Chapter 17 – S
Lin and Len took turns saying goodbyes to their parents and ran down the road following mom and me. The two of them carried two backpacks with them, each packed with their cloths and traveling snack that Professor Qing prepared for us.
“You said your good byes?” I asked them.
“We’re ready to go!”
The two of them said.
“Well, they said the more the merrier. I guess that’s true,” mom giggled.
“So mom, where exactly are we heading next?” I asked while we walk towards the village’s exit.
“From this village, we have to move across the Plains of Pride towards the south. At the end of the plain, there is another village where we will rest up there for the night,” mom explained, “After that, we need to get to the closest city as soon as possible. Then, we can rent a car and be on our way.”
“So I guess for now…”
“We’ll have to walk.”
“Seems kind of fun though.”
“Yeah, it was just like that scout camp back at elementary school!”
The twins talk to each other.
Although talking and walking at the same time makes our body tired faster, it is a lot merrier and relaxing than remaining quiet for the whole time.
While we are walking, Lin and Len start sharing their experiences at school as well as boasting their academic prowess to mom. They also told us about how they can learn their study materials at a rate twice of a normal person. When you take into the consideration that both of their bodies share the same mind, everything makes a lot of sense. One twin could be reading science text while the other is practicing mathematic problems. But by the time each of them finished, the two of them already have the knowledge of two subjects in their head.
And with their bodies sharing the same mind, they can very much help each other in the exam rooms using their telepathy without anyone knowing.
That is really convenient.
But knowing mom, I am pretty sure things aren’t going to be the same for the twins any more when they get into the university. I can already see mom pitting Lin in one exam room and Len in another room on the other side of the campus, just outside of the range where they can no longer feel each other.
Anyway, from the moment we started our trek, the weather appears to be extremely cooperative. The sun has been concealed behind the numerous clouds in the sky for the whole time. And to top that up, the Plain of Pride is settled next to the mountains where cool wind constantly blows down from above, cooling this entire plain for the whole day.
Around noon when we are about halfway through the plains, my phone started ringing.
She got her phone back? Then that means that Miki must be with her.
“Hey there, Auria! I’m glad you called!” I picked up the call.
“Um…Hi, Sophia. My friends and I are at the Orion Observatory now. Where are you?” she asked.
“Oh, that’s great! On my side though, mom and I kind of ran into some troubles, so we lost our car. It’ll probably be a few days before we can get to the observatory,” I explained, “Say, Auria. I assume you were able to save your sister?”
“Oh…Yeah. She’s safe. She’s right next to me here,” she said.
“I see. I’m glad to hear that!”
“So, what should I do for now?” she asked, “Should I go pick you up? My friend has a car.”
“Oh. No. That’s okay. Just wait for me for a couple of days there. Maybe you can call Viola and see how she is doing,” I suggested.
“Ah. Okay then. I’ll call her. Please be careful.”
“So that was Auria? What’s her zodiac sign?” mom asked after I hung up the call.
“Hm…Judging from that doll, I’m pretty sure she’s Scorpio,” I said.
“A doll? That must be Antares,” mom muttered, “…So I guess Saki never made it…”
“Yeah. She was the previous angel of Scorpio and Viola’s closest friend among us. The two of them went to fend off the Nebula Corp forces that were pursuing after us, buying Frey, Fo, and me some time to escape,” mom explained.
“Oh, yeah. By the way, that Viola you were talking about…”
“Oh. I meant the Viola from 20 years ago,” mom explained.
“Ah. Right …Are you still concerned about the Viola I met and the Viola you knew 20 years ago?”
“Yes. I really want to meet her in person right now. If she is indeed my friend from 20 years ago, that really would have been a pleasant surprise,” mom said and looked up at the skies.
Although I really doubt that the Viola I met is mom’s friend from 20 years ago, I can understand the hopeful wish she has inside her. Her friends were taken away one by one from her, so it is only natural she wants to see them again.
“…Speaking of which, everyone…can we take a detour for a while?”
“Detour?” I asked.
“Where do you want to go, Aunt Myria?”
The twins asked mom.
“…Not too far from here is where I left Frey alone,” mom said.
“Oh. Your friend whose sister was shot?”
“You sure about this?”
“Wouldn’t it hurt you to be there?”
Lin and Len asked out of concern.
“You girls know about mom’s past?” I asked them.
“Mom and dad told us about Aunt Myria a couple of times after they know that we’re Zodiac Angels.”
“As a matter of fact, they actually wanted us to go to the Orion University to be under Aunt Myria’s care.”
Lin and Len explained.
