Lonely Savior: Curse of the Forgotten One
Upon a lovely sunny day, a gorgeous young lady in a light red dress walks out of the village's entrance, represented by two gigantic wood pillars. Plains of grass surrounded the village, with a dirt road being the only other surface she could see. She could feel the light breeze brushing her face, and let her beautiful brown hair slightly flutter in the air. Having no worries whatsoever, she happily skips back to her house, just a bit farther from the village. The world having been at peace for several years, nothing could disturb her daily stroll. Well, with the exception of a small rock on her path.
"Woah! Watch out!"
As the young lady tripped, a lone man was swiftly ready to grab hold of her, saving her from what would cause her the most harm within these past years.
"Are you alright?" asked the young man, still holding her close.
Still startled by this sudden disturbance, she looked up at her savior: he was a young man with short wavy silver hair, accompanied by clear and stunning blue eyes. Taking a look at his face, she'd imagined him to be in his early twenties. She found his skin to be incredibly pale, which would generally be a rare occurrence the constant sunlight hitting her birthplace. Comparing her height to his, he was around two heads taller than her. His upper body was covered with a dark blue cloak, whilst his bare legs were hidden by black trousers. Underneath his cloak, she noticed his light blue garment, alongside a pouch that was seemingly attached to the right of his trousers. While to the left of his trousers, she saw a small scabbard, which likely held a dagger.
Having recollected her thoughts, the lady took a step back, and gracefully thanked the man standing in front of her.
"Thank you very much!" said the lady. "I'm very grateful to you for stopping my fall."
"Think none of it. It wasn't much," he swiftly replied.
"Nonetheless, you certainly saved me."
The young lady started examining him more closely.
"These certainly aren't clothes from around here," she said. "Are you perhaps a traveler?"
"I guess you could say I am," he responded, with a slight smile.
"Oh, wow! It sure has been a long time since a visitor last came to this village. What fancies you here?"
"I'm here to see Nikolai Redwood. I've heard he resides in this village."
"Nikolai?! Well, he's our village chief! He's such an amazing person, and is always there to listen to us. Not only that, but he's humble, generous, kind, courageous, honest, hard-working… Oh, I'm terribly sorry! I rambled on a bit too much."
The young traveler chuckled. "No need to worry. I now know how amazing of a person he is."
"Well, if you're here to see him, I shouldn't bother you any longer! Hope you enjoy your stay here!"
"Thank you very much."
As the two started to part ways, the young lady quickly turned back, realizing she forgot to ask something very important.
"I can't believe I forgot to introduce myself! I'm Emma," she politely said. "What's your name?"
"You can just call me Sotis," he responded, once again with a slight smile.
"Sotis, huh… Well, be sure to visit me before you leave! My house is just over there," she happily said, whilst pointing at a small building that could just barely be seen.
"Alright, I'll make sure to stop by! Just make sure you don't forget me by then."
"Ha ha! Of course I won't!"
With Emma happily walking away, Sotis was standing right in front of the village entrance. A large sign was positioned to the left of the entrance, with 'Ignis Village' being written on it. Sotis looked up, seeing the two wood pillars located just in front of him. The two columns were looming over him, seemingly as if they were going to collapse onto his body. Brushing away these thoughts, he stepped into the village, and was greeted with a sight of the village's daily life. Children running around, shopkeepers trying to sell their products, elderly men playing cards, two soldiers walking around, making sure nobody disturbed this peace. The village was as peaceful as it could be, though it was what Sotis expected. Walking down the main road, Sotis looked around, seeing the various houses and buildings in the village. They were all fairly small in size, with only a handful being tall enough to have space for a second floor. Upon closer look, Sotis noticed something peculiar regarding these structures. They all seemed to be made out of the same material, being a reddish type of wood, one that Sotis has never seen before. The red color was only made clearer with the beaming sunlight shining upon the village.
As Sotis walked further down the road, he eventually reached the center of the village, with an immense tree with reddish bark right in the center of the plaza. The peak of the tree appeared to touch the clouds, with large branches coming out of the trunk. In fact, it was so tall that Sotis had first spotted it days before arriving at the village. Furthermore, these branches seemed just as thick as any other ordinary tree. These branches were filled with magnificent green leaves, bringing shade to the village's plaza. Sotis walked closer to the tree, examining its bark. Contrary to other trunks, which were usually rather rough, this reddish tree was incredibly smooth, almost like the skin of a new-born baby.
"Impressed by Ignis tree, young man?"
Sotis turned around, only to see a tall man, with a huge grin on his face. Surrounding his smile was a ruffled brown beard. His head, on the other hand, had no speck of hair to be seen. Wearing a brown leather jacket, the tall man was looking straight at Sotis with his dark brown eyes.
"Any tree of this size would surely impress anyone," he replied.
