The next morning, Bruno awoke still laying on that bedroll in the cave instead of his comfy bed back home. He had hoped the past few hours turned out to be a dream all along, but this was definitely reality. Realizing the situation, he sprung up grasping his wooden sword.
“We need to find my sister!” he shouted.
“No,” Eveline stated firmly. “We need a plan. We should go back to your house to let your mother know that you’re okay.”
“Let’s go, then!” Bruno got up quickly feeling fully reenergized. He dashed outside the cave with Eveline running behind him. Not long after, they both stumbled upon a familiar set of foes. A pack of toothed shadow creatures slithering about.
The boy raised his sword, striking one of the shadow creatures. Not a clean cut, but it was more like a blunt weapon. Hardly any different than a stick. It was definitely time to get something better if he was going to fight more of these creatures.
“Let me handle them,” Eveline said readying a glow of light in her palms. The light grew brighter and brighter, then the whole area around them flashed with white, a lot like what Bruno saw yesterday. The shadow creatures scampered off.
“They’re just going to keep coming back, aren’t they?” Bruno remarked. Eveline nodded her head, and they moved on.
Finally, they came to the crumbled wall. Home was very close. “Here, I’ll go up first.” Just as Bruno began to climb, Eveline leaped up the wall to the top with swift dexterity, and when he looked up, he found her hand reaching down for him to grab on. It took some time for Bruno to process what happened. This girl was far more agile than he was, but it should not have been surprising. After all, when they first met, she outran him. Bruno grasped her hand, and Eveline helped pull him up the wall.
After climbing down the other side, they found that everything was quiet even within the walls. Not even a light breeze. Something was off. No one was around, and the birds were silent. A similar eerie silence crept over Bruno’s village. No children playing outside. No paperboy. Like a ghost town. Everyone was gone.
The moaning wind picked up while unnatural dark clouds creeped above blotting out the sun. A shrilling hiss pierced their ears. Shadow creatures? Inside the walls? No, it couldn’t be. Then, slight tremors. Emerging from the corner of the street came a giant shadow creature as tall as one of the houses. It had six, limber legs and many spines along its back. Bruno stepped on a pile of crackled leaves, drawing the creature’s attention.
“I think we should run,” Bruno muttered. But Eveline was frozen in place. She could not stop staring at the beast. “Eveline! Let’s go! My house is just one block down!” But Eveline still stood there, not moving.
“No, I failed…This was never supposed to happen!” But she did not have time to wonder how such a creature slipped within the walls of Allerstad. The giant shadow creature charged towards them, it’s dagger-filled maw reared open.
Bruno grabbed her by the arm, then dashed towards his house leading her along the way. Then, they came to the door which he opened with his house key.
“Mom!” Bruno called out. “Mom, where are you?!” The tremors grew louder, and the creature became visible from the window. “Get down!” The monster peered its head, looking through the glass. They waited, both of them shivering from fright.
The monster continued, stalking the outside, but for now, they were safe. Bruno searched about while Eveline followed. Then, they found his mother lying on the living room floor with a blank expression.
“Mom…” Bruno’s eyes started to tear up. Eveline went over to her and checked her pulse with her fingers.
“She’s still alive, but she’s been poisoned by the miasma and she won’t last long without some herbs.”
Impossible. The Guardian Fairy’s magic was supposed to keep the miasma out of Allerstad and beyond the walls. Something must have happened to her. Bruno froze for a moment trying to remember where the medicine cabinet was. Then, he frantically dashed off to the kitchen searching every drawer, grabbing and tossing whatever items he found. Then, there it was. A stash of herbal essence. He ran over back to Eveline who took it and sprinkled it on his mother’s face. Life returned to her with several coughs, but she was still weak. Bruno helped her up, then promptly gave her a hug.
“Bruno, where have you been?! The shadow creatures coming inside the walls had me worried sick for you!” Then, she noticed someone was missing. “Where is your sister? Where is my little Tara?”
He paused with a sullen look. “She was kidnapped. I went exploring outside the walls with her and a stranger took her.” Mom immediately knew. This was no pretend game. He was being sincere.
“I’m from the Celestial Tower, and I ran into Bruno yesterday,” Eveline added. “I came here to investigate large gatherings of shadow creatures outside the walls, but I failed to stop them. It was my fault your son and daughter were dragged into this.”
Mom was about to break out into streaming tears, but she did not. Only slight, leaking tears. Her reactions was different from what he expected. “Children, listen to me.”
“I know. I’m stupid from going outside the walls without telling anyone.”
“Bruno!” she called out. “You both have to get to Castle Allerstad and meet with the king. Find out what’s going on with the Guardian Fairy and why the shadow creatures are inside the walls. With the miasma having seeped through, I can’t go with you!”
“But I’m just a kid! The entire kingdom can’t depend on me!”
“You can do this, Bruno! You’re a child so you won’t be affected by the miasma. I can hide in the basement until you get back!”
Bruno’s mother gave him a reassuring hug, reminding him that everything was going to be alright. After exchanging goodbyes with his mother, Bruno and Eveline reluctantly stepped back outside to lock the door behind them.