The Legend of the Stones of Lights
02-12-91: Julian Solo's party
After our battle with Hades, everything seemed to have return to their normal state. Even the saints seemed to have recovered even though they still couldn't use their Cosmos properly, but that would surely come back with time.
Every head of corporations was present at Julian Solo's party, and I really wondered why.
Chapter 1: a long lost sister
A few hours later
Obviously everyone had arrived. It was, I think, the good time for Julian to make his announcement and tell us why we were here. When I looked at him, he was discussing with two very rich ladies. Then he looked at his watch. Instantly I looked at mine: 8 PM. The sun had set about half an hour ago. When I looked at Julian again, I saw him call one of his servants, and tell him something in the ear. But, once again, he started discussing with some other guest. I just had to wait and see what would happen then.
Some five minutes had flown away when the lights switch off and on again in a flash. Everyone, including myself, looked at the top of the stairs. One girl was standing there, wearing a very simple white dress but which suited her marvellously well. Beside her, a bit in withdraw, stood another girl. Something told me it was because of them that Julian had invited all those guests. But who were they? Was Julian getting married?!
Here she was in her white dress, her beautiful light green hair falling down on her shoulders. She didn't wear any jewellery, except for the necklace she never parted with. She looked fantastic even if I knew she was anxious. I was proud of her. For a moment, I even forgot that I was supposed to say something to my guests, but then I finally came back on earth. I went a few steps up, took the girl's hand, and faced my guests.
"Ladies and gentlemen!... The reason I invited all of you tonight is because I would like to present to you... Lia... my long lost sister." I said distinctively all of these words, marking a pause after Lia' name. Everyone in the room was shocked by the news. Nobody knew I had a sister. And I remember that when I realized that I actually had a small sister, no words could come out of my mouth either.
"Now let's go back to the party and let's rock and roll!"
The music turned on; some guests began to dance while some other came to Lia and me. My sister presented her best friend Celes to those guests...
A few hours later...
I looked at the scene in amusement and smiled. After recovering from their initial surprise, most of the guests were hovering around Lia and her friend. Curiosity, I thought, was so typically human. As I thought of the past, I realized that I never would have know that I had a small sister, if I didn't have the sudden curiosity to look in daddy's file.
I put down my glass of champagne dreamily. I had searched for her, and to my surprise, she was at the head of another new founded corporation that, although it was as strong as mine, was quite important. When I first saw her, I knew she was my sister. She had been very sceptical at first, very cautious, but I convinced her. I know she's my sister, the DNA test proves it.
"Aaaaah, what happened to the lights?!"
"Are we going to be robbed?!?!!"
"Where's security when you need it?"
"Is this some kind of sick joke?"
What happened to the lights? I knew it couldn't be an electricity problem for the house was equipped with two different generators. But who would be bold enough to attack the mansion?! Something was very wrong... Oh no, the jewel!
I quickly rushed up the stairs, hoping with all my heart it wasn't gone. Oh please, let this be a false alarm... there's the door, faster, faster, where's the vault? Come on open up... why is this secret passage taking so long? Oh why are there so many stairs to go down too? Oh no! Wake up! WAKE UP guard!!! You were supposed to guard the jewel... what is this? Blood? But, the whole room is stained with blood... NO! Not the jewel! Oh no it's gone! What am I supposed to do! I was supposed to guard it! This is a bad dream, isn't it?
OUCH, that hurt! I shouldn't have pinched myself. Calm down Julian, think clearly. Who could have done that? Who? Who would have had the audacity to do that? Well... now was not the time to lose control. I must go back and reassure my guests.
I slowly went back, my head full with puzzling thoughts. I must talk to Athena. On my way down, I noticed that the two power supplies were turned off, so that was why the blackout occurred, I said to myself, well, it had certainly been an effective way to distract us.
My brother came back, looking a little pale. I wondered if he had discovered the reason of the blackout. Most people had panicked, afraid for their possessions but I don't think there was actually anything to worry about; it must have been caused by a shortage of current or something. Most people were relieved when the lights turned back on and a lot of them were tired, it was after all past midnight.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I am sorry for the light shortage but it seems that someone accidentally switch off the main power. Regretfully, for security reason, we will have to check the whole mansion so, unfortunately, the party is off. You will have to accept my deepest apologies on this matter and hope that such an incident will never happen again."
As my brother said this, the guests went off one by one, a bit relieved to have some rest after saying good bye to my brother and me. Funny, I didn't think that my brother told the entire truth. Not that I doubted him of course, but I was quite sure there was something else than what he said. There was something about the tension I felt in his voice and the slight frown of his eyebrows for a second that made me a bit uneasy.
"I don't think your brother told us the entire truth" my friend Celes said to me.
"You think so too huh?" I replied.
You could always count on Celes, or Celes as I called her. She was a bit blunt sometimes but always very truthful, which was a quality I appreciated very much. Though she was very rich, as rich as my brother I should think, and pretty, she didn't put on airs and graces, or, more importantly, she was not a hypocrite like a lot of people. She always stuck to her opinions no matter what they were. She was, as you can call it, a real friend. The only thing I could reproach her of was her stubbornness that sometimes exasperated me, and her impetuousness, which had got her in trouble more than once before.
"Why don't you ask him what happened?" she suggested to me.
"I don't dare too" I answered "I'm afraid to ask him, besides I don't really know him that much."
"Come on! You're his sister!" she replied.
"Yes, but I only knew he was my brother last month, he might get angry" I protested feebly.
"Are you going to ask him or am I going to ask him for you?" she said.
"Ok. I'll ask him. After all, I do want to know what's troubling him and see if I can help" I answered back.
Chapter 2: the revelation
A few moments later
"Julian" I said hesitatingly, "you look worried. Is something troubling you? Maybe I can help you. Tell me."
"Well my dear, it is not that I don't trust you, but I wouldn't want you to be involved in this matter," he said to me, "it is true that I am worried but if I told you what worries me, I do not think you would believe me."
"You can always try!" I replied with a smile "after all, what are sisters for?"
"Well..." he said hesitant "I guess I would have to explain it to you anyway for security reasons. But before I do so, I must inform lady Saori."
As he finished saying this, he walked to a beautiful lady with purple hair and whispered something to her. It must have been something of great importance or anxiety for I saw her face turning deadly pale, her rosy cheeks rosy no more. It was obvious she had had some kind of shock for she slightly faltered and had to rest on my brother's shoulder for a while. I couldn't help thinking that they would make a nice couple and wondered if I should drop a hint or two to my brother, but I quickly admonished myself for being such a busybody. She would probably stay for the night, I mused.
"Lia..." my brother said hesitatingly looking at my friend.
"It is all right Julian, Celes is my best friend, you can trust her," I quickly said.
"If you say so, then it must be true, "he answered, "does one of you know the Legend of the Stones of Light?"
Stones of Light? What on earth was that? I knew a lot of ancient legends but I didn't know them all. Anyway, I had been too much preoccupied by my company to pay any attention to any entertainment things. One look at Celes made me realize that she too had no idea whatsoever of what that legend was. My brother saw the looks on our faces and continued.
"I wouldn't have expected you to know it anyway, it is a very ancient legend, known to few people which had almost disappeared;" he said, "Anyway, it is said that, in the time of the ancient Greek gods, six gods were chosen to guard a precious or semi-precious stone each. Each stone representing the continent he was supposed to guard. The six gods or goddesses that were supposed to be the protectors of the stones were Apollo, Hades, Poseidon, Athena, Artemis and Demeter. The stones they were supposed to guard are in respective order: the Ruby, the Hematite, the Sapphire, the Amethyst, the Diamond and the Emerald. They were assigned to the continents of North America, Africa, Oceania, Asia, South America and Europe."
"Wait a minute!" Celes exclaimed, "since when is America considered as two continents?"
"I think the legend meant that they were to protect a distinctive piece of land if that's what you mean!" answered Julian a bit irritated at this sudden interruption.
"Come on continue " I said encouragingly, secretly hoping to appease him "but what has this legend to do with what happened tonight?"
"You know the sapphire I keep so preciously?" he said, "well, it is THE Sapphire of the legend and I am the present reincarnation of Poseidon, Lord of the Seas. Unfortunately, the Sapphire was stolen tonight during the short-circuit."
We looked at him in disbelief. I really wanted to laugh. I would have too, if it wasn't for the look on his face. He seemed really worried, and I didn't think that he was the type of person who got anxious for nothing. There must be more to this story than meets the eye.
But come on! Gods?! Reincarnations?! What was this all about?! I could see my friend wasn't convinced either, but we said nothing and kept quiet, for fear of disturbing him even more and making him more agitated. I calmed down a bit. This was serious was it not?
"Look, I do not know if you believe me but all this IS true! And Saori is the reincarnation of Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and War!" he said becoming very anxious suddenly and starting to pace all over the place. "If all these stones are united together, then the god who possesses all of them will have unlimited power! He could destroy the world with it! Why do you think I'm so worried!?"
"Maybe the situation is not as serious as you think," I said trying to soothe him.
"You don't seem to realize the gravity of the situation! These stones are actually some sort of catalysts of great power! Reunite them all together, and all the great power they have will be unleashed. And I don't just mean unleashed in the sense that they will bring destruction to their surroundings, I mean UNLEASHED in the sense that they will give ultimate power to their possessor. In that case, we will ALL be DOOMED. Do you understand me?! DOOMED!!! " He exclaimed.
"No, brother it is not..."
"Don't pretend!" he said.
At that moment, Lady Saori approached, touched his arm gently, and gazed at him with a confidant and reassuring smile on her face. Julian calmed down and smiled back.
"Lia, darling," he continued in a soft voice, turning his eyes on me "do you know why I revealed such an important secret to you and your friend?"
I looked at my friend, then at him again.
"I don't know," I said calmly.
"Tell us!" said Celes.
"Because I'm afraid someone might just do you harm," he said softly. "You are the only family I've got left you know, and you might be in danger, but also because I trust you and your friend and I wanted you to know the truth if I happen to disappear, so you'll know why I left."
"I understand" I said gravely "I understand."
"Well!" He said, suddenly regaining vitality again, and grinning cheekily, "I'd better check on Saori and try to persuade her to stay for the night. After all, it might be dangerous for her well being to leave now."
Chapter 3: The Amethyst
The next day
As I entered in my car at the airport, I told the driver "On the double!". I was so scared my gemstone might be stolen that I was trembling like a leaf. I was attentive to all the streets passing by, and each few second I looked at my watch. By Zeus, Why did I let my stone at home, where evil forces could take it while I was gone. Why didn't I tell Seiya, Shiryu, or Shun to take care of it? No, I had though it would be secure, if no one knew about it. But now I realized the race against time had begun: without a doubt someone was trying to take control over Mother Earth. Why is it on Earth that gods and goddesses always fight?
As soon as the car stopped, I jumped out of it, hurried to my office and stopped in front of my grandfather's portrait. I waited a few second, starring at the painting, my hand on my chest, trying to remain calm. Behind my grandpa's face laid the truth...
I grabbed my strength, pushed the painting, and open the secret panel locked by an eight digital number security.
I was training in the park of the Kido mansion, when I saw at my watch I had already been there for at least two hours. I decided to go inside the house to see what Shun was doing.
Saori had gone to Julian Solo's place for a few days. Except for Ikki, all the Saints were here: Shiryu and Hyoga had just came back the day Saori had left. At this moment I guessed Hyoga was in Shun's room and Shiryu meditating somewhere.
I entered the house wondering why Saori's car was parked in the alley. Weird, but I didn't care: there must have been an answer...
I was planning to go take a drink in the kitchen when I heard a scream coming from Saori's office. I hurried there in a flash and arrived just in time for Saori to faint in my arms. "SAORI!!!" I was so shocked that for a second I couldn't move. "Saori! Can you hear me?"...
Shun and I were playing video games when Shiryu came into the room.
"Do you know the reason why Saori's car is stationed in the alley?" he asked.
"No" Shun answered "Why?... Well, I guess there must be some reason. Maybe Saori will come back sooner as she thought she would?"
At this moment I heard a scream. Instantly Shun and I were on our feet. All of us three went out of the room. Then we heard Seiya's voice, but I didn't distinguish the word he said. As we hurried down the stairs to Saori's office, I wondered why the hell Seiya was there and why he screamed. Usually Seiya only screamed that way when calling for Saori when she was endangered. But Saori wasn't here, was she?
We went into the office. Seiya was there, Saori lying on the floor, her head on Seiya knees. As we all stood, shocked, in the middle of the doorway, Seiya was panicking, slapping Saori in the face hoping that she would regain consciousness. Shiryu made a move towards Seiya. Pegasus shouted at him: "Don't you just stand there like nuts! Go and get some water, or something, or maybe even a doctor! Hurry! Do something!"
"Calm down, Seiya she'll be fine" Shiryu said calmly " Shun, would you please get a drink for lady Saori". As Shun went out of the room, Shiryu came to Seiya, put a hand on his shoulder and told him "Don't cry, friend. She's all right. She just had a shock."
Shun came back with a drink and a wet tower. The white tissue on Saori's face brought her progressively back to our world. Seiya seemed relieved when Saori opened her eyes.
"My stone... my amethyst ... where is it?" were the first words she said. Obviously, Seiya didn't seem very happy about those words: I think he would have expected her to call his name first.
"My lady," Shiryu answered " what happened exactly? You seem to have had a shock. And what is this amethyst, why do you care about a gemstone that much?"
Shun gave her the glass of water, she drank it slowly, little bit by little bit. Then she lifted herself and stood up. Seiya moved to help her but she refused his help with a sign. She went at the window, looked away a few seconds, like if she was thinking about something.
"I must tell you something"
She turned around to face us. "Does anyone of you know the legend of the Stones of Light?"
Stones of Light? What were those? I personally never heard of such things. I saw Shiryu nod and say "I though that prophecy wasn't going to happen, since you never told us about you keeping a stone, but I now realize what this amethyst you talk about really is..."
"Could someone please explain, 'cos I don't quite get it!" Seiya replied, in an aggressive way.
"It's simple..." Saori explained...
So that was it! Those stones represented peace and harmony in this world. I remember once being told of the goddess Demeter's emerald when asking about the garden protected by Hesperides.
" The problem is," Saori said, "who would have stolen Julian's stone and mine? It can neither be Julian or myself. That gives us four other gods and goddesses: Apollo, Hades, Demeter or Artemis. However, it can't be Demeter or Artemis, because I never sensed their Cosmos, I don't think they revealed themselves yet."
"But how could it be Hades, we've killed him right?" Seiya asked.
Saori shook her head "maybe, but a god can always reincarnate in an other body. What I fear is that Apollo helped Hades and that they are fighting together against us! And probably their mission is to destroy this world!"
"Let's go get them! We'll defeat them and get back the stones!" Seiya decided.
"Wait a minute! We don't even know where to look for them! It would be suicide: I am sure that they know perfectly well everything we do, and they expect us to go after them. If we aren't ready to fight, they will probably defeat us!"
