A/N: Here it is. I made it in time! XDD
Disc: Standard disc applies. LOL
It had been three days since they returned to his home. Everything stayed the same. Everything went like usual, as if nothing ever happened. But he knew that was how the world had been running and would still be - until forever. It was like that when his dear father passed away too. The pain was, of course, bore only by those who cherished the person's existence. As in this case - he turned his gaze to the boy sat by the window – it was Wataru.
He could still recall how he had heard his howling in the swamps. He could feel it. The rage, the loss and the strongest of them all, grief. He had wanted to accompany him when he started to run. But Lione had stopped him. He gestured that a bit of alone time would do him good. They waited. When they had heard the howl, they went to check him up. It was his first time to see such run down castle. Even his galley was in a better shape when he had bought it. The inside however, to his surprise, a contrast of its outside appearance. He was sure it was nowhere inferior to the castle anywhere in Vision. Not that he had ever entered one though.
They had found him holding the statue tight. They had been uneasy to see him cry and believe he had felt the same. Nevertheless, he never knew whether it was true or not. Wataru's tears kept rolling down and they stood behind him without a word. Every time he thought his cry has ceased to a sob, a new surge of tears came to wash him. They had waited so silently patient. Their long shadows casted over him and the statue. He had watched them shrunk until their feet. It was when Wataru suddenly slumped to the floor. Apparently his knees finally gave up. He heard his cry had receded to a steady sob. It was about time. If they want to get out of the swamps by the end of today, this was the moment they need to depart. He shamefully admitted he was reluctant to spend another moment in this eerie foreign land.
He had wanted to offer him a comforting word. He knew how it feels to lose someone, after all. But the look the boy had wore in his face shattered his intention. He couldn't. It wouldn't get through even if he had tried. His face was blank. Steady rising in his chest and warmth in his body were the only sign he was alive. His eyes have failed to show the glimmer of joy – of life – he had worn just this dawn. It was bottomless brown. His friend's death had struck him worse than he had imagined.
He sighed. Letting the image simmered somewhere in the corner of his brain. He would recover. He believed in him. The boy just need a bit of time. Human was a slow learner. Their life spanned multiple decades compared to lizard tribe. Nevertheless, the tribe was proud to be able to mature in less than 7 years - and lived their leftover year with wise and maturity he had learned and gained.
He walked to the store. He was expecting a guest today. At least Lione said he would.
He had been staring out of the window for who knew how long. He didn't want to move. He didn't want to think. He didn't want to do anything. Thank God breathing was an automatic mechanism of human's body. Else he wouldn't even bother.
Everything after he departed from the statue had been a blur. His tears had dried. He walked. He slept. He probably ate. He didn't know. It didn't mean much for him, all those routines. He felt guilty for being a burden for Zeema and Lione. But he didn't have anywhere else to go. He once wondered when he would return to Japan. But could he? He knew the answers in an instant.
There was nothing that could attract his attention recently. But that voice had succeeded. He turned his head to see his old friend. "Mee…na..?" He meekly said.
After he found out the death of Keema, he was afraid to find the where about of his other friend. He vividly remembered Zeema had told him that lizard tribe's lifespan was short. Fifteen in normal, 20 was the top. Apparently Keema wasn't young when he had met Wataru.
He could see the horror registered in his friends face. Trying to appreciate her, he smiled vaguely.
It took a moment before anyone move. Then Meena suddenly rushed to Wataru and hugged him tight in a sob. She felt warm and fluffy. He closed his eyes and savored the solacement.
She stayed beside him all day. She didn't try to speak nor inquire him. She was simply be there. Wataru couldn't be more thankful of her presence. Unexpectedly, another guest came at the next day. He had searched and missed the brown-skinned woman. But only by now he could meet her. Torone shadowed him as usual. The woman gave him a broad smile. Wataru smiled and hugged her when she approached her. He was feeling a bit better with his old friends' presence.
