Playing with Fire
A Horrible Truth
As they returned to the town, the people waited to greet them with bread, water, and flowers. One child even asked Sumae to hug her teddy bear and another asked Sishostoru to toss a ball with him. As they approached the temple, the high priestess waited at the door. When they approached her, Sumae kneeled down and Sishostoru removed his hat and bowed. "Get up young ones. It is you who should be bowed to." They stood normally and listened to her. "Friends, you have done a great deed, but the water goddess is not healed yet. You must now recover the Emerald of the Un-dead. I believe the guardian of darkness is here to see you about that. Oh, and Sumae?" "Yes ma'am?" "Someone here to see you." She gazed at the door and in came her father. Sumae let out a squeal of delight and ran towards her dad. "Dad! I missed you so much." She hugged her dad not caring about everyone watching she started to cry and ran off. Her dad and Sishostoru were both surprised by her actions, and wondered what was wrong. Sishostoru spoke up. "I think she just needs a rest. She handled her tasks very well." “Well, I am glad to hear that!" Her father was impressed with her quick adaptation to this new life. The two men bid farewell to the high priestess and set off to find Sumae. Suspecting her to be home, they went to her house. Empty. They checked the temple. Empty. They checked the armor shop. Not there. Returning to the house, Sishostoru noticed that the fire gem left for Sumae was gone. He mentioned that to her father, and he instantly knew where she was. Sishostoru followed Sumae's father to her mother’s grave site. There was Sumae on her knees with the gem in her hand. Sishostoru walked to her, removed his hat, and kneeled down, as did her father. "Give it back to her Sumae..." Her father's hand was on her shoulder and Sishostoru nodded in agreement. Sishostoru gave Sumae a Knight's crest made for grave soil. This would protect the gem forever. She attached the gem to the knight's crest and placed it near the headstone. Sumae bowed her head in a silent prayer and didn't bother to wipe the tears from her face. She didn't struggle when her dad picked her up, or when he laid her on her bed and tucked the sheets around her. Sumae fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow and she didn't notice Sishostoru standing there with a warm smile on his face. Sishostoru walked out of the room and Sumae's father soon followed. They sat down at the table and talked over a cup of tea. "Sumae handled her tasks quite well sir." "Well, that is good to hear. You must be tired as well. Please. Stay the night in our guest room." "Thank you sir." As he entered the room, he felt a familiar presence. "I knew you would show. What now? Prep talk? Lecture?" "Apology." The fire guardian’s spirit phased through a wall. "I never thought you and Sumae could defeat Krento." "Don’t you think you should go see her?" "That I should Sishostoru... but I will not reveal my self yet." Sishostoru fell asleep with a great feeling of accomplishment.
The next day, Sishostoru awoke sumae and said that the High priestess wanted to see them. After getting some tea and a few biscuits for breakfast, they headed to the temple. The High priestess was not there. Instead, the spirit of the fire guardian was there, with the spirit of the darkness and metal guardian right next to her. She motioned Sishostoru off, and told Sumae to sit down. She explained that the guardian of darkness was slowly raising the un-dead and that the guardian of metal was crafting them some kind of armor. "But why did you send Sish off to tell me this? Is he not going to accompany me this time?" The fire guardian looked down, and the other two left. "Sumae, there's something I must tell you. I--" She was inturrupted by Sishostoru yelling, and a terrified scream from someone else.
The fire guardian motioned for Sumae to go investigate. Sumae ran out of the temple to find Sishostoru slashing away at some figure. As she came closer, she saw what it was and stopped, frozen in terror. She ran up to the figure and knocked Sishostoru away from it. "Leave my mom alone!" Sishostoru was astounded. "That's not your mom! Your mom's dead!" Blind with love for her mother, Sumae drew her sword and ran towards Sishostoru. She slashed at him, and knocked his swords out of his hands. "Do something time mage!" In a flash, her father was in front of her, holding her sword back with a staff that she had only heard of in legend. "Father... that's the... Time Staff... How did you..." "I'll explain later! Kill that corpse!" "But that's mom!" Sishostoru grabbed his blades and shouted "No it's not! That's a stinking corpse! Your mom is sitting inside that temple!" "What!?" The fire guardian then appeared in front of Sumae and asked the time mage to freeze it for as long as he could. The fire guardian, while time was frozen, told Sumae the truth. As she threw off her Kimono, she said "Sumae, Don't you recognize me?" "M-m-mother!?" Sishostoru was getting impatient. "Yes, Sumae, that's your mom! Now can we please demolish this corpse!?" The time mage released time and let Sishostoru and Sumae deal with the corpse.
After the corpse was dealt with, Sumae, Sishostoru, Akilis (Sumaes Father), and the spirit of the fire guardian all sat down in the realm of guardians. "Sumae, I'm sorry I didn't tell you about all of this... I promised your mother that I wouldn't until I had to." started Akilis. "But, why would you ask him to lie to me mother?" Sumae replied. "I was afraid that if I didn't, you would know of all of this and live with too much responsibility on your shoulders at a very young age. It was for your own good." Sumae hardly understood her reasoning, but accepted it. "I see... What am I supposed to do now, mother?" The fire guardian was hoping that she wouldn't ask that, but was prepared to answer. "The corpse you saw earlier was raised by the human form of the guardian of darkness. He has teamed up with the human form of the guardian of metal. I hate to tell you this... but..." "But, what mother?" "The metal guardian's human form is known as Kawta Gwara." Sumae was shocked. "The High preistess!?" "Yes, Sumae. You and Sishostoru must kill her and the darkness guardian's human form. Your father will accompany you." Akilis was nodding, and Sishostoru was sharpening his blades as though he wasn't paying attention.
After hearing what the fire guardian had to say, they headed out. Sumae was still slightly in shock from hearing about the lady that she thought she knew so well. "How can Kawta Gwara do this to me!? Daddy, why didn't you tell me about this? And why did you let me serve under her!?" Akilis knew how to answer that one. "I thought that if this day came, you serving under her would give us an advantage. You might've discovered her weakness. Did you?" -How can he be like this?- she thought. -He's more like Sish over there than my dad now... How many people have been using me?- "No, father. I have no idea." "Well, it looks like we'll just have to find one, eh sir?" Sishostoru said. "Looks like it, Sishostoru. And, call me Akilis." Sumae was getting more and more aggrivated. -They get along quite well...- She wasn't sure how much more she could take.