1. The Encounter
My rushed footsteps and the crunching of the leaves were the only sound as I made my way around the dense woods. My long green cape fluttered against the wind as I sprinted down the path I’d known for years. A smile broke on my dried lips. I knew I couldn’t be late; I didn’t even know why it took me so long to come back.
Since early in the morning, like any other day. I woke up to my usual walk; the only difference was that I saw a white deer walking around the woods. An unusual sight, and one that got me curious, deviating me from my path. Somehow along the way, I ended in an unexpected place. It was a waterfall, and right behind its clear waters, a vast cave. One I didn’t even know existed.
“MILA!” I heard the cheerful voice of my sister call from afar.
I made a turn and rushed down the hill. Not watching my step, I tripped on my cape and rolled down, letting out a screeching yell. My sister called again as I heard her running my way. As I land on my stomach, I start giggling.
“Oh my God, Mila!” my sister called as she reached for my arms and helped me up.
“It’s all right, Aria,” I said, laughing hard, “I’m all right, sister.”
My hair got disheveled, my clothes got dirty, and I could bet I had a scratch somewhere around my legs.
“Are you crazy? You’re dirty!” Aria scolded me, but I continued laughing. “And where have you been? Our mother has been looking for you.”
“Sorry I got distracted,” I said as I dusted my clothes. “Am I late?”
“Late? Mother will scold you, Mila. Let’s go,” Aria said as she dragged me.
This is my sister Aria. She’s a year younger than me and quite the opposite of what I am. Even though she’s nineteen and I’m twenty, she acts a bit more mature than me.
“Move it, Mila!” Aria said as she yanked my hand. I groaned at her, which earned me a deadly glare from Aria.
We both started heading towards the city plaza—the place where I would come every day. I’m a saintess and the only one with unique powers to give blessings. So many people sought me daily for a small prayer. How did I become a saintess? I don’t even know. All I know is that my powers awoke when I turned seven.
My mother has always wondered why I got these unique powers if no one in the family has them. But, of course, there is someone I don’t know of, my father. My mother would never mention him, and I felt he was the reason behind this mystery.
“There she is!” Aria said, pointing at a woman with red hair and a brown cloak.
Yes, red hair, like my sister Aria. Both my sister and mother shared the same red hair and brown eyes, while I, on the other hand, am pretty different.
My jet black hair, gray almond eyes that looked like a thunderstorm was approaching, and my voluptuous body was unusual trait for someone of Lumia Kingdom. But, while my sister had a slim body, I had some weight. I didn’t like my body that much, but I had no other choice, did I?
“There you are!” Our mother said, standing up. She was holding an apple basket. “What took you girls so long?”
“Sorry, mother, it’s Mila’s fault,” Aria said, glancing my way. I threw her a glare and pulled my hand away from her.
“Sorry, I got distracted while doing my morning walk,” I said, apologizing. My mother just sighed and retook a seat.
My sister started arranging a small table and stool while I looked around the plaza. Like any other day, the busy plaza was bustling with people.
The Lumia Kingdom was the home of trading. It did not only rely on the exchange of goods but also on wealth. All the merchants that visited our kingdom would give some of their wealth to the poor people, which was helpful. Thanks to them, our kingdom has been able to prosper, of course, if you asked them why they do it. It’s all thanks to our king.
King Noah, the most handsome king, according to the girls around the kingdom. My sister is quite his fan while I, on the other hand, am not. So let’s say I don’t care about him.
“Everything’s ready, Mila,” Aria said from the side. I smiled at her and took a seat. I already had several people making a line. Letting them know I was ready, my sister called the first person forward.
“Are you alright?” my mother asked as she handed me some water. I smiled and thanked her.
“Yes, just a bit tired,” I mumbled while sipping on the water.
“Take a break,” my mother ordered to which I happily complied.
I stood from my place and fixed my cape.
“I will be near the market,” I told her and started walking towards the bustling market.
I was excited to wander around and see the different kinds of fruits they brought this time. Excusing myself around the busy people, I look for one of my closest friends here in the kingdom. My eyes moved around the stalls. Where was he?
I couldn’t see him at all. As I squint my eyes and make a beeline, I feel a tap on my shoulder. With a surprising jump, I turn around and find my best friend chuckling.
“Oh, my Goddess!” I snapped, hitting him on his chest.