"This doesn't look like you." She said, patting his shallow cheek. He had indeed ate little these days. He smiled genuinely back.
"I know. I believe Meena has been wanting to say that too." He glanced to Meena, smiling.
Meena looked surprised. He was surprised too. He was feeling healthy enough to actually do a normal conversation. Meena was probably having a different surprise. She might had thought he didn't pay attention to her worried face, her fidgeting and her constant glance. But he did.
They exchanged a short news and Wataru could laugh and interact much better than all his friend had seen since a few days ago. He even ate more than his usual unhealthy diet.
They were sitting on a porch at the right section of the house. Fishes were swimming in small ponds, sometimes float so close to the surface, creating faded splashing sound. Bushes were shaped into wall, enclosing them in a comfortable green. Zeema was in his store. Lione was with Torone, perhaps. Kattsu and Wataru sat at the side while Meena sat a bit deeper to the room. He could feel the nice breeze blowing by, caressing his skin. It has been awhile since he pay attention to clean air and nice atmosphere of Vision.
"Listen, Wataru. I'm not getting your hope high." Kattsu said but paused. "But, concerning magical seal, sometimes there are back way." She looked unsure.
"Is there any way to undo the magic?" He asked desperately. Hope was fluttering in his heart but he heed her warning. He wouldn't think of anything yet.
"I suggest you to consult Crystal's magician, see if there anything you can do." Kattsu replied. "There is one well known wise magician called Lambda. He is very old but he is said to have all knowledge of magic. If there is one, he of all person would know."
"How can I meet him?"
"I can take you to Crystal Palace." He turned his head on Meena who replied confidently. She was staying in that city after all. "But to request meeting with Crystal palace's high magician..." She trailed off, looking at Kattsu helplessly.
"Don't worry. I can give you an introduction letter. When you meet the Princess, she would recognize you and you can request the meeting by yourself. I don't believe she has a reason to object." Kattsu grinned.
"So, when can we depart?" Despite his effort of suppressing the hope, it still made its way. His friends could see it evident in his eyes.
"Tomorrow." Kattsu said. "Too bad I couldn't come with you guys. I still have things to attend." She smiled and frowned at the same time. "I've prepared everything. Lione will be able to come with you, if you don't mind of course." She added.
"No, of course not! He is a comrade." He said, horrified to think of Lione as a burden. "Let me go pack my things." He grinned, leaving Meena and Kattsu. He didn't have that much to pack but he want to ensure he brought his every belonging – and perhaps a bit of Mitsuru's. For once, he had a definite direction of where he could go and what he could do. Mitsuru's bag in his room didn't feel that accusing anymore to him. He had been reminded of his uselessness everytime he saw it. He couldn't put it away but he couldn't bear to see it too. It was a complicated feeling. He sighed. He pushed his feeling away and tried to concentrate on his task.
"You didn't bring that topic to him?" Meena said after Wataru disappeared from the room.
"It's not the time yet. It will be best for him to know all the possible possibility for now. He wouldn't be able to concentrate without finishing this path." She replied, staring at the pond.
Both of them fell silent. "I wonder what will happen if..." Meena trailed off.
Kattsu inhaled deeply. "He will be crushed, again. But this time, he will know that he was already at the end of the road. It won't be easy. But he will be able to properly stand after it." She slided her gaze back to Meena.
The cat looked down. She would never forget the horror of Wataru's condition yesterday. She wondered how Keema's son had been feeling for these few days. She had rushed here as fast as she could after she received Kattsu's instant message. It was stressing and scary at the same time when you didn't know what you could do to comfort people that you care of. She sighed. "I wish this will turn out somehow good."
"I hope so too, Meena. I hope so too..." Her friend replied, staring off again.
