"When I was in the forest before I left… My mentor Maxwell warned me to avoid the Radiants. So… I don't have a very positive outlook of them."
I thought about that night under the fire. Maxwell would go on about how they are the protectors of the world. Getting involved with them isn't best for our kind. After dealing with Jade… I can see why Maxwell pointed that out. The Radiants are secretive and very powerful. A force to be reckoned with. So,I wanted to know Mellissa’s outlook on the Radiants and why she adores them so much.
The vehicle's inertia pulled us along as we made our way closer to the city.
"You know Feodora, I'll explain more when we get to the Radiant Kingdom. I… I think it'll be better there."
Warmly, she said as if a fleeing memory was capturing her again. So, to respect her wishes, I nodded.
I smiled back and leaned into her shoulder as we slowly approached Radiant City.
"I'll call you when we're about to head back. Thank you for the ride."
Mellissa waved to her guard as they rode off in the opposite direction. With that, we approached the gates and checked before entering the city. Usually, I would come from the other direction, so the knights stationed here weren't as familiar.
“You’re good to go.”
Once ordered, allowing us entrance into the city. It felt like there were many more people out today. I found myself drifting closer to Mellissa to avoid the groups of people walking by. Together, we made our way to the merchant district, hand in hand.
“Is there a sale going on in the merchant street?”
Mellissa asked, as curious as I was.
"I'm not sure… but there sure are a lot of people…."
Catching on to my tone, the human angled her head my way.
“Oh, do you not like big crowds?”
"Not really… it's… a little difficult being around many people simultaneously, I guess. I’d… rather just not deal with it."
I hoped that I didn't come off in a negative light, but in the same regard, I had to be honest and open myself up to Mellissa. And as we approached the merchant street, it only got more crowded.
“Are you sure you don’t want to stand by somewhere while I do my business?”
People were brushing past us now, trying to get by. It was like being in the middle of a storm at sea. The over-stimulation was getting to me, and I wanted to just shadow-walk into a nice dark corner and ease my mind.
"Well, I kind of wanted to see what you do, Mellissa."
But my curiosity to learn more about the girl I'm falling for overrode my annoyance with everyone. I made it this far. If I turn tail and run because of social anxiety, I doubt I will forgive myself later on.
“Come round, all over here now.”
Suddenly, a charming and bewitching voice caught my attention. Mellissa was taller than me, and it seemed that was why she caught on to who it was first.
“Feodora, it’s Abigail Pasco.”
I looked into the distance to see Abigail and Lana on a stage in the middle of the merchant district. To think the merchants would allow her to do this came to mind, but then I remembered just who she was. I'm sure this entire stage wasn't just set up by her followers but by the merchants here, too, by the power of her suggestion.
Lana was flying about, handing out fliers to anyone with more than one arm. Even her trusty followers were in the crowd promoting something.
“Everyone is so excited. I wonder what Abigail Pasco is doing here?"
Mellissa asked, but even she was ecstatic too. I caught her hopping up and down gently and clapping her hands.
“You want to watch, Mellissa?”
I asked with a smirk. My girlfriend caught on that I was teasing her and pushed my shoulder.
"You know, Feodora, I have high respect for Abigail Pasco. I don't believe in the religion the Barons prescribe, but… Abigail helps people."
With eyes of admiration, she held her hands together and gave a gentle smile their way.
“And I think… People that help each other like her are wonderful.”
The feelings behind her words felt like they had a bit of pain in them as if she was yearning for something similar.
"Abigail is… special in her way, Mellissa. I think she's a good person for the most part, though."
I agreed with her. She looked my way, smiled brightly, and looked back.
“Do you mind if we watch?”
“Of course not.”
I put my hands behind my back, waiting for whatever show this was to start.
They flew in the air and finally made their way to us. Lana stopped short of ramming into us, causing her wings to blast some cool air on Mellissa and me. Her golden twin tails bounced up and down with excitement.
Mellissa chimed in first. She reached out to pat her on the head, but the child flew up and down. I don't think she intentionally avoided Mellissa, but her excitement got to her.
"My sis is in a great mood today, so she's healing for the people! She will select a few citizens and cure them of their ailments!"
As she swirled in the sky, Lana explained. I've seen her miracles play out before when I was with Jade. Abigail used her miracles and cured the blindness of a little girl. But here she is, claiming to do the same to more people.
Mellissa, as giddy as ever, clapped.
"Oh wow! How lucky can we be, Feodora?! We get to see Abigail Pasco's miracles! If I didn't agree to come today, my mother would see it instead."
She was like a big dog, excited to get a treat. Once again, I found the little things she did… cute.
“Yeah, I guess it is exciting.”
