Chapter 4:

▇▇▇▇ and Neptunias: Part 2

Lonely Savior: Curse of the Forgotten One

"Hey, mister. Let's play!"
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Once again, immediately after introducing themselves, Soleil instantly wanted to go out and play. Her enthusiasm and energy had not no difference from yesterday, and, expectedly, her memories of Sotis had all disappeared. The small girl took the traveler's hand, and dragged him to go play outside, similarly to what she had done the day prior. The only notable difference being the bright shining sun, in comparison to the dark cloudy skies from yesterday.Bookmark here

The two went towards the edge of the village, to the huge fields of purple flowers. Soleil was running, jumping, and skipping around, happy upon meeting someone new. Sotis was following her close by, making sure that she would not get injured.Bookmark here

"Ahaha! Neptulias are so pretty!" cheerfully said Soleil.Bookmark here

"Neptulias? Is it the name of these flowers?" asked Sotis.Bookmark here

"Yep!"Bookmark here

Sotis plucked a Neptulia, examining it more closely. Its stem was light green, similar to other flowers he had seen in his past. The petals were predominantly purple as he had first noticed, but upon closer inspection, there was a slight white gradient coming out from the center of the flower.Bookmark here

While examining the flower, Sotis felt something on his head. Putting his right hand to feel what is was, he felt Soleil's presence behind his back. He felt multiple flowers on his head, all placed in a circular shape. Having noticed the flowers, Soleil revealed what it was.Bookmark here

"Ehehe! It's a flower crown!" cheerfully said Soleil.Bookmark here

"Thank you. I'll take good care of it," responded Sotis, touched by this wonderful gift.Bookmark here

Soleil smiled, and proceeded to run after a yellow butterfly she had just seen. Having a little bit of time alone, Sotis pulled out the book he found, and started reading it.Bookmark here

The opening pages described the village's history in great detail, how it was incredibly bustling, with multiple parties every other night. The village apparently had many visiting travellers throughout the year, which made it even more unsettling how there were only two people in the village at the moment. To Sotis's surprise, it took many page flips before arriving to a page which mentioned the Neptunias. Most of the book's pages described the culture and interesting characteristics of the village, to which were missing considering the current state of the village. The origin of the Neptunias were never stated, with the only explanation the book gave being that they suddenly started blooming one day. Initially, there were only a couple flowers, blooming just outside the village. However, as time passed, they multiplied and multiplied, leading up to the current sea of Neptunias. In addition, despite the changing seasons, these purple flowers never seemed to wither, surviving through ever climate.Bookmark here

As Sotis was nearing the end of the book, he noticed something peculiar. As he turned another page, the handwriting suddenly changed. Intrigued by this difference, Sotis immediately started reading. However, something else quickly caught his attention, bringing himself to put the book down.Bookmark here

"Ah! It's almost time to eat!" cried out Soleil, "Wait here! I'll get something to eat!"Bookmark here

"Oh, wait!" quickly said Sotis.Bookmark here

Soleil stopped running towards her house, turning her head towards Sotis.Bookmark here

"How about I cook something for you?"Bookmark here

Soleil's eyes opened wide, excited at what she had just heard. With a joyful expression, she nodded in affirmation, thrilled to finally be able to eat something aside from bread and apples.Bookmark here

The two walked together, gathering firewood for Sotis to cook a meal. Sotis held a few logs under his arms, while Soleil tried to hold as many branches as she could with her two small arms. They proceeded to find an area near the village that was not packed with Neptunias, in order to avoid risking putting the entire village to flames. Having found an appropriate area to cook, they placed the wood in a small pile, and Sotis held out his dagger. Closing his eyes, he brought all of his focus onto the pile of wood, visualizing it getting ablaze. Small fiery flickers came out of the dagger's tip, reaching the wood and setting it on fire. Soleil was watching on the side, amazed at the scene she witnessed. With a fire at hand, Sotis prepared the cooking materials he borrowed from the village's houses. He then asked Soleil to gather more firewood, as a plan to move her away from him, unsure at how she would react if she were to see him handle a dead rabbit. With the small girl having left, Sotis pulled out the dead rabbit, and started skinning it. He chopped the meat into fine pieces, leaving out the distasteful parts. He then placed a pot over the fire, held in the air with a large stick. After having dumped the rabbit meat into the pot, Sotis chopped up the wild crops he had harvested whilst waiting for the meat to cook. He proceeded to dump them all into the pot, adding water to the jumble of ingredients. Although there were multiple ingredients missing, Sotis's was certain that it would still be more nutritious than Soleil's current diet.Bookmark here

