Chapter 285
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“Why are you looking at me like that?” Mom whispered weakly. Each word was drawn out from the effort and pain of talking, but despite the agony she must be in, Mom showed none of it on her face. She simply smiled through the bandages as if everything was normal. “I’m the one hurt. If I’m not crying, neither should any of you.”

Charly wiped his eyes and nodded firmly. “Do you need any more painkillers? How do your injuries feel?”

Mom tried to shake her head but grimaced as the small movement sent a shockwave of pain down her spine. “Later, maybe. For now, I want a few minutes of clarity. Everything has been a blur. How long was I asleep?”

“A while…” Charly mumbled uncomfortably. 

Mom glanced at Dad. “What is the situation?”

Dad gripped Mom’s hand tightly as he sat at her bedside. He chuckled knowingly at the businesslike expression she was giving him. “It took a couple of detours, but the city of Ater-Albus is General Arthur’s control. The first wave of Demons has been defeated, and we are currently on our way back to Kala in preparation for Envy’s final invasion.”

“I missed that much?” She whispered forlornly. She then glanced at Charly and me. “I’m sorry. I should have been there.”

“Don’t worry about that,” I said as I knelt down by Mom’s bed so that I was level with her. “I can handle whatever Envy throws at us. You just need to focus on resting until we get you healed.”

Mom tried to move her left arm but swiftly fell still as she shut her eyes with a pained hiss. It was only several seconds later that she was able to reopen them and look me in the eye. “Wren, my sweet little Wren, you have grown up so fast, but regardless of whether or not Aurielle is there with you, do not try to bare everything yourself. My injuries are not your fault nor your responsibility. Your father and I are soldiers. We were prepared for this situation from the very beginning.”

“That’s not… I…” I faltered, stumbling over my words. At a glance, Mom had struck what I had been feeling ever since she was injured. I didn’t know how to respond. I couldn’t agree with her. I was more powerful and experienced than all of them combined. I should have been able to foresee the Demons’ plans. Like with Dom’s Death, I could have prevented Mom’s injuries if I had just prepared better. 

Mom chuckled softly as I struggled to explain myself. “I may not have been fully aware, but I remember the words you spoke as you sat by my bedside throughout the night, all of you, Charly and Renald as well. Listen well because it hurts too much to repeat myself. I am proud of all of you, but my injuries are my responsibility. Even if I were to go back in time, I would still make the same choices as before. You are not the ones that have to strive to be stronger or create better glyphs. That burden is mine and mine alone. I am the one that needed to be faster, stronger, and more prepared. So, all of you had better stop crying about it or I will crawl out of this bed and beat you black and blue.”

A moment of silence filled the room, broken as Dad began to laugh raucously. His booming voice echoed loudly. “That’s the woman I married!” He then planted a kiss on Mom’s lips.

“Obviously,” Mom replied with a roll of her eyes, “Being bedbound is not going to change anything. I expect all of you to go about your day as normal and stop mopping around all the time.”

Charly nodded silently, but I noticed his fists clenched tightly at his sides. His eyes burned with determination. It was clear that despite Mom’s assurances, he had no intention of slowing his treatment of her injuries. If anything, he might have become more resolute in his goal of developing a glyph that could heal her.

I shared the same mindset. Despite Mom’s insurances, I could see she was suffering with every word she spoke. It was only through sheer willpower she was not still screaming in agony. Worst of all, it was because of my own inadequacy that she continued to be in pain. If I could only bring my two talents into balance and revive Lucia, her torment would end. I was so very close now. 

Mom and Dad separated from their kiss, unaware of the silent determination smoldering inside Charly and me. Mom smiled wistfully as she spoke.

“Now that you all understand, tell me about what has happened while I slept. What happened with the Demons and the invasion?”

Without any embellishment, the three of us began to recount everything that had happened since Mom was injured. We told her of Berith’s death, Dad creating a new glyph armor, our invasion into the blood mist, and my subsequent capture. Mom was especially concerned about the last part, but I managed to reassure her that I was never in any real danger. I’m not sure how much she believed, but she stopped hounding me for details after I told her of my escape and regaining my full strength. 

The act of just talking together was like a weight lifted from my shoulders. The mountain of pressure that had suffocated me for days melted away with every word. Even though she was still injured, hearing Mom’s voice and the comfort it brought was something I didn’t realize I needed. It was only now that I grasped how much I had missed it. At one point, I started crying again and got chastised for it. Mom said she wanted only smiles when she was awake.

After we told Mom of our final battle with the Demons, Mom’s gaze drifted to the small leather-bound book that was slightly sticking out of my pocket. “It’s amazing to think such a trivial-looking book can hold so much power.”

“That is the nature of armaments,” I explained with a shrug, “Most of them were once something mundane. Only a rare few, like Svend’s halberd, are purposefully made. You should ask Sebastion to show you his sometime. It is this adorable little flower bracelet Lucia made him when they were kids. It is too small to even fit him anymore, so he loops it through a necklace he hides under his shirt.”

