The Reviver’s Passage: Chapter 1
The day Hestia Ambrosia’s life went to hell, the first thing she remembered was a stalker, a river, and 7 suspicious men. It, like all stories similar, began in the forest.
A woman stood in a river, ankle-deep in its clear water. Her hair was dark and messy, with loose strands falling over her face. She wore a dirty, brown leather dress with a brown coat on top, both of which she held up using her hand, so as not to get it wet. In her other hand, she was using a wooden bucket to grab some water. Dipping it into the river, moving it around to catch water, and then pulling it up. She stood up and walked to the shore. The water sloshed in her bucket as she walked back. She walked over sharp rocks and broken branches and made her way deeper into the woods.
As she walked through the thick forest, she hummed a little tune. A melody of sorts. It consisted mostly of low and soft tunes. Almost like that of the birds, the birds who inhabited the thick forest, the man watching and admiring her, from a short distance, couldn’t help but think.
What a beautiful maiden… he thought as he looked at her. He leaned his front against a large tree trunk, from which he hid behind. A truly fine specimen. When I came looking for her, I wasn’t expecting someone like this… a lovely young woman. His head then jumped up as he noticed something move in the distance.
The woman kept walking, taking no notice of him…or the thing he noticed in the distance. Suddenly, a group of 7 thugs surrounded her, grinning with anticipation. The woman stops her walk as they each take out a sword and surround her.
“Hey sweet-tums, how’s it going for you?” One of them asked. He was big and burly. Two of his friends laughed. The man from the trees was watching, wondering if he should jump in and assist the young woman.
They’re gonna kill her, I need her. I can’t let her die. If she dies now my entire plan goes to waste… actually perhaps I can use this as a test of sorts. I’ll wait and see how this turns out. Then maybe I’ll interfere.
But the young lady did not give the men a look. She gently set her bucket of water down, and finally looked at the men around her, slowly spinning her head to get a good view of them. She said nothing for a few seconds until finally.
“Can I help you gentlemen with something?” She asked briskly.
“I’m certain you can,” the man said, licking his lips. His friends hooted. The young woman didn’t flinch. She stared into the man’s eyes, which made him freeze up for a second. But he regained his composure quickly.
“Let’s not make this difficult, how about it?” he asked. The woman finally smiled. The man behind the tree, even from the distance he stood, he could tell it was not the smile of an innocent.
“Wouldn’t dream of it.”
The man then walked forward, sword held high as if to threaten her. He slammed his hand onto her shoulder, but before he could do anything else, his head suddenly fell to the ground. It rolled toward the feet of one of his men. Who fell to the ground in shock. The shocked man used his hands and feet to quickly get away from it. Each of his comrades took a step back in shock. The woman, having been seen as an easy target to pick on, was now holding a sword of her own. Black hilt, large blade, slightly curved in shape, and now, stained with blood.
She puts it back inside her coat, from which she had taken it out, and turns to look at the other men as if daring them. Daring them to come forward, and attack.
They take a moment but then rush in. She quickly unsheathes her sword again and cleanly attacks five of them. Forward step to stab, backward step to evade, side step to trip, and turn to slice the sword through the men’s flesh.
The thugs lay on the floor, rolling in agony as they clutched their wounds, cuts and gashes. Wounds came from their legs, arms, torsos, and more. Blood drips down their fronts, sides, and backs. None of them rose back up. She sheathes her sword again, thinking she got them all when someone yells from behind her. There was one man left. The man in the trees watched as he came out from behind a shrub.
Taken by surprise she turns around to see him just meters away. She had been taken by surprise, which the man from behind the trees knew would not wear off before the final thug sliced her.
She closed her eyes expecting the worst. Eyes shut and head turned away, expecting to feel the sharpness of a sword penetrate her stomach. But instead of feeling her own blood spill, she feels the warm blood of someone else spray across her face. She opens her eyes just in time to feel the final thug’s body slump against her. Just as it touches her, she gasps and takes a large step backward. Just letting the body fall to the ground.
She stands as still as a stick, legs straight and arms stuck to her side, looking at the dead body. Her face showed pure shock at the sudden turn of events. Her eyes focused almost solely on the stick protruding from her attacker’s neck.
How?? Who? She thought in shock.
Suddenly the man from behind the trees came out. He’s holding a few twigs in between his fingers. Small, thin, wooden sticks. Twigs that a child normally would pick up and play war with. Not something that could actually kill someone.
“I almost thought you wouldn’t need help. Guess I was proven wrong,” Were the first words to come out of his mouth. He smirked down at her, as he spun the twigs in his fingers.
“Who’re you?” The woman demands, slowly raising her sword again. It’s not every day you see a random man pop out of the trees and kill a grown man.
