The individuals of the twelve branches of the Alician Family left the inner room. They bowed their heads in greeting to their Matriarch and left the room. Mia and Leander stayed for a while before leaving without talking to Nolan. Nolan looked at the door being closed.
“Quite a family,” he said.
“I thought you were going to attack the Cascade Nation?”
“Yes, but do I have to do it myself, Nolan?” She looked at him. “Are you eager to fight for purpose?”
Nolan didn’t reply. He stared at the phantoms that were bathed in red. Their faces were unfamiliar, they were tramping around the inner room, their eyes dilated, their bodies cut up, sliced, and a few of them had no heads. Their voices were like teeth being dragged on concrete, and flesh being peeled.
“Are you okay?”
“Can you hear them, Nolan?”
“What’s new?” Nolan said. “I’ve been seeing these visions. Reminders of the past so that I won’t forget what I am. I am a bleak walker that could only walk the bleak path.”
The voices grew louder. This time the voice was like nails scratching on uneven metal. Nolan kept a straight face as he dully stares at Ciara.
“Mother, I want to go home?”
“I need to walk,” a voice said.
Nolan ignored the voices, his eyes peering Ciara’s.
“I know that,” Ciara said. “I know of the curse that plagues you Bleak Walkers. I know what you are experiencing right now, and don’t bother hiding it.”
“Vie, huh,” Nolan said. “You said she had escaped the throes of the Walkers?”
“She has in a way have dulled the effects. That’s why you are coming with me to her. She’ll be glad to see you again.”
“I don’t remember anyone called Vie.”
“How could you know her?” She said. “She’s a Sage that has left the mundane world. She’s my friend and like Audrey, she had reached the state of perpetual.”
“Three Immortal Women,” Nolan said. “Does the Three Ladies of Fates Exist?”
“You are looking at one of them.”
“A War Maiden acting as one of the three fates, and you have been in this role for years?”
“Yes, the fates have strengthened my powers and it has been three hundred years since the last heroes emerged. The four lights that I possessed have been kept by me.”
“Four only huh, where is the Light and Darkness elementals?”
“Hidden, for they shall not be called unless needed.”
She relaxed on the chair while leaning her cheek on the back of her right hand. Her eyes looking sideways, away from Nolan. Nolan folded his arms, squared his shoulders and raised his chin, straightening his back.
“Are there any more Immortals beside you?”
“The Half-Dragon still exists. The long-lived ones and the Porters are roaming around the world. The Overlord of the Demons as well.”
“You heard me, Nolan. The Overlord of Demons still exist. It would be preferable if we massacre them, but they are taking care of the matters under the continent. Humans are too stubborn, and they have no reasons to down under it benefits them. Not even my presence would convince them to explore the areas under this continent.”
“So you are letting them roam around.”
“I am. But my family has been keeping tabs and the moment they violate the pact. I would destroy them along with Audrey and Vie. So far, they have been cooperative.”
“I see. If you think that they can be trusted then I won’t pry.”
“Trusted? That would be impossible. I cooperate with them for now. I fought them for years, and I don’t think that would go away so easily.”
Nolan saw the world turned bloody red. The Phantoms started banging their heads at the walls of the inner room. Nolan lifted his eyes away from the phantoms and stared at Ciara. Her image was changing from her burnt appearance to her current appearance. It was as if there was a filter.
“Your eyes acting up again?”
“It is. Though I am used to it.”
“The longer you don’t take the bleak path. The stronger the curse isn’t it?”
“I got used to it a long time ago. It doesn’t bother me at all.”
The phantoms whose hands were rotting clung alongside men who were holding on to him, begging to be saved. They whispered, screamed, and cursed him.
“I can see that you don’t. Vie has told me how the reminders are harsher as time passes. Did the travel here not alleviate the throes at all?”
“A bit, but like I have been saying, it doesn’t really matter to me.”
“Nolan,” she sat straight up and tapped the arms of her chair. “Come here for a second.”
Nolan took a step in front of Ciara. Ciara pulled on his jacket and wrapped her arms around Nolan, placing his head above her chest, and slightly covering his ears with her hands.
“Keep still,” Ciara lifted her hands a bit. “Are they still loud?”
“They are. Nonetheless, they really don’t bother me, Ciara.”
“I know that you are numb to it.”
“So can you let your arms go?”
“No,” Ciara said. “I just want to do this for no reason.”
Nolan sealed his lips and focused his hearing on her heartbeat. It was thumping rapidly. He took a peek a saw Ciara’s cheeks shaded with a little red.
“I really don’t get this,” Nolan said.
“Still saying that?”
“Yes,” he said. He closed his eyes and isolated anything other than Ciara’s heartbeat. Covering his ears did not lessen the voices and the feeling of the phantoms clinging on his limbs. He simply had to make do by focusing his senses on the beating of her heart. There was simply no helping the curse of all the bleak walkers that walked the bleak path. Nolan has already expected the louder and visceral. Although it was not needed, he thought that hearing her heartbeat was better than dealing with it alone.
“It isn’t so bad,” he clenches his wrinkled left arm.