Kalliste was left speechless as she stared at her own reflection.
”How was this even possible? I should be dead? ” She immediately pinched her face, but the pain guaranteed this was indeed reality.
She tried to wrack her brain for an answer, however, nothing worked. All she got was a splitting headache.
”I don care anymore! ” After a few more tries, she finally decided to just go with the flow of things. If all of this was another form of her damnation, then she would have to deal with it. She sighed deeply.
”I have to get out of here first. ” A few meters away from her, she saw a small entrance, enough for her pass through.
It took an hour before Kalliste finally managed to find her way out. She arrived at a small glade, surrounded by countless trees that stood proudly, barely revealing the dark firmament above. Each of them were almost several houses tall, and clothed in verdant hues of nature. The ground was also woven with the titans whose roots hugged the earth.
”Damn! I looked like an ant in front of giants. ”
Kalliste scanned her surroundings. It reeked of ancient souls that stretched in every living things. The foliages would dance to an unheard beat, and whispered their songs to the gentle wind.
Through the help of the moon that hung quietly in the distance, Kalliste decided to venture the dark forest. With every steps, she heard the snapping of small branches, and dried leaves that were crushed under her foot. Every tree she passed were like watchful guardians. The quiet sentinels from Mother Nature. As she went deeper into the tangled core of this ancient place, she could not help, but be amazed. How could she resist such a lush jungle? The deep, haunting melody was like an elixir to her soul. Its enchanting symphony called out to her.
”Where in the world am I? ” Kalliste wrapped her arms around herself as she continued to observe the area.
The huge roots were twisted. They looked like mazes that spread all over the ground. The foliage were also thicker and verdant, forming an arch of magical-emerald above her head. The exquisiteness of the suns rays had not yet peeked on the horizon. Because of this, coils of vaporous mist caressed the barks while the hoods of black shadows wrapped the treetops. They writhed around them like phantasmal gasses that added to the forests deadly intent.
”Where was this place? ” With everything that she had seen, and experienced, only one thing was for sure. Somehow, she had not yet kicked the bucket. The problem was, her current location.
Her thoughts was interrupted when a cold breeze suddenly slammed against her. Her small body trembled. Though she was mentally very old, she had regressed in her child form. Her young body could not handle the extreme temperatures. Not to mention that her clothes was not yet dried from being submerged in the water.
What was that?
Kallistes head instantly snapped up to the sky, and scanned the horizon with sharp eyes. Her stance ready for combat.
She slowly backed away towards a huge trunk, with eyes narrowed in every corner of the dark sky. At that moment, she noticed that the place seemed to have been frozen in time. A sepulchral silence overhung the hallowed ground where even wild grasses dared not grow. Nothing stirred, nothing moved. A hollow echoing, like the hushed tones of a closed tunnel, entombed the woods.
She no longer heard the little furry legs of wild animals moving around. They were completely gone. Even the cold wind that had been ravaging just a moment ago with extraordinary velocity had disappeared. The mist became denser, too. From where she stood, she saw the formation of thin, silvery layers that looked like curtains over the leaves. Kalliste felt a chill that ran down her spine just by looking at the eerie scene. It was as though the forest itself was frightened with something, and did not dared to even exhale or whisper.
”I had a bad feeling about this. ” Something definitely was amiss.
Years of experience, Kalliste knew that the most dangerous places were always quiet and still. Her instincts told her so, and she trusted her guts. One of the main reason why she always survived bloody carnage was because of it.
She truggled to hid her presence. The sound was now even closer than before. She could only ask herself.
Was it an eagle? An owl? However, it sounded far too big. Every flap of its wings sounded much like thunder. A lot of air must have been propelled downwards in order to keep whatever was up there.
It took awhile before the thing that haunted the horizon finally disappeared. She sighed a breath of relief. Hiding was not in her vocabulary at all, however, she was only a child at the moment. Her small body would not be able to handle the consequences of this caliber. As such, she stayed hidden and waited for the right time to go out.
