Pain shot through her eyes and head as she started to regain consciousness.
Urrg… my head… my head….
She lay flat on her back for a few minutes waiting for the pain to subside and to regain feeling in her body. She rolled over onto her stomach and slowly pushed herself up. Sitting upright, her head felt heavy and her vision was swimming about.
I’m in that dream again…
The sky looked as if thick black smoke had blended into a blood red background, leaving it black with a tinge of red spread through it. She felt unsettled watching the red and black swirl and mix together in the sky. There were faint sounds of… something drifting across the mirror like water surface surrounding her. Every now and then, a raised voice would wash over her like a gentle pulse of air, but the words were undistinguishable.
She finally got up onto her feet, feeling a little unsteady for a few moments. The feeling of smooth silk sliding against her body drew her attention to what she was wearing. Instead of the rough temple clothing she regularly wore, she was wearing a fine orange silken dress. The dress was embroidered with a minimalist representation of a scene depicting a bird of fire flying over mountain peaks protruding from clouds. The thread used for the embroidery constantly shifted slightly in colour, and even at times seemed to give off light. The hems were finished off with a strange golden metal which seems to be as flexible as the fabric itself, and gave tinges of green and blue when viewed at from different angles. She had wearing around her neck a golden medallion stamped with a mysterious yet familiar symbol.
Instead of feeling alarmed at her sudden change in apparel, she felt comfortable in them as if the clothes she was currently wearing were something she had worn her whole life. She walked over to the water’s edge, and noticed that the cobblestone road dipped slightly below the water line, rather than end abruptly like in her previous dream. The path seemed to extend about an ankles depth for as far as she could see.
She casually waded into the water, making no effort to keep the bottom of her dress dry. Small waves propagated out from around her feet, disturbing the mirror like water surface.
She walked for what seems like hours, slightly hypnotised by the feint voices and the sound of water splashing about her ankles. The submerged path she was walking on looked as if it was leading her towards a golden glow on the horizon, but no matter how long she walked for, it did not seem like she had covered any ground.
Her head started feeling heavy and her eyelids started to droop. Her stomach turned over as hopelessness started taking over. Overcome with weariness, she fell to her knees and let her head slump. Tears streaked down here face as she cradled her head in her hands.
“WHAT AM I DOING HERE?!” she screamed into the sky.
She held her breath for a moment, half expecting a response, but nothing happened.
Exhausted, she leant forward onto all four limbs and looked down at the water. A weary face looked back at her, its eyes a piercing glowing red. Her stomach churned over and fear gripped her heart. Her thoughts immediately turned to the dream she had the previous night.
Please, not again!
She threw herself backwards away from her reflection, falling onto her back in a large splash of water before shuffling backwards a bit, as if trying to escape something trying to chase her.
A few moments passed before her breathing started to ease.
“Why are you following me?!” she moaned under her breath.
No reply came. Her eyes and head felt heavy. Her exhaustion was eating away at her consciousness.
“Why do you bring me here?” she half-heartedly asked her surroundings.
“For you to remember who you are” a familiar, kind female voice said softly.
Floating in the water on her back, it took a few seconds for the words to sink in. Realising that she had finally gotten a response out of the emptiness around her, she sat up… then froze.
Where there was nothing before but an endless horizon, a set of heavy wooden doors illuminated by 2 blue fire torches filled her entire vision. A floating sensation overcame her and her vision wavered and blurred. As she started to settle down, a gut wrenching fear gripped her at the core, causing her breathing to be erratic and her limbs feel weak.
She looked around and saw that she was no longer surrounded by an endless stretch of water. The sky was dark and cloudy, and a thick heavy mist blanketed the area, making it hard to see past a few meters. She was sitting back on a granite path which lead off into the mist. She could see dull blue glows through the mist which were evenly spaced along the path. For some reason, she knew that those glows were lanterns lined up along the path, and that the path lead out to one of the fortress’ walls. She also knew that along either sides of the path grew large majestic maple, cherry blossom and pine trees, though none could be seen through the darkness and haze.
A creepy chill came over her which caused her to start shivering. She noticed that the lamps were beginning to dull even more, and the lamps further out were extinguishing one by one. Her limbs felt like lead but she forced them to bang on the door in front of her.
THUD… Thud…. Thud…..
She was quickly loosing energy whilst fear and panic were chocking her from within. The sounds of footsteps echoed down the path through the darkness. Exhausted and frozen with fear, she turned around and leant against the door, giving up on getting in and mustering the courage to try fight off whatever it was coming down the path. She slowly stood up, her shaking legs nearly giving way a few times before she was completely upright. She clenched her fists as hard as she could and felt a sharp pain in her right hand. She opened her right hand to find herself clutching a small red diamond rose necklace. Some of her blood stained its delicate golden leaves, but traces of deeper blood stains could be seen. The sight of the necklace brought back a memory of a girl sprawled out on the ground, her lifeless body covered in small cuts and grazes and her blank gaze staring unwaveringly into the sky.
He killed her! He killed Ji Na! That MONSTER!
A surge of heat flowed through her body, her rage manifesting as wild uncontrolled energy causing the air around her to violently stir up, picking up small stones and leaves off the ground and hurling them in random directions.
She screamed in rage, inadvertently firing a pulse of compressed air down the pathway, extinguishing all the lamps in pairs as it travelled. Absolute darkness engulfed her as the last of the lanterns were blown out. No longer feeling the heat in her body, the chilling fear returned causing her to lose the last of her strength. She fell against the doors and slumped to the ground. Tired, exhausted, cold and petrified, she could do nothing but stare blankly into the darkness.
