SEBASTIAN HAD NEVER HAD AN EVENTFUL LFIE, and the most exciting thing that happened to him before meeting Zuri was probably when he chopped down one extra tree than he needed on any given day, which sounded super lame in its own, but that’s all he grew up to care about.
Within days of meeting her, not only did his world become turned upside down, but he also had just learned about what it was really like. From being in a daily lifestyle that shuns innovation and curiosity to learning about the wonders of magic and the near extinction of the human race, a lot was to be taken in in such a short amount of time.
Despite the amount of information forcing its way into his skull, Sebastian was still not satisfied with his knowledge. Perhaps it was the deprivation he had experienced for his whole life, or maybe it was the natural born inclination to learn and understand all that surrounded him, but Sebastian was hungry for every bit of knowledge that could come his way.
His shock right after learning of humanity’s fate was immense, but it washed away quickly. He wanted to know the whys, he wanted to know the whens, and, most importantly, he wanted to know the hows. He suspected Zuri knew he would have a lot of questions, or else she wouldn’t have relayed the information so abruptly. She had warned him, so he needed to stay true to his promise that he could handle the information, and what better way to do so than to ask for more? He jumped aboard, so there was no use getting off when the journey had just started.
After she told him the initial news of humanity’s misfortune, he instantly wanted to know what befell them so terribly that their existence would no longer be of significance on the planet.
After that, spectacular tales exited her lips in an unending stream of confidence. She recounted tales of ancient civilizations conquering entire continents, plagues that killed millions, planet-destroying weapons, light speed communication over thousands of miles, and even trips to other planets and the moon. All of it was so much, but, regardless of how plentiful her pool of knowledge was, it was not even coming close to quenching his thirst.
She continued to explain the downfall of humanity, resulting from war-like rapacity, the destruction and eradication of nature and the strings of life themselves, and even the reclusiveness and ever-increasing independence from the nature thereof. Her story of the ages continued for what seemed like centuries as every word, carefully picked by her, made its way to Sebastian’s ears. While it was a long tale, it had to end somewhere.
Zuri then explained how the remaining humans found themselves drawn to one place in the world. It was almost as if nature itself——the planet Earth——wanted to give those humans one more chance. They made their way to this place, which they called The Garden of Eden, and its fruitful, life-giving materials gave the humans all they needed to erect a town named Eden Village.
Zuri was chosen to be the protector of this village, and the life that emanated from her temple, Azure’s Edge, strengthened the forest to protect everyone from enemies outside of it. After her temple rested within the forest, she had remained dormant for five hundred years, waiting for a human strong enough to finally finish the job and cleanse this universe.
“...and that’s how I found you, Bash. You are my hero.” She looked over at Sebastian and beamed but stopped as her eyes made contact with a stray tear making its way down his face.
Sebastian was dumbfounded. All of humanity and the restoration of the world lay on the shoulders of this village, and they were too damn scared to actually pull their weight and make a difference? Sebastian could taste the sorrowful, salty mixture as it rolled over his lip and pulled itself inward.
He breathed outwards through his nose quickly, and its breeze was caught by the salty trail left on his face. “A twenty fifth generation seventeen year old who thought it would be fun to go down a different path almost gets himself killed and just happens to stumble upon some goddess in the woods. Am I really fit to be a hero when I’m endangering this Eden Village?”
“Yes. You are exactly what this planet needs,” Zuri said softly.
“What makes you say that?” He laughed in disbelief again.
“Because you were brave enough to go down a path no one else was willing to enter. That’s what heroes do. Your friend, Tommy Dean, did that too, but he didn’t have your spirit——he didn’t have the magical potential that I see in you. Little do you know, but your spirit is the purest one I have ever seen in a human, even compared to those in the mystic days. I don’t mean a spirit that is pure of sinful nature, I mean a spirit whose connection with the outside world is unrivaled. Bash, won’t you believe me? I wouldn’t lie about this, especially not to you.” She placed her hand on his shoulder, which somehow immediately seemed to calm his nerves.
