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Wanted to start off by posting a link to the post that inspired this one: http://kuuleilani.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/time-to-get-sappy/ (thanks jasminekeclipse!)

Has there ever been a time in your life where you felt stuck and didn’t know which way to go? Or you feel like you have been plagued with nothing but misfortune?

There is usually a point where everyone feels like this. However, this is where the real journey begins. It may be easier or more tempting to just give up hope. But the real reward comes from the journey itself. No matter where each of our lives leads us, there will always be a solution to the challenges before us. The human spirit is resilient, and always triumphs. Happiness is something everyone deserves. No one is ever “unworthy of happiness”.

So to everyone reading this who is going through a hard time: stay strong. There is a way out. The rewards of getting through it are better than you can imagine. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel :)I wrote this short story as a reminder that there is always an answer. Keep on going. Never give up and never give in 🙂

Getting up ever so slowly, Ziven stood up and sighed. Even doing that was a challenge. He didn’t want to know what the rest of his day had in store for him. The pain tore away at him like shards of broken glass. He had to clench his teeth to prevent from crying out in pain. The disease took it course, slowly eating him alive. The curse that sentenced him to death drained any life left out of his soul. He felt so powerless to stop it. Now, time took its course and left him to a life of wandering.

Despite the pain and suffering of being alive, he never once stopped searching for the non-existent cure that might stop this disease.

“This is fruitless. Today I will probably end up in the middle of the ocean grasping for straws.” He began walking, cursing himself for his folly along the way.

“Where am I now?” He asked himself. He curiously looked around at the hubbub. Merchant stalls were everywhere and people frantically paced to and fro looking at the wares.

“I wonder if the cure is here?” He thought. “Well, there’s only one way to find out…” He approached an empty stall. The old woman inside was busily dusting the various pots and vases on display.

“Excuse me, miss?” The old woman appeared startled. She gave Ziven a glance and put down the pot.

“Why hello, stranger. Never seen anyone like you before. What can I do for you?”

“Can you tell me where I am?”

“Why, this is only the greatest realm in all the land. Welcome to Valmion!” She smiled sweetly, revealing several missing teeth.

“Can you tell me where I can find a doctor?”

The old woman squinted. “Wait a minute. You aren’t one of Marius’ henchmen, are you?”

Ziven shifted uncomfortably. “No, I simply need–”

“We don’t serve your kind here! Get lost!” She spat on the ground. Ziven sighed and continued onward.

While wandering through the crowd, the people couldn’t help but stare at Ziven. He took no notice; he was used to being a stranger in foreign lands. Seeing a man with long, flowing black hair and white robes was not exactly normal. Dwelling on such insignificant details would only waste the precious seconds of his life. It was only a matter of time before he rotted away completely. He knew he had to act quickly.

Now away from the throng of the bazaar, the sand stretched endlessly before him. His legs began to ache from what seemed like non-stop walking. His feet dragged him along. The relentless onslaught from the sun siphoned the strength to go on.

“I must…keep moving. The cure… I must find it…” He panted. He tried moving, but his body gave in. He collapsed into the sand.

“Is this the end? All this searching was for nothing?” He chuckled weakly. “I guess this was my fate all along…” He reached out his arm into the distance. He drifted into unconsciousness, finally free from reality.

“Ziven…Ziven… come back to me.” A woman’s voice pleaded. His mind was filled with anxiety as this woman’s voice reached out to grab him. He looked around at his new surroundings: There was nothing but white everywhere.

“Better than sand, I suppose…” He looked around for a way out, but it was of no use.

“Where am I anyway? Am I dead?” He asked out loud.

“Ziven. You aren’t dead; merely dreaming. It is time to wake up now and find your destiny.” The woman’s voice filled the room.

“I’m dead. My destiny was to die.”

“No, Ziven. Your destiny is to live! Now go forth and claim your reward.” He felt himself being pushed out of the white room.

He felt the intense heat of the desert air once more. Water was dripping down his face and he slowly looked up. A man was pouring water from a canteen onto his head.

