Chapter 2:

The Journey To Tomorrow

Song Of The Lost Birds

Year 704Bookmark here

Town Of LostreaBookmark here

Chateau De ElvenBookmark here

For a long time, there had been a rumor circulated through the small town of Lostrea. It said that within the damp walls of Chateau De Elven resided a witch who looks like a young girl, with an innocent smile plastered on her face as she continued practicing her occult to curse the town of Lostrea. Bookmark here

But at the same time, some townspeople believed that the Witch was the guardian of their town, that she was the one who kept the place prosperous, and without her, the town will wither. This theory was the one that a lot of people considered to be a myth however, there was an incident that backed this theory. It wasn't anything of solid proof but it was something that proved the existence of the Witch that was important for the town.Bookmark here

Fifty years ago when the Kingdom of Serpia was crumbling as the taxes skyrocketed and that was just the condition of the mainland, the towns and villages in the countryside had nothing to eat and even the medical help wasn't available for them since their lives didn't matter to the King. The only lives that mattered to him were his own and his family's.Bookmark here

However, there was one town that faced no problem and that was Lostrea. Even when the kingdom plunged into an epidemic, the town remained a safe haven for anyone who lived here. And it was then that the myth of Witch Of Lostrea came into existence. However, through the years, it had been fabricated and told in a way that led to people growing hatred towards the Witch who protected them. Bookmark here

Then one fine winter night, the Count found out the real Witch of Lostrea. It was none other than his wife, the person he had loved more than anyone in this world. But as soon as the reality came to light, he did something that killed him from the inside out. He burnt her alive in front of the entire town. He did it to bring an end to the curse but all he did was make the biggest mistake of his life.Bookmark here

As time passed the protection that the Town had began to crumble apart. The town was no longer the warm and safe place it used to be. It became a dark and cold place but that was only temporary when Count's daughter turned five everything once again returned to normal. But that day was the last time anyone ever saw the young girl.Bookmark here

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Year 711Bookmark here

Outskirts of LostreaBookmark here

Railway StationBookmark here

"Why are you trying to protect her?!" She's the bastard child the Witch of Astrea!" Lycarion grinned. It was his usual tactic, destroy the enemy from within. Take advantage of their emotions. Bookmark here

"Back Off!" Alabaster Growled. "Don't you dare touch my wife Lycarion." His arms raised in an attacking stance as he slashed his sword trying to disarm Lycarion so he could buy the two of them sometime. While the battle was raging on between the two of them he also had to keep check of the time. The sun had just rose and by looking at the angle of the sun he could very much make out that it was approximately eight in the morning. Bookmark here

He only had fifteen minutes until the train came. Lostrea is one of the remote Towns of Serpia which inevitably also makes it one of the least visited. Since the number of visitors visiting the town is close to none, there's only one train that runs through the town every week. Bookmark here

On the first day of the week referred to as the Mezen, the Crimson Express stops at the Lostrea Railway Station. The stoppage time is merely two minutes. You only get two minutes to board and if you can't make it in those two minutes then you won't get another train until next week.Bookmark here

Unfortunate Alabaster didn't have the choice of staying behind for one more week since he knew if he missed this train then that would be the end of him as well as the freedom of her. He couldn't let her return to that place again. Never again will he let her cry again.Bookmark here

As the illuminating rays of sun-filled the wooden platform a fragrance of sunflower began to blanket the surrounding. A sweet and warm smell made Alabaster felt like he was in the embrace of his mother. The fierce battle that had been raging until a few seconds ago suddenly came to a stop. The very existence of anything except that warmth became insignificant, at that moment not only Alabaster but also Lycarion and Lyolf had left the station.Bookmark here

Their bodies were present there but their soul wasn't it was as if everyone at that moment at that second had left on a journey that would connect them with what they cared the most in this world. Bookmark here

However, not everyone on the platform was under the trance of this mysterious power, Irina was standing just a few steps behind Alabaster as the mysterious power seeped into the platform, her eyes were wide open in shock as she saw golden grains fly all around her as they enveloped her In its tight embrace.Bookmark here

