Chapter #2 – Ch Extra 2
Chapter Extra 2
Special Extra Chapter Two:
The Flag on the Kid’s Meal
“I’m going out!”
“Make sure you are back for lunch!”
The weather is amazing today!
After I said bye to my parents I headed for the town square . Keel and the others were waiting for me there .
“Hey, you really came!”
“Sure . ”
Keel wiggled his little dog-like ears while he waited for me .
The other kids were already there .
“They said we can’t go to the ocean today because Sadeena isn’t here . I said it would be fine, but still…”
“But Keel, you almost drowned last time . ”
“Oh shut up! Anyway, let’s play in the fields today . ”
Everyone nodded in agreement .
“All right, let’s go! You’d better stick with me so you don’t get lost!”
“Who do you think you’re talking to? I’m a fast runner!”
We all raced each other out to the fields .
But really, I was a fast runner . I was probably just as fast as Keel, and everyone said that he was the fastest .
Once I started running, everyone fell into line behind me .
“You really are fast!”
“If you throw your arms out ahead of you and think about running faster, you’ll really increase your speed . ”
I was trying to tell one of the slower kids how to run fast, and as we were talking about it we arrived at the field .
My parents had said that we needed to be careful because there were monsters, but we had never run into any real danger .
“What do you want to do today?”
“Ah shoot! I lost . I swear that I’ll beat you next time!”
Keel shot me a nasty look .
Heh, heh . This was going to be a good day .
“Let’s play tag!”
Everyone agreed with my plan .
“I’ll be it! I’m going to catch you!”
“You won’t catch me!”
Keel really hated to lose, but that was one of the best things about him .
“Shoot! Wait up!”
Keel seemed like he was actually upset . He only chased after me .
Eventually we all tired out, and we all decided to take a break .
“What should we do next?”
“Everyone can still play, right?”
“I don’t have to help out at home, so I can still play . ”
For whatever reason, there were times when everyone had stuff they had to do at home . I helped my mom cook .
“Let’s play tag again!”
“But I’m so tired . Let me catch my breath . ”
Keel had way too much energy . I guess boys are like that .
“Whatever . Then the rest of us will play without you . ”
All the boys got up and went to play tag .
“They sure are energetic . ”
The girl next to me, Rifana, agreed with me . We both sat and watched the boys play .
“Hey, who do you like?”
We were all close to the age where we started to care about love and relationships .
We started talking about who was dating who, and who we thought would get married . Before long we were both talking excitedly .
“Maybe someone like my dad!”
“That’s cheating! He needs to be the same age as you!”
I turned to watch the boys playing .
Keel was probably the coolest boy among them . He had a good face . But, and I know I shouldn’t say things like this, I’d never liked the look of my own face in the mirror .
If we went to the nearby town there were a lot of cute girls around, and the older we got the more obvious their beauty became .
And my race wasn’t highly regarded for our beauty…
But my dad was cool, and he was handsome . I wanted to be like my dad .
Everyone said that my mom was cute . She was really nice too, and she knew how to cook…
I wonder… Will I be pretty when I grow up? I’d asked my mom that question before .
She smiled and nodded .
So I was pretty sure I’d be pretty once I grew up .
Another time, I asked her what it was like to fall in love with a man . Is it different from loving your family?
She looked confused .
I guess she loved men differently from the way she loved me .
“I think there are different ways to like people . My mom once said that she liked people differently from the way she liked me . ”
“Yeah! I get that . But I want to marry someone like… someone like the Legendary Shield Hero!”
Rifana was my best friend from the village . She was more girly than I was, and she liked to talk about love and boys . She especially liked to talk about the Records of the Four Holy Weapons, because it said that the Shield Hero was nice to demi-humans .
But just then…
Up until that point I had never thought that my life would consist of anything other than a succession of peaceful days . I had really believed it .
A loud sound echoed over the fields
Just as I started to wonder what it could be, the air started shaking, and a sudden and powerful wind blew .
We all fell to the ground and waited for the wind to die down .
