I jerked and blinked at the torchlight being shone into my eyes. Sitting up, I came face to face with Serge, Nyra and Roger. I pinched myself just to make sure. I touched the wound on my cheek. It was healing. I reached for Seraphim’s lighter and smiled. It was there, but it was no dream.
“You’re back. We thought you’d gone to the land of no return when you suddenly collapsed after Sird escaped.” Roger smiled at me, handing me a cup of water which I gulped, glad to have the tasteless liquid running over my mouth for once. I checked my pocket. Indeed, the energy bars were gone. It was no dream.
“Did anything happen?” Nyra spoke, her voice quavering a little.
“I got sucked into this virtual dimension where I had to battle monsters and I made it out after I defeated Sird with the dragons.” Roger’s eyes widened while Serge seemed deep in thought. Roger left after a while and that was when Serge spoke.
“That should be one of Sird’s three dimensions. Not three, but the name, three-dimension. I suppose that you really didn’t just black out judging from the wound on your cheek. But we still cannot be sure of Sird, though.” But there was an edge in his voice that told me he was hiding something.
“Did something happen?” Tears rolled down Nyra’s eyes and Serge tensed.
“I-I’ll take my leave then…” Nyra muttered, expression grim. Once she had left, Serge turned to face me. I had a really bad feeling something was going to happen.
“I’m afraid that I have bad news, Silver.” His tone was grim. For once, I felt… so small, so alone. Had I made a grave mistake? No… I had made so many mistakes before… I don’t want to lose another one…
“Finnian…. He… he went out on his own to find a remedy to cure you…” A feeling welled up within me and I let it spread, not restraining my tears. For once…it felt good to cry. It made me feel… human. I let the tears roll down my cheeks, onto the blanket. Finnian… it was my fault, all my fault that he was gone. What would happen if he ventured out on his own? No…
“But… didn’t…” Tears were choking me now and I couldn’t breathe properly. No… not Finnian…It… can’t be true…
“I…” These are the only words that tumble out of my mouth, amidst from all the crying and sniffling. This… would be how Nyra would have felt… that time…
“We’ll be setting off tomorrow, Nyra and you first. Roger and I will come up later. Call us if something comes up.” Serge’s voice was firm, but it was cracking. He was trying hard not to cry. I look up.
“Hurry up. I don’t want to lose another comrade again… You don’t want that to happen, right?” Tears were welling at his eyes. So we all had something in common. Life is short, so short. But… I want to live it to the fullest. I don’t want to lose anyone else again. No regrets. Not anymore. I get up, this time without Acnolgia’s help. I amble out of the room, past the walk-in closet. Nyra sat inside. This was the place where we first had a full conversation. And we made something for Finnian. I fumble in my pocket and I realize that Finnian had never gotten the gift. Nyra looks up.
“Let’s go…” I don’t want her to cry anymore.
“Yeah.” I don’t want to lose Finnian. Nor do I want to lose her. Once outside she releases a giant buzzer.
“I got it while you were away. Let’s get going.” There was a steely determination in her voice that I was glad to hear. We clambered onto the scaly back of the gigantic dragonfly and I stare blankly at the scenery as it takes off into the air. Somewhere during the flight, Nyra nudge me and I looked down.
“There’s something going on in there… Could Finnian be there?” She enquires.
“It isn’t possible. He wouldn’t do such a thing…” But I stop in my sentence. What… if he did? No…
“I’ll go down to check it out…” Nyra had taken off her gear, taking out only a small spore-a-chute.
“Wait…what are you doing?” She smiled. A genuine smile. Like light spilling into a world of darkness. It was warm. Warm to me, warm to herself. She was smiling… to save herself from vanishing in that cold world of darkness. Just like Sird.
“In case I don’t come back… Buzzy here will take you back to Serge. Look for Finnian and report what you find to Serge! Don’t worry about me-“She was about to jump when I caught her hand.
“Please… You know how many people I’ve lost… please… I know. You have every reason in this world to not trust me… But just for this once… Just this once…” She smiles.
“Just this once… I’m sorry, Silver. I won’t mess up the next time…” And with that she jumped down from the giant buzzer and started up the turbine of the spore-a-chute, causing it to gently hover her to her destination. The giant cloud dust rising from above. No… Not another one. There won’t ever be next times… Tears were welling up in my eyes. Buzzy, sensing my emotions flew higher up into the air, though I could hear it crying, crying deep inside.
“Thanks. Take me to Finnian, please!” I requested it before the giant dragonfly took off, higher into the air, pass alcoves and cliffs decorated with aquamarine reefs of spores. How far did Finnian go…? I couldn’t bear to look behind. There was another person we had left behind. No… A deep voice from my heart told me from inside that it would be possible.
It’d be possible. I gasped. It wasn’t mine. Buzzy winked at me.
“Was that you?” It nodded.
You’ll have to awaken the bug king first.
Then you can get to your uncle, Zephyr and creator. Collect the Fragments of Soul first.
