Submitted Date 05/30/2020

It was sometime in the morning when Liam arrived at Aurora's house, not entirely sure what he would say to his girlfriend at the time.


He was given permission by her parents to go see their daughter who they believed was still asleep in her room.

Liam began knocking on the door. "Aurora, it's Liam. I don't know if you're mad at me or not, but I want to talk to you. Please, open up." He heard no reply. "Look, I'm coming in. I need to know you're o-" He stopped once the door was opened wide enough to reveal that Aurora was not in her room. Liam walked around, hoping to find a clue to what happened and why she was no longer there.

After seeing no trace of her, Liam ran down the stairs and into the dining room. The parents and little brother were sitting at the dining table having breakfast, "Liam," Aurora's mother began saying, "What is it??"

"It's Aurora! She's not in her room! She's gone!!" Liam exclaimed worriedly.

"Liam, I'm sure Aurora is here somewhere in the house. Just give her some space," Aurora's father stated as he continued to read the paper then drink his coffee.

Liam watched as the family continued their business. "She was right," he said in disbelief at the sight. "I thought she was just over reacting about you guys, but she was right!"

"And what is that?" Aurora's mother asked, now concerned.

He began to shout, "That all you people do is ignore her! I tell you Aurora is missing and you act like it's nothing! Do you have any idea what kind of a rollercoaster you've been adding to?!" The parents stopped to watch Liam continue his rant. Even Aurora's little brother stopped eating his cereal to see what his older sister's boyfriend would do next. "It's already bad enough that nearly everyone we were friends with growing up decide to go off to do better things while stabbing Aurora in the back, but to then to have this, her own family, completely shrug her off…that just about did it."

"Liam, we knew what happened with your ex-friends and we didn't want to contribute to her distress. So, we kept our distance in order to keep her from going off again," the mother responded.

"Yeah and look what happened. Aurora's gone," Liam pointed out. The family came to realize that Aurora truly was missing. Liam then finished with, "I don't know about you guys, but I'm going to go out and look for her because that's how much I lover her." Not looking back, the young man with light brown hair and eyes showing his determination stormed off in search of Aurora.


Now continuing with the journey towards the direction where the blue light shone, Aurora was so excited about hearing the Spirit Guide again that she was nearly on the edge of the seat of Lilia's sleigh.

Lilia was confused by this. "What's with the creepy grin? Did you have one of those satisfying dreams that I shouldn't know about??"

"I heard her again," Aurora replied still grinning from ear to ear.

"Heard who?" Lilia asked.

"The Spirit Guide," Aurora answered. "At first I thought it was a dream, but then I saw the blue light. She really did call me! I haven't heard anything from her since then, but I'm sure I will again. I'm so happy we're back on track."

Lilia continued to ask, "You keep referring to the Spirit Guide as a woman. How do you know it's female?"

"It's weird," she began explaining, "at first I heard the voice, but couldn't make out what they were because they sounded as if they were far away. However, earlier the morning, the voice sounded really close and much more clear. So, I was able to pick up what gender they were. I think it's because we're getting closer! I'll soon know if I'm of worth!"

Lilia appeared frustrated. "Alright, that's it!" She tugged hard enough on the reigns to have her massive reindeer stop.

Aurora was nearly thrown from the sleigh. "Lilia! What was that for?!"

Lilia didn't say a word. Instead, she jumped out of her sleigh and walked over to Aurora's side. "Out of the sleigh. Let's go."

Aurora didn't dispute. She did as Lilia commanded then followed her. They walked through what appeared to be a little forest and kept going until they were in the middle of an open area. Lilia then grabbed Aurora's shoulders and positioned her in a certain way. Aurora asked as her companion took a few steps back, "What are you doing?"

Lilia said, "Now tell me, what do you see?"

Aurora looked around and didn't see anything different from what she previously observed. "We're standing in the middle of a little forest. Probably one of many this mountain has."

"And that's your problem," Lilia said. "You are so focused on getting to this goal of yours that you're completely missing what's in front of you."

"That's not true," Aurora responded upset.

"Oh yeah?" Lilia pressed on. "What about all of those questions you asked me last night? You could have asked me when we were at my sleigh the first time. And Zodiac, you didn't even realize how huge he was until we camped for the night."

"Your reindeer's name is Zodiac?" Aurora asked.

Lilia became frustrated again. "See what I mean?!? When you set your sights on one thing, everything around you becomes a blur!" Aurora let what Lilia said sink in. That was when she was starting to see clearly what she was speaking of. She even thought back to the conversation she had with Liam the night before; how he pointed out all of her wonderful qualities, but she was too focused on the pain she was in to see them. "Now," Lilia continued, "look around again and tell me what you see."