A moment later the wind faded . Everything was quiet .
“What was that?!”
“Hey, look at that . ”
Keel was pointing to the sky .
I looked to where he was pointing and was stunned to silence .
The sky looked like it had been ripped open with a knife . It was coved in a deep red crack, like a tortoise shell . It was eerie .
“What should we do?”
“My parents said to come back to the village if anything happened . ”
“If we don’t check it out now, we might not ever have a chance again . ”
The other kids and I all held Keel back, and we went back to the village together .
My father returned from the neighboring town . I rushed over to him .
“Are you okay? I was so worried!”
“I’m okay . You said to come back if anything happened, so I rushed back here . ”
“Good girl . ”
He rubbed my head .
Hee hee hee…
My dad started talking to all the other adults .
“Everyone listen up . I’ve just gone to see the lord of these lands . He says that those cracks in the sky lead to the ground and that huge crowds of monsters are swarming out of them . ”
“Does that mean that we have to fight them?”
“I think it does . ”
There was a terrifying howl coming from the cracks in sky .
My tail started swishing aggressively at the sound of the howl . It was so scary .
“Will we be okay?”
“Hm… . ”
“H…Hey! We’re in trouble! The monsters have already flooded the town! It’s like hell out there!”
An old man from the village ran in and announced the news . His face was pale .
“But… How? How could they have gotten here so fast?!”
“The lord has commanded us to evacuate as quickly as possible! He has already called for support from the castle!”
“What had happened to the lord?”
“I don’t know, but he has left instructions for everyone to evacuate as soon as possible!”
The adults looked very upset as they talked .
“And Sadeena is away, and all the hunters are out fishing…”
“There’s a big storm out at sea too . Who knows if they will be able to return safely?”
The sky was looking worse and worse .
Just then there was a large, strange sound . Everyone turned to see what it was .
“What… is that?!”
There was something there, like… like a person made of bones . It was stumbling and dragging its feet as it walked in our direction . ”
It was carrying something like a weapon in its bony hands, and it was shining with a dull light .
I was scared . I was scared down to my bones .
It was a monster .
That was the only word that fit, and it described it perfectly .
The adults all screamed and started to run away .
The rest of the villagers all started to scream too .
My father jumped in front of the monster to head them off .
“I command the very root of power . Light! Slay the beast before me!”
A ball of magical, sparkling light flew from my father’s outstretched hands, and the bone monster collapsed .
“Everyone please calm down and listen to me . We need to evacuate here as soon as possible . While our tribe commands great power, we have no hope of standing up to such numbers . ”
“You’re right . ”
My mother threw a hatchet at a skeleton as she agreed with my father .
But there were still large numbers of skeletons heading for the village .
“We will stay here and buy time . The rest of you…”
“Uh… okay . ”
“Y…Yes . ”
“All right . If you are sure…”
Everyone caught their breath for a moment before beginning the evacuation .
They decided to head for a town on the harbor . Even in a storm, they still might be able to escape on boats, out into the sea .
But things didn’t go as planned .
“Damn these monsters!”
A large beast with three heads was running for the village .
My parents were fighting with all their might, but it wasn’t enough . The beast was too fast; it kept dodging my father’s magic and my mother’s hatchet .
The beast violently swung its clawed paw, and my father and another villager went flying through the air . They both fell to the ground, their joints twisted .
I couldn’t believe it…
The villagers started panicking and running as fast as they could .
They ignored my father’s shouts for order and ran for the ocean .
The panicking villagers pushed by me, and I fell to the ground .
“Everyone, wait just a second!”
“Are you okay?”
My mother was there, hugging me .
But her face was pale .
A three-headed dog was chasing down the villagers, attacking them with its fangs and claws .
My mother ran her fingers through my hair .
“It’s okay . We’ll be just fine, don’t you worry . ”
If my mother said we would be okay… we would be… right?
“We’re going . ”
My father started running off after the other fleeing villagers . My mother and I followed close behind .
The villagers arrived at a cliff by the sea and started jumping into the ocean .
