Let the memories of painful pasts
Make you stronger.
The three of us finally make it to the basement entrance. A large wooden door with metal enforcements stood between us and the person we wished to save. I look at the twitching Xzenox “How did you even get her in there?”
He stares at the door and places a hand upon it. “Ah, now that’s the thing you see; I don’t know how.” That’d be right… “And I don’t think I can punch it open like I did with the other door.” He lick’s his knuckles which are covered in jagged gashes and raining with blood. “I’ll do it then, shall I? I mean we only need to get the lock off. That should be easy enough.” Grasping the rusted lock in my hands I focus my energy on removing its shadow. Slowly, a grey flame forms around it, and its colour starts to fade, leaving it a translucent mass. The lock disintegrates, leaving its shadow in my hand. I clench my fist, letting the shadow be absorbed into my being. Xzenox has a wide grin on his face and his yellow eyes are filled with glee. “That was scary!” he laughs, swinging the wooden doors open. Does this fox ever match his emotions with his facial expressions? It makes no sense to me… Zasha shrugs and we both follow him down a flight of dark steps. Xzenox has stopped in the middle of the room. I tap him on the shoulder and he spins around glaring angrily, both swords at the ready “Who’s there!” lowering his blades he begins to laugh again. “Oh, just you. I am so stupid sometimes! Anyway so where’s the lady? I could have sworn I put her in here. Maybe she left…” In the dimly lit, weapon clad room, I can see something standing behind Xzenox. Suddenly a large battle axe with a spiked blade rises above his head. I’m about to warn him when he spins around, just barely blocking the massive blade with his own two swords. “Whoa! Haha! Here you are! Found you!” the attacker drops the axe. Her brown hair hangs down over her shoulders and her maids dress is torn. She stares at me through watery eyes. “Damien?” she whispers. Edging around Xzenox she engulfs me in a tight hug. I hug her back. “It’s been a while, Elza.” She steps back and looks me up and down. “You’re a real mess, you know that?” she laughs. “And I thought you guys were the same bandits that put me in here.” Xzenox struts up to Elza. “Me?! A bandit?! I could never be one of them! Never!” with his ears pulled back he continues to mumble and stroke his swords. “You know her big bro?” Zasha peers out from behind me, seemingly afraid that Elza would try to strike at her. “Yeah, this is Elza. She works at the same place I did.”
“I used to work there, I don’t now though.” Elza smiles slightly. “I never really liked it that much there anyway.” There is a clutter of metal and we all look to Xzenox who is waiting for us by the stairs, he has a large bag swung over his back. “You guys ready to go yet?” his head darts to the side and he gasps. In an instant Xzenox is back to his weird self, chasing things only Xzenox knows exist. Zasha giggles and takes my hand. “I think it’s best for us to follow him home. Elza, you can come too if you like! We have room for everyone!” Elza nods and walks beside us. The way home was peaceful. We chatted and laughed as Xzenox leaped from place to place, trying his best to pin down an invisible creature, who luckily, was leading him towards home. The small trek through the moon lit forest with Elza, Zasha and Xzenox was somewhat relaxing. If only it could stay like this forever.Perhaps happiness really can be obtained in a tainted world such as this.
With the full moon spreading light further than the reaches of our small camp fire, we baked a hot meal and told stories of our pasts. Elza was stroking Xzenox’s red hair, he waved his tail happily. “So how did you come across Xzenox? Was he always like this?” Elza asked Zasha inquisitively. Zasha lowered her gaze. “I found him on the streets when I was lookin for food. A bunch o the church kids had surrounded him. They bashed him up real bad. I scared em off and took him home.” Xzenox remained silent as Elza continued to scratch behind his ears. “He told me what happened before all that. How he ended up there. It aint a pretty story…” she paused for a while stirring what was left of the stew in the iron pot. Sighing she continued. “He was only a kid. The village he lived in had learnt to accept his family for what they were. Around that time a lot of raids had been happenin. Bandits were pillagin all of the towns people, takin away their kids.” Xzenox lay motionless on Elza’s lap, memories flashing in his eyes. “Xzenox’s sister had been taken by one of the men. His parents tried to fend them off, fought until the last blow they did. But…they weren’t skilled enough to win the fight. For the whole time he’d been watchin from inside the house. He saw the whole thing.” A tear slid down Xzenox’s face, but he remained silent. “All he’s got left of his parent’s is the swords he always carries around. The village took everythin else from him after the bandit attack. They said it was the will of God that the Fox Demons be rid of. That’s when they handed him over to the Church and its corrupt ways of life.” Elza was crying too now. She clutched Xzenox and hugged him tight. “You poor soul.” She whispered. Xzenox is so strong. To be re-living that experience and hold it all in. He put his arms around Elza and rested his head on her shoulder. “It doesn’t matter now. This time, with these swords…I’ll be able to protect the ones I love, instead of hiding in the dark and watching as they die.” Xzenox burst into tears and Elza stroked his hair tenderly. Now I could finally understand his anger. The pain he went through. Having his family torn away from him when he had been so close, close enough to reach out to them and pull them to safety. He just wishes he could have done something, anything to have prevented a horrible end. The camp fire dimmed a little as shadows nudged up against me. I understand the feeling of loss. “You ok there big brother?” Zasha watched me, concern and sadness on her face. I smile and let the shadows reside. “Yeah, I’m fine.” I glance to where Xzenox sits held in Elza’s caring arms. “I never would have guessed he was holding onto something like that. He always seems so lively.”
“He’s strong like that. I always kind of admired him in a way. Even though the memories hurt him, he just gets on with life and messes around like nothin is wrong. I’ve only ever seen him like this once before, and that was when I found him gettin rocks thrown at him on the street.” She looks up and gazes at the night sky. “I’m just glad we don’t have to worry about hardship anymore…”
We spent a while longer outside, waiting for Xzenox to regain his strength. Zasha pulled out the colourful quilt and several pillows, like she did the first time I came here. We didn’t care that there wasn’t enough blankets for everyone to have their own. Zasha slept wedged between Elza and I and Xzenox had curled up on top of the quilt by Elza’s feet, twitching as he dreamed. For the first time in a long time I felt comfortable. Surrounded by the ones I care about, not concerned that when I wake up they might be gone. With Zasha’s tail tickling my side I feel myself start to drift off. This is how it should be.