It began on a chilly desert night, ten years ago.
“His spirit wolf jumped out from behind the bush and raised its claws at the enemy. What was once a fearless warrior, now trembled at the sight of this ghostly animal. But would he let him cross?” his mother read.
“The warrior had no choice. He had to let this young man pass or he would lose his life. So with his arms raised, he backed away,” I paused. A question dawned on me just then.
“How can I get my own spirit animal?” I asked my mother.
“You don’t need one, Roeman,” my mother answered.
“I do. How would I find this kingdom of gold if I don’t have one?”
My mother simply smiled before nudging me to continue reading. As I shuffled under the fur covers, I cleared my throat ready to finish the only book I owned. The story of a lone wolf that travelled the world in search for what he called heaven had been my bedtime story ever since I was born. I was never bored of it, and my eleven year-old self would agree.
“Suddenly, the earth shook and a…” my voice trailed off.
No words escaped my lips after that, as the world of my childhood hero began to fade away. My mother said nothing as well, and the two of us sat frozen. A few seconds later, my mother whispered, “Go to your bed and stay there till morning.”
Her order sent me to my feet as I jumped off my parents’ bed and ran to the other corner of our large tent. Peeking out of a series of folded cloth from the ceiling was a rope, and I quickly reached for it. When the rope extended downwards, I did not hesitate to climb up.
My father made that haven for me. It was a little nest held together by the folding of colourful cloths. No stranger would walk into our tent and realize a boy was resting in it, and no stranger did on that bloody night.
As quietly as I lay, I listened to the shouts, screams, and cries of my people. There were moments where I wanted to be a hero, but I knew I would only die trying. Not a muscle in my body moved as the horror continued when the barbarians entered my tent to steal from us. I heard them make a mess and after what felt like eternity, they left.
It was still dark outside, but I obeyed my mother’s last words and waited for the sun to arrive. The moment I could feel the heat of day, I climbed out of my nest and held back my tears. Denial was impossible the moment I left my chaotic home, as the blue morning sky could not hide the dead from my eyes.
The sand was soaked in red and the vultures had already began feasting. I wanted to look for my parents, but I did not want to confirm their deaths. So, I made up my mind to leave. With nothing left to take with me, I started my journey in hopes to escape the memory that has scarred me for years.
One step after another, I made it through where death had plague my people. I did not look back and I kept going forward. It might seem foolish to travel the harsh desert alone, but I desperately needed to leave the horror behind. Miraculously, my body lasted the day… but night, held a different fate.
As the wind blew a cold ghastly breeze, my fingers froze and my heart gripped with fear. The breeze was unusual and I knew what was coming. A sandstorm. There was no way I could survive a sandstorm. Realizing that I was done for, I fell on my knees and shut my eyes. I was ready to die; ready to be with my family again.
A rumbling sound grew and I felt a strong blow of wind brushing past my face. I expected myself to be buried within minutes, but strangely it was taking longer than it should. When I finally decided to open my eyes, I was immediately struck with awe. A pair of giant ghostly wings created a shield around me. Wind was swirling in this ball of protection, but not deadly enough to suffocate. I stood in shock for a very long time, and then I heard a voice.
I am yours. And you are mine.
It was deep and strong, yet gentle and delicate. When the sandstorm finally died down, the wings spread widely and the body of a giant eagle rose from the ground. It ascended into the night sky and hovered over me. Not really sure on what to say, I muttered, “I’m tired.”
As though it had heard me, it returned to the ground and wrapped its wings around me. There was a warm tingling sensation as I felt its ghostly embrace, but I dozed off too quickly to question what it was. When day arrived, my new friend flew above my head and led me to a magical oasis. It shaded me from the glaring sun and watched me as I devoured the bobbing fruits in the lake. It all felt surreal and I was convinced it was my spirit animal’s doing.
My spirit animal taught me to fight and hunt, and it sheltered me for years. It was also my compass, guiding me to a location I could only assume was the kingdom of gold. Now ten years later, it has finally brought me to where I should be. Standing on a sand dune and overlooking the river that split the endless desert and a glorious city, I could feel my heart pump in excitement. Unfortunately, something vile was standing in my way.
The river was guarded by the ones that murdered my people; they now stood between me and my new life. Pulling out my blades, I looked up at my protector. It had been a long journey and I was so ready to face my demons. Can one man take them all? No, but one man and his spirit animal can.
“I am yours. And you are mine.”
We all have a spirit animal, but we only see it in times of trouble. What does it encompass? Our courage, faith, determination, and hope. Those traits that are a part of us makes up this beast that will fight by our side. But even though we have it with us, the journey of recovery will not be an easy one. Sometimes it will take us years just to face our demons, but no matter how long it may be, remember that you have what it takes to beat them. Fight for the kingdom of gold, you were born a fearless beast!
I hope you enjoyed this short story. Be sure to let me know what you think about it in the comments below!
© 2014 Jeyna Grace
(For more short stories, click HERE)