Shiryu was talking wisely, as always. It is true we didn't stand a chance against two gods, since we didn't know anything about them and that they knew everything about us! We had to find another way.
"Shiryu's right..." Saori seemed so wise too... "But what we need is find the two other goddesses: firstly they need to be told to take care of their gemstones, and secondly they might help us get the two stolen ones back. Julian Solo told me he would help me in my quest."
"But how are we going to do that?" Shun asked in a small voice.
"Simple!" Seiya answered with a big smile "We just have to pay them a visit! One must be in Europe, the other one in South America..."
"You want to search two continents to find them?" I asked, sceptical "we would have more chance finding a needle in a haystack!"
"Have you got a better idea, then, Hyoga?" Seiya stared at me: I didn't think he was in a real good mood!"
"We'll never find them," said Shun, with a sight "and who tells us that they will join forces with us and not against us?"
"STOP!" Saori shouted, "Demeter would never do any harm to the humans for the simple reason that she hates fighting and the sight of blood. As for Artemis, she has a special fondness for humans ever since she fell in love with one of them. As I see it, there are only three possible ways to find them. First we could use computer because, as you all know it, only a person with a particular status, which means with a special date of birth, a special blood type, etc., can become god or goddess. Therefore the computer would search every matches possible for us..."
"There is one major problem to this solution you see," Shiryu interrupted "it's that, even if we used a thousand computers during a whole century, we couldn't possibly find them. The Graud Foundation has no information on the inhabitants of Europe of South America. We deal in Asia remember, so we mostly control this continent and this continent only. This idea should be crossed as we do not have enough time. "
"There is a second solution. It would be to wake up the two goddesses by destroying their territories: push them to react, in other terms. The problem is it would cause the death of innocent lives so we can't try it. The third solution is I think the most reasonable. You see Julian has a new-found sister called Lia who is in charged of the largest corporation existing in Europe. Her friend Celes is also in charge of a big corporation, but in South America. We could use their help: they might have an idea on how to find the two goddesses."
She looked at Shiryu "At least, they will have more capacities and know more people than us as their influence over there are as big as ours, over here."
Shiryu nodded "This is the most plausible solution. They have the means that we do not have, and it would be much faster if we asked their help then if we searched with our own computers."
" Wouldn't it be great," Seiya couldn't help joking " if Lia and Celes were Demeter and Artemis! Besides it would match with their territories!"
"It would be too good to be true!" Shun answered.
Saori went to her desk, took the phone and told us, "then it's settled! I'm calling Julian Solo."
Chapter 4: On the plane
A day later
Saori had called me up last night, sounding very anxious and upset. I can still remember the shock I had when she told me the news. Her precious stone, the Amethyst, was gone too; like the Sapphire it had been stolen. I didn't know how to react when she told me that she had discussed this serious matter with her Saints. When she told me her plan, I could only agree with it, thinking it was the only solution left. I hated getting my sister and her friend involved but what choice had we left? Well... We'll be reaching Tokyo very soon, so it was best to explain to them what was expected of them in greater details. I envied their joyful mood in such a moment.
"Julian" Lia asked suddenly "When are we reaching Tokyo?"
"In two hours" I replied smiling, looking at her face.
I had been observing my brother. He hadn't been looking in a joyful mood these past few days. I heard that he had once proposed to Lady Saori from Celes only yesterday who got it from I don't know what source. Sigh, I was always the last to learn anything. It had stroked me as funny though, for the simple reason that I thought that my brother his carefree lifestyle. I had already remarked, though I did not know him for long, that he was a bit of a seducer and that he attracted lot of beautiful women around him. But he was a good sort deep down. I wonder why Saori refused him. Ah, well, it was not of my concern. When my brother first told Celes and me the whole story about the jewel, we just stared in disbelief, till now we still found it hard to believe, and I guess that, like me, Celes wasn't totally convinced. When we were told that Lady Saori had had her stone stolen and needed our help, we agreed to come to Tokyo. After all, we couldn't refuse, could we? Anyway, I wanted to taste their sushi.
"Hey, Lia, I heard that Tokyo was a great place, full of mangas and animes and all that stuff!" my friend said, looking at me.
"You know, their sushi are not bad either, so I've heard" I replied.
"Of course they're not bad! You're in Japan you know!" she answered.
"Could you girls be serious for one moment please?" said Julian "Now, do you understand what is needed of you and why your help is so important?"
"We are just supposed to find two persons, are we not?" I asked.
"Two persons, yes, but more important, two goddess reincarnation" he said.
Ah, yes, I forgot, two reincarnations indeed. I still didn't grasp a lot of things even after my brother had explained to me. How normal people like my brother could believe in reincarnation and stuff eluded me. Well, I was after all not totally convinced. So was my friend. Doing business in Europe and in South America made us look only at reality, believe only in facts, not fantasy or illusions.
"Could you explain what or who Saints are?" asked my friend suddenly.
"Didn't I explain to you who they were already?" said my brother, puzzled.
"No, you mostly concentrated on the stone part" she replied with a grin.
"But haven't you heard about the Inter-Galactic tournament?" he asked again.
"No" we replied together.
"But that's impossible, it was broadcast all around the world! Strange that you should not heard of it" he said pensively "Where were you at that time? It was after all, only a few years ago!"
"I think we were both either in South America or Europe, probably studying" I replied sweetly.
"But still..." he said, unconvinced.
"We both had a very strict education, you know, our step-parents were firm on that. We had to study and travel to see the region and its inhabitants so that we would be prepared to run the companies in the future. We didn't have time for amusements" I replied.
"Anyway, we'll be meeting Athena's saints, her protectors and defenders
in short. They are..."
A while later
"Do you understand now?" he asked.
"Yes, yes" we replied.
Oh my goodness! Bronze Saints? Silver Saints? Gold Saints? Cosmos energy? Six? Seven? Eight senses? How complex it seemed to be! My brother looked a bit irritated at our disbelief. This was not good.
"Look!" he said exasperated "How am I suppose to prove you that all of this is the truth?"
"Well..." Celes said "Show us your Cosmos. If you really are a god then it wouldn't be difficult a thing to do, right?"
My brother started grinning, a smile slowly appearing on his face.
"Come closer," he said, "Pay attention to the palm of my hand"
Julian opened his palm. Suddenly! A light blue aura flickered and danced in his hand. Wow! I was so surprised I couldn't say anything but stare, fascinated and this sort of flame. I had never seen anything like it in my entire life!
"Now, do you believe me?" he said triumphantly.
"Well..." said Celes reluctantly, not wanting to admit defeat.
That was the last straw, my brother cheekily levitated a cup of glass water and, before Celes knew what was happening she was wet!
"Ok, I admit defeat" she said.
"Now that's better!" my brother said, laughing "Come, go at the back of the plane and dry your clothes before you catch a cold! It's winter in Tokyo!"
Chapter 5: Partners in Mission
At the airport, a car with a bald guy named Tatsumi was waiting for us. A few hours later we were in front of a huge mansion. Saori's, I guessed. We entered the hall. Saori came to us. Obviously she was very nervous. She asked Tatsumi to leave, then took Julian's arm.
"I've been waiting for you, my Amethyst has disappeared, too. Come with me in my office, we have to talk."
She didn't seem to have noticed us at all, how pleasant! For a moment I thought I was a pawn on a chest plate! That sure didn't please me. I hated being asked to help and then being rejected as a used accessory!
"Excuse me!" She turned around, and looked at me angrily. I tried to remain calm and polite. "I was told you needed our help and that is why we accompany Lia' brother. Would you kindly tell us where are our rooms. Lia and I would definitely like to rest and besides you seem to have a lot to talk about with Julian."
As I was saying that, she opened a door. "Please find them yourself. As you said I have to talk to M. Solo" The voice was rude and not friendly at all, just as one would talk to a complete stranger who has been aggressive. Both Saori and Julian went into the room, and she shut the door. I forced myself to remain calm and not shout out words I couldn't have taken back at Saori.
"That's a really great way to treat guests!" said Lia. Obviously, she didn't appreciate the warm welcome either, "Especially guests from whom she wants information!"
At that same moment two young men came in. One was a blond blue eyed youth; the other one was black haired and Chinese looking. They looked our age and seemed quite friendly.
The blond boy came to us with a smile and asked us "Looking for something special? May we help you in some way?"
I couldn't quite answer that Saori had told us to... well... "take a hike" they could have not liked it. That is why, I was quite relieved when Lia answered "Yes, we have just arrived with my brother M. Solo. He went in Saori's office while we are looking for our rooms."
"Oh!" the black haired guy said "Then you must be Lia, and your friend is, I believe, Miss Celes. We are glad you came to help us. Please excuse Lady Saori's attitude towards strangers, most of the time she is not what we call very nice. My name is Shiryu and this is Hyoga. We will be glad to help you if you need."
"Hey! You're the Dragon Saint and you're Saint Cygnus!" I said "Two of the five great bronze Saints, devoted to the goddess Athena."
"That's us alright!" Hyoga nodded "Follow me, I'll show you the rooms. I guess you must be tired."
As he laid the way, he told us that lunch would be in approximately two hours, and asked if we had planned something.
"I suppose we will discover Tokyo after lunch. By the way where are the three other saints?" I asked.
"Ikki is still in his volcano, but he should arrive soon. Shun went out, to admire nature I guess, and Seiya has disappeared as he sometimes does when he has got a problem." Shiryu answered.
Hyoga opened a door and let us in. "Here's your room! Hope you like it. If you want anything just come down in the park. We'll be there training. And if you want to train with us you can come, too!"
They went out the room and closed the door.
"How do you find those guys Lia?" I asked with a big smile on my face "They're nice, aren't they?"
"Yes, they are truly great. They really helped us out."
"What I don't understand is why they serve Saori: if she pays as much attention to them as she did to us, they must have a huge patience." I said thinking about it. Well I just guessed there was something I still didn't totally understand, for instance this whole thing about Gods fighting against each other. I supposed the Saints knew much more than I did, but strangely I was beginning to believe in all this supernatural thing.
"Hey, Celes! Have you heard what I told you?" I turned my eyes and looked at my sis "Helloo! Earth calling to Moon! I was asking you if you agreed on going shopping after lunch"
"Why not take our lunch in the city? We could see if our Japanese has really improved. Besides, I don't want to be at Saori's table: She wouldn't let us speak, or more exactly I wouldn't want to speak! It would be boring and embarrassing."
"That's a good idea, but we should ask my brother if we can."
"Hey, Lia! Did you ask your bro the authorization to go out a month and a half ago? No, so why would you do it today? You're old enough to take your own decision, aren't you?"
"That's not what I meant... I only think he might be upset... But you're right. When shall we go captain?"
"Well let's see... Now it's 10 AM ... is 11 Ok with you? I'd like to visit the mansion first and maybe talk a little with Hyoga and Shiryu."
"Don't you want to unpack first?" Lia asked, and when I answered no she continued "Ok then see you in a while, I'm staying here to unpack and rest."
I went out of the room, leaving Lia with her belongings, and went down in the park. I wanted to see how big the property really was. I had never thought anyone could own such a big land in Japan. I found myself wondering how long it would take for one person to clean this mansion on his own. Impossible... Well, this whole thing changed of what I was used to; I had quite a lot of different apartments all around the world but none of them were that huge! I usually lived in a three room's apartment, with a friend, and the only house I had got was in France, but it was at least, two times smaller than this one!
As I walk trough the park I saw Shiryu and Hyoga fighting against each other; that must have been their training. Obviously both of them were masters in martial arts. What I found strange was that green and blue aura surrounding them: Julian had told Lia and me it was Cosmos, and that every one of us had one...
As I didn't want to disturb them, I returned to the house...
A few hours later...
Lunch and shopping in Tokyo were great. However I couldn't stand the lights of the shops and the crowd everywhere; it had given me a headache. I decided to go back home, but Lia insisted on continuing her shopping. I guessed she was going to check out the library and spend another few hours in it. That bookworm, I thought. So I left her in Tokyo and went back on my own.
Here I was, facing the mansion. In the afternoon light, even if the weather wasn't very hot, the house seemed to smile at me. It was friendlier than it had been on the same morning.
I went to my rooms to deposit my bags. I hadn't bought much myself but Lia had asked me to bring back what she had already bought, and that was a lot, my arms could really tell! I then went near the window and looked outside, thinking about what I could do. I wanted to play some piano. It might sound strange, but I actually was in this state of mood, in which I just felt like showing my emotions through a melody, without any retention. This feeling always held me every once in a while, just like now. I remembered Julian had told me Saori played the piano as well so I just had to find where the piano was.
I went down the stairs, and stood in the hall. There were four rooms. One was Saori's office and when she opened the door to let Julian in this morning, I didn't see any piano. I still had three choices. I started thinking: where would I put the piano room if I lived here. The answer came instinctively: to the west side of the house. Yes, definitively, to the west side of the house. That way, the pianist could see the light of the setting sun fading in the room, and the darkness of the night getting past his feeling, and the moon slightly illuminating his world, throwing him in an other dimension, the dimension of imagination and romance.
I opened a door and by luck, my guessing had been correct. I entered and closed the door behind me. The room was bright, with a window looking on the park; one could see that the sun was still quite high in the sky, but I knew it would set down sooner or later, I could wait. The piano came from Germany. Obviously, it was hand-made. I played a few chords. The sound was marvellous. I sat down, smiled to myself, took a deep deep breath before letting my fingers touch the notes to the sound of Beethoven.
The sun was shining this afternoon but I didn't feel like smiling myself. Ever since the amethyst had been stolen, Saori was over anxious and didn't talk much. I felt I wasn't wanted here, that she didn't need me, that I was a saint just good at getting himself beaten up for a goddess that didn't even care about him! This morning, Saori didn't even say hello! No, she was impatiently waiting Julian Solo's arrival. And when I came at lunchtime to see her, she was with Mr. Solo and didn't want to be disturbed, not even by her saints! What did she find in a man like Julian? I was sure we didn't even need his help! That wasn't fair! Why did she show so little sympathy towards me? Why?
But... What is this sound?... piano?... Yes, someone is playing...
I came near the window to hear the music better... Oh, my... I had never heard such marvellous sounds... Who could that be? No, it couldn't be Saori; she played well but not with all this spirit. This melody was full of colours, full of feelings...
I looked through the window but I couldn't see who was playing. Curious, I went into the house and stopped in front of the piano room's door. Do I go in?... Don't I go in?...
I put my hand on the handle, and waited a while. Then, slowly I turned it and pushed the door. Without sound, the door opened...
And there I saw her, the sun coming through the window slightly illuminating her face, a lovely face... My heart started beating faster at her sight. God she was pretty, her blond hair sparkling in the light... And she played the piano in an angelic way that truly transported you in another world, a world of dream and beauty...
She finished her melody, and I must admit the last few notes were just as exquisite as the whole thing.
