“W-Where am I?”
I muttered with what strength I could muster as I slowly regained my consciousness. I tried to open my eyes, but a sharp light quickly kicked into my sight. I squinted my eyes and raised my arm up, shielding myself from the blinding light. It took awhile for my eyes to readjust to the surroundings.
After readjusting my sight, what I saw was a bright blue sky. I also saw trees that seemed to be engulfing the sky with its vastness. I then turned my head to the left, only to find myself looking at trees. I turned to the right and was unsurprised to be greeted with more trees.
Soon after that, my sense of touch began to come back. I realized that I was laying on the ground. But I was definitely not laying on concrete or a hard ground. Instead, I noticed I was laying on something softer, something more uneven. It was then I noticed I was laying on a patch of fallen leaves.
I then slowly regained attention to my sense of hearing. I could hear the wind fluttering across the sky and leaves crackling as they slowly descended from their branches. As faint as it was, I could also hear a couple of birds chirping from a rather far off distance.
My sense of smell slowly returned and the first thing I thought after smelling the air around me was that I was definitely not in an isolated or populated area. The air was fresh and I could smell the scent of different species of plants and trees. And thus, I came to a simple conclusion.
That I still have no idea where I am.
“Ok. Really. Where am I?”
I used what little energy I have left to try and sit up straight. I looked around my surroundings and confirmed my suspicion that I was in the middle of what seemed to be a forest. It wasn’t as if I was in a dense forest but it was enough to tell that I wasn’t near any civilized area.
My sense of touch continued to regain its sensitivity as I realized I was dressed in unfamiliar garments. I noticed I was wearing what seemed to be a felt-like fabric, short-sleeved shirt with a V-neck and a pair of matching short pants. I looked to my feet to notice that I wasn’t wearing any shoes. But what caught me off-guard the most…
Was a sword on my right hand.
It spooked me a lot as I jumped to my own two feet, while I threw the sword onto the ground. I stepped away from the sword while keeping my eyes glued onto it. The hilt was simple, made with wood. The crossguard and blade was what I think was made in iron. It may look new but nothing stood out from the overall design. It’s really just a basic single-handed sword.
However, a sword is still a weapon that was made to kill, and having it beside me only raised more questions to the already confusing situation I was in.
As I continued to hover my sight around the sword, I noticed a scabbard that was attached to my waist. It didn’t take me long to realize that the scabbard was meant for the sword that was laying on the ground.
I walked towards the sword and hesitatingly picked up the sword. As I picked it up, my hands would not stop shivering from the thought of wielding a weapon, designed to kill. After taking a big breath, I decided to keep the sword and placed it back into the scabbard.
After putting back the sword into my scabbard, I took a closer look at my hands. It’s not like there was anything wrong with it per se. However, for some reason, my mind was telling me that something was weird. I then looked around my area and realized that something wasn’t right after all. The only thing that popped into my mind was that I had become smaller.
Or in other words, I had gotten younger.
I was so confused and my mind was in havoc. The confusion was slowly driving me insane and because of that, I couldn’t breathe properly. My hands wouldn’t stop shaking and my legs would shiver to the point I thought I was about to fall back onto the ground.
After what felt like an eternity, I tried to calm myself down and tried my hardest to think about my last action. Right before I was here, where was I? What I was doing…
“Agh… My head…”
When I tried to think about it, a massive headache striked me out of nowhere. It was as if I had some sort of memory blockage or had no recollection of my past. My thoughts were hazy and there were no specific events I could think of before finding myself in this situation.
“Who… am I?”
My mind was slowly going crazy again and my amnesia had only made matters even worse. My breath had gotten increasingly faster and I was sweating profusely. My legs finally gave way and I fell back on the ground, kneeling.
It took me quite a while of just kneeling on the ground and controlling my breathing to make myself calm again.
Realizing kneeling on the ground and losing control was not going to solve anything, I decided to wander around the area. I got up and began to wander the place, barefoot.
