• martianshore

Part III - Our Venus

Auic held Peter’s gaze, she had never seen him so furious. She knew that this might be going too far, and in all honesty, they had never held what happened against her. There was just a bunch of silence and crying in the beginning, there was a promise that Auic had made, and although they knew it would be hard, they hoped for it to work. But they have been accepting their fate far better than Auic.

They spent a few seconds looking at each other. Peter looked at Auic with anger and disbelief, searching into her wooden colored eyes for some softness, looking for his friend that had lost herself in these insane ideas. Auic in return looked at Peter first with determination, and then she could see in them the same spark from before the accident. A spark she hadn’t seen in years, a spark that in her mind was lost forever. And it was her fault. That thought made her break into tears. Peter tried to keep his anger, but that didn’t last long. When Auic dropped to her knees, he flew down and landed on her shoulder.

-I failed you. I failed Venus. I took so much from you. I can’t stop trying to make this right. - said Auic, weakly.

- Auic, it was an accident. We were imprudent, and it had consequences. We shared them. It’s enough. this can’t hang over our heads forever.

-I am just… so sorry, so sorry. If I can…

-No. No one else needs to get hurt. We are fine, we love you and we are so grateful that you are our friend, for all the dedication you showed us. It’s enough.

Auic agreed, slowly shaking her head up and down. She was feeling a little better now, but the guilt still bubbled inside her no matter what Peter said.

-Let’s go outside, we kinda have guests. - Peter said, helping her to get up.

-Fine. - Said Auic, she cleaned her face while Peter left the room, and she followed him after one last look at her studies.

In the kitchen Arcandor and Venus were having a lively conversation, completely unaware of what had been discussed in the room. Peter heard the end of the conversation and seamlessly threw a joke that made everybody laugh. Even Auic was able to show the tiniest smile.

-Ok then, I feel much better indeed. Now I shall keep my promise and go after your cheese, Peter. - Said Arcandor after a moment.

-Oh sure! To get to the village you will have to go south and then… - Peter started to give out instructions, but he was interrupted by Arcandor.

-The last time I tried to listen to those instructions I fell asleep. - he laughed. - I believe it would be easier if someone went with me, what do you say Auic?

That got everyone by surprise. Peter and Auic shared a look. Peter was visibly worried since he had just found out about Auic’s plan, and was not very keen on leaving them alone. They shared an intense stare until Auic finally said:

-Sure. I guess, just one second, I will grab my coat. Peter, can you help me here?

They left to the living room, and Peter expressed his concerns.

-What you said… gave me a lot to think about. I promise I won’t hurt him today.

-Today…?

-Look, I promise he will come back with your cheese.

-That is NOT what I am worried about! - he whispered sharply.

-Fine, I promise he will be safe. And you know I keep my promises.

-I know, I know. - Answered Peter, deciding to trust his friend, one last time.

Auic put on her coat and called Arcandor, and they left into the forest.

-Ok, so if you tell me the distance of this first stretch I can use a speed spell to get us to the village. - Said Arcandor. These spells were one of the first spells everyone learned after they turned 16. It was easy and most people in villages and cities would use it to cover longer distances.

-No. - answered Auic, emphatically. Then she realized that it might have sounded too harsh. - Sorry, I don’t like to use spells in that manner. Besides, it’s a beautiful day, and it’s a beautiful place, the speed would rob us of this view.

-Oh yeah, it’s beautiful indeed around here. You are lucky to live in this place. - Arcandor took a moment to look at the trees, the intense shades of yellow, orange, and red, rolling over the mountains, the tallest ones with a white top.

- It wasn’t luck that brought us here. - Auic mumbled, bitterly.

Arcandor felt such pain in that phrase, that he couldn’t bring himself to ask about what it meant. He decided to ask about something else that made him curious.

-Why don’t you like to use spells?

-I like them, I just think it’s a dangerous thing to be used all the time and for such trivial things.

-But we were made to use them, we study and practice for it. They make our lives easier. It’s natural.

-Yeah… still, I would rather not.

Arcandor shrugged. They kept walking in silence for a couple of minutes until Arcandor spotted some flowers. He looked at Auic and smiled, then he picked three flowers and gave them to her.

-One for each inhabitant of the forest house that saved my life. - He said smiling.

Auic blushed a little and couldn’t help but smile too. Not only that was the very first time someone offered her flowers, but they were Autumn Hyacinths. This time she realized the beauty of the flowers and ignored her magical properties.

-That’s incredible! The flowers match your eyes! - Arcandor exclaimed while looking at Auic. It was true, they shared the same dark and illuminated shade. A little awkward stare followed that interaction, but they soon went back to the trail and kept walking.

