"What.. who are you?" Eli pointed his knife at a little girl who looked around the age of seven.
She was sitting in mid-air about five feet above the ground, she had tan skin, short black hair, and crimson eyes.
But, what was most notable about her appearance was a long scar down her face and neck, which looked as if it ran down even further.
She looked at him, floating down to the ground and landing softly. She quietly told him "I can't leave."
"Tell me who you are," Eli demanded, he'd encountered a few things in the ruins of the place he now called home, none had been friendly.
At this point, he was scared of any strange and anomalous thing he may find there and would bury or burn ones that he found particularly dangerous.
"I can't leave.." the girl said again in a crestfallen voice. She stared at the knife for a few moments, before looking back at Eli's face. "I can't find my place here. Not where I belong."
Eli lowered his knife, only slightly. Anomalies could be deceptive, he learned that from his time at the foundation, but they continued to throw him off.
The girl continued to stare at him, so he asked, "What's your name?"
"They called me seven zero three two. That was all. They keep me locked up."
"You can leave now," Eli said, "they're gone, something killed them and they haven't come back."
"I'm trapped here. Please.. help me." She shuddered, holding back tears.
"I... I don't know how" Eli stepped towards her, seeing how she didn't object, he tried putting a hand on her shoulder. His hand passed right through her arm, and he drew it back, confused.
"Do you... Have any physical form?"
"They locked me up, I don't know. Under the remains, with the objects." She tried to touch his hand but failed. Instead, she traced her scar, going from her forehead to her neck.
"Look for how it happened, it's beneath everything."
"You learned to speak from them, didn't you." Eli realized out loud.
She nodded, "I can understand, I can't say much"
"I have to find what keeps you here, right? What do I do with it?"
The girl pointed to the forest, "among them, I can leave with them."
"I'll.. do my best," he smiled nervously at the young girl, "I know where they kept the objects. Come, we can look for whatever it is together."
The young girl tried touching his hand again to hold onto him as they walked, but it passed through again.
She looked at her hand, then shook the thoughts from her head and followed.
Eli took them to a completely ruined area, it was an area that had held some particularly volatile objects that when disturbed, had caused a great amount of destruction.
The girl seemed to perk up a bit as they got closer. "Is it here somewhere?" Asked Eli. She nodded, vanishing, and reappearing atop a ruined wall.
She pointed at a large pile of rubble, which had previously been a storage room, "there, beneath."
Eli inspected the pile, "got it, it'll take me a few hours to sift through all that. Is that alright..?" he looked up at the girl, but she'd vanished and appeared by his side.
She asked him, "why are you helping me?"
"They kept me here for four years, I always did my best to help the others imprisoned there when I could.. And you remind me of someone, it's the least I can do to help someone like me.."
"Thank you," she appeared back on the wall, "I'll wait as long as it takes."
Eli didn't seem to hear her as he got to work, slowly clearing the rubble. He found a piece of rebar that he was able to use as a lever to move much heavier pieces.
Slowly, over the course of a few hours, he'd cleared out near half of the area.
He found many anomalous objects that were either destroyed or dangerous, the latter he either buried or destroyed himself.
He uncovered a long copper box, which was engraved with patterns of many thaumaturgical symbols and covered in dents from the destruction of the site.
"That's it," the girl said, appearing next to him. She knelt down next to the box, inspecting it. "Can you open it?" She looked up at Eli expectantly.
Eli unsheathed his knife, "I think so," he slid the blade into the locked edge of the box and began to pry it open.
After a few attempts and the tactical of a rock, the box opened.
Inside was a steel sword, what was most interesting about it was the hilt which was made of carved bone and engraved with runes.
"There it is," he picked it up by the hilt, "I have a garden, should I put it there?"
Reaching out, the young girl held on to Eli's hand and asked, "Is it pretty..?"
Eli nodded, "you'll like it there, c'mon." Holding the sword in one hand and the strange girl's hand in the other, he led them to an open area, free of the remains of the foundation.
It was populated with flowers and scattered around were stones at the perfect height to sit upon. There were stacked stone pillars covered in moss and a few tall trees scattered about.
"How's this?" Eli asked the girl.
She looked around, silent, then looked up at Eli. "...I can go now?"
Eli nodded, "I'll let you go, and if you ever need someone to talk to, come back here. I'll-" he stopped abruptly as she hugged him tightly.
"Thank you," she let go, "leave it here, I can wander" she smiled at him, then touched the hilt of the sword and vanished.
Eli sighed, sitting down with the sword. He sat for a while as the sun began to set.
Soon enough though, he found a suitable place for the sword at the base of a young tree and pierced the blade halfway into the ground. "See you soon..
He turned away and walking back to his home.