As she sat on the cold ground, thoughts about this second life crossed her mind. Though she was a savage beast on her past life, the fact that she was given new beginning made her chest pounding heavily in her ribcage. Her fingertips were tingling, and her breath was faster than before.
”Punishment or not, I would not let this second chance go to waste. I would live my life the way I wanted. ”
Thinking about all the possibilities and opportunities, Kalliste smiled exuberantly. It was even more charming than blooming flowers, putting them all to shame.
With a newfound light and goals, she walked forward without looking back. Towards a new page of her story.
”Why? ” Kalliste frowned. Her simple gesture was enchanting and would surely cause a lot of souls to sway.
”Why am back in the cave? ” She facepalmed. Due to her excitement, she forgot an important detail.
Ever since she know it, Kalliste was directionally challenged. It was one of the flows that she sometimes hated about herself. The reason why few of her subordinates died when they were ambushed was because she got lost on the road. It was already too late when she arrived at the scene.
As soon as she saw the familiar cave, her shoulders slumped. She had no strength left to even stand. It seemed that her young body could not handle the fatigue and excessive movements.
”Im so tired. ” Left with no choice, Kalliste went back inside the cave for shelter. The dawn was still a few hours away, and she needed to rest.
She was about to lie down when heavy footsteps suddenly echoed in the cave. With a speed invisible to the naked eyes, she hid herself in the dark, and waited.
Soon enough, Kalliste saw a silhouette coming closer. She readied herself. A child she may be, her experience and skills remained the same, enough to protect herself of any danger.
She narrowed her eyes, but was quickly taken aback when a young boy who was barely nine years old entered.
”What was a child doing here? ” She surveyed the area. This might be a scheme of someone. Adults may be waiting for the right opportunity to attack.
For a few minutes, Kalliste continued to observe him from the dark. The child had a fair complexion. The clothes he had reminded her of what the nobilities wore during the medieval era. The boy might be a child of a wealthy family. Black hair covered his face as he held his head low. His shoulders trembled slightly.
It took a while before Kalliste realised that he was crying. There was already a small pool of tears from where he stood. Kalliste bit her lower lip. She felt an invisible force gripped her heart tightly, making it hard to breathe. A tear flow down her face, followed by another, until a steady stream of salty water rushed down her face. She did not know who he was, but she definitely saw the sadness, anger, and confusion that he tried to conceal. As she stared at him, she was reminded of herself when she was also a child. The helplessness that she felt when she saw how the Cyborgs brutally killed her siblings in the orphanage. How her mother figure sacrificed her own life to buy her time for escape.
Kalliste did not know what happened, but she suddenly found herself hugging the boy tightly.
”Just let everything out, darling. Everythings going to be alright. ”
Kalliste patted his back and whispered soothing words as a mother would to her child. At that moment, she forgot that she was also one herself. The boy was clearly startled by the sudden action, but in the end, he lets out a loud cry as he gripped her clothes tightly.
That night, Kalliste lulled the child to sleep.
The next morning, Rowan was awoken by the aroma of a roasted meat. His stomach immediately growled, and almost drooled at the sight. He had not eaten anything since yesterday. He was about to grab the food when the sweetest, and most intoxicating voice suddenly rang in his ears. His body was instantly nailed to the spot. It felt like it was melting. Even a cold glacier or a heart of steel would surely soften.
”Good morning, darling. Are you feeling better now? ”
He was still frozen from where he stood. Memories of last night rushed in his mind like a tsunami. His face turned hot when he remembered how he cried his eyes out in the embrace of a stranger, much less, a girl.
”Hey, are you alright? ”
”My name is not… ”
He did not get to finish his sentence when he came face to face with a pair of bewitching, crimson eyes. It felt like every part of his body went on a pause while his thoughts slowly caught up. He felt his face became even hotter.
