32.2: Bravado

“My point is that he won’t hurt us. I know that for a fact. So please, Mrs. Valenti. Celeste needs us right now. We’ll never be able to catch up to her if we keep waiting around anymore.”

“He’s right, Mom. The longer we wait, the farther away she gets.”

Mrs. Valenti took a moment to regather her thoughts, “...Alright. But I have one thing I need to say to Elijah before I help you all.”

“I’m all ears, Mrs. Valenti.”

“If my daughter is hurt in any way while you’re on this little crusade, you will be forbidden from ever speaking to her again. Do I make myself clear?”

Her harsh tone and unwavering glare pierced my spirit. She managed to instill doubt in my heart with her threat. Mrs. Valenti, although gentle and sympathetic, could be just as austere and rigid as the Master. In fact, she might’ve transcended acerbity.

Nonetheless, I forced myself to return a determined gaze. Any sign of weakness would render my promise moot. Mrs. Valenti needed to see that I had the strength to keep Solana safe, and if I couldn’t stand up to her, we could forget about leaving the Castle.

“You have my word,” I answered, my resolve echoing in my speech.

Solana’s mother studied me for a bit. She crossed her arms and looked at all of the Guardians. My breathing became heavy, and my body tensed up. Was I not convincing enough?

Finally, she spoke up again, “Alright. Let’s see what can be done.”

Mrs. Valenti sat on her bed and clasped her hands together. She shut her eyes and began to siphon her golden Essence. It flowed from her skin and engulfed her body, until she abruptly lifted her eyelids. Her Essence suddenly flooded upwards, directing itself into her pupils. After a few seconds, Mrs. Valenti’s eyes burned with an amber fire.

“Celeste,” she mumbled. “Where are you?”

Mrs. Valenti’s head wandered around the room frantically, and her eyes darted around with just as much urgency. I turned to Solana, begging for an explanation, but she only responded by placing a finger over her lips.

We waited in her bedroom for what seemed like hours, if only a few minutes. My impatience was gnawing at my guilt like a parasite. Mrs. Valenti continued to track her down, but from what I could tell, she didn’t seem to make any progress. According to Keith, a Yellow was our only hope of finding Celeste. Solana’s mother had to find her. Otherwise, we would have no choice but to wait until the Excitus.

Mrs. Valenti searched a bit longer, then let out a soft gasp. The Essence surrounding her eyes dissolved into her body and she reclined backwards from fatigue.

“Mom?” Solana seemed unaffected by her mother’s exhaustion. “Anything?”

“I found her,” Mrs. Valenti panted. “But...you’re not going to like where she’s heading.”

“Why? Where is she going?”

She sat up again and made direct contact with me, “Elijah, she’s going towards Old Tenebris.”

The End

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