As I walked in a general direction, there were only more trees, more bushes and more grass. There were a few mushrooms and flowers along the way but they didn’t look familiar at all. I couldn’t tell if it was because I had never seen them or it was because my memory of them was forgotten. But for some reason, the atmosphere felt rather peaceful.
I continued to walk for a couple more steps before I heard a sound that I was familiar with. It was a sound that I could only describe as gentle caresses of a soft and soothing embrace, as if it could cleanse your body when indulged in it…
It was the sound of water.
I followed the source of the sound and it wasn’t too long until I could smell the sweet scent of freshwater from an already pleasant atmosphere. I went from walking to dashing, towards the source of the scent like a hungry animal. Eventually, I reached an opening and I had opened myself to a new area.
A sharp light once again kicked into my eyesight the moment I entered the opening but this time I wasn’t squinting at all. I couldn’t wait for what was beyond my eyes and as I regained proper eyesight, it was a sight to behold.
It was an opening to a big pond surrounded by trees. The size wasn’t huge but it was big enough for me to swim in. The pond was crystal clear and the water looked fresh, so fresh that I could see the rock-filled bottom of the pond. As I looked towards the end of the pond, there seemed to be a river that connects to the pond through a small stream. Nevertheless, the first thing that came to my mind was to drink the water that was in front of me.
I kneeled in front of the water and scooped it up with my hands. The water in the palm of my hands looked so clear as if it was fully transparent. I couldn’t wait any longer and immediately drank the water. With the first gulp, my tears began to flow out from my eyes. With that, my sense of taste finally kicked in. I could only ever describe the taste as…
It may have just been water but the taste was probably the closest to any form of familiarity to what little information I have. For a thirsty person I was, the taste of water was perfect. And because it was perfect, my tears began to let out.
I stopped thinking about it and continued to scoop more water to drink from it. It wasn’t long till I noticed I was drinking from the water directly as I plunged my head into the pond. I took more gulps of water and then finally raised my head out of the water. As the water calmed down, I noticed a reflection of myself on the pond. It was then I realized that I had never gotten a clear look of myself.
The first thing I confirmed was that I was right, I definitely had gotten younger. My facial complexity looked like I was in my early teens. I had dark-brown eyes, though not dark enough to not notice my pupil in plain sight.
My hair was black but slightly brown when hit with direct sunlight. They weren’t long but it was enough to slightly cover my eyes and ears if I didn’t push my fringe aside properly. They were smooth and rather soft as they would flutter in the air from the slightest blow of wind. I noticed a few tuft of hair coming out from the sides but they were countable.
My skin was pale but there was a hint of yellow, closer to ivory. I stood up and noticed my body build looked rather thin. My shoulders were wide but my torso was rather small. I had very skinny arms and legs. From what I can see, my lower body looked like it was longer than my upper body.
I wasn’t technically dissatisfied with my looks but what bothered me was the fact that I didn’t have any recollection of how I was supposed to look like or what I actually look like, until now. In the heat of the moment, I pulled my pants open to confirm something that was of more importance.
“Well, at least I know I’m a boy.” I said as I greeted my ‘little brother’ under the garments.
Suddenly, I heard the sound of bushes rustling behind me. I quickly got on my two feet and turned around. The rustling continued and it wasn’t long till I noticed where the sound was coming from. The bushes continued to rustle as I kept my sight glued to the movement. It took me a while to realize that I had a sword with me. And so I hesitantly pulled it out from its scabbard and armed myself.
The rustling got louder and it was slowly approaching my general direction. I began to sweat heavily and my hands began to tremble. Many thoughts began to flood my mind.
What if it was a monster?
Do I know how to use a sword?
Do I just run or should I stand my ground?
As the sound rustling had reached the closest bush to me, it suddenly just stopped moving. I looked at it for a while and there were no more movements, no more sounds. I sighed a relief and slowly loosen my grip on the sword in my hand, thinking I was out of danger.
It was then I was caught off guard.
Suddenly, a creature, almost twice the size of me just pounced out from the bush and with its claws out in the front, it was about to grapple me.
