Chapter 3:

▇▇▇▇ and Neptunias: Part 1

Lonely Savior: Curse of the Forgotten One

With dark clouds starting to form in the sky, Sotis was quickly trying to find shelter to avoid the potential rain. As he walked, he started to notice stunning purple flowers growing alongside the trail. Although these had no aroma, their vibrant color was enough to make anyone stop and admire their beauty, unless they were preoccupied with finding protection against the rain. Far in the distance, Sotis noticed small buildings, seemingly a small village. Having identified potential shelter, he started running in direction to this unknown village.Bookmark here

As he ran, the number of purple flowers started significantly increasing. What started as a handful of flowers soon became an entire sea of them, filling the borders of the road with purple. This recurrence of flowery terrain did not stop when Sotis reached his destination, with the entire village being surrounded by these purple flowers. To Sotis's surprise, this village did not have any sort of palisade, a common trait he has seen during his travels. All the houses were in plain sight, revealing the inside of the village for all to see. The inside of the village was just like its outside, with the sea of flowers flooding into the village. The purple flowers filled the near entirety of village's terrain, making it near impossible for anyone to walk without trampling on the delicate petals. However, there was something peculiar that caught Sotis's attention. There was not any person in sight. Thinking that everybody was potentially inside their homes to hide away from the rain, he started walking around the village, still trying his best to avoid stepping on the blossoms.Bookmark here

"Hey! Is anybody here? Hello?" continuously yelled out Sotis, hoping to see another soul present.Bookmark here

He received no response, with the wind being the only other sound he could hear. He continued walking around, starting to consider simply barging inside one of the multiple vacant houses. However, he quickly banished this idea upon hearing an unusual noise, a sound similar to a groan of pain. Sotis stood still, trying to identify where the noise came from. He shortly heard the same sound again, managing to figure out the direction to the source of the sound.Bookmark here

Sotis quickly ran towards the place where the groans were coming from, being a small wooden house, with no windows to show the inside of it. The door was slightly opened, leaving a small gap just wide enough to let sound flow out of it. Sotis burst the door open, hoping to find the source of this unusual noise. The entire house was composed of a single collective room, lit by a handful of candles. The light emitting from them revealed the inside of the house: a small table surrounded by 3 chairs, wooden boxes of food in the corner of the room, an empty shelf alongside the wall, and two beds next to each other. One of the beds was larger, with a blanket covering the sheets. A few steps away from it was the other bed, much smaller than the previous one Sotis had seen, with a very noticeable characteristic. This small bed had a person on it, the only person Sotis had seen in the entire village. This person was a small and young girl, with long pinkish hair. The groans Sotis had heard previously came from her. With her eyes closed, her sleep was clearly disturbed, almost as if she was having a terrifying nightmare. Being undoubtedly in pain, Sotis quickly walked up to her, waking up from her sleep.Bookmark here

"Hey, are you alright?" he calmly said, shaking her delicately.Bookmark here

The small girl slowly opened her cute blue eyes, discerning Sotis's face. Suddenly, she raised her back, standing on her bed with a white blanket hiding her legs. With a large, adorable smile on her face, she happily greeted the man standing by her bed.Bookmark here

"Hi! I'm Soleil! Nice to meet you!" she said with a gleaming smile.Bookmark here

Sotis was perplexed, still trying to wrap his head around the groans of pain he had heard moments ago. Soleil was smiling brightly at him, clearly showing no sight of being hurt. Reassured that this small girl was unharmed, Sotis smiled back to her, greeting her as well.Bookmark here

"Hi Soleil. I'm Sotis. Nice to meet you as well," he said, lowering himself down to her height.Bookmark here

Soleil grinned, revealing her clear white teeth. She slowly got herself off the bed, with her feet being unable to reach the floor from where she was sleeping. Sotis silently observed her as she was getting off. Soleil was no older than 5-years-old, and yet, she was seemingly the only inhabitant of this village. There was no adult here to take care of her, let alone any other person. With these questions looming in Sotis's mind, he proceeded to ask them to the little girl.
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"Hey Soleil, are you the only person here?" he asked, hiding his uneasiness inside him.Bookmark here

