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Chapter 19
Harshness of a Child

Grey knew he shouldn’t do anything. That was because he was a weak child. No matter what happened. He should take the beatings with a smile. But even in his heart, there nestled a terrible coldness that did not wither. Why was life unfair? Why did everyone around him have to die? Now he was stuck in this dismal place, and there was no way for him to fight back. He lay on the bed later that night. Mylene resting next to him. She did not say a word, but stared at his back silently.

“Hey,” said Grey. “Are you sleeping.”

“Hey,” whispered Mylene. “I am not.”

“I think tomorrow. We should start training.”

“Training?”

“Yeah. To use aura,” said Grey. “It might not be useful now, but who knows about later right?”

“Grey,” said Mylene. Her thoughts heavy. “Are you alright?”

“What do you mean?” trembled Grey. Did she know he was upset? No that was impossible. He had made sure to smile today. Smile and not yell at anyone.

“People hurt you today. Are you not angry?” said Mylene. She reached out to comfort him, but pulled back her hand at the last moment. She had also had hurt him. She couldn’t keep her mouth shut. She didn’t listen when he said not to switch the numbers. More than anyone else. She was not qualified to touch him.

“I am not angry,” said Grey. “My dad says if you let your emotions get the better of you. You will not be able to make the right decisions. The heroes I have read also would not let something like this bother them.”

“Is that right,” said Mylene, unconvinced. “But you are hurt. How can we train when you are hurt.”

“The training helps me relax. So it won’t be bad for me.”

“Is that really so?” said Mylene. “Grey if you lie to me. I will not forgive you. Am I not your friend. If you are angry. You can tell me. I am also angry.”

“I am not angry,” said Grey, slightly afraid. Was this what they called a woman’s intuition? Too frightening. “I really want to train, but I think I am too hurt to do it by myself. If you train with me. It will help me, too.”

“Really?” said Mylene, frowning. She did not think anyone could be happy after getting beat up. Grey. Did he really think she was a girl with no brain. She would hit him! Hit him softly….

“Really,” said Grey, nodding his head.

“Really? Really?” said Mylene, insistently.

“T-That’s right!” said Grey, defiantly.  “Why do you not want to train with me?”

“No,” sighed Mylene, “I will train with you. It is just I want to know what is in your head. So I can stop you from doing bad things. You are already hurt. If you get hurt again doing training or something. Will I be alone?”

Grey did not speak. He dared not speak, afraid of giving his thoughts away.

“I don’t want that,” said Mylene. She gathered her courage and touched Grey’s hand. “Promise me Grey. You will not leave me alone?”

“I promise,” said Grey. He imagined Baylee looking down at him from the heavens, shaking her head.

“Remember! Remember you promised me,” said Mylene, turning over in her bed.

“Yeah,” said Grey, weakly. “I promise. I promise….”

Grey woke up early the next morning and began to cultivate with Mylene. He had taken her hands and began to swirl them in a circle.

“This is called foundational training,” said Grey. “In the Vol. I Magic Theory Book. It is known as feeling the flow of magic. Keep your eyes closed and try to focus on my aura. When you feel it enough times. You’ll be able to do it by yourself.”

Grey took in a deep breath and released his aura.

“I think I am feeling something,” said Mylene, meditating. Her face deep in thought. There was a warmth passing from Grey’s hands into hers. She felt it traveling up her arm into her chest. Copy that feeling! She focused on the warmth, trying to gather it in her body. It was like trying to grab a bag of air. She could see it and feel it, but every time she tried to force it out it would disappear. She grunted, before her stomach let out a growl.

Grumble~! Grumble!

“Aya,” said Mylene, blushing. She looked down at her tummy. “Shut up my stomach. I am training.”

Grey laughed. “I think we should eat.”

Mylene frowned. “But I almost got it. Let me try again.”

“Alright.”

They spent two hours training. Mylene was not able to create aura, but Grey knew it took several months for someone to mastery the technique, and was not worried. He, himself, needed a three months. As she concentrated on creating ‘aura’. Grey thought about his own progress. He would stagnate. There was no doubt about it.

