“I’m not suggesting we give up. Let’s aim for just one of them for now,” Yog persisted.
“I don’t want to.”
A hearty response met his words, and for some reason, it evoked a sense of familiarity in Eugene.
“You’re quite the stubborn one,” Yog said with a playful thump to his chest. “If you fail this year as well, come alone next year! What kind of trial is this? I don’t know what crime I committed to endure such a thing.”
“You said the same thing last year, yet you still come along.”
“It’s not my intention. Your Highness, if you venture alone, your mother will have my head! And why are you so certain you’ll return next year?”
Despite the grumbling and playful complaints, there was an underlying warmth in Yog’s voice. It was clear that he wasn’t genuinely frustrated. Their camaraderie was evident, bringing a smile to Eugene’s lips.
The prince gazed into the distance and broke the silence with a sigh. “Are you sure it’s here?”
“Strangely, there’s not a single gust of wind today. They say the sand usually swirls a lot in this area due to the wind, and it doesn’t look so clear.”
“Though you can only see the rocky mountain, is there truly a lake beneath it?”
“Yes, my mother told me, so there’s no doubt.”
The scene transitioned to the view both young men were observing together. In the distance, a gray rocky mountain stood. Over the years, it had been shaped by the relentless wind and now resembled multiple turrets rising from a distant fortress.
“My mother’s family and all her relatives used to hide and live there. My mother grew up in that place, and she even taught me the way.”
As the screen blurred due to a sudden gust of wind, Eugene squinted and then blinked her eyes open. The scene shifted, and she found herself seated in the midst of the vast open sea, devoid of any visible landmarks. She reached her hand into the water’s surface. The water had a strikingly translucent appearance, but she couldn’t feel anything.
Eugene let out a disappointed chuckle. It seemed that the future she could glimpse only extended this far. She yearned for a bit more insight.
I haven’t even seen the child’s face. I’m curious to see how they’ve grown, she mused.
Recalling the future she had just witnessed, she chuckled at each remembered scene. The squabbles between the two children had been endearing, and the information she had gathered from eavesdropping on their conversation had been intriguing. Chasing a particular beast for three years – her son’s unyielding determination was undoubtedly inherited from his father.
I don’t know what kind of beast it is, but this seems excessive. I hope my son doesn’t endure too much, she wished.
Although she couldn’t be certain if she would see the future again, she didn’t need to. Eugene was confident that her son would eventually succeed in capturing the elusive beast.
“Huh?” Eugene, who had been lost in thought while gazing downward, noticed something moving beneath the water’s surface. This was unexpected. In the underwater dreamscape, there should have been nothing but water. She was meant to be the sole living being in this lucid dream.
Eugene slowly sank into a prone position, submerging her head beneath the water’s surface. She peered into the deep, inky abyss, turning her head left and right, yet all she saw was the surrounding water.
Did I mistook it? she wondered.
Then, at the edge of her vision, something swiftly darted by. For a fleeting moment, it resembled the long, slender shape of a snake, and in that instant, she awoke from her dream.
The early morning light bathed the bedroom, casting everything into sharp relief. Eugene observed Kasser’s peaceful slumber, contemplating the identity of the creature from her lucid dream. She instinctively covered her belly with her hand.
“A snake…” she murmured.
Her hand moved upward as she pondered the fleeting image she had glimpsed.
Could it be related to this child…?
As she sheltered herself within Kasser’s embrace, a sigh of contentment escaped her lips. His arms enveloped her, holding her close, and it felt entirely natural. It was possible that she had been awake while observing his tranquil visage.
In response, Kasser drew her nearer into his embrace.
“Our son is a remarkable child,” Eugene whispered softly.
“Isn’t it too early to make such an assessment?” he responded groggily.
“He is a remarkable child. He gave us incredibly valuable information,” Eugene’s eyes sparkled with excitement. She eagerly anticipated Kasser’s surprised expression when she shared the information she had gleaned.
The gray rocky mountain that the two young men had been gazing at, the place from Yog’s mother’s formative years and where relatives had once lived in secrecy, was likely a sanctuary for the wanderers. Mara was probably nearby, and it was where Mara’s main body resided.
Kasser diligently gathered all available information on the desert terrain in order to pinpoint the location Eugene had described. Crafting a map was a challenging task, given the ever-changing nature of the desert landscape. The vastness of the desert, coupled with the limited paths used by the kingdom’s people, presented formidable obstacles to gathering information. No one ventured too far before the commencement of the active season, making desert surveying the outer limit of exploration.
Unified maps did not exist, but they documented the terrain’s unique features that could potentially serve as landmarks. In these old records, Kasser stumbled upon a distinctive cliff rocky mountain formation. When viewed from a distance, it bore a resemblance to a castle. Initially, he had hoped it might be a remnant of an ancient civilization, only to discover it was a natural rock formation, not a man-made structure.
Ordinarily, desert rocks tended to take on reddish hues, but this rocky mountain displayed a stark gray, devoid of any signs of life, with no trees or grasses in its vicinity.
Kasser presented this newfound information to Eugene. She inquired, “Do you have the exact location?”
Kasser nodded in response. “Approximately. But it’s quite a distance.”
“How far are we talking about?”
“Taking into account various variables like weather, it’ll take at least a month.”
“…That’s quite a distance.”
Considering the current commencement of the active season, sending a search party immediately seemed improbable. Nonetheless, having a general idea of Mara’s possible whereabouts marked a significant achievement.
After their previous encounter with Mara, they had agreed to meet once more before the onset of the active season, and that day was tonight.