The next day, I awoke to the sound of a woman’s voice echoing against the purple, crystal walls time and time again. She had reddish hair and wore a green dress, and I saw many other identical figures. Sadly, the pain from the nerf didn’t leave me yet, and I didn’t think that it ever would.
“We’re under attack!” she yelled, running to each and every one of the villagers. “Stop clapping at the trees, and get inside the Town Hall!” She ran to some of the men who were cutting down the trees and yelled so loudly that I could hear her from where I was. “You can clear the trees later, we’re under attack!” It didn’t take long for everyone to hear the message, and they all ran inside what the woman called the “Town Hall”.
This place looked strangely familiar, and yet I had no idea where I was and why I was even here. I retraced the previous events, letting the vague memories flow back into my brain. Out of anger, I had left the castle, going deeper and deeper until I couldn’t find the way back. I had met a strange woman who called herself the Night Witch, and I had stupidly let my curiosity take over me. I remembered vivid images of dark purple smoke and the shady pine trees, but I couldn’t remember too much more. I was almost a hundred percent sure that I did not naturally fall asleep, but that this Night Witch had put some sort of sleeping spell on me. “I will tell you this – it wasn’t a defect. It was meant to be.” Whatever she had meant by that, I did not know, but I was pretty sure that she may have known more about me than I had known about myself. These memories did not explain why I was in this village, but I would find out sooner or later.
I wanted to go ask one of the villagers why I was here, but when I tried to make a move to walk towards the Town Hall, I realized that I was frozen – like, completely stuck to the ground. I soon saw some Balloons and Wizards looming over our village, and I realized that this was what the woman had meant when she said that we were under attack. I wanted to get myself out of this mess, but unfortunately, I did not know a single person here. I saw the other defense buildings shooting at the enemy forces, and as the best thing to do was to blend in with the crowd, I joined in and also aimed a few shots at the Wizards. The enemy forces died down, leaving just one Wizard left who succumbed to the Mortar’s blast.
Looking around me, I noticed that almost the entire village was destroyed, and I, along with the Town Hall and a few other buildings were the only ones still standing. What now? I was still stuck to the ground, and it looked as if the place was deserted.
“All clear,” I heard the woman’s voice coming from the Town Hall, and the villagers walked out one by one. Did they not mind at all that almost their entire village was splinters?
“Oh, thank goodness we didn’t even get two-starred! I almost thought they were going to take down the Town Hall,” said one of the builders, though what he said made no sense to me. “Livienne,” he called out to the woman, “Can we start rebuilding the village now?”
Livienne stopped clapping at the trees and turned to the builder. “Nope, we follow chief’s orders. Once he comes back, you and your fellow buildermates can start rebuilding.” She moved to a different tree and started clapping.
“Ugh, there’s nothing to dooooo,” the builder groaned and leaned against a wall. “Who said you could clap at trees, huh?”
“That,” Livienne said, not making eye contact with him, “I was given permission to do. From the chief,” she added.
“Hey… um, builder,” I called to him, forgetting the fact that he may have been surprised that a Cannon could talk. “Do you know if there’s a way you can remove me from the ground? I kinda prefer being able to walk around… if you know what I mean.”
Unlike what I had expected, the builder did not seemed surprised at all when I had talked to him. As a matter of fact, he seemed like quite a friendly person and was happy to have a job to do during this time of nothingness. “Hmm… I would like to help you, but according to Livienne, I’m not allowed to do anything without the chief’s permission, so yea. Sorry ‘bout that.”
“It’s fine, I don’t even belong in this village. I was just walking in the forest yesterday and found myself here overnight,” I explained.
A loud “oh” escaped the builder, as if he had finally figured out the last part of a math problem. “So you’re the Cannon that Livienne was referring to earlier today! She said that her sister, Lavender, had found a Cannon last night in the forest and brought it to the village to add to the defense.”
“Yea, I was wondering if I could… go back home now.”
The builder twirled his hammer in his fingers. “Where are you from? And, you do have a name don’t you?”
“Danny. I’m from the castle – the one where King James lives in. You know where that is, right?”
“You live in the castle?!” he asked, obviously astonished. “Well, of course I know where that is! I’m Clyde by the way,” he said, kneeling into a bow. “At your service.”
“Great! Well it would really please me if you removed me from the ground now,” I said, slightly annoyed by the delay.
“Alright, let’s just pretend that I did not hear what Livienne had said earlier. Who needs the chief’s permission anyway?” He stooped down and started hammering the place where my legs met the ground. I never knew that a hammer could have any effect in disconnecting me from the ground, but it seemed like that was the only tool Clyde had owned. It was working. I felt the contact between me and the floor decrease, and it eventually loosened to the point where I could walk again.
“Also, can you find a way to cure the pain in my body? It’s been hurting for a long time now, and it doesn’t seem to be go away,” I said.
“Sure! Hold on a sec, I’m gonna be right back.” Clyde walked around the village and found a blonde girl who basically looked like an angel without the halo. I could tell from her huge white wings and unique yellow dress that she was a Healer. She reminded me of Ashley’s backstory, but before my mind could wander any further, I fixed it back to the current scene.
“Evelyn!” he yelled to get her attention, “I have a job for you to do.”
