Chapter 7.: Returning
The time had idled away since the Old Man had laid his hand on Arend’s head. Nel and Sister Lia watched as both of them entered into a trance. The Man’s eyes had flashed with several colors, ultimately closing and his body floated a few centimeters from the floor.
In this atmosphere, the girls watched attentively for any sudden changes, but after awhile, they grew bored from the stale atmosphere. Sister Lia then faced Nel in a calm manner curious about the days events.
~”Nel, since this could take awhile, why not tell me what happened to you today.”
Meekly looking toward Sister Lia, Nel wasn’t sure where to begin, but after glancing at Arend for a little bit. She forced herself to say something.
“It… It was all Arend’s fault.”
~”Hmm, now what would you mean by that?” Sister Lia looked back at the flustered Nel, curious about what her reason as to why they disappeared from the shop.
~”Let’s see, you can start with what happened by the river or how about when we came to this shop. Surely you can remember those events.”
During this time, Nel recalled back to the events by the river.
“I… its still a little fuzzy.”
Smiling warmly, Sister Lia embraced Nel’s head and kept her close enough to where Nel could hear Sister’s Heartbeat. Calming her worries, Nel began to recant the river’s events and explained her annoyance with Arend’s behavior.
“Arend made me so mad, he was stupid, stupid, stupid, Stupid.”
Venting her frustration to Sister Lia, she held back her tears.
“Arend said it was a mistake to save me, saying he didn’t remember doing such a thing. Sister, I tried to thank him, but he looked at me like a fool. I couldn’t stand being near him so I left the shop in a hurry.”
Taking a deep breath Sister Lia sighed and shook her head. Nel seems to have misunderstood Arends actions. If it was the regular Arend, Nel would see the situation as bullying, but because Arend is currently not himself, she cannot fault him.
~”There, there don’t worry. I’ll handle it and properly punish Arend for being mean to you. Just rest easy.”
Comforting Nel and calming her down, had made Lia cramp a smile toward Arend and her past acquaintance. Thinking to herself, she couldn’t help but recall an unfavorable memory during her adventuring days.
It was of a man, who had stumbled upon her bathing by a waterfall. His gaze landed on her dearest parts and in an embarrassed fury she cast wind blades directly toward him.
Dodging with his life on the line the man narrowly escaping the copious amount of blades, he hid between a few trees claiming it all an accident.
Unable to accept his response, she immediately retrieved her clothes and began to search the area for his presence. Upon finding his location she cast more wind blades, mowing down the vegetation around her target.
“You have no place to go, come out now so I may decapitate your lecherous head.”
The man, staring at the area around him, cleared of trees and shrubbery, the nearest plant life was a mere 20 feet away. Resigning to the situation, he could only give up, but he was not willing to lay down his life.
“Young lady please believe me, I did not know you were there. I was trying to search for some water. I heard a waterfall in the distance and rushed toward this place.”
Hearing this response, she realized that she may have overacted to the situation but-
“Do not worry, I am not as lecherous as you say, I do not fancy flat chests. I’m sure many others will ogle you, but you are not to my liking!”
A wind blade just cut the tree the man was hiding behind. Falling on his bottom with his back squarely on the tree, half of the tree began to slide near its base. With his back pushing the tree down, there was nothing left to hide him from the girl who bathed at the waterfall.
“Fl…flat…chest… you say…” Twitching with anger, she began to chant the strongest wind spell to her knowledge.
“Aieeeee…. Don’t kill me Fine lady. Your beauty is unmatched and you will grow to fill out quite well (I think).”
Pulling out his bag in front of him, he decided to trade his possessions for his life. Frantically he emptied the bag in front of him.
“M’lady, I offer you all that I have, kindly spare this foolish blind man.”
Gold coins and various precious herbs and potions scattered to the ground, momentarily stopping her chant.
“If that is not enough, I can strip for you and we can call it even.” Immediately throwing off his top and began fiddling with the drawstring to his trousers.
The girl couldn’t keep up with the situation as things were becoming ridiculous.
“S…s.STOP!” But it was too late, the man had decided that if he was going to die he might as well die naked with a woman nearby.¹
The unsettling image remained etched in her eyes. Throwing her off, her spell misfired and the energy just blew both parties away.
As the naked man was blown onto some grass nearby, the girl flew back into the water of the waterfall. With a splash, the girl became drenched and her anger subsided along with it.
“Ugh…. What is going on?…” Looking in the direction of the naked man, the girl frowned. Recalling his lower body image in her head, blood rushed to her face and immediately wishing she hadn’t recalled it at all.
“I’m…still… here…” Slowly opening his eyes, the naked man began to check his body feeling for his chest, arms, legs, head and finally groping his special place. A sense of relief displayed on his face as he jumped up from the ground with joy.
