The Mountain Cave
Well here we are at the mouth of the tunnel that will lead us through the mountain into the Emerald Forest. At least that is what Lloyd claims. We look around for pieces of wood to carry as torches. We each decide that 3 should be enough. We will light them one at a time. Who knew that would be one of our greatest mistakes of this journey. We agreed that I would lead the group, since I was the bravest. Lloyd fell over laughing at that statement. The first hour or so was uneventful. Then suddenly there appeared tunnels off of the main one. Lloyd did not know if we should stay going straight or take another tunnel. Yurie ordered to stay straight. So we went straight. It got darker as we went further into the tunnel. I thought Yurie and Lloyd were behind me the whole time. I kept walking as in a trance, as if something was calling to me. I stopped once to check and they were gone. Oh crap! What happened to them? Should I go back?
My master always said, if separated continue to go forward and eventually you will meet up. I hope that he is right. After a time, a light started to grow at the end of the tunnel. As I neared the end I saw that it was not really a light but something was glowing. I stopped just short of the end and peeked out slowly with my weapon at the ready. There was no one in the chamber. The glow was coming from a rock in the center of the room. I drew closer and saw that there was an inscription on the rock. "Whoever is brave, strong and morally good can pull this weapon of the gods out of the Eternity Stone." Well, I have 2 of those traits; I did lie that one time about taking Yurie's chocolate fish. I decided to take the chance since I am a demigod. A damn good one at that! So I climbed on the rock and gave it a hard tug. Nothing happened. What's the deal? I pulled harder this time. I then heard laughter all around me. I yelled "who's there?" "Don't worry; it's just us Gods having a little fun with you Twilight. We are still a little peeved that you were born. Your father, the God of night visions was not supposed to go to the mortal realm and mate with a human. Yuck! So we like to toy with the demigods sometimes for fun. It has been boring here lately." Go ahead, pull the sword out. It is rightfully yours." I pulled the sword one more time and it came out. It was a beautiful sword, a straight blade with three sets of claws above the hilt. The hilt was made out of volcanic veneer. Virtually indestructible! I put the new sword in weapon sling on my back and went on my way. I needed to find Yurie and Lloyd.
Yurie and Lloyd had gotten separated from Twilight because Lloyd tripped over a root in the tunnel. When they looked up they saw that Twilight had turned right down a side tunnel. "What was he doing" asked Yurie. Well we agreed to stay together, so we will go down that tunnel also. What they did not know was that the light they saw was not Twilight's torch but a glow bug that was flying down the tunnel. They realized this when the light went out and twilight did not answer them when they called out to him to light the next torch. Yurie started to panic. What was she going to do without Twilight? She could not survive unless she was with HER Twilight. Lloyd was starting to hyperventilate. He did not like closed in spaces unless there was light. His brothers liked to lock him in trunks and cupboards for hours on end. He looked at Yurie and saw that she was not handling this dilemma well. I am the man at the moment and I need to step up and save her. Lloyd took Yurie's paw and told her that it would be alright. As long as we keep walking we will find a way out. Just then another glow bug appeared. Lloyd trapped it and tied a rope to its legs. It would lead them to the tunnel opening. They walked for about 5 hours before they literally ran into Twilight again.
Yurie launched herself into his arms crying. Lloyd just said "Where have you been, man?" I told them all about the finding the sword and talking to the gods. They told me how Lloyd stepped up and lead them through the tunnel. The three sat down to have a meal and regain their strength. They all fell asleep for awhile. When they woke, the tunnel was filled with a rainbow of colors. Lloyd said that we are close to the Emerald forest. The sunsets there are colorful. They got up and gathered their supplies and started to walk towards the rainbow of lights. As they got closer, they saw the mouth of the tunnel ahead of them. They slowed down and discussed who would stick their heads out first. Lloyd volunteered since his family was friendly with the people of the forest.
