The sound of the water usually calms him. At least yesterday it was. But today was not like yesterday.
And yesterday was nothing like today.
The sound of water while soothing does not calm him the least. Instead as he soaks his body inside the water, he could not help but be frustrated.
Even inside the Palace of Everlasting palace which houses the most grand Bathhouse in Eden does not help the burning flame in his heart.
The Palace Of Everlasting Peace was one of the biggest projects in the city.
When the builders were constructing the Palace, anything that is not to the liking of Lady Sofia was changed to her whims.
The care that the City Lord shows towards her could rival that of Mumtaz towards her concubine.
The decorations inside the Palace were all exquisite and rare. Arts and countless pieces of valuables were given to fill the Palace interiors.
Over the past month, there were three shifts of builders, architect, designers, working day and night in order to renovate the palace according to the blueprints of the Grand Builder.
Then Azief gifted the Palace to Sofia cementing her as one of the important personage in Eden without a title.
Azief gifting this Palace to Sofia showed to the world the amount of importance he had placed on her.
The water falls onto his body and he closed his eyes. He has already dismissed the servants as he wanted to be alone tonight.
It is a very stressful day he thought to himself as he takes a momentary dive before coming back up, feeling refreshed and then leaned on the walls of the Pool.
Azief today is spending time inside the large white jade bath in the Palace Of Everlasting Peace.
On all four sides of the bath, there was dragon heads, the wide gaping maws of the dragon clearly were the places for introducing the water.
Beside the bath was a place enclosed in silk coverings. Inside, a large couch is there.
Beside the window there was a table and two comfortable recliners. From a look, it made one feel the impulse to lie down.
Luminous pearls dug from the Diamond Lizard was encrusted on the pool, each the size of an infant fist, it will shine with luminous and beautiful color at night.
The dragon head with the sapphire inlaid is cold water; the dragon head with the ruby is the hot water.
The builders and the architects design this warm and cold bath based on the special properties of those sapphires and ruby gotten from the core of Wyvern and Wyrm heart core to produce this kind of one of a kind bath.
Azief was soaking his body in cold water, his body is envelope by some aura contained under his skin, making him calm and still as he let the water wash his mental fatigue away.
Azief look at the Bath and he smiles. After he gifted this Bath to Sofia, she was very happy.
This palace wasn’t all covered in gold and white jade but it felt unspeakably beautiful like the bath where fairies and immortals would play around.
The reason why he is stressed is primarily because of Sofia insistence on taking back his order of exile towards Loki.
Azief was in a good mood when he was going to her Palace determined to tell her about Will and his plots and his plan to rescue Will.
But then not even five minutes he enters her courtyards, Sofia began barraging him with questions and reminding him of Loki deeds and urge him to call him back.
Azief said some things about her not trusting him and Sofia said some things about why he could not trust her and keeps her at arm’s length.
To summarize they both said hurtful things to each other.
Then it got heated.
Azief remembers he said something about her too dumb to see the patterns and he also remembers that she said he treats her like an idiot.
From there they both got worked up and they argue with each other. And when they fight, it means literally.
They were a few arrows shot, but with Azief superior strength, he could take it.
Azief while he could reveal the plan he concocted with Will, he could not reveal his plan with Loki.
Always keep a card under his sleeve. Azief could hardly change this kind of habits. Always half the truth.
And the argument ended with him leaving her courtyard fuming with frustration.
They can’t honestly have a logical and calm conversation when they both are angry at each other.
In the end, Azief didn’t even have the chance to told Sofia about Will. And for some reason, Azief felt relieved that he did not said about Will.
Deep in his heart, Azief really didn’t want to talk about Will to Sofia.
The reason why he is not afraid to reveal his connection with Will is because they are already caught together but the plot between him and Loki is not yet revealed.
Or at least, that is what he wants himself to believe. That he is fine telling Sofia about his secrets.
About his adventures…..about all of his adventure.
Now, as he is inside the bath, letting the water cool down his head, listening to the sound of the rushing water he had the chance to calm his heart again.
For him the sound of rushing water falling down, like that of waterfalls or the pattering of the raindrops on the pavements or roads…..gives him a certain senses of uniformity, of calmness and serenity.
He had a half of mind to return to courtyard, kneels and admit he was wrong though he doesn’t think he is wrong.
He had half of mind to do what any good boyfriend would do, admit you were wrong and said you were sorry.
But Azief was not that kind of a guy. He is stubborn and prideful. Even before the Fall, he was stubborn.