“My my my…” a voice mocked in the distance. “Heck of a punch for someone as young as you”
The footsteps were getting closer and closer.
“Such a waste having to kill such potential. But I can’t allow you to mature. Your existence is a threat to us. Too long has the fires of heaven controlled this country. It’s time for a new age! One not bound by the decrepit decrees of your family. One where we are all truly free to choose our own destinies, pave our own paths. For that, you must die here, tonight.”
She could tell that the killer was close now. Her breathing started getting more and more ragged as her mind went blank with fear. Tears streamed down her face, the realisation that she might actually die finally starting to dawn on her.
Mom… Dad… help…..
“No one’s coming to save you. Stop resisting, and I’ll show you mercy”
Completely disheartened, she could no longer find the energy to keep herself alert. Her heavy eyelids drooped and eventually closed. Time seemed to slow down, the echoes of the assailants footsteps grew longer and further apart. Her mind started disconnecting from her body, her limbs numb and heavy.
In her feint consciousness, she could feel the breath of her assailant against her face. A sharp pain stung her neck but she couldn’t muster the energy to escape it. She tried to cry out in pain, but all she managed was a groan. She was paralysed; her body was being drained of all its warmth and energy.
She gasped in shock as the door propping her up fell away behind her. In an instant, her eyes flew open to see a huge ceiling of rolling blue fire roar over her head and explode on her assailant in a multitude of colours. Before she could comprehend what was happening, she was hastily picked up and rushed through the doorway. Her head hung backwards unsupported, her state of delirium preventing her from consciously controlling her own body. The world she could see was upside down and blurry. Cursing and shouting emanated from beyond the wall as well as shock waves from the ensuing spell battle.
Lanterns, trees and rock features sped past her in a blur. Her vision started to fade out, eventually leaving her in complete darkness. She could however still feel the bone jarring steps taken by her rescuer. She lost track of time as the repetitive jolting and her fading energy pushed her closer and closer to unconsciousness.
“Yoora! Yoora! Wake up! Wake UP!” a panicked female voice sounded in the darkness. She noticed that the jolting had stopped. She tried to move, but her entire body was cold and numb. She was so weak that she couldn’t even blink, let alone respond.
“Elder! The Earth clan’s leader is demanding your presence in the main hall!” a panicked voice cried.
“SILENCE!” a deep authoritative voice boomed. “Yoona my angel, wake up” the same voice sounded again, but almost whispered. She could feel warmth spreading throughout her body, and her energy was slowly being built back up.
A face slowly faded into view as she started regaining sight. She body erupted into pain, pins and needles jabbing here everywhere. As suddenly as the pain erupted, it subsided. Realising that she had regained her sense of touch, and could move again, she reached up at the blurred face in front of her. She knew from the voice that the face was her father, but her blurred vision meant that she couldn’t make out the features of his face.
She felt her hand enveloped by another large, warm and reassuring hand. Without warning, her father hugged tightly, drawing her into his chest. Hot tears streamed down from his face as he mumbled
“I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry”.
Her father embraced her for some time before releasing her.
“Yoona. You must live. You are the jewel of my life, and the hope of this nation”, her father said.
Picking her up, he placed her in the arms of someone she couldn’t see. Still unable to see properly or move properly, she struggled to keep her attention on her father.
“This is your birthday present. My gift to you.” Her father said softly.
With a sweeping movement of his arm, a sword materialised into his grasp, which he set down. He drew closer and stopped right in front of her. He propped up her head by the chin, and recited
“I, keeper of the Grand Library, Guardian of the Spirit World and Head of the Fire Clan, bestow upon you the means, the key and the spirit to guard the teachings of old, ferry lost souls to find peace and rule in the stead of your predecessors”.
He leant forward and kissed her on her forehead.
He continued, “I give to you the seed of the heavens. May you nurture and grow this seed, so that you may protect those you treasure most, now and for eternity”.
He leant forward and kissed her on the forehead again, but unlike the previous kiss, her body felt as if it was burning up. Amongst all the energy surging through her body, she felt her mind open up and expand as if no longer confined to the limits of her physical body. She could vaguely feel the emotions of the people around her. She was reading overwhelming sadness and anger from those around her, and a huge amount of regret and possibly pride from her father. Despite the depressing atmosphere, she couldn’t help but feel elated.
The sensation slowly died down leaving her feeling a bit more grounded and subdued by the atmosphere. She looked up only to catch her father turning away. He paused, looked over his shoulder at her and said
“Live Yoora, live…”.
He Scooped up the sword that he placed on the ground then turned to face the few dozen warriors standing in formation a few meters away.
“My warriors! The council of elders has betrayed us and the people of this nation. We were weary, but in the end, my failure has lead to use being caught off guard and on the verge of being annihilated. I have failed you all.”
He paused for a moment, letting complete silence set in on the room.
“I do not ask your forgiveness for my short comings, but I do have to ask you to forgive me for what I’m about to do, and what I’m about to ask of you all.”
Yoora could sense that the soldiers were starting to feel uneasy. They were all ready and willing to die for their leader, yet they were about to be asked something which seemed above and beyond the sacrifice of their lives.
“In a few moments, I shall face the council alone. I command all of you to flee this place and hide yourselves. Preserve the ways of our clan until we are ready to re-instate our position once again.”
Everyone in the room remained silent and unmoving.
“GO!” her father Roared.
At first, there was a bit of hesitation, but then a flurry of movement started as the people in the room started running out, taking different corridors to each other in order to escape the palace. She lost sight of her father in the chaos. She tried to make it through the moving mass of people but was picked up by one of the soldiers and carried out of the palace, never to see anyone in her family again.