Sebastian shook his head understandingly, and he was able to bring himself to look Zuri in the eyes. God, he was pathetic, always bringing himself down. Maybe he was just so used to others doing it for him that when someone has confidence in him, he brings it upon himself. He was fed up with it, and if someone as great as Zuri had total belief in a fool like him, who was he to turn down her wish for him to be a hero?
Zuri could somehow read his mind, like usual, and her eyes brightened up when those thoughts ran through his head. He kept forgetting that their souls were intertwined now, so his problems were hers, and hers were his, but she seemed to have everything together, so it was a one sided effort on her part.
Since he was probably causing some misery for her, it would be best for him to hold up his end of the deal by being the hero she asked him to be. They were big shoes to fill, but, as a seventeen year old, he was still growing.
“That’s the spirit! It’s hard, but there’s a thing about life.” She smiled at him.
“What’s that, Zuri?”
“If it were easy, you would never feel good about helping anyone.” Dammit, she knew exactly what to say. “Now, how do you want to spend the rest of your vacation day?”
Saying with you would be the smooth thing to do, but Sebastian was a dumbass, and he just blurted out something that was just too typical of him. “Resting, I guess.”
He felt bad, since the jovial attitude washed away from her face, and the softness in her eyes returned. It wasn’t the softness associated with her happiness, but rather it seemed to have a hint of disappointment mixed in it. “Oh, that sounds like a good idea. If you want, I can go for a while——”
“No!” He was a bit loud with that, wasn’t he? “I mean, I can rest any time, but it’s not like I always get to spend a day like this. Um,” he paused, and Zuri's gaze focused more on him, “I want to introduce you to my grandpa. I believe he would think you were cool. He’s not as stuck up as the rest of the people in Eden Village——well, he’s not stuck up at all, actually.”
Thank goodness he said that, because her eyes lit up faster than a candle. Heck, he could probably light up a room with them. His grandfather was an old soul, so maybe he could have a better connection with the old world, and his insight could possibly tell them a bit about what they needed to know. Yeah, Zuri basically let him relive human history, but everyone had their own story, and his grandfather’s was one he definitely wanted to hear.
The two of them sprang to their feet. For quite a while, they were hanging around on the steps of Sebastian’s house, which were once again littered with those flower pots his mom put there. He could swear she was paying someone to move them in the way. He could probably accredit his awareness of his surroundings to his constant struggle against his mom’s disorganized nature, always having to keep a lookout for obstacles in the way that he had to dodge or step over.
After a while, though, they happily walked through the streets in Eden Village, whose people, while not as prevalent as the rush after work, were bolting from one end of the town to the other. Sebastian and Zuri did their best to avoid them, but then then they appeared to be getting in the way.
It was still quite early in the morning, about 6:45 a.m., and despite that, Sebastian still spotted the same sight as he would expect, as if everyone moved like clockwork. In the distance, he could spot Celeste Jacobson, Tommy Dean’s daughter, slowly making her way to the same training grounds that she had always gone too. Sebastian always found it a mystery, but she appeared to be dedicated to her work, not wavering in her schedule.
For the longest time, Sebastian wondered what reason she had for bringing that sword of hers everywhere and trining with it. He always thought it was ridiculous to carry such a weapon in such a peaceful town, but after the events of the night before and this morning, he could see her reasoning.
Sebastian’s grandfather was a well-off man, who worked in lumber for a massive portion of his life. He claimed that he found it relaxing, which Sebastian didn’t understand. In fact, he worked for an entire forty years out in the woods before he decided to retire, something no one could even believe. It was always something that his grandpa liked to remind everyone of, telling others that he loved nature so much that he took that job for so long.
Being the rich man that he was, he was one of the esteemed individuals who got to live out in a slightly secluded area, relative to the village, that was, and he usually remained out of the action of the village. That was usually true, except Sebastian would interrupt it here and there, but his presence didn’t seem to be a bother, though.
When he was much younger, he and his brother, Geoffrey, whom he hadn’t seen for quite a while, would play at Grandpa’s house, and they would always listen to the stories that the old man had to say. He was so patient——someone who acted as a second father to Sebastian. It appeared that his calm nature didn’t pass down to Sebastian’s dad. Maybe it was the name, Peter. Perhaps if the old man had called him Sebastian, then maybe he would have the curious nature that those two had.
