The Nightmare

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Chapter 33 - Target

Copyright © DenGlemtePrinsesse, 2020


"I think I'm getting use to this." I said, watching another arrow passed through the target. A moving one this time.

Eric and I settled deeper into the forest. In another clearing that doesn't really look like a training ground because of the butterflies.

With less fog, the movement of the tiny butterflies is so visible. Their transparent wings emit soft light with each flap. They look like the first stars at twilight, greeting the arriving cold, serene night.

After seeing a lot of dark plants, almost black trunks and muddy ground with all the fog through the forest, this location serves as a breath of fresh air. Having this clear sight with colorful moving life is rather idyllic.

But it wasn't the butterfly that's the target—which I also assumed earlier. I had my doubts that we're on a right clearing, because, who would want to hurt butterflies? And more importantly, who would want to ruin such picturesque view?

But Eric made it clear that the forest is watching and it wouldn't let anyone get hurt here.

Each of the butterflies carries a circular vein as they roam around. The veins are the target. And the veins move to protect the butterflies if ever one miscalculated its aim. I know because I had, and I'm sorry. But just as Eric promised, no one got hurt.

"Don't be too complacent." He reminded.

I nodded, aiming for another target.

Arriving to this place, Eric and I had to passed through a hanging wooden bridge. I basically crawled my way through it even though I didn't know how far or close we were above the ground, or if there really was a ground. I wasn't even sure what lies below us because the fog won't let us see.

He was angry because of my slow movement. All throughout the swinging bridge I was crawling, pulling the swords next to my side along with my body. It's like the narrow brigde by the entrance of this castle all over again, only this time, it was swinging.

Eric didn't offer help. He just waited by the other side of the bridge and watched me floundered my way to him. He said if I couldn't get through a simple obstacle, I don't stand a chance outside the kingdom. He's given emphasis that everything I will experience inside the forest will be doubled in the real world. He also said that I should always be prepared for the worst. And I understand.

"Eric, if we're eager to find Ali, why do we have to wait until tomorrow? Can't we go and look for him now?"

"We only want to find him, not die in the process." His tone, the calmest I'd ever heard from him.

Confused, I glanced behind me, only to find Eric settled on a hammock made of veins. His head, resting over his arms, his feet were crossing comfortably up.

"What do you mean?" My heart panic.

"Most of the suns in Utovaj had been destroyed. We don't know how many are still left out there, or if there still is. So techincally, it's always dark outside the kingdom. The best chance we have for a clear vision is at noon, when the remaning suns are on their peak. They could at least reflect a light on our path, assuming there's still others left aside from what we got here in Helmithio." He answered almost a whisper.

"Should we go back? You're tired, Eric." He had his eyes closed by now. It seems like he hasn't fully recovered the energy he lost earlier today because of my wound. I'm the one who's resposible why he's worn out, and yet I had the audacity to disturb him in the middle of his recovering process with all my whining and plans to go home.

"Mhmm no. Continue. You, lazy."

"You need a proper rest, Eric." He tried to open his eyes and raise an eyebrow at me, but his irises could no longer focus. He's only making my point valid. He can't go out of the kingdom tomorrow when he's all drained like this.

"I'll just gather the arrows so we can head back in." Eric snarled at me, eyes still close. He's too sleepy to actually utter a word and object. Only his eyebrows did the talking.

I ran towards the edge of the clearing, picking the arrows up. Part of me is proud that the arrows I shot reached this distance. I can be a help to them if I manage to stay calm and remember all the pointers that Eric told me. I'm hoping that I could really shot in such a distance in real life, but at the same time, I'm hoping that I wouldn't have to.

It wasn't long when something colorful caught in my peripheral vision. It was another butterfly, resting on the last arrow on the ground. It's larger than the ones carrying the target. It's transparent too, but it has colors of pink, white, green, yellow and orange, all in pastle color that was poured evenly on its wings.

I can see the veins in its body, sparkling.