The tall bearded man laughed. "Ha ha! You sure got that right! It's the pride and joy of Ignis Village, so much so that it was named after it!"
The tall man continued to laugh loudly, with Sotis smiling at the man's good mood. Once he finally calmed down, he approached Sotis, taking a closer look at him and his garments.
"As expected, I haven't seen these types of clothes in my entire life. I assume that you're a traveler, correct?"
"Yes, you've guessed correctly," replied Sotis. "I am here to see Nikolai, the village chief."
"Oh, Nikolai! He'll be very happy to see a new face visiting these parts," said the bearded man. "His house is just straight down the road."
He directly pointed towards a small house, which was straight down the main road. It appeared incredibly similar to any other house Sotis had seen in the village.
"Well, I probably shouldn't bother you any longer! Enjoy your stay in Ignis Village!"
Sotis waved the man goodbye, and started to walk towards his destination. However, he was stopped dead in his tracks, with the very same man whom he waved goodbye seconds ago standing in front of him.
"Actually, it's been a very long time since we've last had a traveler come visit this village," said the bearded man. "So, I haven't had many opportunities recently to tell the story about Ignis tree."
His high energy had seemingly been sucked out of him, and was suddenly acting shy in front of Sotis.
"Would you mind if you spared a bit of your time to listen to this story?" he shyly asked.
Sotis hesitated for a split second, then swiftly replied, "Of course, I'd love to!"
The bearded man had a huge smile on his face, sweeping away his slight moment of shyness, and bringing back the immense energy he had.
"Great! So, as I mentioned, this is Ignis tree, which is the centerpiece of the village. You may also have noticed, but all buildings were built using the branches of this tree. Some of my friends and I cut down some of the branches for any type of construction needed in this village. But now, you're probably thinking 'Wouldn't the tree eventually end up with no branches?' Well, that's when you're wrong! Actually, this tree is magical, and new massive branches grow overnight! Nikolai once told me that it was blessed with a magical spirit centuries ago, and can now be used as an unlimited supply of wood! By the way, a magical spirit kind of like a secondary soul. Apparently, only few beings and items are blessed with it. Oh, and also…"
The tall bearded man continued to ramble on and on about this tree's history. Sotis listened quietly, making sure not to miss a single detail, despite already knowing some of the things he was told. Once he finally completed his story, the two finally parted ways. Sotis pondered for a moment, thinking about all the information he had just learned. He looked up at the Ignis tree, examining its branches from far below. After several minutes, he finally commenced his walk towards Nikolai's house.
Needing only to walk straight down the road, Sotis reached it in very little time, taking only a few minutes. Nikolai's house was rather small, so much so that one would never expect it to be owned by a village chief. It only had one floor, with two windows at the front of the house. Sotis walked closer to the front door, noticing once again that the door was made out of Ignis wood. With no hesitation, Sotis knocked on the door, which was quickly opened by an old wrinkly man with gray hair, who was slightly smaller than Sotis. Underneath his round glasses were small black eyes, looking straight at this man he had never met.
"Um, hi! My name is Sotis, and I have a letter to deliver to Nikolai from his brother."
The old man jumped in surprise. "Well, Nikolai is me! Please, come inside, and make yourself at home!"
Sotis entered Nikolai's house, examining his surroundings. Just like the bearded man mentioned, everything was built using Ignis wood: the chairs, the tables, the cupboards, the shelves. Everything that could be constructed was made out of this magical tree. Nikolai grabbed a cup, also made out of Ignis wood, and poured water into it. He proceeded to offer it to Sotis, who respectfully accepted the drink.
The two men sat down at the table, facing each other. Sotis pulled out his pouch, grabbing an envelope out of it and giving it to Nikolai.
"Thank you Sotis."
As Nikolai was struggling to tear the envelope's seal, Sotis was silently waiting, taking sips out of his cup of water. He was itching to ask a question to the village chief.
"Um, Nikolai? Do you mind if I ask a question about the Ignis tree?"
Nikolai dropped the envelope down onto the table. His eyes opened wide, and was clearly excited to talk about the Ignis tree.
"You want to know about the Ignis tree?" gleefully responded Nikolai. "Why, it is the centerpiece of Ignis village, so much so that the village is named after—"
Sotis interrupted him. "Sorry about this, but I've actually already heard about it from another villager."
"Oh, I see," said Nikolai, slowly calming down from the excitement of hearing that a traveler was interested in the Ignis tree. "What would you like to know then?"
"The Ignis tree," responded Sotis, "it's magical spirit is almost depleted, isn't it?"
Nikolai stood still, in shock. He had never encountered someone who knew the truth about Ignis tree. Still flabbergasted, he asked, "Yes, you are right. Do you mind if I ask how you happen to know this?"
"These magical trees usually produce something else other than just leaves. Fruits, flowers, crystals… Anything, really. The lack of these usually signify how little magical spirit is left within it."
