Valley of the unknown, a strange windy road, a new wood’s scent, and an unfamiliar pair of tiny hands—those bracing my body.
This peculiar situation was started with a conversation about an hour before.
“Madam, where will we go?” Lina asked.
“I am not yet 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 too 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 seized me into her bosom. Ione hurriedly took me firmly, afraid I might fall from her small hands.
“Do you like little Eiwa?”
“Um…” 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 so cute.”
Ione observed 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?
“Just 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, in fact, it doesn’t really care. The world never and will never care about our burdens. So, from whom you hide your pain? Only by seeing our own blood and tears we would gain what is lay beyond the understanding of your own pain. This perhaps is 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, her heart broken into pieces, or it had been shattered, yet she held it tight. But she no longer capable to hide it, or she might be genuinely torn.
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 transparent film of her own tears, I knew she smiled at me with care.
“Then go on, you now should know the answer of your own question.”
The little girl didn’t give any verbal response, she just smiled. Her hands held me firmly yet gently.
At noon, we stopped around an open grassland close to a clean river. Many other travelers who brought their own carriages and merchants with their wagons also stayed here for rest. Many tents were erected for those who already traveled for many 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 to drop their vigilance.
Mari prepared the lunch, and Lina made our resting place with the 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 wind’s direction. Ione became cheerful again. But she won’t let me go from her embrace.
Well, this kind of situation isn’t so wrong, 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 poked my nose. Suddenly, I opened my eyes wide.
‘Darn it! For a holy beard of the old mage! This smell is so nasty. Which amateur tries 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 stern 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?”
‘Darn 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 special. Just be prepared. We have a confrontation in the dark right now.”