Sophie – The great warrior

“Keep running!!! Don’t look back!!!”

She was wakened up in the middle of the night by her mother, dressed up quickly, bow placed over her shoulder and put on the horse. Mother knew it’s the only way to save her, give her time to get stronger.  The best thing she could do for her is to put her on that horse and let her go. She told her where to go, where to seek shelter, and just hoped she will make it before he will come and take her.

The horse was steaming on this freezing night giving an impression it was a machine and not an animal. Running through the woods with an enormous speed, omitting all the obstacles on its way. Sophie knew the sanctuary is not more than a day ride, but she felt his heaving breathing on her back and could not afford the comfort of resting, not even for a second.

When next day was heading towards the end, and she could barely hold the horse. Just about the time she started to lose hope, finally in the distance she saw the doors of the orphanage. Few more minutes and with last of her strength she rang the bell. Last thing she saw just before fainting was a monk opening a big wooden door.

“Finally, I feared you will not make it”. Said the monk to himself while carrying her unconcise to the room. He put her to bed, allowing to rest for a while before preparing for next day. As he knew they need to be ready for his arrival.

Early in the morning they heard loud knocking on the door. “In the name of Sir Can, I ask you to open the door!”

“How, can I help?” Asked the monk, opening the door.

“Make way, for the Lord.” Guards pushed him away, opening wide the entrance to the courtyard.

Minute they were inside they started to sniff around like hunting dogs looking for its prey. The courtyard was small, empty square, with nice gallery surrounding it, which lead to the monks’ rooms. Above them ware orphanage’s windows, where you could see little children peeking, and trying to understand what is the rumor about.

“Gather them all here, and make sure no one is hiding!” Order Sir Can to his guards.

Soon after, all the monks and children were standing next to each other on the courtyard, and the only difference telling who is who was their height. As all of them were dressed in the habits with their heads hidden in the hoods.

“Take them off! One with the curly, red hair is the one.” Sir Can order to the guards.

They took off children’s hoods to search for the little, red hair girl but to their surprise each time they took off a hood they did not see any red hair, they did not see any hair. Just bold heads, one after the other.

She was standing in the line, waiting for her turn. For a second she took the hand out of the habit to look at the small lock of her red hair cut day before. Cut by herself to blend in with the rest, to make sure he will not have an easy job spotting her. She looked down on the floor when guard took her hood off and waiting till he passed her. Luckily, he was not spending too much time looking at her before he moved to the next child.

They finished with the last one, fifty children standing next to each other, all of them bold, all hardly recognizable. There was no chance to spot the one they were looking for. Little, beautiful red hair girl. No chance to get his promised one, which drove Sir Can into madness.

“What is this!?!” He yelled and screamed. „Where is the red head one, where are their hairs! I know you’re hiding somewhere in this crowd! Step out or I will kill one of the monks!” He walked back and forth trying to spot little Sophie.

No one moved, all were standing like little stone statues. No one even dared to make any noise. Sir Can came to one of the monks, took out the knife and slip his throat. Monk fall on the floor and the rest just look at him dying, but no one moved, not even blinked to betray the precious one that was amongst them. As they knew that once she will have a chance to get stronger, she is their only hope against him, against his tyranny.

“I will give you last chance!” Sir Can spoke with calmness and firmness in his voice. “I will give you 3 months to grow your hair, and come back to take what is mine. When I’ll be back and see you all bold again, I will kill you all! Knowing that one of you will be her. This is your last chance to spare your lives and give me her instead.”

Sir Can turned on his toes and left the courtyard assisted by his guards. When they left everybody breathe a sigh of relief.

“We don’t have much time, and I know you are young and should be spending time on playing with other kids rather than learning how to fight him off. But you don’t have a choice, so let focus our minds on training you.”

Little, bold girl look at the monk, he was the same who open the door the other day, and with fear in her heart she just nodded, to show that she agrees.

