Do you dream of me in the next life?
“A distress signal,” Josie questioned in her mind. Both Josie and Aiden stood there in a surprised daze until Josie spoke up.
“Where is Frost Valley?”
“It’s in that direction. Just go to the Enchanted Forest and walk a ways up from there, just look for snow.” said Alvin while he pointed the way.
Josie flew away to the forest and landed on the ground with a skid. She carefully looked around the sea of trees that greeted her eyesight. Snow was nowhere to be seen. All she saw was shrubs, birds, a lone fox that retreated as she walked by, and of course, the many trees that towered over her. Josie thought to herself that she liked how scenic this forest was.
She kept up a good walking pace until she suddenly tripped. Or so she thought, because in reality she got caught in a trap that hanged Josie upside down.
“What do we have here? It doesn’t look like an animal.” said a voice.
She looked below and saw a group of children, some of them were wearing animal costumes while others had pointy ears.
“I knew my eyes weren’t lying! You’re a dragon.” said a child with pointy ears and a bowl haircut.
“Yeah, I’m a dragon. Could you please help me down from this trap?”
The boy rubbed his chin. “I don’t know…what do you kids think? Should we let our new friend down or…” He walked forward a bit before spinning around with his bow out, an arrow at the ready aimed at Josie. “should we eat her instead?”
The kids were jumping up and down with happiness and cheer, chanting “Eat her! Eat her!”
“This is just great, I just got reincarnated hours ago and here I am about to die again!” Josie thought to herself.
She pleaded against their cheers and waved her hands while saying “No, no!” followed by “I taste awful! Let me go!” but the kids were not listening. Then the boy stopped their cheering so he could speak.
“Alright, I’ll help you down. We were just kidding, ok?”
The boy aimed his bow and arrow at the rope and shot it down. Luckily, she caught herself with her wings just in time to soften the landing. She got up on her feet with a little help from the boy.
“So, what’s your name and business in these woods?”
“My name is Josie and I am trying to find Frost Valley.”
The boy looked at Josie with surprise and confusion. “Frost Valley? Are you sure that is your destination?”
She nodded her head. “A distress signal was sent out from there and a friend of mine told me I should help them. Could you please help me uh…”
“Finley. My name is Finley. Of course, I would help you. If someone’s in trouble then the more help they can get, the better.”
Finley turned around to the kids, some of them were goofing around while others were patiently waiting.
“Class dismissed everyone! Evelynn and Gary will take you home.”
Some distance away from the kids, Evelynn and Gary approached. Evelynn had pointy ears like Finley and blonde hair that was tied up in a bun. She carried a brown handbag with the handle around one arm. Gary wore cat ears on his black haired head. Evelynn was taller than Finley and Gary looked like he was the same height as her. When they got closer to the group, Evelynn ran up to Josie.
“Oh my! It’s a dragon! If you mind me asking, but could I touch your muscles?” Her light blue eyes seemed to sparkle as she stared at Josie.
“Yep, that is definitely some dragon muscle right there!” said Evelynn with a smile.
Gary let out a big sigh. “Good grief. Excuse me on behalf of Evelynn but she tends to do this whenever she sees a dragon.”
Evelynn chuckled. “It’s because I like dragons. They are so strong and cool.”
Evelynn hurried back to Gary who gathered all the kids. “Anyways, as you know from Finley my name is Evelynn and this is my business partner Gary. We are both merchants, so if you ever need anything, please look at our wares ok?”
Evelynn and Gary both waved goodbye and left. Finley grabbed what was left of the rope he used for the trap and placed it into his bag, then he stored his bag away with magic.
“Alright then, follow me. We can get to Frost Valley faster through this direction.” said Finley.
After some time of travel, Josie decided to speak up. The trees hugged each other less and less as they kept their pace.
“So, Finley. What’s up with the pointy ears and animal costumes?”
“You mean you’ve seriously never met beast people before? Let alone an elf?”
“Really? Well…let me tell you bout beast people and elves then. Elves are considered masters of the bow. We pride ourselves in our heightened sense of hearing and sight. Beast people are born with the ability to use animal powers through costumes only they can use. Just like us elves, they love and support nature.”
“You called those kids your class. Are you a teacher?”
Finley halted for a moment. “Yes…but not officially. I’m a survivalist and it’s my dream to open up a school where kids can learn to survive in the wilderness. I want to teach both elves and beast people, but the settlements of our races disapprove of my idea. Despite our similar interests, we can’t stop distrusting each other.”
“So even in another world, people don’t get along? That’s sad.”
“Wait a minute, are you a reincarnated person?”
Josie explained her situation to him while they continued to walk.
“Sorry to hear that. I wish I could help you on your journey, but my people need me.”
“Do you know of any-” Finley extended an arm out in front of her.
“I don’t think we’re alone here. Prepare yourself.”
Nightmares were coming out from behind the trees with their claws at the ready. The Nightmares cackled and groaned with glee, while some of them licked the corners of their mouth or did a simple wicked smile.
Suddenly, the Nightmares charged at them from behind, in front, and at their sides. Josie managed to take down some of them with Dragwind’s long ranged attacks. A group of Nightmares got close and lunged at her. She deflected them while Finley provided backup with his arrows. A Nightmare approached Finley while he was distracted but he dodged it, then stabbed the Nightmare directly with an arrow. Finley pulled out a small sword that he kept on his belt and used it to defeat Nightmares that were close to him. They kept fighting back to back until the mobs of Nightmares stopped. It was all over, until they heard loud stomping noises.
“Ah, just great! A Nightmare giant is coming!” said Finley as he prepared an arrow in his bow.
The giant pushed aside a couple trees and squeezed into the open. Wow, talk about living up to your name, Josie thought. It had a muscular physique and carried a large club. The Nightmare giant sprinted towards Josie and swung his weapon. She switched Dragwind into wide form and hit back, but the impact of the giant’s attack overwhelmed her and hurled her away.
“Josie!” yelled Finley as he shot arrow after arrow in quick succession.
The giant took a swing at Finley, but he jumped in the nick of time, placing a well-aimed shot right in the Nightmare’s eye. In a rage fueled pain, the Nightmare swung wildly and hits Finley since he couldn’t dodge all of the attacks. The giant looked with its good eye for Finley, stepped closer to him and then raised his club in the air. Josie jumped behind the Nightmare and slashed the giant in half. She walked over to Finley and helped him onto his feet as the giant’s body disappeared in a shadowy smoke. Josie noticed that happened to all the Nightmares during their fight too.
“Did my dream energy do that? Could that happen to me?” Josie dismissed the thought in her head.
“Thank goodness that is over with.” said Finley.
He took out his bag and retrieved a couple vials and handed them to her. One vial had a green liquid inside while the other vial had a blue liquid.
“This one,” pointed Finley, “is a healing potion and that blue one is a dream potion. The healing potion will restore any physical injuries or wounds that you have. It’s great for any pain that you have too. The dream potion will restore any dream energy lost. I don’t have anything stronger than these two at the moment, so please be careful.”
“Understood. Thank you for the potions.” Josie used the potions he gave her, and Finley used a couple on himself.
They continued walking and finally found snow under their feet, so they ran ahead and found what they were looking for. Though Josie couldn’t believe what she saw before her. Houses destroyed in various places, towers that stood proudly were no longer standing, and the people…were all frozen solid in ice.
“This is why I asked if you’re sure about coming here. This is the former Ice Kingdom, it has been destroyed and abandoned for years.” said Finley.