This time, Aurora had a good look around. She finally saw what her companion meant. She smiled. "I see tall pine trees with the brightest green needles I've ever seen. They look strong and it feels like they have plenty of stories to tell. It even smells like fresh pine here. The sunlight is poking through and showing us the beauty, as well as the wonder, this part of nature has. There's patches of grass poking through the snow. I think these are the little guys who want to show just how tough they are. And, I can even hear water running, but…it sounds…peaceful."

Aurora looked to Lilia when she heard her say, "Hey." Her companion was pointing to her right.

Aurora walked in the right direction and the sound of water became louder and louder the closer she got. She then brushed a couple of large bushes out of the way. Standing in majesty before her was a little waterfall that had snow lightly sprinkled over the area it graced its water with. Aurora was in awe of the sight. It was a scene right out of a storybook.

"It's beautiful," she finally said, her voice cracking as if she were about to cry at the sight.

"See," Lilia started saying. "Look what you're able to see now that your one-track mind has been widened." Aurora looked to her new friend, understanding completely. "Last night you were saying of how you were hurt a lot and even ignored. I'm sorry about that. Now, take this forest or any forest for that matter, people either hurt them for their wood and land or they're ignored completely. Even when you first got here, you didn't see the beauty of it; you just brushed it off. And yet, here they all are, still standing with all of their glory. My point is- in fact I'm making two- you're going to get hurt and even ignored, but you can't let that cloud your judgement. Cause if that's all you put your focus on then you're going to miss everything else. So be like this forest, though others ignore and hurt you, still stand, proud of who you are. Be like the tall and bright pine trees that apparently smell good."

Aurora giggled. "It won't be easy…but I guess it's worth a try."

"And that is your first step," Lilia said, patting Aurora's back.

"How did you find this incredible place? Or is that me over thinking?" Aurora asked.

Lilia answered, "No, that's a legit question. I was actually being chased by some wolves and ran in here to hide until they all gone. I heard the waterfall just as you did and found sanctuary until it was safe to return home. I lost my favorite broach here."

"Really?" Aurora said.

"Yeah, it was a snowflake covered in little diamonds and a blue sapphire at the core," Lilia continued.

Aurora then remembered seeing something similar before. "That actually sounds like a broach I wanted to get some time ago back in Winter Nome, but it was too expensive."

"Oh," Lilia said. She looked to Aurora and went on, "Why don't you get a better look at the waterfall while I go check on Zodiac? Come back in say, five minutes?"

"Sure," Aurora replied excited. Lilia then left and Aurora was alone to admire the scenery.

She was in complete awe once more at the sight. The water poured out swiftly and gracefully flowed down the river. The area wasn't as cold as the other parts of the mountain, so Aurora was able to walk around feeling a little warmer. She couldn't help but smile as she watched how the little bits of snow sparkled in the sunlight. This is amazing! How can people overlook or even want to hurt this kind of beauty?? she thought. Suddenly, she saw something shining from within the river. She reached into the cold water and pulled something out from between a couple of rocks.

"Oh, cold! Cold!" she shouted. Aurora shook her arm around then rubbed it, trying to warm it up. She then looked at what she pulled out from the river, it was Lilia's brooch. Aurora came to realize, "This is the brooch I wanted! But how…" She was too in shock to finish the sentence. Aurora remembered how badly she wanted the brooch and even had many outfits that would look perfect with it. As she pictured in her head how great it would be for the brooch to remain in her possession, she then remembered one very important factor. "No, this is Lilia's. I need to get this back to her." Aurora got up and was about to return to Lilia when she heard the sound of a stick snapping from behind. "Lilia? Please tell me that's you." She saw hiding behind the trees pairs of golden eyes accompanied by growling sounds. Coming out from the bushes, ready to strike at their prey, was a small pack of hungry wolves. "Oh no. Lilia!" Aurora ran to the sleigh with the wolves running behind her.

Now sitting in her sleigh ready to go, Lilia heard Aurora shouting but couldn't make out what she was saying. Her friend suddenly appeared yelling to start moving. The wolves popped up and continued after her.

"Seriously?!? Don't you guys have anything better to do?!?" Lilia shouted as she whipped the reigns for Zodiac to quickly move.

