Happy New Year! I’m back from holidays! Hope you all had good ones! Here’s the other part for your Monday reading pleasure!
“If they’re that concerned, why send the army too? Don’t you have it under control?”
“To keep the creature in line in case it goes berserk of course. Groundsweepers may appear calm, but they’re actually very sensitive. If they accidentally acknowledged a city as an enemy because some idiot provokes it, then, well, it’s hard to change its mind.”
I look at the dragon again. It’s blinking again, so slowly. Yeah. I think it can flatten a city or two before it can be convinced otherwise.
“Long story short, moving a Groundsweeper takes months of planning and calculation. You can’t just plus one when you feel like it. Even if you’re desperate.”
“Perhaps they have no other choice,” I say, trying to make sense of the reason behind.
“That’s what I’m afraid of. In any case, this works for us. It’ll take around three to four hours to let the dragons pass. The checkpoint will be lax with the growing line.”
“And the patrols?”
“Won’t come. They trust the checkpoint guard to do their job.”
True to her words, we pass the checkpoint without trouble. We are not even stopped; the guards have given up checking when our turn comes. But Vert doesn’t relax until we can’t see the town anymore.
“I’m going to sleep,” Vert announces before laying down and continues sleeping. I too, follow her example when I get bored of the sceneries. When I wake up, Vert is the one driving.
“Oh, you’re awake,” Vert says when they stop in the middle of a road.
“Is there any trouble?” I ask.
“No, I’m just here to wake Rosalys up. We’re close to the town; it’ll be too suspicious if a noblewoman drives her own coach.”
Rosalys wakes and we’re moving again. It doesn’t even take ten minutes to reach the town. The maid drops us at the station before departing again to return the coach.
“Doesn’t she need to go back to the town where we rent it?” I can’t help but ask.
“Of course not. You can return the coach to the nearest postal service.”
Ah, so it’s like a chain service shop. “I see.”
“How about your eyes? Can you still see?”
“It’s getting difficult. Is it morning already?”
“Soon. Hold my hand. We’re going to purchase the tickets and wait for Rosalys.”
Turns out we don’t have to wait. Rosalys is already back when we finish buying the tickets. The train, which I’m lucky enough to see, is already on standby, so we get on right away. The inside is dim lighted, so it’s not very hard to navigate through. But when we enter the compartment, it’s total darkness.
“Hold on, let me fix the light for you,” Vert says after Rosalys excuses herself and heads to her own compartment. She lets go of my hand and work on the room’s lighting. When I can see again, the compartment’s window is closed with a blind, with some light peeking through its edges.
“How is it now?” she asks.
“Better,” I say, taking a seat to show the proof. Vert sits on the opposite side and stares at me intently.
“So, have you thought about what you’re going to do next?” she asks.
“I have, during our ride on the coach. But I still don’t know what to do.”
“There’s probably not much you can do in the first place. Not when the army is looking for you.”
“Why are they looking for me in the first place?”
Vert looks like she’s debating with herself before answering.
“Because I stole you from them.”
“Stole me? You mean to say I’m the army’s property?”
“Not originally. The army took you into custody and I bust you out.”
I suspect it’s not that simple, but I’ll let it slide for a more important question for now.
“Why did they take me? What did I do?” I ask, starting to fear what my lost memories hide from me. What if I did something bad? What if I killed people?
“You didn’t do anything. It’s just, the circumstances you were found weren’t good, so they think—” Vert stops, once more looking like she’s debating with herself, then looks down. “Sorry, I can’t explain more than that.”
And there’s nothing I can do to change her mind. Not if she’s as stubborn as the Vert I know. So I do as I usually do; asking in a roundabout way, in yes/no format.
“Does it have something to do with the war you’re having?”
Vert goes rigid; her lips pursed tight from trying too much in keeping a poker face. She really is like the Vert I know: bad at lying. Then this shouldn’t be too difficult.
“Do they see me as a threat?”
Vert looks away.
“You know, right? Because you work in the army.”
“Can you please stop that?” Vert snaps. “Continue doing that, and the army will think I’m leaking the information to the enemy. The less you know, the better for both of us.”
I open my mouth, then close it again.
“Stop imitating my brother.”
“I’m not imitating him.”
“Yes you do.”
“Argh! This is why I told you to stop! We’re reminders of our long gone siblings! How could you act like you’re not bothered by it?”
I chuckle. “Not really. I’m not even sure if my Vert really died. Besides, it’s not that hard for me to disassociate you from her; my sister is a lot cuter.”
Vert gives me a very judgmental look. I shrug it off.
Vert huffs. “Whatever. I better stop talking to you before I start treating you like my own brother.”
“Fine by me. It’s probably for the best.”
Vert glares at me.
“I’m not going to return you to the army,” she says like it’s an oath.
“You better do. I’m not your brother and I’m distressing you with my similarities to him. Even if I’m not your enemy, I can only live in hiding and burdening you. It’ll save you a lot of trouble if you just return me and pretend that you’re the one who captured me back.”
I can see Vert’s determination wavers.
Outside, the station staff makes an announcement.
“The first express bound to Vairfield town will soon depart. Passengers are requested to board. I repeat: the first express bound to Vairfield…”
“Hurry up. The train is leaving,” I urge. Because the further we are from the town we escaped from, the more difficult it’ll be to justify Vert’s involvement. But my words seem to produce the opposite effect. Vert’s eyes hardens with determination.
“Like I said, I’m not returning you.”
“But why? You’ve got nothing to gain from doing this!”
“It doesn’t matter anymore if I gain or lose,“ Vert says, looking straight to my eyes with unshakable determination. “I just… I’ve promised to myself that I won’t let go so easily.”
Then she lowers her eyes and forces the next words out of her gritted teeth.
“Even if it’s an enemy disguised as a reminder.”
Outside, the whistle is blown and the train departs.