Vanessa, who was busy looking at Atlas, turned to Leo. “I don’t really know what’s going on, but please take care of him. Without him, the three of us would have been dead… much less have this kind of conversation.”
Leo answered, “Yes, we will. Well, that is our duty in the first place. You don’t have to worry. We’re going take care of him, Ms. Vanessa.” Leo assured her. It looked as if nothing happened to their earlier conversation.
“Thank you very much. Please provide him the best accommodation possible.”
Leo looked to be trouble. “But—”
Vanessa said, “Don’ worry about the payment. I’ll pay–“
“We’ll pay it,” James interrupted. “He saved us after all.”
Vanessa gave a lukewarm smile. “Okay, we’ll pay for it. Just provide him the best that you can.”
When they arrived at the hospital, they unloaded Atlas and quickly got him a very extravagant looking room inside the hospital. The police came over and appeared to ask them the same question. However, Leo interrupted them saying that he already had asked them everything that was needed. He said that the people from the incident needed time to rest.
When Atlas was sent to the hospital, he was still unconsciously holding Vanessa’s hand. Vanessa wanted to stay with him until he woke up. However, her family had sent guards to get her. She didn’t want to leave him. But, she had other things to do. Vanessa knew her family was worried sick.
Also, the people who were sent by his her family didn’t want to compromise. James and Mike were interrogated for quite some time by them. It was a hectic situation.
When Atlas opened his eyes, he was already inside this weird but magnificent place. He had to cover his eyes as flashes of light started on licking his eyes. Gigantic trees were everywhere. The leaves of the trees sheltered the living creatures from the direct light of the sun in the sky.
“Where am I?” he mumbled. He looked above while covering his eyes from the flicking light that was distracting his vision. Finally, when his mind became wide awake, he started to address the elephant in the room. He looked at the beasts of different kinds, who were aiming and trying gnaw at him with their fangs. The beasts looked about somewhere about 4′ to 5’ft tall. They were carrying clubs that were made out of woods and stones. Not far from him, there was a group of those things that carried bows and arrows. They tried to move forward but weren’t able to because of something peculiar was hovering over his body. It seemed to be protecting him from danger.
It was a small golden feather—the Feather of Hope to be precise. It was the thing that he had always brought with him wherever he goes. From time to time, it would burst miniature shock waves pushing those who wanted to go forward. It even rendered the flying arrows useless. Even the leaves of the trees shook and fell because of the power of the shock waves. It was raining leaves.
“What am I doing here? What’s going on?” He caught a leaf and stared at it. Then he took a deep breath feeling the beauty and wonder of the place.
“I transferred you to a different dimension. You said that you want to be stronger right?” It hovered around him while bursting with light.
“Yes, I did. But what is this place? And what are those things?” He pointed at the critters.
“Those goblins are supplements that you’re going to devour from now on—until you reached the level you wanted.”
He looked at his body and started moving around. He didn’t feel any pain when he moved—nothing at all. It seemed as if he didn’t fight for his life earlier, because he felt his entire body became stronger. “What about my body?” he asked. “What happened?”
“Don’t worry. Everything is fine outside and inside. I got you covered, my boy.”
“You know that I never trusted you in the first, right?”
“I know, I can feel it. But don’t worry. Since you ask me something, which is quite rare, I’ll lower myself to give you a gift.”
Atlas scanned the place before spreading his hands wide. “And this is your gift to me?”
“Hahahahah—If you just know the effect of this, you would want to stay here forever.”
“Then let’s go and try it out. But—”
“There’s a price to everything, Atlas,” It whispered. “I already told you, haven’t I?
“Yes, you did.” He agreed. “How much is it this time?”
“The same thing…” it continued. “Just 2%percent.”
Atlas stamped and growled, “You took a lot last time! Who will take care of my kids when I’m gone?”
“Of course, you will take care of them.” It said with a laugh. “You don’t have to worry about those measly things that I took from you.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Don’t you remember I told that this place is something special?”
“Yes, you did. But how special is this place that you’re so proud of it?”
“You will know when the moment comes, Atlas. Time will tell you itself. Come on, I barely have the energy to spare for you now.” It continued as the light on it seemed to stopped flicking. “It’s your time to have a taste of hell and heaven at the same time.” The falling leaves stopped falling from their trees.
“What am I going to do here?”
“Do you see those things there?”
“Clear as the skies,” he replied.
“Kill them and consume their essence—Devour them, Atlas!”
“How am I going to do that?” He looked in askance.
“Just kill them and they will be devoured. Once you do that you’ll have a taste of what it really tastes like.”
Atlas blew the leaf on his palm, then he picked up a stone and threw it to the one who was holding a bow. It went Whish as it flew like a bullet of a gun. The target was caught off guard. It pierced through its head. Before the rock collided to a tree, the goblin had already dropped down. It died.
“See those walls of light?” The feather asked while Atlas was picking another rock.
“Yes, I do.” He threw another rock. Whissh! Another went down—leaving the creatures agitated that their eyes were becoming red.
“They are weak…” Atlas said. “What were you saying–Oh, yeah. Please do continue.”
“After they are gone, I wouldn’t be able to cast a projection to protect you.”
“You’ll help me right?”
“No,” It said, “I can’t do that now. “
“Why can’t you?”
“I’ll be maintaining a link between your body, your world, and this world.”
“Don’t underestimate them. They will consume you if you fail to kill them.”
Throwing another rock, he said with conviction, “I won’t die!”
“You’ll never know what the future has in store for you.”
“How long are we going to stay in this place?”
“You can only stay here for about 5 minutes. After that, you will be transported to your world.”
“Automatically,” it said. “After 5 minutes end.”
Atlas nodded while preparing himself. He stretched around as he looked at them.
“Remember, we only have 5 minutes to stay here. I can’t maintain the projection in 3 seconds.”
After three seconds passed, a flying arrow went past him. It barely missed his shoulder. Seeing the arrow, the green critters started rushing like a flood. They were very eager as they pushed forward without worrying about the flying arrows being fired at their backs. They were so agitated that they just push forward. He evaded and fought the scores that came to him.
When he began fighting, time seemed to become endless. Everything appeared to be endless. Eventually, he was covered with bruises and cuts. Another volley of arrows was coming to him. He had picked up a dead goblin and put it right in front of him just to make sure the arrows wouldn’t reach him. After the volley of arrows, he threw the porcupine goblin at them breaking their line of offense. Then he picked up a club and started swinging it at the critters. Blood splashed across his body, and the mangled bodies laid dead across the jungle.
“Come and I will tear you down to pieces!” The fight was so chaotic that 5 arrows were got him. Time passed and he was the only one left.
“It’s about time to wake up, my boy!”
“Huh?” Atlas was holding a club while taking a mouthful of air—when he heard something. A spear was flying straight at him. He stared at it. Dropping the club, he took a deep breath and concentrated. He could feel everything, from the flow of the wind to the sound of anguish in the air. Hush! It was about to hit him when he lowered his body and leaned sideways while trying to catch it.
“Got it!” He caught it in the middle of the shaft with his right hand when it missed midway on his left shoulder.
“Here it goes!” He twisted his body changing the direction of the spear. With its current momentum intact, he threw it where it came from. Swish!
The speed of the throw broke the air barrier—boom!
An angry cry resounded in the depths of the forest.
“It ends here, Atlas,” The Feather of Hope said. Then light encased him before vanishing into thin air.