As much as I don't want to disturb the butterfly, Eric said that I had to return the stuff I borrowed in the exact shape I took them. I'm guessing that the people in this castle wouldn't like it if an arrow is missing.

"I'm sorry, I have to return that." Who knows, maybe this butterfly understands. After all, this is one big magical place, anything can happen. The butterfly might curse me if I just rudely disturb its resting, so I bothered to explain.

"Sorry." The butterfly moved the moment I reached for the arrow. There falls sparkling silver dust as its wings moved, reflecting its colorful light to the surrounding, instantly giving life to the thick trees around us. Like, all of a sudden, I'm inside a party club.

And while I found myself gawking at another fascinating living thing, I also remembered to be vigilant. In this world where everything is beautiful and magical, the smallest thing could also be dangerous at the same time.

My hand runs to my neck, remembering the talis that I carried carelessly from this world to our home. That tool that summoned those magical people on Earth, endangering my friends and ending human lives just by their very presence on our land.

I couldn't be like that anymore. Behaving so naively, harming other people in the process.

So I turned around, walking back to Eric. But the butterfly flew in front of me, to my eye level, and it began flapping its wings faster than a normal butterfly does. And as much as I wanted to enjoy the sight it gives to the environment with its movement, I'm aware that it's trying to communicate wih me. And by its chaotic movement, I know something isn't right.

It flew away to a direction a little father than me then stop, facing me again, flapping its wings faster. It wanted me to follow its lead. What if it badly needs help?

I glanced at the direction I came from.

Eric might be in a deep sleep by now so he won't notice I'm gone.

"Okay." Foolish as it is, but part of me symphatizes with the butterfly. It looks urgent. And I wanted to offer help whenever I'm needed.

"I'll come with you. But I will turn around at the first sight of danger." I promised myself. I'm not sure if I can trust this butterfly, but since it's inside the kingdom, I'm assuming that it belongs here, and that, it doesn't pose threat to people.

So I started walking to it.

The butterfly continue to fly in the level of my eyesight, not too close for my reach, but not too far for me to lost track. I'm keeping track on my path, stepping extra hard so my feet would leave prints. I'm trying to remember even the scattered branches nearby, so I would know my way back later.

I continue to follow it until we reached an open space.

My paranoia vanished in an instant. Before my eyes is beautiful meadow with hundreds of its kind. Colorful butterflies roaming everywhere. It seems like I'm staring at a moving painting.

It took me to its home. I'm guessing one of its family is stuck or something that they need an outside help.

The butterfly flew in front of my eyes, sensing my distraction. I focused and continue following it.

"Wait." I called. The butterfly flew faster into the meadow, into the gathering of its kind. I think it turned to the other side of the meadow, I couldn't tell. It became a struggle to keep track because they are flying everywhere, hindering my vision. I don't want to hurt any of them. I have to be mindful of my steps too, because they're not getting out of the way either. And I couldn't just shrugged them away with my hand.

"Aw!" Someone slapped me, hard that had my face twitching in pain.

My hand automatically ran to my face, putting a pressure on my cheek. I glanced around, looking for the responsible one, but what really caught my attention is that, the butterflies finally parted.

Just when I stop walking, they all decided to stop roaming around, suddenly offering a clear path and a clear vision, straight a head. And that's when I saw it.

I had reached the end of the meadow.

In front of me, stood a target board. The one I actually see in movies, with the red circular lines and a dot in the middle. There's a row of it next to me. But I walked closer to the one that's in front of me.

I gulped at the sight of the bloodied dagger on the board.

As if on cue, I felt a fluid crawling down my face, followed by a sharp pain on my cheek, where I was slapped. I wiped it and saw blood on my fingers, and a few strands of my hair sticking to it.

Staring at my feet where few other strands of my hair lies, I just realized what really happened.

I glanced to the path behind me. To the only direction that the butterfly cleared the sight. To the course where I believe the dagger came from.

And there, at the other end of the meadow, I saw a fumming Macforth, making his way towards me.

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