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The Lorelei Signal


Standing Up

Written by Sarah Hozumi / Artwork by Lee Ann Barlow

A lone thought coursed through the dark being’s mind as she slammed the bloodied warrior into the stone wall behind them: Where is she?


Where, she thought, is the hero destined to appear and save this pathetic fighter? The dark being took a step back and waited while the warrior struggled to stand.


Where is she?


For centuries, the dark being had waited in the shadows of what had once been a great fortress. She had beckoned warriors from all corners of the world there to test them. Each one had brought her failure.


The being kicked the warrior’s sword across the great stone room in frustration. The being studied the warrior from beneath her hood, observing that they were about to die.


“Where is the hero?” The warrior merely responded with gasps pulled through shredded lungs from where they lay on the cold stone slabs.


Surely it was this warrior before her. The prophecy spoke of the great sword the dark being had only just kicked aside. The warrior had held it and even pointed it at her. No other warrior had come close to such a feat. Surely that was the sign the hero was near, the being thought.


One more attack, one simple kick even, and this warrior would die. Was not the hero supposed to come and stop her?


The hero, who was destined to destroy the dark being. Where was she? How could such a hero have let thousands of fine warriors die over the endless years? Why was she about to let another innocent die?


“Where is the hero?” The dark being could hear her voice ring back into her ears, and she winced. She had waited centuries, and now her patience was dying alongside the warrior.


If the hero did not appear to destroy her, then who would? Who would free her from this curse?


The dark being retrieved the sword from across the room, knelt before the dying warrior and put the sword near their scraped and bruised hand.


“Come,” the being said, “fight me.”


There was no response from the warrior; not so much as a twitch of their fingers toward the sword.


Centuries of waiting. Centuries of killing thousands upon thousands of the world’s best warriors. All of it for this moment, and the hero was failing her.


The dark being went to pacing the great empty room. Her footsteps echoed against the white stones, but it was her footsteps alone.


No one was coming to save this pathetic, dying warrior. No one was coming to save her.


“Hero!” She fought in vain to stop the tears from escaping her eyes. “Where are you?”




The dark being stopped as her head hung toward her chest. “Please,” she choked through her tears. “Please.”


In her deep despair, the dark being failed to note the sounds behind her of fingers clenching a sword hilt while the other hand pushed off against the ground. 


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Sarah is a translator and rewriter who has lived near Tokyo for about 14 years. To read short stories she has had published, along with a blog on Japan and other random thoughts, please feel free to visit  

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