What is right is right. What is wrong is wrong. He had a sense of justice that does not allow him to bend his own principle even if it’s a tiny matter.
It’s what makes people dislike him when he was in high school. As he grows up he sees that the world is not black and white but there are some things he could not and would not allowed himself to do.
It is more pride than justice. And that is the reason why he could not give an apology or said sorry when he does not meant it…even when he was weak and poor.
And now, he was rich and powerful. And not just one of the powerful, he was the most powerful man on Earth.
He could conjure up clouds with one turn of his hand and rain with another.
Even when he was weak, he does not allow himself to that kind of things, how could he now, at the peak of the world, allowed himself to beg and said sorry for which he had no fault?
But Sofia is different he told himself. Three steps back to the courtyard he stops, standings straight, hesitating and contemplating.
For him to return to the courtyard again and explains to her….for some reason…his pride wouldn’t let him.
‘Hah’ he sighed as he looked at the open ceiling.
He could see the clear skies and the stars. One upside of having the world change is that there is no pollution making the night sky extremely clear.
‘I can do it alone’ Azief suddenly said to himself.
After all it is just a negotiation. Unless, the World Government wanted to cut all pretense of cordiality with him they would at least give him some respect and not take it too far.
In the end, Azief still views Will as too important for him to lose. He then dives down the pool taking the coolness of the water as a means to soothe him.
‘Maybe he was too convincing’ he thought to himself as he trace the roots of the problems between him and Sofia.
He was too convincing that it almost seems like he is plotting something bad for Loki. While that was his intentions to deceive the enemies, maybe he did it too good.
What he didn’t know is, that if he just put aside his pride and apologize, said sorry and whispers sweet nothings to Sofia ears, the arguments would be over.
It’s not like women don’t know men just said that they are right to console them. They just pretend they don’t know.
Especially for women like Sofia. She is gentle, warm, and compassionate. Even her ruthless actions all serves to protect those she loved.
All she wanted is to be loved.
To have a man that could at least pretend to lose to her. It’s not like she doesn’t know Azief was right in certain matters and that he had his own burden.
But they were lovers. Couldn’t he at least pretend to lose? Then why didn’t Sofia apologize? If Azief has his pride, then Sofia has her stubbornness.
Both could not apologize. Both could not back down. Both of them don’t want to take the step forward.
They want to receive but they don’t want to give.
Azief won’t apologize for what he thought is not wrong, and Sofia could not forgive him without Azief saying he was sorry.
One person has to surrender.
He dives again, letting the water washed over him and come back up on the other side of the large pool.
Too many matters require his attention these days. When he exited Sofia courtyard he quickly decided in his course of action.
When morning came he already will be at the World Government.
‘Is this a secret?’ he asks himself but as he think of the answer he shakes his head. This could barely count as a secret.
When he makes his decision to tell the truth to both Sina and Sofia, he actually honestly, doesn’t want to.
Not because he likes keeping secret from both of them…but because if he had to reveal his relationship with Will, then he might have to reveal what happens in those four years when he was gone.
Azief was not proud of the man he has been in those four years.
They were a lot of things he regret. A lot of things he wished he did. And a lot of things he wished he didn’t.
Guilt. Longing. Regret.
These are the emotions that are invoked when he thought back to those four years.
A lot of things happened trying to come back home. But along the way, both Will and Azief almost lost their way.
But they both have their North Star.
For Azief his North Star was Sofia. For Will, it was Lily. He smiles a bit.
To those dark days with a single light that repels away the darkness. Azief remembers all of it.
The pain. The sufferings. He even almost lost everything. But through it all, he did not lose hope.
And that is enough. Hope makes him strong enough to find a way back home…and that is enough.
Not love. But hope.
As long as you have that, you can still fight. Lose that….and nothing would ever quite matter anymore.
A man without hope in a dark world is like an empty husk that keeps on moving with no purpose, waiting only for an end.
Azief come out from the water and dry himself off.
After he finished wearing his clothes, seeing that Sofia didn’t come to the bath to join him, he knew he had to give her time.
They both are stubborn people.
Azief sighed, come out of the bath, and then as he walked outside, he slowly floats from the ground and then with a cracking sound of wind he was in the clouds as he flies to the Vast Sea.
‘Preparations’ he thoughts to himself. He doesn’t like being caught unprepared.
The Prince is going on the offensive now.