The little sleigh then took off with the large reindeer running as fast as he could. The mountain's quiet serenity was interrupted by the sounds of the reindeer running and the wolves barking away. Twists, turns, and even smart maneuvers were made by Lilia to avoid the wolves. The pursuit went on for quite a while as Aurora continued with her encouragement as well as the play by play. The wolves were far from giving up on their hunt. Aurora finally decided to look in the back of the sleigh to see if there was anything she could use to stop the wolves. She grabbed a couple of random looking items and threw them. The wolves weren't so easily scared and ran out of the way. Aurora kept searching and noticed a very large bag that had the word "Salt" written across it. Thinking quickly, she hopped in the back and grabbed fistfuls of the salt. She threw them at the wolves until she blinded a couple of them; they stopped and whimpered in pain. After seeing how the couple stopped, Aurora got another idea. This time, she picked up the bag and waved it around. Due to the speed of the sleigh, the salt flew around and landed on the rest of the wolves, all becoming blinded and whimpering in pain.

"What was that?!" Lilia asked.

"I stopped the wolves!" Aurora said, feeling accomplished.

Lilia was happy to hear that. "Really? How??" Lilia suddenly pulled on the reigns for Zodiac to stop. "Whoop! Hang on!" Aurora screamed as she felt the sleigh turn. The reindeer did what he could to stop before they all went over an edge they just came across. The sleigh tilted up but, luckily, settled back on the ground. All began to breathe heavily from the adrenaline of the chase and the fear of nearly falling off of a cliff. When Lilia finally caught her breath, she turned to see Aurora in the back of the sleigh. "Now, how did you-" Lilia stopped when she saw a frightened Aurora sitting and gripping for dear life onto the nearly empty bag of salt. "Is that my bag of salt?!?" Aurora just nodded. "Aw man! I was supposed to deliver that to a friend of mine! Oh well, I'll let him know what happened. I'm sure he'll understand." Aurora nodded again. Lilia became concerned as her companion hadn't changed position or facial expressions in a while. "Ummm, Aurora, are you okay??" Aurora nodded again, still appearing scared-stiff. Lilia felt something she had not felt in such a long time. Due to how powerful it was, Lilia gave in. She let out a powerful yet genuine laugh.

Aurora finally snapped out of her frightened state to watch as her friend slid into the back of the sleigh to sit next to her and continued laughing so hard that she began to cry. "You thought it was that funny??" she asked.

Lilia, fighting through her laugh, replied, "I-I'm-I'm so sorry! It's just…your face…and the way you were holding the bag! It was hilarious!!"

"Glad I was able to amuse you," Aurora said, oddly being alright with it. She remembered something when her hands were in her pockets. "Oh! I almost forgot!" Lilia watched as Aurora pulled out her brooch. "I found this in the river by the waterfall. It was stuck in-between a couple of rocks."

Lilia took the brooch from Aurora. "Wow! I can't believe you found it. Thank you."

"Your welcome," Aurora responded. "Turns out it is the brooch that I once wanted."

"Really? I'm surprised you didn't just keep it and not tell me. Not that I'm demeaning your character or anything! It's just that, anyone who was desperate to get what they wanted would have practically done anything for it. Even steal." Lilia said.

Aurora looked Lilia right in the eye and said, "I'll be honest with you…I almost did. I even pictured in my head how good it would look on me…but then…I remembered something important."

"Oh yeah, what's that?" Lilia asked.

With a smile, Aurora answered, "That I'm not a thief and it would be wrong if I kept it. Especially since it rightfully belongs to you."

"How very honorable of you, Aurora. Thank you," Lilia said, also smiling. Aurora lightly nodded her head. Lilia began saying as she was getting up and put the brooch in one of her pockets, "Alright. We're a bit of ways off course, but if we move now, we'll be back on track before nightfall. C'mon, let's move." After the two friends got comfortable on the sleigh's seats, Lilia whipped the reigns and Zodiac was off in the direction of the blue glow.

Along the way, Aurora continued to observe the scenery as Lilia advised previously. With the bright blue sky as a backdrop, she saw how huge the mountain was and that it was covered in the same glittering snow as the one from the waterfall scenery. The specs twinkled in the sunlight as if they were dancing to a song. When the sun was setting, colors of magenta, blue, and even purple were covering the entire mountain. The trees they passed were standing just as tall and strong as the ones by the waterfall. Though she couldn't smell them, Aurora knew the smell of pine was emanating from each needle. The misty cold air continued to hit her in the face, but she didn't mind. If anything, the young woman found it refreshing and soothing. Taken in by the magic she could feel affecting her, she waved at the creatures of the mountain; rabbits, squirrel gliders, and even some others that were as white as the snow of which surrounded their homeland.


