Valley of the unknown, a strange windy road, a new kind of wood’s scent, and an unfamiliar pair of tiny hands – those holding my body firmly.
This peculiar situation was started with a conversation about an hour before.
“Madam, where will we go?” Lina asked.
“I am yet to decided it, but I have a feeling that if we continue in this road, we’ll eventually meet it.”
“Madam, you said that because you want to clean a small problem before reaching that place, don’t you?”
Mother just smiled and threw a gaze to far beyond the carriage’s window.
Lina and Mari also smiled, they have followed Mother for years from behind the shadow. They knew precisely how Mother would act in this kind of situation.
Meanwhile, the little girl – Ione was still confused. Even she trusted Mother for delivering her out of the city; it doesn’t mean the bad guys would stop their pursuit.
“Aunt Flo, will I be a burden for you?”
Mother smiled to her and suddenly pushed me into her bosom. Ione hurriedly took me firmly, afraid I might fall from her small hands.
“Do you like little Eiwa?”
“Umm…” She nodded, “I never have a little brother or sister before. Perhaps this is how I would feel if I have one.”
“Yup, he is too cute.”
Ione started to observe me more and more.
‘Okay little girl, I know that my handsomeness is unparalleled, but you should not stare at me like that. I would become uncomfortable.’
Then I felt something dropped at my face. Tears?
“Cry little lady, just cry. Sometimes, it was better to let flow than to hold it within. The world doesn’t need you to be strong – it doesn’t care. The world never and will never care about our burdens. So, from whom you hide your pain? Only by seeing our blood and tears we would gain what is lay beyond the understanding of your pain. My words perhaps are too cruel for a small girl like you, but by your destiny and your journey of life, I couldn’t find any better relief for you.”
Ione the cried louder than before, her heart broken into pieces, or it had been broken yet she held it tight. But she no longer capable hide it, or she might be genuinely broken.
Mother continued, “Hold my little Eiwa a little longer, except if you fell him far too heavy for you, you may return him to me.”
Ione shook her head, “No, he is not heavy at all, he is not a burden, he is … precious to me.” Ione watched me from behind a clear film of her tears, and I knew she smiled at me with care.
“Then go on, you now should know the answer of your question.”
The little girl didn’t give any verbal response, and she just smiled, hand holds me firmly yet gently.
At noon, we stopped around an open grassland not far from a clean river. Many other travelers who brought their carriages and merchants with their wagons also stayed here for rest. Many tents were erected for those who already traveled for days and might wish to rest for a day or two.
Many people came before us, and not a little came after us after an hour or two.
Mari chose a spot near the river bed, and Lina let loose the horse for some grass and clean water. Well, Mother said a magical carriage would too conspicuous to draw the attention of some people, we must lie low, so those people would more likely drop their vigilance.
Mari prepared the lunch, and Lina prepared our resting place with carpet and a large parasol for all of us.
We had a festive; Mother said that Mari’s cooking skill was top of the top within eight winds direction. Ione started to become cheerful again. But she won’t let me go from her embrace.
Well, this kind of situation isn’t so bad I thought.
I felt sleepy again, well it was already a nap time for a good baby.
Just before I closed my eyes, something smelly and disgusting pocked my nose. Suddenly, I opened my eyes widely.
‘Darn it! For a holy beard of the old mage! This smell is so nasty. Which amateur try to brew ethereal-blocker solution in the open! Do you want to kill everyone here! And it should be odorless you moron!’
I really wanted to smash the head whoever brew this kind of concoction in the open would poison everyone here. In less than an hour, those who were exposed shall lose their ability to access their inner ethereal channels, making them unable to use mana and wield magic, and then become vulnerable in the wild.
I want to warn everybody else, but it seemed. Mother always watched me, and she saw my flustered expression.
“Everybody, beware of an ambush.”
My Mother spoke softly, but enough to make Lina and Mari took a serious stance.
“Madam, I don’t sense any danger. What is the matter?” Lina said to Mother.
“My alarm said they already on the move.”
“Your alarm?” Mari was confused.
“Yes, that one.” Mother pointed to my face.
Lina looks at me, and after a moment said, “Are you sure little Eiwa not just having constipation?”
‘Dart it! You are the one who gets constipated. Have you ever seen a handsome gentleman like me got constipate? Hell no!’
Mother gave a small laugh, “Don’t worry, Eiwa would not make a mistake. He is somehow special. Just be prepared, we have a confrontation in the dark right now.”