I went in the room, closing the door behind and I clapped in my hands. She looked at me with her deep blue eyes as beautiful as the see and it seemed to me there was a little sparkling light that was playing on the waves, and this light looked just like the moon shining in the darkest night. She smiled for a second, then looked at the piano again and started blushing.
"You were fantastic" I congratulated her.
She looked at me again, smiling...
A young man was standing at the door. Some ten centimetres taller as myself, brown haired, brown eyed, he had a lovely smile. He was the most handsome man I had met for long. My heart beat faster. I smiled at him but suddenly I realized he had been listening to my melodies. I was embarrassed; I wasn't used to people hearing me playing and playing in public always troubled me.
"You were fantastic," he said.
I smiled at him... "Thank you" I replied, then I looked away "Have you been here long?"
"Well I have heard your two last melodies..." he admit "By the way, mine name is Seiya, and you are..."
"Celes." I answered "You are Saint Pegasus, aren't you? Julian said you were sort of the leader of Athena's Saints."
"No, I'm not the leader. We're all best friends and we're on equal terms. The only person we follow is Athena. So what have you done since you arrived? I thought you were with lady Saori discussing about how to..." he didn't seem sure of what he should say. I guess he didn't know if I had been told about the legend of the Stones of Light or not.
"About how to find the stones back" I continued for him. "Well, when we arrived here, Lia and I were told to... hum... how can I say..."
"Take a hike? Is that it?" he laughed a little "Don't worry, Saori is most of the time, when she's not Athena, a sort of spoiled rich girl that doesn't know anything about behaviour... I can tell this morning she was in an impatient mood and she probably thought you were just a pet she could call when she need. I must apologize to talk that way but nothing could describe it better: she is used to being served in the minute!"
We laughed out loud together. He then came to me, hold out his hand and asked with a big smile "Do you like sunsets? With a name like yours, you must be impatient of seeing the night. Come with me, I'll show you a great place a few minutes away from here where you don't feel surrounded by buildings!"
I took his hand and we went out of the room, laughing like kids...
I looked around me happily, so this was Tokyo city! I was feeling good after going manga hunting and paying a visit to the library . Hum, I think I'm beginning to like this place! Celes didn't look very happy though at the mansion. It was quite understandable, seeing the warm welcome we had received from Saori. But then again, she was visibly upset by the whole matter. So I guess her attitude was normal. I wonder if she had already reached the mansion. After having met Shiryu and Hyoga, I had insisted on exploring the city on my own along with her. I had ended up with carrying loads of packages, fruit of my shopping. Celes had gone home to rest an hour ago, and I guess I should go back too, seeing that I could barely walk, not to mention see.
Aaaaah, here, I finally reached the mansion, my arms were aching! Hum, talking about aching, I wondered if....
" Oh, I'm so sorry, let me help you pick all your things up," said a green hair youth, looking at my books and bags lying on the floor.
" It's ok" I replied, "I just didn't see you coming, I guess you can see why!"
" Well, to tell you the truth, I wasn't exactly paying attention either." He answered apologetically. " My name is Shun."
" Mine's Lia" I replied.
Shun... that was the name of one of Athena's bronze saints right? Well, no harm asking him right? After all why would he be here if he didn't know the occupants of the house? I mean, I don't suppose he's the pizza delivery boy or something.
"Do you know by any chance Saori Kido?" I asked shyly.
"Why, yes!" he answered smiling " I'm one of her Saints."
"I'm Julian's sister." I said.
"Please to meet you" he replied "Let me help you in"
"Thank you" I said.
Seiya showed me the Saints' secret garden. In fact it was a part of the garden, but you had to go through a secret panel to go there. It was fantastic: there were a few rocks, a small lake, beautiful tree and a sent of fresh air...
I let go on Seiya's hand and walked a few steps. Then I turned round to face Seiya again, smiling. He was smiling too, with the innocent and happy smile of a kid: boy he looked so attractive in the sunlight! I crouched down and reached for water: it was very cold and refreshing. When I stood up again, Seiya pushed me into the water. I fell, and when I lifted myself up again, I saw him laughing. I started to splash him. It ended up at him and me being soaking wet! Wet but happy.
We both sat on one of the stones, looking at the sun. It was setting quite quickly and I thought we'd really have to get changed once at home.
"I didn't have such a good time for quite a while!" Seiya said.
"Me neither!" I answered "I think we should go back right now. It's winter and I wouldn't want us to get sick! We'll see the sunset an other time."
" Yes, you're right, let's go back"
He took my hand again -it was quite hot compared to mine- and we ran back to the mansion. We were both freezing.
"We'd better get change! I'll see you later, ok?" he asked.
I ran to my room. Lia was just there. As I was changing clothes, she asked me: "How come you're soaking wet? What have you done?"
"I took a deep in a pool!" I answered
"WHAT! In middle of Winter!"
"Stop shouting please!" I explained to her my meeting with Seiya. When I finished, she told me she met the youngest bronze Saint, Shun. Obviously, I could read between the lines Shun had had the same effect over Lia as Seiya over me. This trip to Japan was getting more and more interesting.
Someone knock at the door.
"Come in!" I said.
Hyoga came in and smiled "Lady Saori would want to see you to discuss business. Can you come with me?"
"If I were alone," I said " I wouldn't come and I would let her know that I'm not her servant. But I'm sure that if I don't go, she'd shout and put all the guilt on your back, Hyoga."
He laughed "Don't worry about me, I can handle myself!"
We followed him into Saori's Office. When I entered, I saw Julian seated in a sofa at a corner of the room, and Saori, looking through the window in such a way that we couldn't see her face.
"Hyoga, come here! Ikki's back!" I heard a voice, Seiya's voice, shout from far behind, probably from the front door.
Hyoga quickly went out of the room and closed the door behind.
Saori began to talk: "I want to apologize about the way I treated you this morning. I wasn't in a good mood since I was truly scared. My amethyst has been stolen and ... hum ... I didn't think I could really trust you. Please excuse my aggressiveness."
"Well, if you apologize, I don't see why we wouldn't forgive you" Lia answered, calmly. Lia was very understanding. She was most of the time less touchy than I was."
"I agree we should start on new bases," I said "keeping grudges won't lead us anywhere. But I thought we had to talk business. Aren't your Saints coming too? I think it would be better to hear everyone's opinion."
"You are right." She answered " I told them to come. However, I heard Ikki has just arrived so I guess they will tell him the whole story before coming in. But, for now would you kindly take a seat." She showed us two other seats, Lia took one but I said I preferred to stay stood.
The door opened and five youths came in: Hyoga, Shiryu, Seiya, a green haired boy who certainly was Shun, and a blue haired guy I didn't know but whom I guess was Ikki, Saint Phoenix. Lia and I stood up while Saori said, showing each person as she named: "Seiya, Hyoga, Shiryu, Shun, Ikki, please meet Celes and Lia. And now that the circle is complete, let's talk about the Stones of Light."
Saori sat at her desk, Hyoga moved towards the window and leaned on the edge, Shun, Ikki and Shiryu sat down on the three seats available, and Seiya came to stand near me.
Saori crossed and uncrossed her arms for some thirty seconds, biting her lips, just as if she didn't know what to start with. Finally, she took a large breath and said:
"I guess everyone knows the reason for this... hum... well, this meeting. We must decide now of the strategies we have to use in order to find the two missing goddesses, protect them and their stones, and take both the sapphire and the amethyst back. Before we discuss about the different possibilities we are offered, I want to remind you of few very important facts: our enemies are two of the strongest gods in the Olympus, they know everything about us and they have planned their way of action long before. Oh! And I almost forgot! The time is counted. We have to go fast, otherwise Artemis and Demeter might just go help Apollo and Hades."
More and more I thought about this whole Saint thing, more and more I started understanding what they really meant. What is more, I was starting to feel though I had an answer to their problem, that I was special in a normal kind of way, even if that sounded completely stupid. For the first time since the beginning of this whole non-sense, I understood the responsibility I was given, and I realized I didn't have the right to make any mistake.
Shiryu interrupted my thinking when he said, "Well, except for Lia and Celes, we all know what we have to do. Lia, Celes, we need you to tell us who in Europe and in South America might be those we are looking for."
"That I can understand," I said "but how do you want us to do that? There are millions of inhabitants on those two continents, how on earth do you suppose we might know who those two goddesses are? We are no fortune tellers!"
Julian looked at me. "Celes, a goddess can only be an girl, who descends from a certain lineage. She has to be born under certain circumstances, and we know which ones. With this information, you should be able to find them."
Lia nodded: "that should be very easy for me, for I have a lot of data on every big family. It will take me less than two weeks to come to a conclusion. But what shall we do next?"
Saori answered this question in a very wise way that surprised me "We shall see then. We'll have to make her understand who she is and then she'll help us."
"I wouldn't be that confident if I were you!" said Ikki "After all, Demeter is a peaceful goddess, why would she fight? And Artemis is Apollo's sister so she'll probably go against us!"
" No, we already talked about that. The two goddesses loves Earth for different reasons, so they will help us" Saori answered calmly, sounding confident. "And..."
"Sorry to interrupt" I cut Saori short "I am afraid it won't be as easy finding Artemis as finding Demeter. There are no possible ways to find data on the people in South America."
"Shit!" I heard Seiya say "And aren't there any other way to find Artemis then? 'Cause we really need her."
I started thinking... An old legend came to my mind... What was it again... I remember!
"There is an other way," I said, regaining confidence "I'm sure we'll find some indications of who Artemis is in her temple."
The others looked at me with wide opened eyes. I smiled. They didn't know about the temple at all.
"As a kid, I was told by an old man I had helped that, in the Amazonian rain forest, there was a temple which was asleep. It is said to belong to the goddess of the hunt, Artemis. At that time, I heard that legend with a distract ear. I forgot about it, but now I remember it all. That old man even told me how to get there, and now, I recall his instructions. It might be just a legend based on nothing but I'm ready to take the challenge, go there and bring back Artemis. And if it was only a dream, well, I'll have to work out an other idea."
"I think it's the best solution. But it's way to dangerous for you to go alone if the legend is true." Seiya seemed to care about me and I felt happy for that, " I will accompany you on your journey, and I shall protect you if you need."
Shiryu began to talk slowly: "In my humble opinion, what we shall do is this; Seiya will go with Celes to look after Artemis while we all will go to Europe to find Demeter. That way, we won't loose our time since we'll certainly find Demeter while Seiya and Celes will see if the legend is true. If it isn't, we'll go to South America to help them, and if it is, they will bring back the goddess."
This idea didn't seem to please Saori that much, but Seiya was quite happy with it and so was I.
"Why not split in two equally numbered groups?" she asked.
Julian answered her: "No, Shiryu is right. Celes and Seiya can do the work on their own. If the legend is true, I know they'll be able to handle it, and if it isn't, at least the other Saints and you won't have wasted their time." That sure was realistic and full of wisdom.
Saori didn't seem convinced but she nodded and said grudgingly: "Ok."
That was settled: tomorrow after a good night of sleep, Seiya and I will fly to Brazil, while the other will go to Europe. Julian, however, decided to stay in Japan and search for the two goddesses though the Graud Foundation's computers. Strangely, no one objected...
We went out of the office. Seiya took my hand, and asked me: "Are you ready to fight?"
"Artemis, here I come!" I said with a smile. That was the beginning of a real adventure and I really was looking forward to it. Weird, I guess I should have worried about the fate of the world, but I was confident we would win. After all, we were the good guys, weren't we?
Chapter 6: In the Long Lost Temple
Well, here we go again, I thought as I stepped out of the plane. But this time, I had to protect someone else than Saori, someone I knew deep in my heart I loved and cared more than every one else. From the very beginning, I fell for Celes, and I knew she liked me too, but both of us hadn't made a move for now because we were scared it might alter our pure love. Besides, we had to save this world and make things better and we could only do that with clear thinking, not if our mind was filled by passion.
Once in Manaus, we headed to Celes' apartment to take her backpack and let her other belongings there. Then we took Celes' car to go through the jungle to a small village, where she seemed to know everyone. I felt quite uneasy in this village because it seemed somehow like if it had completely evolved out of the modern world. Indeed, the people here still lived in huts like in a primitive tribe. However, when you see how they reacted to seeing Celes and I, it seems though they knew about the modern world.
A tall man, who seemed to be the chief of the tribe, came to us and after a warm welcome, he asked Celes with a large smile on his face:
"So, Moon-light, what are you looking for this time? A nice place to
show your first boyfriend? Maybe you want to stay here a while, outside
of all this modern world, or you want to settle here and have a family?"
Celes laughed. "No, Uncle. I just want to show the forest to my friend. But you know it is better to travel on early mornings, so I just thought we might spend the night here in the tribe if we can. We'll leave tomorrow, cause I've got plenty of things to show him."
"Of course you can stay for the night! You know your hut is always there in case you show up! You helped us in so many ways before... By the way, do you want Monkey-eyes to accompany you on your trip?" the one Celes called Uncle asked.
"Thanks for the offer, but I will decline it. I know perfectly well this jungle, and I won't lose myself!"
"I understand", uncle said as he turned round and went away, "one must always let lovers alone! Well, see you!"
Celes blushed a little. Then she smiled at me, took my hand and we went to a hut. We entered. It was not very big but it seemed welcoming. We deposited our bags and sat down on the ground sheet. " So" she said, "We still have an hour before sunset, what do you want to do? Rest here, or go somewhere?"
"Well", I said, "I suppose we can go have a walk if you're not too tired yourself." I had quite a lot of questions to ask Celes about, and a walk would probably be the best way to get the answers.
"Me? Tired!" she laughed, "No way! I'm used to travelling, and this trip hasn't exhausted me yet! Well, I guess I could show you the Sacred Cliff, if you want "
"Then, let's go"
We stood up, facing each other. I took her hands in mine... She was wearing a white dress that fell to her knees and which suited her marvellously. She had attached her hair with a white ribbon because of the warm weather. This smile... Those eyes... My god, she was the most desirable girl I had met. Even Saori couldn't challenge her.
"We should go now if we want to see the sunset," she said.
We left the village without speaking
Half an hour later, We arrived to the cliff she had told me about. We sat down, facing the sun.
"Nice place, isn't it?" she asked.
"Yes," I answered, "except it is a cliff, and I always have the bad habit to fall off the cliffs." I looked at her and marked a pause. "Celes, you are looking nostalgic. Does this place remind you of something sad?"
"Sad? No, it only reminds me of the past. The first time I came here was some 2 years ago, when my adoptive parents died. Before I had grown up studying math, physic, economics, history, geography and languages of all kinds. I never really had much fun except when Lia and I were together. We have always been best of friends, Lia and me, since we grew up together as sisters, and if it hadn't been for her, I would have left the house long before. Four years ago, our parents sent us in different continents to finish our studies. I came to South America, and she went to Europe. Two years later, our parents died in a plane crash. After their funeral, we were in charge of their foundation; I took the South American subsidiary, and she took the European one. Ever since I was in South America, I passed my free time exploring the rain forest. Once, I found Monkey-eyes, injured in the forest. I cured him because I knew some medicine, and when he was better, I brought him back to the tribe. After that, I came here and saw the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen: it was only at that time that I realized I was free to do what I please... and that I had to fight for myself."
