Submitted Date 06/01/2020

The mountain was tranquil as it basked in the sun's warm and inviting light. All members of Aurora's life changing journey felt at peace within the scenery. Aurora decided to walk a ways out to get a better feel. She then closed her eyes and lifted her head up. To her, it felt as if the sun had just risen on another transformative day. So much had happened in just two days and she couldn't wait to witness the events that would take place today. She walked back to the sleigh, excited at the thought.

Lilia had finished getting Zodiac ready when Aurora heard a strange sound. It was unclear at first, but then it sounded like snarling. Please tell me the Spirit Guide thought of a new way to contact me. Aurora turned and looked out into the distance. Peering from the nearby trees were the small golden eyes she had seen before. "Lilia," Aurora began saying, "we better go! Now!"

"Why?" Lilia asked. Within the blink of an eye, the same wolves- whose eyes still had some red from the salt thrown at them- jumped out, growling ferociously as they ran towards the group. "Oh, c'mon!! When will you fur-bags take a hint?!?" She yelled as she jumped in her sleigh, "Aurora, get in!!" As soon as her companion sat upon the seat of the sleigh, Lilia once more whipped the reigns and Zodiac took off. This time, Lilia had him run in the direction of the blue light. The wolves chased them again with fury and revenge burning in their hearts.

After running a ways, the blue light resurfaced within the distance, but there was no voice. "Lilia, look!" Aurora pointed to where the light had brightly shown.

Lilia had a quick look then replied, "And that's where we're headed!"

"But what about the wolves?!" Aurora asked.

Lilia thought fast. "There's a wooden box in the back of my sleigh! Open it!"

Aurora hopped into the back and searched until she located the wooden box. She opened it and became surprised. "Lilia! What the heck are you doing with sticks of dynamite?!?"

"I keep them in case of an emergency! Like now for example!" Lilia exclaimed.

"What's the plan??" Aurora asked.

Lilia answered, "Light one up with one of the matches I have in the box then throw it towards them! It should be enough to scare them off!"

"Okay!" Aurora grabbed the match and lit the dynamite.

Just when she was about to throw it, the sleigh went over a boulder that was hidden by the snow and caused an off-balance. It was enough to knock the dynamite out of Aurora's hand and land on the side of the mountain they were just passing. A loud boom went off. The mountain began to shake, causing all to stop in the chase.

"Okay, that just put a bit of a damper on things," Lilia said.

"What do you mean?" asked Aurora.

All eyes then looked up to the tip of the mountain and saw a large blanket of snow begin to come down. An avalanche was headed right for them.

Lilia quickly responded, "That. Zodiac, go!"

Lilia rapidly whipped the reigns and the reindeer ran. No longer able to turn back, the group, as well as the wolves, dashed to escape the bundling of snow coming down. They were forced to go in a different direction, away from where the blue light was. "Sorry, Aurora! We're going to have to take a little detour!" Aurora wasn't even thinking about the cave. At the moment, she just wanted them to get to safety. "Quick," Lilia shouted. "Throw out everything out from the back of the sleigh! We need to lose some extra weight if we want this sled to go faster!"

Aurora did as she was told and began throwing out all of the items from the back of the sled. The sounds of the avalanche became louder the closer it got them. Within time, it swallowed up the wolves. Before throwing out the box of dynamite, Aurora had an idea that had her save one as well as a match to light it. "That's everything!" she shouted.

Now at the core of the mountain, Aurora noticed that there was an enormous hole within the mountain and a spiral pathway formed amongst its walls. "Lilia," she started saying as they entered the pathway, "is that-"

"Yup," Lilia interrupted. Aurora climbed over and sat in her spot again as Lilia continued, "Listen! There's more than likely a couple of caves that'll be a good place to hide down here! We picked up some speed, but it's not enough to outrun the avalanche! There's one more thing we need to do!"

"What is that?!" Aurora asked.

"Here!" Lilia handed Aurora the reigns. After she took them, Lilia then looked her friend in the eye and said, "Don't worry, you'll see me again!"

"What?!?" Aurora couldn't believe what just happened. She watched her new friend jump out of the sleigh and land on the ground behind them. "Lilia!! No!!" she shouted. In that split moment, Aurora had a choice. She could have easily made it to one of those caves that Lilia mentioned if she kept going. She and Zodiac would have made it safely inside. However, looking up and seeing the avalanche approaching her friend, Aurora instead pulled the reigns and had Zodiac go back.