There was no one here to teach him. Nothing here but his own thoughts and time. He would never become the hero he wanted to be…he could be here for years, or even forever. Even so, there was a bit of him that did not want to give up. Train! Train until you dropped. As long as there was hope, perhaps, he would be able to make something happen.

He headed off with Mylene after training, once again pounding upon the cave wall. Painful memories whirled in his head. He remembered Baylee’s death. He remembered Vernon. Those wondrous structures the adventurer’s had made at their camp. Those were his only clues on how to use magic now. He treasured those memories deeply.

“How are you feeling,” said Kayla. She and the other children had been terrified at how he had been beaten. The swelling had not yet gone down, and Grey’s face was as puffy as a marsh mellow.

“I am feeling fine,” said Grey.

Kayla shook her head. “Sorry for not helping.”

“You didn’t need to help,” said Grey. All of the children were painfully aware that they could be killed if they stood up to a soldier. Who would help in that kind of situation? Only idiots like him.

Kayla seemed to understand this and grimly went back to work. She struck the cavern wall, and a strange glow came out of earth.

“What’s this?”

Grey wiped the sweat from his brow, and looked over. The soil was glowing a bright white light.

“Is it a jewel?” asked Kayla. She went out to touch it, but her hands passed right through the glowing earth. “Eek!”

“Are you okay!” said Grey, running towards her. It looked as if her hand had been cut off!

“I’m okay,” said Kayla, gathering her wits. “I-I…”

Her hand was still attached to her body. She looked at the glowing earth in disbelief.

“I-Is it magic?”

Grey stared hard at the soil. If it was magic then it should react to his aura. He reached out his hand, and took in a deep breath. A invisible tendril extended from his chest, lightly touching the glowing dirt.

Whoosh! The wall exploded in a ray of light, leaving behind an opening in the wall. A new tunnel. This…this was a secret passage!

Grey’s heart leaped from his chest. There could be treasure at the end or even a way out of the dungeon. He quickly called the rest of the children to the tunnel entrance. They all rushed over, talking excitedly to themselves.

“Should we go inside?” said Lee. He normally did not speak, but seeing such a thing even he could not keep from being thrilled.

“There could be monsters,” said Kayla. “If they come out and eat us then what will we do?”

“The soldiers have been here a long time. They would have killed the monsters right?” said Erick. His hand tightened around his pickaxe. Although he really wanted to escape. He did not want to get eaten by a monster. Dying was scary.

Grey shook his head. As long as monster wasn’t disturbed. They could remain in a dungeon for decades, even thousands of years. “I don’t think the soldiers went around digging. If there is a monster it will still be there.”

“Can we kill it?” said Lee.

“No,” said Grey. ” But we can still run. A lot of monsters are slow, so if we meet something scary we can get away!”

“That’s right,” said Mylene, “Me and Grey…we fell in a dungeon before, and met a lot of monsters. As long as you run you can get away!”

The look of relief passed by everyone’s face. Now they didn’t have to worry about getting killed.

“We still need water and food though,” said Grey. “Let’s hide the tunnel and make a mark so we know where it is. We can come back later when we have our stuff.”

The rest of the children agreed, and spent half the day covering it up. They had to skip a meal, since they did not have enough jewels, but everyone returned back to their part of the cave with high spirits.

At night, Grey began to gather dirt up in a pile.

“Grey what are you doing?” said Mylene, patting down her dirt bed. She made sure to make a soft mound right underneath her.

“I am making a grave,” said Grey. “Is it weird? I guess it is weird. I just had the feeling of making one since we got stuck here. After seeing that secret passage. I remembered I did not make one yet. Baylee. Sho. Vernon. Dane. My father. My mother. They did not have a grave. So their souls must be lonely.”

There was a saying that a grave is like a lighthouse in the afterlife. Where the thoughts of the living guide the dead to their final destination.

“I see,” said Mylene. “I will make one for my dad and mom too.”

Eight graves. Eight stones.

Grey clapped his hands in prayer as his father had taught him when speaking to their great ancestors. Mylene did the same, and they fell asleep, hoping that their friends and family were happy wherever they had gone.


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