It's been a week since I left Iyashi and headed to the Woods of Thorns. During which time I made a white dress that went halfway down my thighs, with a turned up bottom hem, a turned down collar that encircled my shoulders, long sleeves that had turned up cuffs, light gray leggings that went all the way to the top of my thighs, light brown high heel boots that went to just above my ankles, a white bow on each and finished with a plain light gray choker that I would wear when I got to the Woods of Thorns. I woke up, did my morning routine, put on my new dress, made a simple breakfast of milk, cheese and bread, ate, packed up, and headed to the Woods of Thorns. It only took me 2 hours to get there. When I got there I saw why it was called the Woods of Thorns. There was no path that wasn't covered in thorny vines. I cast a support spell.
“O brilliant light, be as a wall to allay arms!” I chanted. “Force Field!”
I was then surrounded by a sphere of golden light. I then walked down the path into the Woods of Thorns. As I was walking, I was marveling at how all the thorny vines snapped at the barrier sphere. About 2 hours later, I arrived at a clearing free of the thorny vines. I then saw the Shrine. There was a stone pillar and the Shrine was completely covered in thick vines. I walked up to the stone pillar. When I got there I heard the voice.
'If you are truly Ayren place your hand on this stone. Ayren's touch shall clear a path to the Power of Healing.'
I put my hand on the stone. It then shone a prismatic light. I then heard a weird noise and looked at the Shrine. I saw that the vines had parted to reveal the entrance into the Shrine. When I got in, I saw a maze with walls made of thorny vines, what looked like guillotines that fell and retracted, and a few huge fans.
I walked into the maze. I stepped on a tile and it depressed. I then jumped back and barely dodged what looked like a huge stamper. It lifted up and I ran past it right before it fell again. I took a left and the first tile I stepped on depressed and one of the fans blew an intense wind that slammed me against the thorny wall. I screamed in pain. My back was bleeding pretty badly, but I ran to the next passage before the wind blew again.
I continued in this fashion until I reached the corridor that led to the door. As I walked towards it, the tile depressed and I lunged forward, but my left foot got smashed by the trap. I screamed and dragged myself to the door. In the next room was a pool of healing water, braces for the wrists, hands, knees, and feet, ointment, a tub to wash clothes, and bandages. I took off my clothes, which were covered in blood, and put them in the tub. I then got into the pool of healing water. Then, the blood on my clothes vanished and the damage to them was fixed. The same happened with my shoes, which I put into the tub as well.
After about half an hour, I got out of the pool. The bleeding had stopped and the wounds on my back were healed, but my left foot was so badly damaged that even healing water couldn't fix it. I used the ointment to clean the wound, bandaged it, and put the foot brace on it. It still hurt a bit when I walked on it, but it would have to do. I put my clothes back on and went through the door.
The room I entered had a huge cage-like structure in the middle made of thorny vines, a red tile at each corner of the room, thorny vines that covered all of the walls except for the four red tiles, and the Altar at the back. I walked down the stairs and felt a gust of wind. A giant phoenix, with black, glowing wings, a black body, and glowing green eyes, descended.
“I am the Hell Phoenix!” it shouted in Ancient Alternion. “A Hell General of the Dark Soldiers of the Dark Army! If you are here, you must be Ayren!”
“That's right!” I yelled in Ancient Alternion. “I am Ayren, the Warrior of White Light! I have come to reclaim my Power of Healing and become complete once more!”
“Ha! If you think this is all you need to be complete again, you are in for a nasty shock!” the Hell Phoenix yelled. “But you won't live that long! You will die here Ayren!”
That confused me, but I didn't have time to think about it. The Hell Phoenix took to the air. It used its wings to whip up winds so powerful that I was blown into the thorns. I kept trying to do Lightning artes with my bow, but it would keep interrupting me. I was bleeding all over, then, time stopped and I heard the voice.
'The red tile on the door's left will squash the Hell Phoenix in the cage! Use Gravity Well to get it into the cage! It'll open its mouth when it screams in pain! The weak point Gem is in its mouth!'
Time returned to normal. So I knew what to do, but I couldn't channel a spell with the Hell Phoenix constantly blowing me every which-a-way. It was looking hopeless when time stopped again. Then, a figure appeared before me. He was a man with blond hair, sapphire studded armor, a beautiful white bow and quiver, and a white sword. The man was translucent, but oddly familiar. He held out his left hand. I placed my left hand on his and closed my eyes. Power then rushed through me. I recalled how to make a shield of light using my Light and support powers, and I recalled how to gather energy with strikes and spells, and how to unleash that power, making me not have to channel spells. When I opened my eyes, the man smiled, nodded, and, as he was disappearing, he said something. But all I could make out were the words, '...journey isn't over yet'. Then he vanished and time went back to normal. I then decided to unleash the gathered energy to make me go into, Overlimit.
“It's time to take you down!” I yelled as I activated Overlimit.
I was then surrounded by sky blue light and I cast an Earth spell without having to channel.
“Gravity Well!” I yelled.
A sphere of brown energy then surrounded the Hell Phoenix and started to drag it down into the cage. I then ran over to the tile on the door's left and, once the Hell Phoenix was in the cage, stepped on the tile. Immediately, a block the size of the cage, that had spikes on the bottom, slammed onto the Hell Phoenix. It shrieked in agony and I saw the Gem. I then used my Blast Edge bow arte to pierce the Gem. The Hell Phoenix then disintegrated and left behind some light pink and pink silk cloth and a pile of gold coins. Then, all the thorns and vines in the room vanished. I hobbled over to the silk and gold and put them away. I then hobbled over to the Altar. I then heard the voice.
'Take back the Power of Healing that you laid to rest here.
The prismatic sphere then shone a bright light. When it faded, the sphere had become a diamond. It floated to my neck and then there was another bright flash of light. When the light faded, the diamond was in the very middle of my necklace. I was then surrounded by a prismatic light and I remembered all my Healing spells. When the light faded, all my injuries, including my left foot, were healed and my clothes were back to normal. A circle of light then appeared to the right of the Altar. I stepped into it and, suddenly, I was back outside the Shrine. I looked back and all the vines had disappeared.
'Now I am the Warrior of White Light again, right?' I thought. 'Something is off, I'm sure of it. Who was that man who gave me back my power of shield and Overlimit? Wait, was that Ayren?! That's impossible but, who else could it have been? He said my journey isn't over yet.'
I got out my map and looked at it. There was a light that was changing color in the Woods of Misdirection.
'The prophet lives in the Woods of Misdirection.' I thought. 'Maybe the prophet can tell me what I'm still missing. Because I am definitely still missing something.'
With that decided, I headed down the path that led to the Woods of Misdirection. It would take about two weeks to get there. Hopefully there will be a village where I can restock on supplies. I didn't know, then, that the prophet wasn't the only one waiting for me in the Woods of Misdirection...