Lilia was more stunned than anything to see Aurora turn back around. "Aurora?! What are you doing?! Get out of here!!"

"I'm not leaving you behind!" she shouted. If only we had something shielding us from the snow avalanche! Aurora then remembered the stick of dynamite and match she hid. Quickly, she lit the dynamite and lit it. Right before the avalanche hit them, she threw the stick up and it exploded.

The dynamite did create a sort of barrier around them, however, due to its force, it also knocked the group off of the edge. All three figures flew out and landed within parts of the avalanche. It carried them down the hole. Aurora and Lilia called out to each other and eventually saw one another. They reached to grab each other's hands, but it was in vain. They became separated then buried within the snow.


Aurora's world went black.


Later, she woke up feeling very cold. Oddly, she wasn't within the snow of the avalanche she, Lilia, and Zodiac were caught in. Instead, Aurora awoke in what appeared to be somewhere within the very mountain itself. Maybe this is one of those caves Lilia talked about, she thought. The avalanche probably carried me in here. She then looked over and saw that the only way in or out was completely blocked by snow.

Aurora heard an animal sound and looked deeper in the cave. It was Zodiac just waking up. She rushed over and hugged the large reindeer. "Zodiac! I'm so glad to see you!" She then looked out and became concerned when she didn't see her other friend. "Wait, where's Lilia?? Lilia! Are you in here?! Lilia!" There was no answer. Aurora began to hyperventilate. "Zodiac, where's Lilia??" Zodiac moaned. Her breathing worsened. "No…No!!" Aurora ran over to the wall of snow and began clawing at it. Her fingers were freezing from the snow, but she kept going. "Lilia! Lilia! Please! Please don't be dead! You can't be! Lilia!!" Arms exhausted and legs numb, Aurora dropped to her knees and began crying. Please, oh please God, don't let Lilia be dead! Zodiac came over and placed his head tenderly on her. Aurora hugged the large reindeer and continued to cry. Though very unlikely, she hoped deep down that Lilia somehow managed to escape the clutches of death.


Then…a familiar voice returned.


Aurora let go of the reindeer and quickly stood up. "Spirit Guide??" As the voice called to her again, the blue glow lit within the cave. Aurora then realized just where she and Zodiac currently were. "Did we…Are we…How did we end up in the cave from the legend?!?" The voice called once more. Without thinking twice, Aurora shouted, "C'mon Zodiac!" then she and the reindeer ran down the cave. The two noticed different openings leading to other pathways as they ran, but thanks to the voice, they continued to go down the right direction. It felt like forever and they were becoming exhausted, but Aurora was not about to give up, not when they got this far…and lost so much.

The blue glow flashed away when the two came to the end of the cave. Large patches of ice were seen throughout. The size of this particular section stood very tall and was very wide. It was probably large enough to fit an entire two-story home within it and there would still be room left over. There was a large hole in the ceiling where the sunlight came through and lit the center of the flooring. Aurora and Zodiac slowly walked to the center.

"What do we do now?" Aurora asked the reindeer as if he could responded. He snorted, but her question wasn't answered. She then remembered the song of the legend and thought that might be what activated the cave.


And so, she sang:




Deep in the heart of our very own mountain

Lies a cave of spirit and truth

All are welcome to this brightness

Doesn't matter if it's the old or youth


Deep in the heart of this enlightenment

Lies the answer of which you seek

You'll be filled with this new light

Before your heart goes bleak


Deep in the heart of this life journey

Lies the spirit who guides the way

Follow their voice and you will see

The dawn of a brighter day


…The dawn of a brighter daayyy!!


Suddenly, the cave lit up with the same blue glow emanating from the patches of ice.

Aurora took in a deep breath then said, "Cave! I'm here to know the answer of which I seek!" The light became brighter, as if it were waiting for her to finish before continuing. "Tell me…tell me…" Aurora had longed for this moment. She desperately wanted to know if she still had a purpose and was of any worth, just like she explained to Liam and Lilia. And after everything she went through, with every bit of strength she could muster, Aurora screamed to the top of her lungs what she wanted to know right then and there. "Tell me if Lilia is okay!!!"