"Nope, not at all!" she responded proudly, "They are simply out of the village, and will be coming back soon! That's what papa and mama said!"Bookmark here

"I see. And I'd assume that your parents have gone out as well?"Bookmark here

"Yep, that's it!"Bookmark here

Her response troubled Sotis, and simply brought more questions than answers. He doubted that the entire population of the village had left, leaving Soleil alone. Sotis started pondering the countless possibilities of what could have happened. Perhaps Soleil was abandoned, or the village had to evacuate. Nonetheless, Sotis's contemplation was brought to a close when he felt a slight tug on his trousers. He looked down, seeing Soleil staring straight in his eyes.Bookmark here

"Hey, mister. Let's play!"Bookmark here

Soleil took hold of Sotis's right hand, and started dragging him out of the house to go outside. Sotis let himself be moved by the young girl, matching the pace of Soleil's tiny feet. As she took a step outside, the small droplets of water started to fall down from the sky, almost as if the clouds had sensed that the two were heading out. In a matter of seconds, these water drops quickly turned to a heavy downpour, washing away the girl's desire to go outside. With the rain pouring down in torrents, Soleil's joyful and merry mood slowly turned to disappointment. Having finally met someone after being left alone for these last few days, Soleil was thrilled to have this traveller keep her company. With a pout on her face, Sotis gently patted Soleil's head, trying to cheer her up.Bookmark here

"Should we go play inside then?" said Sotis, in a comforting tone.Bookmark here

With a wide grin on her face, Soleil happily nodded, and skipped back inside the house. She quickly walked to the side of her bed, Sotis closely following behind. Soleil rummaged underneath her bed, and eventually pulled out a small flute. The instrument had an elaborate carving on it, with a magnificent pattern Sotis had not yet seen before. Soleil proudly held the flute in her hand, letting wanting to show it to Sotis.Bookmark here

"That's quite the splendid instrument you've got there," he said.Bookmark here

"Hehe, it's a gift from my mom!" proudly said Soleil, "I got it many months ago. Mom said it comes from another city far, far away. You know, apparently, the world is filled with plenty of beautiful places. I heard that there are all sorts of pretty plants and big buildings everywhere! Hey, hey, did you ever go to any fun places?"Bookmark here

Soleil's eyes were gleaming, excited to hear about Sotis's story. Succumbing to the child's cheerful mood, Sotis proceeded to tell his journey. He described the different landscapes he had seen, from the tall mountains filled with flourishing trees, to the dazzling blue lakes and seas. Sotis talked about the people he encountered, and the different cultures he saw. Soleil was listening quietly, being in complete awe at the traveler's stories. She had only ever heard of the outside of the village from the other adults in town. Sotis's descriptions had just opened an entire new world for her, a world wider than she had ever imagined before.Bookmark here

The two continued to talk for hours, not noticing the time pass by. The rain slowly started to subside, almost simultaneously as the sun was about to set. Having heard Sotis's countless stories, Soleil's imagination of what the rest of the world could be like was running wild. She dreamed of the people she could meet, the views she could see, the emotions she would feel, the experiences she could gain. With this vision in mind, she suddenly stood up on her small legs, ready to make a declaration.
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"I've decided!" Soleil said, with her fists on her hips, "I'm going to travel the world, just like you! When I grow up, I'll become the greatest traveler, and the entire world will know my name!"Bookmark here

This huge announcement by the small child brought a warm smile to Sotis's face, with Soleil's joy and happiness transferring over him.Bookmark here

Alright then," he said, "When you become an adult, let's meet up again. I can’t wait to see the traveller you will become."
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Soleil chuckled, smiling with all her teeth. While she was standing proudly, a slight grumble was heard from her stomach.Bookmark here

"Ah! I forgot to eat! Mom will be mad if she finds out that I skipped a meal!"Bookmark here

Soleil frantically ran towards wooden crates that were positioned at the corner of the room. Standing on the tip of her toes, she reached down to grab something to eat. She eventually pulled out two apples and a couple of bread loaves. She ran back to Sotis, handing him an apple and a slice of bread.Bookmark here

"Here you go!" Soleil joyfully said, offering him the food that was in her tiny hands.Bookmark here