"I see you didn't have a very pleasant childhood either... I was forced to fight ever since I was a kid... But... you said to the tribe chief you knew this forest like the back of your hand. If that's the case, why haven't you seen Artemis temple yet?"
She smiled. "There has always been a part of the forest to the north that no one has explored. It is said to be dangerous. I don't know that part either, but it is where the temple is. So danger or no danger, we'll have to go there. But don't worry, the old man told me there was nothing to be afraid of."
"If he said so..." I put my arm around Celes' waist and brought her closer to me. She leaned her head on my shoulder. My heart was beating faster. She was there, just beside me, the sun making her each second even more desirable. I wanted to pass my fingers through her hair. I wanted to kiss her. However, I watch the sun set quietly, happy to have her by my side.
As the moon slowly began to glow stronger in the sky, Celes withdrew her head from my shoulder and looked at me.
"Isn't the moon wonderfully bright tonight?" she asked "It really looks beautiful, in that dark sky, don't you..."
The sound of an owl interrupted her. In a second, I was on my feet. I heard Celes laugh.
"Don't worry so much!" she said, "it's only the village telling everyone to come back home! We should go too, you know."
We went back to the village, and after a local meal, which was excellent if you didn't pay attention to the look of what you were served, we went to the hut to take a rest... She took the couchette opposite the door and left me the one near the window.
"Goodnight" she said, lying down on her bed "sleep well, you'll need it!"
She turned round to face the wall and began to sleep. Guess I'd just have to do the same!
I woke up an hour before sunrise. Seiya was still sleeping beside me. He was so cute when he was sleeping... He looked just like a kid, dreaming about an imaginary world where everything was nice. I didn't want to wake him up. I don't like to be awakened when I'm dreaming, so I guessed he didn't like it either. But, if it I were to be awakened by Seiya, I wouldn't care though; I like him so much...
Well, I let him sleep and prepared for our journey. When every thing was ready, I went to Seiya's bed and sat on the edge, carefully, so that he wouldn't wake up. Unfortunately, Seiya was the kind of person who could sense even the smallest movement. He opened his eyes and looked at me.
"I dreamt we were married Celes." he said happily but in a small voice.
I laughed. Married? It didn't sound completely stupid. I loved Seiya, I knew that and if he proposed me I would say yes. But the fact was, we were fighting for the world's fate, we couldn't just stand there and think about our own little life. We'd have plenty of time to do that afterwards.
"Come on Seiya! We'll see that another day, for now you'd better get dressed 'cos we've got to get going. The sun will soon rise and I want us to be on our way before he does! I've prepared you a breakfast. I'll be waiting for you outside, Uncle wants to talk with me."
I went out of the hut.
The sun should set in an hour or so, I thought to myself. Seiya and I had walked a lot through the rain forest, stopping only to take a break and eat a little at lunch.
The temple shouldn't be too far now, I heard myself say. Yes, indeed, according to what the old man had told me, we were approaching. Besides, a voice somewhere inside was telling me "Go on, you're near the end. The answer lies just past the jungle..."
WOW! That's it! My God, it's huge...
In front of me was the Lost Temple of the Goddess of Hunt, Artemis! It had been built the Greek way, with columns and all that. Of course, the place wasn't in what we called in good conditions: it looked rather like ruins! But somehow, it was quite friendly... Trees were surrounding what should have been the doorway in the past; flowers were blooming on the path sides and you could hear a waterfall somewhere behind.
"Come," I said to Seiya "The answer lies at the bottom of those stairs."
Yes, this temple changed from the temples Seiya had described me during our walk through the jungle. Indeed, unlike other temples, the stairs went down, not up.
For security reasons, Seiya called for his Pegasus cloth. A white aura surrounded him. Once equipped he looked just like those knights of ancient legends. That was the confirmation that this entire fairy tale was, in fact, reality. Strange, before having heard about the Legend of the Stones of Light, I had never believed in gods, goddesses, legends and myths. I thought they had been created by humans to answer the questions that logic alone couldn't answer, to understand all the mystery of life. But now, I had in front of me the facts, and those said there were gods, goddesses, legends and myths. Boy that was unbelievable!
Slowly, we went down the paths, watching carefully to see if it wasn't a trap. Who knows? If Apollo or Hades had heard about the place, they might just be here waiting for us to come to them. But I didn't sense anything evil here. No, nature had taken this place and everything seemed friendly. I felt I had always known this place, somehow, that I had already been here.
It took us a few minutes to get down the stairs. Then we arrived in front of the Temple itself. It seemed huge from the outside. Greek columns built with the Corinthian style, and two statues, representing Artemis I guess, on each side of the main entrance. Every thing seemed old and untouched; no human had ever been here before.
I went up the few stairs to get into the Temple. I was anxious. Well, not exactly anxious but more like curious and confident. I knew the answer was here, just before my eyes. I could sense our task was almost achieved.
As I entered the Temple, I stopped. A voice... I could hear a voice... I know this voice... Whose is it? I remember! The old man's!
I couldn't distinguish the words that were spoken though. Then, suddenly, the diamond I had on my belt began to glow and went out of its place. I didn't understand a thing. A quick look at Seiya told me he didn't understand either. The stone was now in front of us, flying in the air, glowing. It began to move and we followed it. We arrived to the altar. The stone stopped moving and I heard the voice...
"Welcome back, Celes"
Back? Are you going nuts! I never came here before! In dreams maybe, but I am not dreaming! What is this all about? I have enough of this! I can't stand all those mysteries, all those legends, and all this nonsense!
The voice switched. It became feminine. What is more, I had the impression that it was my one voice speaking to me. However it wasn't in my head, Seiya could hear it too.
The stone stopped shining and faded away, letting a girl appear. She looked almost like me, except in the way she was dressed.
"Celes, don't be so shocked!" the voice said, "You know me just as much as I know you. Admit it, please, and everything will be better."
I knew her? I didn't know the old man well; I didn't know this girl at all! But... this girl... this girl IS me! Yeah, somehow, she is me! A part of me that was never revealed.
"Come on Celes! Search for my name, you know it..." she encouraged me. She seemed to know that getting angry wouldn't lead anywhere; she knew that the only way to get me to do something was convince me it was the good thing to do.
"Of course I know your name, Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt," I said smiling.
Wait a second! What did I just say? Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt! Hey, it can't be! I'm not a goddess, am I? No, no, no, I'm dreaming and this is a joke! Seiya! Let's get out of here quick before I get nuts! Be realistic! How can I be a goddess! I haven't got what it takes!
"Stop asking yourself stupid questions! You ARE a goddess! Otherwise, how would you have learned the existence of this place! It is sacred place. Only my reincarnation could know where to find it," The voice said.
I looked at her straight in the eyes, challengingly. She was stating the facts; she was saying the truth. I had to trust her, she was me. I had to accept this part of me that was supernatural, even if my senses told me most of the time not to believe in such things.
"Remember you are me, and do what you have to do! You still have got a mission to complete and this will not be easy. I sense you'll encounter danger on your way... Well, that WE will encounter danger on OUR way."
The apparition disappeared, and the stone fell on the floor. I looked at it. This was the strongest proof in the world I was Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt.
All this was weird. Celes and this... apparition had been talking together. They had the same voice, looked alike. But one was flesh and blood; the second one was a spirit. But they were the same person! Celes was Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt. I had been looking all that time for a girl and she had been under my nose from the beginning!
Now the apparition had disappeared. The stone was lying on the floor. Celes looked at it, and, slowly, very slowly, approached it. She bent forward and took it. Then... I took a step back; a light brighter than the sun itself was blinding me. For a second, I couldn't see a thing. The light came from the stone, it came from the Diamond, it came from Celes!
When I opened my eyes again, the light had faded away. Instead, Celes was standing there, wearing a short white Greek style dress. She had a bow and some arrows, and whereas she used to have her Diamond on her belt, it was now on her new diadem. Strange, but I had seen stranger thing in my life.
"We should stay here for the night. Tomorrow, we'll leave. We have to see the others and see what they have found. The time is counted. We can't loose this battle. We must defeat... my brother!" she said, setting a tear on the last word.
"You are totally right," I said. I went to her and put a hand on her shoulder.
"Don't cry Celes, don't cry. You don't know him. You'll have to fight against him. If you feel you can't then stay here and keep the stone. I'll go alone."
She looked at me.
"No, I'm coming too. I just can't stay here and pray that you win the battle. I have to help you fight this desperate battle for Earth."
Chapter 7: A Clash: Athena and Hera!
We were on our way to Europe, Northern Europe actually, to find Demeter, goddess of Nature. Seiya had gone with Celes. I trusted him enough to know that she would be safe with him though a feeling pinched my heart though each time I thought of them together. Was this the feeling they called jealousy? I shook my head. No, it couldn't be, especially not towards a guy like Seiya. I must be worried for their safety. Yes, that must be it I reassured myself.
Anyway, as for me, the rest of my Bronze Saints accompanied me. Julian
had insisted that we take care of his little sister. Moreover, Lia said
that she had a series of high tech material that would not be priceless
in the research. If not for that, I had to accompany her to give her the
details for the goddess' present reincarnation.
A few days later
We had arrived in her mansion yesterday. It wasn't as big as mine but it was indeed quite large. After resting we went to her company. The sooner we find out, the better. Her computer room was as sophisticated than mine and the computers were working on it already. I hoped we'd have an answer soon. The garden was small, at least by my standards, but beautiful. It was not the kind of net and proper garden; rather it possessed a kind of wild beauty. Luscious plants were everywhere, flowers spread all over the garden, and the dense trees seemed close to each other, giving a large and spacious shadow everywhere. Nature looked so free, so at ease over here! You were in peace with it; it comforted you. I had always loved Nature. That was why I went to take a stroll, here, outside the garden.
I closed my door, feeling a bit tired. I was pleased to say that the computers were working very well. They should be able to find out the person we are looking for real soon.
I brushed my hair in the mirror. Yesterday had been an exhausting day; I was still tired after all that flying.
Oh! But what is this? A peacock feather? But there are no peacocks in the garden! This is an exquisite feather, almost perfect in every ways. It must have flown in through the window. Yes... it really was beautiful. But what is happening to me? I fell so tired. What? I hear footsteps in my direction...
Thud, thud, the footsteps are approaching... who are you?!
I see a shadow, no, a figure, it is a woman's figure, but, what does she want?
My eyes came upon a beautiful woman. No she was majestic. I had never seen her before... she had a high front, her eyebrows were perfect, her eyes were proud, her sharp nose disdainful and her lips were pursed in a cold manner. Her face radiated confidence, that augmented by the implacable poise and grace she possessed. She was, in a word, magnificent. And she seemed to be fully aware of her being, for she looked condescend in everything. She had, in other word, the beauty of a queen... a vain and proud queen.
"Who are you?" I asked feebly.
"My dear, dear sister, don't you recognize me?" she said, haughtily.
"I'm sorry... but I'm afraid I do not know you" I replied.
"Do you even know who you are?" she asked slyly.
"Why of course! I'm Julian Solo's sister, Lia" I answered.
"So, Demeter, haven't you manifested yet?" she said, surprised.
"Demeter? What are you talking about?" I asked.
"Well, it doesn't matter, my task will be easier that way!" she said evilly "poor, poor things, they didn't even realize that the very one they were looking for was right under their nose all the time! Ha ha ha ha ha!"
Her horrible laughter echoed through my room. I shuddered as I clang on to my comb. What a strange person, what does she want of me? I didn't do anything wrong to her.
To my surprise and horror, my vision blurred and I felt very suddenly drowsy and sleepy.
I wanted to fight this slumber, but... I couldn't... because... I was... yawn... I was... yawn... I... was... so... sleepy.......
Ah, I am here at last! Poor Demeter! Hum... this reincarnation is not bad at all! Of course, my own body and beauty are far more superior to this one... Now! To get Athena!
Strange, what was that? I thought I had felt a powerful Cosmos, but that's impossible... the only person in this direction is... No! Lia! She must be in danger! I hope it's not too late!
"Shiryu! Hyoga! Shun! Ikki! Where are you all?" I called out.
They quickly rushed out.
"Did you feel that strange and alarming Cosmos?" I asked them, worried.
"Yes," Shiryu said thoughtfully "It is strange indeed..."
"What are we waiting for!" said Shun, alarmed "Lia could be in grave danger!"
"Shun's right! Let's go quickly before it's too late!" Hyoga said.
We went up the rooms, then, went in the direction of the garden as the Cosmos suddenly started to emanate from there. Somehow, I got separated from my Saints.
But... What is this strange mist that is suddenly surrounding us? Oh... I don't like this! I feel a Cosmos that is coming closer and closer... Hyoga! Shiryu! Shun! Where are you? But... who is this? Lia? What are you doing here! We were all worried for you! Lia? Lia? No! You are not Lia... Who are you?
"Poor Athena... poor Athena indeed..." she said ironically "Look here
your little Saints!"
The mist had cleared a little and suddenly! Here was Saori, in front of... Lia? No, this wasn't Lia! But who was it if not?
"There is no point of trying to fight against me" she said "you have no chance whatsoever to save your stupid little goddess!... Go back! While you still have the chance to do so! This is no longer your concern!"
Before we knew what was happening, they had disappeared! Oh, no! What were we supposed to do now?
"NO!" Shun cried out, shocked.
"What must we do now?" Hyoga asked, hesitatingly.
"It is best we call Seiya" I said "and tell him what happened. We will
devise a plan afterwards; we must keep our calm and not panic. Come! Let's
go call Seiya quickly."
And there she was, as beautiful as ever. But whereas her beauty had been warm, gentle and serene, it was now cold and devoid of human warmth. She now possessed a cold beauty, as cold as a glacier. It was the kind of beauty that made you stared at, but left you uneasy. Her eyes were hard as she gazed upon me, and her lips were curled in a cruel smile. The evil aura that surrounded her made me shiver. Yes, she wasn't the same. She was now merciless, distant, but above all, she knew no pity. She knew no more what was love or affection but her heart was filled with the tranquil assurance that she wasn't doing anything bad, being superior to anyone else. She was no more Demeter, the peaceful goddess of harvest, but another goddess, one of whom I recognized. Her proudness and majesty made no doubt about it.
"Who are you?" I demanded.
"So, Pallas Athena, don't you even recognize your own stepmother?" she asked.
"Hera!" I exclaimed.
"Yes, it is I, the queen of the Gods, the spouse of the mighty Zeus." She answered back, amused.
"Why have you come on this Earth?" I questioned her "Why didn't you stay in Olympia? Why take the body of Lia?"