“Thank you! Wait…” Did Buzzy just say that Prof Herman was my uncle?
No thanks. Yes, he indeed is. He is your grandma’s fourth son. Your old man didn’t exactly die. You can get to him after you collect the Fragments of Soul.
“I see. Can these fragments be found here?”
No. They aren’t here. Never seen them before. Seek the Dragons.
“Thank you once again.” I smiled and enjoyed the meadow of various greens and blues from the spores. Soon Buzzy landed and I got off him, nuzzling his head against my hand before he flew off, leaving me waving back. After he had left, I proceeded to explore the area.
There was not really a lot. But there suddenly came a roar. It had pain, rage and sadness mixed all in one. As I neared I realized that it was a Wood Giant, far bigger than I’ve ever seen. But its eyes were green. It was really odd. Then I noticed something else. There was a small figure jostling on the back of the Wood Giant, trying to get something out.
“Wait! It’s me, Finnian! Don’t you remember, Gertrude? It’s me, Finny! The boy who saved you!” There, on the back of the Wood Giant, was Finnian. He was still hanging onto the bug’s back, trying to get a bazooka out. A few feet away was a small grunt, red fading from its skin.
“Don’t get angry! Wait for me to pull this out!” The Wood Giant suddenly gave a loud cry. Finnian sat up, gently cooing it while slowly, but surely getting the knife out. Blue blood was flowing down the bug’s back and had stained Finnian’s clothes blue. I looked at my clothes. They were stained with the blood of the monsters that I had defeated earlier on. Red. Blue. Green. Three colors. Three lighters. Three fragments of Soul. It made sense now. Another cry from the Wood Giant made me snap from my trance. It was trying to calm down. Trying too hard.
‘Once on rampage, Wood Giant’s muscles start to expand drastically, body releasing large amounts of mood-affecting hormones. Once this happens, it’d be possible to free them unless using the Moon Seal or under special conditions.’ Finnian could mind-link with them.
‘I believe in you.’ The Wood Giant was roaring more aggressively now. I loaded my seal launcher and aimed it at the rampaging Wood Giant.
All it needed was a simple shot…
Just a moment…
I loaded the seal. But that one moment, the seal didn’t load. Finnian was thrown off the Wood Giant’s back, landing with a soft thud onto the ground, his eyes closed. A small smile graced his lips. It all took a moment. Just a moment. All I did was to kneel by Finnian’s side, tears pouring uncontrollably out of my eyes. No… No regrets… Not one more to be lost…
A shadow loomed over me. It was the Wood Giant. It’s eyes were purple. Not blue. Neither was it red. With golden tentacles, it lifted Finnian into the air and when it was done, Finnian was revived.
“Thank You… Gertrude.” I told the Wood Giant as it wrapped its tentacles around my fingers.
No thanks. I am the bug king. Don’t be sad anymore. I have resurrected your friends. In Finnian’s hands is a Soul Fragment.
“Thanks once again.” Gertrude lumbered away into the Spore Forest, leaving me with Finnian.
“Very well. All’s well ends well, huh?” Serge asked, getting off Heren with Nyra in his arms. Finnian had just woken up.
“We’ll be saying farewell to this forest, though you’re free to come back again anytime.” Serge continued, making his way to us.
“Hey Serge, what is this Soul Fragment? And is everyone OK?”
“Yeah. Pretty much. Got a call from the lab telling that Zephyr and Prof Herman is okay. Grunts are under control. Seraphim’s okay. Sird got sent to the hospital, though her condition is improving. Those that have fallen have also been revived, thanks to the bug king.”
“What happens next?”
“We go home.”
We headed straight home, with the help of Heren and the dragon twins. Acnolgia and Tag will be staying with us. I still wonder what the Soul Fragment that Buzzy mentioned was. All that Finnian brought back was a small shard. A small blue shard. Like a fragment of some item. I fumbled through my pocket and out tumbled a new memory lighter. Sird’s. I started it up and watched as the images flashed past. There was indeed a fire burning under the cold. Attached to the lighter was a small pandant with a red shard. The last to find was Nyra’s piece. Perhaps… a visit to Sird would be granted fruitful. Kerstran stopped at the lab and welcoming us back was Prof Herman, Tag, a bandaged Sird, Seraphim and Zephyr. And the last person I did not expect was my mother.
“Silver! How was your adventure? Was it fun?” She asked as she embraced me.
“It sure was.” I couldn’t help but to melt in her embrace, warmth flooding through my veins.
“Mr. Zephyr here has invited you and your pals to stay at Windchime estate, together with the triplets and Granny Chive of course! And it’s been a long time, Sergio.” Serge nodded.
“It has been, ma’am.” I was not really surprised. After all, in my town, no one except Serge gives a hoot when the mayor’s family is just next door. Probably not on welfare.
“Oh, and Nyra.”
“Why did you do that just now?”
“I won’t forgive myself if I lose my sight of my ‘light’ again.”
“Me too.” I’m glad.