The patches of ice then melted to the floor and slithered closer to Aurora and Zodiac. They reformed into tall blocks of ice surrounding the two figures. Within the large blocks of ice were scenes of Aurora's experiences from the past two days. On one block it showed when she had her last discussion with Liam; on another it showed when she helped Noah; the ones on the other side even showed what happened the previous day. The one block of ice next to the scene of Aurora interacting with the villagers confused her the most. In that scene, it showed Lilia singing while Aurora was sleeping next to her.

She couldn't comprehend what that meant. "I don't understand," was all she could mutter.

"I told you not to worry!" a voice called. The blocks of ice began moving to form an opening for whoever was on the other side. Walking in, towards Aurora and Zodiac, was a grinning Lilia. "Cause I knew you'd see me again."

Words couldn't even form in Aurora's mouth. So many emotions were pounding at her heart as tears were streaming down her face. Mostly, she was relieved and happy to see her friend was alive and well. Aurora ran to Lilia and gave her the biggest hug she could give.

"Oh c'mon," Lilia began saying while wiping the tears from Aurora's face, "did you really think an avalanche was enough to stop me? And by the way, when I say get out of there…I mean it! Get out of there! You were listening to me before, what made you stop?! Did I seriously have to sing again to get you to move??"

"What?? What do you mean??" Aurora asked.

"I know you're smart enough to get what I mean," she said.

Aurora looked around once more at the giant blocks of ice surrounding them. The scenes from the last couple of days continued to play. There were even some that Aurora didn't recognize. Like how, on the night Aurora found little Noah, Lilia was with a couple of the villagers who were packing her sleigh. Without them knowing, Lilia waved her hand around which caused the blue glow to appear. In fact, every time the blocks showed Lilia waving her hand in secret, the blue light appeared. Aurora then looked back to the part where Lilia was seen singing while she was asleep. She listened very closely then came to a shocking realization.


Lilia's singing voice was the voice Aurora heard calling her the entire time.


Aurora looked at Lilia with her eyes widened and her jaw nearly dropping. "You're the Spirit Guide?!?"

Lilia gave a slight nod. "Since my singing voice and speaking voice sound different, I find it easier to contact people with my singing. So when we finally meet, they don't figure who I am right away."

"But…but how?!? How are you the Spirit Guide?!?" Aurora asked confused.

"Remember that little adventure I told you I had up here?" Lilia waved her hand over towards the block of ice closest to her. Within it were scenes from her past life. "When I said I was once like you where I was lost and wanted to be found, I wasn't lying. Many decades ago, my dad was the chief of our tribe. When he and my mom passed, the responsibility of taking over lied with me. So, I escaped up here and went on my own life journey in hopes of finding my answers before I went back to lead. By the end, I found what I was looking for and brought my people up to this mountain. It was here where I led them the way I felt would be best and it paid off. When my time came to cross into the Great Beyond, I was transformed into my nineteen-year-old self again and my spirit lingered here. I wasn't sure why at first, but then I came across this cave and found its magic. That was when I realized, in a strange way, this magic gave me a new purpose and made me nineteen again because that was the age when I went on my journey. And so, I became the legendary Spirit Guide helping people find their way the same way I did here."

"But…what about the people that died trying to find this cave?" Aurora asked.

"What kind of spirit guide would I be if I led people to their doom??" Lilia answered. "None of them died. The reason why they never returned to Winter Nome was because they chose to stay here. They found their purpose in this mountain. In fact, the village you were at couple of days ago, that's where they ended up. Another fun fact, that's my old village."

"Your village?! Wait, do they know about you?? I mean, the real you??" Aurora asked, still trying to process the new information.

"Of course they do!" Lilia responded. "They have to or else it would be really awkward since I've been visiting them since I passed and have seen every member there grow up. And yes, even little Noah knows."

After finally taking it all in, Aurora asked, "And they're okay with this? You being the Spirit Guide and guiding people?"

"Oh, heck yeah," Lilia said. She watched as Aurora was trying to find what to say next. "I know what you want to ask. Do you have a purpose and are you of worth?" Aurora nodded. Lilia then lightly knocked a couple of times on Aurora's head, "Hello! Earth to Aurora! Have you really not seen it yet??"

"Seen what??" asked Aurora.

