by Vexa Grimwoe
Yume wakes up unaware of the adventure that awaits her.
|Author's Note: This is a draft and several revisions may be made.
Yume awoke in an unfamiliar dark room. Yume struggled upwards in the lovely white linen blankets lined with gold thread as she surveyed the room. The room was a compact bedroom with glistening white brick walls and an auburn wooden floor coated in crimson carpeting. The room smelled clean. Yume could also smell many vibrant spices as well as the burnt smell of candles emanating from the bedside table nearby. As well as these candles, Yume noticed the silver make-up mirror which no doubt showcased her face in the dim light of the elegant room. Indeed, Yume gazed into the shining mirror before her. Reflected by the mirror in the dimly-lit room, was a young girl with golden blonde hair and blue-green eyes. Yume then noticed that she was wearing a light pink nightgown laced with white and stamped with a bizarre sigil of an unknown origin. Somehow, Yume’s pretty face was unfamiliar to her but she had other things to worry about; a strange ginger-haired girl was standing in the very same room behind her!
“Ah, you are awake.” The girl spoke. The girl’s voice was as smooth as the finest silk as she continued, “Come. There is much to talk about.”
The girl threw a red robe and golden shoes down onto the bedspread and turned around to face the doorway so Yume could get dressed. The robe was much like the fancy azure robe the ginger-haired girl was wearing. It was made out of a smooth material and had a shiny golden flower print. The robe looked to be a traditional kimono and smelled like the very same flowers imprinted on the garment. After Yume put on the soft new clothes, she decided to speak to the strange girl in the doorframe.
“Where am I? Who are you? What is this all about?” Yume spoke in a hushed panic as the other girl turned around.
“All will be explained soon.” The ginger-haired girl responded without skipping a beat, “I’m Andara, by the way. Nice to meet you at last!”
Yume didn’t quite know how to respond to what the girl just said and instead, Yume got up off of the lovely soft bed and left with the girl. Yume followed Andara down the long halls of this strange building she had found herself in. The walls and floor were identical to those in the placid stone bedroom from which she had just left. The only difference that Yume could find was the many candles, emblems, and portraits adorning the grand hallway. The emblems were the very same symbol that Yume had noticed upon her nightgown; a dragon perhaps? Yume decided to listen for any sounds which might help her recall why she was here. The faint sounds of warriors training seemed to emanate from all around her.
Suddenly, Andara spoke up. “It is clear that you don’t know anything about this place, do you?” Yume shook her head because she was too lost in the new sounds of this bizarre place to speak, “That’s to be expected. The empress told me that you would have amnesia.”
Yume was confused as to who this empress was and why the empress would know that she’d have amnesia. Did something important happen that Yume couldn’t remember?
Yume and Andara turned a corner and entered a new room. Andara shuffled over to the nearby bookcase and removed a leather-bound, red book from the dusty old shelf. Andara took the book and placed it onto the nearby wooden table with a loud thud that echoed through the room which had other bookshelves much like the one this book was from. Before Andara opened the dusty tome, Yume noticed the title of the book. ‘A Fireborn Tale’? Was this fact or fiction? Andara tore through the pages until she got to the one she had to show to Yume, “As this book says right here, ‘Humen were known to be completely different from Beastfolk as such people appeared without antlers, beaks, claws, or otherwise. The Fireborn are much like Humen but are capable of far more.’ ”
Yume seemed interested in this story but was not sure of what it meant to her, “I… I don’t understand why you are showing me this. I’m sorry.” Andara tried not to laugh, “Well, that’s a bit shocking actually because you appear to be Humen!”
Yume gasped a little and coughed on the airborne dust, “W..what!? I don’t understand any of this.”
Yume then looked closer at Andara and noticed a weird part of her upper lip. Andara’s top lip seemed to curve a bit upward and it was a bit darker than her bottom lip. Andara’s face resembled an ape in a way.
“I see you noticed my quirk.” Andara giggled, “Well, it’s not that obvious as a beak or antlers. You don’t appear to have a quirk either. I’m certain that you must be Humen!”
Yume scratched her chin and thought really hard about what Andara just said before shaking her head, “I still don’t understand anything.”
Andara grumpily put her hands on her hips and motioned to Yume to follow her out of the dry room and back into the hallway. Andara seemed a tad annoyed that Yume still hadn’t learned anything about what might’ve occurred before she had lost her memory.
The girls made it to a large foyer where many armored guards awaited them and some wore the same outfit that Yume and Andara shared. The room was tiled in red and gold tiles which were very different than the usual wood and carpet that seemed to be endless up until now. Yume surveyed the foyer and noticed a massive gilded throne that had red cushions. A few couches and chairs laid about the room followed the same design. On the big throne was a young girl about half of Yume’s height and she had white hair that flowed down to her shoulders. One thing that stood out the most to Yume was that this girl had both cat ears and a large cat tail! This odd girl was wearing a red and gold version of the kimono that Yume wore along with a cheerful grin upon her face. Yume hadn’t noticed the girl at first since she blended in with the throne.
“Ah! The Fireborn awakens at last.” The girl chimed from the chair and her voice echoed through the foyer louder than the sound of the guards talking. The guards immediately stopped chatting and turned to bow to the girl on the throne. Yume knew at once that this girl was the empress that Andara had been talking about before. Yume crouched down on the hard tiles like the guards were doing but Andara stood upright and walked over to the girl.
“How’s our Fireborn been doing?” The girl asked Andara with cheerful concern. Andara blinked in surprise, “Oh, so she’s… not Humen?” Andara mumbled to the girl. Andara seemed a bit disappointed.