It took two days for them to reach the Crystal Kingdom. Half day to go to nearest harbour city and another one and half day of ship sailing. Zeema didn't come with them because he needed to attend to his business. Wataru had personally went to see him at the night before he depart. He had told him how he had been grateful for his help and attention. He was glad he didn't leave him at the time of his breakdown. It wasn't a teary goodbye. They had been together for only a week. They didn't have a deep bond. Still, there was the bond of Keema which tied both of them. And they knew, both of them would again, come to their rescue if one of them need it.
Wataru couldn't suppress his impatience at the time he was heading to see the Princess. Kattsu's letter seemed to be of great effect. They were taken to the Princess without much difficulty.
They were guarded to the main hall. The castle was gorgeous. He didn't had time to look carefully the last time he was here. It was a chaotic night, everything was dark and confusing. Under a broad daylight, he could see the full glory of the castle. The shiny marble of the floor, the clean red carpet they were walking on, the tall lamps hanged on the roof, the mozaically painted roof, the vine carving on the long corridor's wall. It was so different from the one he had gone a few days ago. The sour feeling returned to his stomach. He quickly pushed the thought away. They were taken to the main hall. The glass dome was unexpectedly cool under the sunlight. The light wasn't blinding either. Probably because the glass' surface were not even, so they could scatter the light better. His attention soon taken by the girl sat on the throne far in front of him. Guards were lining behind her. Two mages stood at her both sides. He couldn't see the mages' face because they were hidden behind in their cloak.
They kept walking forward. The Princess didn't seem to change much. At least in Wataru's eyes, she appeared exactly the same. Ten steps from her, the guard in front of them stopped – so did they. Looking at how Meena and Lione bowed to her, Wataru imitated the gesture. In their first meeting, they didn't have chance to perform the appropriate manner. She was being blown away by Mitsuru and he was in the middle of being attacked.
"Welcome back traveller." Her voice broke his train of thought. Wataru looked up and see her smiling. "It's unexpected to see you again."
"Me too, Princess." Wataru smiled back.
"I was surprised to accept Kattsu's urgent message that you need help." She said, gesturing to the opened letter laid on a red tray beside her. He didn't see the maid stood holding the tray behind the mage back. "What happened? And how could I help?" She queried.
"I need to see Lambda, the wise magician." Wataru said without further ado. "My friend had befallen a great calamity and I need to ask him whether I can do anything to help." He added.
Wataru gulped. He knew this part would approach. Lying when you were going to ask someone's help was inappropriate – especially if that someone was a royal family. But he knew, she would probably dislike his answer. Still, he had decided. He would go on honesty. "Mitsuru. Princess should have known him well." He said cautiously, searching Princess' change of expression. "Please not to worry. He came back here for aiding me but he ended up..." He paused, swallowing a big lump in his throat. "...sacrificing himself in place for me." He continued while looking down. He couldn't use the word 'die'. It would made it real. He was still in denial. Unconsciously, his face showed a pained expression.
It took a moment before the Princess spoke again. "I understand. We, this kingdom, owe you for what you have done. We will believe in you once again." She said. Wataru's face shot up. That was it? He was off the hook that fast? He thought he need to convince her further before he could be granted the audience.
He express his gratitude in a deep bow. "Thank you, Princess. You don't know how much this means to me."
The Princess gave a glance to the mage at her left and he nodded once then left the room. "Take them to left wing waiting room". She dismissed them.
They were escorted to the room by guards. On the way, Wataru could see the scenery outside the window. It was gorgeous. The castle were higher than the rest of the city. He could see the hustle and bustle of the city below them. Everything was ant-like small. The guard open the door, gestured them to enter. Sitting on the provided chairs, they waited. The room was decorated like study room. Bookshelves were lined neatly on both side of the wall, a long table was placed across the door. He didn't feel any interest to look at the book. Not that he could read it anyway. He glanced at Meena, she was sitting stiffly in her seat. Lione was on guard as usual, nothing different. Suddenly the door was opened. An old man holding a staff and wearing glasses walked in slowly. The long grim purple cloak danced following his every step.