He found himself staring at the girl in front of him. She wore a simple, and cheap looking white dress that was already smeared with some dirt. However, it did not diminished her charisma and absolute divine beauty. She looked as if she had just gotten out of a painting, with untouched flaws like an immortal goddess. Each of her gestures was enchanting and stirring, certainly not from this world.
”Here, darling. You
e hungry, right? ”
Though she looked younger than him, she spoke in a manner like his mother would. He quickly gathered his thoughts and wanted to reprimand the child for the blatant endearment, however, his stomach growled like there was no tomorrow.
In the end, Rowan reluctantly took the meat, and sat on a corner.
”The names Kalliste, by the way, but you could call me Kally. Whats yours? ”
Rowan glanced at her. He was not used with the way that she spoke. Was she a commoner? he thought. It was not important, though. He slowly chewed the meat. It was his first time tasting meat that was tender and soft. At the same time, tasty.
Kally held her chin, as though she was in deep thoughts.
”If I am not mistaken, then your name meant King or Emperor? So cool! ”
Rowan was startled. His brain stuttered for a moment, and his eyes took in more light than he expected. He stopped eating and looked at the girl with mixed emotions.
She was the first person to compliment his name. Others said that it was girly. A small smile etched on his face. It was not so bad.
e very handsome when you smile. You should smile more! ”
As his mind processed her words, he felt as though all of his blood went up on his face. In the past, anyone who spoke with no manners in front of him would be killed instantly, however, for some reason, he could not bring himself to hurt even a tiny hair of this small girl. Though this was their first meeting, Rowan felt that he had known her for a long time.
”You also looked divine, ” he whispered. Being careful enough to not let the words be heard.
”By the way, what are you doing here? Are you lost? ”
Rowan remained silent. This place was his secret hideout. Whenever he felt sad, stressed or angry, he would always come to this cave, but yesterday was different. He ran here to save his life. The events from earlier suddenly replayed in his mind. It all began when Imperial Knights suddenly took his mother away. He had no idea that it would be the last time that he would see her.
Later that night, he found himself on a horse with his nanny who cried her eyes out as she sacrificed her life in order for him to escape.
”Please, you must stay alive, Your Highness! ”
Her words rang in his mind for the next couple of hours as he journeyed through the dark forest with a blank face. He did not know whether to cry or laugh at his situation. He had no idea what was going on.
He was smart boy, though. At that point, he already knew that something bad happened to his mother. If not, then she was already dead. However, a part of him held on to the slight belief that his mother was still alive. That she could only be imprisoned somewhere.
”Rowan? Hush now, darling. Don cry. You
e safe now. ”
He was brought back to reality when he felt the warmth of Kally. He did not even realized that tears flew down his face. He looked down and saw the small girl who barely reached his shoulders struggling to hug him tightly.
Kalliste stared at him, and their eyes met for the second time.
Rowan gulped as soon as he saw the exposed bare neck that was accentuated with her long, golden hair that fluttered in the cold breeze. His nose was instantly bombarded with an elegant and sweet fragrance that made his heart beat faster.
”Uhm… ” Before the intoxicating scent got the better of him, he slightly pushed Kally to the side, and reminded himself that she was only trying to calm him down.
A forced smile etched on his face. Even if he cried an ocean of tears, it would not solve his current situation.
”Im okay n… ”
He did not finished his sentence when he felt the little hands that suddenly caressed his face. They were silky smooth, devoid of any unpleasant hardships.
”What are you doing? ” He slightly averted his head to the side. The sudden action was new to him. Even his mother had never done something like this before.
”Making sure that you don have a fever? Your face was like a ripe apple. ” As soon as the words escaped her lips, Kalliste quickly turned around.
e finished, then we should get moving. ”
Rowans brows twiched in annoyance. He was clearly discontented. For some reason, he actually enjoyed such bold actions.
”Well, darling. Do you plan on staying here for the rest of your life? ”
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