Auic tried to move the conversation far from her, so she started asking questions about the purple sea, how was to cross it, and how was the kingdom. Arcandor was happy to answer. He told her about how he thought that “Purple Sea” was a stupid name until he got to the pier and realized that it was very literal. It was a vast purple shore, with purple waters, with a pearl-colored substance coiling under the surface. He also told her about the big castles and wonderful constructions they have in the kingdom, everything with a faint shade of violet. Auic was fascinated by all this. She was born in the mountains, which took up most of the country, but unlike Arcandor she never had the opportunity to leave. While he told the story of how the students in the dorms were constantly competing for the best prank in school, Auic realized that they were almost arriving at the village, and during all this time, she had forgotten about her guilt. She had forgotten to hate herself. She was simply enjoying a walk, with a nice guy who told nice stories and picked flowers for her. And it was such a light feeling, and she wondered if she would ever be able to live like this. But of course, once these thoughts crossed her head, she was reminded of all the bad things, and the feeling went out, like the flame of a candle. Leaving just a smokey memory. Arcandor, who was observing her (and particularly enjoying seeing her reactions to his silly stories), felt like a shadow crossed her face. He wondered what she was thinking, but now they were very close to the village, and the sound of voices, merchants, and kids playing, were surrounding the air.

They smelled bread, cakes, and other delicacies. And soon enough, they traded the trees for wide streets with houses and buildings on either side and fair stands sprinkled along the way. It’s been some time since Auic was here, and there were many new things to see. They walked around commenting on the things they wanted to buy but couldn’t afford. Auic spotted the cheese vendor and showed the huge wheels of cheese to Arcandor. They started walking in that direction until Arcandor abruptly stopped in front of the ceramic stand.

-What happened? - Asked Auic, curious.

-I should get one of these. - He said, pointing to beautifully made plant pots. - I broke one of Venus’. I should get her a new one!

Auic was taken aback, she had forgotten about that. Honestly, she had hoped to find some reason to not like Arcandor during this trip, anything that might justify going through with her plan, but he was not helping at all.

-Yeah, she would love that!

-Great, I will get this purple one. Does she like purple?

-Yes, a lot.

-Great! You know she reminds me a lot of my friend, the one I’ve been looking for. They even share the same name. Today, she answered me almost as if she had read my mind. My Venus had that power too.

Auic felt a shiver cross her spine. Could it be…?

-What happened to your friend? - Auic asked, her curiosity bigger than her caution.

-There are a lot of versions of what happened circulating, which makes it all more difficult, but I’ve talked to her parents and other people in the town who were close to her. They believe Venus was not around the best company, and these people were experimenting with illegal magic and involved Venus in their schemes. They used an old factory as a base for their experiments, and here is where things get a little blurry. Venus left the house with her alleged friends one night and disappeared. She never came back. There was an explosion at that factory on the same night she went missing. Some people believe the explosion was a failed experiment, and they all died in the factory explosion. Some people say Venus was kidnaped by those people and they used the explosion to fake their death. And some others insist that the explosion was a successful experiment and the criminals are using venus to create a weapon or something dangerous.

To each word, Auic became paler and paler. Her throat was dry and she stopped walking. Arcandor turned to look at her.

-Are you ok?

-In what story do you believe? - Auic mumbled.

-Well, I certainly do not believe Venus died. I can’t believe that. And the last one sounds too much like a conspiracy theory. So I am going with kidnaped. And that is why I am looking for her.

-You’re wrong. - Auic whispered. A lonely tear made its way through her cheek.

-What? - Arcandor said, getting closer. A little frustrated that he had made her cry again.

-It was an accident…They weren’t kidnapped… we just needed to solve this, we will come back when this is over… - Auic started saying.

Arcandor’s mind was racing, he put his arm around Auic’s shoulder and took her to a corner, she was crying and he didn’t want to bring too much attention to them standing in the middle of the fair.

-What do you mean I am wrong? How could you know that? - Arcandor asked, not wanting to believe in the implications of what she was implying.

- It was an accident… - Auic repeated, now incapable to keep the tears from falling. - I was there…

- What? what…? - Arcandor was in shock, so many things crossed his head, if Auic was there, that meant…

-You found her… Venus is our Venus. But she wasn’t kidnapped, it wasn’t an experiment… we were just having fun, I can explain… - Auic was able to say, while she cried and saw Arcandor’s face change while comprehension hit him. His eyes so amicable this morning, now carried fear, disbelief, and anger. She had seen that happen before and was not sure she could bear to see it happen again. Arcandor stepped back, Auic tried to grab his arm but he avoided it. He stepped back again.

-I can explain, please listen to me. - Auic said weakly.

-No. - Arcandor answered and started running back to the forest.

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