Chapter 3:

The Girl From The Garden - III

The Crown Princess - Aphasia

He wanted to become someone she could depend on, but how would he achieve such a goal? Bookmark here

She didn't strike him as the type of person to be afraid or seek advice - so that ruled out protecting and teaching her. The barrier in their communication meant there was little, if anything, he could say to her. How could he portray that he wanted to be by her side when she didn't understand a word he said? Bookmark here

His eyebrows knotted in frustration as he rinsed his hands in the bathroom sink. Bookmark here

Nights inside the Cathedral remained habitually spent in quiet solitude. Bookmark here

Father Nelwood retired to his chambers, Igna was too busy cleaning and preparing meals, Mother Hane and Alali spent their nights praying together. He held little to no desires to pray more than was needed, nor did he want to volunteer himself for more chores than required. Bookmark here

As such, he ended up in this weird routine. Bookmark here

He would wander around the Cathedral until he felt tired enough to sleep. Then he would change his clothes, sit on his bed and recite the Avandeus until he drifted to sleep. He kept the routine for the past seven years he lived in the Cathedral - memorizing every crack and corner. There was lingering comfort in doing the same thing every night. Bookmark here

His body knew where to go and how to get there. He didn't have to think much about it. Bookmark here

"I wonder if Aphasia went to her room?" He muttered as he placed his clothes in the laundry basket, "Maybe I should visit her?" Bookmark here

The moonlight kissed the hallways around this time of night. Silver streams of light peeked from the windows onto the floors, illuminating the dark halls. The absence of light made the hallways of the century-old building feel daunting. He knew every corner of them, yet it felt like monsters lurked in the shadows to eat his soul.Bookmark here

Vile creatures sent by the Mother of Hell, Aubria, who feasted on the souls of the good - his mind contorted complex images and frightful speculations that made his heart leap. Bookmark here

He was thankful when he skipped out of the hallways unscathed, feet touching the cold grass of the garden. He said a prayer of thanks to Xanthea, but his mind was disturbed by a loud rustle. Bookmark here

"Is someone there?" Bookmark here

No response, but he didn't quite expect any.Bookmark here

It was probably a small animal who fancied itself a stay in the Cathedral's gardens. Father Nelwood warned him against disrupting them. Anyone who sought shelter underneath Xanthea's roof will be given such, without question. That is their duties as servants to a Goddess who's domain accepts all. Bookmark here

To be a person capable of accepting others, without judgement. Bookmark here

But he often wondered if he could remain like that. It seemed difficult. Always accepting and offering guidance, even to those around you who didn't deserve it - such a life felt exhausting. And if he couldn't care for Aphasia, how could he care for his community? Bookmark here

Was the girl from the garden a test from Xanthea? Was she testing if he was capable of acting as her servant? Bookmark here

" that you?" Bookmark here

He paused in his tracks - staring at the moonlit garden. Bookmark here

Aphasia was standing there - at the base of Xanthea's statue, fingers tracing the text delicately inscribed. The honey-haired girl with amethyst eyes looked up at the statue, and for a brief moment, he saw the emotion on her face. Bookmark here

Was it sorrow or regret? Bookmark here

He wanted to call her name, but he didn't. Secretly, he was glad. If he interrupted her at that moment, he wouldn't have seen her wipe the tears that poured from the corners of her eyes. Even if it was just for a moment, Aphasia felt like someone. She felt alive. Bookmark here

"Staying outside too late is bad for your health," he said as he cleared his throat, "But you probably don't understand what I'm saying." Bookmark here

She turned to face him - her eyes no longer glossy and just as lifeless as before. Bookmark here

"Ueno noliov aen paliveo ifosto ta've?" Bookmark here

He didn't think her voice suited her face. Bookmark here

She had command over her language - it was clear, almost authoritative - contrasting her meek almost frail appearance. Bookmark here

He took a step back, eyes narrowing at her. Bookmark here

"You can speak?" Bookmark here

"Uneo akar ifosto latievete. Noliov aen Cullen paliveo." Bookmark here

"I don't understand what you're saying?" Bookmark here

She smiled at him - though it was an awkward half-smile. Bookmark here

On the tips of her toes, Aphasia reached out to touch him and for some reason - he didn't pull away. Her eyes were too enchanting, her voice was too mesmerizing - all were excuses - as to why he simply stared at her and did nothing. Bookmark here

"Aphasia?" He said quietly, "What are you doing?" Bookmark here

There was no response from her, but he didn't quite need it. Bookmark here

Instead, he drifted suddenly to sleep.Bookmark here

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