Guardians of the Forest Pt. 3 - Original Short Story
Part Three: Level Up!
“…Skin to skin…” The words you woke up to this time. “…Is important to…”
“I know the rules!” The fairy snapped.
Your eyes began to open, slowly this time.
“Little Chu.” The rabbit girl, Mimion, chided.
She crossed the room in long, swift strides and reached out with both hands, grasped the fairy’s cheeks, and pulled her in close.
The fairy’s eyes softened and she stared up at her taller companion, their noses barely inches apart.
It felt like something you shouldn’t be watching — not that that small pang of guilt stopped you.
“I do want to do this, you know?” The fairy huffed softly. Even the magical bow at her back seemed to be drooping.
“I know.” Mimion smiled. “Let us do this together and truly begin making things right.”
The blond gazed expectantly at the rabbit girl and touched her arms, then stood still. Neither of them could possibly be breathing. It was a moment frozen in time.
A rabbit ear twitched atop the head of pink hair. “Our warrior has awakened once again.”
The fairy turned with one sharp twist and fixed her eyes on you, the moment officially broken. “Good! It’s not like we can level up without you, dozy duds!”
“Level… up?” Was all you managed to croak. At least words came out this time.
“How many creatures of the wood had you slain while you were down here, warrior?” Mimion addressed you seriously.
Were you in trouble?
“They… attack… me…”
“Well yeah.” The fairy piped in. “They don’t call this the Maze of Maws for nothin’.”
“Little Chu and I are sprites assigned to the Maze of Maws to quell the evil of the wood and stifle the plague that has been seeping out from the roots of the tainted vegetation. We assume you are here for a similar purpose.”
You wished you could sit up. Or move at all. Anything that would help you at least try to put on an air of cool collectivity, to assume the stature of the warrior they kept claiming you to be. Alas, you were prone. At least this time it felt like you were laying on something soft, maybe even a real mattress. Whatever it was, it felt cushioned and silky.
Wait. What exposition had she just tried to give you?
Little Chu appeared at your side this time holding a large book, its pages spread open before you, completely blank save for the words ‘LOG BOOK’ written neatly at the top.
“Since we’re both after the same thing,” Chu explained, “We should work together. And it benefits Mimion and me way more if you’re not such a wimp.”
“Little Chu!” Mimion admonished sharply, making the girl flinch.
“Okay. Maybe you are not such a wimp. You took care of enough beasts to build up a ton of inner strength!”
You had no idea what she was talking about. You just blinked your eyes at the creature and hoped she’d understand.
“The baddies here… aren’t your run of the mill pests. That’s why we were called here. The whole forest is being enveloped in a sickness and the black stuff clings to those awful creatures the most.”
Mimion nodded. “Sprites such as ourselves cannot harness the dark energy, only purify it and destroy it.”
“We’re too pure.” Little Chu added with a grin.
“And humans are by nature impure.” The rabbit girl continued. “If a human would manage to slay an infected monster, its darkness would be released, left unchecked, and be drawn to the human spirit, making that person its new host.”
A quill with a long, white, undoubtedly pure feather appeared in Little Chu’s hand. “Which is why you need us to level you up! Do you know how much of that gross dark stuff is inside of you right now? The only way to get that darkness out is for you to die, you know. Which would have happened already if not for our intervention. Really we gave ourselves a lot more work by saving you.”
Mimion placed a hand on Chu’s shoulder. “Not that we want you to die. We would rather you live. Which is why it is in our best interest to let you keep that black energy inside of you, but purify it to both prevent harm to your body and allow you to use its power for good.”
“I’d rather call it leveling you up. We use our gifts to basically reverse the plague inside of you, making it a source of life rather than death. Your body will happily soak up all of that yummy new pure energy and it’ll totally re-energize you and power you up!”
The rabbit girl gestured to her companion with the book and quill still eagerly extended to you. “But we need your permission first. Simply sign and we will… level you up.”
“Sudden…” It did feel awfully sudden.
“Yes, but you did suddenly walk into this demonic lair carrying nothing but what Little Chu had dubbed a ‘butter knife.’”
Little Chu leaned in and whispered, “You’ve made worse choices.”
She placed the quill in one of your hands and closed your fingers around it. Then with two hands she extended the book again, closer so you wouldn’t have to reach.
“You can return to your village with that darkness inside of you,” Mimion urged. “Or you can return with newfound strength and a cure.”
Death or power? It seemed far too simple. What were they hiding? Not that you could give voice to any of your anxieties this way. In fact, you may yet die right there. They were definitely hiding something. But you didn’t have a choice.
You flicked your wrist. It was the most you could do to scratch a single line inside of that over sized log book. You hadn’t had many occasions to sign your name anyway. Maybe a single line was your patented signature.
It must have been good enough because that single line of black ink began to glow a silvery hue. It caught the low firelight of the room and seemed to dance off the page into the air. Chu giggled in delight and slapped the book closed.
In the instant you heard the crack, the book vanished, and it took you only a moment to realize the two sprites had just as suddenly transformed.
“Purification is a process that requires a certain depth of soul.” Little Chu explained after catching the direction of your gaze. “Skin to skin contact.”
She was dressed in transparent silk with frilled trim that bared her arms and shoulders. Her pale thighs were exposed save for white stockings and her abdomen was completely revealed by the opaque fabric of what seemed to be babydoll lingerie.
Your eyes dared to linger on her — but what about the bunny girl? For a moment you couldn’t find her anywhere in the room. Then you felt movement at your feet.
Mimion was leaned over the foot of the bed, her arms overflowing with vials and bottles containing all types of fluids, thin, sticky, viscous, aromatic — you thought you should smell something sweet. One of the vials had even slipped inside her cleavage and remained squeezed there between her breasts, contained, just barely, by two thin bolts of fabric attached by a clasp at her throat.
A hand was placed gingerly on your forehead, pushing the hair out of your eyes. It was the fairy. She had sneakily shifted herself onto the bed beside you while you’d been distracted by the potion master.
“You already look like you’re feeling a bit better.” Her voice was unexpectedly tender. Where had her mischief disappeared to? She was almost more suspicious this way. “We haven’t done this with a human before so you’ll have to be patient. Alright?”
And then you saw something beyond that tenderness, the fairy biting her lower lip, attempting to force down the smile that was dancing on her face. There was something sinister in that smile. What was the “it” they hadn’t done before? How long would “it” take? Would “it” hurt?
There was movement at the foot of the bed again. Mimion hoisted herself up and crawled directly between your legs. She reached over you, tumbling over your body as if you were just another pillow on the bed, and handed Chu a bright red bottle. “Give our warrior some of this first.”
Chu nodded with determination and took the bottle, popping the cork off and tossing it over her shoulder. She started to tip the glass over your lips.
“Are you ready to level up?”