Chapter 8

Daraton was following fast on his heels, trying to say something with urgency in a low tone, which I couldn’t hear.

I looked down at my lap and took the flower with my free hand. The beautiful and rare flower looked like jelly but it was as hard as plastic. I only heard some things about this rare flower from my fellow Aigleans. It was the first time thought that I got to touch it and peruse it in person. The flower was indeed a wonder.

I smelled its sweet scent with a smile, thinking about the stranger.

Oh, why, oh, why? Why couldn’t I shake him off my thought? We only met twice but he left me such a deep impression, which was entirely bugging me.

‘He knows me. But I don’t know him.’

Aside from being the only half-breed on this planet, who everybody must have known me by reputation and name, he seemed to really know me. Personally. That was odd. Who could have told him about me if he was from the north?

“Oh, you got yourself an admirer, I see.” Oleifa’s voice boomed in my ear and I looked up with a startle. She was also staring at the flower I was holding with fascination. Then, she took the seat where the stranger left vacant. “You know, there’s a story that I know about this guabula flower. It was told by my late mother.” She smiled amiably at me.

My brows went up. “Oh, your mother was from the north, right?” I just recalled. She lived there before the Furezos existed.

“Yes, she was Indic.” Oleifa smiled, nodding. “So, you see? That’s how I got to know the story.” She paused, and I nodded. “A very long time ago, there was once a young Indic woman who lived near the Black Forest. Her job was to gather nectar from different kinds of flowers for the royal family. One day, she found this rare flower, the guabula. As she never found such beauty everyday, she never picked one. She studied the flower for a long time and found out that it could cure almost all wounds and diseases. It is considered as an elixir of life. She then decided to grow this rare flower in her secret garden. And for years, she was known to be the greatest healer in the entire Aryan world. All those who needed the nectar of guabula would go to see her.

“One day, a very sick young man came to her. No one knew of his disease. His skin and flesh fell off from his body part by part every other day. She took care and nursed him to health. You see, she made him healthy again with the help of this rare flower. Then, it turned out that the young man she was taking care of was the Grand Crown Prince Alkieth himself. And because she was so kind and patient in taking care of him and didn’t want anything in return, the Grand Crown Prince fell in love with her and married her. He didn’t even bother to undergo the selection of crown princess ceremony. He just married her right away when she said ‘yes’!”

“Oh, so that’s the story of the grandfather of the late Queen Aciel!” I just remembered that King Alkieth was the one who married a healer. That was in my history class before.

Because of the story, I remembered my own mother. After Queen Aciel died, her husband married another woman—a Nazian named Dioresh— and after she died mysteriously, my mother was the next Queen, who also died mysteriously. And currently, it is known all over the Aryan world that the King is looking for another Queen.

With this thought, I sighed.

There were theories that surfaced in my mind. One was that the King himself murdered his Queens. And two was that someone who hated him so much that they did not want him to be happy did it. They wanted the King to suffer and maybe pin their deaths on him.

“Yes. And now, you know why I said you got yourself an admirer. Guabula stands for love and care, Xerra.” Oleifa looked at me knowingly with a gentle smile on her lips. “The one who gave you this must feel something very akin to love and care for you,” she added suggestively.

I looked at her with puzzled eyes while my heart drummed harder within my chest. How could a stranger give me such a flower then? It was ridiculous if he did feel love and care for me, right? We only just met! Perhaps, there was just something that that stranger wanted to tell me that he couldn’t yet. And about what he said that he knew all about me for a long time now, could it be that he was stalking me all this time?

Instead of feeling fear, I felt an extraordinary excitement run through my spine, my entire system.

‘I must be crazy! A stranger can’t just let me feel things I’d never felt before. It’s crazy, isn’t it?’

Again, I should not read between the lines… or his actions. It must mean something else. Wait, could it be that he also knew about my plan of joining the upcoming Banatan?

I heard Ponpon sigh and comment, “That was quite a romantic but sad story, Oleifa.”

“Well, every story has its different sides—sad, happy or something else.” Oleifa paused and sighed before she continued to speak. “But that is how life is in this fourth-dimensional world, Ponpon. I should think you’re better off to be in your state at the moment. You don’t need romance!” she teased and laughed at Ponpon mockingly.

I smiled and then laughed along with her. It was hilarious when I think about it carefully.

“That’s so mean!” Ponpon grunted. “You’re making fun of me! I hate you both!” he uttered.

Oleifa and I continued to laugh at him, at his expense.

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