Warrior’s Rise//Ch 2

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by : Anya
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 Aspen got up and brushed the dirt off her shorts and fur. She was put in a better mood and happier state after visiting the memory. She picked up her satchel which had been left on the ground while she was enveloped in her mind. It had a little dust on it, but other than that, it was intact. She scanned the field. Nothing but golden plants lazily moving with the soft breeze. 

        

        As she stared out, looking for something, what she wasn’t sure, the brush began to drop until it was completely gone. A table built itself up from the ground. When it was finished, it set itself a place for one. Foods blossomed from the table, each one her favorites, along with a few containers, which, she assumed, were for carrying food. She ran up to the table. It looked even better up close. She sat down at the set spot, hanging her satchel on the back of the chair. She heaped different foods on the plate. Dumplings, donuts, brisket. She hadn’t realized how hungry she’d been until she ate. She’d been rationing her food as small as possible. Just enough to take away the stabbing pain. But, now, she ate like a queen. Eating salty butter spread over soft bread, and venison, tender and juicy was like drinking a gallon of water after being in a desert for a month. She gathered up everything she could, and put it into the containers. They shrank until they were the size of a fingernail. More appeared where others had been left, and more food sprung up on the plates. She put more and more food into more and more containers.  Finally, with over a hundred containers, she stopped. She pulled her satchel off the back of her chair, where she had put it, and poured the tiny containers in. They didn’t even take up half the bag. She grinned and flipped the satchel shut. 

        She grinned as the table disappeared and the field resumed its stance. 

“Thanks, Pleasant Field,” she whispered, turned on her heel, and kept walking.

        

Aspen reached the end of the field. There was a cave there, still on the field. It was small, at least from the outside. It had a small, dark entrance, quiet and serene. A light flickered on inside of it and she could hear a faint music drafting from the inside. She wandered into it absent-mindedly, not really thinking. Her legs were moving of their own accord, and her mind was already almost across the world. 

 

She stopped right outside the entrance, suddenly aware of her surroundings and what she was about to do. A cave in the literal middle of nowhere isn’t  a good place to stay. Nobody else was out here, nobody else would be able to hear her if she was truly in trouble. But then, she saw how low the sun was dipping, and how warm it was, and remembered that this was the safe space, the checkpoint. She took in a deep, shaky breath, and went inside.

 

It was larger on the inside. Way larger. She could have fit her entire home in the den. The walls were painted beautiful shades of rose, and the den and bedroom furnished with puffy, soft sofas and intricately carved coffee tables. The bathroom was large as well, with a bathtub the size of a king-sized bed. She knew she wouldn’t need to use it, and she felt a little bad, since it looked so nice. She settled into the bed right away and immediately went to

sleep. She didn’t have time for any pleasantries. She had to find the Kakó Amulet. For her village. 

 

The village leaders always sent the warriors off to find the amulet as their first test. Most came back unsuccessful. Some didn’t come back at all. They needed it strongly. Though they never stated the specific reason why, they said it was for the “greater good of the village.”

 

She woke up in the morning, feeling refreshed. She forgot how long it had been since she’d gotten an actual night’s rest. The morning’s light sprinkled in through different small holes in the wall. She yawned, a big yawn, opening her jaws wide, letting out a roar. A smaller voice yawned beside her, like a tinier version of her yawn. A pang of nerves shuddered through her entire body. Shaking, she looked down, eyes wide. A small white blob was sitting next to her. She screamed in surprise, and the small white blob screamed too, in that miniature little voice. Aspen composed herself best she could.

“What are you?” she asked.

“A mouse,” it answered. 

“You’re a talking mouse,” Aspen’s voice was thick and confused as she spoke.

“And you’re a dog,” retorted the mouse back at her, examining her claws.

Werewolf,” Aspen growled, self-consciously touching her fur. “What’s your name, anyways?” she asked.

“Cheche. Pleasure to meet you, doll,” it said standing on its hind legs and contorting itself into some sort of curtsy.

“Aspen,” Aspen breathed. Cheche scurried over onto Aspen’s hand and she jerked back, sending Cheche flying into the air. Aspen shot up and grabbed her, setting her down in front of Aspen again.

“Apologies,” Cheche said shakily, “I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

“It’s alright,” Aspen sighed. “Why are you on the mountain, by the way?”

“I could ask you the exact same question, couldn’t I?” said Cheche, regaining her composure and sticking her nose up in the air. Aspen clenched her jaw, aggravated.

“Just messing around with you. I’m here to regain meaning to my life.”

Aspen raised an eyebrow.

“Kidding, kidding. I had nowhere to go, really. I’m bored of this place. I thought maybe I could find a new place to go. Thought maybe I could…” she cleared her throat, “Maybe I could cross worlds.”

Aspen gave her a surprised look, but cleared her throat and told her the reason that she’d come here.

“I’m a warrior. My village sent me here for my first mission. I have to find the Kakó Amulet. For the village leaders.”

“What’s it for?” inquired Cheche.

“They won’t say. It’s for the ‘greater good of the village,’ apparently.”

“Sounds pretty suspicious to me,” Cheche said, absent-mindedly playing with a stray piece of string, running it between her fingers.

“What?” Aspen’s voice was in a near shriek. Cheche’s black eyes widened so much they almost touched her dinner-plate ears. She practically had a heart attack, and jumped so far up she was eye-level with Aspen. Aspen bit her lip. “Sorry, it’s just…new for someone to question the village leader’s authority. You know?”

Cheche nodded, still quivering a little.

“Heavens above, I don’t even know what it does. All they did was give me a drawing. So, yeah, I even might be doubting their authority,” Aspen admitted, though she said the last part very quietly. She stretched and got up out of the bed. Cheche hopped on her shoulder.

“Since we both don’t have much of an idea of what the heck we’re supposed to be doing, why don’t we go together? It’ll be a lot more fun together, instead of just all by our lonesomes,” she said, pouting pitifully up at Aspen.

“Fine,” Aspen said, “But only because I want company, and you’re the best I can find.”

Cheche laughed. 

“I’m sure.”

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