Shaking her head vigorously Sister Lia, tried to drown out the memory by concentrating on the present. While indeed she had many bad associations with this old acquaintance, she did respect his abilities and his loyalty to his comrades.
Nel who vented her emotions and thoughts had grown tired from today’s events. And fell asleep on Sister Lia’s lap. Looking hard at Arend, Sister Lia prayed for his wellbeing, and glancing back at Nel, she hoped her relationship with Arend would get better.
Unbeknownst to girls waiting, the Arend and the Old man, were lost in a mind labyrinth, created from Arend and the Old man’s carelessness. Experiencing a few days worth of time in the span of several seconds. Arend and the Old Man’s Labyrinth navigation almost reached six months. But in reality about nine minutes passed by. Worry spread across Sister Lia’s face, because to her knowledge, when doing a simple diagnosis her Old Acquaintance would finish in a few minutes. Watching the boys in their meditative state, Sister Lia could only pray for their success.
A flash occurred, startling Lia. Her acquaintance’s eyes opened as did Arends, their gazes locked onto each other. Arend’s eyes flashed multiple colors as her Acquaintance’s eyes dimmed. Light began to glow around their bodies as their locked gaze began to lower to the ground.
Lia made a pained face full of worry, feeling helpless to the situation before her. Her heart as an adventurer raged at this feeling, hoping that there was more she could do. Watching on the sidelines made her impatient, especially when it concerned Arend.
To her Arend was a special child, who she took care for, a promise to her late adventurer friends. With Arend trusted to her, she couldn’t bare the thought nor the sight of Arend becoming less of a person. A seed of doubt began to grow and she slowly began to question her decision to come here. Would she have been better off waiting for Arend to recover after a days rest? A week even?
Just when doubts were piling up in her mind, the room flashed brightly several times, retuning her gaze to Arend and the Old Man healer. The Old Man and Arend were forced away from each other as a final beam flashed from their bodies. Ultimately the Old man, collapsed to the floor and Arend fell back into his chair, both were breathing raggedly as they slowly regained themselves.
Lia immediately laid Nel to the side of her chair and darted to Arend , grasping his hand and felt his forehead with her other hand. Seeing Arend in a rough state, her eyes grew clouded and she directed her line of sight to the Old Man Healer.
“ORVEN, WHAT DID YOU DO!?”
Though the Old man, tried to regain his senses, what jolted him back clearly was Sister Lia’s response. Grasping his forehead and steadying himself upright, he squinted towards the direction of Sister Lia’s voice.
“Lia, it’s been awhile since you’ve called me by my name.”
“ORVEN I’VE NO TIME FOR GAMES, ANSWER ME WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!?”
From Lia’s outbursts, the enclosed space suddenly reverberated. Nel who had fallen asleep awoke to find Sister Lia in a very scary manner. She immediately got out of her chair and hid behind it, closing her eyes and covering her ears with her hands. Afraid of what may happen, Nel didn’t want to witness Sister Lia rampage.
Recovering enough energy to face Sister Lia, Orven the Old Man Healer, stared directly into Lia’s eyes.
“LILIANA RELAX! Arend is safe and he will be fine for now. I will explain everything that happened, but for now, calm yourself, before you hurt Arend and drag him and the other girl into a mess you will regret.”
Sister Lia hesitated to Orven’s words realizing the amount of power she was giving off. Thinking back to Arends safety she closed her eyes, pacified her mind and reposed her energy. Opening her eyes once more, Arend whose breathing was ragged, lay calm in the chair resting as though nothing happened at all. Still holding onto Arends hand, Sister Lia looked back to where she left Nel, and saw her figure hiding behind the chair. Regretfully, she thought how foolish she was just a moment ago. Reacting without a second thought to either child, she could have hurt one of them or both in her rampage.
Seeing the complex expressions going across Lia’s face, Orven gave off a deep sigh.
“Now that you’ve calmed down enough, allow me to help. Here are a few drinks that can ease your stress.”
Getting up from the floor, Orven pulled several flasks of liquid from a cabinet nearby, handing two flasks to Lia and placing a third flask in front of Nel who still hid behind the chair.
“Little one, do not worry I mean you no harm. I am just a healer, I have used a lot of energy to help the other child so please be at ease.”
Nel had opened her eyes after Sister Lia calmed down, peeping out behind the chair, she saw the Old man go to the cabinet to grab a few flasks of liquid, giving some to Lia and placing one in front of the chair she hid behind. Glancing towards Sister Lia, she saw a nod of ‘its ok, you can come out now’ from Sister Lia’s face.
