Chapter 0:

A Bedtime Story

Writing a Guidebook with You

“Papa. Whatcha doing?” a six-year-old blonde girl, Arabella Dekever, asked in the midst of a serene night.

She hugged her favorite round and yellow cushion, which resembled a gold coin, and was embroidered with her father’s face. Then she held the edge of a table and stood on her toes, so she could be taller and see whatever was on his father’s table. Unfortunately, there wasn’t food.

Her father, Boethus Dekever, smiled and caressed her hair. “Papa is writing about two-headed bats.”

“O... scawy bats!” she was still trying to reach a higher position with her toes, but she failed, miserably.

“Here we go.” Boethus held her body, raised her, and put her on his lap.

“Whoa! Scawyyy!!” Arabella scanned the painting on a parchment. Boethus was writing on its right side, describing everything about a purple two-headed bat. With the aid of a lantern on the table, Arabella traced whatever her father wrote. But alas, she didn’t get the shit. “What you write, Papa?”

“The fact that their teeth are extremely poisonous, Arabella.”






Her father chuckled. “It’s a danger. Bad, don’t ever get bitten, okay?”

“Hm, hm!” Arabella nodded.

Although she was a prodigy, she wasn't able to fully understand what his father wrote. So Arabella complained in the end. “Papa. This is fucking boring.”

Shocked, Boethus dropped his quill pen. “Who the hell taught you that word? ‘Fuck’ is a bad word! Don’t say it!”

“Lord Deroulade’s youngest son, Durant!” Arabella answered happily.

Boethus was so pissed off and clenched his fist. “That motherfucker son of bitch!”


“ARGH!” He slammed the table and shouted. “FORGET THAT WORD!”

“Papa is SCAWYYY!” Arabella was teary and hugged her cushion tightly.

Boethus coughed and caressed her hair again. “Papa is sorry, Papa isn’t angry.”

Then Arabella smiled brightly so quickly. What a tease.

Boethus turned the page, and he began to write a journal. It wasn’t necessary, but he felt he needed to tell the world about the bravery and sacrifice of his team.

“Hastily, that day many adventurers flocked to the city’s adventurer guild. But some of them collapsed and died, and the rest became crazy. They had ventured into the Bat Dungeon, which was supposed to be safe and fully explored. Therefore, there was an anomaly.”

Arabella opened her mouth and yawned so loud. Boethus just chuckled. And he kept reading aloud his journal, so Arabella would sleep.

“Anomaly was always ominous. So the guild notified us, the Duchy, and requested an investigation with our best knights.

Therefore, we quickly assembled the best team we ever had. And went to investigate. We didn’t bring carts for transporting the goods of a dungeon, we just needed some servants and carts to carry our food and armor. Mobility was the key.”

A strand of his black hair fell onto his black glove, and Boethus shook it off.

“When we arrived on the second underground floor, we found more corpses. Their skins were also purple, and we were able to see the horror on their faces. It was traumatic. So we became alert and asked our squires to hold our armor and be prepared for whatever would happen.

But nothing happened.”

“Huuuuh?” Arabella inquired.

“We ventured into the third floor, the fourth floor, and so on, but we found nothing strange. So we relaxed and thought that probably there was a poisonous monster visiting the dungeon and quickly leaving afterward. That explained why the corpses weren’t on the deeper floors.

But ‘seeing is believing’, so we decided to go down to the deepest floor, the seventh floor.”

Boethus halted his hand and took a deep breath. “Then we met our nightmare.”

Arabella’s pupils were dilated. She became excited!

“On the sixth floor, there was no light, and thus plants could not grow. Water was scarce, and we could only hunt white boars. So we should not have stayed for long.

But there weren’t boars. And it was so noisy. The laughter of bats was so loud, jumbled, and unfamiliar. Sinister, even.

We were starving, afraid, and nervous. So I suggested we sent our mages and burned those bats to a crisp. Made those sinister, unfamiliar bats extinct. Mages could fine-tune their fire, so it must have been fine.”

Boethus’ pen trembled.

“Our mages recited their magic, but those unfamiliar, two-headed bats quickly disappeared and appeared on the other side. They bit our mages. Crunched their skins into bones in a matter of seconds. Those bats were unrealistically fast.

So one of our mages burned and sacrificed himself to kill and scare away those bats. He was brave and our savior. And I was surprised that other mages also sacrificed themselves, so we had a chance to escape and survive.

They weren’t saints, they couldn’t perform miracles. But it was a miracle that the rest of us could safely go back to the fifth floor. They were truly our proud brothers.”

“Arabella loves miracles!” Arabella shouted excitedly.

“Those monsters didn’t pursue the rest of us further. But it seemed God had forsaken us.

When we reached the second floor, some of us collapsed. They became purple. We concluded that the more bites we had, the faster our skin became purple. And once our bodies became completely purple, we lost our breath.”

Arabella dozed off.

“It was so risky if we tried to extinguish those two-headed bats. Medicines could only slow down the poison. We didn't know how to cure it. So we notified and requested the guild to shut down the path toward the sixth floor. The cause of the anomaly shouldn’t have been investigated. Ever.

Let those evil two-headed bats die from starvation. Let those nightmares be left behind, and with this book about monsters and our duchy, I wish no one has to experience those nightmares ever again.”

Arabella dropped her cushion. She fell asleep.

Boethus carefully lifted her body and put her on the bed. He smiled. “Good night, my daughter.”

After he patted Arabella’s head, he walked out of his study room. He loosened his glove and looked at his wrist. It was almost purple.

“Is she sleeping?” Arabella’s mother, Margareta Dekever, asked Boethus and sat in the dining room. Her face was red, her golden long hair was a bit messy, and her cheeks were soaked. Despite that, she smiled and greeted her husband with a positive feeling about their future.

“Yes.” Boethus walked toward Margareta and lowered his head. “I’m sorry. I don’t think I have much time.”

“It’s okay, Boethus. You already made me happy. And don’t you remember I’m a strong woman? I can raise her on my own.” Margareta caressed his face and smiled.

“I’m sorry...” Boethus embraced his wife for the last time, and Margareta touched him fondly. She tried to reduce her husband’s fear and anger. To give him a happy parting.

Boethus had a very good sense of hearing, so he noticed that Arabella watched them from his study room. He didn’t want to have regret, he wanted to accept his wife’s intention, so his bedtime storytelling was their last time together as a father and a daughter.


It had been years since her father died. Arabella looked at her book of hours, a medieval calendar, and she had calculated and concluded that it was the day when her father died.

Father. We miss you.

She opened the window and held her cheek with her hand. Feeling the breeze, Arabella wondered if there was something fun to do to forget her longing.

And it seemed God answered her prayer.

A black-haired man, who wore strange armor, fell from the sky with a stupid, exaggerated expression. That man’s expression made her smile, and thus she knew, that man was going to bring her something amusing.

Christian Widjaya
Harmonica Writes
Syed Al Wasee
Memo Alfonso
Kya Hon