With the concoction almost ready for consumption, Soleil ran back to Sotis's side, holding the branches she gathered. Putting down the branches, she then brought two spoons and two small bowls, handing these to Sotis. With a ladle, he poured the food he had prepared into the bowl, then handing it back to Soleil. Her eyes were fixated on her meal, with a slight drip of drool coming out of her mouth. She grabbed the food with her spoon, and immediately brought it inside her mouth. Her eyes instantly lit up, having a stupendous sensation in her mouth. As the food fell down her throat, it warmed the entirety of her small body, giving Soleil a cozy feeling.Bookmark here

"It's delicious!" merrily said Soleil.Bookmark here

"I'm glad you like it," responded Sotis, with a warm smile.Bookmark here

"When I become a traveler, it'll be my turn to make you food!"Bookmark here

As Soleil continued to gobble the food up, Sotis could not stop himself from thinking about what she had just said. Her memories about wanting to travel the world were still ingrained in her mind, and yet, she had no memories relating to Sotis. Although he was downhearted about not being remembered, he was also content to see that he had made a positive impact on the child's life. Although he knew that he would eventually have to leave her to travel to other places, he wished to continue seeing her growth, to see the traveler she would become. Now strongly holding onto the wish to see her again in the far future, Sotis finished eating, and proceeded to spend more time with the small girl he holds dear.Bookmark here

With the sun slowly starting to set, the two went back to Soleil's house. Having forgotten all about Sotis's tales, Soleil asked Sotis if he had any stories from his travels. Sotis gladly told her once more about the places he had seen and the people he encountered. Just like the day before, Soleil listened in awe, amazed at every single detail that was passing through her ears.Bookmark here

As time passed, Soleil was slowly dozing off. Seeing her falling asleep, Sotis lifted her up, and put her down onto her bed. Soleil looked at him with her small drowsy eyes.Bookmark here

"Hey, Sotis?"Bookmark here

"Hmm? Is something the matter?" responded Sotis, with the feeling that something similar happened the day prior.Bookmark here

"Are you going to be here tomorrow too? It's been so long since I had this much fun."Bookmark here

With a warm smile, Sotis replied, "Don't worry, I won't disappear anywhere. I'll be just here, with you."
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"Hehe, thank you."Bookmark here

The small girl yawned, getting ever closer to falling asleep. Sotis delicately caressed Soleil's head, giving her a feeling of comfort. On the verge of closing her eyes, she mumbled one last thing.Bookmark here

"Goodnight Sotis."Bookmark here

"Goodnight Soleil."Bookmark here

Soleil quickly fell asleep, leaving Sotis on his own. He swiftly shifted his focus towards the book he had previously found, turning to the page which had different handwriting. At first glance, it seemed like a simple description of Neptunias. However, as Sotis continued reading, he delved deeper and deeper into the mystery of this village.Bookmark here

The origin of the Neptunias were already an enigma, but the events that followed are even stranger. Recently, many people are groaning in their sleep, though it's probably just a coincidence. It still feels weird to wake up and hear a dozen people groan in pain. My best friend was doing that as well, but one day, he suddenly disappeared. Everybody in the village said that he will be coming back soon, but I knew that wasn't the case. He would never suddenly leave without telling me. And from that day on, more and more people disappeared, yet everybody were seemingly fine with it.Bookmark here

Reading this passage, Sotis could finally reaffirm his belief that this empty village was abnormal. With this thought in mind, he continued to read the diary-like notes.Bookmark here

