30.5: The Prodigal Son

I shook my head, “What does this have to do with the situation?”

“Everything. This parable has been passed down over several millennia, until the Solar Convergence tore that religion apart. There were known as the Christians, and they followed a man by the name of Jesus, who was believed to be the human incarnation of their God. Jesus told several parables to his followers, one of them being the tale of the Prodigal Son.”

“In this story, two brothers and their father live happily, until the younger son asks for his inheritance before his father dies. The father gives his son the money, and he leaves to live a life of luxury. Eventually, the son spends all of the inheritance, and is forced to return home. Ashamed of what he had done, he begs his father to hire him as an indentured servant. The father, however, welcomes him home with open arms, and even celebrates.”

“The eldest brother, seeing this extravagant meal, grows angry. He asks his father why he has prepared such a feast for the younger brother after he disowned the family and left home, even though the eldest has been loyal to their father from the very beginning. The father says that the younger brother was lost, but now he has been found, and they should celebrate his return.”

“But I didn’t leave the Order on my free will,” I refuted. “I don’t even remember living in the Castle at all.”

“Even if your parents led you away from here, we lost you like we lost White Essence long ago. And after thirteen long years, you have returned. As celebration, I tried to give you every reason to stay here. I pardoned your parents and appointed Solana as your mentor. You can hate me for this, abhor me for it, but I cannot change what has already been done. I hope, however, that you can find it in your heart to forgive me.”

Crack! The shrill noise cleaved my eardrums. I staggered, startled by the sudden crash.

“What on Earth?” the Master leaned forward and turned his head towards the source.

“I think it came from the hallway that leads to the mess hall,” I pointed to the hallway directly east of me.

“I will go see the damage. Someone probably knocked over one of the wall ornaments.”

For some reason, I found that highly unlikely. Children would occasionally bump into the walls. However, it was their designated dinner time in the upstairs dining hall. No child would be roaming the ground floor at this moment.

“I’ll go with you.”

“Very well, then.”

The Master descended the stairs and headed towards the mess hall. I followed closely behind, commanded by my curiosity. We continued down the corridor until the Master stopped abruptly. Had he stopped a little faster, I would have ran right into his back.

He crouched down in front of ceramic shards that were littered over the indigo carpet. The Master picked up one of the porcelain fragments and examined it closely. To my left was an empty pedestal, probably where the object fell from.

“Is that vase from up here?” I showed the Master.

“I believe so. This is nothing major though. Nobody will miss one piece of pottery. There are dozens more just like it scattered throughout the Castle. However…” The Master’s eyes narrowed at the scrap in his hand, then handed it over to me. “Take a good look at this.”

I fumbled the broken piece in my hand and squinted at it. They were difficult to see, but they were there. Wisps flickered and danced around the shard. Essence, the color of deep jade.

“Oh no. Is this…?”

“She heard everything. We need to find her at once.”

“She was eavesdropping? Which means…”

The Master punched the wall in anger, “Her father was executed for treason after helping your parents escape capture. Now she knows I have given Eve and Samuel a clean slate. The fury that must be building within her...what have I done?”

“Forget it. Like you said, you can’t fix what you did. Let’s just focus on finding her and hopefully, we can patch up the wounds.”

The Master sighed, “Alright. Can I trust you to help me find her?”

“You can count on me.”

Celeste, please. Don’t do anything you’ll regret.

The End

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