Dad blinked in surprise. “So, an armament can be anything?”

“Just about anything, yes. They are created when someone powerful has a deep emotional attachment with a single object. As time passes, part of your power embeds itself in the object, forever changing it. This process can take decades or even sometimes centuries, and the longer your armament is by your side, the stronger it becomes.”

If I created an armament, could I use it to heal people more effectively?” Charly asked with a fire in his eyes.

“Maybe,” I replied hesitantly, “Armaments are an extension of their owner’s will and personality. Unless you have an innate talent, there is no guarantee what type of power the armament will gain.”

Dad’s brow furrowed in curiosity. “If that’s the case, why is your armament able to use multiple abilities? Shouldn’t it just be a copy of your green flames?”

I nodded with a knowing grin. “That is where the beauty of the Chronicle comes from. You see, this book is not just my armament but also every other member of the Aevus family. When multiple people form an emotional attachment with a single object, it can carry the powers of each person. The Thirteen Divisions have many such items they call legacy armaments. You can’t use other people’s powers as freely as your own, but it is a significant advantage in power. The Chronicle is such a legacy armament but notably different. You see, the original book had the unique ability to copy and record information. Not only could it copy what was written, but it could also duplicate its own information into other books as well. While I can’t even begin to explain why, this somehow included the recorded imprint of other people’s powers, and no matter how far apart the duplicate is, any change to one book affects them all. As such, there are now eight copies of the Chronicle, each one carried by the other members of the Aevus family as their armament but all of them are the same book.”

“Can I see it?” Mom asked curiously.

I shrugged and handed her the book. With her one good arm, she flipped the pages open, expecting something to happen. After a long moment of silence, her brow furrowed in confusion.

“What is this?” she asked.

“A children’s fantasy novel,” I replied with an impish grin, “Everyone that tries to read the book without owning the armament sees the same thing. The best part is, what you’re reading isn’t even the first book in the series. It annoys anyone who tries to steal the book to no end and is hilarious every time.”

Mom reluctantly handed the book back to me. “What will you do now that you have it?”

“What?”

“You always talked about the Chronicle and your power as Aurielle. Now that you have it, what are your plans?”

“Obviously, I am going to use it to fight Envy,” I replied with a confident thump on my chest.

“Then what?”

“Huh?” I remarked in confusion.

Mom’s voice was barely a whisper as she spoke. “No matter how this war ends, you will survive in some form or another. What will you do now that you have regained the power and responsibilities of Aurielle.”

I hesitated as I realized the implications of Mom’s question. There was a weight in her gaze I hadn’t expected as she waited for my answer. I had never really considered the question. My thoughts were always on the present, but now Mom of all that would happen if we survived this war. I was one of the Five Calamities. I had armies to lead and expectations from the others that relied on me. When I was still weak, I had an excuse to delay those duties until I recovered. I could have stayed with my family and enjoyed slowly introducing them to other worlds, but now that my power had returned, could I really spend years away while others were still dying on the front lines?

“I… I don’t know.” I stammered uncertainly. 

“Surely we can deliberate those concerns later,” Dad interjected when he heard my reply.

“I don’t expect a reply right now,” Mom said with surprising firmness, “but she needs to consider it. This war may be the greatest event of our lives, but it is just a small skirmish for Aurielle. Now that she has that power, she must be ready for what comes next.”

I frowned in thought. Dad said something else, but I wasn’t paying attention. Our conversation with Mom continued for another hour. Most of the time, we talked about silly little things, but Mom’s question remained in the back of my mind. What would the future hold for me now?

I knew what I wanted. I wanted to grow up with my family. It was a life Aurielle never had the opportunity to experience, and every fiber of my being desperately longed for it. It was a simple goal, but achieving it was anything but easy.

Mom grew wearier with every minute that passed. By the time the hour ended, she could barely say a word or two without grimacing. We talked and told her stories while she listened silently, but eventually, Charly made the call. It was time Mom took her medication. He reassured us that she could wake up again soon, but for now, she needed her rest and wound treatment. I wished we could have spent all night talking, but I understood the pain Mom must have been bearing just to ease our worries. 

Dad, Charly, and I all stayed with her until she fell asleep. While I watched her gentle breathing, I finally made my decision. I knew what I needed to do, not just to win this war against Envy but also to secure a future where I would not be separated from my family. 

“Mare, don’t let anyone disturb me until I am finished,” I said as I returned to my room.

I sat down on my bed with my legs crossed and pulled the Chronicle out of my pocket. I took a few breaths as I traced the pattern on the front of the book rhythmically. After calming my mind and steeling myself for what may come next, I opened the book.

It was time I brought my talents into balance, no matter the risk.

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