The dog was chasing after them . And then, I couldn’t believe it! The dog jumped into the ocean after them and started eating the swimming villagers .
The ocean turned red .
“Dammit, we were too late!”
My father was screaming . He and my mother ran off to attack the dog and defend the remaining villagers . I hid behind them .
The huge, three-headed dog leapt out of the ocean and turned to face us . It howled . It cornered us against the cliff, so that we had nowhere to run .
The three-headed dog leapt at us, its claws out .
My father managed to bat away the claws with his magic, but then a shower of blood sprayed from his shoulder .
“Dear, are you all right?”
“I’m fine… But…”
We were up against the cliff . The other villagers were all already in the ocean, but more than half of them had been… had been…
“I was so scared . I held onto my mother’s back .
Everyone below was swimming to save their own lives, but the current was strong, and they kept getting pulled further out to sea . They were going to drown .
“If we don’t take care of this thing, he’ll follow the villagers into the sea and kill them all . ”
“‘I’m sorry, honey…”
“I was prepared . ”
They finished talking and both turned to me .
“Raphtalia . ”
She was rubbing my back, trying to calm me down .
“Don’t forget to smile . Be nice to the others . ”
“She’s right . When you smile, everyone smiles . ”
Father rubbed my head .
“Raphtalia… Things will be hard for you . If you aren’t careful, you might even die . ”
“But still… Even still, Raphtalia, we want you to live . So please, forgive us for our selfishness . ”
My heart started pounding… It was like… It was like I wasn’t ever going to see them again .
“Nooo! Mommy! Daddy!”
I didn’t want to leave them .
My mother pushed me, hard, and I flew from the cliff, through the air, and fell into the ocean .
All I could see were bubbles popping violently here and there . I hurried to get my head above water .
And then… I saw it . I saw the exact second that the three-headed dog leapt at my parents .
The current took me, but I kicked the whole way .
When I finally found myself on the shore, the sky was already dark .
There were other survivors from the village there too . But some of the dead villagers had washed up as well .
The sky had already returned to its normal color .
I had no idea what had happened .
But I wanted to see my parents again, more than anything . I hurried back to the cliff where I had left them .
There were bones lying all around . It looked like reinforcements had arrived from the castle to drive the monsters off .
When I arrived, I found strips of flesh, and the skeleton of that monster . Knights and adventurers were carrying it off .
I was able to piece together what had happened .
“Well, good thing it had already taken a beating…”
“Yeah, otherwise we probably couldn’t have beaten it . ”
The adventurers and knight were bantering when they noticed me there
“What’s with the brat? Should we grab her?”
“Wait . We are in demi-human territory . ”
“What are you talking about? The area lord is dead, didn’t you hear?”
“Anyway, leave her alone . You know what would happen . ”
They all split and made room for me to pass .
Then I walked to the edge of the cliff and saw what had become of my parents . I started shaking and sobbing .
How much time had passed?
By the time I knew what I was doing, I had already made graves for my parents .
“Don’t forget to smile . Be nice to the others . ”
“She’s right . When you smile, everyone smiles . ”
They had given their lives to save the other villagers, and they had entrusted the survivors to me .
I’d show them… I’d be good to everyone! I wouldn’t let their deaths be in vain…
If I just stayed there crying, my parents would be upset .
“I won’t cry any more . I’m going now…”
I started walking back to the village .
“Uhuuuuhh… . ”
The villagers that had run for the ocean had formed a crowd . There were many more children than adults .
“Is that Raphtalia?!”
“Yes . ”
“Did your parents make it?”
An old man who had been our neighbor asked me . He looked concerned .
I tried as hard as I could not to cry . I shook my head .
He was unable to find any words . He must have known that anything he said would make me cry .
“It’s okay . My parents told me to cheer everyone up . “
“Did they? You’re such a strong girl . ”
“Hee, hee . ”
Was I laughing?
It’s fine . If I cried, my parents would be upset .
I shouted to get everyone’s attention, and all the eyes of the crying children were on me .