They got to the outside lawn of his grandfather’s house, which was still fully taken care of by the old man, and its beautiful sight stretched all the way until it met the front porch. He was actually pretty close to the woods, but it was one of the fenced off areas that could safely be visited without worrying about bears or, now, otherworldly creatures.
At the front porch, there were four massive wooden columns that supported another deck, similar to the one below, and a shingled roof finished off the top. His grandfather’s house was much like his own, since one would still have to exit the main floor if they wanted to reach that second floor. The exterior, being much higher quality than that of the other homes in the main village, was a very opaque tan that stood out next to the trees that were behind it. There was a stone path that Sebastian and Zuri followed to get to the front door, which was usually open with a screen door in front of it. That’s what his grandfather called it. He was good at making things, and the screen part of the door had a wire mesh that his grandfather designed especially for it. It was interesting——a good way to keep out the bugs while bringing in cool air.
Not knowing what to knock on, since the mesh would cave in if he hit it too hard, Sebastian awkwardly tapped his knuckle a few times on the very edge of the door’s frame. There was no answer. His grandfather was a smart man, but he was the worst when it came to awareness. Sebastian could stand in front of him, and it would take a good minute to get him to notice him. That wasn’t a problem, though. ‘Everyone has their quirks.’ He knocked a few more times and yelled out, “Grandpa! Are you here?”
At this point, Sebastian felt comfortable enough to just barge right in, since he had visited him countless times in the past. Opening the door was always a bit spooky, since this creaking noise would always fill his ears whenever it was even budged a bit. He made sure to keep it open until Zuri got inside, since he kind of counted as a vice-host to the place. If his grandfather wasn’t going to be there to welcome her, Sebastian would do his best to fulfill his duties.
They maneuvered through the many rooms in the house until they found themselves in the kitchen. His grandfather was sitting there at the table, tinkering with something on that lay on it. Any reasonable person would suspect that that old man’s hands were about as shaky as a dog with ticks, but they seemed to be the only things that didn’t age. Maybe he found some fountain of youth in the middle of the woods and prepared to go in, but he only had enough time to dip his hands in. It looked like he was taking apart his pocket watch that he always had on him.
“Grandpa?” Sebastian nervously spoke up.
His grandfather’s whole body jolted, and the noise of miniature gears making contact with the table filled his ears, “Gah! Dammit!” His surprise only lasted for a couple of seconds, and then his whole body loosened up. He turned around with a smile that wrapped around his whole face, “Sebastian! My boy! How have you been?” He pushed his chair out a bit to embrace his grandson, but he stopped in his tracks when his eyes caught Zuri, “Well, my oh my, who is this pretty lady?”
Zuri slightly blushed and spoke up, “Hi, I’m Azure, but you can call me Zuri. I’m a friend of Bash.”
He looked at Sebastian and back at Zuri a couple of times, and cleared his throat, “So you are. What a nice name. I didn’t think the villagers named their daughters after the Blue Spirit of the Woods, but what do I know? The world’s a changing.” He chuckled and stopped, then a slight look of disappointment came across his face. “Well, it’s not changing too quickly. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve seen you yet. Who are your folks?”
Sebastian stepped in and tried to get a word in edgewise, “She’s Tommy Dean’s first cousin. Her par——”
“Oh, you can’t fool this old man. I know everyone in this village.” He turned to look at Zuri, “You aren’t from around these parts, are you? It’s okay, I won’t tell. Let me guess.” This was his face he made when he was about to say something foolish. “You’re a dryad, aren’t you? No, that couldn’t be it, maybe you’re some fairy? No, a fairy would be the size of my hand.”
This man was smart, so maybe it was best to tell the truth to him. Zuri and Sebastian exchanged a look of understanding with each other——the look that gave him the okay to blurt out their secret, but before Sebastian could open his mouth, Zuri spoke for him.
“I am Azure, the protector of the Garden of Eden, the one who started it all. With the trueness of my heart, I tell you that.”
