Another Story [Hiatus]
As we make our way to the southern end of town, we can't help but notice the immense number of stalls. The clocktower is visible throughout the entire town, the sheer size of it is becoming more apparent as we draw near towards the structure. The structure is so tall it dwarfs the surrounding. Apparently, the clocktower was built not long after the establishment of Dirya around six-hundred years ago. It features a gothic design, almost creepingly enticing your eyes. The detail of engravings on the tower is done by many men who have spent their lives working on that single piece of art. I cannot help but admire from afar the intricacies of such marvel.
While walking through the main streets of the southern end of town, the stalls are snaking through the streets as if making a labyrinth. Vendors are eager to sell their products with great enthusiasm. The crowd is also getting denser. It is difficult to see what is ahead of you. I feel somewhat claustrophobic when bumping my shoulder to another person. I have never seen such a crowd packed in such a small place. It makes me somewhat realize that the city is lively and populated, unlike Orma. Mimi and the rest seem to be struggling as well. Their faces show their frantic eyes darting back and forth searching for the best route to get through the sea of commerce. We are getting dragged from one place to another, sometimes losing control of our feet because some person has pushed us.
"Mister, mister! Buy our jewelry! I'll give you a good price, give it to the lady next to you!" A random hawker shouts at me from across the street towards his stall of pieces of jewelry.
Mia seems to have gotten attracted hoping to see the pink necklace again, but apparently that same necklace is only to be found at the stall where we went to a few days ago.
"Good sir, please come check out our cheeses for your bread. We guarantee that it is all cow's milk. Although we also have goat's cheese." Another hawker implies their goods.
"Sir sir! We have bread freshly baked from this morning! Buy now, I’ll give you a good price" And another vendor shows me a piece of brown bread.
The crowds seem to only get denser as we go through the streets in the marketplace here at the southern end of town. As Jayde and Mia move faster with all their enthusiasm from receiving our first mission, it seems that they have lost Mimi and I. Unlike Jayde and Mia's energetic eagerness, we just slowly pace through the throngs of people. Mimi appears to start panicking as we lose sight of Jayde and Mia.
"Hey! Aura! Do you see them?" Mimi shouts at me through the cacophony of people.
"No!" I reply. It seems that Mimi is the type of person who wants to get control of everything. I try to calm her down. "It's alright, I see a clearing near the clocktower," I tell her while nearing the architectural feat. There seems to be a vicinity near it that is oddly unpopulated.
"Do you think I am worried? I am not worried!" She says defensively, clearly lying as she is obviously getting nervous. She looks to be now-and-then looking back and forth or from left to right.
Arriving at the odd clearing by the tower, it kind of brings some kind of ease. The sun is starting to come down, barely visible through the city walls.
After some time, we silently decide to wait for Mia and Jayde, "Hey Aura, I have been meaning to tell you something. . ." Mimi says in a sly manner.
"What do you mean?" I ask politely. I do not want to stir her.
"No, it's just about that night. You know, your nightmare." Mimi signals. Her voice is oddly soft and totally not like her. At first, it may seem like she is possessed or something. She doesn't have this soft voice when talking, especially to me. "Don't misunderstand!" Nevermind, her voice is back to normal.
"Oh? What is it?" I am interested in hearing what she has to say. I do not know for sure, but I guess it must be something important.
"Well. . ." A few moments pass. "I think I blurted too much that night. I was just really pissed that I got woken up from my peaceful sleep." Another few moments pass in silence. "What I want to say is. . ." And another few moments pass, it seems that she has trouble saying it. I know by now what she is trying to say. "I am sorry," And she finally said it in a low voice.
But how do I reply?
Forgive you? I am sorry as well? I don't know how to reply. The ever so angry Mimi just apologized in a very soft manner. Very unlike her. Did the stars align or something? I cannot comprehend.
"Aura! Mimi!" Jayde saves me from the awkwardness. Mimi was waiting for my answer. But I cannot just blurt out what to say. I am not used to her doing such a thing. Usually, she says mean stuff et cetera, but somehow this change in her posture clearly went through my heart. Is that what it means to forgive? To really feel that their apology is sincere, your heart reacts to it.
"Hey, Aura! Mimi! I was so scared you guys were carried off by the vendors!" Mia says. It seems that they stuck together until they saw us standing at the clearing.
The clearing is just where the entrance is to the clocktower. From this position, the clocktower seems to be only getting bigger. The structure feels as if it is ready to stomp on you. In the center of the clocktower is an arched hall going through the other end, the top of this arch is full of engravings depicting the first gods: Morta and Kronius. The god of space and the god of time.
We try knocking on the front door, and after some time someone seems to be unlocking it. A man with a black suit and pants came out. He has short black hair with friendly brown eyes. His lips were seemingly dry.
"Good evening, who might you all be?" He asks in a friendly manner.
Jayde initializes: "We are from the school of mana, we are here for the investigation of the recent case. I believe you have been notified about it. Are you the clock master?"
"Yes, that is me. I am very happy to be of your assistance. How can I help?" The man replies.
"Well, is it okay if we can have a look around inside the clocktower?" I ask. I want to see if there are any weird things popping out inside the clocktower.
