It finally stopped raining and sunshine broke through the trees. We walked through the forest near the barrier. According to Itsuki, the monk is usually hanging out near the barrier. While walking through the still muddy barrier, I did a back flash of our plan.
“There is only one way to get to the mirror. You need to get past the Cave of Conflict. Then, you have to get past the field of Secret Wishes. Then you need to pass a test to finally ask how to stop the fake. You and Clayton go to the Wishing Mirror. Henry and I will try to distract the fake so he would not notice that we are trying to stop him,”
I asked Itsuki how are we going to find the Cave of conflict. Itsuki said that we had to find the monk we met earlier. He told us that we can find him wandering around trying to stop people from committing suicide near the barrier. He said that he and Henry would try to distract the other Itsuki. Henry’s head perked up.
“What! No! I don’t want to go!” whined Henry.
“Come on, let’s go,” Itsuki sighed.
Itsuki grabbed Henry’s jacket with his talons and tried to drag him to the palace. I sighed.
“Hey, Lonnie. I think I found something!”
I snapped back into the present and saw Clayton signalling me to come. I went over to Clayton and he pointed upwards to a tree. I looked up. I couldn’t really see because of the sun. I tried to squint and that’s when I saw the monk. The monk was in a tree sleeping like a bat. His legs were hooked to a thick branch while his arms were folded. I called the monk down but he didn’t respond. I was not sure how anyone falls into a deep sleep in that position. His blood should be rushing to his brain, does he even have blood? I thought. Clayton shouted to the monk but he still didn’t respond.
Clayton decided to climb the tree. I warned Clayton to be careful. He waved off my warning with a wave of his hand and he started climbing. He was on the first branch transitioning to the next. Once he reached the monk, he shook him awake. The monk yawned and took his time to stretch. He jumped off the tree like it was nothing, leaving Clayton on the tree. Suddenly, there was a cracking sound. The branch was breaking. The branch snapped and Clayton plummeted to the ground with a loud thud.
“OW!” He landed on the ground.
The monk ignored Clayton and walked towards me. He asked me what I wanted. I told him about Itsuki being replaced and that we needed his help to get to the Wishing Mirror. He nodded and he asked me to follow him. He got on his hands and walked on his hands and legs.
“I’m just going to chill here for a while,” Clayton moaned in pain.
“Alright,” I said waving goodbye to him with a smile.
The monk led us through the jungle and the ground was no longer wet. I asked the monk for his name. He said that he didn’t have a name. I nodded in sadness. After a long, quiet walk, the monk stopped at a huge uprooted tree. He ducked under the tree and asked us to come. We looked at each other in doubt. We ducked under the tree and to our surprise, we were in a huge cave filled with statues of gold.
“Wait what? But we… How is this… I thought…,”
We just ducked through a fallen tree that and we somehow ended up there. I looked behind and to my surprise, it was a door and not a tree. I peered through the door and I saw the forest. What was happening?
“It is another barrier,” said the monk.
As we walked, our footsteps echoed through the rather well-lit room. The floor, walls and ceiling were sparkling like diamonds in the light as if the cave itself was made of gold. Suddenly, I heard a voice. It was as if the voice was whispering into my ear. I turned around but there was only Clayton, kicking some pebbles as he walked. Suddenly, the voice got louder but no one seemed to notice. I close my eyes so I can listen properly.
“Lonnie is… Lonnie is so annoying. Why did I befriend this lonely, talentless person? I would not have gotten into this mess if it’s not for her,” a voice so familiar ringed into my ear.
I could not believe what I was hearing. I realised it was Clayton’s voice. I turned around to see him walking while looking at the ground. He was smiling and he looked up looking shocked.
“I’m sorry, did you hear that?” he asked still looking shocked.
“It’s ok, it was my fault,” I said with a bow.
Clayton seemed shocked at my reaction.
“I know I’m annoying and lonely and talentless but because of you, I learned many skills like archery. Thank you, Clayton,” I said.
Clayton started to slowly vanish. He eventually faded into the air. I looked around to see Clayton and the monk staring at me. I asked the monk what happened. He said that the Cave of Conflict creates a mirage of the person closest to you and creates distrust between teams and makes them go separate ways. I nodded my head signalling that I understood. I noticed that Clayton was smiling at me.
“What’s with that look,” I asked.
“I managed to get through the illusion faster than you and I heard all the nice things you said about me. I am so touched,”
I punched Clayton in the shoulder and asked him to shut up as I blushed in embarrassment. When we continued walking, we encountered more illusions trying to break us up. We managed to ignore the taunting from every illusion. After a while, I saw a light at the end of the cave, we saw a light. It must be the way out. Right before we stepped out of the cave, a booming voice echoed.
“Arghh! How are you guys so nice. Never have I encountered such kind creatures,” the voice whined.
We looked behind but there was no one to be seen. We just shrugged it off and we continued our journey.
                                                        