Meanwhile on the Vast Sea, a document presented to Hirate and Raymond prompted them to call all of their reserve forces and setting up the most overkilled formation in the history of their organization.
PLAINS REGION, CENTRAL PLAINS
PALACE OF EVERLASTING PEACE
The door of the Courtyard of Lady Sofia was big and grand. Phoenix decoration filled the courtyard with flowers and plants.
All of it served to enhance the beauty of this particular courtyard.
The guardsmen, manservants and married servants of the Palace resided outside the courtyard in their own space.
The rules of the Palace of Everlasting peace were strictly enforced. The area that a person could move in was clearly divided.
For the servants, to be one that could walk inside the second door to serve, that made them a rank higher than the average servant as they were serving the inner courtyard. Even if it was just sweeping the ground, it was still a duty that many competed for as they would be sweeping for an Energy Disperse Stage Middle Realm.
Sofia who has the power in this Palace is an existence that could not be defied. She was fuming in frustration.
All around her is broken vases and porcelains.
There is even a ripped paintings worth thousands of gold.
On one part of the courtyard it was riddled with holes constituent with the shape of an arrowhead
The servant all does not dare to look towards their mistress and is only focusing on cleaning the mess.
Then one of the servants announced from the door
‘Milady, Marquees of Peace have arrived’ the servant voice was full of nervousness but she did her duty.
Sofia calms herself down and straightened herself. Then she sat on her armchair. She laid down halfway on the back, her clenched hands relaxed.
Hearing the announcement, she felt distressed
‘Tonight is cold. Invite the Marquees inside’
The servant bowed and silently retreated. Sofia check her appearance on the mirror and a short while later, Sina walked into the rooms.
Sina looked at Sofia distressed face and she immediately knew something happens. Well, considering that Sina heard the explosions, how could she not know?
She drawled and then said
‘Azief.’ She said as she gaze around the room and added
‘He makes me crazy.’
Sina just smiles in understanding
‘What did you fight about?’ She ask
Sofia take a deep sigh and looking absent mindedly at the distance and then she said almost like she was explaining
‘He always…remains at a distance. Always…elusive. Like I could never ever know what he is thinking. I….. hate that. Hate the fact that they always seems to be something I don’t know. Always with the trusting. Can’t he just be truthful and not have secrets? It’s not like I would divulge his secret.’ Then she sighed.
For a while she didn’t say anything and Sina didn’t say anything. She just waited. And waited.
The cold draft enters and they let the wind washes over them. Then Sofia sighed again and she said with a bit of trembling in her voice.
‘He’s cold.’ She said but then she smiles.
‘But there’s warmth in his heart somewhere. It’s hard to see it and feel, but it’s there. He likes the silence of the night. He said he likes the sound.’
Then she chuckles.
‘But not total silent. He said he likes the sound of the wind. Sound of the night scene he said. The sound of footsteps on the pavement, the sound of leaves blowing from a branch, the sound of grass swaying left and right, the sound of water falling down, of raindrops pattering down.’
Then she wipes her tears
‘Idiot’ she cursed.
‘Who?’ Sina asked
Sofia did not answer.
‘If you hurting this much why don’t you just told him the truth? You didn’t have to argue because of my request.’
Sina know that Sofia has long admire Azief. They were girls. They talk to each other. Admirations turn to affection.
Affection turns to love. It was that simple. There is no dramatic reason or love at first sight. Admiration.
People falling in love have many reasons. Admiration. Awe. Beauty. Any of those could be a reason why people fall in love.
But to stay in love and pursue it is not as easy as one would imagine.
‘I didn’t forgive him because…I want to make him worry. I want him to say….he misses me. Is it childish?’ She asked looking at Sina.
‘People in love has always been childish.’ Sofia also chuckles, her tears has dried up.
‘This is so unlike me.’ Sina also nodded.
‘Many men will have their image of you broken if they see you right now.’ Sina added
‘The Divine Archer a fragile woman. And the Prince is a man hard to love’ Sina said as she orders a servant to bring her one of the exquisite juice made of Virginoia Fruit, a fruit resembling grapes that promotes healthy skins and youth.
‘I never proclaimed myself as an Iron Woman. That title fit Katarina more that it fits me.’ She said sulking a bit
‘Based on what transpired here’ Sina said as she asses the damage of the courtyard that results from Azief and Sofia arguments
‘I guess you didn’t manage to convince him’
‘What do you think?’ Sofia asked sarcastically. Sina just laugh it off.
Then after taking a sip of the same juice Sofia th n said.
