Crystal Crown Runner-Up: Keeper of the Lost by O_X
Keeper of the Lost
ፗ was never what you would call, per-say, a normal human. No, by normal standards I was a complete disaster; wrecked, torn apart, different. But, what I believe, is that I am not lost among the crowd of hundreds ーmerely on a journey, a journey to find belonging.
As I climb through my day-to-day life, I have hope. Hope of something unknown, something…beautiful. It carries me through my trials, comforts me when I am at my weakest, and protects me from the unworthiness with which I am faced.
No one can take this away from me, I will not let them. I will tear what I have left from their judging grasp, clinging it to my heart. They cannot bring me down, nor crush me. I will not tear myself apart for the sake of their pity.
I carry this within my heart each day, ignoring their captious stares, ignoring the horrid looks people give. And I smile. I smile knowing that they were too small-minded to see the warrior I have become. For I will rise above it, above the mockery, the pain, and the sorrowing.
I soak in the fresh morning air, breathing it in. It’s calming in its own freezing way.
A woman bumps into me, spilling her possession upon the frost covered ground. I stoop to help her pick up the freshly-bought items; to make her burdens a bit lighter. She seems to be in a hurry as I replace a stray fruit to its bag, and chokes out but a few words, “We must hurry, they are coming! N-No time!”
I question her rushed behavior, unsure why we must hurry, in her opinion. “But why? Is everything alright?” My voice was calm and soothing, but her eyes widened and her face went slack as she looked up.
“Y-You!” she cried. “Get away f-from me, you idiot girl! Go!” Her words were harsh, and I looked away.
“I’m sorry if I’ve upset you… But if you could please tell me wh-”
“No! I will not fall for your effortless tricks!” she gasped. And with that, the woman ran off into the ice-cold air, leaving me and her groceries on the small street.
“My apologies,” I whispered after her. Just then, I spotted a small flicker of light from the corner of my eye. Turning my gaze, I realized it was a small mirror that had reflected the small glint of sun into my eyes. It had most likely belonged to the now disappeared woman, spilling from her sack as she had slid into me.
I picked up the small item and caressed it in my shaky, yet gentle hands. I opened the lid carefully, revealing the cracked, silver metal. In the mirror, I saw a young face staring back at me. She smiled warmly, despite the cold breeze, her sky-blue hair flowing gently in the wind. Her eyes were a deep silver, with a navy-colored ring circled like a galaxy about them.
I looked around, the memory of the woman’s words hitting me in a desperate hurry, “We must hurry, they are coming! N-No time!” I racked my head for any idea of what she could have been talking about, but nothing came to me.
Looking towards the icy mountains, I then realized what she meant. There, coming towards us, was a fiery wall of ash, light, and destruction. A small news helicopter that had been watching over the city fell to the ground, breaking like a child’s toy. Screams erupted from the town and people ran in all directions.
“Dragons, they’re here!” The voice carried over the commotion, hitting me like a stone.
I then knew I must hurry, for fear of being too late.
My feet pounded against the ground, slipping and sliding on the ground but still managing to stay upright. Heart pounding and blood pumping, I reached the archway that marked the entrance to our humble town. I ran through it, pulling on a thin coat.
I dashed across the snow, frost biting against my barren face. I reached the mountain just in time; right before they had done anything drastic. Screaming in rage, I passed the ashy ruins of the aircraft we had seen crash. It didn’t faze me, though, and I kept right on.
Flame met ice, darkness met light, and humanity met terror, but I found something much more that day.
I raced past the disasters, the wreck, my eyes never wavering until my arms were around the creatures. I hugged their neck tight to my body, never letting go. I grabbed an icicle in my stride, the ice transforming into an angelic weapon in my hand.
I shouted into the frozen air to warn them off, to leave. Dashing, crashing, and shouting I would come running. I would protect them with my existence, I would live and die for them.
As I climb through my day-to-day life, I have hope. Hope of something unknown, something…beautiful. It carries me through my trials, comforts me when I am at my weakest, and protects me from the unworthiness I am faced with.
This, my friends, is belonging. And I will embrace it with open arms, I will welcome the pain and suffering willingly. Because I belong.
I am Emiko Khiṓn, keeper and protector of the dragons.
Why we loved it: As a whole, Keeper of the Lost was a stand-out from all other entries. Emiko is this seemingly forsaken girl who only wants to help people, and displays her ability to protect her home by summoning a weapon and barreling into battle with the invading dragons. I liked how the general setting was created and that it was made obvious what kind of character Emiko was. My only regret is that this was a short story and not a full length book. – Ink