- “Lying in Black Rose territory is a single, solitary cherry blossom forest. While it may look like a regular forest from afar, take a closer look and you’ll find out it’s anything but. These woods are home to many mysterious, powerful, and even dangerous creatures and spirits that can only be found here. Because of their exotic nature, and powerful magic affinity, beast tamers from all over the world travel to the forest in order to claim one of these animals for themselves. Rumor has it that it is easy to get lost in this forest, with stories of certain souls remaining trapped within, unable to find their way out. Best to have your guard up... else bad things happen…”
The roads in Sakuramori were all long and winding, uphill and downhill struggles. At every turn, Zachariah nearly fell sick to his stomach from the nauseating cherry scent. At first, the blossoms’ aroma was enjoyable and somewhat tranquilizing, but as the morning progressed they became more and more agitating. The night sky still hung over the forest, with the moon’s light still bright. But, the sun slowly began to peak over the horizon, and Zachariah could feel its energy shining across his skin. Ever since his last mission in the Spooky Forest, Zachariah had been doing some soul searching, and decided it was high time he started to train again. He initially thought of returning to the Spooky Forest for some much needed magic practice, but figured Sakuramori would be better on the mind. The image of all those massacred animals and the traumatic battle with the marionette still haunted him. He was sure everything was hunky-dory now and decided to leave the Spooky Forest as it was. He assured himself he would return eventually, just not so soon. It took Zachariah quite a while to find a quiet and secluded spot in the forest. By the time he reached the clearing found the small shrine amidst the pink gorge, the sun’s glare levitated well above the horizon. Though it was still morning time, the warm forest air was humid and filled with pesky insects.
Zachariah shed his pack and his jacket and hung them on a sturdy branch. This section of the forest felt especially rich in magical energy, radiating from the tiny stone pagoda in the middle of the clearing. When the morning sun’s rays cast their light on the pagoda, it glowed and resonated, and Zachariah quickly jumped to alertness. A shrill, gong-like sound erupted throughout the forest, forcing Zachariah to cover his ears in pain. The ground began to rumble and even the sturdiest cherry trees began to tremble. Zachariah leapt backwards as roots underfoot became unturned and lashed at his body. A mountainous, gleaming golem dug up from the ground and reared its smoothened head. Pink and red lichens covered its wide body, seemingly holding its rocky body together. Zachariah shakily landed on his feet and took a fighting stance. The golem was still attached to the ground, its waist and left arm anchored by powerful wooden roots. He took note of the stone pagoda on the golem’s head, which held in its original position no matter which way the beast turned.
- The Stone Golem:
He charged up a Spectral Drill and aimed it towards the golem’s shoulder, but the roots abruptly gave way to the golem’s strength and snapped like a wire. The sharp and splintering roots lacerated Zachariah’s cheek, leaving a deep wound. Zachariah grunted with a loud Ack! and fell back. The golem was faster than he’d anticipated, wildly swinging the tree roots attached to it like a flog. He hopped into the tree canopy and masked himself in the pastel brush. Hot Morning Stars emerged from his hands on command. The heavy orbs of light weighed heavy in his hands, but flew at the beast like a fast ball. The miniature star made a crackling noise upon impact and released singing flares of orange and yellow sunlight. Zachariah conjured as many as he could and peppered the beast with blinding light. The sheer force of the exploding sunlight and heat knocked the golem to the ground. Under its own immense weight, it collapsed and was unable to stand again. The crashing boulders forced a thick cloud of dust and debris into the air and stung Zachariah’s eyes as he descended from the trees.
The golem’s stone body made a satisfying clacking sound when he landed upon it, like heels on a marble floor. He slowly approached the pagoda atop the stone as the dust cloud parted, but the whip of vines forced him to retreat. Though, the rough vines tied his ankles like a ribbon and forced him to his knees. They caught a hold of his wrists and bound him. He could see the sharp tendrils racing towards his body, and fought to free himself. Wood dug into his skin as he struggled and the spear-like roots did not slow their pace. “No!” he shouted through grit teeth, and forced small sparks in the air around him. Small crackles of light flashed and heated up around him followed by auroras of indigo that seared the wood around him. His magic flowed through the light around him and triggered the Ultraviolent Flash. He quickly freed himself from the mangling roots and raised his hands in defense. “Lightspeed Beatdown!” he called out, and his skin began to shine with a rainbow film. His deft fingers deflected the oncoming roots and he caught the pursuing attacks. The roots in his hands fought his grip, but he poured all of his strength out and heaved the roots into the air. Like a hammer-throw, he spun around and launched the roots into the forest and quickly shattered the boulder coming at him.
Several heavy pieces were missing from the golem now and it stood lopsided. The lack of roots holding it together weakened its stance and it struggled to lift its limbs from the ground.
Zachariah rushed the monster and knocked its remaining arm off with a quaking heel strike. Morning Stars clung to the monster’s legs and left behind nothing but the main body. Zachariah punched it, but it did little except crack and make his knuckles ache. He bounced back and recoiled in pain, “god! That’s harder than I thought.” The Lightspeed faded from his skin as he relaxed and backed away. He raised his other hand and aimed his open palm at the giant slab of granite that remained. The tip of a Spectral Drill formed and twirled violently and sharply. With a release of his fingers, the drill seared through the air and effortlessly penetrated the stone. When Zachariah raised his fingers, it swiftly changed course upwards and threw the pagoda into the air. A single Morning Star flew its way, and hot stone flew throughout the forest, completely obliterated by Zachariah’s magic. He limped away and picked up his jacket and pack, which still hung from the branches of a tree untouched by the battle. He warily looked around, then wandered away in search of somewhere safer.
- The Creek:
At the bank of a thin creek, he hopped to the sunnier side and hung up his stuff once again. It seemed safe enough; he sensed no magical entities nearby, and certainly no other golems. The location was a small clearing with black sand and flowing clear water with a small waterfall at the base. The cherry trees provided a balanced amount of shelter from the sun and allowed a comfortable amount of light in. From his pack, Zachariah produced a small mirror he traveled with. It was nothing special, but allowed him to better judge his injuries. He hung it on a branch and checked the nicks on his face, wincing each time he removed a splinter. For a while he tended to his wounds, then rested for a minute by the river before continuing (or officially starting) his training.