Deep within the bowels of the Earth laid an ancient force. A powerful source of magic and energy, which through the eons has developed a mind of its own. From its realm inside Mt. Cleos, the creature created an energetic flow that would give life to the variety of creatures and ecosystems around the mountain.
Once every 10 years, when the weather was just right, and the ground was quiet, the creature would emerge with great force out of the mouth of the mountain and into the skies. There, from its perch above the heavens, it will oversee all that it has created.
On this quiet day, it happened. With a thunderous roar, and a gush of red and yellow light, the beautiful beast swirled out of the top off the mountain, its wings glowing in the sunlight, and its mouth breathing ancient fire and smoke into the air in a display of fireworks.
Jessica’s camera shutter clicked as she took a photo of the beast just as it was emerging out of the mountain.
“That’s another 200 tokens!” she exclaimed excitedly, putting her camera into her duffle bag, which was filled with a large array of miscellaneous items. She looked down as she heard the familiar huffing of her friend Nora, climbing up the hill.
“I told you we had a perfect vantage point from this hilltop.” Jessica smiled as Nora collapsed onto her knees.
“I believed you…” Nora said, still huffing, out of breath. She looked up at the sky, which was still glowing in red and yellow. “What I was…” she started speaking before running out of breath again. “…Trying to say is…” she put her hands on her knees. “…oh divines… I’m so out of shape…” she looked up to see Jessica giving her a bottle of water.
After a few minutes of lying down against a tree and drinking the whole bottle, Nora finally caught her breath. “What I was trying to say was-” she started saying as she saw Jessica already beginning to pack. “Oh come on!”
“What?” Jessica looked back, confused.
“This is exactly what I was talking about, Jess.” Nora got up, tripped a little, and then found her balance. “Where are you even going?”
“Down the hill…” Jessica pointed down the valley of the mountain where there was a small village. “The festival is gonna take place soon. I wanna get all of our errands done before sundown.”
“But why?!” Nora asked. “Why are you doing this to yourself?” she looked up at the flying beast. “Why are you in such a hurry to do… things?”
Jessica raised an eyebrow, clearly not understanding what her friend was going on about.
“Listen Jess, you’re smart. Way too smart.” Nora started rambling. “I don’t understand why you’d think this is a good course of action, I mean… look!” she opened Jessica’s duffle bag and starting rummaging through the items.
“Broken vase shards…”
“Be careful with those! I’m almost 20% done with this one!”
“I think I’m making good progress.”
“All these letters…”
“Speaking of which, I need to deliver one of those to a butcher in that village over there.”
Nora sighed in frustration. “And then what?”
“Then we have to go pick up some ingredients for that old man’s stew. And after that I’m gonna go to the post office to pick up new stamps. And then to the local shrine because I think there’re vase shards there. Oh, and the little kid in the last town wanted us to buy special balloons for him in the super-store over here… and of course there’s lots of games I need to play during the festival, and take more pictures of the Mt. Cleos Monster… if I take a pic of its shadow against the full moon that’s worth 500 tokens-”
“Jess, shut up!” Nora was fed up, she stared at her friend in the eyes. There was a long silence between them.
Nora rubbed the back of her head, the sun was beginning to set behind her. “I’m sorry… I’m just…”
Jessica blushed, she looked a bit upset. “Don’t yell at me…”
“I know… I’m sorry, I’m just. Jess, this is no way to live.” Nora sat down again, she tapped the ground next to her, gesturing for Jessica to sit next to her. Jessica kept standing.
“Listen, I know this is important to you, but we can’t keep doing this. We can’t take on the whole world like that. We’re stretching ourselves thin. Look at me, I’m barely standing… look at yourself!”
Jess touched her hand to her face. It was covered with bandaids and scratches, and her eyes had bags under them and were sunken in.
“But I want to help people.” Jessica said, her voice quieter.
“I know you do, and you’re the most beautiful and caring person in the world. But you’re not gonna be helping anybody if you’re always busy helping everybody.” Nora explained.
“When you deliver the letter to that butcher…” Nora said. “What do you think will happen then? He’ll probably need help with something too. And in the super-store there’ll be more kids who will want you to buy more stuff. And the shrine maiden will probably have their own errands they’ll want you to do.” Nora sighed, she blushed at looked down. “That’s what happened the last 3 towns. That’s what will happen in the next town.”
Jessica looked down at Nora, a few tears in her eyes. She sat down quietly next to her. The sky were beginning to be painted orange as the sun went down. The lights show in the sky was subsiding.
“Then what am I supposed to do?” Jessica asked.
“Just slow down. Take your time. There’s no rush. You don’t have to be everyone’s personal grocer 24/7.”
Jessica went quiet. “I’m sorry I hurt you.”
“No, don’t be…” Nora said. She smiled. “How about this… let’s go down to the village, deliver the letter, and then take the rest of tonight and tomorrow off? We’ll go to the festival, and just have fun. No need to worry about meeting deadlines or making the most progress. Just us, the games, and Mt. Cleos Monster.”
Jessica smiled, she held Nora’s hand. “That sounds pretty good.”