The whole room fell silent, and the squeaking of the house, likely expanding with the heat, was the only thing that could be heard. His grandfather’s face was now serious, not even doubting the information that came out of her mouth. He squinted and looked a bit closer at her. “Hmm, I thought so.”
That was it? He didn’t even doubt what she said? On top of that, the way which he reacted was so different than what it should have been. He should have been shocked! He should have been at least skeptical! But, no, he believed every word of it. Had his grandfather just died of shock? His composure didn’t change after those words entered his ears. Maybe he heard something completely the opposite of what she had said.
“You believe me?” Zuri was equally as shocked as Sebastian. That was a look that he usually never saw on her face, but it was right there for him to see.
“Yeah, of course I do. That long white hair tells it all. It is so full of youth, yet calm and peaceful. I could even feel a bit of happiness when you entered the room. Those two descriptions fit what was handed down for generations.” The old man spoke.
“What was handed down?” Sebastian pried.
His grandfather’s face lit up again, and he quickly went into the other room. The two followed him as he did that, and they found him in the living room, rummaging through this photo album on his desk. He pulled out a few sheets of paper and a square of flimsy material, not necessarily paper, which both looked aged beyond anything in the room. They were even challenging his grandpa for the oldest antique contest.
His grandpa ushered them to come closer and look at what he had, and what he was holding was shocking.
In his right hand was someone on a piece of glossed over paper that looked exactly like Zuri. With age, it had crumpled up a bit near the edges, but it was in extremely good shape other than that. In the picture, the woman, who Sebastian assumed was Zuri, stood in a crowd wit hundred of people, who all looked beat up and bruised, but happy. The distance behind the people contained buildings in ruin and rotting trees that were charred black. The only part of the photo that exuded a calming tone was the girl herself.
Come to think of it, maybe it was her. Sebastian wondered, with the technological advances of that world, how such a perfectly-created replica of the girl’s face was possible. Putting two and two together, Sebastian could only assume that this was the result of humanity’s inventions. Was this the founding of Eden Village?
“Here, how about you two sit down and listen to this little diary entry that someone wrote for us. It’s actually quite interesting.” The old man signaled for Sebastian and Zuri to sit down, and he cleared his throat.
“June 9th, 2046,
I’m saved! The food was all gone within days at the markets in the city, and a week has passed by since I had eaten a proper meal. Some people down there are going crazy, and many have started rioting in the streets, hoping to change something. Ever since the war started, production across the board has been slim, and much of the food has been shipped to cities that were harder hit. The ironic thing is that the government is killing its own people by attempting to save those who have no chance. They can’t seem to learn from history.
Anyway, back to what I meant to talk about. That was when the noises down in the streets went quiet. I heard the sound of these beasts down there yesterday, but they were probably from the zoo or something. You know, chaos begets chaos. When I finally felt safe enough to go down to the streets, there wasn’t a single soul out there. Kind of eerie, right? The only person who was walking the streets was this lady, whose hair was so white that it could reflect any amount of light. I felt compelled to walk towards her, since my nerves were instantly calmed when my gaze fell upon her. I think she knew I was there, since she gave me a smile when I started walking towards her.
After a while of talking to her, she brought me to this village in the woods, telling me that everything was going to be alright. It’s been a while since I met her, but I will never forget her calming presence. Maybe this new life away from the city would do me some good?”
His grandpa stopped as the final words reached the end of the page, and the whole room fell silent. That excerpt had said so many things that Sebastian had a hard time grasping. Apartment complex? Country? Government? The war? Oddly enough, the only thing that did make sense was the fact that Zuri was alive five hundred years ago. Speaking of which, the man had dated the excerpt in the year 2046. That would mean, according to that ancient dating method, this would be the year 2546. It was all so weird to digest. Even though Zuri had explained all of these concepts, it was still weird to hear them from a primary source.
“It’s crazy, right? All of it. I wish I had more to base things on, but that’s all I’ve got. And I cannot emphasize how many times I have analyzed this writing. I’ve exhausted it so much that I probably know it better than the one who wrote it.” He laughed to himself as if he thought what he just said was clever.
“Why did you keep this a secret from me?” Sebastian blurted out? Seeing that he was the most curious person in the village, he would definitely want to get his hands on information like that.