“I’m sorry,” my best friend said, laughing.
“Sorry? You almost killed me there,” I exaggerate while holding my chest.
“I’m sorry, alright?” He said, smirking at me devilishly.
I scoffed and crossed my arms over my chest. I tried pretending I was mad.
“Forgive me, Mila,” My best friend said, but I turned around. “Mila?” he called again. “Hey, Mila, don’t be like that.”
“If you get me something yummy, I might forgive you, Ezekiel,” I smiled his way. Ezekiel laughed and grabbed my hand, pulling me along with him.
We both walked around the people, taking minor detours here and there.
“Where are we going?” I asked him curiously. Ezekiel just glanced over his shoulders and smiled down at me.
Ezekiel was my best friend since childhood. He was three years older than me and someone I consider my brother and confidant.
“Look over there,” Ezekiel suddenly said, distracting me. I peeked around him and saw a great stall that had exotic fruits. My eyes widened in excitement. He knew what I love.
We both rushed to the line and started waiting for our turn.
“So, how was your day?” Ezekiel asked as we waited in line.
“Busy, I had a lot of older people today,” I explained with a sigh.
“It must be tiring,” Ezekiel said as he patted my head. I just smiled wryly and played with my hands. “Oh, by the way, have you heard?”
“Heard what?” I asked, looking up at him.
Ezekiel leaned closer, making me take a step away from him. He frowned at my reaction, but I ignored it.
“So?” I questioned him.
“Oh yes, it seems that person is back,” Ezekiel whispered. I frowned. Whom was he talking about? “Mila? Did you hear me?”
“Uh yes, but whom are you talking about?” I asked confusedly.
“I’m talking about him, Mila,” Ezekiel repeated, but I didn’t know whom he was referring to.
With a sigh, I lowered my head and massaged my forehead. Ezekiel continued talking, but I got distracted when I saw something dark fluttered next to me. Raising my head, I looked up and saw someone tall pass by me. My head snapped around. Who was that?
The figure rushed down the path where several of the people on the market avoided him. I frowned. Now that was strange.
I turned back around, but I was curious to know who was under that black cloak for some strange reason.
“I’ll be back,” I said and ran away from Ezekiel. I heard my best friend calling, but I had no time. I needed to catch up with the stranger before I lost sight of him.
With rushed footsteps, I ran down the same path he took. I looked around the place and noticed his hooded head moving to the right side where the market’s fishers work. I reached for my long cape and lifted it; I didn’t need to fall right now.
I followed behind. Couldn’t he stop walking that fast? It wasn’t charming.
As I continued, I finally saw him stop right before a regular stall. With a sigh, I slow down and walk up to him. I could hear him speaking with the fisherman. I tried reaching for his long cloak, but as my hand got closer, he moved away, making me curse under my breath.
With a frown, I called the stranger, “Stop!”
I expected him to look around, but instead, he ignored me. The audacity of that man, could you believe it?
I let out a sigh and started following once again. This time I walked faster, but my problem now was that people were gathering, making it hard to approach him.
“Hey!” I said, extending my arm. “I said wait!”
My hand reached for his cloak, but as I got a hold of it, someone bumped into me, making me fall flat on the ground. I let out a painful groan and held my arm.
Did I get hurt?
I tried moving, but suddenly two strong hands reached for me, helping me get up. I snapped my head and found the same stranger with the black cloak holding me in his arms.
“Are you alright?” I heard his hoarse voice ask. For some reason, I blushed at his words.
His face got covered by half of the cloak. I wanted to know who was under that hood.
“Hey, are you alright?” he asked again.
“No,” I spat as I pushed his arms away, but I stopped moving and looked at him. What was that? “You,” I mumbled as my eyes shifted at one of his arms. Then, noticing me, he suddenly pulled away and turned back around.
I frowned and quickly grabbed his cloak. My grip was tightening around it.
“Wait!” I begged this time. “Please don’t go.”
“Let go,” he muttered angrily.
“No, listen to me,” I said in a small plea, but he abruptly yanked his cloak, making me trip on my own and fall on the ground once again.
I snapped my head at him, but he was already walking away.
“Oh, you fucking bastard!” I cursed while I watched him go. Then, fuming in anger, I huff and cross my arms. “Fucker!”
Yes, you must be wondering why a saint is cursing? Well, let’s say I have quite the mouth.