For some reason, when I suggested to try to find the missing villagers, everyone refused to leave the village. Not a single soul wants to step a foot outside of our home. It really shouldn't be a problem, we've went out of the village plenty of times. Yet, nobody feels the need to go out. But then again, maybe I am not one to talk. Every time I try to leave the village, I forget why I even wanted to leave in the first place. All steps I take lead home. Though perhaps that is not that big of a problem. After all, everybody will be coming back soon.Bookmark here

Sotis flipped the page, feeling more and more unsettled with every word he read.Bookmark here

A traveler that came by the village seemed quite panicked when she saw all of the flowers. But why? They are so beautiful, they are the soul of the village. She was really insisting for us to leave as soon as possible. I have no idea why she would insist so much. My hometown is the best place in the world! There's no other place I rather be. The only thing she left was a book about flowers, leaving the very same day she arrived. There are definitely strange people in this world.Bookmark here

Sotis once again flipped another page, reaching the final page of the diary-like notes.Bookmark here

These flowers... they are cursed. The book the traveller gave me a few weeks ago explained everything. The Neptunias curse the area the start blooming in. Every person who spends several weeks in this area start to feel an obsessive attraction to both the Neptunias and the place where they are blooming, an obsession so intense that the cursed ones would never want to leave the area. As time passes, the cursed ones disappear. Nobody knows where they go, or if they are even alive. But one thing's for sure, is that they will no longer be found in this world. A common trait about the people who are cursed by Neptunias is that they groan in their sleep, and apparently, I have been doing so as well. Does that mean that I am fated to disappear? I don't want to die. I don't want to be forgotten. I don't want to disappear...Bookmark here

Those were the last words written in the book. Sotis stood still, shellshocked. Still wrapping his mind around the information he had just read, he came to a simple yet devastating conclusion. Soleil was doomed to disappear. The child he held close to his heart was going to disappear for eternity. Sotis had no idea on what to do next. He tried to think really hard, but his emotions were jumbling in his mind. He eventually fell asleep, out of the exhaustion from the sadness in his heart.Bookmark here

He woke up on the side of Soleil's bed. The sleeping child was once again crying out groans of pain. Being the third time he had seen this scene, Sotis once again tried to wake her up, albeit rather hesitantly. The small girl rubbed her eyes, and let out a small yawn. For the third time, she saw Sotis's face looking at her, although it was the first time she remembered seeing him.
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"Hello! My name is Soleil! Nice to meet you!" she cheerfully said.Bookmark here

Sotis was unable to bring words out of his mouth. The only thing going through his mind were the things he had learned the day prior. He felt lost, helpless, and there was nothing he could do about it.Bookmark here

"Umm, mister? Are you okay?"Bookmark here

Unbeknownst to himself, tears started falling out of Sotis's eyes. As to not worry Soleil, he quickly wiped them off, and forced a smile onto his face.Bookmark here

"No, it's nothing. Nice to meet you too." he said with teary eyes.Bookmark here

"Hmm... okay then!" said Soleil, unaware of what was going through Sotis's mind.Bookmark here

Soleil once again tugged Sotis to go play outside. Their day was quite similar to how it was spent before, playing together until sunset. Throughout the day, Sotis tried to persuade Soleil to leave the village, in a desperate attempt to change her fate. These all came to no avail, with Soleil saying that she would never leave the village until she would become a traveler. Likewise, Sotis would not leave the village as well. Not because he was cursed, but rather because he was unable to abandon Soleil. Although in complete despair, Sotis kept smiling, never wanting to bother Soleil with his negative thoughts.Bookmark here

The day went by quickly, and Sotis was once again tucking Soleil to bed. He lightly stroked her head, bringing Soleil at ease.Bookmark here

"Hey, mister?" she sleepily asked.Bookmark here

"What's the matter?"Bookmark here

"Could I really become a traveler when I grow up?"Bookmark here

Sotis paused for a moment, and proceeded to answer her question, "Yes, you'll grow up to become a great traveler. You'll see all sorts of different sceneries, and you'll meet many, many people. There are plenty of experiences you have yet to live through, so grow and become the traveler you are destined to be."Bookmark here