“I know that you are all sad . I am too . But would our parents and brothers and friends want us to stay here and cry?”
Everyone seemed troubled by my words . They were twisting their faces up .
I put my hand on my heart and stepped forward .
“To all of you that think our loved ones haven’t died, I ask you how would they feel if they came back to our village and found it like this?”
Right . This was everyone’s village . We couldn’t just leave it how it was .
My dad, and the lord, had always said that the village was a family that we all made together .
“I know how sad you are . Believe me, I know . But that is all the more reason to rebuild . I mean, we’re a family!”
Yes, father had always said so . He said to treat the rest of the village as if they were part of our family .
So I would do it . I would take care of them all, just like father had said .
I did all I could to summon a smile .
“Raphtalia, aren’t you sad?”
“Why are you smiling? Your father died!”
My smile weakened at their exclamation .
I wouldn’t cry… If I started crying, I’d never be able to stop…
“Right… I’m… not… sad . ”
I can’t cry . If I started to cry, no one would be able to comfort me .
“Look at how hard this girl is trying! Come on everyone . If she can do it, we can do it!”
“You’re right, Raphtalia! I’ll do my best too!”
Keel had been crying, but he turned to me, invigorated .
The lord had given our village a flag . It had been a present, and a symbol of the town . Just then it fluttered down from above and fell before me . It was like it was agreeing with me .
That was it . It was a sign, a sign that my parents were watching over us .
I picked up the flag, and the other villagers brought over a large pole for it . We attached the flag to the pole .
“It’s a sign from heaven! Let’s work to rebuild our village!”
And so everyone decided to try and rebuild .
I was instantly awake . I was inside of the tent we had set up .
My house had burned to the ground—most of ours had . So we were all sleeping together in a large tent
I think I might have been dreaming .
“Hey, did you hear that voice?”
An older man was rushing over in my direction .
“Raphtalia, you were screaming . ”
I needed to smile . If I didn’t, it would worry the rest of them .
“I’m fine! It was just a bad dream . ”
“Okay… well… don’t overdo it . ”
“I’m fine! Thank you though . ”
Father . Mother .
I’m doing my best, I promise…
The next morning we decided to leave the completely destroyed houses the way they were for now and focus on repairing houses that we could live in sooner .
We also put some people in charge of making graves for the bodies that had washed up on shore .
The adults were all focused on rebuilding the town, and all the children were doing what they could to help .
But we were getting worried about the food supplies . They might not hold out .
We had discussed sending fishing boats out to get more food, but the sea was very rough, and we decided it best to save that for later .
We all counted the survivors .
There was only one quarter of the village left alive .
Even still, one of the older men said that we had made out as well as he could have hoped for .
“It’s just like Raphtalia said . We are all still alive . ”
What I hadn’t known then was that all our efforts were going to be tossed aside mercilessly .
“Hey! What are you doing?!”
There were some scummy-looking men wandering through the village, and they were pointing their swords at a group of adults .
“Who are you guys?!”
“Ahahah! I’d heard that there were still some demi-humans alive here . Guess it was true!”
“Yeah, and this area isn’t protected . We could probably make some good money!”
One of the older men stepped forward and yelled at the attackers .
“The lord of these lands will never forgive you for this behavior! There are castle knights still in the area too!”
The nasty-looking men all smiled at once .
“What do we care if your dead lord gets mad? And besides…”
Swipe! It happened quicker than I could see . It happened before I could understand what was going on .
The old man’s stomach was split open . One of the bad men had cut him with his sword .
“Can’t you tell? We are the castle knights!”
“They haven’t figured it out yet, have they, Boss?”
The old man fell over in a pool of blood . He didn’t even twitch .
The pool of blood was spreading . Soon it was at my toes .
Suddenly everyone was panicking . I didn’t know what to do, so I ran .
“Don’t let them escape! Kill the old ones! We can sell the women and children, so don’t run them down!”
I can’t really remember what happened next .
“Calm down! Take that!”