Uncorking the flask in front of her, she held the flask to her lips. The liquid inside held a violet sparkling color, smelling of fresh fruit that tickled her nose, Nel sipped just a little bit. An initial taste of bitterness entered her mouth, and her face scrunched into a disgusting expression. But as the liquid went down her throat, a sweetness masked the bitterness that she initially felt, changing her expression into a delighted smile. Nel then finished the rest of the flask in a hurry enjoying the sweet aftertaste of the drink.
Sister Lia downed the flask given to her and immediately felt the effects of the potion. Pacifying the turmoil within, her mind became tranquil and her energy was restored to a normal state. She felt a sense of warmth from potion as it started from her chest and expanded to the rest of her body. Turning toward Arend, she nursed his head and trickled the potion into his mouth. As she emptied the flask, she watched Arends complexion become a lot better. A few moments from finishing
A few moments after finishing the flask, Arend began to wake, opening his eyes to see Sister Lia again. Orven the old man healer watched as his guests gathered themselves together, sighing at the sight. He made a worried smile as he stared at Arend, wondering how much Arend comprehended from his personal memories and about his own situation.
“I appreciate the antidote you gave us, it helped deal with my confused state and brought us in a better mood. But you still haven’t-”
“Liliana, I am being sensible, your questions will more or less be answered, but it will not be by me. I am sure Arend will be more than willing to explain his circumstances right about now if you will allow him.”
“That can’t be… How can a child?..”
“Sister, it’s okay, Mr. Orven isn’t wrong.”
Looking at Arend in shock, Lia tried to calm herself again.
“So about how much have you remembered from the Mind Labyrinth, Arend?”
“Mr. Orven’s memories have taught me a little about myself, some of your adventures around the continent, as well as the past state of this country.”
“Wha.. What are you boys going on about? Mind Labyrinth? Orven what did you do?”
“Liliana, I did what you asked, I dove into Arend’s mind to diagnose his mental state. But it was different and I was careless. If not for Arend’s help, both of us may have never returned or we may have returned much worse than we are now.”
“I should have never brought Arend to you.”
“It’s too late for that now, at this time we will have more pressing matters to take care of from now on. Isn’t that right Arend?”
“Sister, it’s as Mr. Orven says, as for myself I’d like to explain everything with just the three of us.”
Arend directed his gaze toward Nel who had a dumbfounded look across her face, she couldn’t keep up with what was going on. She wondered why Arend was acting all differently, why he was acting more like an adult, speaking in a manner she couldn’t understand. The Old man nodded his head in agreement with Arend. Sister Lia although questioned the situation she was better off than Nel who was entirely confused, but she also believed it to be fitting to have just the three of them converse privately. Sister Lia sighed to herself.
“It has become late, we will need to make it back to the Churches orphanage.”
“If that’s the case, how about we finish our talk tomorrow. The little one over there will think herself into a coma if we don’t end it like this.”
“Mr. Orven is alright if you handle what I asked of you at that time?”
“Not to worry Arend, I will have what you asked ready by tomorrow.”
Sister Lia looked at the two and disbelief flashed across her face, how can both of them get along like this. But she had no time to ponder it as she needed to take the children home. Orven began to dispel the barrier he set up for the procedure and guided them out of the back room of his shop. He asked his assistant who was at the shop counter to bring over a pouch with several potions, which he handed to Arend and whispered.
“Here’s a few things I’d like you to have, if I give it to that Sister she would reject me outright. Please hand off those rose colored ones to her, thanks in advance.”
After exiting the shop Sister Lia pulled both Nel and Arend by the hands, affirming that they wouldn’t run off. She decided to return to the shop with Arend tomorrow to understand what was going on. For now, she felt quite a weight on her shoulders due to the days events.
Arriving at the church Sister Lia sent of Nel to the dining hall, she remembered the pouch given to Arend, curious she asked him.
“Arend, now what did that old fellow hand to you?”
“Oh he mentioned they were gifts, these were especially for you.”
Arend held up several rose colored potions, placing them in Sister Lia’s hands. Sister Lia’s expression twitched into a smile, but the aura surrounding her grew intensely hostile.
“Oh… gifts, di…did he mention anything about what these potions were?”
As the aura behind Sister Lia became battle-like, Arend could make out a demonic smile floating behind the Sister.
“Uh… no, just that he wanted you to have them….”
“Ahhh I see… Alright Arend, run along to the dining hall, after dinner get some rest at the boys sleeping area. We will go to the Healer shop tomorrow to settle this matter.”
Not willing to stay around, Arend dashed off into the direction Nel went, hopefully finding his way to the Dining hall. As soon as he turned the corner, he saw Sister Lia fly the rose colored potions into the sky.
‘That bastard is making fun of me. I’m still a growing girl, I will not give him the satisfaction he craves. I will surely pound that stupid face of his into the ground. Orven you bastard.’
¹. He probably wanted to die in bed with a woman, but beggars can’t be choosers, right.