Time was passing by quickly and with each day Sophie was learning how to hold the bow, aim properly, and shoot to hit a bullseye from far distance. From the early morning till late night, with freezing fingers she was practicing and practicing. And there were days where she wanted to give up, just give herself to him, but soon, she saw a picture of her loving family, of dying monk, and this was giving her back the motivation she needed.

Sophie was learning fast, and started to shoot with high precision from longer distances, she even manages to hit the bullseye on the moving target. This gave her confidence that when he will be back, she will stand a chance against him.

“You are very talented, and learning fast.” Said her teacher. “But this is still not enough to beat Sir Can. We will start now our last phase of training.”

The monk opened right hand and showed her piece of cloth that he was holding. He blindfolded her and said. “You will not see him, you will not hear him and you will not feel him. He will come in most unexpected moment, and will attack you with his full power. Now you need to learn how to sense him with your intuition.  Know where he is without any of your senses, as this is the only way to beat him, only way to win with him, so he will leave you once for all.”

Hair grew longer and longer on her head, remaining each time, she looked in the mirror, that she has less and less time to master the skill of blind shooting. The beginning was very difficult, Sophie could not even hit the area outside the target, shooting arrows in all the directions. The monks asked children to avoid courtyard gallery, to ensure that none will get hurt.

“This is the end. I will never master that.” She wept.

It was any time soon, when Sir Can was to arrive again, during one of cold night, when She decided not to go to bed but practice. Her teacher approached her.

“Please take off your blindfold.” Asked her quietly, almost whispering. The gallery was lit by torches placed round main square, giving a magical appearance to this place. When she looked again she saw first flakes of snow coming down from the sky.

“I have asked one of the girls to draw his effigy. Take it and place it on the target. Stand there for a while and try to remember how he looks, what you felt the day you saw him. Try to remind yourself how he walked, talked, what emotions were coming from him. And place all those feelings to this target. Let your heart guide you.”

Sophie came back after a short while. “Now close your eyes. Spin and stop. Don’t shoot! Wait a second. Bring back again that picture in your mind, bring back all those feelings, and don’t aim. Now, clear your mind, shoot before thinking.  Let the arrow find the target.”

When she opened her eyes again, arrow was sticking from the bullseye.

”But how? Did I?” Sophie asked surprised, not fully believing that it was the same arrow that she released a second ago.

“Yes, you. Now, go to sleep as I sense he will come tomorrow.”

Late evening, they heard same knocking, which disturbed their peace over 3 months ago. This time they let them into the main dining room. This was the place where each day children ate before and after hard work. Everybody was already standing in two parallel lines right next to the walls. Room was lightened by torches hanging from the walls. The monks were standing next to each of those torches having the children stand in front of them. There was a dense silence in the room. Everybody waited for what was about to happen. Sir Can entered accompanied by his guards. “Take them off!” He yelled. They were uncovering their head one by one. Each showing short, freshly grown hair. Sir Can walked close to each one of them, making sure he will not miss her. When they were close to the end and still none of the children were showing those beautiful red hair, he turned around, and as he was about to say something, she walked into the room carrying a bow and arrow in her hands. She stopped right in the center of the room, opposite to the Sir Can, uncovered her head to show her beautiful hair and look deeply into his eyes. In this right moment the monks, blew out all the torches making the room completely dark. You could not see even what is at the extend of your own hand. Complete silence was building up the suspense, as Sir Can knew, that even small noise will reveal his position to the girl.

Suddenly the silence was broken by the noise of three arrows bursting through the air and sound of body falling to the floor. Followed by the noise of guards trying to scream, make a sound, but their voices were quickly disappearing. When the torches were lightened again, everybody looked to see all of the guards laying on the floor dead. In the middle of the room, it was him, Sir Can laying on the floor with three arrows piercing his heart. The silence was present till next morning, as nobody dared to say a word. Everyone knew that they need to take this secret to the grave.

Soon after Sophie returned save to her mother, who anxiously awaiting her. Her heart was full of confidence and courage, that whatever evil will come to her, she has strengths and skills to fight it off. Her mother was happy to see her, have her finally back in her arms. Still with all the happiness she saw that her heart changed. Her heart from now on will always fear, that this may happen again and she might lose her for good.

