before. He caused our peanut butter shortage some years ago. I recall he specifically stole every guild’s NutterButters himself.”

Thus I gained a possible bribing point. So either I trick him into thinking I lifted a tree, or maybe bribe him with Nutterbutters. That is if he doesn’t kill me trying to get them…

“Can we just go. My brain hurts just thinking about what just happened.” I groaned.

“Well, the pains just gonna move to your stomach then kid.” Arrow chuckled.

“Fascinating, a child of the Goddess can’t travel like other humans.” The squirrels whose name I learned was Acies said with pure curiosity.

He spent the entire walk here just giving me this look of judgment. Like he expected more out of me or something.

“Shut up. Please.” I begged as I held onto my sides.

Was I ever gonna adapt to this?

“Don’t worry kid, we’re almost to the dungeon.” Arrow chimed.

After a few more feet we stopped. And I felt my stomachs swirling come to stop, and I hesitantly looked up. In front of us was a huge mountain. At its base was a huge opening that reminded me of a shark’s toothy grin.

“So this exercise is just a simple follow the leader. Don’t fight or touch anything unless you see me do it or I give permission, understand?”

Arrow said firmly as he looked not at both of us. But at Max. Max shifted a bit and looked at him skeptically. Arrow didn’t say another word. He just trudged forward to enter the mouth of the cave.

“What was that all about…” Max muttered.

“You are the child of war right? It might be in your nature to seek combat.” I added as I followed Arrows lead.

“Is that it?” Max huffed as he followed behind me.

As we stepped deeper into the cave I felt a shift. I closed my eyes and I could feel the layout in front of me. There was this odd long hallway of sorts in front of us. But it seemed like, it was fuzzy to me? Like the ground, a few steps ahead of us was fake, something like glass. Then ahead of that. It made my heart race. It was a huge room, but something gigantic was walking around in there.

“A-arrow I-”

“Lesson one!” He boomed over my voice. “Dungeons are unpredictable. So be prepared for anything. You’re a child of earth. So you probably already know what to expect, and for Max, you can sense anger and rage. Both good for gauging upcoming threats and traps. Max, do you feel anything?” Arrow called out.

Max grumbled a bit.

“Yeah, it’s faint but I can feel somethings agitation.”

“Great, and Eden how much have you gathered specifically?”

And he finally let’s me finish..

“Well, I can tell in front of us is something a bit..fuzzy? Which may indicate it was man made. I also feel something large in the next room that’s different from the rocks that make up this place. And something else big that’s stomping around?”

He gave us an approving smile and nodded.

“Perfect! Now for you Max, since your ability lets you sense aggression or anger. It would be wise to send your familiar inside first. Gauge its reaction. For me, I have to find much more creative outlets.” He picked up a rock and then chucked it down the tunnel.

Creative he says…

“Humans..” Acies muttered.

The rock rolled and bounced on the ground and as it landed and rolled on the ground. Nothing happened, and it kept rolling. And then I saw a faint orange glow. It was only there for a flash, and then a huge funnel of fire shot up from the ground! I looked over at Max, whose eyes were just as wide as mine. We both watched funnel after funnel shoot up as the rock rolled.

“Woah, It’s the fire temple!” I cheered.

I looked at Arrow, and he had a wicked smile on his face. Which swapped my excitement with concern.

“Arrow what are you…”

Then he just took off toward the flaming platforms! I watched as he stepped on the first plate. Nothing happened. Then it was only for a second. But I noticed, in what seemed like the next row on the platform he was on flashed the orange light. But not just one light, multiple lights! And I watched as Arrow seemed to avoid every step that had a light flash. I also noticed the flat clean cut ground he was running on had an odd reflection. A reflection that was very reminiscent of glass.

And before I knew it, he was already on the other side of the platform! I barely got to see anything!

“Now you both find a way across!” Arrow cheered.

“You gotta be kidding me…” Max muttered.

“I think there’s a pattern with the orange light.” I mumbled as I moved my finger to my chin. “I noticed Arrow dodging it as he moved forward. I think it only appears after pressure is on it. So you need to be quick with your first step.”

“Well master Oden, I’ll leave this to you,” Acies said as he stretched his wings. Then he leaped off my shoulder and just flew over the glass.

That damn squirrel…

“I didn’t see the pattern..” Max mumbled.

I stepped closer and examine the glass, it took up the entire floor up to where Arrow was at. And the walls looked somewhat climbable.

“Should we just run for it?” Max asked.

“No wait, let me test something.” I leaned down and grabbed two rocks. I threw one farther down the glass first, and then once that hit the glass. I dropped a rock down here. But just as I feared, I saw two rows of orange lights spark. The one I threw farther down first, then the second one back here. Dammit, that means it was weight sensitive. And we can’t activate it prematurely and trick it.

“So as I see it we have three options.”

“Those being?” Max asked.

“One, we go through the fire and react to the orange light. The light flashes for a moment, showing you where the fire will erupt from the moment you step on the row before it.”

“My second option?” Max asked desperately.

“We can climb the walls around it. However,some are very unstable, and if we fail we fall into the fire glass. Which will probs burn us.”

“Option three?” He asked.

“Beg our familiars to get us across.” I chuckled. “Realistically I’d say you should do the fire run, while I climb.”

“What! Why?”

“You’re a child of war and combat. Your strength is in combat, so that stands to reason you probably have abnormally high reaction time. Which is the soul test for the walk of fire. While for me, I can sense what rocks are stable to grab. So I can safely make it across by climbing.”

Max looked away from me and glared at the ground.

“Let me climb.” He asked softly.

I raised a brow at him.

“Are you sure? You might have an easier time wit-”

“I’m more than that alright! ¡No soy solo una estúpida bestia!” He roared at me.

And too bad for him I totally bombed Spanish last year. So I had no idea what he just said.

“Tic Tok boys! If this was a tournament you’d lose the whole thing by now.” Arrow called out.

“Hey, I have no idea what you just said. But if you’re following me let’s get moving.”

Seriously, just what was this guys deal?

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