Treasure everything that you imagine
Because everything you can imagine is real.
Elza and I watch as Xzenox leaps around the grassy clearing, attempting to catch an imaginary creature. He came back to his normal self when he awoke this morning; which was at four a.m., and he decided that there were moths in the room. There are footsteps behind us. “The roof aint gonna be easy to fix.” Laughs Zasha. “Xzenox did a real number on it.” After Xzenox had caught all of the moths, he had cut open a hole in the roof to ‘set them free’. “You know, there was a place I used to go to when I was little.” Elza said. “There was a small house there, abandoned. And on the hill across from it was a giant oak tree with a tree house in it. Maybe you’d like to go check it out? It’s sure to be bigger and sturdier than this place. I mean, I know you’ve probably lived here for a while, but, I assure you, you’ll like it.” She grins. “It has a lake too.”
Zasha is overcome with excitement “Where is it?”
“It’s on a field not too far from here. We just have to get to the other side of this forest. Once we do you’ll be able to see the oak tree and the lake.” Elza replies.
“Well what are we waitin for? Let’s grab some stuff and go!” Zasha skips inside the hole ridden shack, gathering up some things to take with us. Xzenox walks up beside me. “What’s got her so excited?” he pauses then grins “Are we going somewhere? Where are we going? Will there be bandits who need slaying? Where are we going?”
Laughing, Elza replies “We are going to a house near a lake to see if you would like to live there instead of here.” Xzenox tilts his head to the side. “So… the journey there…could be dangerous…right?”
“Who knows? There might be a whole clan of bandits in the forest.” I say slyly. Xzenox gasps “Then we will be needing these!” He drags a bag from behind the shack, it rattles as he pulls it along. “This one is for you. Because it looks like you!” he pulls out a double bladed scythe from the bag. A zipper runs through the middle of the shaft, enabling the two blades to be pulled into two. “Where in hell did you get this?” I exclaim.
“I pillaged the bandit armoury.” He laughs “They didn’t need it. And they didn’t need the rest of these either!” My jaw hangs open as a large pile of spears, bows, arrows, daggers, swords and axes forms before me. “You stole…all of this?” Xzenox looks down proudly on his pile of sharp objects. “Yup, every single blade. Neat hah?” Elza rummages through the pile and picks up the giant axe which she had been wielding when we found her. “Better safe than sorry.” She mumbles. Does Elza even know how to use a heavy axe like that? Zasha surfaces from the shack with a bag full of supplies. “You guys ready yet let’s go! Elza, lead the way!”
Elza had told us getting to the house would take about an hour. Zasha and I followed behind her while Xzenox darted from tree to tree, scouting for any bandits who came our way. The woodland path was covered in dying leaves, falling for the cold winter ahead. Wind whistled through the branches, showering us with their foliage. “Was it nice being able to go there? By the lake?” I ask.
“Ah, yes it was. It was the best place to go in the summer; you could cool off in the lake and swim around for hours. Usually I went there to hide from the world. I’d climb up to the tree house and read all kinds of books. It was very nice.” Elza’s gaze seemed to wander off, deep in thought. She was lucky, to have such a nice childhood. Then again all humans seemed to have an easy life. Nobody had reason to hate you, everyone respected you and nobody left you for dead. Zasha had been quiet for most of the way. She seemed so intent on getting to this dream place that Elza spoke of. We all were really. We needed a place where we could relax. Ahead I could see Xzenox running back towards us, worry on his face. “There is a scarily big tree and I don’t know if I can trust it.” His eyes shoot from corner to corner as if looking for monsters who worked for the tree. “Its fine Xzenox, that’s the tree I was talking about. We have arrived!” Elza announces. Xzenox spins around.
“Oh, well in that case… woo!” Xzenox leaps forward and off down the hill. “He’s a weirdo.” I laugh. It isn’t long before we hear him as he rolls down the hill. A sudden “ouch” coming every few seconds. Zasha runs after him, being a lot more careful than Xzenox when walking down the hill. Elza and I follow. Arriving at the bottom of the hill, I see Zasha has dumped her gear and has jumped into the lake. “It’s so nice in here! Damien, come in!”
“No thanks I’m good just staying out here.” I laugh. From behind me I hear swords clatter to the ground. Before I know it, Xzenox has shoved me into the icy cold water. “You’ll regret that!” I yell grabbing onto his leg and pulling him in after me. After I pull him in, he doesn’t come back up. Zasha is giggling like mad. “He’s got my feet!” she yells. The next moment Xzenox bursts out of the water. “I am a water bandit~!” he growls. Zasha squeals and swims towards me.
“Save me brother!” she laughs, grabbing my shoulders and hiding behind me. “You’ll regret doing that to my little sister water bandit!” I grin, remembering my other role. “For I am the evil kraken!” Xzenox raises an imaginary sword. “It’s on.” he says with a serious look on his face. As per usual in the next second he’s laughing. He dives underwater and erupts before me. We wrestle in the cold water playfully while Zasha watches on gleefully from the side. Xzenox climbs onto my shoulders “I have conquered the mighty sea beas-“ I flip him backwards into the water, cutting him short. He pops up again, snickering “Ok, maybe not.’
