I am SO sorry for the lateness of this chapter! Really, truly, hanging-head-in-shame sorry!
On a related topic, I may not be able to update terribly often anymore, starting in April. I'll be attending classes at my local cosmetology institute, and thus have little time for writing. Fear not, though-I still fully intend to finish this story, as well as the sequel, prequel and side stories, which are already in my head.
Also, I have changed the character image information on my profile page, so take a look if you like! I've also added the names of the days of the week and months as they appear in this story. I'll try to remember to give a reference at the beginning of each chapter when I use one of them, but in case I forget you know where to find them.
Now on with the show!
Refrences: Drenoban=Friday, Korban=Monday, Dezraten=December
He was watching me. I could sense it. Oh, he'd look away when I caught his gaze, but I knew he was studying me. And I knew why.
"Alec, I'm fine. Don't worry about me."
Alec didn't answer, simply frowned and stared straight ahead. It had been an hour and a half since we left the Hadar Ruins, and we had been traveling in silence. It was a bit unnerving, honestly. Especially given the tense circumstances of our journey.
"So where are we going now?" I asked in an attempt to get him to talk.
"Hadar." He answered simply.
"Hadar? And that is….?"
Alec didn't answer right away, but after a moment he sighed.
"Hadar is an abandoned city about three hours from the ruins. It was the capital of Johel about a hundred years ago."
"And we should be safe there?"
"Yes. For now at least. Then we can formulate a plan."
"I've been thinking about that. I think we should head up north."
Alec paused for a moment at that, looking around as if the 'north' I spoke of was something he could see, something tangible.
"North? You mean to Dashi?"
"Yes. It would be the safest place for us, until we sort this out."
He thought about that for a moment, then continued walking without answering. I followed him after a moment. Several minutes later we decided to take a break and sat down, and I looked up at the sky. It was the middle of the night now, and stars were barely visible amidst the thick covering of clouds.
I couldn't help but sigh as I studied the stars. Being on the run was tiring, no doubt of that. And I couldn't even remember what day it was. All this travel with no specific purpose in mind other than safety was making me lose track of time.
As I thought about this, Alec glanced over at me.
"Yeah, just thinking. Trying to remember exactly how long we've been traveling. It's hard to keep track, with everything that's been happening."
"It's been a little more than three days. I was thinking about it earlier this morning."
"Oh?" I questioned, and he nodded.
"It took nearly a day to reach Arckra from Elysium, on the day of the ceremony. Then we went back to Elysium to report the massacre to my father, and returned to Arckra the next morning." Alec began, ticking off the events on his fingers as he continued.
"Then we ran from the Sphere Republic, and found the Hadar Ruins an hour later, and stayed there for four hours."
"And now we've been traveling for an hour and a half since leaving the Hadar Ruins. So all in all we've been travelling for just over three days." I concluded.
Our journey began in Elysium on Drenoban morning, and now it was mid morning on Korban. As I thought about this, I realized something that made me a little sad. Alec noticed this, and asked me about it.
"It's the last week of Dezraten. The Allosath Day of Dance was in two days. This is the first year I'll be missing it. It's an odd feeling, realizing that. The festival is something I look forward to every year." I explained.
"I don't know anything about your holidays. What's the Day of Dance?"
"It's pretty much what it sounds like—a dance. The whole town gathers in the square for a party. It's kinda like a ball. Everyone dresses up in their best clothes, and we celebrate. We always hire a professional band to play music for the festival. Allosath's residents put money into the town fund all year, so we can afford the best band around."
"What do you celebrate?"
I had to think about that for a moment. The truth was, I didn't really know what the holiday was in honor of. I think it used to be about freedom, but honestly I doubt anyone really knew the real reason behind it anymore.
When I explained this to Alec, he laughed. We sat in silence for a few minutes after that, until Alec spoke again.
"Were you born in Allosath?"
"No, I was born in Teleprius, a smaller city nearly a hundred miles west of Allosath. We moved to Allosath after my mother died. My uncle was a member of the city council in Allosath, which was why we moved there. Dad wanted to be with family, and his brother was all he had left."
"What about his parents? Or your mother's family?"
"His parents had died many years ago. Before I was old enough to know them, just like my mother. I don't know anything about her family. Dad never talks about it."
"Oh… I'm sorry." Alec whispered, looking sad.
"Don't be. You didn't know. I used to hate talking about it, but after nearly dying myself I've been thinking about it a lot." I answered.
"Yeah, I guess that sort of thing would really put your life in perspective, huh? Did you ever figure out why he did it?"
"Mikhail? No, I have no idea. He said I was a mistake, but I don't know what he meant."
As I thought about it, I could hear Mikhail's words echoing in my mind.
"You were a mistake. Lord Juno never should have allowed you to stay here, and I guess it's my job to rectify the situation."
I shuddered as I remembered it. The feeling of being stabbed, the pain, the fear… even the darkness had a distinct feeling to it as I lost consciousness.
Shaking my head against the memories, I tried to focus on the situation at hand. Alec was speaking, and I had no idea what he said.
"…mating rituals of unicorns."
"I'm sorry, what? I'm afraid I wasn't listening."
Alec grinned at that.
"I could tell. I was saying that I found the funniest thing in the library a couple weeks ago. I was looking through all the books about the Goddess Raas, and suddenly there was this book called 'The Mating Rituals of Unicorns'."
"What? Are you serious?" I questioned, assuming he was joking. But he nodded, still laughing, and assured me that the story was totally true.
"I'll show you the next time we're in Elysium." He promised.
I was having a hard time believing that there could really be a book about unicorns, let alone their mating rituals. But he seemed so serious, so maybe it was real.
There was also the possibility that he knew I was remembering my encounter with Mikhail, and needed to be cheered up. Maybe he made up that story in an effort to get my mind off of what happened when I was stabbed.
Or maybe the story was real, and he told it to me now because I needed to be cheered up.
Whether it was real or not, I appreciated the thought behind it. It felt good to laugh, even if only briefly.
I know, this is short. I'm sorry. I just wanted this to be an easy chapter, since I was giving a lot of information in it. Don't worry, the next chapter should be much longer and full of interesting stuff!