“Who said you could give me orders? You’re not the chief, no matter how hard you try to act like one,” the Healer said with a clear challenge in her tone.
Clyde ignored her. “As a Healer, your job is to heal. So will you please kindly heal my fellow Cannon friend over there?” he begged.
“First, as I will tell you again, I listen only to the chief. You aren’t the chief. Second, I only heal in battle, as I’m supposed to. And third, Cannons don’t need healing. If they need to be fixed or something, that’s your job, Clyde. Good day, sir, and don’t bother to ask me again,” Evelyn turned around and walked back towards the Barracks. In a visible way, Evelyn somehow reminded me of how Scarlet used to act towards Joe. I love those good ol’ days.
“Well, I think we can all see how Livienne has brainwashed her…” Clyde muttered under his breath. He ran after her and held out a big pouch made with a rag. “Wait, Evelyn! Will you do this for a hundred gems?”
The Healer’s eyes widened at the offer, and she quickly snatched the pouch from him. “Deal.” After Evelyn agreed to the favor, Clyde led her to where I was, added a quick “thank you”, and pointed in my direction to show her who she was supposed to heal. Evelyn raised a hand and a beam of bright light shone down on me. I could feel my energy returning to me, and the pain slowly eased out of my body. This was the most comfortable I had ever felt in my entire life. I was lighter than a feather and swifter than the wind.
“Thanks, Evelyn,” I said. She nodded and floated away, leaving just me and Clyde here again. I saw a tall man pop out from behind the bushes and walking towards Livienne.
“Chief! You’re back!” she exclaimed, embracing him into a hug. “We got attacked while you were gone. It was a one-star, not the best, but could have been worse.”
“Alright now, let’s clean up this mess. Builders! Rebuild the village and re-arm the traps!” he ordered and got into a conversation with Livienne. The builders shuffled around, fixing each building with one hit from a hammer. No one seemed to mind that Clyde was still standing beside me, not helping at all with the work that needed to be done. Seizing the chance, I decided to ask him a few questions and possibly develop a plan to return to the castle. Even though the villagers were treating me kindly, and I probably wouldn’t mind staying for a while longer, I didn’t want my friends back at the castle to worry about me.
“Clyde,” I asked, “Have you ever heard of the Night Witch?”
He shook his head. “No, I’ve heard of a Witch though. What’s that?”
“She’s a creepy stalker who reads minds and spawns bats.”
He laughed at my answer, probably thinking that I was joking. “Never heard of her. Why?”
“Nothing much, really. I encountered her last night in the forest before I fell asleep. I was just wondering whether any of you guys knew about her. She seems kinda shady, in my opinion. She claimed she knew the real reason why I could talk, walk, and think.”
“Well, I wouldn’t argue with what you said about her. After all, she does spawn bats, stalks random people at choice, and reads minds for fun. So yes, indeed, quite shady,” Clyde commented.
“Yea.” I paused. “You won’t mind helping me get out of this village right? Like – I really enjoyed your hospitality, but I feel like I should be getting back to the castle.”
“Sure, I don’t think they will mind the loss of just one Cannon. Follow me, Danny.”
“Thank you, Clyde. The King honors your service.” I smiled and followed him out of the village. The villagers seemed to care so much about the return of their chief that they didn’t even notice when Clyde and I had left the village and were already heading into the forest. I must say, I was actually quite lucky to have come across this friendly village. They had provided a shelter for me overnight, and without Evelyn, I would still be suffering from the once-incurable pain.
About three-fourths of the way, I dismissed Clyde and told him that I could find the way back myself from there. I was hoping to see Ashley in the forest, but there was not a single sign of her. Maybe she had found a home? Even if she had, she probably would have told either me or Penny. But she didn’t, and that was what worried me.
I entered the castle through the side door as usual, and I figured it was around dinner time. Walking towards the Cafeteria, I thought through what I was going to say to Penny and what my explanation was going to be for not returning the other day. She saw me the moment I stepped in, and before I could explain what had happened, she ran towards me and spoke first.
“Danny! I thought you weren’t going to come back at first, but now, I’m just glad you’re here.” She looked at me from head to toe, checking to see if I was harmed. “What happened yesterday?”
“Uh… it’s a long story. Why don’t we sit down first?”
We found a seat by the window, and I started telling her everything that had happened last night and earlier today – everything except for my encounter with the Night Witch. I found it was probably better if I had just kept that portion to myself, as the only reason I told Clyde was just in case he happened to know about her, in which that case he didn’t.
The rest of the day was pretty much normal. I was only gone for a day, so most people weren’t too concerned. King James had considered substituting me out of the Battle Team for Tombstone, but now that I was back, it didn’t matter now. And notice how I said that the rest of the day wasn’t normal. The night, however, was as irregular as it could be.
I headed back to my room, as it was getting quite late and around the time when I would usually sleep. The sun had set, and the moon had already taken over the job of providing light for us. I opened the door of my room, and the Night Witch was standing right before my eyes. I jumped back at the sight and blinked a few times to check whether or not this was an illusion. Turns out it wasn’t. Raven was really here, standing in my room. In fact, I had hoped that my first encounter with her was just a silly dream and that nothing had really happened. But it was real.
“It’s about time you’ve come,” said the same haunting voice, which sounded more like an echo rather than an actual human talking. “I’ve been waiting for you all night.”