Chapter 26:

Epilogue : part 2

Face of Eternity : The Star and the Rose

Our train was departing in half an hour, and we were all waiting at the station, watching all the other trains and people come and go regularly. A woman spoke over the intercom above our heads, consistently updating us on the arriving and departing trains, as well as giving us a rundown of safety measures.

I’d never seen a real train before, they sure were big and loud. They actually made that Chuga Chuga Chuga Chuga noise that you’d expect from them. I loved when they went CHOO CHOO!


Here comes another one!

“Sixteen.” Indena said, slouching in her seat.

She’d been counting upwards ever since we got here. I think she was counting the trains that came by.


Wait, there wasn’t a new train. What was she counting?


“Indena…” I tugged her arm. “What are you counting?”

I was worried she wouldn’t hear me over a steam sound a train made, but she heard just fine.

“I’m counting everyone wearing those ugly looking sweaters. They're horrible.”

Now that she mentioned it, I absolutely saw what she was talking about. Those sweaters looked like fall themed Christmas sweaters.

“Did you count that guy with the snow man made of leaves on his shirt?” Yamin pointed to someone in the corner.

“You could see what that was?” Indena raised her brow. “Yeah, he was number 5.”

“How about that guy?” Marek pointed to someone getting onto a train.

“Number 2. And his sweater fits that number.”

Now I had to know who number 1 was. I hoped he was still around.

“Who’s number 1?”

Indena pointed to Marek.

“Eh?” He looked deeply offended, because he definitely was wearing an ugly sweater, and not his usual blue jacket. His sweater had a bunch of leaves and a pumpkin on the front. Really ugly, if you ask me. But kinda adorable.

By the way, we were all wearing different clothing right now to blend in. Uncle was in a long trench coat with a cat pin on it. I asked him to put the pin on.

Yamin was in a long fall dress with open sleeves that showed her white bodysuit underneath.

Indena was wearing a denim jacket that basically also worked as a skirt, and she had a new pair of black stockings, since her old ones were ripped up.

And as for me, I was in overalls and had this cute hat on. No, that's a lie. It wasn't cute. I looked like a paper boy.

Indena kept saying that. I told her that I hated that she kept calling me a boy, so she started saying I was a paper shrimp. The hat was important so I could stuff my white hair into it. Samael didn’t seem to like it though, so I had to put him in my front pocket. He was peeking his head out.

“No, Samael…stay hidden.” I whispered to him. “They don’t let snakes on the train. I already asked.”

“Sssssss…” He wasn’t happy, but he put his head back down.

I saw someone let their dog onto a train, why can’t a snake go in? This stinks. This is reptile discrimination!

“Shrimp, how long you had that snake, anyway?” Indena asked.

“Since I was three. Samael was teeny tiny back then.”

“What if he bites you?” Yamin asked.

Samael hasn’t ever bitten me. He came close one time, but that was because he was trying to figure out how to get food out of my hand without hurting me. For an animal, he was really smart.

“He won’t. Right, Samael?”

He popped his head out of my pocket and looked at me, then at Yamin.

“Ss.” He hissed.

“See?” I smiled.

Yamin and Marek both looked really disturbed watching Samael communicate, they inched back in their seats a little.

“Yalda, did he just speak?” Marek asked.

I shook my head. “No, he doesn’t speak. He’s just really smart.”

“Who would have thought snakes were intelligent?” Yamin shrugged.

In table top games and RPGs, the intelligence statistic measured how smart an animal or creature was. Most animals had low intelligence, but Samael probably would have a pretty high stat, if I had to guess.

Hey, I wondered…could I add him to my party?

I sent an invite, and it seemed not to work…then a new tab in the menu popped up.

“Animal companions?” I uttered. That tab appeared next to the party tab in the USER IDENTIFICATION menu.

The tab gave me a little info on Samael, but it was just his size, weight, and a few of his base stats. Everything else in that menu was blank. Oh well.

