• -Chapter 3-

    Right away, Melody felt the fatigue from fighting the monster as she walked towards town. At the rate she was walking, the next “test” whatever it was, would easily find her and defeat her. She had to hide her approach to the town. Melody looked from side to side to the edges of the pathway and dived into the nearest thicket she could find, making sure not to break her staff. Even though she poked herself on part of the bracken lining the ground where she dived in, she forced herself to remain quiet for a few seconds, regaining some of her lost stamina. Slowly, she brushed a stray hair away from her eyes and stood up, trying not to make too much noise. Chances were that the next monster or creature that Torkov sent would in the premises by now, so she had to stay scarce. Without looking back, Melody headed for town, making to sure to stay as silent as she could.

    Ayah, Melody thought tiredly, I have no energy left. My parents would be ashamed if they saw me in my current state…. She forced herself to keep walking until she heard the regular sounds from the town. At least I made it here without any further mishap, she thought. As she walked in, some of the people that noticed her stopped what they were doing and looked towards her with concern. It was not a normal occasion that Melody came to town alone, especially looking like she took a violent fall down a mountain side. One of the people that saw her, thankfully, was her best friend, Krystal.

    “Oh my God, Melody, what happened?” Krystal asked, rushing up to Melody and hugging her. “You look awful!”

    Melody smiled slightly, happy that of all people, Krystal was her truest friend. “I had a run-in with a monster; it’s not really a big deal…” Melody didn’t want to lie to Krystal, but she didn’t want to worry her as well. Krystal saw through the act though. She let go of Melody and looked sternly into her eyes, wanting to know the truth. Both Melody and Krystal were alike in that respect. “Really, Melody, what’s wrong? And why would a monster come after you in the first place? Listen, I may not really understand the magical realm, but I do know when something’s the matter with my best friend.” Krystal’s dark-blue eyes shined with some sort of secret friend-empathy sense, much like twins would have.

    Melody sighed inwardly, knowing that nothing would escape Krystal’s knowledge. I suppose I should tell someone. It would best be her anyway, the one I trust most, Melody thought. She looked down awkwardly. “Can we go somewhere else? I would rather not broadcast what I found out today…” Tears started forming in her eyes just from thinking about her parents.

    Krystal picked up on this right away. She put an arm around Melody’s shoulder and guided her towards her house. “Of course,” she responded dutifully. Once they got to the house, Krystal let Melody sit down and plopped down next to her, just in case something bad was brought up. She calmly waited for Melody to say what happened.

    Melody stuttered a little before she finally managed to say, “He has my parents… Torkov has my parents. He’s torturing them; I saw the blood on the letter he sent me…” Melody started crying, unable to stop herself and maintain control. Krystal let Melody’s head rest on her shoulder and held back a couple tears herself; she loved Melody’s parents like she did her own. “I, I know that I can’t perform magic or anything… But is there any way I can help?” Krystal asked softly, when the gap between Melody’s sobs started to widen.

    Melody shook her head slightly. “I can’t even help myself, Krystal. I’m hopeless. Torkov sent a monster to fight me and I… almost died… fighting it.” She paused. “How am I supposed to help my parents when I can’t fight the first thing Torkov sends me?”

    Krystal listened in silent desperation, wishing for a way that she could somehow help her friend. The only way she could help her was give her some confidence, which wasn’t much at all. She hugged Melody close, then sat back on the couch, thinking. “Perhaps… Have you tried getting power potions and such from some of the vendors in the town? They could help…” There was a slight look of desperation in Krystal’s eyes, from wanting to help her friend.

    Melody smiled slightly, her heart warmed because she knew Krystal cared about her like she was family, and it was showing. If anyone could give her the confidence to go on, it was Krystal. She wiped her face to collect the last few tears and faced Krystal. “You’re the best friend in the world, you know that right?”

    Krystal laughed a little and performed a mock bow. “Thank you very much. Well, before you go anywhere, you should get cleaned up first. You can borrow some of my clothes.” Together, the two friends stood up and went to Krystal’s room so Melody could get prepared.