Chapter 3 – The old man

Cover for chapter 3 made by David Aragón

The sun raised up slowly in the east and 000001 woke up in her bed from the heat. 000001 felt the bed and looked confused around in her room before she got dressed and looked out of the window. Shinobe looked like itself, no burning buildings or people screaming of pain. “Had it all been a nightmare?” 000001 asked herself in silence as she walked out the door of her room. “Seems like it” she continued talking to herself as she decided to tiptoe past her mother’s room to get to the armoury, but to her surprise the armoury was full of her father’s equipment so she tiptoed back to her room to hide that she had been in the armoury, in the first place. 000001 stretched herself before she walked to her mother’s room and knocked on the wooden door and waited for an answer. She looked around and enjoyed the sunlight coming from the morning sun but no reply answered from behind the door so she knocked once more just as the head eunuch appeared. “miss 000001, your mother and father is already up and out in the home of ancestors renewing their vows in front of your ancestors after being away from each other for so long” the head eunuch said and tiny tears filled up 000001 eyes and instead of replying she hugged him deeply “miss 000001, something wrong?” the head eunuch asked astonished as hugging was not normal for him. “Oh, sorry I just missed you” 000001 said as she let go of him and almost flew away to the home of ancestors. As she reached the home of ancestor, her smile grew as there was her mother and father sitting on a pillow each, drinking matcha tea from the same cup like she has seen them done many times over the years and maybe soon it was her time. 000001 moved closer to as they both turned their heads against her. It gave a set in 000001, as their eyes were black as the night and she wanted to scream, but her father’s gentle voice calmed her down. “I am sorry that I was not there to protect you or your mother from the attackers, but I see your strength is keeping you alive” 000002 said and the words were almost as a command as 000001 walked closer to them. “Yes, my child, even that I preferred you was going to get married away, I knew your strengths, which was why I never stopped you in your morning training” 000003 continued like she and 000002 were one person. 000001 heard steps behind her and as she turned around the head eunuch appeared with dark eyes too, but the darkness did not scare her anymore and instead, she greeted him as the live version of him. The head eunuch bowed to them all with words before kneeling down, still in silence. Suddenly with a quick movement he pulled forward a sword which 000001 knew well. The sword of heaven, the family sword she had been carrying and used against the soldiers trying to capture her. The thought of them all being death in the actual world made a tear appear in her eyes, but before she could say anything, her father spoke once more. “Do not worry for us, my child, we did anything to make you the woman today, so carry on the family legacy and use the sword against all your enemies” 000001 reached out for the sword but a burning pain filled her hand and she dropped it, making it fall down the stairs from the home of ancestors and when she screamed in pain, no calm voice from her parents appeared but instead a dry cold voice filled her mind and almost froze her in fear. “You are not escaping that easy” it said and 000001 tried to turn around against it and slowly managed to do so, just to watch the home of ancestors in full flames with her parents sitting inside as bones. “We will protect you” her father’s voice spoke from the flames and the now boney hands handed her the sword again. This time the sword was not warm, and the flames became small once more and turned into a small fireplace in front of her. The mix of fear, joy, warmth and cold made her body uncomfortable, and she wanted to scream loudly to release herself from it all. In the last moment, she stopped as she suddenly remembered everything that had happened so far and that the world was no longer safe as even she was still alive there was nothing to indicate if her saviour was good or evil. 000001 closed her eyes to focus on the events that had already happened and as she went thought them, she thought of her parents as even it had been a dream, it might had been the last time she would see them together. A small tear ran down from her closed eye as she knew they were death by now as the arrows came from near the campsite of her father’s training grounds and she had left her mother back at the house even she wanted to bring her along. Another tear ran down and she wanted to dry her eyes when it suddenly hit her again, she did not know anything about the result of the fight between the soldiers and the man so they could have won and was just waiting for her to wake up so they could hurt her again before bring her home to their leader and even if the man had won, he could be evil too and with a half-closed eye she looked at the surroundings but the sky was dark and the flames made it hard to see anything. 000001 closed her eyes again for a moment to focus on the sounds around her, but other than the sounds from the flames burning thought the wood, silence filled the area. The silence made her more brave, and she opened her eyes even wider than before and started to look around at the surroundings and the first she noticed was her family sword standing in the mud with the medallion around its handle. “I need those to defend myself, if I get a chance to escape” 000001 said whispering to herself as her eyes continued to search the area for the old man or the soldiers, but she seemed alone which made her mind start thinking about what to do next. Her body was faster than her mind as in the next she stood up and was about to move against the sword and medallion when an icy wind revealed blew against her naked skin. She still wanted to move and get her stuff but the icy wind grew stronger before it became a pain and as she looked down herself she watched the bandages which had replaced her cloches. “The man has save me” she managed to think before the pain became to unbearable and she fell to the ground with a mix of glad and sad tears. She felt a blanket under her and the new warmth made her yarn and her mouth moved “I cannot sleep…” she managed to say before suddenly her eyes closed again before she even noticed how tired she were. The darkness in her dream took her by surprise as last one had been full of colors. “Hello” she yelled trying to hide the pain which slowly grew inside her but except for a voice, it started to rain with small but heavy drops, making the pain grow even faster and soon she had tears in her eyes. She started walking around to find herself somewhere to cover from the rain, but it was just darkness upon darkness. Suddenly something