CHAPTER 14
The Forbidden Land

Through a break in the thick clouds, sunlight beamed down on the monster. Sophia was too afraid to blink. Her nightmare was coming to life!
How can this be possible? You were only a dream! She waited, half expecting it to speak, or its eyes to widen.
As Sophia was about to leave, she heard a cry—it must be the rabune. Following the sound, she located the creature. Its leg was somehow caught within the roots of the evil tree.
“Come on, we need to get out of here,” she whispered.
The creature yanked and yanked—its leg started to bleed, but still wasn’t free.
Sophia was tempted to leave the rabune behind as she stared at the demon’s face. No, I can’t abandon it like my dad abandoned me. I must find a way.
She took a deep breath and slowly tip-toed over to the tree. Everything stayed silent. Then she reached down for the rabune and it sniffed her. “It’s okay, I’m here to help you.” The creature relaxed and she carefully untangled its leg from the roots. Sophia shuddered, sensing great evil and hatred within the tree.
Once the rabune was freed, it sprinted off. Sophia grinned now that the creature could return home. 
Her body suddenly vibrated. Her grin vanished.
A voice pierced her mind. “At last, you are here.”
Sophia quickly backed away.
“All these years I have been waiting for someone like you,” said the mysterious monster. “Someone who has the power to break the seal and free me from this misery.”
“Break what seal? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Before the voice could reply, Silimon arrived. “Look, if you’re not going to listen to me, then we will just head home.”
“I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.” She picked herself up and stared at the monster. “Sil, who is that?”
That is the almighty god demon, Tombermon.”
Hearing his name again made Sophia shiver. “Has anyone ever broken the seal?”
“Many have tried, but it was no use. It took five respectable guardians to create the seal. And if you look closely, it also has a barrier protecting the seal which makes breaking it nearly impossible.” 
“What if, one day, those guardians decide to free him?”
“That will never happen. Four of the five have already passed away and Gordimon does not have the power to free him.”
“Gordimon? You mean—”
“Yes, he was one of the five guardians ... and was also the god demon’s best friend.”
“That must’ve been painful for him.”
“It was indeed, but it was the only way without destroying him.” Silimon slowly walked away. “Come on, we need to get out of here before someone sees us in the forbidden land.”
Sophia quickly followed until a suspicious sound made Silimon signal her to halt. With a brave voice he commanded, “Show yourself!”
The bushes on the dim far left twitched and shadows slowly emerged. There stood three gorilla-like creatures slightly taller than Silimon, but twice as wide. They aimed looks of pure hatred at Sophia.
Each one was covered in chocolate-brown fur, with tiny white spots from its forehead down its shoulders. It also had a pair of curved sharp-looking tusks that hung down to its chin.
“Silimon, what do you have for us here?” said the biggest one in an evil tone.
“Leave her alone, Asorie. We’re just passing by,” the boy replied as he assumed his attack position.
The youngest one walked up and giggled. “Oh, boy, oh, boy, it’s a human! Can we please kill her, brother?”
“Settle down, Gigorie. We have plenty of time,” Asorie replied with a wicked smile. “Let’s have some fun first.”
Sophia, quaking, hid behind Silimon. She whispered, “Who are they?”
“Asorie, Strangorie, and Gigorie. They’re monkapes. Like myself, they’re island messengers. But, as you can see, they’re bullies.”
I know bullies—and hate them. As a kid, she gathered quite a bit of attention from peers and adults for her creativity and determination, and that led to jealousy. “What are we going to do now?”
“Don’t worry, I have a plan. Just stay quiet.”
Silimon slowly approached them with his head held high. “Let’s make a deal here. If I manage to take three strikes from any of you and stay standing, you must let us go.”
“Oh, that sounds like fun! Let’s do that, brother.” Gigorie drooled.
“Shut up for a minute!” Asorie smacked Gigorie on the back of his head.
Then Strangorie stepped in. “Interesting. Seems like Silimon has a death wish. Why don’t we make his dream come true, brother? And with his agreement, we will not be violating any rules when we destroy him.”
“You have a good point,” said the eldest. “It’s a deal!”
The bullies backed away for Silimon to prepare.
Sophia rushed up to him. “Are you crazy? They’re going to kill you!”
“We are outnumbered here and you are not ready for battle. It’s the only way to protect you,” Silimon explained. “I need you to move back. Do not interfere unless I command you to.”
Scowling, she backed away.
The boy took a deep breath, firmly clenched his fists, and cast his shield spell. “Okay, I’m ready!”
Gigorie bounced from foot to foot, grinning. “Okay, time to show you what I’ve got!”
Asorie shoved him aside. “I will go first.” The eldest shifted into position and began to gather his energy.
A strong wind picked up and the animals scattered. Sophia’s heart was racing and her hands were sweating, grasping her wand.      
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