The white light ahead flashed as I dashed towards it. Navigating the darkness caused beads of sweat to form on my brow; the continuous knocking sound of the firewood keeping me alert.
My footsteps grew heavier while the intensity of the light gradually increased along with its size. I gripped the two wooden straps wrapped around my shoulders and jumped into the light.
The sun shone brightly, high above the cloudless blue sky. It lit up the vast green plains below, bringing out vibrant colours that rippled along with the wind. Birds flew in unison, chirping without a care in the world as they soared through the sky.
The grass danced to the same tune as the wind, gracefully swaying side to side—its happiness made known by the rustling sound that echoed across the area.
A gentle breeze brushed past my cheek while I wiped the sweat off my forehead with the back of my hand.
“Barely made it...”
I reluctantly glanced back at the forest; its entrance sucking in the light like a black hole, inviting you into the unknown. I knew nothing was there, but my mind said otherwise.
The more I stared into that pitch-black opening, the more the hairs on my body stood on edge, causing me to shiver at the thought of going back in alone.
I shook my head at the childish thoughts swirling around my mind before shifting my gaze to a rather large settlement in the distance. It was Haiton Village—my home.
A wooden fence encompassed the whole village, creating a barrier that sectioned it off from the rest of the plains. Plantation fields were neatly organized in parallel rows while cows and other livestock roamed the farmland.
Houses were spread out evenly among the settlement with some breaking that formation, extending a little further out in all four directions.
I made my way down the hill, quickly sprinting across the grassy area. I reached the village in record time, closed the gate behind me and hurried down the wide open path between the fields.
“Lyon, are you hurt?”
My feet stopped as I looked up at a woman leaning against a wall. She chewed on a bundle of wheat, examining me carefully with her eyes.
“I’m fine, thank you.”
I bowed my head respectfully. I felt the Village Head’s gaze rest on me for a few more minutes before shifting away.
By the time I raised my head, she was gone. I had heard she liked my dad at one point, but I didn’t know if it was true or not.
I entered the inner village, stopping to bow my head multiple times as I greeted my neighbours. Honestly, I was in a rush, so having to do this tedious procedure every few seconds was quite tiring, but it couldn’t be helped.
“Manners go a long way in life, Lyon.”
That’s what my mum always used to tell me, so I took it to heart. No matter how much of a rush I was in, I would remember to be polite.
“Oh, little Leo, you’re back.”
An old man, hunched over, looked at me with deep eyes. He gripped the wooden cane tightly as he hobbled forward.
“You still won’t hang out with the other kids, huh?”
“Old man Jor! You should be resting!”
I quickly jogged over and checked to see if he was alright. The wrinkles around his eyes deepened at my gesture while he chuckled lightly.
“Hm, hm. When I see you running around all day, how can I just sit back and relax?”
My words trailed off as I noticed a slight change in his demeanour. It was difficult to not worry about his well-being considering how old he was.
“Get going, get going. I know you have things to do.”
His lips curved into a bright smile while he waved me away. I wasn’t sure if his nonchalant reply was meant to reassure me, but I ended up reluctantly bowing my head before continuing on.
I soon reached the front garden of my home and placed the firewood down near the doorway. Without wasting any more time, I dashed round to the fields in order to meet my dad.
My mum abruptly appeared by my side, stretching out her hand which stopped me in my tracks. She slowly moved her slender finger to her lips, signalling for me to be quiet as I looked at her confused.
I noticed the soft skin folds between her eyebrows; a result of them furrowing while her deep blue eyes locked onto my dad.
‘What’s going on?’
I observed my dad carefully. He was sitting down on the stump of a tree we had cut off together weeks ago, and his hands rested on top of one another face up with his thumbs lightly touching.
His muscular back was perfectly straight, but it somehow looked much wider than before. I cocked my head to the side, wondering just why he was sitting down like that.
My gaze alternated between my mum and dad. It was my first time seeing her so serious; it made me question if everything was really alright.
I suddenly felt a strong pressure pushing me back, causing me to stretch out my hands out of curiosity. However, I couldn’t feel anything, nor could I see anything, yet the pressure continued to increase.
I barely made out the wind seemingly swirling around him before my mother stepped in front, shielding me from this strange force being emitted from my father.
“...It didn’t work out this time.”
A small sigh escaped her lips as she crouched down and pulled me into a deep hug. I had no idea what she was referring to, but I squeezed her tightly.
“You’re right, but I’m not a man to give up so easily!”
I watched my father grin while he approached us. A shade of red spread across her cheeks as she nodded her head and smiled contently.
“Lyon, you’re here early. We better get going then!”
“Please take care.”
He gave my mum a quick kiss on the forehead before tapping my back. After waving goodbye, I followed after him.
“Dad! What were you doing before?”
I reached his side, eagerly awaiting his reply to my question. His calm blue eyes swept over me briefly while he scratched the back of his head.
“Leo, don’t worry about that. Focus on learning the Sea Dance properly first.”
I pouted slightly; his hand ruffling my short hair that was similar in appearance, but different in colour. My dad’s hair was dark blue while mine was blond.
We soon left the village and headed towards the hill. Deep inside that forest was a lake—a place where I would spend time with my father every day.
“Hmm? This is really important you know. Don’t you want to grow up big and strong like me?”
He poked my arms playfully as he laughed. I couldn’t resist chuckling at his remark, nodding my head in agreement while we walked.
“Race you to the top? Hm? But I always win, don’t I?”
“No way! I can definitely win this time!”
“You have to prove it, Leo. On your marks. Get set. Go!”
A dungeon break led to a monster horde taking everything away from Lyon. Revenge can’t bring back the dead, nor is the pursuit of power an easy path to take. However, one thing holds true: no matter how he is tested, he will move forward.