"Hehe, thanks. And we'll be able to meet again when I grow up!"Bookmark here

"Yes... we will meet again."Bookmark here

Silence filled the room once more, until it was broken once again by Soleil.Bookmark here

"Um, Sotis?"Bookmark here

"Is there something else?"Bookmark here

"Could I, um, hold your hand?" shyly said Soleil, "It feels a bit lonely to sleep without someone to hold onto."Bookmark here

"Of course you may," replied Sotis, with a warm smile.Bookmark here

Soleil smiled back, "Thank you!"Bookmark here

Soleil held onto Sotis's right hand, feeling the warmth of his palm on her tiny fingers. By the side of someone she loves, she quickly started to fall asleep. It was not long until both were sleeping soundly, in the dark of the quiet and peaceful night.Bookmark here

Just like the previous days, Sotis woke up early, before Soleil. He stood up, and stretched his limbs. Everything around him seemed like the same as before, except one crucial element: Soleil. Soleil had disappeared. Panic suddenly took over Sotis's mind, and he frantically started to search all around the village. He entered every single house. He cried out for her name. He did everything possible to try to find her. He was desperate. He was clinging onto the smallest bit of hope that she was still here.Bookmark here

"Soleil! Where are you? Soleil!!!" screamed Sotis, hoping for any sort of response.Bookmark here

The only response he received was silence. He had searched every nook and cranny, and to no avail. The worst, yet unpreventable, outcome had happened. Soleil was cursed by the Neptunias, causing her disappearance. It was the only plausible answer, and was one that Sotis found hard to accept. This devastating realization brought a surge of emotions within Sotis. Soon after, water droplets started falling onto the ground. However, these did not come from the sky. Sotis's cheeks were drenched, his many sorrowful tears coming out of his eyes. Sotis cried. He cried for a long period of time, letting all of his emotions out. He fell to his knees, he felt his heart-wrench, a culmination of his despair. Sotis was filled with sadness, a sadness that would follow him for eternity. However, no matter how much he cried, he could not change reality. Soleil was gone, gone somewhere that Sotis could not reach.Bookmark here

The reality of the situation slowly sunk into Sotis. He was unable to prevent Soleil's demise, although there were no solutions to begin with. Using all of his resolve, he stood up, prepared to leave the village before getting cursed himself.Bookmark here

Sotis started walking down the path he came from, still extremely saddened by the events that had unfolded. He looked over his shoulder on the deserted village, and the Neptunias surrounding it. Sotis pondered for a very long time, before finally coming to a decision. He turned back to the village for the final time. He took his dagger out, and held it straight. He brought his focus onto it, with his memories with Soleil strengthening his resolve. Shortly after, flames started to form. Flares fell on the Neptunias, setting the flowers ablaze. Sotis turned his back on the flames, and headed out of the village one last time. He heard the houses collapse, and crackling of the flames. However, Sotis did not look back. He had not enough strength to look at the destruction he had caused. Nonetheless, he was aware that this was for the best. He knew that if any traveller decided to settle in this village, them too would be a victim of the Neptunias. With the aim to save future unfortunate souls, the removal of the flowers and the village itself was the only solution. Although Sotis's goal is to help as many people as possible, there are some events that he cannot prevent. Sotis is not a miracle savior. He is only a human whose memories are dear to him.Bookmark here

With the sea of flowers now turned into a sea of flames, Sotis set his sights on his next unknown destination, with grief and sorrow following him closely.
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Many months later, all traces of both the village and the Neptunias had disappeared. The place where the village once was now replaced with greenery, which would eventually grow to become a forest. The name of the village was never recorded. No evidence of the village and its inhabitants remained, completely wiping it from history. The village was not only a victim of the purple flowers, but also of the passage of time. As years go by, what was once held dear by someone is forgotten by everyone. It becomes lost in time, never to be found again. However, the struggle to be remembered and to remember is what makes memories valuable.
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And memories become an everlasting story.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.