"Okay, fine, let's recap," Lilia waved her hand. The blocks of ice lit up then revealed each scene after Lilia pointed them out. "You showed your intelligence when you made it over the fence, fought against the wolves the first time we faced them, and even that stunt you pulled with the dynamite. You revealed your honesty when you returned my brooch to me. Your loyalty shined when you came back to rescue me from the avalanche. And you even showed how caring and selfless you are when you stopped your journey to help Noah and gave him your prized scarf. Along the way, you were able to put smiles on everyone's faces. You even got me to laugh and I hadn't laughed that hard in years." Aurora began tearing up as everything was sinking in. "I don't design these adventures," Lilia continued. "That is left to fate. However, it's my job to show you what you've been searching for within the adventure." She paused before continuing, "Aurora, I know the truth. You weren't searching for a purpose or if you were of any worth. Deep down, you wanted to know if there was anything special about you. And if there was, why were you constantly hurt by your friends and family. Here's the thing, people lose their way everyday, but it's the courageous ones who will admit they need help. Those who aren't, cut and run. That's what happened to your friends. They weren't brave enough to ask for help like you did." Aurora began to smile when she realized that it wasn't her who was broken, but the ones she once called her friends. Lilia pressed on, "As for your family, they actually thought they were helping by giving you your space. As time went on, they got too comfortable and it just became a habit. So, for them, it was an accident. One that, from what I can tell, will soon be corrected." Aurora started to feel at peace, a feeling she had not felt in such a long time. "So you see?" Lilia said. "This is all what I taught you. Don't let the negative stop you from going on your journey and seeing the good that's around you. You can't-"

"I can't have a one-track mind and overthink," Aurora finished as a tear happily fell down her cheek.

"Exactly," Lilia answered.

"Looks like this cave lives up to the legend. It, along with the Spirit Guide, showed me what I needed to know," Aurora said.

"Yeah…but, technically, you already knew how special you are," Lilia said.

Aurora was confused again. "What?"

"Yeah, he told you. Remember?" Lilia pointed to the tall block of ice that had the scene of Liam talking to Aurora before she left.


They heard Liam say:


You are intelligent, brave, honest, loyal, and the most caring girl I know. You have this incredible ability to make anyone smile, especially when they're down. And…you're so beautiful. You're worth a lot more than you think.


"If you wanted to know now just how much you're worth, I think your boyfriend just answered that," Lilia said.

Aurora walked closer to the block of ice that replayed her last conversation with Liam. She placed a loving hand on his face. It was true, deep down Aurora wanted to know if there was anything special or unique about herself. This journey showed her that she needed to open up her mind more in order to see what she really was capable of along with the beauty of the world that surrounded her. Had she done that before, she would have seen what Liam was talking about. Now that the question of worth was revisited, Aurora saw that she was worth everything to Liam. Her heart exploded with love when realizing just how much he meant to her.

"You better get a move on," Lilia began saying. "If memory serves, Liam leaves for that internship in about an hour."

Aurora gasped in shock. "You're right! How am I going to get there in time?! He'll be long gone by the time I make it back!"

"True, but luckily, you've got friends here." Lilia whistled for Zodiac to approach them. "Our reindeer friend here remembers the route I take to get around the fence and is more than happy to assist. Aren't you boy?" Zodiac happily nodded his head.

Aurora hugged Lilia once more. "Thank you so much Lilia! You truly are the best friend I've ever had!"

Lilia sincerely hugged back. "Can I let you in on a little secret? I think this journey we had together will be my favorite one. I'm glad we met and I was able to help you. Just know that I'll continue to help you whenever you need me." The two let go of their hug and Aurora hopped onto Zodiac's back. "Don't be a stranger, okay? I'm sure the villagers would also like a visit from you, especially Noah."

"I would really like that, but how am I to make it back here? I'm sure once the town hears I've been up in the mountain, they'll make the fence even higher or add extra security," Aurora stated.

Lilia answered with, "Excluding your boyfriend because I know he'll keep this secret, don't mention you've been up here to anyone, make something up. That way, when you come back, it'll be easier for Zodiac to come get you."

To come get me? Aurora was about to overthink and ask what she meant by that. Instead, she just happily let the thought go and accepted it for what it was. "Sounds good."

"Alright Zodiac, come back here as soon as you're done dropping her off! Go!" Lilia smacked the reindeer's behind to have him go. Aurora shouted goodbye to her friend as Zodiac began running to return her home.




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