“AHHH!” With what strength I could muster and what time I have left from reacting to the situation, I threw myself away, fell to the ground and somehow dodged the attack. The sword was tossed away due to my loosen grip and I landed on the ground. I quickly turned and analyzed the creature that was attacking me.
It had a sharp nose and a pair of long ears. Its eyes were blood-red in colour, definitely looking to hunt me as its prey. Teeth sharp enough to snap my neck. All four of its legs looked muscular enough to rip my arm off. Its fur was thick and grey in colour but tainted in red from what seemed to be leftover blood from its previous prey. Its tail was long and surprisingly fluffy…
It’s a wolf.
For some reason, I could recognize the creature in front of me but at the same time, it didn’t look like it was something I had ever seen before. As if this wasn’t how a wolf was supposed to look like. It’s as if it looked like some features were exaggerated.
Regardless, what was in front of me was a predator. And I was its next prey.
I slowly crawled back while the wolf crept towards me. After a few steps, I felt the grip of my sword. I think I had pissed it off because the moment my hand reached the sword, the pupils of the wolf’s eyes shrunk and his growling had gotten even louder than it already was.
With what little courage I had left, I got myself back up and held the sword with both my hands. My sweating got even more intense, my hands began to shake and my legs wouldn’t stop trembling. If this was what I thought could help me succeed in overcoming the creature in front of me, then I must be a huge idiot to think so.
The wolf pounced on me once again, but this time I wasn’t so lucky. While trying to dodge by lunging myself away from the attack, the wolf managed to scrape my sleeve apart and slashed my left arm. While still on my feet, I looked at my arm and noticed that blood began to flow out from the wound. The pain stung a lot and I was gradually losing strength on my left arm.
It was then I knew that it was a do or die situation.
It was also then I knew what the sword was meant for.
I stood my ground and stared into the eyes of my predator, I held on tightly onto my sword, because this time I was prepared to fight back. Ignoring the pain on my shoulder, I was ready to strike back with everything I got.
Because when given a sword, fighting is inevitable. And I was not ready to be a prey.
The wolf tightened its claws and started to bend his body backwards. As it did so, I also tightened my grip and face the sword forward and prepared myself for the attack. After a short confrontation, it once again pounced onto me.
I held my ground and pointed my sword towards him. My adrenaline rush may be enough for me to stand my ground, but it wasn’t enough for me to not close my eyes in fear for the next few moments.
I felt the pounce as I was knocked back onto the ground with the force of the wolf that was charging towards me. I could feel the weight of the wolf as I laid on the ground but there were no more movements. I slowly opened my eyes, only to see the face of the wolf directly looking towards me with its mouth wide open. But that was it.
It wasn’t moving. I looked towards my hand, and my sight guided me to the grip, then the blade, then the wolf and then the tip of the blade that went through the neck of the wolf. It was then I noticed I had slit through its neck with the sword I was wielding. Blood was flowing from the blade and continued to flow onto my hands. There was also blood dripping out from its mouth and landed onto my face.
With what strength I have left, I pushed the wolf aside and laid on the ground. Noticing it had stopped breathing, I realized I had successfully subjugated the creature that was in front of me.
With that, my fatigue finally kicked in and I was beyond exhausted. The pain on my left arm slowly returned and I couldn’t move my body anymore. My breathing was even louder and more excessive than before. My sweat continued to pour from all corners of my body as I remained laying on the ground with my eyes closed.
With that, I realized that I had actually killed an unknown creature in an unknown place with a sword in hand from an unknown source. I was both tired and confused.
“What the hell is going on here…”
“A-Are you okay?”
A loud but panicked voice called out. I opened my eyes and could vaguely bring out a silhouette of a face. As my eyes began to focus on the person in front of me, I could see a lady bending towards me and looking in my eyes with a very worried look.
Her eyes were hovering around my physique. She looked worried but her expression changed to a more surprised one when she noticed the attire and weapon I had in hand. She placed her hand on her mouth as a single word was muttered softly.