He stood beside Ciara without moving, and he was a statue that remained as the twelve branches of the Alician Family gather around the round table located inside the Inner Valley. They sat on high-back chairs that matched their Grandmother’s. They wore shoulder capes, and most of their eyes were focused on the bleak walker that stood next to their grandmother.
“Nolan Salvatore,” Leander said. “You know this, Mia.”
“I spent a month with them,” Mia said.
“A month? I see, no wonder you are not surprised.”
“You’d be less surprised if you see them.”
“Nolan Salvatore must be a lucky man. He’s got the admiration and affection of our Great Grandmother?”
Mia looked at Leander. Her right hand on her cheek.
“You seem to misunderstand, Leander. It is Grandmother that forced him to be with her.”
“Nonsense!” His nostrils puffed. “How could anyone not fall for our Grandmother?”
“It’s a simple truth,” Mia said somberly. “Nolan Salvatore has lost his memories of the times he has spent with, Grandmother.”
“Do we even know if he is the real one? Though I like to see Grandmother happy, as anyone here, but if she’s getting fooled.”
“Grandmother?” She looked at him straightly. “Do you really think she’s the type that would be easily fooled?”
“That’s right, however, I did see the Sigil of the Eternal Hawk of Nolan Salvatore, and it only confirmed that he is truly a bleak walker.”
Mia lowered her head. She bit her lower lip.
“I advise you not to stare at his eyes for too long, Leander. He can control Sigil of the Eternal Hawk, but stare too long and you’d hear the screams of the fallen and your soul will surely shiver. He has defeated the Witch of Nether, and I’ve never won against him in close combat.”
“Close combat as well, but the world has turned to artillery and rifles.”
“He’s good at them. No, the way he handled a rifle and a six-shooter was not that of an amateur, his stance, and he even taught me how to pie corridors and how to check my six all the time.”
“And he lost his memories?”
“There’s no doubt about that. Grandmother can sense lies and she knows too well how lies are, but she knows that he isn’t lying about that. He never lost his skills. Still, he was incredulous about Grandmother’s love, and I can’t honestly blame him. If someone as beautiful as Grandmother approaches you, proclaiming her love for you, would you easily believe as well?”
“I would question what the woman wants. I understand, still, it looks like they got along.”
“They did, it was when I visited them that he found courage. No, to be honest, I think he wasn’t sure if he was the real Ciara. The Ciara that Nolan Salvatore remembered was before Grandmother had rid of her scars. I saw how longing his eyes were the moment Grandmother reverted her scars for a moment. I was ashamed to have cringed at the sight of Grandmother’s burnt face. You’d know that it was important for Grandmother to be accepted as who she is. Though, I think that she has more reasons than she tells. The same could be said to Nolan Salvatore.”
Leander folded his arms. He stared at Nolan who was standing with his hands behind his back. He was watching the meeting without speaking and only doing assisting whatever Ciara wanted.
“He looks tamed.”
“Is that how you see it? He chooses this role, you know? He started acting like Grandmother’s butler, and Grandmother, who usually does things herself, is letting herself be spoiled by him.”
“Have they been busy?”
“Who knows?” Mia said. “They aren’t teenagers and they usually spend time just talking. Grandmother has been talking about what happened to her and what the world has become. Though, there are times where Grandmother looks like she just wants to lock up Nolan Salvatore and keep him there.”
“I know. The time I spent with them had been strange...However, it might be the behavior of a Perpetual to act like that.”
“Do you think the true heir of our Grandmother would come soon?”
“That’s what I want to know. They are taking it slow but I fear what Grandmother may do.”
“You really make our grandmother...seems strange.”
“Maybe it’s just me, but I think that their conversation would get sidetrack all the time. I hope that Grandmother doesn’t go too far.”
Leander’s mouth was half-open. He stared at Mia for a second before looking at the table where the twelve branches were talking. Everyone has stopped looking at the man beside their grandmother and listened to her words well. Leander tried to focus, but he saw her grandmother gesturing Nolan Salvatore in secret. Nolan Salvatore took a step to her side, and she snatched his hand stealthily, her lips slightly curving.
“See?” Mia said.
“Ah, this is strange, isn’t it?”
“I’m fine with it.”
“I see. So, why did Grandmother let everyone know that he exists?”
“The Cascadian’s are to be blamed. Grandmother regrets talking about the Cascade Nation.”
“Bleak Walkers are naturally attracted to environments that allowed them to feel alive. If what I’ve heard are true, then I expect Nolan Salvatore to seek out the battle happening.”
“Would Grandmother agree?”
“She does not. But...she’s planning to keep Nolan Salvatore near her all the time.”
“By showing him that we can take care of the problem?”
“Yes. I am fine with it. Don’t you as well?”
“Being used by Grandmother is an honor. Of course, we’d be willing to do what she desires. If she wants war, then the Alician Lions will move in and take care of the root of the problem.”
“I hope it doesn’t come to that. Our Grandmother is planning to visit Aunt Vie, and see if she can alleviate the walker’s syndrome of the bleak walker.”
Mia nodded listlessly. She looked at the hand grasping Nolan Salvatore. The Bleak Walkers does not rest, they fight until the fire of their souls are extinguished. For they have chosen the bleak path, Mia thought.