Chapter 20 – A [Epilogue]
“…Okay. That should be fine for now.”
I remove the plush doll away from the blonde archer after her bruises began to fade.
“Hm…I could still kind of feel the pain,” Lauress muttered, poking some of the bruises that are still apparent on her body.
“Oh. Sorry. Anty and I are a little too tired right now, so I doubt I can completely patch up the wounds. At least let this cover until we get to some where we can rest properly, then I’ll work on healing everyone again,” I explained.
“Ah. No problem. I’m just a little surprised since you completely healed up my sprained ankle earlier,” said Lauress.
“As expected from you. Amazing as always, sis,” Orica teased, poking my waist from behind.
“I’m still not completely sure how all of these powers work though,” I replied, tightly hugging Anty, “I just put Anty over the wounds and he did the rest of the job.”
“…So…we really are the reincarnations of the 12 goddesses, huh?” Orica muttered with a depressed voice.
“Yeah. I guess so. Look at the powers we possessed,” I sighed.
“When those people came for me at the apartment, I was very frightened and confused. It wasn’t until I arrived at the Aurigan Research Center that I met Lauress and discussed with her how those people were calling us Zodiac Angels,” Orica muttered, “I mean. It was kind of amazing and cool that we are the reincarnation of the goddesses who created our world. But if it means that we will be marked by those people, then I don’t want this power.”
“Glad I’m not the only one who thought so.”
The three of us turn towards the owner of the voice who is walking towards the campfire.
“I told Auria once that this power is a curse, bound to take everything away from us. Yet she still insisted that I teach her how to use it. Can you imagine that?” Miki chuckled and sat down next to me.
“Oh, you’re back. I assume we’re safe now?” Lauress asked the dark haired girl who have already fixed her twin ponytail.
“I don’t see any of those bastards around us any more. We’ve lost them,” Miki replied.
“I’m glad all of us were able to make it,” I sighed in relief.
“Hmph, if you haven’t been so hesitant, then we wouldn’t be beaten up like this.” Miki crosses her arms and stretches her legs.
“…Hey. Sis was the one who saved our hides okay? How about showing some appreciation, huh?” Orica hissed.
“Yeah yeah. You should learn to say something nice once in a while, you know…?” Lauress muttered, “…Actually, you should start by thanking Auria!”
“That’s a great idea!” Orica giggled.
The twin pony tailed girl pouted at the two, giving both of them her signature cold stare.
“H…Hey. That’s really okay. We’re friends, aren’t we? That’s what we do; we look for each other’s back. Don’t mention it.” I decided to speak up so Miki wouldn’t have to snap at those two.
“Well, I guess we did survive because of your last minute determination,” Miki spoke up after I finished, “…Thank you.”
She said it…She actually said it. I don’t sense any sarcastic tone in her voice and I don’t think my sarcasm detector is broken either. She seems genuinely grateful.
“…Wow. Orica. You must have been hitting Miki really hard.” Lauress turns her face to the caramel haired girl.
“Appreciate that. Cuz that’s the last time I’ll ever say it.” Miki pouted and turned her face away.
“Aw. I’m just kidding! Learn to take it easy and laugh at a joke some time!” Lauress laughed and smacked the twin pony tailed girl’s shoulder.
“But really, sis. That was amazing.” Orica turned her face to me.
“Yeah! It was because you summoned that scorpion out, that’s why we were able to flip the table back to our favor.” Lauress quickly shifted her attention at me too. “I mean, wow! You take down that freaking water jar in just two hits!” Lauress laughed.
“Hey, don’t call Sandalsuud a freak, ‘kay?” Orica frowned. “And it’s your own fault for not noticing her weak point.”
“Argh. How the heck would I know that she’s a freaking jar!?” Lauress grumbled.
“W…Well…in any case, I’m glad it is all over now.” I broke the discussion and gave everyone a smile of relief before it turns into a fight.
“So like, what’s next after this, Auria?” Lauress asked, “You said we’re going to meet other Zodiac Angels, right?”
“Yeah. We’re going to the Orion Observatory. I met two other Zodiac Angels earlier at Grand Central and we agree to rendezvous there,” I explained.
“So, how do we get there from here?” Orica asked.
“The Orion Observatory is located towards the south of Galaxia City. There are many ways to get there, but I’ve already thought of the shortest way to get there,” Miki explained and picked up a dry stick from the ground. She then began drawing a rough map to show our destination. First, she drew a cross-mark on the ground.