Nikolai sighed, "Sadly that is true. It has been years since I last saw these beautiful red flowers growing out of it. And soon, the leaves will wilt, the branches will stop growing, and it will eventually disintegrate by being unable to withstand its own height."
"Surely, you have thought of helping it regain its former glory?"
"Of course I have!" cried out Nikolai, "I have tried everything! Not a single attempt has resulted in a successful result! I know how much the villagers care about this tree! Despite that, I'm the only person left who saw and knows that the tree produces flowers!"
Sotis smiled. "Well, you don't have to worry anymore, because I'll be able to save the tree."
"You? But aren't you just a regular traveler?" said Nikolai, astonished upon hearing these words he never expected to hear.
"Hmm, perhaps I am. But whether it's delivering a letter or rejuvenating a tree, I am always willing to lend a hand!"
Nikolai, despite almost breaking down in tears seconds ago, had just his spirits brought back up. For the first time, he had hope. Hope that the tree can be saved. Hope that the rest of the village will see the flowers. Hope that he had never imagined to have. Hope that was brought to him by a single traveler.
"Yes, please Sotis!" cried Nikolai, "Please save the tree!"
Sotis got up from his seat, and went outside, heading towards the Ignis tree. Nikolai, frozen by the wave of emotions, finally stood up, and quickly followed Sotis. As the two were walking towards the tree, villagers started to wonder what they were about to do. They had rarely seen a traveler, and the serious looks on the pair's faces only increased the curiosity of the villagers.
The two finally reached the Ignis tree, with a crowd standing behind them. Whispers could be heard amongst the crowd, all wondering what a wandering traveler and their beloved village chief would do. Sotis approached the tree, which silenced the mumblings of the villagers. He reached towards his scabbard, pulling a dagger out. The blade of the dagger was of a very light blue, with the sun reflecting it, whilst the handle was as dark as a shadow. With one swift movement, Sotis was ready to thrust the dagger into the trunk of the tree.
Sotis abruptly stopped his movement, and turned around to look towards the crowd, where the sound came from. The voice came from the tall bearded man whom he first met. Behind him were several other tall men, his friends. He started to angrily stomp towards Sotis, ready to give a piece of his mind.
"I am very grateful for you to be interested in the Ignis tree, but that gives you no right to harm it!" he angrily said, "The tree will only regrow its branches if they are cut, but if there is any harm done to the base of the trunk, its magical spirit is going to flow out of it, and it will die!"
Sounds of affirmation could be heard within the crowd.
"Chief Nikolai," said another tall man, "You were the one who told all of us about the great Ignis tree. Why would you let a stranger harm it?"
Once again, sounds of affirmation were said in the crowd. Nikolai, on the other hand, was shivering, not ready to share the truth with all of the other villagers.
"I'm so sorry," replied Nikolai, "It is true that its magical spirit will flow out if the base is cut. However, if we don't trust this man, Sotis, with the tree, then the tree is going to die either way!"
"What could you possibly mean Chief?" asked the tall bearded man.
Nikolai proceeded to tell the entire village the missing elements of the Ignis tree's story. How it was once filled with beautiful red flowers. How its magical spirit is slowly dissipating through time. How it will soon die if it were to be left alone. Everyone listened to him closely, shocked at this new piece of information they've just heard. Having finished talking, the entire village looked at Sotis. They had no reason to doubt their chief, the one who has looked after them for so long. They all knew something had to be done, regardless of the outcome. Sotis nodded back at the crowd, and turned his attention to Nikolai.
"Nikolai... When in times of despair, you may want to hide your worries from everyone else. Since you love them, you'd want to prevent them from getting worried. However, that doesn't always have to be the case. When you are truly helpless, don't hesitate from sharing your problems with everyone else, because you shouldn't have to hold onto that problem alone. Everyone wants to be there for people they love, just like you were there for them. And that is the beauty of a community. Share the weight of everybody's problems, because no one should have to face a burden alone."
Sotis's words resonated in Nikolai's heart.
"I understand. Sotis, thank you!" he said, with a smile.
Sotis nodded back to him, and shifted his focus to the base of the Ignis tree. He closed his eyes, putting all of his focus onto a single area of the trunk. With a sudden and swift movement, he shoved the dagger in the tree.
Suddenly, the dagger started to glow. A faint light was emitting from it, and the entire crowd stood still, not knowing what would come next. Suddenly, all the villagers felt a wave of pressure, almost as if the Ignis tree itself was falling onto them. However, nobody wanted to look away from this moment. Everybody knew that this was a turning point for the village, and would become a crucial memory. Seconds passed, and then, Sotis suddenly fell to his knees, with the dagger slipping out of the whole he had just created. Nobody dared to move, unable to predict what would come next. However, a red light quickly drew everybody's attention. The Ignis tree was glowing! A never-seen before phenomenon, everyone was in awe at the beauty of this light. Unexpectedly, flower bulbs could be seen to come out of the branches. It was a stunning and gorgeous scene that despite only lasting less than a minute, seemed to last an eternity. The light slowly dissipated, and new bulbs stopped appearing.
