Guardians

The last Guardian has been killed.
The forest is dying.
The Tree of Life will prosper no longer.
This is the beginning of the end of the world.

Or so they thought...

**This is my entry for the Unexpected Adventure competition! Hope you like it!**

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8. Chapter Seven

What is the worst enemy? The hardest one to beat?

The one that lives in side of us.

Vaguely, I remember something about how the Tree reads auras. If your aura is good, like a Guardian's, it does not shoot on you. If yours is not a Guardian's aura, it will fight you to the death. Even in it's dying, the Tree is still equipped with it's defenses. It is not a fair fight, since you do not know where the arrows are coming from, but the Tree has never been fair.

I don't remember much from my Guardian days, but I do remember how to stop it. One has to strip themselves clean of everything impure inside of them. Only then, the Tree can be stopped.

I open my eyes. I am floating, not of my own accord, in a white expanse. I don't know where I am. This is not death. I've seen death and it's not like this.

If this was death, wouldn't Sylva be here?

Remembering his name, I deflate considerably. It was I, I who was unable to save him.

I wonder how Ari, Cassidy, and Theros are faring. I saw Theros get hit in the leg. Is he dead yet? Or was it a near miss?

Are they even wondering where I am?

But this is not about me. It is about Cassidy. As long as she is safe, it does not matter what happens to me.

As long as she is safe...

I close my eyes, thinking. As I close them, a flash appears at the edge of my vision.

I can now see the field of the Tree vividly.

Theros is collapsed on the ground. The wound he got to his leg wasn't as mortally wounding as I thought, but it is still bad. Ari darts around him, seeming to be everywhere at once, deflecting arrows every few seconds.

I survey the scene. Where is Cassidy? I cannot see Cassidy.

I begin to panic, but then of course my gaze lands on her.

Kneeling on the ground. Hands over her head. Is she hit? She shouldn't be. She has Guardian blood; Guardian aura.

Suddenly, she stands up, raising her hands.

An arrow is headed straight for her head.

I see her muttering something, a spell perhaps. The arrow stops and seems to hesitate, quivering for a moment in the air.

Then it continues on its way.

Finally, I see her eyes. Finally, she looks anything but calm. Cassidy's eyes are wild. Wild with panic. Wild with fear.

The arrow hits her. It almost passes through her.

Cassidy vanishes.

 

A shape materializes next to me. I turn, hopeful. Is it Sylva? Or Cassidy? 

It is not.

"Well, you certainly are in a pickle, here." The voice sends chills down my back. A voice I recognize. A voice I never thought I'd hear again.

"Mr. Greyson."

Yes. It is Cassidy's father. The famed "last Guardian."

He turns to face me, white teeth glinting in the bright white light.

"Do you know the power of this room, Gaia?"

I shake my head. With Mr. Greyson, you never know what to expect. He was fearless. Cassidy is like him in that sense. But he was also very manipulative.

"This room can grant you any wish you ask for," he continues. "Your one wish." He strokes my ghostly hand. "What is your one wish, Gaia? Do you wish to be alive again?"

"No."

"Well, what do you wish then?" Mr. Greyson smiles at me. All of the sudden, his smile is ugly. Reminds me of a crocodile's. He senses the air around me. It is a fine art. Lets you know what people are thinking. "Oh." he says out loud, puzzlement furrowing his brow. Then he laughs.

It is not a nice laugh.

"You really are the selfless person everyone talks about," Mr. Greyson purrs. But no. This is not Mr. Greyson. He wouldn't be like this. About his own daughter, no less.

"Yes," I tell him, expressionless. "Save Cassidy, and you can do whatever you want to me."

"You sure about that?" He smiles again. I am very sure.

"I don't think you're thinking this through. Don't you wish to be alive?" All his smooth manner is gone. Now he just seems desperate.

He probably will find a way to twist my words. He probably will find a way that he, himself, with be restored.

"Come on, Gaia. In your heart, what do you really want?" Mr. Greyson floats forward a bit.

His hand grasps my wrist and tugs.

"NO!" Willing all that I can, I muster all the strength I have and yank back. But I am a pure ghost. I yank harder. Mr. Greyson stumbles. I see his essence leaking out.

I am merciful. I stop pulling. I leave him just strong enough to whimper, moan at my feet.

Perhaps I am not merciful after all.

"Take me back." I command. Mr. Greyson  moans in reply.

"Take me back."

With a flick of his wrist, Mr. Greyson sends me back. Going back is much like how we came into this strange forest. Whirling colors, in a tornado.

In the forest, only a few seconds have passed. I feel the tension in the air. Ari and Theros do not notice me. They are staring at the place where Cassidy had been.

And finally, my wish is granted. Cassidy descends from the sky, leaving a sparkling trail of colors in her wake. She is glowing. Glowing, her eyes closed. She bows down on the ground, head down. Then she lifts it up to stare at us with changed eyes. They are knowledgeable. Wise. Cassidy smiles serenely, proving what I had hoped.

The last Guardian has returned.

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