Dia duit, saol nua-aimseartha! Happy (extremely belated) New Year and (not-so-belated) Valentine's Day!
I hope your Valentine's was better than mine. I spent the day in 269 AD Rome, witnessing the execution of Saint Valentine, which is the reason I didn't sleep that night. But... something went... extremely wrong that didn't have to do with Valentine.
However, right now, I am in 2019 Tokyo, which is just about the farthest I've travelled into the future. And you know, I've always wanted to go to Japan, but I never thought of the downsides: This is the most obvious, I don't read or speak Japanese even the people who do speak English, their accents make it difficult for me to even tell that they are speaking English, my accent is apparently too diffucult to understand. And most important... I'm not supposed to exist. In fact, I don't. At least, not in the universe you guys are (hopefully) living in.
When Rhyme, Melody, and I were in 269, outside of Flaminian Gate after the Saint's decapitation, I stumbled on my own foot as we were escaping. Of all people, theexecutioner is the one to hear me. And then he turns. Rage, confusion, hatred, and something else I will never be able to understand. All in one stare. Soon, he was staring me down, beady black eyes locked on clear hazel.
Why is he looking at me...like...that...? I didn't understand until he growled, "Murchú."
"Huh?" I can't help but squeak.
He turns to a weeping young woman and yells at her, "It's a Murchú!" in Latin.
And I'm being grabbed by the arm. And dragged across a square-shaped sort of courtyard and onto a long. Gravel road. Soon, we find into a big marble building with an engravement above the doorway with words I can't understand. I continue to spring as long and as hard as possible, and Rhyme keeps a tight hold on my arm. The three of us turn into what looked like a library, with two men just around the corner.
One is standing tall, looking quite calm while his accomplice is babbling excitedly about a certain blonde little girl who stopped an execution. As the speaking one finishes his speech, the two turn and Rhyme grabs my hand and bolts in the opposite direction.
We turn several corners before finding an empty square room which seems to serve no purpose at all.
"You two!" I hiss, "What's going on?"
A torch I didn't notice is lit and I see Melody's hair stringy with sweat, and Rhyme's tear-streaked face. "Shh!" he scolds. "Someone will hear!" I lean back against the cold stone wall, crossing my arms.
"Breá was here earlier!" the twin manages to say, choking on a sob. "She tried to stop the execution, but-" more crying "-but she... succeded!" The older boy trails off into a stream of strange syllables and sniffling before falling forward into his sister's arms, sobbing fiercely, muffling the sound in Melody's chest.
"But if she succeded, isn't that good?" I ask, confused.
"No," comes Rhyme's weak, broken voice. "Valentine's executiton is the reason you're alive! That crying woman, Juventas, would have went on to marry Valentine if Breá had not failed in this universe. But by saving Valentine, Breá ended the entire Murchú family tree. Not only that, but she's created a whole other alternate universe where Murchús aren't around."
It takes a while for this to sink in. "Bu...how?!"
Rhyme sniffs and sits up a little, with Melody gently stroking his drying cheeks. "Since Valentine lives, the man who was going to marry Juventas will die without marrying, just not in this reality."
"That man was the last Murchú!"
I let my head droop towards my lap, as a burning sensation rises in my eyes, mouth, and nose. "No. Just.No."
We let a heavy silence wash over us as I try my best to comprehend what just happened. Melody's hand comes to rest gently on mine as I see her mouth move ever so slightly to form the words "I'm sorry."
After what seems like forever, we see three pairs of feet under the door. One pair is hopping from foot to foot almost nervously. "Yes, Father. Okay, you two hurry!" a girl's voice says. In the tiny room, the air stills as we hold our breath, praying that we don't get caught.
Suddenly, the door opens slowly, revealing two identical boys, both with chin-length black hair and wide silver eyes. The two stare at us with the same awed expression. One is playing with a button on a small pouch that wraps around his waist. "Nona?" The other says, not taking his eyes off of us.
"What?" The girl's voice says coldly.
"There are... children in our storage!"
We hear hard, angry footsteps in the hallway before a tall, pale brunette pops her head in the storage room. Not even paying attention to us, the girl stomps over to the wall where the torch is mounted (narrowly missing my fingers) and snatches it up. She then waves it around for a minute before it is in front of Rhyme's face. The girl (who I'm assuming is named Nona) puts the torch in each of our faces, studying us carefully.
"Oh my word!" Nona shouts, dropping the torch to cover her mouth with both hands. "It's th-the Murchú!"
The boy with the pouch reaches a small hand into his pouch and pulls out a black ball with the numbers 2-0-1-9 blinking red on the front.
"Put that away!" Nona screeches, picking up the forgotten torch. "We are not helping that criminal!" We sit and watch, unable to think or speak as Nona takes off down the hallway.
The boy with the ball leans down and thrusts the cold metal into my hands. "Take this and do not come back here." His brother says to me.
"But why? And where is she going?" Melody asks, speaking aloud for the first time. Rhyme's shaking hand moves up to her forearm and squeezes.
"Because you have to. Nona is going to try to burn the rest of those," he jerks his head toward the ball, whose numbers have grown brighter. "You must leave because of this."
The boy reaches into his puch again to reveal a long smooth stone that says Nona Paulius, capta per Vulcanus. Rhyme and Melody's eyes are blown wide, staring at the stone.
"'Capta per' means 'captured by'" Rhyme murmurs.
"And Vulcanus is the god of fire." Melody finishes.
Before there is a loud beeping sound and I am having the life squeezed out of me by the force of time-travel, I hear one last thing from one of the boys.
"We will find you."