Still shocked, the villagers were confused about what had just happened. Nonetheless, Nikolai quickly ran over to Sotis, to make sure he was safe. As he ran, he was followed by the tall bearded man, and soon, the entire crowd. They did not know what he had done, but they knew he did something great. Sotis was exhausted, desperately gasping for air. He picked up his dagger and safely put it back into his scabbard. He slowly stood up, everyone worried about his safety. While everybody was observing him, the crevice Sotis had created closed back up.
Still gasping for air, Sotis declared, "The Ignis tree has been restored."
All the villagers breathed a collective sigh of relief, followed by cheers. The tall men lifted Sotis onto their shoulders, and everyone screamed his name in the plaza. After the cheers died down, Sotis started to explain how to properly take care of the Ignis tree, to prevent this situation from happening ever again.
"...And with that, the flowers should be blooming in a couple months," concluded Sotis.
"I am so thankful for what you've done! Is there anything you'd want as a reward?" asked Nikolai.
"There is just one thing," replied Sotis.
"Yes, what is it?"
"Please, I'd like all of you to remember me."
The villagers looked at each other, surprised. This unknown traveler had just saved the soul of their village, yet, all he asked from them is to remember him. They all looked at him, and smiled.
"Of course Sotis. We shall never forget you. You are the savior of this village, and your name shall be remembered for the generations to come!" cried out Nikolai.
Everybody cheered once more, celebrating the savior of their village. The celebrations lasted till the night, with all villagers partying. It had been a long time since they last faced a disaster, and coming so close to one brought euphoria to the village. Eventually, the celebrations had to stop, with everyone either sleeping from exhaustion or from drinking too much. They all snoozed till noon, at the exception of one person: Sotis. When dawn rose, he left without a note, leaving the Ignis village with their newly restored Ignis tree.
However, Sotis did remember a promise he made. He stopped by Emma's house, whom he promised to visit. Just like him, she woke up early in the morning, having seen her far in the distance. As he approached her, he saw her tending to her crops. Once she saw him approach her, she stood up, and quickly came to talk to him.
"Hi! My name is Emma. What's your name?" she cheerfully asked.
"My name is Sotis, and I'm a traveler. We actually met yesterday."
Emma pondered for many long seconds, "Hmm, Sotis… I'm so sorry, but it doesn't ring a bell."
Sotis sighed and looked at her with a painful smile, "That's all right. I do hope you'll be able to remember me one day."
Having kept his promise to visit her, Sotis walked away from her. He had once again experienced the pain of being forgotten, a feeling he always hoped to avoid. Feeling a clench in his chest, he attempted to avoid thinking about it. He pulled out a small book and a pen from his pocket, and started writing about everything he experienced the past day. He wrote about Emma. He wrote about the bearded man and his friends. He wrote about Nikolai. He wrote about the Ignis tree. He wrote about Ignis Village. He wrote everything, all so that it could be remembered for years to come.
While walking and writing simultaneously, Sotis accidentally dropped his book. As he bent down to pick it up, it had somehow landed in the page he dreaded to see: the page detailing his curse. The Curse of the Forgotten One. A malicious curse Sotis received years ago which causes him to be removed from everybody's memories when the sun rises. Sotis wrote every possible detail regarding this curse, in hopes that it could eventually be cured. However, this page now scares him more than ever, only showing the helplessness of his situation, and how impossible it is to get rid of this malediction.
Sotis quickly closed the book and put it back in his pocket. Still shivering at the thought of this dreadful page, he calmly closed his eyes, and started thinking about his goal. Although he may have lost all hope in curing his curse, he still hopes that by helping as many people as possible, he would have at least put his mark on this world, all so that his existence would not be completely forgotten.
Having recollected his thoughts, Sotis looked back once more at the tall Ignis tree. With a slight smile, he took a big breath of fresh air, stood tall, and started walking wherever the road would lead him to next.
Several months after Sotis passed by Ignis Village, the flowers of the Ignis tree finally bloomed. The villagers were admiring the gorgeous red flowers, and all pledged that the tree would maintain its beauty for years to come.
"It's truly beautiful, isn't it Nikolai?"
"It sure is, Emma. And to think that these flowers had disappeared for so many years. I'm glad they were finally able to bloom again."
"Speaking of which, how did they even bloom back?"
"Hmm, I'm not sure. I can't seem to recall ever seeing the flower bulbs appearing."
"Huh, that's certainly weird. Well, I'm certainly grateful to whatever brought these flowers back."
"Yes, everyone in Ignis Village surely are."