‘I had somebody organize my personal stores in the morning. I found some good herbs and ingredients beneficial for your Pill Studies. You can pick anything you want as compensation. Tomorrow I will meet him and reconcile I guess.’ She said nonchalantly but Sina knows she is nervous.
Being insecure. Trying to make sure the other person loves them. Being nervous. Even being happy will make a person like Sofia feel worried.
Sina knows her better than anyone.
Because too much happiness makes Sofia worried. Because the more happy she became, the more worried she is that all of it was just a dream.
And when she woke up, all she would left with is wounds all over.
Azief was right. She was broken. And she is picking up the pieces. She’s like glass. She couldn’t withstand another smash.
She couldn’t be broken again. She becomes stronger…yes. But that doesn’t mean being smashed to pieces doesn’t hurt.
It hurts every time.
‘You forgiving him?’ Sina said surprised. Sofia did not say anything but from what Sina sees there is no chance in hell Sofia would apologize.
For some inexplicable reason, Sofia is really stubborn in love. A broken glass piece by glue. And surely that glue will have an expiration date.
Sina smiles and take another sip of the juice and she just smiles, listening to the wind blow
UNDER A DEEP VALLEY
Loki is walking inside the newly excavated cave. Step by step he walked, with a fast pace and eyes that shines with excitement.
When he enters the cave he found a body of dead Giant. He quickly stores the body inside his Universal Array Pouch.
He orders his troops to guard the top of the valley as he investigates he inside of the gigantic cave.
He couldn’t help smiling. At first he couldn’t believe he was this lucky. Its hard to even pinpointing the location for that thing.
Especially when the White Explosion happens ahead of schedule.
He finally found it. It is so early….but it’s here. His steps getting faster. Sometimes he jumps across the great rifts inside the cave that seems o be bottomless.
But Loki knows what’s under there.
Snakes….millions of them. And that is just one of the monsters that dwells down there.
Maybe when he reached Disk Formation he will come here again to farm EXP. As he is now, he would only be just lunch for those monsters.
As he walks and look at the walls of the cave he could see skeletal remains melded with the café walls.
Poor unfortunate souls that didn’t know what they were dealing with. Their skeletal structures all look different from humans.
They are the alien races skeletal remains that traverse universes as the World Orb brings downs that thing.
They must have tried eons ago to take that thing.
From what he heard of Sasha stories, Loki is sure that this thing is the same as the thing on the Forest Region.
Which means Lee Sangmin channels that thing powers to create that barrier.
Sometimes flaming geysers will erupt out of anywhere and cause the temperature inside the cave to spike almost immediately.
The dark cave that is illuminated by the shines of the minerals on the walls of the cave make it easier for Loki to navigate himself inside the cave.
There is no guard beside him, or behind him. But he is not afraid. Instead he was giddy and excited.
‘Tick, tock. Tick tock, my dear’ he said as he lick the corners of his mouth, smiling in glee.
‘Time is ticking. If the Divine Archer memory is right, then this is the place. A grassy plains inside a dark cave. On top of the Hilly Peak, you will see a new horizon. Sweeping the grass, the truth is found’
He remembers the clues from the Divine Archer. The Divine Archer only heard the story from Azief when he manages to find that thing.
And The Prince at that time wipes Sofia memory but a trace remains.
Tapping onto her subconscious mind, this is the phrase that comes to her mind and what she told Loki.
His feet grew faster and the sound of tick tock keeps coming out from his mouth like he was counting something.
With each steps the sound grew louder, faster and excitable. Then he finally arrived at the location.
He could see a hill peak inside a cave, towering to the cave top. Smiling, Loki jump towards the hold in the hill like he was a monkey and after about fifteen minutes he landed on a large clear area.
The air seems a less bit restricting and a familiar smell. The smell of the Plains. Loki comes to the edge of the Peak and he chuckles.
On the other side of that hill peak is a grassy plains.
A grassy plains in a gigantic dark cave, the grass as green as the sea creating a bizarre feeling but Loki laughed.
The trail is right.
And Loki jumped down without hesitation
Landing down smoothly, it was like he landed into a cotton land.
Then he began walking forward not wasting any of his breath. His hand sweeping away the grass when suddenly he stopped his track.
His eyes look to the ground, to that one spot and his smiles widened.
‘Oh my god. It’s beautiful’
Not much to talk about. Only more mystery. And Lord Shadow paying a visit to the World Government in next chapter. Like always, leave some comments and thanks for reading.