III. The Nine Seals
Sara looked with delight when she saw a ball of light falling down. It looked like a falling star to her. But when she saw the ‘falling Star’ freeze the whole city, her lips that were curled upwards slammed down in an instant. She tightly gripped her trousers, not knowing how to react.
She had only seen that city from outside. Ice had sometimes brought her near the humans to tell her how she was different from others. Even though they were far, they hid their face and head under a cape and Sara was to never let go of Ice’s hand. Neither he nor Sara had ever interacted with others before. Even from far away, Sara loved this little education session. It was much better than their monotonous days of living on by themselves.
She never imagined even in her wildest dreams that that city would freeze in an instant. And apparently, Ice did it.
‘Don’t mess with the elves.’ She heard the echo of Ice’s voice. His voice contained anger and fierceness as if he would kill whoever disobeyed his command.
Sara was scared of that Ice. Ice had always been gentle with her. Even when she argued, complained, or sometimes hit him in annoyance, Ice had never been angry. Even though he was not angry at her, his expressions silenced her.
Then Sara saw that lady getting sealed in a coffin of ice, which changed from transparent to black. And she saw him cry for the first time in her life. After crying for a few moments, Ice rubbed off the remnants of tears from his face. Yavie was alive and if she knew he was crying, she would be sad too.
Ice waved his hand once again and the black coffin disappeared. Ice slowly descended the shoulder of the sculpture. Sara looked right into Ice’s eyes and Ice looked back into hers. His actions had already terrified her and now his emotionless face made Sara gulp hard. As Ice stepped on the ground and walked towards Sara, Sara moved a step back. A small pebble made her leg slip, and she fell down on her butt. Ice kept moving towards her and he knitted his eyebrows.
Sara closed her eyes in an attempt to hide, and then she started blabbering.
“I’ll eat beans next time... And... I’ll never be stubborn... I promise...”
“Oh, really?” Ice let out a small chuckle when he saw how afraid Sara was.
When Sara heard his normal voice, she opened her eyes. She instantly realized that Ice was playing with her before. Sara instantly let out a deep breath.
“I was just kidding... Anyway, what’s happening?” Sara asked.
“Well... Let’s go somewhere else first. It’ll be noisy here soon.” Ice said while walked near her. He bent down and swept that little girl off the ground.
“Hey. What’re you doing?” She exclaimed at his sudden action of carrying her. She clung to his clothes. Ice would always carry her on his back if she wished so, but it was again the first time he was carrying like a princess.
Ice didn’t reply to Sara but started running to the forest. His speed got faster and faster as he ran through the woods.
“How are you running so fast?” Sara asked him but she only got silence in return.
Sara didn’t dare to look ahead to where they were going. She was afraid that Ice might crash into something while running that fast. She looked at his face instead. On the way, she would ask many things like ‘What happened?’, ‘How did you freeze that city?’, ‘Is that lady your girlfriend?’ But Ice would not reply to anything, as if he hadn’t heard her. Over time, she stopped asking anything and silently enjoyed the fast winds blowing on her face.
About half an hour later, Ice stopped. By that time, they were already miles away from the city and their home, deep within the forest where the leaves were so thick that almost no light fell on the ground. Ice looked around and after making sure that there are no beasts nearby, he gently put Sara down. He then sat against a tree, huffing, and painting hard.
“Are you alright?” Sara squatted down in front of him and asked.
He hummed in response and tried to stabilize his breathing by taking deep breaths. Sara’s gaze went towards his eyes and she remembered she had tons of questions.
“What happened to you back then?”
“I don’t know how to explain.” Ice said and closed his eyes as if he too was trying to make sense of everything.
He indeed didn’t know how it happened. The only thing he knew was he was engulfed in rage after he saw that elven lady. It was his second time meeting that lady. He felt an unexplainable pain in his heart when he thought that the elven lady was dead.
Ice understood things ever since he had a sense of self. He possessed the knowledge of the forest, beasts, people. Even though he had never learnt it, he knew what was the culture, hierarchy, jobs, and other things among human civilization. He knew that his life in a human settlement would definitely be much easier than living in the forest. But he intuitively rejected that and stayed alone in the forest with Sara. But despite his knowledge of general stuff, he remembered nothing about his past.
He had always known that there were nine seals carved on the back of his body. He also knew how to open those seals, but he had this feeling in his heart that he shouldn’t open those seals if he wanted to keep living. Whenever he had thought of breaking the seal open, his subconscious was frightened. He would have nightmares for weeks after that.
When he saw that lady in the cave, some of his memories flooded in his mind.
‘And who might you be?’
‘You’ve such a weird name.’
‘Ice. I guess travelling around the world with you would be my dream.’
‘I love you more.’
‘I made your favourite food today. Though it is the first time I cooked.’
‘Just for your information, I don’t mind Sel. I can see both of your feelings are true... I’m the first anyway.’
‘Ice... No matter how long you may take, I’ll be waiting for you. But don’t make me wait a lot, okay?.’
Those memories were messed up as if someone had mashed them together and made a soup. He could only remember a few of them, but he didn’t understand why those memories were there. He had never experienced those things, but those memories... They appeared so true. And that pain of losing someone you love, it was more than true...
His heart raged, and in his rage, he broke open the first seal. His mind was clouded after that. He was awake, and yet he felt like he was sleeping. The things he did came to him on their own as if they were a part of his subconscious and he always knew how to do it.
Those mashed up memories were clearing up little by little after breaking the seal. For the time, he only understood his relation with that elf and he felt horrible remembering how he had treated her when they first met.
“Liar!” Sara shouted and disrupted his thoughts. She sat down beside him.
“Do you remember how you used to call me father when you were a kid? But I never let you call me that. It turns out that I am your father, even though step.” Ice laughed. He remembered how Sara called him father when he was teaching her and how hard it was to correct her and make her always call his name.
“Are you for real?” Even though Sara didn’t call him father anymore, she had always regarded him as such. After all, he had raised her up just like a father raises his child.
“Yep. That lady in the cave is kinda your step-mother.” Ice informed her.
“How is this even possible? You are only six years older than me!”
“I’m much older than I look. Much, much older... It might be hard to explain, but it’s true.” Ice then opened his palm and there was a neatly folded paper in it. “Here. It’s a letter from your mother. It might be helpful.” He offered the letter to Sara, and she picked it up with a brief hesitation. She had never thought she would encounter the letter of her mother and the mystical side of Ice during their random trip in the forest.
“Before you open it, I’ve something to talk to you.”
“No, no, no.” She shook her head. “You’re going to tell me everything first...”
“I’ve to talk about something important.” Ice interrupted her.
“Nope.” Sara was stubborn as well.
“Just listen to me.” Ice said in a slightly higher tone this time. “It’s important...”
She knew it was something serious when she heard his high tone. But how could she step down without a fight? She knew Ice might hide things from her.
“I’ll listen to you for now, but you’ve to promise that you’ll tell me everything later.”
“Okay. So what I’m about...”
“Promise first.” Sara disrupted him.
“I did say okay. Ain’t that enough?”
“No way. It’s far from enough. I know you well. You go back on your words sometimes, but you don’t break your promise.” All these years, Ice had always fulfilled every promise he made.
“Trust me a bit, will you...” He said helplessly while looking at the stubborn little girl who wouldn’t budge.
“Sometimes, I think I didn’t raise you good enough. I promise you I’ll explain everything... I’ll try to.”