“We are here,” she explained, pointing at the cross-mark.
“The fastest way to get there is to take this path, making a detour around the Grand Central towards the south since it is probably closed off now.”
Miki traces the stick from the cross-mark down to a huge circle she drew in advance, then trace the path around that circle.
“Once we get here, we can get on the car I parked outside of the city. Then it’ll be another full day trip before we get to Orion Observatory,” Miki finished her illustration by drawing another circle on where she stops tracing.
“So, how are we going to get to the car? I really wanna rest right now,” Lauress sighed.
“We’ll ride our beasts,” I said, “At the very least, we should get back to Miki’s car within tonight. Then we can drop off at the inn I stayed with Miki last night.”
“Wait? We’re moving out now!?” Lauress whined.
“When else do you think?” Miki crosses her arms.
“Aw man. I’m so sleepy now. Once we get to the inn, you guys must not wake me up until it’s 10!” Lauress pouted.
“You wish,” Orica laughed, “Sis never let me wake up after 8, regardless of occasions.”
“I told you that the later you wake up, the less time you have for that day!” I sighed, “Seriously. I wish one day had more than 24 hours. I can barely get all my jobs done on time with minimal sleep time.”
“Well, are we gonna move or what? The sooner we get to the car, the faster you get to take a nap, blondie,” Miki said, chuckling.
“Aw man. How do you guys not have wrinkles on your face?” Lauress mumbled and walked off to the middle of the grassy plains, “Kaus!”
The armored centaur suddenly emerges from behind at her command. The blonde archer climbs onto Kaus’s back and Miki immediately follows. After that, Orica raises her whip handle and pours out water from it, putting out the campfire.
“You remember the directions, right? Auria?” Miki asked.
“Yeah. I vaguely remember it. I’ll just follow you closely just in case,” I replied.
“…Oh right. Here.” Before we took off, the twin pony tailed girl reaches into her outer coat’s pocket and tosses something down to me; it’s my cell phone.
“Don’t get me wrong. I want you to turn it on and wait for the calls from those two angels,” said Miki.
“…Yeah. I know. I’m glad I listened to you, Miki.” I gave her a smile.
“Hmph.” Miki simply frowns and hugs her arms around Lauress.
“Okay then. See you around, Auria!”
And with that, the blonde archer rides the armored centaur forward like the wind with the twin pony tailed girl hugging her from behind.
“…Well. We should follow them,” I told Orica.
“Hey sis. Can I talk to you for a bit?”
“Let’s do that while we ride. Don’t wanna get lost from those two.”
Once again, a huge glyph appears from under me and the plush doll vanishes. The giant mechanical scorpion emerges from that glyph, carrying Orica and me onto its saddle.
“Ready?” I asked while I placed both of my hands onto the two controlling orbs.
“Yeah,” the girl replied, tightly hugging her arms around my waist.
The wheels on the scorpion start rolling and drive us forward, closely following Lauress’s armored centaur. I had Lynus taught me how to drive a car once, and to be honest, this is a lot easier. Instead of having to steer the wheels and hit the accelerator, all I have to do is press on these two orbs and the robot will move and stop exactly how I want it to.
“…So…what is it you wanna talk about?” I asked Orica.
“Well…you see,” the girl mumbled, as if looking for the right word to speak, “I know it’s selfish to think this way after all the trouble you’ve gone through, but I’ve always been jealous of you.”
“That’s nothing new, really. You told me that many times, didn’t you?” I replied.
“Yeah. But…I don’t know…Part of the reason the mind controlling crown works efficiently was because it’s driving off some of my subconscious envy. I know because each time I lash my whip, I imagine that the target…was you…even if it was Lauress and Miki who I was fighting.”
The girl paused, as if waiting to see my reaction. However, I did not react or give her any replies.
“…Aren’t you…mad that I thought of you that way? Don’t you hate me for being so selfish?”
“Oh, Orica. How could I hate you? You are my only remaining family member, you know? I was completely nuts when I saw you missing from the apartment. Miki yelled at me so many times for screaming over my loss.”
“Wow. I’d kill something just to see you freak out like that once,” Orica giggled.
“But still, isn’t it only natural we sisters have a fight like this? I mean, admittedly a part of me is envious of how you are so carefree with your life. I really wish I could live without being so serious like I am now.”