The Magical World of Max

“Close your eyes. Let me take you somewhere else, let me show you lush green meadows, where blowing wind bring grass to life. Let me lay you down next to the old oak tree, where rustling leaves comfort you to sleep. I will change the whole world so you will not feel scared, not feel your dreams are disappearing. As you are the reason why I am here, you are the reason why I would kill, just to make sure you are safe, make sure you are far from this horrible place” She whispered to his ear.

 There are not many people who can really cheer you up, make you feel better, especially when you face such a drama. Trick is not to tell you, “all will be good”, as you know that this is the big unknown, but to open your heart with that small key, which you cannot find yourself, and pour some optimism inside it. Give you that energy you are lacking, and with one smile, few words, pad on the back, recharge you fully. And one cannot fake that, one cannot pretend this mood, this energetic way of being, as by now you can see through people. You can easily sense a smirk and empty heart. You just spend some time with those people and you can see that even there is fun and laughter, inside you will still feel depressed. While, once you find a true source of happiness, one word will be enough to lift you up. If you find this person on your path, do everything not to let him go, as he will pull you up from the deepest shadows and bring you back to light.

 We met April and Max at the beginning of our journey. In those days where our heads were still full of negative thoughts, and our hearts had no hope that this can really be stopped. When we spoke the first time, April told us about Max, how he was qualified three years ago, but they cut him from the program because after year of training he was clean and no symptoms of uniqueness were seen is his body. Now they are back, because after two years, they spotted again some signs of relapse. This potentially could mean qualification but they were to confirm that. April was the first to show us how to smile on the rainy day. This optimistic behavior, telling that she is not taking any negative scenarios into account and nothing can change her way of approaching this situation, was very contagious.

 This was one side of April, her glass was always half full. You could drink from her “It will be fine I take no other options” attitude and with few words, couple of reasons why she thinks that, you felt she is right, it all makes sense. They already have knowledge how to work the system in their favor so why should we also not succeed.

“Mum, what is that?” Max looked at blood bag standing next to his bed.

“Today we are drinking raspberry juice, it will make you stronger and bring back your appetite”. Replied April with a smile.

“How long will it drip?” Max asked as he wanted to be unhooked, so that he can go back to playing with friends on the corridors.

“This is quick one, you know this well. Few minutes and you are free again” April cheered up Max not to focus much on the blood transfusion. “Come on let’s play some games”.

 There was also the other side of April, a caring mother for her little Max. She wanted to protect his innocent childhood as much as possible, hence created this magical world where they called chemo – orange juice, blood transplant – raspberry juice. She also helped Max to cope with all tests and side effects by telling some positive stories, or just letting Max know that this is just a quick procedure and soon he will be back to playing. When I looked at this from the distance at first I felt that she is not telling him the whole truth, and potentially you may call it even lying. Later I realized that this is to protect him, his childish mind, where you know he suffered already a lot so why paint all black. Plus you know that you don’t need to scare him by telling all the details in the adult way, as he is old enough to understand how serious situation he is facing, just remember that he is still a child and nobody should take this away from him.

 It is sad and uplifting at the same time, when you see how those kids quickly mature in this environment. They know that it is for their good, and most amazing part is, through them you can see how much your mind dictates your recovery. Younger ones, goes much better through the process, as their mind is not really focusing on the future but takes most out of presence. While older tend to collapse inside knowing what the whole thing can lead to and simple they are terrified with the idea that they can make the flight. Therefore creating this imaginary world, where everything gets its magical meaning, helped Max to pass through the training with a smile.

“Let me paint these walls with blue skies and warm white beaches. Let me take you to exotic islands to build sand castles and swim in beautiful turquoise sea. I just wish to color your world, so gray will not be what you see. And I know that it is not easy to change your world, but maybe my little enchanting stories will be those, which you will relive one day.”