“Ugh… . ”
Someone had a hold on my hair . I felt like someone had hit me, and then nothing .
A week passed . I continued having dreams of my parents’ deaths .
They caught me, and sold me into slavery .
The first owner seemed nice . He just wanted me to act as a servant, but then he sold me, and I still don’t know why .
The next one…
Why? Why did they treat me this way?
He was a fat man and looked like a bad man . He kept me in the basement of a large house, in a town I’d never heard of . There were animals there . They were just like me… Ugh… Apparently this man had bought Rifana before he’d bought me .
Every day, whenever he felt like it, he would hang me from the ceiling in chains and beat me with a whip . He hit me until I was bloody . Then he would keep hitting me .
Whenever I tried to stop him, or tried to protest, the slave curse on my chest would burn me . The pain from the whip was driving me crazy .
But I wasn’t going to give up .
I’d bare it, for my parents, and for everyone in the village that hadn’t made it .
So I wouldn’t give up .
“Raphtalia…” Cough .
“It’s okay… It’s okay . We’ll make it back to the village . ”
When I reunited with Rifana, she was already sick . Even still, the man never stopped hitting her .
“Yes… We… We’ll… make it…”
What did this man want from us? Did he just think it was fun to beat us with a whip?
“Ha! Why are you still having dreams of a better life?”
Slap! He hit me again, and I felt blood trickle down my back .
I felt tears well up at the pain .
“Yes! Scream from the pain!”
After that point, things got worse . He started to torture me .
I was finally free, and ragged, but I crawled over the muddy floor to go take care of Rifana .
He brought us an awful stinking bowl of soup . It tasted like mud . It was our only food for the day .
I slowly fed it to Rifana . That was one more day of life for her .
It would be okay . We had to make it back to the village . Everyone was waiting for us .
“Hold on… I swear I’ll help you . ”
There were latticed iron bars that ran almost to the floor . I realized that if I took a rock from the wall and used it to dig out the foundation under the bars, then we’d be able to wriggle under them and escape! It just had to work .
“Thank you . ”
“Yes! We’ll meet everyone again!”
My mother and father had told me to take care of everyone .
The other villagers were sure to save us .
Sadeena would definitely rally the others to come save us . All we needed to do was survive long enough .
“You… remember that…day? Raph…ta…lia…”
Rifana was shivering . She was stretching out her hand to the ceiling .
“You remember… that… lord’s… flag?”
I grabbed her hand and squeezed it hard .
I remembered . That flag had given us hope .
I missed those quiet days… those days when nothing was wrong .
But those days were gone .
So I had to bring them back . It was up to me .
Three days passed .
I could hear his footsteps coming close .
The horrible time was starting again . I’d caught Rifana’s cold . But I was going to be fine .
I slid a pile of wet straw over the hole I was chipping away under the bars .
Rifana wasn’t answering me .
The man opened the door to the stable where she was and touched her .
“Guess she’s dead . Ugh, what a pain . ”
He lifted her body roughly by the shoulder and muttered to himself .
Rifana hung there, her eyes empty and cold .
“Damn, and it was almost time to return her too . This is a breach of contract!”
Then he kicked her body, like she was just a toy .
I didn’t know it at the time, but I found out later . Apparently there was a class of people that entertained themselves by buying demi-humans as slaves and then torturing them .
That’s what we were, just slaves sold to satisfy that man’s personal whims .
What? What? Rifana?
No… It couldn’t be .
I reached out a shaky hand to touch her .
She was so cold, so cold! I couldn’t believe it .
I was sad, angry, terrified… hopeless .
I had so many different emotions stirring inside of me .
Why? Rifana hadn’t done anything wrong!
“It’s because you won’t stop crying at night! She couldn’t get any sleep! This is YOUR fault!”
“No… Ugh…” Sniff… “Rifana…”
The man strung me up and started to whip me . He hit me even longer than usual that day .
But I kept my eyes locked on Rifana the whole time, and I couldn’t even feel the pain .
“Oh hey, you’re always muttering about some village, aren’t you?”