Now nightfall, the group set up camp again and were able to see the blue light resurface.

Lilia saw the happy look on her friend's face as she looked towards the glow. "You seem really happy. You hearing the voice again?"

"Nope," Aurora replied while still smiling.

Lilia was left befuddled. "Okay, I'm confused. Last night you were depressed that you didn't hear this lady's call and now…you're weirdly alright with it. What's up?"

"You said it yourself, if I put all of my focus on one thing then I'll never see what else is around me. I took your advice and was able to see just how beautiful this place is. The best part is that we're now closer to the cave! I got to enjoy the scenery and we didn't go off course. Well, we did for a little bit because of the wolves, but now we're back on track. All of these things happened…and I didn't lose a thing. Not the awareness of my surroundings or my goal."

"Look at you. I'm proud of you, Aurora!" Lilia said excited. "You still want to get to this cave and meet the Spirit Guide, right?"

"Of course, but I'm trying not to lose sight of what's in front of me," Aurora responded.

Lilia then said, "Good for you."

"How did you become so wise? And by the way, this is me asking because I want to get to know you, not because I'm overthinking." Aurora said.

Lilia chuckled then answered, "Let's just say…I was once like you. Lost and wanted to be found. My parents passed and was left with a bunch of responsibilities. Feeling overwhelmed and alone, I ventured deep within the mountain trying to find answers. I'm not entirely sure how, but during my time here, I learned the true meanings of life and…applied them to my own life. Afterwards, I was able to take on the responsibilities left to me and eventually became a guide up here; as I mentioned before. I found my purpose, my worth."

"So that's how you know so much about the mountain," Aurora contributed.

"Yup," Lilia said. "And as for Zodiac here, I found him abandoned. He was the runt of the litter and I took him under my wing. He then grew into the huge and loving reindeer we know today." Aurora patted the head of the reindeer sleeping in-between her and Lilia. "What about you? How does your family and boyfriend feel about you being here on this little adventure of self discovery?" Lilia asked.

Aurora was surprised. "How did you know I have a boyfriend??"

"Remember the other night at the village? I asked you if you were going to the cave because of boyfriend trouble and you said you didn't think there was trouble there," Lilia said.

That memory came back to Aurora. "Oh, yeah."

"So, what's the story there?" Lilia asked.

Aurora wasn't sure how to respond, but she attempted anyway. "Liam and I met when we were kids. As time went on, we realized that there was something…something there. On my fifthteenth birthday, he asked me to be his girlfriend and I said yes. He's a good guy and I love him." She suddenly looked sad.

Lilia became concerned. "What's wrong?"

"I think I broke his heart. He left me a voicemail that sounded like it and…I didn't tell him I was coming here. In fact, I didn't tell anyone. Anyway, I didn't believe the good things he said about me and I basically shot him down every time he tried to help. I feel so ashamed," Aurora turned away, not wanting Lilia to see her shame.

Lilia did what she could to help. "Listen Aurora, I don't know you or Liam well enough to say this…but to heck with it, I'm going to anyway." Aurora decided to look up to see what her friend would do next. Lilia continued with, "I think you're being way too hard on yourself. And If this guy really is as good as you say he is then I'm sure he knows you're just going through a rough patch and that you had no intention on hurting him. If anything, he's continuing to show his support and will wait for you until you're ready to accept his help."

"Do you really think so?" Aurora asked in a hopeful voice.

"That's what I think," Lilia stated. "However, this is between you and Liam. So what do you believe?"

As her head was resting on Zodiac, Aurora looked towards the sky and saw how bright the stars were. Though a beautiful sight, all she could see was Liam's face and how happy he looked whenever she saw him. With a smile that didn't carry an inch of doubt, she answered, "I believe it too."


Back in Winter Nome, the town was on high alert that one of their own was missing and all were in on the search. Even Aurora's family began looking for her as they realized how wrong they were to keep their distance from the one who needed their support. Liam had just finished a conversation with his father who stated how he needed to go home and rest because of his big trip taking place the next day. His mind wasn't on the internship, nor did he care. The most important thing to him right now was to find Aurora and bring her home.


As dawn broke in the Northern Mountain, the group was up and preparing to continue their journey. Lilia even enjoyed witnessing Aurora and Zodiac having a tender moment as her friend was feeding him a snack. However, what none of them knew at the moment was that, hiding in the trees nearby, were familiar faces with some redness in their golden eyes.




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