The Emerald Forest
Lloyd stuck his head out around the tunnel entrance and saw that there was nothing or no one around. He leaned back in and told the others that the coast was clear. They all stepped out into the sunshine. They looked around and saw that this kingdom was filled with lush trees of every imaginable type. They noticed that there was only 1 road leading away from the tunnel and started to walk down it. They walked for about an hour, enjoying the scenery and the sound of the birds in the tree tops.
They did not see anyone. There were no houses in the fields. There were crops planted but no farmers tending to the fields. Where was everyone? Soon they had their answer. All citizens of Emerald Forest were in the capital city for the crowning of Princess Esmeralda. The capital city was about a three day walk. They would not make it in time for the crowning ceremony so they decided not to rush. It was becoming dark so they decided to stop for the night.
They found a clearing surrounded by trees that would make a great place to camp. Lloyd started to gather firewood and Yurie started to put out the bedrolls. Twilight went to hunt for some meat to roast. By the time twilight returned with 2 rabbits, Lloyd had the fire going and Yurie had the vegetables roasting. After they had their fill of the food, Yurie put the rest of the meat between some leaves to smoke. She was making jerky so the road. They all fell asleep talking about what adventures they had up to the point in their lives. Twilight had many more than the others since he was older. The trio woke refreshed the next morning. After returning their camp site back to the way they found it, they set off down the road again.
The morning dragged on for Lloyd. It was boring just walking with nothing else to do. He started to ask Twilight what makes a great warrior. Twilight started to tell him the characteristics that a great warrior must possess.
The greatest is Honor, the honor to your master, your family and yourself. The second is Virtue, to know right from wrong and to have a good sense of justice. The third is loyalty, to those you work with, to those that are your friends, and to those that you are hired to protect. Twilight told Lloyd that if you live by these three main life values, just as I do, you will become a great warrior. The physical training comes after you have proven that you possess these characteristics. Lloyd asked how do I prove that. Twilight replied by your daily actions and how you handle the unexpected.
Little did he know that the unexpected would happen right before lunch. As they were walking, down the road, a group of men came out of the forest in front of them. There were 6 of them. We stopped and just looked at them. They took a few steps towards us. Twilight asked them what they wanted. The leader said "Give us your money." Twilight looked at Yurie and they both started to laugh. All of a sudden the two bandits on the end fell over with darts to their necks and the others drew their weapons. The trio of heroes fought the other 4 bandits. Once the bandits were defeated, Yurie started to go through their possessions. Lloyd told her that she was crazy. Yurie replied crazy like a fox. She did not take anything, she just hid it all. Twilight sat around watching her. He turned to Lloyd and said good job taking out the 2 bandits on the end. "How did you hit 2 at the same time?" "I don't know, I think misloaded the blowgun." Replied Lloyd. Yurie came over and ruffled his hair and said "Good job kid, you have potential."
After we finished tying up the bandits we finished our lunch of rabbit jerky and strapples. They are a fruit hybrid of apples and strawberries. We took off down the road again. Twilight started to hum a song and Yurie asked him what song was it. He told her he had no idea, it was a tune that has been stuck in his head since he discovered the new sword called Mononoke Halo. Yurie asked he would show them the sword. So they stopped and he unsheathed it. As he wrapped his hand around the hilt, the blade started to glow and there was a humming sound that sounded like the song that Twilight was humming. Everyone was mesmerized by the tune. Twilight put the sword back. He said out of the blue that the song was the hymn of dreams. Yurie asked him how he knew that. He replied that the sword was speaking to him, didn't they hear it? No they replied that we only heard a humming sound. They started to walk again. On the horizon, they saw a group of building appear. They agreed that they would stop there for the night.
They reached the fort a few hours later. It looked closer than it really was. They got to work setting up their camp. Since there was no firewood nearby they had a cold dinner. Just as they were settling down for the night, they heard footsteps. The trio jumped to their feet and grabbed their weapons. They feared that the bandits had followed them for revenge. Into the light a shadowy figure appeared. It was a lizard female dressed as a warrior. A sexy warrior thought Lloyd. "Who are you?" she asked "are you the bandits I heard about roaming the lands?" Twilight took a step forward and said "No! We are visitors to your land from neighboring kingdoms." "Prove it!" How do you prove that you are from different kingdoms? DUH! "I am a human, Yurie is an otterwoman and Lloyd is a horseman, what other proof do you need?" Lloyd stared at her with stars in his eyes. "I could kiss you to prove that I am not a bandit" He blurted out. Everyone turned to stare at him then they all started laughing at him. It definitely broke the tension. "No need for that, kid." The lizard warrior replied.