appeared in edge of her eyes and she walked against it and yelled “Hello” and for a moment her ears picked up some kind of music which filled her with joy. The pain in her body made her walk slower and slower before forcing her down on four, making continue to crawl against the object her eyes had picked up. The object came closer and closer even soon she could see what it was. It was a gate and not just any gate, but it was the entrance to her home and it was dark like everything else around her. 000001 swallowed her breath before she used the gate to return to standing so she could watch farther once more. Suddenly a pair and of hands took a hard grip in her from behind and the mix of surprise and pain made lungs prepare for a long scream but before she could let it out another pair covered her mouth which made her want to scream even more and she tried to bite the fingers of her attacker. Bodies appeared in the darkness as the rain suddenly stopped and the darkness disappeared even faster, turning all white and light instead, making 000001 close her eyes and relaxed for a moment when she felt the hands differed from normal hands. She wanted to open her eyes again but before she could, an extra pair of hands covered them and as she started to resist more hands appeared before they covered her from top to toe except around her nose, allowing her to breathe.“You did this to us” a mixed female and male voice said loud like it was inside her head as the hands did a good job blocking her ears too and 000001 tried to get free so she could answer but the hands held her tight, forcing her mind to think wild. “Who are you?” She thought while trying to escape the hands so she could find the person who spoke “I am everybody and I am nobody” the voice answer prompted which surpriced 000001 as she knew the thought had not escape the hands as words. “Where are you?” She thought attemping to figure out what had happened and not long after the voice replied “I am everywhere and I am nowhere” 000001 decided to try thinking without letting the voice know her next question before she was ready herself but the voice just continued “You cannot hide your mind or body from me, no matter what you do or where you go” the voice said as it slowly dying out and the hands disappeared one by one too until she was back at the fire place, in the rain. 000001 looked around, not sure if she were still in dreamland or the actual world even with the fireplace, rain and the pain in her body. A breach brakes in the forest floor behind 000001 who takes no chances and tries to get standing up. Her body gets full of pain just by trying so it stops her from moving at all and instead she closes her eyes to keep the appears of being asleep. “Are you awake?” A dry voice suddenly appears behind her and before she can reply she can feel the warmth of a blanket covering her body again. She wants to scream in fear but instead of her mouth, she opens her eyes and looks directly at the face of an old man, who cannot be one of the soldiers. They look at each other for a moment before 000001 watched the old man’s hands move against her and she screams loudly, which makes the hands move fast and cover her mouth. “Shhhh, I mean no harm, but the forest is listening” the old voice says and 000001 calms down so the old man can remove her hands again before he turns his focus at the fire and puts on a piece of wood so the flames grow even higher. “Have you lost your tongue?” The old man says as he starts walking over to the other side of the fireplace where the sword is standing. 000001 wants to answer but her voice is silence so the old man continues “I think, this is yours” and takes a hold around the medallion hanging on the sword and walks back against 000001 who still lies on the ground. The old man holds it out against 000001 for her to take it but before she is able to move the old man reminds himself. “Right, I forgot about your crash with the branch for a moment, you know old heads, forgets important things from time to time” He took the medallion around his neck and with the free hands he started to make 000001 able to sit up against the tree stump. 000001 made faces but it was worth the pain to get up from the muddy ground. “Thanks” it flew out of her as her voice finally returned and the old man smiled for a bit before he place the medallion around the neck of 000001. “My name is 000004 and before I let you tell me yours, I need to tell you, that the horse did not make it” 000004 said as he place himself on the other side of the fireplace. 000001 could feel the tears ready to jump out of her eyes but she managed to keep them inside and reply “My… My horse… The… The men?” She managed to stutter before 000004 looked away from her and into the fire instead as he replied without a single feeling in his voice “Death” and 000001 could feel fear grow inside her but 000004 quickly continued “Sorry, they was young men and it is a waste to kill people but I know they were the enemy and you are one of the good guys or women so do not worry at all” 000001 did her best to smile even that the fear and sadness was already taking much of the place inside her. 000001 tried to push the feelings away and focus on the present for a moment but the old man continued. “You did not answer my question about who you were, but I know the medallion so you much be a 000001” 000001 tried to smile again but the pain in her chest grew so the tears she had tried to hold back started running. “I am sorry, did not mean to hurt you, guess you rather want to rest some more before telling me what have happened” 000004 said and 000001 liked his calmness and respect but with two dreams so fast after each other, she did not want more sleep so without think she just replied “No more sleep for me” in a hard voice. And in the next she found herself apologising “Sorry I did not mean it that harsh… I am sure am a 000001, as I 000001 and my father was 000002” the old man just smiled and nodded back across the fireplace as the last rain drops fell and hit the ground. “How long was out?” 000001 quickly asked as she started to fell better about the man, and 000004 replied quickly “Well, it was around lunch time as my belly was rumbling like it also does around that time and now I have already eaten dinner and was supposed to be asleep by now so 8 hours give and take” the reply made 000001 laugh but the movements made it hurt even more so tears ran again. “That reminds me, I guess you are hungry” 000004 continued and stood up before walking over to a horse standing close to the fireplace and 000001 had not even notice it doing her plans for escape. “Here, eat this” 000004 said and walked over to her some bread, there was not much so 000001 looked worried at 000004 who just smiled and replied “Eat, I am sure, we find some before we need some again” and 000001 smiled back and eat it as fast as her body could handle it.