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Translator: Wu Wang
Chapter 5: The Steam Wings
Jonah stood in front of the mirror and remembered Segnise’s prediction.
“October sixth, Gamaliel descended from the sky with all the gentiles he chose. Ayala couldn’t see and hear him, but he lived in a bones palace and he didn’t feel panic. ‘stay away from the mirror’. Gamaliel gave his advice.”
The prediction was fulfilled – a demon occupied his body. He couldn’t win against it. He was as weak as a newborn lamb when he faced the evil power.
He had a clear memory regarding what happened last night. Jonah knew, that the man who curiously touched the objects in his room, clumsy walked down the stairs, attentively tasted the bland food, and happily talked with Tutor Keshawa – wasn’t himself.
Another soul had occupied his body and walked in the world. Gamaliel had become the new master of Ayala’s body – different from the prediction, Jonah felt extremely scared and flurried.
After Jonah got up, he stood in front of the mirror for half an hour, to make sure that the scrawny guy was still himself.
There was the smell of sulphur and rosin in the air. The sunlight brightened the familiar quill and calculation sheet on his desk. The steam puppet stood in front of the telescope. There was a book called “Straight Line and Fold Line: The links among different stars” opened on his bed – it was a textbook for Astrologers, and the last book the descender read before it left – a stupid demon! Jonah thought. He had memorized all the content in this book six years ago.
Jonah clenched his fist, and shook his body involuntarily. In addition to the feeling of fear, a great sense of humiliation covered his soul. A teardrop slipped through his mouth, and with the back of his hand he wiped it resolutely. He stared at his reddened eyes in the mirror.
“Clam down. I need to calm down.” The young apprentice said to himself.
“I’m still myself. The demon didn’t erase my soul, but where is that demon now? Is it hidden in the crack of another world and looking at me with a grim smile? Or is it sleeping in the dark side of my soul? No matter what happened, I’m my body’s master at this moment.”
Jonah’s hand stroked his chest. He took a deep breath then slowly exhaled it out.
The prediction was right. This was a sign, a test, and a start. Bless you, endless night sky. There must be something that I can do.
Jonah suddenly remembered something.
He remembered the time when he was four years old and his tutor took him away from his crying mother and silent father. His father had paused for some time before stammering his last words, “My child… No, future Astrologer, please remember: you reap what you sow.”
This was his only memory about his parents. He couldn’t even remember their faces, but this proverb of a farmer was still fresh in his memory.
Jonah turned around and walked towards the sun. He drew back the shutter and looked at the vast but arid Red Plain.
He grew up taking for granted that everyone in this world was born with his own mission. He once thought that revealing the truth of the starry sky was his mission, but several months ago, that nameless book sowed some doubts in his heart. Now, everything had been fulfilled. Segnise, the Betrayer, was a mysterious prophet. He was the man who gave him a new mission, and his new life would start from this moment onwards.
Jonah felt that a catastrophe was coming, and he had a hunch that he would be the one to push the gears of destiny to start running.
He clenched his fists again.
Yes, Segnise The Betrayer had pointed a way for him, and he would follow his predictions to change the future – even if it meant that maybe he would betray his initial beliefs.
Jonah felt as if the residual papers of the nameless book which was hidden in his chest was giving out heat, giving him strength.
Yesterday was “The Day of Descend”. He didn’t know how many people’s souls had been occupied, and he also didn’t know when the descender would come again. He needed to hurry.
Jonah carefully took out the papers and put them on the desk. He used the quill to circle the next prediction.
These were the words written on the papyrus:
“October 29th, the fire dropped down. The river was tarnished. Ayala said to his friends, ‘I will wait for you at other place’.”
Jonah furrowed his brows.
The date of the previous prediction was October sixth – that was yesterday. If he measured it in the Unified Calendar, it was April 3rd, 2305. So, the data of the next prediction should be April 26 – three and a half weeks later.
Jonah wrote down the date on the paper.
“The river will be tarnished.” Jonah murmured. He dug out a broken book called “The Geographic Environment of the Western Continent” from his bookcase. It was published by the Mathematical Association, an extracurricular book of his. There was a topographic map of the continent in the title of this book. The map was painted by magic ink, so only the people who had the emblem of the five associations could read it.