He chuckled some crazy old man laugh and just shook his head as he put those things away. “Oh, don’t you worry. I would have given you the information on your eighteenth birthday, and I am sure it would have been tough convincing you, but I guess you found yourself living history before I could even give you this, my most prized possession.” He flaunted the paper and picture off one more time before placing them away in a careful manner.
Sebastian seemed pleased with that answer; he didn’t have much to say after that. His grandpa, however, quickly primed up a question for him. “How did you two find each other? Do you realize how long I was in those woods looking for evidence of this city and this woman? Forty years!” The man sighed and cracked a smile. “But in less than six, you, my grandson, found the woman more quickly than I could have imagined. Maybe I would have had an easier time if I didn’t arrive back where I started in that forest. I tell you, there’s something about it that I can’t seem to crack.”
Zuri giggled, and Sebastian’s grandpa looked over at her with a slightly confused look, “I guess the labyrinth that I made was good enough to keep in even a smart man like you. And about the first thing you asked, Bash went down the wrong path, probably on purpose,” She paused and looked over at Sebastian with a smile, “And he made his way all the way to my temple. It was more than simple fate, his soul followed the blue strings of life to my life-force. He was able to see the blade, Azure’s Edge.”
“Hmm? Azure’s Edge? Labyrinth? This is all new to me. What’s that all about?” The old man’s eyes lit up, as if he were a little child seeing a rainbow for the first time.
“Oh, I designed the Labyrinth to keep humans in the forest until their society matured enough to handle the world. It’s a bit cruel, but I wanted you all to be safe. Basically, my spell guided the strings of life to guide any stray traveler around in circles until they ended up where they started off. It was a simple spell, and quite harmless, too. All I wanted was for you to be safe. It even kept out monsters and intruders.
“Then, Bash here caught the attention of the magic, and his affinity for it helped guide him to where I was. Unfortunately, my temple attracted Hellhounds, which was good for keeping them out of the village, but it didn’t exactly help Bash when he found Azure’s Edge.” She paused and waited for the old man to give a nod of affirmation.
Sebastian thought it best to show his grandpa the sword in person, so he could get a better view of it, so he pulled it out of hiding to present it to him. “Here, this is Azure’s Edge.”
His grandpa always loved design and attention to detail, so his shock was further enhanced when his eyes gazed upon every square inch of the sword, no doubt admiring it just as Sebastian had done earlier. “Now I understand. The craftsmanship. It is beyond anything I have seen! The beauty that this sword exhibits is just special on its own. It is a temple befitting someone such as you.” He looked at Zuri and handed the sword back to Sebastian. Before anyone could respond, though, the old man interjected with something else. “I see, now. You two plan on leaving.”
“Wait, what makes you think that?” Sebastian widened his eyes.
“Oh, come on, you two,” Grandpa smirked. “I know what you two are planning. I might be old, but I’m no fool. And despite my age, I love a good adventure myself. That’s why I want to go with you two.”
Sebastian felt a lump in his throat, his head jolting when Grandpa suggested that. “Wait, what?”
“You heard me. I can’t be all cooped up in this place anymore. I’m like a bird in a cage, and I just want to fly. You understand that, right?” He grinned at his grandson. “I don’t care how bleak or dangerous the world might be, or if my trip would be in vain. I just want to see it for myself. I’ll be the first in many many generations to see it through.
“It’s been something that’s been talked about down the line of Lindloffs, a bloodline that is naturally curious and hungry for adventure, so Sebastian, I mustn’t starve, you understand?”
That was risky. Sebastian had already seen what the Hellhounds could do, so it worried him that his grandpa, definitely not in his prime, would be wandering the world, unaware of what it could bring. Zuri’s face expressed an equally, if not greater, look of worry as Grandpa suggested that. However, she wasn’t just aware of the Hellhounds, but rather she knew of greater horrors that could await and pose a threat to the old man.
His grandpa could tell that they were not on board with his idea, so he persisted, “Oh, come on. You know I’m on my last leg anyway, so let me come along. All you have to do is lead me out of the forest, and I will be on my way. I promise.”