"Why should I answer you?" she replied "But I will, just to take more delight in the suffering of the favourite daughter if Zeus. I am only here for a short while, my purpose only being to... help Destiny. Humans gave always been a source of conflict for the gods since mythological times. Take for example Trojan War, Olympus was nearly divided into two. Though humans are certainly amusing in a way, they are unsatisfied creatures, never contented with what they have, always seeking for more. It is time to end all this dissatisfaction and give them the joy of final rest. It is of course a pity to end so many lives but it is better for them. I am not the real person in charge of this, how may you say, mission, but I came here of my own free will to help things speed up a little..."
"But why take the body of Lia?! why so much cruelty and injustice from your part?!"
"It is not injustice but rather justice" she answered "I have already stated my point of view and I will not change it. I should have known that you were too soft to be able to accept such a fact. As for me taking Lia... or, should I rather say Demeter's..... body..."
I gasped in surprise. So, Lia was Demeter all along? How stupid had I been in not being able to discern such a small thing. Now, everything was wrong.
Hera looked at me amusingly "Yes Athena, who would have ever thought that Lia was Demeter aye? Tss, tss, tss how blind you have been. But to continue explaining, as I already told you, my presence is just temporary so I have to borrow somebody's body. By taking Demeter's, I am making her participate in this great event. What more could she ever hope for, for although she possess great powers, she is too soft, a weakling too attached to humanity. This is the greatest deed she can hope to achieve. I think she ought to be grateful to me instead!"
"How cruel your plan is, Hera! Be sure that I will not let you carry it out as long as I live!"
"And what would you do to stop it?" she asked mockingly "sacrifice yourself as usual? You make me laugh with your self sacrificing attitude because it doesn't help the situation at all. What counts is action NOT, passivity and the whole cinema that you usually do."
I clenched my teeth, she had touched a weak point. Boy I hated my step-mother! We always clashed somehow in our ideals. Sometimes, I even suspected her of being jealous at me because of the love my father had for me.
"You will NOT carry your plan out" I said determinedly " as long as I have a still of breath in me, my Saints will not allow Earth to be destroyed."
She looked bored at what I said. Curse her! Could nothing make her wince or falter? She then looked at me grinning ironically.
"But my dear, it is already being carried out." She said smiling wickedly. " The only way you could expect to save the world is to collect the other that are not in your possession and you may be sure that I will not let you or your puny Saints live any longer. Poseidon and Hades made the mistake of underestimating your Saints capabilities but be sure it won't happen with me. So why don't you be a good girl and join us if you wish to spare your saints, or would you rather have them suffer a thousand deaths will you so cowardly risk your life? But, isn't it silly to ask this question? After all you are going to join us, aren't you?"
"I will never follow the forces of evil, even if it meant sacrificing my own life!"
"Ah, but I wouldn't be so sure about it. Have you forgotten where you really are? You are in my territory, well, Demeter's to be exact but, so? In this garden every plants obeys me... Oh my, is that a drop of blood pearling your finger? I wonder how you did it. Did you accidentally touch something in my garden?" She evilly smiled.
At my horror, I realized that my finger had accidentally pricked one of those beautiful flowers encircling her throne. Drowsiness began to fill me as my vision started to blur and slowly darken. It was as if someone had put my soul to sleep while allowing something ancient in me to awake... I suddenly realized what was happening to me and tried not to fall asleep...
"NO!" I cried, " I must resist!"
"What is the matter Pallas Athena?" Hera said with a glint if mockery in her eyes "do you suddenly feel weak? Put yourself at ease and make way for the terrible goddess Athena! Did you actually think that you could have hidden your bad side any longer? Don't you comprehend that this is the real you! I know you; you are not as just and self sacrificing that you appear to be. I know your deepest fears, that you dread becoming that Athena you were when you transformed that poor Arachne in a spider by shear jealousy. Do not blame me, that flower was only there to help your other self wake up. If you were as pure as you said you were, then, you would have had nothing to worry about. As it is......"
"Stop it! STOP IT! !"
"Why? Is this not truth? You have been deceiving yourself for too long, my dear! How about the time when you transformed that poor Medusa into the hideous monster she become just because she was pursued and had entered? How did you fell then? Was it not good to feel merciless and uncompassionate? Be true to yourself and not weak! Do not resist any longer!"
"I... I... yes, I remember, there was a time that I was not disturbed by the welfare of humans beings, a time when I did what I pleased. Yes, I have slept for too long... so long... it is now time for me to awaken and show my true face! Yes Hera! It is now for me to join you and take back the rightful place that I so long avoided! Come! Let us join forces and be united!"
"I knew you would come back to me my child..." said Hera, smiling gleefully "Come, let us go! We have much to do in so very little time. A nice game awaits us..."
Chapter 8: Let us know...
Here we were, at last, in front of Lia' house. I knew the place quite well because I had been here a few times before. The place hadn't change, but I felt uneasy. I could sense something was wrong, terribly wrong. I turned to Seiya.
"Something happened here," I said.
"Yes, I can feel it as well. Hope the others aren't in trouble." He said.
We rushed to the house and rang. I was quite relieved when Lia' butler opened the door.
"Oh, it is you." He said. He looked somewhat worried "Welcome back, Miss Celes. Four gentlemen were impatiently waiting your arrival"
Indeed, a second later, Hyoga and Shun had rushed down the stairs to the front hall. They seemed very agitated. Obviously, they had a lot to tell us. But where were Lia and Saori? The butler didn't mention them at all. Weren't they here too? Athena wouldn't have left without her saints!.. But... then, I understood, something must have happened to them. I hoped Lia was all right... I wouldn't have been able to bear it if anything had happened to her. She was my best friend, but above all, I saw her as my sister.
As we couldn't talk in the hall, we followed Shun and Hyoga into Lia' living room. Shiryu and Ikki were there. Obviously, no one was in happy mood. We all sat down. I could see Seiya wanted to ask some questions, but thought it was better for the answers to come on their own.
"Happy to see you again" Shiryu said "Did you find Artemis in South America? I think you did, otherwise you wouldn't be here."
"We did find her" Seiya said "But we knew her all along. Celes IS Artemis!"
"WHAT!" all four exclaimed except for Shiryu.
"That doesn't surprise me" he said "So you've got the stone?"
"Yes I have." I answered.
"So now that this first problem is solved, we can see the second one, which is, unfortunately, not as simple. I guess we have to explain to you what happened. Two days ago, we all sensed a terrible Cosmos. Athena and us were soon surrounded by mist and then, Athena vanished with Lia... well... not exactly Lia, even if she looked like her, because she seemed evil, she even told us to abandoned the fight."
Sis! No, this couldn't be true! Lia, acting for the forces of evil? I couldn't believe that. They must have dreamt; it wasn't her! But then, why wouldn't she be here? My goodness, no, all this had to be a nightmare.
"I won't allow that! Let's go save Athena! We've wasted too much time already! We should go at once!" Seiya exclaimed.
I had watched Celes carefully. She was the only one who could tell where to find Lia. I knew that. She was a goddess after all. She had been severely shocked by the news and she even began to cry silently. Lia was her only family; it was normal for her to have such feelings.
"Celes" I said softly " don't worry, we'll find her. Just could you tell us where we could find her?"
She didn't answer me at first. I guess she didn't even hear what I had said or she didn't understand it. I started worrying, hoping that she would soon gain her confidence back. I calmed myself down. She'll be all right, I said to myself. She had to be.
"Celes" I continued "stop thinking about that. There must be a reason behind all that."
I wasn't sure of it myself. I had the feeling it wasn't Lia but at the same time who could it be?
"Celes, please" I begged "tell us what you think it could be. You knew Lia more than everyone else. You must know something we don't."
Whatever I said didn't seem to reach her at all. The others were looking at her, silently.
I stood up and sat next to her. I took her hand. She looked at me, her eyes filled with tears. Lia really meant something to her...
"Celes" I murmured "if we don't join forces and if you don't help us, we won't be able to find neither Athena nor Lia. Help us and we'll help you. Celes, for me, please."
She washed her tears away. She stood up and went out of the room.
"What did you tell her?" Shiryu asked.
"Nothing more than what you just told her" I replied.
The coldness of the water awakened me to reality. I looked at myself in the mirror. My eyes were red and you could see on my face I didn't have much sleep for the last few days. I took a towel and dried my face then I went out of the bathroom. Enough of those feelings already! Crying wouldn't lead me anywhere. I had to get a hold of myself and fight. I had to find Lia and understand the meaning of all this. Now that my mind was clear, I'd just have to concentrate to find the solution to our present problem. Well, I already know what to do; I already know where to look. Someone had made me a sign. I just had to follow it.
I thought about the others. They were probably asking themselves what to do, wondering if I would give them the hint they needed. I guessed they were still in the living room, wondering where I had gone.
I made my way to the place and entered. None of them had moved but they were now talking. As I came in, they turned their eyes on me.
"Sorry for what happened" I said.
"You don't have to apologize" Shiryu said, "we all have times when we can't control our feelings.
I found it quite strange to hear Shiryu say such a thing, for he was the kind of person who could hide his feelings quite well. I didn't know if he meant what he said or if he just wanted me to feel better. Nevertheless, it didn't make any differences. Every single person in this room was a friend and I knew I could count on them.
"Have you thought about what I told you?" Shiryu asked "Do you know where we could find Lia?"
"I don't know for sure where she is, nor where Athena is. But I can feel someone calling me, telling me where to go, leading the way for me. That Cosmos seem ironic and sarcastic, like if it was challenging my honour. I guess it must be... Lia', if what you say is true. But why would she act like that? I'm really missing a part of the puzzle here!"
"And where does that Cosmos tell you to go?" Hyoga asked.
"North" I answered "Up north. Somewhere up north. I'm sure I can lead the way."
"Don't you even know the name of that place?" Ikki asked, sceptical "I'd like to know if it's hell, or Olympia!"
"None of them" I replied firmly "But I can't tell you what's the name. We'll find out over there."
Chapter 9: Looking for some goddess...
"Here we are!" Celes exclaimed.
We had arrived in front of a beautiful gate. A golden gate to be precise. It was real huge. On each side had been erected two beautiful statues, both representing. The gate opened on an exquisite garden, like shown the two hundred-year-old trees that surrounded it. I began asking myself if that was really the place. Celes mentioned an evil Cosmos leading her here. How could this be?
"I think we better separate he Celes said suddenly "I can't lead further. I only know what we are looking for lies at the middle of that garden. Just remember one thing: a garden can be your best friend but also your worst enemy!"
After saying that, she entered the garden, and soon disappeared behind a bunch of trees.
" Let's get moving too!" Seiya exclaimed, "We've got work to do!"
Funny feeling that I have. So odd, so bizarre, yet... so comfortable. Could I stay here? Would it be possible for me to dwell in this enchanting place? No! I mustn't even think about this! How could this thought have ever crossed my mind? I must not forget the reason for my being here. To save Athena. To save the princess, and to find Lia also of course. I can't seem to think clearly. It must be the atmosphere. My mind seems all mixed up. Ah ha! A stream! That should clear my head!
I plunged my head into the water. The water was so clear and tasted so sweet! In fact, everything here was perfect! No Seiya! Fight this thought! You cannot stay here any longer! No, no, NO! What is happening to me? I must not succumb! I must not let down my friends! But this feeling! This well being that I feel... is so good! It feels so good! Surely I can't fight it. It can't be that dangerous right? After all, why would such a nice feeling be dangerous. This is ridiculous. What was the harm in wanting to stay in this place forever anyway? I was not letting my friends down. Nor Athena. Of course I would rescue her. But what was the hurry? Anyway, I'm sure that nobody will mind the fact that I stay here after we deliver Athena. After all, doesn't she want our happiness? Was it wrong to give up the only chance that I had of finally finding Happiness? I'm sure the princess will not deny my only request right?
After we find out what happened, where Athena and Lia are, we bring them home, I tell the princess I want to stay here and I'll come back to this place. Yes! That's exactly what I will do.
I had been observing the stranger. He was so absorbed in the contemplation of the garden that he hadn't even noticed my presence. And yet, I was here since the beginning. I saw his every movement, his every reaction and guessed his every thought. I was just as I suspected. The Garden was seducing him. It was luring him. It was using the weak point of this Saint to try and convince him to stay. At this very moment, it was filling whatever emptiness this man felt in his heart and replacing it with whatever affection this person was in need off. In short, he was doomed.
I sighed. Guess I had to rescue him like the others will be rescued should they fail in resisting. And not only that, I had to guide him too. Sigh, I didn't like my job, or rather, I didn't like the person that I was serving. I'm not even serving the person that I'm supposed to serve! Well... kind of. I sighed again. I was supposed to serve the goddess Demeter, NOT the goddess that was in the body of the reincarnation of Demeter, NOT Hera.
I quickly admonished myself. It was not safe to think. I could get punished. At first, I thought things would go so well. I would serve the goddess and we would stay looking after the gentle garden. Things never turn out as you expect them to. One, I was serving the wrong goddess, two, I couldn't even retaliate or do anything, for fear of harming the goddess and her host. Three, I didn't like what she was doing. Making the garden seduce them and then forcing them back to reality again. That was cruel, especially when you know the bravery of those Saints. Worse, we had to bring them to Hera, making them think that they were going to save their goddess... only to get killed by her.
If only there was some way to help them! It was not right that such brave people should die in such a way. I had heard of the Saints that were protecting Athena, all their acts of courage, all their bravery. I had always dreamt of meeting them, especially the one called Seiya who seemed to be very sympathetic to me. Now, we were going to meet them. But in what circumstances?
I looked at the stranger again; I had already guessed his identity by his armour and looks. Yes, by a cruel twist of Fate, or rather, ironically, the man that I was going to bring to Death was the very one that I had longed to meet, yes, I was to guide Seiya to his own doom. Stupid! Stupid thing! Why?
Why? I knew the answer myself. Because I had no choice. It was this or... I shuddered to think. We couldn't rebel against our goddess; we had been brought up in obedience and respect. What was more, Hera had made things very clear to us.
I sighed. A few more minutes and I'll have to show him the way. At least
his last moments were pleasurable. Oh no! He was approaching the tree!
Nobody had the right to tough that tree except the Immortals or us. No
mortal could touch the golden apples, it was forbidden! Don't touch it;
please don't touch it.... NO!!!
I looked at the tree. It was majestic. Certainly not like any other tree I had ever seen. And it's fruits, so golden... They reminded me of the golden apple I once broke when we battle against Eris, goddess of Discord, was it the same I wonder? Hum... if I could just pick one to see...
I stretched my arm at a fruit nearby, ready to pick it up....
Huh! Who said that?! I turned my back and saw a young woman rushing at me. I released the fruit, so astonished I was to see someone.
"Do you know what you could have done?!" she said to me looking really alarmed and angry.
I looked at her with big eyes. I must have looked really astonished, not to say a bit stupid, because she suddenly eased and smiled at me.
"It's alright" she continued, "no harm done."
I still stared. Or rather, I observed her. She had very fine eyebrows and quite big blue eyes. Ocean deep blue. It reminded me of a deep blue lake I once went to. Her brown hair was plaited and it fell to her shoulders. She had fringe that covered a bit her eyes but her face was fine and well defined. She was wearing a kind of robe and had a necklace around her neck. Her mouth was a bit small, but it was a bit pink in colour. She was tanned, but not too much. In fact, her complexion enhanced the contrast between her eyes and the colour of her hair. She was beautiful; it was true.