“Who am I? Well, let’s simply say that I’m an… admirer.” The man said. He leaned against the tree trunk as he said this. The woman slightly lowered her sword in surprise.
“What?” She said in exasperation. She then regained herself and raised her sword up in front of her.
“An admirer I said… put the sword down, love. If I wanted you dead I’d have let that last man kill you.” The man said, dropping the twigs to the ground.
The woman stared at the man for a few more seconds. Then lowered her sword once again.
“What do you want of me, sir?” She asked him. She sheathed the sword.
“As I said, I am an admirer.” The man said as he walked forward and grabbed the handle of her bucket.
“Wait, I can carry that mysel…” The woman began attempting to stop him. He didn’t listen and pulled the bucket, using one hand, behind him.
“Ok, where to my dear?” He asked, turning to look at her with a warm, charismatic smile. The woman grunted as she walked towards him.
“Look I can’t have you spilling that water. It’s a long walk and I don’t want to walk all the way back because you tripped and spilled it or something.”
“I won’t spill it. I am a careful man.” The man said, smiling as he pushed her hand back.
“Look, it’s a long walk. Like a REALLY long walk. I don’t think you’d want to walk that far.” She tried.
“If you keep talking, it’s going to take longer. But do keep on. You killing those men has piqued my interest, I’d love to know more about you.” the man said, in what the woman presumed was mock flirtatious.
The woman frowned at him but shrugged it off.
“Fine, your loss.” She turned and started to walk away. The man quickly caught up to her and walked beside her. He had not spilled a single drop of water. They continued down through the woods, walking on a light brown path, to their destination.
“Where to?” He asked with a warm smile. She paused for a second.
She knew that telling a stranger where she lived was a mildly terrible idea. But after watching him save her life, she decided she might as well. And if he did happen to be a vicious serial killer, she was too exhausted to care, with everything that was going on. She’d probably help him drive the stick into her neck.
“To my house.” She said, giving him an annoyed look. She looked him up and down. She took notice of the man’s characteristics. From his jet-black hair, similar to hers she couldn’t help but to muse, his tall stature, and his uncanny blue eyes. He looked weird, wearing a black robe that was completely black from top to bottom. He had only a small opening on his chest. The robe reached the ground, and his sleeve openings were exceptionally large as well.
“That sounds wonderful.” The man said with a huge smile on his face. The woman frowned at his behavior and finally decided to question her odd company.
“Who are you? Is there something you want? Why’re you following me?” She asked him in quick succession. “What do I have to offer you?”
She frowned at the vague answer.
“Or maybe it’s because I simply like you.” The man said.
The woman scoffed. “What’s your name?” She tried.
“You’ll learn the answer to that question in time dearest.” He said smiling while not facing her.
Okay, this is getting a bit odd. Who does this man think he is?
“How about your name my dear? What is your name?” The man asked. The woman laughed harshly.
“You don’t tell me your name but you expect me to answer you? You’re ridiculous. You are definitely a handful.” She said plainly.
“Yes, I get that a lot.” The man said with a sad smile.
The woman tilted her head and returned the man’s smile, albeit with a little more enthusiasm than his sad looking one.
“Hestia. That’s my name. Hestia Ambrosia” She said gently, to hell with it, if she died mysteriously she died mysteriously.
The man gave off a brilliant smile. “What a beautiful name for a beautiful maiden.”
“Maiden? I’m not sure that’s a word I’d use to describe me.” What a weird man…
“But it is a word I’d use to describe you.” The man answered, enunciated on his “I’d”
Hestia looked at the man’s happy expression and smiled once more.
He’s an odd man. But from what I can tell of him he means me no harm. From the way he is talking, he is just teasing me. He’s rather sweet too. But I am curious as to what he wants.
“Well sir, what brings you to these parts? I don’t know many people who live here, out in the forest.” Hestia asked.
“Oh please don’t call me ‘sir’. I don’t look that much older than you now.” The man said while smiling and waving his free hand.
“Look? Then how old are you?” Hestia laughed softly.
“Hmmmm,” the man said, evading her question. He walked forward a little quickly. Hestia gives a mischievous grin and jogs a bit to catch up to him.
“Hey, you didn’t answer my question.” She said softly, smiling and hands behind her back. while leaning forward and tilting her head sideways.
“I’ll let you use your imagination.” He said.
“Hey, that’s not fair! Why can’t you just answer me.” She said giving him a slight push so as not to spill the water. She had gotten too comfortable with the man, a little too comfortable. She realized this when she saw the man frown and look at her. He stopped in his path.
Oh dear, did I go too far with that push??? I mean the man hardly knows me so….
He bursted out laughing. A loud harsh laugh, one that starts from the bottom of the stomach and comes out the mouth. Spontaneous nonetheless though.