'What is it?' she wondered. Her arms stretched out as her fingers carefully touched the spec of floating golden grain, the moment she touched it, the grain reacted. It was as if they had life within them. The particle which she had touched suddenly crept into her palms as if trying to cuddle with her. As she stretched her fingers even wider all the grains that were flying around her suddenly changed their course and began to blanket her hand.Bookmark here

She looked at those grains with fascination as they slowly crept around her hand entering her palms and then slowly floating up to her arms, she could still feel them crawling up her soft skin as they reached her face. Touching her rosy cheeks, patting her head, and embracing her. A warm and protective embrace. Irina had never felt anything like this before.Bookmark here

'What are you? Why are you making me feel so protected so happy? Why do you remind me so much of her?'Bookmark here

She thought as the grains began to cuddle with her, their embrace was warm and cozy. For the second time in her life, she suddenly felt as if she was being protected she was secure. Her eyes could see the mysterious way in which the grain was enchanting her. This was soon accompanied by a soft humming. The humming soon evolved into a song a lullaby to be precise, it was so nostalgic and warm that it made Irina cry.Bookmark here

The sparks that the warmth and the song radiated through the platform captivated her heart. Irina had finally grabbed hold of the unreal, illusory…non-existent happiness that she had been trying to find for so long. The moment seemed to continue endlessly and she wished with all her heart that it would. She didn't want it to end, she didn't want to go back. She wanted to stay here in this heavenly adobe where the happiness she had always wanted existed.Bookmark here

However, the conclusion was sudden. Bookmark here

"This song I remember it's named The Sky of Happiness… Don't tell me no It can't be…"Bookmark here

Irina opened her eyes. Her body shaking with fear. After all, she had gone through, after all the endless suffering she had been through she had finally found it. The happiness she had always been looking for. Her eyes suddenly filled with tears, tears of sadness from long ago. Tears that should have shed years ago, tears that were supposed to be shed for her. Bookmark here

With a tremendous amount of effort, she managed to look at the source of the song. Her eyes widened as he caught the glimpse of the face, her blue eyes were warm just like it was when she held her for the last time, her blonde hairs were neatly trimmed into a single ponytail and she was smiling.Bookmark here

Smiling at her as she stood between Irina and Alabaster, wearing her white dress held onto her waist with a golden ribbon, her arms were covered with some kind of transparent clothing, and in her right hands, she held a small book. A book which was floating in the air as its pages turned on its own.Bookmark here

It was not just any book. It was a grimoire- a mysterious book which is said to hold tremendous power within it and the only person who can wield its power is the Clan Of Thlípsi- the clan that belonged to witches. Bookmark here

(The word Thlípsi literally translates to sadness, it refers to the fate of the witches. It is said that no matter how much happiness a witch might feel in her lifetime it will never be able to compare it to the sadness they will experience.)Bookmark here

" is that you?" Irina croaked. Her arms stretched out as she tried to hold her hand, fall into the loving embrace of her mother but she never could. No matter what she did her body won't move forward, her feet we're plastered.Bookmark here

"Mom!" She called her out.Bookmark here

She just smiled back in return. Her blue eyes looked at Irina with love and only love. She so much wanted to be by her side and hold her tight, kiss her on the forehead and tell her that everything was going to be alright but she couldn't. She could never do those things ever again and her being present here at this time at this era was nothing but a gift that her grimoire had gifted her. A gift to allow to protect her precious daughter one last time.Bookmark here

"Irina, " She called out softly. "Do you remember what I told you about the Clan of Thlípsi?"Bookmark here

Irina nodded in reply after all that was the only thing she was able to do. Bookmark here

"Clan Of Thlípsi. The Clan of Witches. The clan that has been born to fulfill just one duty and that's to protect what they hold dear and what they love." Irina said her eyes filled with tears as she looked at her mom.Bookmark here

"Yeah that's right, " Her mother replied back, her blue eyes filled with sadness as she spoke her next words. "The Clan Of Thlípsi is also known as the clan of sadness. We are referred to as Clan Of Sadness because the amount of sadness we will experience in our entire life will exceed the happiness we experience. That's our fate, that's the destiny of every Thlípsi. We Withes live in the same world as humans but at the same time a different world. We share the same world but our times flow differently, we grow differently, we live differently and in the end, we also die differently. Our lives are always filled with happiness and sadness. The happiness of meeting others and sadness of parting with them… that's who we are Irina."Bookmark here