"Who are you?" I asked her.
"You don't need to know" she replied.
"What are you doing here?" I continued asking her.
"That is not your concern," she said trying her best to look stern.
"No?" I looked at her suspiciously "then why did you scream like that? Are you an enemy? You must know something, why are you hiding it from me? Why? Are you afraid?"
I had unintentionally raised my voice at her and grabbed her arm.
"Let go!" she said "I'm NOT on the bad side, I'm..."
She suddenly stopped, conscious of almost saying something that she shouldn't have. She looked at me again and said softly this time.
"Come! I have orders to bring you."
"Where too? And why should I follow you? Why should I trust you?"
She looked hurt. Damn. What was happening to me? Could it be that I was angry with her? Why? Because she had brought me back to reality? This didn't make sense. I took her hand gently and said to her:
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have been so rash I..."
I felt so stupid. I didn't know what to say. I couldn't find any words. I had always been very rash and not much of a speaker. I never really minded that fact but I guess at this moment, I wished that I had the gift of gab.
She looked at me sadly.
"You don't have to apologize. You have every right to scold me. I'm so sorry, I can't tell you how much."
I opened my mouth to protest but she stopped me.
"I have orders to teleport you to the centre of the garden."
"But why? I mean who? I mean what?" I exclaimed.
"You'll understand everything when you get there. The one you seek, the one you protect is waiting for you there in the centre of the courtyard. As for whom the orders are from, you'll find out soon enough. Go rescue your goddess... if you can" she said in a whisper.
I looked at her. "Thank you" I said gratefully "but before you teleport me, may I at least know your name?"
She sighed. "You will not remember it very long. I am Arethusa, and I serve the goddess Demeter. You are in her territory."
What? She was a Saint like me? The Goddess Demeter? Then she should know more! Wait! I have more questions to ask!
That was it. I had teleport him. He had looked shocked when I had told
him who I was. He had wanted to ask me more questions. Well, it was better
this way. Good-bye Seiya, Pegasus Saint, and good luck, for you will need
it. The toughest battle of your life will begin very, very soon. Not only
a physical battle, but also one involving the most difficult battles you'll
ever have too. For what decision will you make? What will you chose? Fight
Athena or get killed by her?
Iím late Iím late Iím late!!! Oh my godness me! Arethusaís gonna kill me!!! O.k, o.k, quickly, quickly! Oh no, not so quickly, my hair is falling apart! Oops! One of my jewel pins fell! Oh forget it, Iíll come and pick it after Iíve teletransported him. OUCH! My hairís caught in the branches! Ok, ok, calm down now, take the time to detangle your hairÖ. Arrange yourselfÖ look into your small mirrorÖ Perfect.
NowÖwhere is he? Where is he?! I ignited my Cosmos. O.k. There he was. So all I had to do was to run as quickly as possible. Dang it! I hate running like that! Never mind, what has to be done has to be done quickly. Hey! Wait a second? I know how to teletransport myself right? So Why am I running?
HumÖ good question. I admonished myself silently. Hestia youíre such a dope! Totally useless!! Well, better teletransport myself now!
The garden was beautiful under the shining sun... it was the loveliest place I had ever encountered. I didn't think such harmony could have been possible in this world. I thought this was even or this was an illusion. But it wasn't: the birds were for real; the sun was really there; the trees had the same warm touch as usual.
Suddenly, I felt a presence I didn't sense before and soon a young lady, a beautiful lady was there, standing in front of me. Where did she come from? Why didn't I feel her being here? She was lovely, though her cheeks were unusually red. She looked a bitÖ flushed, as if sheíd been running. Naw, couldnít be. Her long brown hair made up in a sort of ancient Chinese hairstyle, brown hair, and deep blue eyes... somehow gentle and sweet... was she a Saint from Heaven? It seemed like it... An angel would look just the same... Besides, she was dressed in white Chinese dress, a bit like that of the representations of the Chinese fairies Iíd seen in paintings. Wait a second Ö Chinese fairies?! In the garden of the Hesperites?!!
"Good day" I said smiling. "Lovely dress"
"Erm, yes." She replied embarassingly "I know it looks a bit Ö incongruous right?"
"Not at all" I said "itís just that this didnít struck me as the sort of dress the Hesperites would wear."
She blushed slightly
"Ah yes. I know"
She looked at me.
"Listen" she said frankly "You caught me in an embarrassing situation I admit. You see, I was visiting the fairies garding the Heavenly Peaches in the Garden of the Queen Mother when you came in and I had to rush back to this garden."
I looked at her puzzled.
"You mean the Queen Mother? As in the wife of the Jade Emperor?"
"And youíre talking about the Peaches that give immortality to whoever eats it right? The Peaches that the Monkey God Sun Wukong stole eons ago?"
"But thatís from an entirely different religion!"
She looked at me disarmingly and gave me a charming smile.
"Look" she said "I admit you caught me on a bad day ok? I usually visit them because they have the best heavenly garden aroundÖ and they give you the best gardening tips. The golden apples seem much better after I followed their advice. But, of course, I canít go in the garden looking like a Greek nymph now can I? So, I have to look the part. Hence my costume. Donít mistake me, Iím no fairy, but would the Heavenly guards let me pass through the Gates to go into the Heavenly Garden if I didnít look like one? No! If my costume displeases you because it simply doesnít fit in the role I play as a Hesperite then go and lodge a complain! I donít care!"
"Itís a beautiful and good day isnít it?" I said, hoping to sooth her.
She sighted, her eyes veiling... "The day isn't good at all unfortunately... I have to help you find what you're looking for."
"I don't see the bad thing about that," I said encouragingly.
"That is what you think, but bringing you there is bringing you to your doom..." she said sadly.
I smiled "Many enemies already told me that, and I'm still alive. So said by a friend" - I don't know why but I couldn't see her as an enemy, I believed she was a friend, from the beginning, and the thought of the contrary didn't even come to my mind - "I don't fear it at all."
"So be it," she said as sad as before, but I could see she was more confident than before...
In a second, she had disappeared. Or as I realized, I wasn't there anymore,
but in the middle of the garden...
I crouched on the ground, hiding amidst the bushes. So far so good. He had been too preoccupied by his own thoughts to notice me.
I had learned to conceal myself, to go pass undetected. I had after all, the job to guard the garden. Strange garden. Few understood it. It was not a lifeless thing like a lot of people thought, but had a very life of its own. But it was a gentle, loving garden; that was why we had to guard it against anyone who would attempt to take any fruits from it or harm it in any ways. As Hesperides, that was our main duty. It was gentle. I winced. Now, it had changed.
Bitter thoughts came to my mind as I remember what had happened. We were here, my sisters and me, since we were babies, or at least, for as long as I could remember. I never knew how we got here, or who our parents were. My teachers had told us this was the way it had always been, that, that was what their teachers told them, and their teachers before them, and the teachers before them too!
I didn't mind, we were happy here. We made a friend too. Arethusa. Bright kid. Immense potentiel. We learnt how to treat every plant, and respect every life. We knew that this garden once belonged to Hera, but she gave it to Gaia, the mother goddess. That was why we learned to love everything around us. But we also knew that we served Demeter, goddess of the wheat.
When our teachers died, it seemed natural that we take their place. We became the Hesperides, all four sisters. After all, we were even named after them. It was our destiny. As for our good friend, seeing her abilities she became the High Priestess, the teacher. And we all knew that they would have to train a new generation of children. Just as we have been trained. When? We didn't exactly know. How, that remained to been seen. The teachers talked about the "call", or something like that. They said that as they had seen, so we would see too. It always seemed to me that they were hiding something from us. But we never asked them. Perhaps we didn't want to know. After all, the essential thing was that we were all happy.
They did foretell us something too. They never ceased to repeat that we were lucky, because our generation would see the reincarnation of the goddess Demeter, and would be able to serve her. It caused them quite some disappointment I think not to be the ones, but I think they were quite proud that it should be their disciples that would serve her. How they knew that, they never told us.
They often described her as kind and gentle. Not that she was perfect, but it is said that she has very strong emotional feelings and that once she is attached to someone, you knew that she would never betray that person. They also said that she loved humans dearly, bringing them good harvest in the ancient times. It was also said that she would never harm any creature... except if her emotions got the better of her of course. The best example is the way she almost let humans starve as she was mourning over the lost of her daughter, Persephone. But, she was overall a good goddess, and she wouldn't harm you, that is, unless you arouse her anger. But as the teachers said that all gods or goddess were usually good to those who served them, we had nothing to worry about.
And so, we had always looked forward to her coming. We didn't know when she would come, but we knew she would. Unfortunately, what the teachers didn't predict to us was that she would enter the garden, not as Demeter, but as Hera. Our first reaction had been that of a shock. What were we to do? Fight? We were not meant to fight. We were not prepared to fight.
Thought I'm no psychologist myself, I believe that Hera is basically not a "bad" person, in the definition people usually give of that word. Rather, I would classify her as different or complex. At least, she had the merit of being a truthful person, that is, she did not hide to us the fact that she was using our goddess' body nor the fact that she wanted to wipe out the world. In the short time that we spent with her, I started to understand a bit her actions and why she acted as she did.
We believe that every life is precious and that we must not kill. We also believe that there is no such thing as a "hopeless" case, that every person has a good side and can be changed so long as he has the will to do it. That is the reason why we do not kill, why we MUST not kill a person.
She, on the other hand, believes in revenge, in avenging an honour. She believes that once a case is hopeless, it is hopeless. You cannot change the nature of a person completely. As she once said: "As a leopard can never change its spots, so a person can never change his nature". According to her, it is useless even to try and change a person, because he will revert to his original character one day, being what he is. Therefore, the best way to wipe out evil is to cleanse it. Definitively. It is better to sacrifice 100 innocent people then let 10 evil persons live and corrupt them. That is her philosophy.
That, plus her idea of revenge, made her a really difficult person to deal with. Worse still, the garden, through her contact, was slowly receiving her way of thought, thus playing on people's emotions to finally trap them, and get rid of them and their evil. As if that wasn't enough, the goddess Athena had come to the garden too and had... changed. It was she, yet... it wasn't her. It was another side of her. She wanted to kill her Saints. Why? I had totally no idea. Why she wanted to hurt people that had been so faithful to her eluded me. She had become mad, as mad as a bull. Speaking from a strictly metaphorical point of view of course. Not that she resembled a bull naturally, only that... Oh forget it.
She had let her pettiness get the better of her. That was the truth. I don't really know if she knows what she's doing exactly. Maybe she is blinded by whatever feelings she has. Maybe she reached a saturation point where she was oblivious of other people and only looked at herself. Who knows? We are not here to judge.
But what can we do?! Those words sum up exactly the hopeless case of our situation. The best was to wait I decided. And the others agreed with me. As we cannot interfere without harming the reincarnation of our goddess, the best we could do was wait and see. See which ideal would prevail. Then decide. That was why we each agreed to bring each of Athena's Saints to Hera. It was a test. Not only for them, but also for us. Let Justice come out victorious. Let those true to their heart follow it and win.
I came out of the bushes and spoke to the young man. I knew who I had standing before me. I was in the presence of the Dragon Saint Shiryu. I called out to him:
"Dragon Saint Shiryu, I am Hespera, one of the guardian protectors of this garden. Your ability to resist its call has surprised me I must say. But I am surprised that you didn't detect my presence."
The tall young youth looked at me tranquilly for a while, scrutinizing me, his gaze never ceasing as if he was trying to understand me or see what was inside of me, inside of my soul. After a moment, which seemed like an eternity to me, he finally said:
"You are wrong. I did detect you."
"Then why didn't you have any reaction to my presence?"
"Your cosmos was not hostile. Were it hostile, I would have attacked you. I figured out that it was best to wait. You do not catch a fish by making noise, rather, in order to catch it, you must have patience and wait quietly for it to eat your bait."
"May I know the reason of your presence here?"
"I have orders to carry you in the centre of the garden. There, you will understand and find the answers to your questions. The one you seek is waiting for you there. May I transport you then?"
He nodded, and I went to him.
Strange garden this is... it reminds me of my Mama. It's as tranquil, as serene as comforting as my Mama was. Mama... this name brought so many souvenirs to my head! I just couldn't forget her. Every day, every night, I think of her. She was, she is, someone very special. I think, that, of all the Bronze boys, I'm the luckiest. To have been able to know my Mama is and will remain the greatest joy of my life. Mama... How I longed for her! None could really understand the strong bond between us; after all, no one except me knew my mother... or a mother at all. It is a bond that transcends time, a bond that unites. That is the reason why even though she is here no more, she lives in my heart. In a place nobody can access except me. And this garden... with its perfume so sweet and its flowers so gentle... to let go... to feel again...
Get a grip on yourself Hyoga! How many times will you be fooled by this feeling again! Too many times my enemies mocked me and used my emotions against me! Too many times this precious image in my heart was desecrated, trampled, soiled by them! Too many times! If this is the trap of an enemy, then I, Cygnus Saint, will not fall again! Mama, I will not let them get me again, nor will I allow them to make use of you against me. No. Never again, That is a promise.
I ignited my cosmos. I had to be careful regardless of the appearance. Regardless of what form it took, I had to be on my guards. Now was not a time to fail. If like Athena thought this was the place of the enemy, then nothing good could come out of it. Clever trap this has been. And it had almost got me once again. With my guard down and my feelings getting the better of me, I could have been an easy prey. A very easy prey.
I was worried. If this were a tactic used by whatever enemy, then, what would happen to the others? I shrugged. They should be able to resist and not let their feelings get the better of them. All of them. Even Shun. But would they be able really?
I paused for a second. I then realized that although we went through thick and thin, I didn't know them that well. Maybe because we were too preoccupied by the battles we fought. I know that we love one another dearly of a brotherly love despite contrary appearances sometimes. A smile came across my face as the word "Ikki" came to my mind. I know that our bond is stronger then ever, but that doesn't mean we know each other.
For example, Seiya is a very happy-go-lucky type of person. But what tells me that this personality doesn't conceal another one? Each person has some feelings that they hide under a veil consciously or unconsciously. Some people do it to protect themselves, others, for some other reasons.
I waved this thought out of my mind. Well, whatever it is, they will come out through victorious. They MUST.
Huh? Who was there? I feel a Cosmos that I didn't detect a while ago. Maybe because I had been too preoccupied by my thoughts. I called out:
"Who are you? Show yourself! I know that you are here. I will not harm you if you do not harm me."
Suddenly, a figure hidden behind a large tree came out slowly. I couldn't really define or see the person a first, as the shining rays of the sun covered her. Then, as she came slowly closer, I saw... a vision...
Her footsteps were light, she was as gracious as a nymph. That was, perhaps, the best word that suited her. A nymph. She reminded me of those magical creatures that frolicked amidst Nature, in a time that the Olympian Gods were on Earth, during the Time of the Golden Age.