“Drink.” The stranger commanded as he handed Ziven the canteen. Ziven was baffled as to why a stranger would want to talk to him or how he got here, but Ziven happily obeyed. He guzzled the water down greedily. It had been too long since he had relief from the heat.

“Bless you, stranger.” Ziven stood up to get a better look at him. He was elderly and wore a white robe similar to Ziven’s. He also carried a gnarled wooden staff.

“I sense a great deal of trouble about you.” This man said. “You have a heavy burden upon you, and you seek the answers.”

Ziven had no words to describe this encounter. Who was this man, and how did he know? Why did he wear the same robes?

“Am I still dreaming?” Ziven thought. This couldn’t be real.

“Follow me.” The man said. Ziven felt uneasy. “Where are we going?” Ziven asked. He received no response; the man was already several paces ahead. Ziven ran to catch up.

“Is this ever going to end?” Ziven grew tired of the seemingly endless walking that this man was putting him through. His arm began to burn intensely.

“Not now!” He cursed. Ziven clutched it, hoping to stop the pain. He weakly hobbled forward, trying not to burden this man any longer. It now traveled through his arm into his shoulders, neck, and head. He frantically clutched his head as he sank to his knees. He could no longer prevent himself from crying out in pain. The tears came naturally, and he let them flow. He buried his head in his lap and allowed for the disease to run its course. He could sense the man standing beside him now.

“We must go.” He said.

“Make it stop…” Ziven cried.

“Come.” The man grabbed Ziven’s hand and forced him to stand up. Ziven sighed. He was tired of feeling weak. This man had saved Ziven’s life twice now. He bit his lip and pressed on, hoping for an end to all this soon.

“What could possibly be out in the middle of a desert, anyway?” Ziven thought. The man grabbed his staff and slammed it onto the ground.

“Stop.” He pointed to something ahead of him.

Before their eyes appeared to be an old, forgotten shrine, eroded by the constant sandstorms of the desert. Ziven sank to the ground, relieved to finally have a moment of rest.

“This shrine may appear to be forgotten, but that is not the case. Sight can be deceiving, after all.” The man took off his hood to reveal a cloth covering his eyes. Ziven then realized that this man was blind. How could he have led him here if he had no sight at all? This man amazed Ziven even more as time passed.

“I brought you here so that your burdens will disappear. I sense that your life is in danger; pray so that you may live again.” The man spoke with certainty in his voice. Ziven knew that this was his last hope.

“Please hear me. I cannot do this on my own. I ask for your help through this suffering. I want to live again, but if that is not my fate then I will willingly accept my death. Please grant me the strength to live.” He whispered, tears forming in his eyes. “I’m so tired. Please, help me.”

The shrine before him sprang to life. Water flowed freely in the fountain and flowers formed around the eroded stones. The statue shook and turned into a beautiful woman. The man bent to his knees in prayer.

“My lady!” He bowed to her. She reached out to touch this man’s shoulder.

“Thank you, Hector, for leading Ziven here. Your devotion is something to be truly admired.”

“I am not worthy of your praise.” He said meekly.

She turned next to Ziven, who stood in awe of this goddess.

“It’s you! You were the one in my dreams!” He gasped.

“Yes Ziven. I have heard all of your prayers. This burden placed upon you was a test. You have done no harm to others in seeking an end to your suffering. Your heart is pure and this burden shall torment you no more. Go Ziven, and live!”

The goddess kissed Ziven and he felt rejuvenated. He looked at his arm and all signs of disease vanished. Ziven was in a state of euphoria. He began singing and felt that his life began again. For the first time in his life, he was truly alive.

“I am cured!” Tears fell freely down his face. “Thank you for saving my life!”

“Goodbye Ziven. I will be watching over you always.” She faded back into stone once more. The shrine was still as the sand overtook it.

Ziven turned to thank the mysterious man who led him here, but he had vanished without a trace. Ziven held his head high and began walking. He no longer questioned where his feet would take him, because he knew the answer now: to a life without burdens.

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