Sotis gratefully accepted it, taking the apple and the bread from the girl's hands. He took a bite in the red fruit, sinking into the apple's flesh. Soleil proceeded to do the same, trying to take as big of a bite as her little mouth could. They continued to eat for several minutes, alternating between the doughy bread and the sweet apple.Bookmark here

"By the way, are apples and bread all the food you have?" asked Sotis, concerned for Soleil's nutrition.Bookmark here

"Yesh!" responded Soleil, with a mouthful of bread, "Dad shaid thath if ever they aren'tch here, to jusht thake food from the boxch."Bookmark here

She swallowed what she had in her mouth, while Sotis was left in deep thinking upon hearing her words. Having seen the current state of the village, as well as Soleil's current lifestyle, he knew he had to do something to help the little girl, at least until another villager returned.Bookmark here

The two of them continued to play for hours. Despite the laughs and smiles they shared together, Sotis kept in the back of his mind the possibilities of what could have happened to the other villagers and what he could do to help Soleil. After having talked for hours with her, Sotis realized how attached she was to her hometown, making it near-certain that she would never wish to leave the village. His first thought was to check out the rest of the village's houses, in hope to find hints to the mystery surrounding it. His second thought was to find something slightly more nutritious for Soleil, so she could become the strong adventurer she is destined to be. With Soleil's eyelids having much difficulty staying wide open, Sotis started to tuck her in bed.Bookmark here

"Hey, mister?" drowsily said Soleil.Bookmark here

"Hmm? What is it?" calmly asked Sotis.Bookmark here

"I had a lot of fun today. Let's play again tomorrow."Bookmark here

"Sure. Let's play again tomorrow."Bookmark here

"Hehe, I can't wait till tomorrow then."Bookmark here

Being softly patted on the head by Sotis, Soleil quickly fell asleep, exhausted by today. Feeling tired as well, Sotis laid down on the floor, just by the side of Soleil's bed. With tomorrow in mind, Sotis closed his eyes, ready to bring Soleil another day of joyful experiences.Bookmark here

Just as the sun was about to rise, Sotis woke up. He looked to his left, seeing Soleil sleeping soundly. Being glad to see that she was doing alright, Sotis left her house, in search of a meal for Soleil.Bookmark here

Sotis went to a forest that was just as the edge of the town, past the fields of purple flowers. Armed with his trusty dagger, he heightened his instincts, ready to catch any prey that could be close. As he searched, he made sure to collect any wild crops he found. While picking up some brown mushrooms, he heard a rustle in the bushes. Dagger in hand, Sotis was ready to put his hunting skills to the use. Silently watching the rustling bushes, he saw a large rabbit coming out of it. With no hesitation, Sotis suddenly pushed himself off the ground, and cleanly sliced the rabbit's neck. Having caught his prey, he returned back to the village, ready to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the villagers.Bookmark here

With the sun shining bright, Sotis walked around from house to house, hoping to find some clues. Each house he entered was furnished, and all had clear signs of people having once lived in these. After having gone through dozens of buildings, he had finally found something that caught his attention. In what seemed like a normal bookshelf had a singular noteworthy book: a short research document on the village itself. Although most towns and cities had books dedicated to these, the village's mysteries made finding this book all the more surprising. Despite the village's name being scratched out and ineligible, Sotis was able to deduce that the book was indeed about the village thanks to the iconic purple flower that was shown on the book's cover. With the book in hand, he was about to flip through the pages, until he heard a small groan of pain. Having found a potential clue and now knowing the source of the sound, Sotis put the book in his pouch, and hurried to Soleil's side.Bookmark here

As Sotis imagined, Soleil was once again crying out small groans of pain. He delicately shook her a bit, hoping to wake her up, just like he had done yesterday. Once again, Sotis managed to wake Soleil up, whom slowly rubbed her eyes. She looked around, seeing Sotis's face looking right at her.Bookmark here

"Hi! I'm Soleil! Nice to meet you!" she said with a gleaming smile.
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With this greeting, Sotis's second day with Soleil, and Soleil's first day with a stranger was about to begin.Bookmark here

Taylor Victoria
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