They were still hesitant, but Sebastian knew that his grandpa was careful, and he would likely avoid any confrontation with those beasts if he could help it. He looked at Zuri for her opinion, but she didn’t have much to say. “It’s up to you, Bash.”
That put him in a difficult situation. He was the one who would basically decide his grandpa’s fate. The old man was stubborn enough to actually carry out his plans, so his words would only empower him. Well, his grandpa would probably never forgive him if he denied him his dreams, but he would probably not last long out there, so Sebastian was in a tough spot right then.
“Hmm,” he blurted out, and his grandpa got closer to look him in the eyes.
“Well?” He inquired.
He exhaled and finally spoke, “Fine.”
His grandpa’s eyes lit up, and he basically pulled Sebastian’s arm out of his socket pulling him up from the chair. He began to furiously dance around the living room, humming a victory chant, “We’re going on a vacation, and we’re getting out of this rotten place.”
Sebastian could barely interject what he had to say, so his words were broken up in between the lyrics of his grandpa's makeshift song. “This will not be a safe journey at all, and you might not survive out there.” It was grim, but he had to say it. It was a dangerous thing to do, even for someone with Zuri at his side.
His answer to Sebastian’s warning was an even louder out of tune chant that seemed to echo across the house. Zuri was entertained and laughing a bit, even clapping with the tempo of the song, but she was still a bit worried. Sebastian could tell.
His grandpa, whose energy seemed to be limitless, finally settled down enough to allow for Sebastian to have a speedy escape from his enthusiastic dance. Sebastian sat back down on the chair, and his grandpa finally slowed down to a slightly out of breath and relieved stance. “Sebastian, you have no idea how much this means to me. If I can give you anything, just say the word. Hell, I will give you one of my pocket watches. I think you’ve always wanted one of them, right?” He looked for one of his spares.
“Oh, no, it’s alright. I don’t want to ask anything of you. Besides, I owe you everything for being there for me when I needed it the most. You’re the only one who would understand me and tolerate my curiosity. And honestly, that’s the only gift I need.” Sebastian tried to get his grandpa to slow down a bit.
His grandpa stopped what he was doing and stood there for a minute. Sebastian could hear a sniffle coming from him. When he turned around, his face had become a stream of salty tears, commanded by gravity. He walked up to Sebastian and pulled him in for the most lung crushing hug he had ever felt. Damn, he was strong. “You just made my day even more. I’m glad you think that.”
Barely able to breathe, Sebastian mustered the strength to say, “Of course, grandpa.”
His iron grip loosened enough for the air to reenter Sebastian’s lungs. Sebastian could feel Zuri smile from behind him. She made the best of any situation, but this must have been something special for her to see. Sebastian wasn’t this used to any form of affection, so it finally felt like he was truly loved. Yeah, his parents loved him, but they never expressed it like his grandpa had.
After sniffling, his grandpa came back to his senses to say something else. “I actually do have something that you cannot turn down. That sword of yours. I’ve noticed that you don’t really have anywhere good to put it. During my days of conquest, I thought it best to make use of a sword I had been given, and with that, I had a sheath to put it in. It’s not as great as that sword of yours, but I think it might be of some use to you. Hold up, and I’ll bring it to you.”
Sebastian and Zuri sat in the living room as they heard sporadic movements in the other room. Zuri was the first to speak. “Your grandpa is really something else. He’s so full of life and fun to be around.”
Sebastian beamed, “Yeah, he’s great. I learned almost everything I know from him, and he was always there for me after a long day of work.”
“It scares me knowing that he will be all alone in this world outside of the labyrinth. I would offer to bring him with us, but I don’t think he would be any safer by our side.” She seemed apologetic after saying that.
“Yeah, I don’t like to say it, but even though he is one of the strongest in the village, he doesn’t need the attention of those beasts.” Sebastian sat in silence until a loud “aha! I found it!” went off in the other room. His grandpa came rushing into the room with a wooden sheath with gears and trees carved in it, and on top of that, the name, Sebastian H. Lindloff, was also carved into it.
“Hey, it’s like he had it already made for you, Bash.” Zuri giggled.
