The sun arose from the eastern hilltop — the morning comes. I could definitely see the highlight of my day approaching as the heat creeps in. The dense fog that smothered the jungle last night and me – only alive from the spark of the gunpowder from my homemade rifle in which I sparked a small fire. These elements both reminded me of the two bachelor dragons from the story my dad once told. A vicious red and powerful flame dragon who wed a beautiful Hmong woman because of the dues of her father and an uprising, beautiful white dragon who would challenge his strength by besting him him battle. would only be brought down by the crossbow of a man in flip flops and a village shirt with blue collars. In this scene, I could choose to be the dragon or the man. Weakened by my retreat from the village seven days ago with nothing to eat but insects of the jungle, I could force myself up. The dragon was formidable but it’s fate ended with the single shot of a point bolt while the village man was powerless but his courage conquered his wits. In all, my death was inevitable.
I could not foster the strength to remember which direction would boast best away from the soldiers, but I can still remember my father’s last words before he fell from his wound. I could hear him fighting while I retreated. The very distinct sound of a rifle exiting the barrel and then complete silence. I ran faster, as the last words of my father seemed to have been sharper than that round that I knew pierced my father’s chest. His words pierced mine, oddly. As if millenniums of scripture were enabled in me.
“Go South. Close to a hundred leagues. You will reach the hill of the giants. The place they drank and lived. The old civilization. Find the hill that values the settling sun shooting through entrance of a revealed cavern, only seen by our eyes. In there, you will find the item that they are looking for. Take them across the ocean.”
I didn’t understand why his last request would be so indirect. We were simply villagers in the hills, surrounded by dense jungles. Only until the soldiers with red marks came did his posture seem to change. I may think he let out a lot less than he knew. It wasn’t in me to question it as he sheltered me from the dangers of the world. I tightened the reddish sash with my mother’s stitching to hide my hunger and got up. I peaked at the distance, acknowledging the distance I would need to make. I could see the hills, countless. Before I leapt off the rock I hid on, I smashed my rifle to break the barrel and forged a makeshift crossbow. I will take this step to take down the dragon.
As the sun now sits at the parallels of the hillsides, I make my climb at the numerous hills, calculating that when it sleeps it would peak through the several canyons nearby to reveal the cave my father mentioned.
After ten hours of searching, I had given up. The sun was near setting and I had not eaten nor had a drop of water the whole day. In my defeat, I found my father a fool. Wasting his last breaths for legends and curiosities while I aimlessly spent the last hours of my life recreating that foolishness for him. My knees gave and I started feeling the pain in my chest and lungs starting to fail. I was dying. My life was coming to an end and I spent it recreating a fantasy of my fathers. My breath became choked and my chest fell forward leading me to a flat posture on the ground. It was dark, but I bleakly turned my head to my left shoulder to see the beautiful sun one last time before I died. Every blink seemed slower and the sun seemed to have stopped setting just to pity me one more time.
I must’ve closed my eyes for about ten seconds before I found the strength to open them to say farewell to the sky and the ground, the sun and the moon. A shadow. A figure. It appears not too far from me. This must be a demon. He has come to take my soul. I kept my eyes open, accepting my fate. The figure walked over and looked down on me. One arm on my left shoulder the other pointing into the distance. This shadow seems to be wearing a hood and turned to the distance away from the sun. I felt it lift my head slightly and turn it away from the light, likely to steal my soul. When I was turned, I noticed a very bright light engulf a canyon ahead. It was about two kilometers and was abnormally shining in this very frail evening. The canyon, the hill, the cavern entrance. I could see it all now.
I felt the shadow lift my body and this energy I’ve never felt before entered as if falling from a mountain. The energy was abnormally powerful and yet exciting. I kicked my legs and flailed my arms. I could move, and very quickly too. Before I could notice, I was standing and I peaked behind me to notice no shadow but the tip of the sun behind the hills.
I sprinted towards the canyons, seeing the beautiful glow of a mountain revealing a dark entrance at the base. In no time, I threw myself into the entrance after sprinting an inhumane speed, entrusting the feeling that I had been here before. The darkness appeared and mocks of light gathered around me. I was floating and the darkness engulfed me until the mocks of light exploded revealing an all-white vision.
A man in a hood appears. The same posture as the shadow that I saw before. He walked up to me and didn’t say anything. In his pouch, he reached and handed me some sort of rock or tablet. Some sort of inscription with lettering that reflected the lights shone on the walls as I kept glance at it. The rock though, was dull. I could barely see his face under his hood. His lips moved and he muttered something in a language unbeknownst to me. It didn’t sound like English but rather was sharper and coarser. In an instant, the vision I had disappeared and all the light and darkness around me vanished. I am left standing in a cold, dark cave with the scriptures in my hand. I know now what I must do.
On exiting the cave, the night had gone and it was day. There was fire all around me and loud roaring coming from the skies. Dragons. They breathed fire down on the land eliminating any existence that could remember tales from this land. The world was on fire, even the skies had turned red. It seemingly looked like a floating mirror and I could see from my point reflected; my village, my jungle, my farm all on fire. I also saw the reflection of a powerful light beaming from the South. I quickly gathered my thoughts and headed South.