She stopped, as she slowly walked towards the frozen figure of Alabaster and Lycarion. Her arms stretched forward as she touched Lycarion's forehead the moment she touched it all the golden grains enveloped him sending him into a deep slumber.Bookmark here

"But you are different Irina. You know Irina, " she said as she gazed at the small figure of the town of Lostrea at a distance. " The reason I protected Lostrea all my life as because this was the place I was born, this was the town where I grew up, where I fell in life, where I gave birth to you and this was the town I loved the most and that's why for six hundred years of my life I protected it and then finally died by the hands of the very own town I protected but you know what I will never regret loving this town and protecting it. And that's the same thing I wish for you. I want you to go out in the world explore it and then find that place that you love and want to protect for the rest of your life. And also you already have one person you love and want to protect with all your life."Bookmark here

"Mom?" Irina called her confused, as tears kept rolling down her cheeks. A love of a mother so warm and fuzzy but at the same time so mysterious that even the biggest philosophers in the world couldn't understand it, after all, if it wasn't for the love she shared with Irina she would have never been here. The only reason she stayed back was to properly bid her goodbye and tell her no matter how far they are, no matter how many borders lie between them she will always love her. Bookmark here

"Irina it's time for your journey to begin… I have looked after you for the past eighteen years but now it's time to say goodbye…" her voice began to break as her figure slowly started to fade away becoming one with the golden grain. Bookmark here

Her time was up but she didn't want to leave. There were so many things she had to tell Irina, so many stories and so many other things that a mother and daughter do but she will never be able to do that. Bookmark here

"Ir-irina" she called her out for one last time, " it's time for me to leave, this is my end but it's not the end of my story. We witches for thousands of years have passed on our Grimoires to our children so that they can carry on our story in that way we never die we live on with our kids and in the same way I will live on with you forever. That's why never give up and move forward freely, this might be the end of my journey but your journey has only just begun..."Bookmark here

Her body had almost disintegrated, the only thing that remained was her grimoire and her face, even in her last seconds she smiled at Irina and spoke for the last time.Bookmark here

"I am sorry I couldn't love you enough, I am sorry I wasn't there for you when you needed me and I am sorry that I am leaving you Irina. I am sorry for everything. That's why live on even if we Witches are destined to be sad never spread it always spread happiness with everyone around you and in that way you will be truly happy... Bye Irina. Bye Lostrea."Bookmark here

That was the last time Irina ever saw her mom again, as the gentle morning breeze blew through the platform all the golden grains dispersed taking it's magic as well as her mother away forever and all she could do was cry. Bookmark here

As the euphoric moment ended the world once again went back to normal, Alabaster was awoken from his sleep which he doesn't remember ever going to. His black eyes were filled with confusion and strange happiness, which he couldn't understand. When he looked ahead of him he saw the Lycarion and Lyolf both were knocked unconscious, he didn't remember ever doing that to them but he didn't have the comfort or the time to investigate.Bookmark here

Just as he was about to go hold Irina and prepare for the train a loud whistling noise echoed through the countryside, the train had entered the town limits, and even though not clearly visible from the station, he could hear its whistle loud and clear as it neared the station and the smell of the smoke billowing from its engine. Soon a screeching sound invaded the station indicating the train had hit its brake and it was time for them to leave. Bookmark here

Without wasting a minute Alabaster buckled his sword picked up the suitcase and turned around to hold Irina, but he was surprised with what he saw. Alabaster had always been enchanted with Irina's smile, and yesterday when he saw it he believed that he had seen her real smile but what he saw now was something he would never forget. Bookmark here

The rays of the sun fell on her face making it glitter, she had always been beautiful for Alabaster but today it was as if she had become an angel. With her left hand to hold a brown leather book close to her chest, she had her right hand raised towards Alabaster as she smiled warmly at him. He sapphire blue eyes filled with emotions he couldn't comprehend.Bookmark here

"Let's go Alabaster, it is the beginning of our journey. Let's go out into the world and find our happiness... Together"Bookmark here

Hugh Karen
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