"I don't think that is possible right now, sir. I, being the only person here, am about to leave soon as the curfew bell will soon ring." He points at the clock, he isn’t wrong. We didn't realize in the beginning that our trek would take this long. It is our fault. I try not to argue about it.
It is about the first quarter of the night. Some vendors are also starting to pack and go home. Stalls and service centers are supposed to close down before the first quarter of the night, as per the rule of the kingdom. The only ones that are allowed to open beyond the curfew are inns and hotels. A few more exceptions are made.
"I see, do you think we can check it out tomorrow?" I ask again.
"Oh, my pleasure, good sir. I will do anything I can in my power. Glad to be of your service." He bows toward us.
As we make our way back to our division house, I hear a sudden rumble behind us. I believe this is what they call a rumble of a stomach that is hungry. I try to look behind me, and I realize it was Mia. She happily giggles it off and tries to brush on her stomach as if there is a baby inside.
"Do you want to eat, Mia? We can stop by at an inn and grab something to eat." Mimi asks.
"Eh～, but isn't it late now?" Mia replies.
"No, some cafés are still open. They have an exemption from closing at curfew." Jayde replies knowingly.
"I see, then let's go! I heard about a café where they let you pet the cats! I want to go there!" Mia insists. Her childish mannerisms seem to be more apparent the more I know her.
"Well, sad to say, those aren't exempted," Mimi replies to my relief.
"Aww～" Mia pouts.
"Look, there seems to be a café over there. It looks so lively." Jayde points at the building. We didn't see this earlier because the streets were packed with all the stalls. The streets are now empty as the vendors seem to have gone home now.
As we enter the bustling inn, the candlelit tables full of people start to give off a very cozy vibe. People are talking about their own business. We are greeted by a friendly bartender, a lady in her prime, attractive, and with a very loving tone in her voice. Her dark-blonde hair accentuates her charm.
"Welcome!" The bartender says. "Four? There is a table right over there." She points at the direction near the window. "I will be by you later in a bit, here's the menu." She hands us a menu card of what seems to consist of eighty percent drinks, and the remainder, a variety of fried food.
"Oh! They have fried potatoes! This is my childhood favorite!" Mia says as if she isn't a child anymore.
As we sit down at our table, we start to look through the menu. I cannot help but choose a set menu that consists of what they call bitterball, meat ragout seemingly coated with batter and then fried, and fried potatoes. For my drinks, I would definitely want milk, cow's milk. I think it would fit the bitterness of the bitterball.
After a while, the bartender goes to our table and takes all of our orders. It looks like Mimi and I are ordering the same food. She doesn't think too much about it though.
"I want to talk about the case, can we?" I ask everyone.
"Isn't it confidential?" Mia asks.
"We have the thing," I state.
"Oh yeah, we can do that." Mia realizes. Mimi and Jayde seem to agree as well.
"Poliaoe Kiluan Amoliaga Ku Naga." I chant, safely so that no one notices. This incantation, I found during my search for communication incantations in the library. I then taught the rest of the division this as to make discussions just like this. It translates to, "Secrets are shared with friends." The incantation enables the connection of the Yttrancian flow through multiple users. This makes it work like telepathy, as one can send their thoughts through the flow.
After a while, I noticed that everyone cast the incantation. "Can we go through the case again?" I ask.
"Sure; but Mia, don’t blurt stuff out accidentally, just like you did during our practice," Jayde warns Mia because she seems to have difficulties keeping her thoughts in her head.
"Okay~" she replies.
"First of all, we have three victims. Apparently, they are vendors that have been selling their goods during the day. Is this correct?" I want to reconfirm.
"Yes, that's correct. Furthermore, it seems that they do not remember when and where they were attacked. It seems to have been a memory-erasing incantation. So, our criminal is a Yttrancian manipulator, or has a magic circuit item that can do the incantation." Mimi replies.
"This is difficult because there have been no cases so far where I have heard or read that the victims didn't remember anything. I have also never read that such an incantation exists." Jayde adds. This case is indeed really weird. I really want to know who did this. Maybe I am just selfish about this conquest of mine, but I do want to know how they did it.
"We do not even know how many perpetrators there are during the assault," Mia adds as well. It seems that she has gotten control of her telepathic sense.
"Yes, but one thing I can say for sure, they aren't that many. This is because they didn't kill the victims. If their grudge is actually real, then they would've killed them." I reply.
After a while of briefing the whole case, our food finally arrives. We go out of the incantation and back to talking about other stuff. Mia is still stuck on the pink necklace. She says that she needs it because she is clumsy and tends to get hurt. Jayde seems to want to go out and buy ingredients after we have eaten. Mimi wants to go home and sleep, and so do I.
We enjoyed the fried food, this place is famous for its bitterball because everyone appears to have ordered it, the more closely I look towards the other tables.
The clocktower mystery is only starting, this will take longer than I have expected, but hopefully tomorrow, the inside of the clocktower will hold many more clues that will help us. I want to do this quickly; I want to find out how the perpetrator erased the memories of the victims. There are things I want to forget, after all.