*Choo Choo!*

Another train arrived, and the lady over the intercom said that this one was going to the seaport we needed to be at. We all picked up the small amount of luggage we had and got in the line to board.

The conductor stood outside the entrance, greeting people as they went inside.

“Hello, little miss.” He tipped his hat at me.

I sheepishly waved at him.

“This is her first time on a train.” Uncle mentioned. “She’s a bit shy about it.”

“Oh!” He pulled out a small wallet-like thing and took a sticker out. It was a train with a happy face on the front and said, 'I rode the train!' He gave it to me, and I stuck it on my shirt.

“Thank you.” I nodded. He tipped his hat again in response.

Once we were inside, I wasn’t very impressed with my view of the interior. I was too short to see over the seats.

Uncle put me on his shoulders, now I could see everything! The train was really fancy looking, and all the people were chatting each other up.

Uncle picked one of the rows of empty seats with another pair of seats facing back at us. He let me sit by the window.

A little bit of latent excitement started to well up in me, and I was really curious to see how a train would feel once it started rolling.

Samael really didn’t like my hat, so he was slithering all around it trying to get it off my head.

“No, stop!” I shouted. “You’re gonna make it fall off!”

“Young Mistress, no shouting.” Uncle said.

“But Samael’s trying to get my hat off.”

Bad snake! No snacks for you!

While Uncle and I were trying to calm my snake, Marek sat in one of the seats in front of us, and Yamin and Indena were both boarding.

Yamin stopped, then turned back to look at the train station crowed.

“Oy, sparkle face, you gonna make me stare at your ass all day?”

“Oh…” Yamin moved up, letting Indena get to the top of the stairs. Once they were both in, the doors closed. “Sorry, I just had a weird feeling.”

“What’s that?”

“I just…should we really be leaving?”

Indena audibly scoffed, then folded her arms. “Can you make up your mind? You wanna’ save your town, right? Besides, that’s what the Shrimp wants to do, and I’m sticking with her.”


“Plus, that stupid witch has it out for you. So you’ll probably want to stay with me. I’ll protect you”


“Yeah, yeah yeah…take a seat.” Indena ordered.

“Sorry, thanks.”


There were only two seats left in front of us, so we saved them. In a funny twist of fate, Indena and Yamin sat next to each other.

“Are you two going to get along?” I probed. “Because if you don’t, I’ll have them turn this train around.”

Indena was about to say something, but then Yamin spoke up first. “We’ll get along.”

“Yeah, we will, Shrimp. Don’t worry.” She spoke sincerely.

That was good to hear. I didn’t want anyone fighting while we were all scrunched up here.

The train tooted again, really loudly, then I heard the wheels below us start chugging.

I peeked out the window and noticed the train began to move.

Once it left the station, its speed increased dramatically. Within minutes, we were out of the urban area and into what looked like a forest.

Everything on the outside was a big blur at these speeds. It was crazy that we were going so fast!

“She’s mesmerized.” Yamin leaned forward and rubbed my back. “I remember my first train ride. I was so scared, and I had motion sickness.”

“I take trains to work every day, so it's normal for me.” Marek said.

“I’ve never been on a train.” Indena said. “Why pay for it when you can just walk around a city?” She shrugged.

Yamin was quick to explain that public transportation wasn’t just for lazy people, but also for people who didn’t want to become athletes while traveling from place to place.

“Where I came from, everything was in walking distance. Besides, people are too fat and lazy nowadays. They need to get the exercise.”

“Indena…” Yamin growled.

I was getting that scary feeling off Yamin again. Indena noticed it too, because for the first time ever, Yamin intimidated her.

“Christ, sorry. But at least I care about people enough to want them to be healthy.”

I think she had the right goal, but maybe not the right motivation.

While they were talking, I was really getting soothed by the quiet chatter and the train noises. My body still hadn’t fully recovered from the last few days, so my systems were recommending I take advantage of the peace and rest a little.

I decided to close my eyes for a little nap…

Mario Nakano 64
Taylor J
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