I wasn't as drawn in by the entire thing as Mellissa was. Only because I still had reservations about whether this woman could do miracles. Mellissa suddenly grabbed my hand and pushed her body close to me.
"If I could do miracles like her…."
In a yearning, longing voice, Mellissa whispered under the crowd's cheers.
“You want to do miracles, Mellissa?”
My girlfriend looked at me, eyes full of a passion that resonated in me.
“I just want to help people, Feodora.”
Those simple words captured me. They felt honest and kind. Mellissa lifted me onto a cloud, bringing me into those simple yet pure ideals. Lana landed next to us and looked up at Mellissa.
“I love watching her miracles too! Are you thinking about becoming a Baron, Mellissa, Feodora?!”
I put one hand up.
“No, we’re just watching.”
I didn't want Mellissa to get dragged into some shady organization. Regardless of their practice here, I didn't want Mellissa to wear their white coats and go on pilgrimages like Caesar and others.
"Sorry, little Lana."
Mellissa pulled out a piece of candy and put it in her hand.
“Oh?! Thank you!”
The barklight popped it in her mouth.
"That's too bad, though. But it might be for the best since you have that demon side in you, Mellissa. You might hurt the other members."
Warilly, Mellissa nodded.
“Yeah, that might be true.”
She sounded a bit down by Lana's brazed comment. It's not like she was wrong or said that out of malice. Kids… are like that, and I know that all too well. So, I squeezed her gentle hand and gave her a warm smile, trying to lighten the mood.
“Let’s watch closely and see if we can spot how she does her magic trick.”
I said to Mellissa, earning a giggle.
"Hey! My sister doesn't do magic tricks! She cures people and makes them happy!"
I might have overstepped the line for Lana, but it made Mellissa smile, and that's all I cared about. I turned to the fired-up barklight with a piece of candy still resting in her mouth.
She flapped her wings and took off to the sky.
"Watch closely then if you don't believe in my sis’s miracles! She will heal all these people, and you'll eat your words when that happens!"
Annoyed, she flew off. Hopefully, I didn't upset her too much since we got on common ground the other day.
"You are good with kids."
The human teased. If that was "good with kids," I wouldn't want to see who isn't.
"I'm not good with kids at all. I… don't understand them."
"But you, on the other hand, Mellissa… you’re a natural with them. Like that little girl who lost her parents during the bombings. It was…”
I paused and then turned to her.
“It was… something seeing you handle that situation like that.”
I could hear my heart pounding In my ears, drowning out the people around us. Even though I was in a crowd of rowdy people, Mellissa felt like the only one here with me.
The onlookers gasped.
We turned to see a brilliant light show. The man on stage cried to the “goddess” doing the healing miracles. It looked like we missed one of the grand healings.
“Feodora, do you believe in miracles?”
Standing beside this beauty captivated me… easily making my answer a yes. But I didn't want to embarrass myself further, so I nodded.
“Yeah, I think I do.”
Together, we watched Abigail perform miracle after miracle. Eventually, I lost focus of trying to see if a trick was in her spell. The people who went up looked cured of their ailments. Before long, she exited the stage, leaving behind a group of new followers chasing after her.
"Maybe one day…."
Mellissa whispered before tugging my finger and pulling me along to finish her job. I wondered for a bit what she meant by... one day. Could it be that she may have saw in the future that she too... could heal people in a way?
I sat back, watching Mellissa organize her work. It seems everyone respected her as she went about doing business.
(I wonder if there’s a sign when Countess is about to come out…”)
There hasn’t been any indication that I knew of when she transforms. Like in the factory, it was instantaneous when she appeared, hitting the knife away and saving my life… only to later nearly kill me herself.
I leaned back and looked at the clear sky. There was a large box that I found comfortable as I waited here. All this budget talk was way over my head… but I enjoyed sitting here, watching her silently.
("What am I going to do when Countess comes out? Maybe… I should try to understand her better. Find some even ground, and maybe… just maybe she wouldn't try to slaughter me for a fun kill.")
I sighed deeply. It was like dealing with a homicidal big sister, getting angry for her little sister's sake. My mind went back to that night at my cabin. The bombs she planted, the rage she brought… just her being there was destruction in the making. But then I looked at the busy human, mindfully working and making the business run…
“Mellissa creates… while Countess destroys.”
That conclusion came to mind. There had to be a way for me to balance everything… and continue to make her happy. And my biggest obstacle is finding out what makes the devil inside her tick. Control her… so I can be with Mellissa.
“Feodora, I’m all done!”
My girlfriend waved to me cutely. I shook off my doubts regarding Countess for the time being and hopped off the large wooden box I was sitting on.
“Shall we go see the Radiant Kingdom, Feodora?”
“Yeah, let’s go.”
Hand in hand, we did just that.
We traveled through Radiant City, going up to the glorious palace in the distance.