“…Well, you can’t. And I understand that because you were working so hard for the both of us.” Orica hugs me tighter and buries her face into my back. “I love you, sis. I’m really glad to be your sister.”
“…Oh please, I can’t wipe my tears now,” I said, laughing when I start to feel my eyes welling up. As a result, Orica let one of her arms go and wipes my tears instead.
“…So we’re going to meet other Zodiac Angels, huh?” Orica asked.
“Yeah. They are very friendly and reliable. I’ve only fought along side two of them once, but I can already tell how reliable in combat they are,” I explained.
“That’s great. I can’t wait to see them,” Orica giggled, “…So…Do you think we will be able to return to our normal lives some day?”
To be honest, I haven’t really thought about that at all. My mind was so fixated on saving my little sister this past two days. Of course, I am not going to lie that I had other worries but everything else just doesn’t matter when compared to the safety of my sister. With Orica sitting behind me safe and sound, that’s a big load of worry lifted off my chest.
Maybe I should start thinking about what is going to happen after this as well.
“Oh yeah, what about bro Lynus?” Orica asked before I could even reply to her previous question.
“Miki and I discussed that and…she suggested to me that I forget he existed,” I replied.
“Wait!! What!? You’re breaking up with him without even telling him!?” Orica cried.
“I never said it’s a break up! Listen to me first!” I almost screamed out of frustration. “I don’t like this more than you do, Orica … Miki’s brother died because he tried to save her from the Nebula Corp. She warned me about how everyone around us will be taken out if they try to shelter us, or even get involved. And I don’t want Lynus to die.”
“But…wouldn’t he be worry about you!? I mean, at least you should message him or something telling him that you’re fine!”
“I…I thought the same too…but Miki—-.”
“Well, screw what Miki says! Does making the man who loves you the most worry about you really means you care about him!?”
“Y…Yeah…but…I don’t know,” I sighed, trying my best not to sob, “I…I was too focused on saving you and I’ve decided to just drop the whole matter until you’re safe.”
“Well, I’m saved now! So please…at least think about it! I…I know how much bro Lynus loves you, sis. So please, don’t kill him from the inside.”
No one is right or wrong. Miki’s warning was meant to protect Lynus from external threat, while at the same time, I cannot even begin to imagine how worried he would be right now. Orica has a point, but I cannot just ignore any potential threat that could happen should he get involved in this as well.
…This is way too painful. No matter what I do, I am killing him one way or the other. Isn’t there any way we can get around that at all?
“…Okay. I’ll think about it,” I replied.
“Thanks, sis,” Orica giggled and lay her cheek onto my back.
There are so many issues for me to think about right now. What bothers me the most is Sophia’s revelation about the Ophiucus Angel. If what happened today is exactly as she explained, then perhaps that might be a distant threat that we just cannot ignore. According to the legend, the 12 Zodiac Angels couldn’t even defeat Ophiucus; they had to seal her deep within the Celestial Hall. In that case, we would definitely not stand a chance if Ophiucus really descends down from there.
At the same time, the Nebula Corp will probably not stop here. They could very much be planning on their next move to locate and capture us again. At least, I know this is not going to be the last we’ve heard of Oscar.
Perhaps this is what I should be focusing on now, as the Nebula Corp’s pursuit is a much more immediate threat.
While moving forward across the grassy plains, I looked up at the stars on the sky, glittering as if trying to guide us towards our destination. If there is one thing I completely don’t agree with Miki right now, then it’s how she told me that ‘This power is a curse’. It might have been the cause of all this mess. But this same power – the strength of the most powerful 12 Zodiac Angels – was also what saved my little sister. There is no way such power can be a curse. Whatever is the reason I am given this power, I will hold on to it and protect everything I cherish.
And with that resolution, I confidently embark on my new journey to the ocean of stars.
–Chapter Auria Ends–
And here we are everyone, the ending chapter of our second heroine!
How do you guys like the chapter (or ‘arc’, as one of my readers called it)? Was it as thrilling as Viola’s chapter? Please let me know!
Next week, we will start with our third heroine’s chapter, Sophia. We’re finally going to see her story after talking about her for so many times. We will also get to see the last three Zodiac Angels, including Sophia’s mother.
And with that, thank you very much for reading. I hope you enjoyed it just like how I enjoyed writing it and I’ll see you again next time. Until then, please take care!