*Meanwhile*
“Where are the humans and Itsuki! Find them!” Henry and I heard.
“What do we do now Itsuki?” Henry asked me with a worried expression on his face.
We heard the cellar door open with a deafening screech. Henry panicked and shook me hard, asking me what to do. I looked around and saw the janitors closet. I shoved Henry into it and put my finger on my beak. I hid in the shadows and waited for the guards to pass. Then I came out and ordered the guards to stop. The guards could not tell the difference between me and the fake so I could play king with guards.
“Wait! I changed my mind, I shall look for them myself1 You can go n break”
“Really sire?”
“Yes!”
They grinned and flew off. I whispered to Henry to quietly get out. He tip-toed out but tripped on a wooden bucket and knocked down. I cringed up and looked around to see if the fake heard them. We waited for two whole minutes. I didn’t even realise that I held my breath the whole time.
                                                    
Chapter 7
                                                   
The weakness
As we continued, the weather was on our side and there were no more challenges. According to Itsuki, the next challenge was the Field of Secret Wishes. The name didn’t really sound threatening at all. The monk was silent most of the time and didn’t answer our question about the Field of Secret Wishes. He just said to wait and see with an unnatural smile which kind of scared me. The forest got thicker and I started to doubt the monk. It was called the Field of Wishes but I don’t see any clearings. It could be another barrier but I just asked to be sure.
“Are you sure we are going the right way?”
“If you don’t trust me, you can find it yourself,”
I shut myself up for the whole journey after that. After what felt like an eternity, the monk stopped and looked back at us. I had no idea why he stopped but I doubt there was a field nearby. The monk jump through a thick bush. Clayton and I looked at each other but Clayton just shrugged and followed the monks lead. I sighed and followed him. I felt the leaves brush past my face. I finally reached the end and as I opened my eyes, I saw a huge green field that was filled with beautiful flowers of a different colour. It was surprisingly shady so I looked up to see trees shading the whole field. The field was cool and dim. How could this possibly be a challenge? I thought.
“Wow,” Clayton awed at the majestic scenery.
“Umm, Clayton. How are you doing that?” I asked
“Doing what?”
“Floating,”
“Woah!”
“This is the Field of Wishes! Any wish you wanted since a child will come true,” explained the monk.
We smiled and Clayton started to swim in mid-air. I closed my eyes and wished for dozens of cats surrounding me. One by one, they popped out of thin air cuddling me. The monk just looked at us playing. Suddenly, a screech filled the air. The monk jumped in terror and looked around. My heart raced wildly. Then, we saw a silhouette in the sky. I knew it. It was the palace guards. They found us. The monk told us to follow him. We ran to the thick part of the forest again so the guards won’t be able to see or catch them easily.
“The only way to lose them is if we find the wishing mirror. There is a barrier inside mount Fuji itself. In it is a diamond maze that we can use to lose them!”
The guards flew over the forest hoping to find an opening to catch us. We ran towards the Mount Fuji. Mount Fuji finally came into view. The only problem is that there was an opening. When we get to Mount Fuji, the forest will no longer protect us. We had to find the barrier fast. The moment we rushed out of the forest, the guards swooped in and tried to grab the monk. The monk quickly dodged the guard and hit the guard in the neck. The Tengu came crashing down, unconscious. The monk ran through what seems to be a solid mountain boulder and disappeared into the walls.
We had no choice but to follow the monk. I closed my eyes and jumped into the boulder. I felt a light wind pass me right before I entered. I saw the guard looking around for us but he eventually flew off. I heaved a sigh of relief. I turned around to see a beautiful blue cave made of diamonds. I was surprised that in the mountain, there was light. The monk explained that the light comes from lava trapped in the diamond.
“It’s beautiful,”
“Now let’s get going. We can’t waste time,”
“Alright, let’s go
We walked forward not knowing where we were going. I touched the diamonds walls as I walked. Clayton was busy collecting small diamond pieces on the floor and stuffing in his bag. The monk said that only people with a pure heart can get through the maze. He also said that maze constantly changes. I had a stupid idea that might work.
“If we close eyes and walk forward, our hearts would eventually get us to the mirror,”
“It’s worth a shot,”
We closed with our hands in front and walked forward slowly. I occasionally bump into Clayton or the monk but I didn’t open my eyes. After ten minutes, a hissing sound filled the air. The first thoughts came to my mind. Snakes! My eyes flicked open to see a huge brown snake circling something shiny that seemed to float. The Wishing Mirror! The Mirror shined brighter than any diamond. The serpent didn’t seem to move. It just breathed heavily.
“You're lucky you came in winter. Snakes hibernate during this season.
Delighted, Clayton tiptoed passed the serpent and grabbed the mirror. The monk said that we could not take the mirror out so we had to make the wish now.
“I wish to know how to reverse Itsuki’’s wish,”
“The only way to reverse it is to throw one of the diamonds in this cave at it,”
Clayton looked into his bag filled with diamonds. The monk frowned and asked to bring one. He sighed and chose one. We quickly ran to the palace.
 

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