CASeries #4: WARSONG
Chapter Five ⚜ A World Within
Valeriana squeezed the daylights out of her father, afraid he would disappear into thin air. Her hands were shaking and so were her legs. Her heart felt like it was breaking all over again and piecing together at the same time. She squeezed her eyes close and felt the tears gushing like a fountain.
His warm hands gently wound around her, his deep and comforting voice reverberating with a chuckle. Janus’ fingers massaged her scalp, mussing her blond hair. He didn’t change one bit from the last she saw him—his tuft of brown hair and the gentle grass-green eyes.
“Dad . . . dad,” she cried. For minutes, she stayed like that. “Dad, I missed you so much. I missed you. You don’t how hard it was these past two years.” She sobbed. “I’m sorry. If I can turn back time, I’ll treasure every moment I had with you.” She sniffled and looked up at his gentle face. “Please don’t go, don’t leave me again. I love you so much.”
“Valery, baby, I’m so sorry,” he said, his thumb brushing away her tears. “Calm yourself now, it’s alright. I’ve never left you alone.”
She brushed away her tears and snivelled. Using the sleeves of her shirt, she wiped her face dry and reached for her father’s hand. She was afraid that if she let him go, he would disappear again. “How come you’re here? What’s this place?”
“I’m guessing you opened the box I left behind for you?” He smiled gently. “You actually needed two prerequisites,” he told her. “One is that you need to reach your eighteenth birthday. The other is that you have to be in Valemnia.”
Valeriana blinked up at him. “So it’s true. You’re really a Valemnian?”
“I’m assuming you already know who I am?”
After remembering what happened, she glared up at him. “Garvyn Vernados Elgar?”
He chuckled. “Yes.”
“Ahhh!” She screamed and punched his guts. “Just how many secrets are you keeping?!”
Janus—or Garvyn—howled in pain and hopped back as he doubled over. “Damn son!”
“I’m your daughter!” she exclaimed.
He started laughing in between bouts of gasps of pain. “Ah, where’d you learn to punch like that?” he asked with a strain on his voice. “That packed a lot of power and you’ve shifted into a good stance too.”
“I’ve entered the academy,” she said. “A lot has happened the past few months. I met with Lady Seraphina after encountering a demon in an alley. I also met with Lord Aeron and the court. They made me go to Celeste Academy. I started training as a knight.”
His eyes widened. “I see. The gates have opened again?”
“Lots of issues and stuffs,” she told him. “I’m not dreaming, right?”
Janus pulled Valeriana over and asked her to sit on the grass. “I knew it would be like this. The white jade is, in a way, sleep-inducing as it calms the mind. However, it also carries the ability to bring you to the deepest recesses of your soul and conjure a world within yourself.”
Which explained the room back there. She remembered seeing it back in Arlandia with Avaro.
“Then why are you here?”
“Because I left behind a stream of consciousness into the white jade, just in case something bad happens to me. It will invoke a meditative state and will allow me to appear here. My life was never safe, Valery.”
“So, you’re really . . .” The sadness bubbled up in her heart. Her head hang and she stared at her twisting fingers—they were still trembling.
Janus’ eyes flickered with concern as he watched his daughter. “Sweetheart, I am so very sorry. I didn’t mean for it to be hard on you. You training as a knight was something I never expected, but I suppose this is the work of fate. You . . . even as a child, your power was so potent that I had to help you seal it with the bracelet. Even if Earth lacked the power pressure of Valemnia, there are various energy fluctuations that may invoke an imbalance. I didn’t want to risk it.”
Valeriana sighed. “I can come here and talk to you again, right?”
“That’s the purpose of the white jade,” Janus replied with a smile. “Which reminds me—if you’re training as a knight, perhaps you should show me what you got.”
He stood up and two swords materialized out of thin air. They were identical, sturdy, wooden swords that defied gravity. Valeriana was somewhat taken aback seeing them float before the two of them, but followed her father as he took one.
