The Family Stone (Chapter 24)

Chapter 24
As they reach the door of the observatory, they hear a faint buzzing sound.’
‘Sounds like magia waves.’ Boon tells both Alex and Teg in their mind.
‘I can feel it too. I wonder what he’s doing.’ Alex replies.
‘He’s using magia,’ Teg tells them, his eyes wide.
‘For what?’ Alex asks.
John Smith clears his throat which got their attention. ‘Miss Alexandria, would you like me to summon him?’
‘No, I changed my mind. I’m starving; perhaps I’ll speak to him later.’
‘Very well, Miss. Right this way, please.’
After a sumptuous dinner, Martha arrives at the dining room. ‘Miss Alex, Fortesque would like to see you all at the observatory,’ she tells them.
‘Sure Martha, why not?’ Alex replies as she stands up from her chair.
‘I hope it’s not a trap,’ she tells Boon and Teg telepathically, ‘I’m just joking…I think.’
When they reach the doors to the observatory, Fortesque opens the doors before Martha can knock. ‘Thank you, Martha.’ Martha bows towards them and left. Fortesque lets them through the doors. The room is pitch black. ‘Please do not worry, I shall lead you all.’ As he says this, he offers his arm to Alex which Alex took without hesitation. She holds on to Boon’s hand.
‘Don’t worry about me. I can see in the dark,’ Teg tells them telepathically.
As Fortesque leads her in the dark, they arrive at a large room size window. The sky is full of stars.
‘Oh my, it’s beautiful!’
‘This is where Mistress Hera spends her nights. Reading those stars.’ Fortesque tells them proudly.
‘Where is her equipment?’ Alex asks, as she looks around at the empty room, wanting to see the stars up close.
‘She didn’t have any. She looks at them with her naked eye and sits in front of the window.
‘That’s…that’s amazing! So, she is able to read them? How did she do it?’
 ‘With magia of course. But it ate away her remaining life energy. The very small amount she has left. Magia has many rules, Miss, like alchemy. She followed every rule; you have to or there will be dire consequences. She did break a rule once. It was the only exception. It was the time when you got sick. She unsealed herself; which took a large bite out of her spirit. I understood what she had to do in order to save you. She knew. She just knew that you had Domina Stēlla’s complete soul essence. The King of the Fair Folk showed her that you were being possessed. Not completely but it attached itself to you. She wouldn’t know or see it for herself if he didn’t attack it like he did. She knew the only being that can eradicate the Chaos is Terra herself. And the only way that Terra will find her is if she knows where she is.’
‘Didn’t Aunt Hera think it was dangerous for us?’ Alex asks, confused.
‘Yes, she did. It was a very big gamble to make. On one hand, she may bring the complete annihilation of your family or Terra may feel remorse and save you. For Hera, this was her sole duty. She cannot let the world down. When you fell sick, she started reading the stars which took little by little of her life when she wants to know secrets that they hold. It is how she found Terra.’ The mention of Terra’s name brought them all sorts of emotions, jumbled all together.
‘But I thought the flower of life was protecting this manor, the family…’
‘Yes it was. I honestly do not know how she did it but she found Terra. She found her and the first thing she told Hera was ask where you were. Terra will not be able to find you because you were already under a spell lock. Of course, Hera had taken measures if anything went wrong. I had to be careful, cunning and always one step ahead of what Terra may do. When she finally saw you, a Chaos attached to your back, Terra’s face fell, according to Hera. All she wanted to do was save you. And she did. She had the Gorgon sisters to aid her. Together, they managed to kill it. It took longer than they expected because it grew stronger. It was feeding on you, like a vampire. Hera confided that Terra felt horrible about what she did. She cannot undo the past but perhaps she can start by saving the one thing she tried to destroy in the past. She and Tēllus are unable to make Libras anymore because the world is different now. It has changed from something completely magical to totally delusional. All she gave birth to was the Chaos. She kept mentioning that she would like to have her son back in this world.’
‘Did she really say that?’ Boon asks Fortesque.
‘Yes she did. She hoped in saving Miss Alexandria, you will be free from the stone and you will live again. It gave her plenty of time to think about your brothers and sisters decision to stay with their bonds. What she didn’t foresee was the killings.’
‘How could she not know?’ Boon asks confused. ‘Couldn’t she stop them then? Before they killed everyone?’
‘She was not in her right mind. She wanted blood. Blood for all the children she lost in exchange for the irresponsible souls that held them. They were all going to pay. When Stēlla’s life echoes went mute in the universe, which was when Terra knew she was wrong. But it went on. Throughout the ages, the killings, wars, famine, drought, pestilence and mankind was only able to live less than a hundred years. Mankind’s war with the Chaos has not died down, Miss Alexandria. It’s still ongoing. And our family has been in hiding from them ever since just waiting for that promise that Stēlla complete soul will come back, along with her Libra.’ Fortesque suddenly draws his breath, clutching his left side and struggles to stand up. Alex helps him up, along with Boon.
‘What’s wrong, Fortesque! What’s wrong??’ Alex is panicking and her heart is threatening to come out of her mouth.
‘I’m afraid I have dire news, Miss Alexandria.’ Fortesque struggles to say as he tries to catch his breath. ‘The reason I took you all here tonight is to tell you another thing – I am dying.
Alex, Boon and Teg fell silent, Alex hearing her heartbeat in her ears.
‘You can’t!’ Alex can feel hot tears streaming down her face. ‘I just got here, you can’t!’
‘I’ve used up my life essence as well. I helped Hera with some things as well, just silly things, to make her comfortable.’
‘You used up quite a lot of life essence to keep her alive, my friend.’ Teg tells him. Alex felt speechless. She felt so useless because all she can do is cry.
‘It’s not much. It was the only thing I can really do for her. Please…Miss Alexan…dria…’ Fortesque reaches for her hands and holds it firmly. ‘I don’t know what will happen to my body but if anything is left when I fade, please, I beg you, if you can bury it next to Hera. I don’t…mind if I am in an unmarked grave. As long as I am with her, even in death, I am at peace.’
‘Please…Fortesque…don’t say such things…’
‘Martha and John know what will eventually happen to me. I have told them, in case, this happens.’
‘Hera, I will be there to join you soon…my love.’ A light started to glow around him and then, it faded away, just as it appeared.

Alex starts crying uncontrollably. Boon put a hand on her back, to comfort her but she turns to him and hugs him, still crying. Boon hugs her back, unsure what he can say to make her feel better. He wondered if he should say something but he decides what she needs is just to be held.

(Written for 2012 NaNoWriMo.) 

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