The girl just giggled in response, “No, darling. But I’ve been searching for a Humen for a long time just for you.”
Yume was having none of this, “Who are you and why am I here? Where is here anyway?”
The white-haired girl seemed annoyed at the interruption but decided to reply to Yume, “I am empress Vexa of the Vas’Ahn Region and you are here because of me.”
Yume blinked in surprise at Vexa’s sharp but calm response and Vexa continued to speak, “I brought you to the Darling Palace because it would be unsafe to bring you elsewhere.”
Yume never heard of a ‘Darling Palace’ anywhere before but she had amnesia so she very well could’ve been here before. Vexa continued without skipping a beat but she did clear her throat, “I can continue telling you about why you are here later on. I have a present to give you!”
Suddenly, the guard that stood silent beside the empress walked up to Yume. The girl was a pretty tanned woman with what appeared to be short antlers on top of her head. The girl held a special-looking black box coated in many different symbols outward to Yume. It seemed as if the guard was trying to place the box in Yume’s hands and Yume accepted the gift with a nod.
“I am Toara, by the way.” Toara’s voice was like music to Yume’s ears. Yume thought that maybe Toara was a singer since she certainly had the voice for it.
Yume inspected the box closer and Vexa started to talk, “Open it.”
Yume slowly unclipped the top of the box from the bottom and opened it with the faintest creak of the dark wood. Inside the box, it was laced with a smooth red felt and smelled like leather. A single golden locket was contained inside the box Yume held in her shaking hands.
“A Fireborn locket.” Vexa suddenly spoke up. Vexa’s voice yet again echoed and the guards finally looked up from the ground to watch Yume take it out of the box.
“What’s a Fireborn locket for?” Yume asked with a bewildered curiosity.
Vexa just smiled and waved away the other guards in the room. When all the guards except Toara and Yume left, Vexa decided to speak again.
“My Battle Maids each have a trinket or charm which contains a powerful beast from another dimension. You are one of the Fireborn which I’ll explain when you are ready but for now, you may open the locket to look at your new beast companion.”
Yume slowly clicked the golden locket open and heard a tiny roar come from the inside. The image contained inside the locket was of a creature that Yume had never seen before but it was very familiar for an odd reason unknown to her.
“A…firefly?” Yume muttered to herself but Vexa could hear the confusion in her voice.
“Indeed.” Vexa began to speak but then stopped before saying anything further.
Andara and Toara walked over to Yume to get a better look at the beast inside the locket and they seemed a bit surprised.
Vexa began to speak again, “A beast changes to one’s inner energy and desires.”
Yume looked into Vexa’s shimmering blue eyes which seemed to frame Yume's reflection, “Am I… really a Fireborn?” Yume asked calmly.
Vexa ignored her and motioned to Toara and Andara to bring her somewhere. Yume was now being escorted to a room down the left hallway where many other guards were. The sounds of the guards practicing their techniques echoed throughout the left hall and Yume was placed in a clean room with other guards adorned in the same garment she was now familiar with. Many guards were equipped with golden weapons and black guns that glowed a green aura of some sort. The room was not only loud but also smelled of sweat and determination. A new guard motioned Yume over to the group that was practicing a strange martial arts technique that looked like dancing.
The guard looked over to Yume and Yume noticed that this guard had a yellow beak like a bird. This guard had brown eyes that sparkled and sapphire hair that flowed down like a waterfall from head to toe but she seemed to have no problem walking even with the weight of all that hair.
The guard began to speak, “A new recruit for the Battle Maids of Vas’Ahn? I hope you won’t be too hard to teach.” The guard scratched her left arm with her beak and continued, “The name’s Arduot Glavenhir but you can call me Ari.”
Yume was nervous around all these new people but she managed to reply, “I’m… Yume. Is the training going to be... difficult?”
Ari squawked, “You ARE new! You have much to learn and much to do before you can summon your beast companion.”
Yume poked her index fingers together anxiously, “Beast companion?”
Ari ignored her and walked over to pick up a large golden spear from off of the weapons shelf nearby which contained a few other spears.
“You see, you aren’t ready yet for a beast but you are ready for practice with weapons.” Ari spoke clearly and would probably not take no for an answer.
Yume grabbed the golden spear from Ari’s hands and was shocked at how lightweight the weapon was to hold. Yume could feel the spear pulsating with an unknown energy and it glowed a faint green after any slight movement.
Ari motioned Yume over to the line of other recruits and moved her weapon in unison with the others, “Follow along and you will learn!”
Yume took a deep breath and started to sway in motion with the group. The spear in her hands flowed from left and right like the waves of the sea and Yume felt in control of each and every motion. The group then stood sturdy like the strongest tree and placed their spears upon the ground with the sharp end pointed towards the sky. The group raised their spears in unison and the faint emerald glow of the blades lit the dim room with a fantastical green aura that made Yume feel stronger. With every motion of the spear, Yume began to grow sick. It was as if Yume was being affected by the energy waves that no doubt flowed from the spear and into her. Yume had to sit down and take a break or she may have lost it.
“Oh, my!” Ari exclaimed in excitement, “You are affected by the flow of energy?”
It seemed like this might have been the first time someone reacted to the spears this way and Ari had to call in Andara to give Yume a check-up.
“I cannot believe it!” Andara cheered, much to Yume’s chagrin. “That was very Humen of you!”
Yume was starting to worry more than ever about what happened before she lost her memory.