I didn’t have to answer him . Everyone was waiting for me .
“Apparently that village was destroyed a while ago . Here’s proof . ”
He held out a crystal ball .
A beam of light came out of the crystal ball and projected an image of the village on the wall .
It was worse than the village I knew . It was destroyed, and there wasn’t anyone there .
The flag was tattered and burnt, and the ground was littered with bones .
“Oh yeah, I heard you saying that you were the person who supported everyone in that village . Apparently everyone left it to rot and ran away . ”
The man flashed a smile . He had never seen me cry, never seen me blink . He was enjoying this .
“Ug… . Ugh… Wahhhh!”
Something inside me snapped .
I couldn’t do it anymore .
My mother and father had entrusted the village to me, but there was no one left .
Then what should I do?
There was nothing left for me .
“Cry! Cry harder!”
The pain was so intense I thought I would go crazy .
The dreams I had every night were starting to rot my brain .
They were of the last time I saw my parents . It got even worse .
I was a bad kid because I hadn’t saved the village . They hoped I never smiled again . I didn’t have the right to live .
They kept whispering: Die… Die…
They were… right . I would never smile again .
I didn’t want to .
Because I… Because I broke my promise…
The man finally sold me .
Either that or the time had run out on his torture game .
“This is horrible . This is way under what she’s worth . Damn . ”
“C’mon, she’s on the verge of death . I can’t use her in this condition, so I’m going to have to subtract lost time from the price . ”
“I understand . Yes . ”
A fat man dressed in a nice suit bought me . He was different from the last slave trader to manage me .
What would my next owner be like?
“I’m sure she could have been treated a little better…”
The new owner gave me medicine and food .
“I don’t think she will last very long . ”
The owner said as he put me in a cage .
So… I finally wasn’t worth anything to anyone .
My parents were gone, and my village was gone . It was like the world was telling me to die .
It hurt . I wanted to die . I wanted it to be quick .
I don’t know how much time passed . I was just staring through the bars of my cage . Many people came and went .
“This is about the cheapest I can offer you . ”
The slave trader had brought a young man to my cage .
“The one on the right has a genetic disease . He’s a rabbit . The one in the middle has panic attacks and is a raccoon, and the last one is a mixed-breed lizard man .
“They all have their share of problems . ”
The young man was negotiating with the slave trader . The young man met my gaze for a minute .
His eyes were sharp enough to kill . He looked angry .
I gasped .
His eyes wandered to the other two slaves . His eyes were scary .
He was filled with hate, more hate than the man that whipped me .
It looked like he hated the whole world .
If he bought me, I’d probably die in a day or two…
“She has panic attacks in the night . She’s a lot of trouble…”
Were they talking about me? I couldn’t tell .
But in the end, the young man bought me .
The spell to register as a slave always hurt . I hated it .
But I was sure this would be my last owner .
Because I… I didn’t have much time left .
A little while later, the new owner gave me a knife and made me kill a monster .
It was so scary, but if I didn’t do it, the curse on my chest burned .
We left the weapon shop, and my stomach started rumbling .
He was going to yell at me! I shook my head; I wanted to tell him that I was fine . I was fine! So don’t be mad at me! Don’t whip me!
He just sighed .
Was he angry?
He just walked off and brought me to another shop . They were selling food there .
I think I had seen the shop in town before .
“I’ll have the cheapest lunch you’ve got, and she’ll have the kid’s meal that that kid over there is having . ”
I had been gazing, envious, at what that other kid had been eating . Then my new owner just bought it for me? I couldn’t believe my own ears .
Everyone outside of my village was supposed to be evil, weren’t they?
“You looked like you wanted to eat it . What’s the problem? You want something else?”
I shook my head .
“Why are you feeding me?”
Because, ever since I’d become a slave, no one had treated me this way .
“I already told you . You looked like you wanted to eat that . ”
“Just eat it . I need you to be healthy . If you stay skinny like that, you’re just going to die . ”
Die…? I would die . I was sure to die… Just like Rifana . I’d die of the same disease .