He paused and swept his glance to the three of them. "Which from you who wanted to meet me?"
"I do." Wataru stood up. The old man approached him and looking at him so close until he thought he could feel their nose touching.
"I see..." He replied then took a seat facing him. "Forgive me, I'm short sighted. You know old man." He smiled gently at them.
"I need to ask something." Wataru said. Cutting the chase, he introduced themselves then told him everything that had happened.
The old man brushed his long gray beard and nodding after Wataru finished explaining. "It is called soul seal. Sacrificing your own soul power to seal." He said. "It's not permanent and the seal will undo itself when the time's come."
Wataru eyes widen. His expression looked very hopeful.
"Of course at that time, the soul has lost all its power and the sealer will instantly die. And your curse will also return." He added to Wataru's horror. "But..." He emphasized, "...there is a way to save the sealer."
Wataru thought his heart was going to leap from his chest at that moment. His friend could be saved! He held his breath, waiting for the magician to continue.
"It won't be easy." He said gravely. "Soul can be used as a strong seal. You need more powerful sealer to replace the soul. The only elements that can replace it are the magic jewel. Such those you have," he gestured toward Wataru's sword, "but still 'virgin'. Means the power has yet used." He finished, letting his word sank.
Wataru blinked. He touched his sword hilt, feeling the prominent jewel under his fingers. "Mine has been used to call the Goddess of Fortune? So it was powerless?"
"To put it simple, yes. But in reality, I don't know. I never meet the Goddess of Fortune; it is a feat that is only provided for travelers." Wataru swore if he didn't see his face smiling softly when he was speaking, he would had thought the old man harbored a bitter envy. "Those you have now are merely decorations. They are powerless." He repeated again.
"How can I find them?" Wataru asked him.
"How you found them?" He questioned back.
Looking back on his childhood adventure, he realized most of them were gained by chances. "I'm… not sure. It was all a coincidence." The water monster, Mitsuru's black jewel…
Lambda chuckled. "You may have think it was a coincidence. But no, once you have one of the jewels, it will call others. Somehow, your path will be pulled to them." He paused. They waited. He bent his head, looked as if calculating.
"I have one of them here." He slowly said. "… and I know where you can find another." He looked back to him. Wataru inhaled sharply. Two, it was a good beginning.
"But the jewel needs to be carefully kept to ensure they will not be accidentally binded into equipment like yours." They pondered on his words, for they had no idea how to do it. Lambda sighed. "If only I was two decades younger, I would be surely go with you myself. But look at the dried me..." He opened his arms in exhibiting gesture. "... I'm in no shape of going anywhere." He exhaled. "I will ask my pupil to come with you. She is very capable in magic so she won't be a burden. After I taught her how to cast the spell on the jewel, she can depart with you tonight." He rose. "You need to collect another 4 jewels in a month. The first you can find in Forest of Knowledge. It is said you need to "ask the wisest of them all"." He said before walking out of the room.
"Ask the wisest of them all?" Wataru repeated dumbly after he had left. It was too fast. He was still disoriented. Mitsuru could be saved! They would need to collect the jewels in a less than month! He was nearly jumped when Lione patted his shoulder. "I will go and see the departure preparation. You could wait at Meena's home." He said shortly then left the room.
"Wataru..." Meena called him then smiled sweetly. The kind of smile that Wataru couldn't refuse to smile back. Then he suddenly remembered.
"Dang! I haven't even said a proper thanks!" He slapped his head.
Meena touched his arms then said, "Don't worry, we will have time later. We will still meet him tonight."
A/N: Okay, that's the prologue. I'm not sure whether I can post the continuation next week, but I will try to keep it under 2 weeks. My thesis will start next week and my cousin from outside of the country will come too. *roll eyes* It will be a busy week... Btw, the title come from the Latin of prologue. I suppose it's guessable. LOL