Chapter XLIV: The Event Horizon

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Van Eltia - Night before reaching Zekson Port

Under the starry skies, the Van Eltia sailed onward into the horizon. Laphicet came out to the deck to take a gander at the moon. To his surprise, Avernus was alone at the bow of the ship, stargazing. Laphicet wandered to his side.

"Hey, Phi." His eyes were still fixated on the shining white orb in the night sky. "The moon always radiates pure light, even when I face away into the night's dark." Avernus said, his tone booming with a grand spirit.

Laphicet nodded. "Yeah, it's more beautiful than all the stars combined."

"My mother would always say "The moon brightens the sky to sing a soft lullaby, to ease her children into a star-filled night"." Avernus chuckled, turning to Laphicet. "Because of her, I always pictured it like a lone mother who shines over her children down below, giving them hope during their darkest hour." Avernus shifted his eyes back to the moon and smiled faintly. "But the only thing we can do is smile back at her from afar, forever out of reach of our hands." Avernus extended his arms and then coiled his fingers as if he wanted to reach to the moon.

The gentle wind billowed the sails and deck, making Avernus' untamable golden locks of hair dancing around in the wind. "That's nice..." Laphicet said, watching Avernus walking to his side.

"You've come a long way, Laphicet." Avernus' soft expression shifted, turning more casual and confident as his eyes clung to Laphicet's gaze with praise. "You've grown into a fine young man."

His compliment felt empowering, giving Laphicet even more determination. "Thanks. Even though we traveled all over the world, I feel that I still don't know anything."

"That's how life is. Adults never say enough to youths. They always have to fill in the blanks on their own." Avernus leaned on the mast with one leg up against it. "When I was fifteen, I already knew most of the tricks and artes people, and malakhim, could've taught me. I wanted to take on the world on my own. I couldn't wait to go out and be the hero." Avernus sneered, recalling his past time of being a Shepherd. "Little did I know that I wasn't ready, but it's not about being prepared. You make mistakes, you learn from your mistakes and grow. That's how life is; it's all about the journey."

Avernus' speech was lined up with his memories and experiences. Good and bad, sad and joyous, they shined like clear crystals in his mind, soothing and exciting."You're right. If it weren't for Velvet rescuing me, I wouldn't have this life. She gave me nothing but encouragement and kindness, and I'm grateful for that."

"Velvet wouldn't call that rescuing." Avernus chuckled when he remembered how she rephrased finding Laphicet. "Kidnapping was what she told me."

Laphicet laughed, eyes beaming. "Then, I guess I was lucky to be kidnapped by Velvet."

Avernus' cordial expression suddenly hazed as something bothered him deeply. Laphicet could sense a thousand knives piercing his heart, but there was also hope to power his words. "Velvet thinks she's living a selfish life. She'd tell you that she's the worst, miserable creature that ever lived. But I can see the glimpse of her true self, always."

Laphicet shifted his eyes intuitively to the moon. "Yeah. Like a bright light in the dark. That's how I always see Velvet."

Avernus heaved a sigh, mild expression of worry waving behind his eyes. "I wonder, what sort of future will all this give rise to when we deal with Innominat and Artorius?" Avernus shut his eyes, seemingly lost in his thoughts. "The cycle would end, but nothing at all may change. Prince Percival is but one man and words are nothing more than words. People interpret everything, even laws in whatever manner best suits their interests. Humans will lose their ability to perceive malakhim and daemons. There will be a bloodbath."

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