She wore a light white robe that fell to her knees. On her head, a crown of flowers. That was the only ornament that she had. Her skin was dazzling white, as white as my Mama's I should think. Her blond hair reflected the sun and illuminated her youthful face. They fell to her shoulders and were slightly curled at the end. Her face expressed shyness, but not fear. It was as if she was observing me, wondering who or what I was. She had a frank yet soft gaze that I liked. Despite of that, her blue eyes sparkled and, if you looked closely enough, there was a hint of laughter in it. It was obvious that she loved life. Her rosy cheeks and her red, red lips showed that. It seemed as if an aura enveloped her. She looked like a younger version of my Mama. She was pure, she was young, she was exquisite.
No amount of word could have described my feelings at that moment. For a second, I didn't know what reaction to take, I was afraid that any of my movement would scare her away. I didn't really want to take the risk of losing her.
She must have seen my astonished expression, because she started to
laugh. What pure melody her laughter was to my ears! It was sweet, tinkling
and delightful. It was at the same time, refreshing.
I looked at him cheekily. I had been at first a bit shy, maybe afraid too. But one look at his face and I couldn't help but burst out laughing. His expression was priceless!
I was the youngest of us five. And the most pampered too. The others liked me for my sweetness and gentleness. I had never met anyone else before, so, you could understand that I didn't really know how to approach him.
What was I to say? "Hello mister I don't know you but you're gonna be transported to the middle of the garden to have your ass kicked by the very one you came to save?"
This was ridiculous.
We had drawn lots to see who was assigned to whom. I had fallen on the Cygnus Saint, Hyoga. I had been hiding behind a tree because I didn't really know what to do. Unfortunately, I had been too captivated by the way his feelings evolved to watch my steps. Of course, I had to step on a branch. And not just any branch, but a particularly dry one.
But maybe this wasn't such a bad thing after all. Anyway, he didn't look too scary. Actually, he didn't look scary at all! If I didn't know better, I'd say that he was embarrassed or something. He looked funny.
Well, better get my job over with.
I explained to him everything (except the goddess Athena's part of course). Immediately, he became more serious. He wanted to ask for more details, but as I said that he would understand everything as soon as he got there, he didn't press on.
Then, I approached him and... transported him in the centre of the garden.
I walked through the alleys of that so-called-beautiful garden. Everything seems so nice and so friendly that it almost seemed unnatural and ugly. I couldn't stand all those flowers: their smell almost gave me a headache! And those birds singing! I wanted to tell them shut up and leave me alone. Gee, how could anyone want to stay in such a hypocritical place!
No... I knew someone who would have loved to be here... And I would
give everything I've got for her to be here with me... But she wouldn't
come... ever... she had died ages ago, but it seemed like yesterday to
me... I still could feel the pain and anger... she had died for me to live,
for me to find my brother again, and become what I was today...
I shed a tear, even if it wasn't of my habit to cry, and immediately after, I began cursing myself for such a childish act. That garden was really getting on my nerves! It was bringing back to life all kinds of old childhood souvenirs I tried for so long to forget. It was showing me again all the things I had buried in my heart! I hated that garden for that! I hated all gardens for that!
But wasn't it a good thing to remember? Wasn't it normal for me to think about the past? After all, don't people usually say that if one doesn't remember, one always falls back into doing the same mistakes again and again?
Was that a trick of that evil garden? A trick that consisted in making me doubt in myself, in my feelings and in my power? What did Celes tell us again? That a garden could be your best friend or your worst enemy, isn't it? Well, I couldn't take any chances. I had to treat the garden as an enemy; otherwise I might get attacked by behind. I had to make the first move, and see afterwards what would happen. Besides, all those paths just seem to lead nowhere. I had the feeling of being in a labyrinth... NOW!...
One of those strangers was just in front of me. Tall, blue eyes, he didn't seem very friendly. I even thought for a while he'd kill whom ever he saw in front of him! He wondered a little round the garden, obviously tormented of some inner thinking. Suddenly he stopped. I could see him, eyes closed, clenching his fists. It took me only a second to realize that he was going to attack the garden. Indeed, a red aura surrounded him. But as he cried the name of his attack, I jumped out of my hiding place to take on me that attack. I couldn't allow anyone to destroy the garden. The attack was so tough that I had to move back a little, but I manage somehow to succeed.
The blue eyed guy looked at me, at first astounded, then mistrustfully.
"What do you want?" He shouted at me.
" Me?" I replied calmly "I'm just guarding the land that you wanted to destroy. I know who you are, and I'm not your enemy as long as you don't hurt the surrounding nature."
"How could you probably know of my existence!" he retorted "Except if you are a which I don't see how you know!"
" That's simple: I've been advised of your coming here. I have even been charged to bring you to the centre of the garden. I'd prefer to avoid that, but I can't... You're going to your doom by going there..."
"To save Athena, we, her saints, are ready to die, or even go to hell! Now, let me pass, I haven't got any time to lose!"
" I wouldn't give me orders if I were you! I hate that! Hold your language some times!"
" I don't care what you like! I have to go! I wouldn't want to hurt you, but I would have to if you don't let me go!"
"Well, if you want to go to your own doom, ok! But don't say I didn't warn you..."
I looked deep in his eyes. The combativeness was still there but the aggressiveness was slowly fainting away, like if he knew I would let him go...
"Stay there, I'll lead you the way... I hope you succeed and bring us back the real mistress of the garden... "
Whish! He was gone... Will he ever come back...?
The others had gone. I was now here, alone, at the entrance of the garden. I could feel the Cosmos from inside the garden but I couldn't determine exactly which way to take: I was not concentrated enough. I stayed there a second thinking... the answer came just as I closed my eyes....
Indeed by making abstraction of some of my senses, I could intensify the signal and determine where I had to go. I just had to concentrate once in a while to get there, step by step...
A while later
I was getting closer; I could feel it... Come here; do come here... I thought I could hear a little voice, which was saying that in a challenging and ironical way... And that voice was getting louder, and it was really annoying me...and...
There I was now, standing in front of, probably, what I was looking for. It was a closed temple, who looked a bit like a church from the outside, with some stained glass windows. However, those didn't represent Jesus or anything in relation with the Bible, but more Greek mythology, like Atlas supporting the vault of the sky, or the Hesperides having fun in this very garden... The huge two-sided door was closed. I knew the one I was looking for was inside, but I didn't go in at first. Slowly, I went round the place, looking whether there was a way of escape, not for me, cos I wasn't the kind of person that would run away if there was a problem, but for my potential enemy, for I didn't want him or her to get away easily either. However I didn't find any passage... Then, I came back in front of the door.
As I was standing there, this voice again spoke... But please do come in my dear, or are you scared and want to run away like a coward? What to answer to that? Well, I raised my head, smiled, and went forward, opening largely the door and entering the temple, who was at the same time quite bright like the garden itself, but also and mostly very dark, in regards to the evil Cosmos that was there. I was determined to fight, and more aggressive than ever towards this voice... Nevertheless, I don't think in my case this was a good point... when I'm aggressive, or annoyed I mostly think after I act... oops!
I took a few steps in, and then the door closed itself, but I didn't even turn round to see the closed door. I didn't care; I wanted to know. I only stop to look in front of me. Now that the door was closed, it seemed everything had become dark, though I could see some light in front. After some little time, my eyes could identify the place. It looked exactly for what I could see like a church; some kind of holy water in a bucket near the entrance (or whatever that is called, for I never went much to the church before) but I guess this thing was put there so that the garden will always be prosperous (this is however only some hypothesis of mine...); benches were symmetrically placed on both sides of the main entrance. The only difference: no signs of a cross representing the Christ or anything.
I went forward towards the light. As I went on, I saw that after some 15 rows of benches, there was a few stairs up, then a kind of stage, like a theatre stage, with only four pillars supporting the vault, then, a bit further, some other few stairs leading to an other stage, smaller this time, on which was only one chair, or more exactly a beautiful wood-made armchair. I went up the first few steps, and walked to the middle of the stage. I really felt I was doing some play, and that my role was planed in advance. I hated that feeling. But then, I stopped. What the...!
I looked at Lia first, who was siting on the chair. She was smiling at me, but not in the usual kind of way. Instead of showing an innocently pure smile, she had on her lips an ironical smile. And somehow as well, her attitude was different. She wasn't simple anymore, but proud and kind of vain. It was her that projected the evil Cosmos; it was her also who talked to me, annoyed me, and provoked me in the garden; it was her... my enemy?
I looked at Saori, standing near her, on the stairs. She wasn't captive, no, she was free of her actions, free to go, free to fight. Why was she standing here without doing anything? Didn't she feel the evil Cosmos of my best friend?
Best friend? It made me shiver. Why was my best friend acting so bizarre?
I looked at Saori more carefully, and I then saw in her eyes something that surprised me. Those eyes, they were the eyes of a madman. Was she hypnotized, under control, or terrified by some unknown tremendous power?
"So you came... I knew you would." Lia laughed "Welcome to Demeter's shrine! And... welcome to you tomb!"
Demeter's shrine? What is that all about? Lia was actually Demeter? But then, she had the emerald. Great! We only had to get the four other stones back and we'd be done with it. Hey, wait! On which side is Demeter? Mine? Or Apollo's and Hades'? From the "welcome to your tomb" I was sceptical about her being on my side...
"Stop asking yourself so many questions little Artemis." Lia said as if she had read in my thoughts. "I will answer them, all of them. But first, would you kindly step forward, to clear the fighting arena."
Huh? Clear the fighting arena? Was she going mad? What for did she want me to step aside? Well, I wanted my answers, so I went forward a bit, headed for a pillar, and leaned back on it.
"Here, are you satisfied Lia?" I asked.
I heard her laugh.
"Lia?" she said "But, my dear, Lia isn't here anymore, and I'm afraid you will never see her again. She left for Demeter to take hold of her, but Demeter had some hard time as well, and soon gave place... to me!"
"Oh" I said, unconvinced. What was this game all about? "So... you're neither Lia, nor Demeter.... Great! Now you would be so kind then to tell me who you are?"
"Of course, little Artemis." She said ironically. "Didn't you recognize your own stepmother?"
"Oh" I said, indifferently "I was supposed to recognize Artemis' stepmother. Hera, isn't it? And what is the mother of the gods doing on earth at this very moment. Isn't this fighting to common to interest a person of that quality?" I insisted on the "that" particularly, in an ironical way.
I saw for a moment a kind of lightning passing through her eyes. She must have been annoyed about my arrogance. Poor her, I thought, I wasn't going to stop. But then again, she smiled.
"Indeed, why should I care about fights of such low interest? Well, I am getting bored of humans, and I find it funny to see them suffer."
"Oh, I'm afraid it is not the only reason why you care." I smiled "why don't you admit you are fed up to see Zeus, your husband and "my" father, find some comfort in the arms of beautiful mortals? Cos this is the true reason, isn't it? The only thing you care about, apart from being the most desirable and powerful woman in Olympia, which I must admit you could be though you're too vain and people often doesn't like that, is your dear husband... if it wasn't for him, you wouldn't have come on Earth."
Did I touch the sensitive point? No? Yes? Maybe, but she didn't show it.
"Well, it's none of your business anyway!" she said with a touch of anger in her voice. I had touched the sensitive point; I knew it! "However, I have now decided one thing. You won't die now." She continued with a slight giggle of joy.
Huh? What? She doesn't want me to die now? What is this all about? Is she going nuts again?
"No, you won't die now. I have prepared for you more sufferings." She grinned "you like Athena's Saint very much, don't you? Well, you will see them die at your feet, one by one, killed by Athena, and well, you won't be able to do anything to that. Athena!"
Before I could do anything, I was surrounded by the golden Cosmos of Athena. It took me a second to realize that I had been a fool. Indeed, now I couldn't use my Cosmos anymore, or else I would be giving my energy to Athena. This aura surrounding me wasn't really her Cosmos, since it has turned black, but some kind of black hole, some kind of prison from which I couldn't escape. This got to my nerves, but what could I do. Nothing! Well, just keep cool and relax Celes, you aren't done for yet!
"I must admit you had me on that one, Stepmother." I said, "The Saints won't be coming. Or it'll be long before they find the place. And besides, they are strong enough to beat you. Remember they already beat Hades and Poseidon once!"
She smiled. "So they did, but Hades was killed by Athena, and you know, this saint Pegasus you know... wait, how's he called again... Seiya! We'll, if he always defeat the bad guy, it's because he fights for Athena or Saori a girl he happens to love..."
"How can you be sure he loves her?" I replied angrily.
"But, it's so obvious! Don't tell me you are blind..." she said with a grin on her face, "Your love for him will never be two-sided, Saori was there long before you!"
I began cursing myself. How ridiculous of me to have shown her my feelings! Well, anyhow, I shouldn't think of that anymore...
"You may be are right" I agreed," but I still think the Saint of Justice can beat you!"
"We'll see that soon enough. Here they come! By the way, let me tell you little Celes, that they won't be able to hear you. This barrier that takes your energy would take your voice as well..."
Indeed, at that very moment, the door opened itself, and soon, the five Saints were in the temple, and soon, on the kind of stage. I looked at them, fearing what was going to happen. Hera was right: they wouldn't defeat her, but not for the reason she gave, but simply because they wouldn't be able to defeat Athena. They would never lay a hand on their goddess! And I couldn't even help them in anyway, neither by fighting, nor by speaking... If only a miracle could bring those two goddesses back to their senses...
Now, now... The fun was about to begin. Indeed the Saints had stepped in the temple, and were now on what I will call the battle scene. How amusing was it going to be to see Athena's Saints get killed one by one by their own goddess! And how delightful to see the despair in Artemis' eyes as her friends will fall one by one at her feet. I wouldn't have missed this battle for the world... Hahaha, but the world was mine, and soon, it will be cleaned of all those human beings, who could be source of entertainment sometimes, like now, but also source of discord between gods. If it weren't for them, Zeus would have stayed faithful to me...
Seiya looked at Athena, then at Artemis, then at me. He was soon going to pay for this outrage: look at me last of all! No one dared ever do that to me before! Especially not a man! Me, the most desirable woman in the universe, all the men should be at my feet!
"What is that game all about girls?" he asked.
What? Calling me girl? What a badly educated Saint! But I stayed calm. I didn't want to kill him myself after all...
"This is not a game, Saint Pegasus! This is not a game." I said. "Athena has joined my side, and Apollo's and Hades' to rule the world and get rid of humans. Artemis refused for now, but she can't fight anymore. You see, Athena has set a trap for her, and if she tries calling her Cosmos, Athena will drain her energy. What is more, you won't be able to hear any of her advice, though she will be able to hear you suffer! Once all of you five will be dead, killed by Athena, she will have to give us her stone. Except if you win, but this is unlikely... or even impossible. Demeter's temple will be your tomb!"
"Demeter? Some bad guy? I can't believe it!" Saint Phoenix said, sarcastically.