“Here you are . ”
The waitress set a big, elaborate meal in front of me . There was a flag sticking out of it .
What I had been envious of, only minutes before, I now had for my own . I hesitated . I bet that when I went to eat it, the young man would throw it to the ground and laugh at me .
“Aren’t you going to eat?”
He looked at me, confused .
“Yeah, hurry up . ”
Yes . He would probably destroy it all . I slowly reached my hand out .
I looked quickly over at him .
He didn’t look like he was going to do anything . I touched the food .
I pulled the little flag out and felt like I’d accomplished something . I felt like, as long as I had that flag, I didn’t need anything from anyone . I felt like I was back in my village . I felt like it was the very same flag, the one that we’d lost .
I held tight to the flag as I ate the food . It was so delicious that I found tears streaming down my cheeks .
If I cried, he’d yell at me for sure . I tried to wipe them away without letting him notice .
“Is it good?”
No! I’d accidentally answered him, and he’d seen that I was happy . He would punish me for sure .
“Good . ”
That’s all he said . I couldn’t understand .
I held tight to the flag . I felt like it was filled with… something .
Compared to the flag our lord had given us, it was very small and very cheap, but it felt like it contained all that I’d lost . It felt like it wanted me to remember something important .
I turned to the young man .
He looked just as angry as ever, but something was different .
What was it? His face and voice were so scary, but was he really a nice person?
I had so many doubts .
A lot happened that day . He gave me medicine, and made me walk to all kinds of places .
But there was one major difference .
The dream that had been haunting me was different .
My parents were standing on top of the cliff .
I ran to them with all my might .
I wanted to see them . I wanted to stay with them .
I shouldn’t . I knew that I shouldn’t, not in front of them, but I felt tears filling my eyes .
“It’s okay… It’s okay…”
“Don’t cry . Be strong . ”
I kept crying, and my parents just held me and rubbed my head .
“We are always watching over you . ”
“Yes . Please, be happy . ”
“You’ll be okay with him…”
Then I woke up .
I couldn’t believe it . My new owner was holding me, and rubbing my head .
He wasn’t a bad person . He wouldn’t play with me, wouldn’t hurt me .
He was clumsy and rude, but he was a good person .
He didn’t have any money, but he still gave me medicine, bought me food, and prioritized my equipment over his own .
Then, I finally found out who he really was .
His eyes were dark and filled with hatred and sadness .
He was violent, angry and vulgar . He was scary .
But he understood pain, and at his heart he was kind .
Yes, he was the person that Rifana and I longed for… the Shield Hero .
The Shield Hero bought me all kinds of things .
I had lost everything, but now I was surrounded by treasures .
The Hero gave me a bag, and I smiled as I filled it with the treasures he’d given me .
There was the ball . There was the broken knife . There were lots of things . But the most important one was that flag .
And there were many things that I couldn’t put into the bag .
I felt healthier, better, and stronger .
“Here, eat up . ”
Rifana, can you hear me?
I’m fighting with the Shield Hero .
You’d never believe it .
I had a dream that night too… a good one .
Rifana, she was standing right in front of me . She was smiling . I told her everything that had happened . We talked about all kinds of things .
“Raphtalia, keep your chin up!”
“I will . ”
“Lucky you! Fighting with the Shield Hero!”
“Heh, heh… Jealous?”
“Ahaha! A little!”
In my dream, she looked happy and peaceful . She was smiling at me .
“I’m watching out for you . ”
“I know . ”
“Let’s go back to our village, where the flag is . ”
“Yes! I’ll see you there!”
I hoped that my parents were watching me from wherever they were . I wanted them to see me rebuild it all .
I wanted strength . I wanted to be strong enough to take care of the bad people that wanted to hurt us .
The world was so cruel and hard . It was filled with darkness and evil, but I wasn’t going to give up .
I didn’t want to lose anyone else .
I’ll get stronger, enough to protect my parents, to protect Rifana . Yes, to protect Mr . Naofumi .
I could do it . And so I continue on .