We left the nexus right after, following a path Johnnard is familiar with, that will take us back to the cabin in a short period. The trail back was quiet, but that kind of silence that feels serene.
The shade of the trees grow darker and the wind blows heavier. Raising my head up, the sky paints a darker hue. How immediate the clouds roll roughly halfway back home.
Grey will probably postpone the trip to town because of the weather. And it feels like it will rain soon.
We pause by a steady stream with Johnnard cautiously glancing both ends, checking if the flow of water is steady enough to cross.
“Looks like it hasn’t rained upstream yet. The river is safe to cross for now. We need to hurry before the rain does,” Johnnard confirms.
Hurriedly, we cross the stream with pounding hearts. Johnnard, a trusted scout, has plenty of experiences in the wilderness. Once the rain starts, it will fill the entire river basin. Eventually flooding down to the sea.
We safely cross the other side. Then, the path winds in an inclination. Raising my head up, I frown at the steepness. It would take a miracle for these noodle legs to reach the top.
Johnnard notices my scowl and grins.
“Aren’t you up for the task, Ruelo?” he sneers. Pulling a stiff stick by the riverbed.
“Whatever it takes to get back home,” I roll my eyes.
Curse this weather. Moments ago it was all sunshine, then suddenly, darkness. The darkened sky made it more complicated to climb. I keep stumbling as we move up the steep. Johnnard constantly reminds to have our bodies lean close to the ground, and mind our steps.
Grey tails behind me. It’s better that he’s right behind me so I could anchor on him if ever I slip. Then comes the thought he’d be nagging again about eating my greens to become strong.
As we move, Johnnard suddenly pauses, ears perking to a specific direction.
“What is it?” I asked.
His eyes narrowed in fury. Paws gripping intensely on the stick. Tail bristled like feather duster.
“We better hurry!” he growls. “Move! Now! There’s no time to waste!”
The sudden shift of his mood tells me something about an impending danger. Our paces were quick on his cue. Noticing how sluggish I was, Grey had no choice but to carry me up. He leapt up with his powerful legs, catching up to Johnnard’s hasty gait.
“Head to the cave over there!” he points at the rocky cliff at the distance.
Then, water from above starts to drizzle. It feels cold on my skin. Droplets were thick and heavy.
I held my breath as we raced for our lives. Grey’s determination is evident. His wolf instincts kicking in with ears perked forward. Johnnard is far ahead of us, disappearing behind the trees.
“Johnnard sure is fast!” I admit.
“Want me to drop you?!” Grey said in gritted teeth. “Your opinion isn’t helping!”
Heavy huffs and puffs. The wolf’s stamina and endurance amazes me. The sky couldn’t hold on to its weight and drops everything all at once.
“Ahhh! Splinters!” he growls.
We’re practically soaked wet. The water is shivering cold. With the water soaking into his fur, Grey will have a hard time drying himself. He dislikes getting wet in the rain.
Right behind the bush in one sprint, we finally made it to the cliff. In the hollow inside, Johnnard crouches as he starts to kindle tinder in chunks of logs arranged in a teepee.
We made it! Grey lowers me down, as he tries to catch his breath. Instinctually, he took his shirt off and spun rapidly, shaking water off his fur, fluffing himself in the process.
I lower my bag against the stony wall, taking my cold shirt off.
“Glad you made it,” Johnnard said, busily smashing flint and steel to create spark, which eventually drove the tinder into combusting.
Finally! Warm flame!
Before I join Johnnard by the heat, I stood by the mouth of the cave and then squeeze the water absorbed by my shirt. That’s a lot of it. The sky continues to cry heavily. Looks like we’ll be going home delayed judging by how the rainwater pours. Steady and heavy.
“It’s gonna rain all day,” Grey grumbles.
“Isn’t it great? Because of that, we’ll be having the rest of the day off!” Johnnard extends his legs ahead of him, also stretching both arms up to relieve himself.
I join Johnnard by the flame, settling with wet trousers.
“Take your pants off, you’ll get cold,” Johnnard said.
“Give me a moment to be warm and then I’ll go change,” once I earned what I wanted, I reunited with my bag and search for dry clothing. Good thing my clothes weren’t wet.
Grey settles in next to the fire, joining Johnnard. He’s done changing, only leaving his upper body bare where he’s mostly still wet, hoping the flame would dry him.
“Be careful not to douse the flame,” Johnnard reminds.
“You calling me stupid?” Grey shoots a glare at Johnnard. Immune to glare, Johnnard shrugs.
“Common sense tells me water beats fire,” Johnnard said.
“Hmp, my Element ain’t water-based just so you know.” Grey grimaces, crossing his arms. “Just wet.”
“That is why you should avoid instinctually shaking yourself dry,” Johnnard said. “The rain won’t be over until tonight. It’s best we stay here until tomorrow. Which means your trip to town will be postponed.”
I join them in the fire once I got dressed. The flip-flops Grey made me pack are useful since my shoes are soaked. I lend him a nice, dry towel to help dry himself.
“Thanks,” he murmurs.
The day did not turn out how we imagined it to be and Johnnard was right about the rain pouring all day. As the surrounding grew darker, we had to settle for a bigger campfire.
Since Johnnard is familiar with the cave, he took out sufficient amount of spare logs enough to warm us for the night from a hidden chamber.
