We see that creature often, the one who stole him from us. It’s always there, spying, watching. Just another fallen hero changed by this cursed Initiation. The very look in its petrifying eyes always makes me want to turn into stone. Everyone I know is weakened by its golden-dandelion colored glare, except Tharseo, the friend of the Cantiko, who is now dead. They killed him, just like they killed the rest of those I love or forced them away, maybe forever.
My fingers creep over to the katana lying beside me, its once shiny blade reflecting the greyness of the sky. Around its scratched, well-worn guard is a simple tie of a twisted, frayed golden string. This small twist was my gift from Uzuri, when she was alive and she tried to save me. Yet, she has been killed by one of those vile creatures, too, not Tharseo’s demon Cantiko, but a monster all the same.
The Cantikos are definitely roadblocks in our path to prove our names. Still, they are not our biggest problem. Our biggest problem is surviving the Initiation itself, keeping ourselves safe from exposure and getting enough food to sustain us as the days fly by. We wouldn’t need to worry about any of these if only we were to get out of this mess. The question is, would killing this Cantiko be enough proof to free us all? And if we get out of here, will we ever really be free?
5 YEARS EARLIER…