“I knew there was something different about you! You’re like a small little child! I like you! I really do. That’s it. I’ve decided. I’ll choose you for sure.” The man said happily.
The woman froze in her path, unsure of what to say.
“What? I’m sorry, choose me for what?” She asked, confused.
“Well, I’ve got a little job I’m doing. A very important job. I’m choosing you to help me with it.” he ranted.
“Now wait just a minute! No! Who the hell do you think you are? What kind of job is this even?” Hestia asked exasperatedly. She could use the job, with the way her situation is going, but now this man is getting more and more suspicious. She couldn’t help but to wonder what exactly he wanted.
“Well, I suppose I could answer that question. But if I did, I’m worried it wouldn’t do me much good. You should simply join me and help me out. You have much to gain after all.” the man said, finger tapping his chin.
“I’m not sure my friend would be too glad if I wandered off with some dude because he said he had work. Besides, I’m busy as is.” She argued back.
“Oh come on, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind. It’ll help everyone,” the man said.
“How can you even say that? You don’t know him. You’ve never even met him.”
“Well…I just know.” The man said awkwardly.
“Just… just give me the water bucket,” Hestia said, reaching for the bucket. Her initial slight fondness for the man who just saved her life vanished. She simply wanted to get away from him. The man quickly pulled it back from her reach without spilling a drop.
“Now, now let’s calm down. I’ll continue carrying this and we’ll go to your house. I’d love to meet this friend of yours. Why don’t you tell me a bit about him?” He asked.
“I am doing no such thing.” The woman said.
“Why not?” The man said.
“Because why should I?” Hestia said.
“Come on please.”
“Oh fine…” Hestia said tiredly.
“Thanks, dear.” the man said happily. “I have a few questions too. May I ask?”
“Ask away,” she said in defeat.
“What’s he like?”
Hestia smiles as she looks up at the sky.
“He’s a sweet fellow. A very good dear friend of mine. I’ve known him for 10 years now.” She said.
“That’s very average. Tell me something interesting.” The man asked, annoyed. The woman looked flabbergasted at his rudeness but decided to just continue.
“He’s not very athletic. But he makes up for it with his sweet words.”
“Why not? So you’re the more fit one in this relationship? Normally it’s the man who does the heavy labor.” The man asked curiously.
“Ok, you’ve got it all mixed up. One, we are not in a relationship. He is just a dear friend of mine,” she said with much difficulty. The man took notice. “And well he can’t leave his bed, he’s been ill all his life. He needs constant rest. He had no one else, so he just stayed with me in my house. I care for him and his health.”
“Do you know why he’s so sick?” The man asked.
Hestia shrugs. “I’ve brought home many doctors. But none of them could figure out what was wrong with him. They don’t even know how exactly his body is failing him. That’s the dangerous thing, I don’t know if his lungs are killing him, his heart, or his liver. Something’s just killing him.”
“The mystery unsolved can be the deadliest mystery there is.” The man said gently.
Hestia laughed. “That’s one way to say it I suppose.” She then stopped smiling and gave the ground a sad and scared expression.
The man noticed this and smiled as he put his hand on her head. Hestia looks at him in surprise.
“It’ll be fine. Not everything is what it seems to be.” The man said.
“What does that mean?” Hestia asked.
“Just keep hope. Hope is the most powerful tool a person can equip themselves with. Keep it with you and let it guide you. It’ll turn even the darkest of situations into a beacon of light. It’ll tell you what to do. It helped me through my lowest. And I pray it can do the same for you.” the man said.
Hestia smiled. “I’ve been hoping for years, what can it do now? For years I’ve hoped, and for years his health declined,” she said sadly.
The man shrugged. “I don’t know. How can I predict the future? When there is nothing else you can do. You can hope. And maybe your hope will be heard. Hope isn’t meaningless. Nor is it a superpower. It merely encourages a person to do what must be done. It is merely an encouragement, not a magic wand. It simply guides a person in a way despair can’t. It leads you to accomplish something because you believe good days are ahead. From the way you speak so lovingly of him, I can tell you’ve been doing everything in your power to save him. It was my candle in my darkest hour. And I hope it will be yours too. Anyways, let’s stop moping and keep moving. How long until we reach your place?” He asked abruptly.
“Huh, oh it’s not far. Just a little further walk. We’re almost there.” said Hestia, taken aback. She then smiled at the man. He slightly frowned.
“Hmmm? Is something wrong? Is there something on my face, perhaps?” He patted his cheek lightly, trying to feel for anything. He grinned teasingly at her.
Hestia chuckled. “Oh no. You’re a weird man, but you seem very kind. Thank you for your words, they meant a lot.”
“Oh, so you’ll rethink my proposal? I could really use your help!”
“I never said that!”
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