“Oh, that would have been cool, no? But, actually, my name is also Sebastian. I can’t believe I forgot to introduce myself properly. My name is Sebastian H. Lindloff.” He did a half-assed bow, which was answered with an equally lighthearted curtsy and a laugh on Zuri’s half.
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Lindloff.” Zuri responded.
“Oh, no need for the formalities. If anything, you are more respectable than I.” He quickly answered. Before anyone else could talk, he handed the sheath to Sebastian. “As you can see, on this sheath is my failed attempt at design, which doesn’t hold a candle to the sword it will hold.”
Despite what his grandpa had said, the sheath he had presented was beautiful. It perfectly matched his blade. It was kind of poetic——on the outside were the woods and the intricacies of life, working together like gears, and on the inside was a peaceful meadow that lay out of sight of the world’s craziness.
“Thank you, grandpa. It’s amazing.” Sebastian accepted the gift and placed his sword within it. It was a perfect fit! He threw it gracefully over his shoulders, and the sword was finally somewhere safe. The whole look was complete.
“Wow! It does look amazing.” Zuri got closer and examined it. “You made this?”
“Indeed I did. I’m sorry it doesn’t do the sword much justice, but I hope it helps.” He was way too apologetic for this work of art.
“No! It’s beyond amazing! You have so much talent!” Zuri was awestruck.
His face was flushed with a very inconspicuous red, but his nerves seemed to calm a bit. “Well, if the Blue Spirit of the Woods says so, then I can’t deny a comment like that.”
“Of course not! You and your grandson need to give yourselves more credit.” She kept looking at the sheath.
They finally decided to head out, and they made their way to the door. Zuri waited on the porch while Sebastian followed behind.
“Hey, hold up.” His grandpa said from behind.
Sebastian turned around, open for what his grandpa wanted to say, “What’s up?”
His grandpa pulled something from behind him and presented it to Sebastian. It was the picture of Zuri from five hundred years ago.
“I can’t take this from you. It’s special.” Sebastian felt a rush of shock.
“Oh, come on, just take it. It was passed down through our family, and it is now my turn to give it to you. Besides, you’re special to me, so I want you to have my treasured possession. If you two should ever part ways, you can always have this to remember her by.” He pushed the picture on Sebastian so he could grab it.
Sebastian reluctantly took hold of it and put it away somewhere safe. After doing that, he looked back up at his grandpa, who was tearing up again.
“Thank you, Sebastian. You’ve brought life back to this old man.” The two of them embraced each other, and this time, his grandpa’s hold was a bit more forgiving. Sebastian was actually able to reciprocate.
After they hugged, Sebastian opened the creaking screen door, and he followed Zuri out to the path. The two of them waved at his grandpa, who waved back at them.
“Thank you for coming by! You’re welcome any time!” The old man waved.
After parting ways, the Sun was beginning to make its way, hiding itself behind the trees. “Oh, wow,” Sebastian reached his hand up to his brow. “Is it really this late already? It seems just like a few minutes ago we arrived, and now look.”
He remembered back to the time they had spent with his grandpa, and despite the fact that they had spent so much time there that day, it all felt like a fleeting second, as if time had no rules within the confines of that house. In reality, they had eaten there, told stories, and explored the house. It really was hours that they were in there, and after walking out, their fun had pulled the Sun over the tree line, and it was time to go home.
“Well, it’s almost time to go home You ready to part ways for the night?” Of course that wasn’t exactly the case, but he couldn’t just bring a girl home at night into his room, especially with everyone being so nosy. He’s surly raise hell with the townsfolk, and if his parents were to figure out——well, they would bother him until the end of time.
“Yeah.” She said softly. “Hey Bash, I had a fun time today. You know some great people. I knew I was right when choosing you to wield this sword.” With a soft smile, she disappeared into the sword on his back, leaving him alone with his thoughts.
“Especially you.” He murmured, halfway hoping she had and hadn’t heard that, but still wanting her to know how he felt.
Walking home again made him remember the good old days, where he would skip halfway to his house and excitedly burst through the door to go take a bath. The memories of the past sure did make him happy.