"What is good and what is bad, that is the question!" I answered "it is true that from your point of view, Demeter isn't bad. But I never said I was Demeter. How outrageous of you to think I am!"
"Oh," he continued "Well, who might you be in the middle of Demeter's temple?"
Those Saints were really getting on my nerves!
"And haven't you heard of Hera. This temple might be Demeter's, but since she's a goddess, and I'm the queen of the gods, this temple is also mine!"
"Lia? What is the problem?" Saint Andromeda asked.
"Lia? Hahaha! You won't see her dear! I took her place, for good!"
At least this Saint was funny. He seemed so shocked and distressed by this revelation that I thought he was going to cry. But obviously, he was stronger than one could think when seeing him and he didn't.
"Saori?" Saint Pegasus asked, "Why aren't you doing anything?"
"Don't worry, she soon will do something." I answered. "Athena! Kill them!"
How lovely! Athena was now fighting her own Saints. They didn't even try fighting back, only avoided her attacks. And, well, you can imagine they didn't always succeed. Saint Pegasus didn't even try to avoid her attacks. He only kept asking stupid questions like: "But why are you doing that?" or "Saori, please come back to your senses"... My, he was pathetic!
Little Celes was watching the scene. She didn't look at all worried about what was going on and this wasn't what I had expected. I asked her why.
"I have faith in them" she answered "And I believe Athena will come back to her senses"
Soon, she'll change her mind though!
Athena had begun attacking about ten minutes earlier. The Saints hadn't attacked yet. Ikki tried once, but Seiya stood between him and Saori. For now, Shun, Shiryu, Ikki and Hyoga weren't hurt much. Only Seiya, who hadn't tried avoiding Athena's attacks, was barely standing. He kept talking, trying to make Athena come back to her senses. He seemed so sad so desperate, I thought he was going to cry...
He eventually did set a tear, as he said to Saori: "If the reason I fought for goes against me now, then I'd rather die, cos if your ideal is gone, you don't have a goal anymore, and you're doomed for."
This brought the miracle that I was hoping for: Athena stopped in the middle of an attack, looking at Seiya. She was beginning asking herself questions. A moment later, her Cosmos fell and I was released from my prison so to say.
"You did it Seiya" I congratulated him.
"Sentimental fool! " Hera scoffed angrily "but never mind, the stones are still in my hands, and soon Artemis, yours will be mine as well!"
"Don't you want to fight for it now?" I asked.
She smiled: "no, I'd rather not. I'll fight you when all the advantages will be on my side, in single combat!"
She disappeared in a flash of light. How? I'd never know...
"Seiya?" Saori said softly "What...what happened?"
Seiya smiled at her. "Nothing to worry about since you're here again!"
All the Saints were happy, back with their fighting strength. All...except Shun. He still seemed sad. I asked him what the problem was.
"Lia...she..." he said.
Well, I could understand how he felt. I was feeling the same thing, she was my best friend too.
"Well, now, we have to make a choice." I said, "It still isn't over yet!"
"What choice do we have, comrade?" Hyoga asked.
"Well, we can either wait for Apollo, Hades, and Hera to come and get the last stone back, or go to their place to take the five others back."
"The second solution would be the best, but how can we know where to go?" Shiryu replied.
"You're right..." I hadn't thought of that myself "Well, let's go to Lia' place. From there, we'll decide. After all, as long as we have the diamond, everything's fine..."
Chapter 10: in the enemies' camp.
Here I was, back to see how the two other gods were doing. Athena had become softy again, well, I knew we couldn't count on her right from the beginning. Apollo and his bright ideas! Hum, an alliance between Hades and Apollo, I was quite sceptical about that. Two gods, only seeking the pleasure of destroying humans and ruling the Earth. I was surprised at Hades, my own brother. He had always been sad, away from the rest of the gods, making us feel uneasy by his sole presence. I had always thought him different but what a disappointment he turned up to be. He didn't even understand the beauty of the task. He was the ruler of Death yet he couldn't even comprehend Death itself, for he was immortal. He had changed ever since he vanquished in the big battle and had only thought of revenge ever since. Hum, vanquished by Love. The fool! He didn't realize what Love was, and that was his big mistake. Even Athena doesn't understand what love is. Love exists, yes, and in that, Hades has been wrong but Love isn't eternal, it is a feeling that passes and goes, immensely strong at first but fades away... Zeus' infidelities were enough to prove it. Hades' ambitions wouldn't last long as he would probably fall in the same mistake again. What blindness! What a waste of power! As for Apollo, what was his real motive for the mission? He was evil, yes, but he had a good side. After all he was Phoebus. What could have driven him to destroy humans he once so loved? Could it be jealousy? Or just a desire of revenge? It troubled me that I couldn't understand his entire personality. Anyway, once humans gone, no one will ever share with me the place in Zeus' heart. What does it matter if life are taken away if it means that no one will ever dare to compete with me? I will truly reign as queen of Olympus. But, most importantly, I will finally revenged of the humiliation I have gone through... But... what is this?! Two powerful Cosmos are rising, ready to fight each other?! Hades! Apollo! Ah, I understand, one must have betrayed the other, this is certainly going to be very amusing...
"You have betrayed us, Hades, you were going to seize power and eliminate us after our task is completed!" Apollo exclaimed.
"And what proof do you have against me?" Hades replied "How do I know that you were not the one that had wanted to betray us, I know you and the stupid love you have for humans!"
"Say what you might, Hades, but fling the accusations at me, you know very well that there is no more love in my heart for this race." Apollo said.
"Do not fool me Apollo! Did you actually think that I ignore where you came from? How feeble, weak and cowardly your reincarnation was. It is true that you have no more love in your heart, then what is this glow of love I still see in your heart for that mortal?" Hades retorted.
"SHUT UP! SHUT UP !" Apollo screamed.
"Why? Too afraid to face the truth? Do you want me to tell you how you have been rejected by every human being you fell in love with? That this was the true motive of your decision to complete the mission and join forces with me? You are too weak, it is I that should rightly be on the throne and not some soft-hearted god!" Hades said angrily.
"Your words do not affect me Hades! I hate the humans and I shall destroy every single one of them!" Apollo replied. "As the traitor, you have to be eliminated. Come Hera and join forces and join forces with me and destroy him!"
"This matter is not of my concern." I tranquilly replied. "I do not care who takes the power. I do not care if one of you dies today. In fact, I do not care for anything. I only came here to enjoy seeing humans destroyed. How they are destroyed or what grudges you bear against them are not my concern. I only know one thing. I will help the one that survives today; so fight against yourselves for all that I care. I find your game quite amusing."
"Maybe we should stop fighting..." Apollo said hesitatingly.
"NO!" I said. "There is no confidence among us. Silly quarrels like this one will delay our task, one of us must die today, or if not, suffer the bitter defeat of not being united. Even you Apollo won't resist the calling of your evil side for long. You were weak just now in asking to stop the fighting. How can you expect to achieve anything big with such weakness?"
"Hera is right!" Hades exclaimed. "There can only be one!"
"Yes, you are right..." Apollo said, an evil aura suddenly surrounding him. "Yes, I have been weak. Be sure that such foolishness will not happen again!"
"Good" I said smiling evilly "Then, let the fight begin!"
A few seconds later...
There they were two of the most powerful gods, fighting each other like dogs. What foolishness! Yes, I had encouraged them to do it. But what silliness to have followed my advice. But it is better this way. Once one of the two gone, everything will be much easier. I smiled at myself, knowing already who of the two gods was going to survive. It is easy to know it if you look at their character. One, as predictably as rock, the other one, always changing and possessing a versatile character... Now this was going to be funny. Once the human gone Zeus will regret having hurt me so many times and stabbing my heart again and again. No, I must not cry I thought; I must be strong and carry on...
"May Death surround you and bring you eternal torture!" Hades exclaimed.
So, the battle had begun, I hadn't even noticed. How silly of me to waste my tears! The battle will certainly distract me.
"May the Sun's rays empower your body and make you suffer a thousand
deaths!" Apollo cried out.
A few hours later...
It was useless; the battle had been going on for hours. At this rate I mused, they wouldn't have finished it by sunset. I was getting bored and hungry. Each attack had been deadlier that the last one, but, both being gods, they possessed equal powers. No, one had to find something the other wouldn't expect.
"Hades!" Apollo suddenly said. "How did it feel to be defeated by Athena?"
I could see that Hades was visibly surprised at the question. Nonetheless, he stopped and started to answer it. Stupid, stupid. Then it happened. Taking advantage of Hades guard being lowered down, Apollo aimed his bow, adjusted his arrow and suddenly! Hades was no more. His mortal body had died. It happened so quickly that I hadn't had the time to say or do anything. There was the work of the treachery of Apollo. There laid the body of the foolish Hades, whose every movement was predicable as a rock. And next to him, the ever changing chameleon, Apollo.
"Fool" he said, smirking. "Did you actually think I was that weak and forgiving? You have fallen into my trap. Learn that Apollo knows no forgiveness and much less pity. What my reincarnation felt was not what I felt. Why do you think I chose a weak mortal? Cowards are more obedient then others."
"I admire you Apollo, no one is as scheming as you!" I said ironically.
"And I return you the same compliment Hera" he said smugly "for you knew what was going to happen all along, didn't you?"
"So did I!" I replied.
"We make really a really good team," he said sarcastically.
"And so we do, and so we do..." I replied.
Chapter 11: an invitation to taste a bit of hell...
We had gone sagely back to Lia' place, in order to think about what should be done. None of the saints, nor Celes or Saori were quite well; too anxious about Lia' -sorry I should say Hera- and too shocked to think clearly. But Celes and I were sure that Apollo, Hades, or Hera would come to use, challenge us in a way, and try to annihilate us.
I went to see Celes who was in the garden. She seemed calmer than for the past few days, though she seemed to think to some particular thing. I wondered what it could be...
"So, how's it going, Celes?" I asked.
"Quite well, but I've got a strange feeling..." she replied.
"And what might that feeling be?" I asked.
"I can't feel our three enemies' Cosmos anymore, I only sense two of them. And I find it strange. Something might have happened where they are..."
"I can't tell you that" I smiled "tomorrow, you'll probably sense the third one again."
I didn't even believe that myself. Someone was missing in our enemies' camp. And it wasn't Hera. I knew her Cosmos well enough to sense it wherever she was. But who was the one still there... Apollo? Hades? This I didn't know. I had never met them before...
Shiryu had left. I thought I might just do the same thing. I went back in my room. I passed in front of the TV room. Shun was watching TV, and Hyoga, Seiya and Ikki were exchanging thoughts about new sport cars... in a word, everything seemed normal. I went passed Saori's room. The door was bright open so I went in. She was standing at the window. She looked at me when I entered.
"You felt the same thing, right?" I asked.
"Yeah, something happened over there..."
At that moment, Lia' butler knocked at the door -which was still open- and said:
"Miss Celes, someone dropped that letter in the mail box, I think you should read it. The handwriting on the envelope is Lia'..."
"That will bring us the answer to our question, I guess." I opened the letter, and before reading it: "thanks. Could you tell all the saints to come immediately in the living room."
Lia' butler smiled "wouldn't it be better in Lia' office"
I smiled back "ok, as you like!"
I read the letter.
Celes had asked us to get in the living room immediately so we went. I wasn't happy for myself to miss my favourite anime on TV, but since it was about Lia, I didn't care to miss it. I still couldn't believe she had become Hera, nor my enemy. When I first saw her with Celes, she seemed calm, nice and sweet, the contrary to what she now was. Pray god she comes back to normal again, and without us fighting each other!
Both Saori and Celes were already in the room. Saori was at the window, looking at the heavy rain outside. Celes was at Lia' desk, reading a paper. As us five saints came in, she looked up at us, and told us to seat on the sofa and some other chairs. Then she stood up and said:
"This letter has just arrived. It had my name written on it, but I can swear, as could Lia' butler, that it is Lia' handwriting. The handwriting of the letter though is one I don't know. But enough talking, you'll judge yourself when I'll have read it to you."
And so she continued, sitting down:
You still have in your possession -but not for long- the sixth stone of light, the diamond. Hera and myself have now the five others.
As I am honest, I offer you a deal, exchange your stone for a part of the power, and I will spare your life and even make you my associate. If you oppose me, I will have to eliminate you... and those stupid saints that pretend to defend justice and Athena if they stand in my way!
Whatever your choice is, meet me at the top of the Rocky Mountains, in a week, day for day, before sunset. If you don't come alone, I'll consider you are a danger for me, and I will annihilate those who accompany you and you as well probably. If you come before a week, or if you don't come at all, you'll die as well...
Hoping, sister, that you will accept my deal.
"Yours always! My foot!" Seiya exclaimed, "We can't allow that! We have to go now! Let's kick this guy's butt'!"
"I think we should think about it clearly before taking any decision. It is wiser to consider the for and against of every possible action." Celes said.
"The choice depends on you Celes" Shiryu said "Do you want to accept his deal or not?"
"NO WAY!!!" Celes cried, as if she was offended, standing up in a bond.
"So there aren't many solutions! Let's go NOW!" Seiya said.
"No" Celes replied calmly this time "We have a few options. The first one is we go now, fight now, and try to make the most out an effect of surprise. But I don't think it will work cos I'm sure Apollo awaits a reaction of that kind. The second solution is that we go there together next week to fight, and hope for the best. In a way, it's the same faith that awaits us, except if we go later, we might have a few more days to live... But there is a third solution, and I think that it is the best. I go there alone in a week. And I fight alone. At least you will survive, cos I swear that Apollo will not win, even if it means I'll lose my life!"
"Celes, you're forgetting one thing" Saori said "Apollo isn't alone, Lia- I mean Hera is with him, ready to help him fight. And as I know her, you will have to kill her to get through Apollo. Besides, I think Apollo must have a few Saints with him, to guard him."
"And so, I don't see the problem..." Celes said unconsciously.
"You'll never make it!" Ikki said "That's the point!"
"He's right, you know" Shiryu confirmed.
"Maybe, but I can't risk to lose you because of my brother... and my best friend..." Celes seemed so desperate when saying that I felt that it was hard for her to admit those who should have been her friends were actually her enemies.
"It has nothing to do with you, Celes" I said "They are two gods, but Apollo isn't your brother, and Hera your best friend!"
She still didn't seem convince.
"Celes?" asked Seiya who had stood up and gone to Celes.
"Don't you remember the saying: one for all, and all for one?... We're your friends, without you, we wouldn't have found your stone. You always stood by us and fought with us, help us solve the mystery. Now it is our turn to help. It is OUR quest, and not yours alone. Together, we'll be invincible!"
"But..." Celes replied.
"There is no but. We saints will take care of Apollo's saints. You and Athena will go find Hera and Apollo. We'll make it! Otherwise, we'll have the satisfaction of having done the best we could..."
"So, let's go there together next week, and enjoy the coming days!" Hyoga said.
Celes smiled. "Maybe it's better that way"
End of part 1