She asked if she could sit. She introduced herself as Sketch, warrior princess of the Lizard ruling family. She told them that she was on a vision quest to find her guiding warrior spirit. It was the final step in her warrior training. Yurie asked her if she was related to the princess being crowned in the capital city. "Yeah, unfortunately! I chose not to become a girly girl princess instead to become a warrior who likes girly girl stuff." Lloyd said "You are beautiful enough to be a girly girl princess." Sketch and Yurie reached over at the same time and hit him upside his head. Twilight fell over laughing.
Everyone agreed that they should post guards. Yurie took the first shift, everyone else bedded down for some sleep. Yurie climbed to the top of the fort's wall and walked around the perimeter of the fort watching for the bandits and anything else that would prove dangerous to her friends sleeping below. After her 2 hour shift, she went to wake up Twilight. As she approached him she saw that Sketch had moved her bedroll closer to him. How dare she make a move on HER man? She went over and kicked him and told him to move his lazy bum, it was his turn to walk the walls.
While he was walking the perimeter, Twilight tried to figure out why Yurie was mad at him. She was in a good mood when he went to sleep. Did something happen during her shift that pissed her off? It was very easy to make her mad. Burp the wrong way and she will kill you with her sharp tongue.
By the time his shift was over he was no closer to figuring her out than when he started. It was a lost cause trying to figure out that otter woman. He went to wake Sketch for her shift. Wasn't her bedroll on the other side of the Lloyd when he left? Strange, why did she move it? When she woke, she asked how she got over here. Twilight told her he had no idea. Her shift and Lloyds shift were uneventful.
Just as Lloyd's shift was finishing up, the other 3 were sitting down for breakfast. It was jerky and fruit again. Twilight asked Sketch if there was a market at the capital city, so they could replenish their supplies. She said yea there was a large market. The capital city is still a day and a half walk away. Yurie asked her if she was heading to the city also. Yes she was headed to the city too. She wanted to see her family before she heads to Yellow Meadow to help the rebels fight against the new king who is very cruel. Twilight invited her to join them on their walk to the city. She accepted without having to think about it. If looks could kill, the look that Yurie gave him would have struck him down instantly. She was NOT happy about Sketch joining them. Lloyd was overjoyed that she was going with them. They cleaned up the camp site and set out towards the city.
The following two days went well for Sketch, Lloyd and Twilight. They enjoyed listening to each other stories. For Yurie, it was the most miserable days in her life. She was not the center of attention and that made her mad. As the neared the city, they could hear the music and the crowds singing to the new princess.
When they entered the city gates, all the citizens were welcoming to them and Sketch. They were hollering 'Princess Sketch, our conquering hero has returned'. You could tell that Sketch was uncomfortable with tem yelling that so Yurie joined with the crowds hollering. Twilight gave her a look that said stop being a bitch and behave herself. She stuck her tongue out at him.
As they approached the castle walls, Sketch told them that they would be her guests at her family's castle. The trio was happy that they were to be sleeping under a roof again. As they entered the castle keep, servants ran forward to take their supply packs.
Sketch led the way to the throne room where her family was holding court. As introduced each of her new friends, they bowed down in respect to the King and Queen of Emerald Forest. The King asked Yurie if she the runaway princess from Blue Fathom. She told him yes she was. He started to laugh and to her good for her for testing herself by going on a quest of her own. The Queen spoke to Lloyd next, asking him was old enough to be on a quest of his own. Before he could answer, Twilight told everyone that Lloyd was his new warrior apprentice. Everyone was impressed that such a young horseman was accepted by the youngest and greatest warrior known the worlds over. Sketch gave them all a look of total amazement. She did not that she was traveling with such famous people.