According to the observations of the Mathematicians, the Western continent was a fan-shaped land – “If you cut the pizza on your plate into four pieces, the piece on the left would be our continent.” When Tutor Keshawa said these words, he wasn’t old, forgetful and liked to chatter at that time, and he was still a qualified tutor.
“There are infinite mountains circling around our round world. The mountains are too high and even birds cannot fly over them. In the center of our world is a big lake that will never dry, because the lake water is coming from the infinite mountains. Every year, there are many morons who go there to see the scenery of the lake, only to end up in the mouth of some magical beast. No matter whatever continent you live in, you live in the outside of the pizza. The nearer to the center, the more magical beasts you will see. If you want to live as long as me, don’t be curious.”
Jonah recalled his tutor’s words.
The Western continent was separated from the other continents by two rivers. The prediction said “The river was tarnished”, so, it should be that lake in the south – the Holy river “Faramita”.
It was the most spacious, the most powerful, and the most difficult to cross of the four rivers. There was a primitive tribe, the Colombo nationality, who lived in the north coast of the Holy river. They worshipped the river and didn’t belong to any country. Year in and year out, they always protected the Holy river, Faramita. Any behavior that caused the reduce of the river water (like drawing water from the river) or the increase of the river water (like throwing items into the river) would be regarded as profane towards the Holy river in their eyes, and they would throw endless resentful spares to the people who broke their laws. They had the strongest skirmishers in the Western continent.
The only ferry in the Holy river was the Cherry Ferry. It was at the borderland, and only opened twice a year – every year in spring and autumn, when the hunting time of the people of Colombo started, they would send a ferryboat to the South continent, and receive another ferryboat from the other side.
In other words, if you couldn’t took the Nimbus “Lame Henry”, the only way you could choose to cross the river was by buying or robbing a boat ticket to the Cherry Ferry, then wait for the hunting time of the Colombo tribe.
“The Geographic Environment of the Western Continent” said inadvertently that according to the Colombo calendar, the next hunting time of the Colombo tribe should be at the end of April.
Yes, it must be this.
Jonah turned the papers excitedly. The next prediction should happen in the Cherry Ferry.
Saint Boen was located throughout the central south of the Western continent. It bordered the Empire Zave in its north, and there were over ten tiny duchies surrounding its east and west. In the south, it was the Empire Bazelaire.
The south border of the Empire Bazelaire was the land of the Colombo tribe, and a neutral zone: the Cherry Ferry.
If he left the Red Plain right now, After two weeks, he could arrive at the ferry at a walking pace.
Jonah thought about this, then he tore off the magical map and put it into the same pocket with the residual papers of the nameless book. He opened the door and walked to Tutor Keshawa’s laboratory.
He knocked at the door of the laboratory for a moment and heard the manic sound of his tutor, “Come after three hours! Impertinent boy, I told you several years ago that the person who disturbs a old man’s sleep should be hung on the gallow!” Jonah turned back and felt a little settled: At least, his tutor was still his tutor, and was not controlled by any descender.
He returned to his room and thought while toying with the steam puppet. The controllers on the back of the steam puppet were in an unfamiliar combination. He cursed the descender and reset the controllers one by one.
A stream of white smoke curled upwards. The steam puppet waved its hands and walked. Jonah stared at it for a while, and then he realized that he should prepare his luggage.
He grew up in this confined tower. Expect for the Red Castle, he never went to any other place. Once a month, when the support team which was sent by the association came to the tower, Jonah always wanted to ask the leader which interesting places he had visited. Of course, because of his reserve, he had never asked the question.
Food, water, clothes, as many crystals and gems as possible, engraved Star Circles, several gold coins, some pragmatic magic items, and a walking stick. Of course, if his tutor wrote a letter of introduction for him, he could have more privileges in the Astrology Associations of different countries – which he couldn’t have if he just showed his apprentice emblem to the officers.
Jonah filled his deerskin handbag with crystals, gems and magic items, and then a big package with bread, beans, jerky, underwears and a change of clothes. Finally, he found the stick his tutor gave him last year – there was a ruby crystal studded on the top of the stick with a simple Light Star Circle engraved into it.
Jonah suddenly felt a little guilty when he thought that he would be leaving his tutor, but there was a great mission he needed to finish. He drew out the map and the papers and stared at them for a while, then he carefully put them into his deerskin handbag. He sat down and thought again, then he drew them out and put them into the inside pocket in his chest.