It was still dark, but Ziel could see the Sun braking dawn, she survived the night. But what now? She was all alone, without any proper gear, rations or any weapons for that matter. ‘I am completely defenseless!’ and similar thoughts were going through her head. She knew she had to get to safety. ‘Maybe it is good that nobody knows me, I can blend in more easily.’, though she was thinking that, deep down she knew she was unable to blend in anywhere. She was terrified, but she had to move or someone, or something, will find her. She looked around for road signs, and the only she could find next to the road was a small piece of plank attached to a post reading: O.O. →, N. O.↓, Barthnew ↑, Sacila←. She wasn’t familiar with any of these names and she had no idea where to go, or how far any of these settlements are for that matter.

Ziel was convinced that everything that happened so far was not a coincidence, it was all part of a grand scheme. She still did not have the faintest idea why someone would do such a thing, but she decided that she will blindly play along, for now. Until she learns how to fight back. ‘I swear I will find out what happened and I will get revenge.’ When she had made the resolution she hesitated for a moment, imagining all the possibilities of ifs. “No more!” She screamed from the top of her lungs. The scream echoed in the empty nothingness of the breaking dawn, she liked the echoing reverb of her resolution. All that was left was to decide where to go. She was pondering for a few moments, opened her bag and fiddled around for a moment or two to find a small pocket-watch she had gotten as a gift. ‘I remember this, I got this from… him.’ She could not bring herself around to even think of his name. She felt responsible for what has happened to Daniel, and that is precisely why she will seek revenge. For him. For all the Daniels that have suffered. She looked at the little watch, it had two small covers, one at each side. But this was no ordinary watch, it was enchanted, because there would be no way that a pocket-watch could function both as a watch and as a compass at the same time. Ziel was sure of this. She turned the watch, and opened the little cover with the N, E, S, W, insignia. ‘Thank the Fates, it still works.’ The little needle was pointing towards north, and Ziel read it somewhere that if you ever get lost, always head north. So she did. She started walking towards north, in the direction of O.O. not knowing what awaits her there.

Ziel was also smart enough to walk next to the road and not on it, in case she sees someone on the road she will have time to hide, she figured that because it will be morning soon there won’t be anyone on the road though. After a while, the forests in the background slowly changed to fields and picturesque mountains in the far back. As the Sun was rising, it was getting warmer, a good thing as Ziel had no warm clothes. As the day progressed, she was getting more and more tired, and hungry as well. Still nobody and nothing in sight she had to stop for a minute. She was looking for a nearby tree, but because there were only fields around here, she decided that maybe it would be a good idea to rest in the tall grass of what she believed to be a pasture. As she stepped into the grass, she was surprised to find that the grass was actually taller than she had anticipated at first. She put her bag down and made it into a small pillow. Laid down and put her head and on the bag. Lying on her back, and watching the sky she felt drowsy, and soon enough she fell asleep.

Without even noticing that she had wondered off to dreamland, she dosed off. The playful clouds that were rushing through the now azure sky turned into heinous creatures of the dark. What seemed like a happy little squirrel soon turned out to be a an imp with horns and spikes on its back, the innocence soon got perverted to such a degree that all of this felt real. Ziel noticed the malevolent creatures that were popping out of nowhere were surrounding her, and she felt as if something was trying to get a hold of her, slowly squeezing her. The sky turned blood-red and flames arose everywhere she could see, the flames started burning with a color range of orange and red. The Sun in the sky split into half and now there were two Sun like objects in the sky, they seemed like eyes, perhaps. At this point Ziel was panicking, she didn’t know what to do, she started screaming with all her might, this seemed to amuse the little demons. “… Ziel… ” She thought she could hear her name faintly in the background. “… Ziel!…” The flames were changing color, now they were burning with a bright blue hue. “… Yes child… Ziel… Don’t… Fight…” Ziel was kneeling and shaking, holding herself, silently sobbing. “Please, PLEASE, what do you want from me?!” Silence. Nobody was answering. The flames were getting hotter and hotter, at point of time it seemed they would swallow Ziel whole, and they were getting stronger and closer to Ziel. She started to hyperventilate, breathing heavily, panicking. “Leave me alone!”, “…No!… You… are… ours…“, “NO! Leave me alone!”, “…You…Belong” Ziel started screaming in agony again, she felt the flames licking her body, and it felt as if she was boiling, but it felt good. The heat wasn’t hurting her, it was trying to protect her maybe. After a few moments, Ziel got a hold of herself, she lifted her head, the eyes were still there piercing her mind, she lifted her hand… “What is this? What happened me?!” She was looking at her hand, no, her claw-like hand, scaly, long sharp claws, she was devastated and furious. “What has happened to me?! Answer me!”, the demon imps were dancing in circles, laughing. “This is your true form, child“, “My true form? What are you talking about? Stop telling me lies. Stop trying to mess me up! LEAVE. ME. ALONE!” As she was screaming from the top of her lung, fire spew from her mouth. She was furious, she was in danger, she was mad. Ziel wanted this to end, and she screamed again, a mighty roar, with everything she had. She didn’t know what else she could do, she could only cry for help, she was helpless. The flames engulfed her and created a fiery shock wave, the roar she let out was mighty enough to banish the imps, vanishing and leaving only a small heap of ash behind. The eyes in the sky caught on fire as well, melting, screaming:”…Nooooo…We…Will…Find…You” The red tint of the sky was slowly dripping away as the eyes melted. “No! I won’t run anymore! You won’t find me! I will find YOU!” Ziel was screaming.

Even though she had no idea what has happened, she felt tall and mighty like never before. This was her resolution. She suddenly woke up, covered in sweat, breathing heavily, but she was not scared, she was exhilarated. She did not know it yet, but she knew she was not as defenseless as she had thought before. Ziel took a look around, and to her shock, she was sitting in a circle of ash and burnt grass, in what seemed like a 10 meter radius.

… No more magic tricks …

By Dejan Vicai

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