Grey lets me assist him with the meals for tonight. We’re not at home to have respectable meals so we settle with canned tuna, which Grey finds bemusing. Canned tuna is fine by me.
Arctic and Reggie would be worried by now. Phone reception is intolerable in here as well, and there’s no other way to contact them.
“Should we be worried about Arctic and Reggie at home?” I asked.
“Why would we be?” Grey turns to me.
“You know, being not at home usually worries Reggie.”
“I wouldn’t worry about him, Reggie is a dependable fellow,” Grey said, shoving the can into the disposable sack. “Who worries me now is you. You should not go worrying about people. Mind yourself first before others. You still have plenty of things to learn.”
We both joined Johnnard in the campfire, now bigger and better. He also arranged rocks around we could sat on. Grey hands him over his share of food for the night.
“Aww, canned tuna,” Johnnard pouts.
“We’re not at home, Johnnard. Settle with the one served for you,” I told him.
“I was just joking,” he murmurs.
The rain outside gradually simmers. The sky finally calms down in the evening. Still, we’re stranded until daybreak.
After dinner, we take our idle moments enjoying the flame’s warmth together. The last time we went on a camp, Arctic brought a guitar with him that attracted a monster nearby. They had to fend off the beast and since that day, Grey forbids Arctic to bring any musical instruments during camps.
To make use of our idle moment, Johnnard tells a tale about his adventures in the wilderness, reenacting how he fought beasts that attempted to terrorize the town.
“… That’s how I discovered this place.”
“So clumsy of you,” Grey scoffs and grins.
“There were no other choices!” Johnnard grumbles.
“Let’s save our energies for the trail back tomorrow guys,” I told them, clasping both hands. “Anyway… you’ve mentioned I’d be introduced to the town today if it hadn’t rained Grey. What do you think would have happened?”
Grey closes his eyes and then crossed his arms.
“The townsfolk are timid, and trusts the mayor. Since I know the mayor, himself, I reckon things will go smoothly… hopefully. Right now, worry about none. The future is yet to happen, let it unfold before you and let your decisions influence it. Take the path you think is desirably correct.”
“That’s some words of wisdom, Grey,” Johnnard said.
“Actually… I was more curious about the Element. Do you think I deserve to own one?”
“Like I said, do not worry about it now. If I were to decide, I’d given you one. But my genetic information is bound to my auburite crystal,” he reveals his Element, it’s as gray as his fur, attached to an Emblem, which is his repurposed shackle, turned into his bracelet.
Magic is bound to this world. In order to harness the power within, one must possess an auburite crystal known also as Elements. Now, Elements are the powers you possess and each individual has unique Elements. Governed by the twelve primal source.
Lightning, Fire, Ice and Earth are among the twelve, which my guardians possess. Yet they can use other ones that infuses with their main Element. For Example, Grey’s Element is known as Ash, which means he can manipulate fire as his main Element, but also able to bend wood as well, especially ash, hence his Element. Fire plus wood… seems understandable, isn’t it?
Johnnard has Blitz, which he can use Lightning mainly and Light as secondary aspect. Arctic possesses Iceberg with Ice and Water, then there’s Reggie with Copper, who can use both Earth and Sound. The reason to this infusion is the interbreeding of species and tribes. A complicated topic I refuse to discuss.
To use your Element efficiently, one must use an Emblem, a name for an accessory in which you use to harness the power with. Grey uses a shackle and Johnnard uses an armband. Elements are just basically, glorified accessories with awesome powers.
You can also use weapons to channel your powers, if you’re a combat type. Instead of auburite, it binds with another type of crystal known as aggetite. Exclusively for weapons. The auburite connects with the aggetite in a strange phenomenon known as Link, sharing your power to your weapon.
The thought of owning one finally is exciting.
“I was kind of excited what kind of powers I own,” I admitted. “Have any clues, Johnnard?”
“Hmmm… I heard rumors about personalities being linked to your Element… but the information can be misleading,” he said. “But for me… you’re that kind of wood-based or rather, light-based. Considering your expertise in culinary and art, of course, also on how you could treat others wound instinctually.”
“How ‘bout you, Grey? Care to share?”
“Maybe I’d go with wind-based or perhaps sound-based by how chatty you are,” he joked. “In all seriousness, time will tell you what.”
“Aww, can’t you just humor me for now?” I told him.
“You know I’m not that kind of person Ruelo,” he said. Such a killjoy. “It’s past bedtime. We should all get some rest. Ruelo, we’ll be returning home first before heading town to repack. We’ll leave before dawn.”
Grey is right, we should be resting by now to get enough energy to return home. Even if we took a shortcut, travelling back will be long. Spending the early hours getting back home is efficient to get to town quickly. He said that it takes more than our experience right now to get to town.
Around the campfire, I spread out my sleeping bag. Grey prefers to sleep in his hammock while Johnnard is already asleep on the rock soundly. He seems comfortable though and I don’t want to disturb him.
I sink into my sleeping bag, feeling all warm and cozy. It took me a moment to find a comfortable spot especially that we’re in a stony cave.
As the night turns mature, I let myself get drowsy by the melody of the cicadas. Their music gradually takes me to a place of peace. The background noise, tuned out slowly by the enveloping darkness.
In this profound silence, somebody calls my name.