“Damien wins!” Zasha declares. “Good job big brother!” she jumps onto my back and hugs me. “This place is the best. Do you think we can stay here? I want to stay here forever.”
“We haven’t even seen the house yet though. Don’t you want to see it before making a decision? Plus there’s the tree house too.” I point out. “Yeah, you’re right. To the house we go!” Zasha speeds off to the edge of the water, leaping out and running to the main house. I get out too, followed by Xzenox who is shaking off all of the water. “I’ll check out the tree house.” He smirks “See if there are any bandits.” I notice Elza off to the side. “Why didn’t you join in? You missed out.”
“It’s ok. I was just fine watching…” her eyes looked at the house. “Zasha has gone to look around?” she asks.
“Yeah, she’s already in love with the place. Think we could stay?” I look at Elza hopefully. “We’ll see.” She giggles. I find Zasha in a large room with paper screen doors which are covered in cherry blossoms. “They’re so pretty! This is so much better than our other place. I hope we can stay here. I really, really want to!”
“I want to as well. I mean even Xzenox seems at home here. He has a lot more room to mess around.” This place was a paradise. We could live here for years and years. In the background I can hear Xzenox yelling. I go outside to see what the problem is. I meet him at the bottom of the hill. “What’s wrong? Bandits again?”
“Children.” He snarls, staring into the distance. “There are very small… children.” I laugh. He’s either seeing things again or a couple of kids have been coming to this place just as Elza did. A familiar giggle sends chills down my spine. No. It can’t be. They can’t be here. Not here. Two little girls in dresses come sprinting towards us. They both shout in union “Did you miss us, Damien?” The twins had found out where I was, but how? I hear a scream and I snap around to see Elza holding the axe at Zasha’s throat. “Big brother! Help me! Plea-“
“Stop your yapping kid or ill slit your throat.” I stand shaking. What’s happening? Why is this happening? Why?! “Lost for words, Damien?” Elza smirks. Lord Talson accompanied by Thomas Grenich appear behind her, and I can hear Xzenox as he fights off the twin terrors. Lord Talson speaks “Thought you could be free Damien? Well with the help of my friend here.” He pats Thomas on the back, making him flinch. “You almost were. And without the help of yourfriend, I never would have been able to get you to come here.” Elza smiles sympathetically. “I always did like you Damien. It’s just, I’m sick of living a life as a poor seamstress. I need money. Money so I can live in comfort. And the great Lord Talson has offered me that…In return for me bringing you here.” Zasha has tears running down from her turquoise eyes. I can feel darkness welling within me. “You’re sick.” I spit. “And to think I actually trusted you.” I grin with tears in my eyes “But you know what? No human, is worth trusting. They all come behind you and stab you in the back!” Shadows surround me, my eyes begin to glow. Elza pushes the axe closer to Zasha’s neck. “Calm yourself. You don’t want me cutting your little sister’s neck do you?” Lord Talson places his hand on Elza’s back. “I don’t want her dead either. I need her alive.” Lord Talson traces Zasha’s face with his finger. “Why don’t we play a little game?” He stares down to me. “A game of come save the little girl from the clutches of a mad man.” Chuckling he continues. “My two angels will take care of you and your…charming friend there… while we make off with her. Try anything though, and I will, hurt her. Your choice. Yours completely.” I glance behind me, Xzenox is pinned to the ground with his own two swords gouged into his palms. Gracie sits on top of him, large white wings sprouting from her back. Lacie too has pure white wings, those of an angel. “They….They’re actual angels?” I stutter.
“Oh so you can see that now? Haha! Me stabbing your eye out with that sacred blade must have given you something special. It’s of no use to you in this situation though. It just proves to you that demons will always fall at the hand of God.” He latches onto Zasha’s bandaged arm. She grimaces. “Damien!” she screams. I try to run to her but Lacie glides before me, two sacred knives in her hands. Elza is the last to turn away. “It’s the time spent with friends that counts.” She remarks, following her corrupt leader. I attack Lacie, throwing all my shadows at her at once. She dodges each one of them as if I was throwing feathers. If only I could get to my scythe. Xzenox begins to growl. His teeth elongate and his whole body starts to change. The fox demon rips his swords from his paws and lunges at Gracie. “Ooh! A puppy!” she squeals, darting out of the way. Xzenox less than impressed with the remark lunges again, this time piercing her arm with his mighty jaws. “Pathetic demons.” The twins giggle. Xzenox’s voice is now deep with malice “I will hunt you down no matter what it takes. I will not give up, not even after death.” He glares at the angels who are gliding happily above us. I see the opportunity to grab the scythe Xzenox had given to me. He said it was for slaying bandits, and slay bandits I shall. I bend my shadow, taking hold of the scythes hilt. It seems to resonate with my dark energy, making it seemingly stronger than before. Before the angels can react I split the scythe into two separate blades and send them spiralling to my targets. Both girls grimace as my blades cut through the tops of their now stained wings. They glide higher, angry and stubborn. “Killing us both now would accomplish nothing! Your friend is already far from here. If you want her back you’ll play along with Daddy’s game.” The twins giggle together. “We’ll see you again Damien~! And you as well puppy dog~!” Xzenox and I watch helplessly while the angels fly off to their master. And when it could all have been so perfect… perfect…