“Thanks for your concern. But I’ll be okay. I just thought that maybe I should go there and set up some memorial for her and Fo. Ever since that day, I never had a chance to come here at all,” mom explained.
“It’s okay, mom. You lead the way then,” I told her.
“Thanks, girls.” She smiled.
And with that, we move out of our main path and head towards the west, moving up the high plains. After a while, we enter a plateau with nothing but grassland extending towards the horizon. Near the edge of the plateau, there is lone withered oak tree standing in the middle of nowhere.
Mom approaches the oak tree and places her hand on its withered bark, embracing a painful nostalgia.
“…This is where Fo was shot,” mom spoke up, examining a small hole engraved on the bark, “Frey lays Fo’s body down here and moves on to fight the Nebula Corp’s army alone.”
“…So you split up with her here?” I asked.
“Yeah…I didn’t even expect this tree to still be here,” mom said and kneels down next to the tree. She closes her eyes and remains quiet for a while, probably praying for her friends. I kneel down next to mom and start praying with her. Lin and Len also join both of us.
However, all of the sudden, the pendant hanging on my neck suddenly radiates a pale glow and vibrates madly.
“What the!?” I quickly lift up the pendant. “Woah! Easy there!”
“What’s going on?” mom turned around to me, startled.
“I…I don’t know! It never shook so much like this before!” I said, trying to hold it still.
“…Where is it pointing?” mom asked anxiously.
I slightly loosen my grip on the pendant and let the glowing needle points to the direction it desires.
“It’s pointing deeper into the plains…” Mom looks towards the direction the pendant is pointing.
“Isn’t that where…”
“…your friend went?”
The twins asked.
“Y…Yeah…But………No…It can’t be her…It can’t be…Why would it be her?…She went on to fight with 200 armed men alone…There’s no way she could have made it alive,” mom said with a shaking voice, “And it was 20 years ago. There is no way she’d still be here…”
“Well… Why don’t we go check it out?” I suggested. “At this point, I guess it’s more than safe to say that this pendant is really pointing towards the direction of an angel we have never met. Even if it’s not your friend, at least we should still be able to find another angel there.”
“That’s true…” Mom nodded. “I guess it wouldn’t hurt to go check.”
Agreeing so, the four of us head deeper into the plains.
Unlike the path below the plateau we were walking earlier, the clouds on the grassland up here are dimmed and darkened. The winds are blowing a lot more harshly, as if trying to force us to turn back. The four of us keeps moving forward, feeling more and more nervous at the eerie pressure emanating from deep within the plains.
What could possibly be hidden in this grassland?
What is this uneasy pressure that we are feeling right now?
We keep moving until we entered a small valley, hidden between the hills, where the pendant finally stops glowing. A stone statue of a lady sitting atop a granite throne can be seen settled in the middle of the valley. We could not clearly see the face of the statue, but we assumed that it is a lady, judging from its feminine figure.
“…An angel statue?”
“What’s a statue doing here?”
Lin and Len muttered.
“…No way…,” mom whispered, “Frey…?”
“What? That lady on the throne is your friend!?” I asked.
“Yes. There’s no doubt about it! That face…She’s definitely Frey…!” mom cried, “Why? Why is there a statue for her here!?”
“It is really strange. Why would there be—-?”
Before I could finish, a bolt of light shoots out of my pendant and hits the statue. After that, dark fog gushes out of the statue, completely covering it. The four of us cautiously take a step back, never taking our eyes off it. When the fog disperses, a long blonde lady with fair skin in her birthday suit appears standing on where the statue was. After that, the dark fog slowly forms a dark leather leotard, covering her naked body.
The four of us attentively watch the whole event with our jaws lying on the ground.
“……Frey…?” mom whispered the lady’s name.
The blonde lady lifts up her face, revealing her deep azure eyes to us. However, even though they are glittering, those eyes seem so sad.
“Frey…Is that really you…?!” Mom takes a step forward. She lifts up both of her hands to cover her mouth, preventing the sob from escaping her mouth.
“………My…ria…” The lady responded with a voice, soft like a whisper.
“Oh my god. It’s you…It’s really you!!!” mom cried and walked towards the lady.
“Wait, mom! Something is wrong!!!” I quickly grab mom’s arm, stopping her from making any more moves. “Don’t you think something is wrong here!? How could she be your friend from 20 years ago!? Wasn’t she supposed to already be dead!!?”
Mom told us herself.
Her friend, Miss Frey, went on alone to fight against an army of 200 men, 20 years ago. How could that woman still be alive?
Just who is this lady standing before us right now!?