“What—what? How’d you do that?”
“This is basically a dream, so of course I can do this. In fact, if you wish to, you can make anything happen. This is your world, Valeriana. You control everything,” he told her.
Valeriana rubbed her chin and stared at Janus. In a moment’s notice, his clothes popped into a jumper with colorful polka-dots and his hair turned afro with a shot of rainbow. Valeriana burst out laughing as her father’s face turned sour. However, after a few seconds, he started laughing too.
“You look so ridiculous.”
“Come at this clown with all you got, then!”
Valeriana brandished the sword with both hands and attacked Janus with all her might. Despite being glad to see her father, she felt a flush of anger from somewhere—all the frustrations she pent up the past few years flooding her movements.
Janus’ eyes lit up the moment their swords met with a clang. Valeriana pulled on every bit of knowledge she gathered from when she started learning from Seraphina. Surprisingly, although she was expending force and utmost effort, her muscles did not feel fatigued. It was a bit surprising, but there didn’t seem to be any of the physical limits she felt before.
Probably because this was her dream state.
Janus stayed defensive the entire a while, as if sizing up Valeriana’s current capabilities. He let her go at it for a minute or two, following her movements as she struck and swung. When he finally got a gist of what she could do, he stepped forward for the offense and, in a blink of an eye, threw her sword out of her grip.
“The imbalances and clumsiness of your stances has led to several weak points and opening in both your form and technique. However, you know what force to use when driving for a certain attack and you seem to have an idea where to strike. Your quick-wit is amazing as usual, Valery. You’re more of a warrior than Jareth will ever be. That boy’s as lazy as a cow.” He scratched his head and shook it.
“I don’t feel tired,” she said. There wasn’t even a drop of sweat.
“Because you aren’t using your body to train,” Janus said. “Anyhow, this dream state will only last for a couple more minutes.”
“What do you mean?”
“Time passes very slow here, Valery. A dream will seem very short and the same goes for this place. You’ll have to wake up.”
“But, dad,” she protested. “I still have a lot of questions!”
“Some other time, sweetheart. Come back to me tonight,” he told her and leaned forward to give her a long-lasting kiss on the forehead.
Valeriana hugged him again, tightening her grip so hard he wheezed. “You’ll stay here, right?”
“I will be here when you return. Now, come on.” He tugged on her hand and led her back to the small house where she came from. It had only one room—her bedroom. Once they entered, he encouraged her to lay back down on the bed. The room was still chaotic, which made Valeriana feel a little disgruntled.
“Dad, why is my room like this?” she asked as she laid down.
“I’ll tell you tonight.” He brushed back her hair and smiled at her. “Wake up, Valery.”
Her eyes closed and the next thing she knew, she was being pulled out of bed. The thump broke her out of her sleep as she landed painfully on the floor. She forced her eyes open and looked at Genevieve, who had her wrist in her hands.
“Gen . . . what are you . . .”
“Hey, hey, sleeping beauty!” she exclaimed cheerfully as she ran out of her room. “Our dresses arrived, how can you be still sleeping?! Come on, hurry! We still need to prepare!”
Femeron crawled up at Valeriana and licked her cheek a bit. It seemed that she had woken up after another long nap. She had taken up the soft couch beside the fireplace as her bed since it was the warmest. At times, she would climb to Valeriana’s bed to sleep with her, but that was only when she felt like it.
This little dragon was a lot more independent than she expected.
“Come on,” she beckoned Femeron who climbed into her arms. She needed to a quick breakfast and entrust her dragon to Vallore while she was away.
Looking at her hand, she realized she was still holding the white jade. She approached the silver box and placed it into the velvet bed where it fit like a glove. She stared at it for a few more moments before snapping the lid close. Her bracelet came out of the lock from underneath so she took it and slipped it back to her wrist.
“See you later, dad.”
Her smile was big. It felt like nothing could ruin this day for her.