198 I“ll be here
While one day passed on the outside world, Ellie felt like a whole month had passed by for her and her team. Their day inside the ring of time lasted way more than she expected, and what a day it was.
If she wasn't constantly engaging in fights with either Lilith and Marcus in their fused state, she was trying to master her magic while also dodging the ice spells from Detra, who somehow managed to become even scarier after remembering she used to be a mage.
Ellie began to wonder if the reason Detra always used to be slightly nicer to her was because the two were water-based mages and maybe Detra secretly wished she could have taught her daughter ice magic.
Regardless, after a long period of fighting, fighting, and more fighting, with a couple of small breaks in between, the group finally decided that it was time to move on once they noticed the sky getting darker after what felt like an eternity of battling.
"It's time..." Detra stated.
She just glanced over at the other three who looked like they had just come out of a shredder for all the wounds on their bodies, their teared up clothes, and the fact that they could barely breathe.
"Thank God..." Ellie whispered while falling onto the ground and going into a deep sleep with her arms wide open.
Detra just approached Lilith and helped her to sit down while Marcus returned to his regular form.
"You think this will be enough...?" Marcus asked while falling on his knees. He had been fused with Lilith for so long that he almost forgot what his own body felt like.
"It will have to be..." Lilith replied, "we can't stay here any longer..."
"Don't worry..." Detra interjected while noticing the worried looks on their faces, "it will be fine..."
Marcus just raised an eyebrow, "how can you be so sure?"
Detra made a moment of silence as she realized she didn't even know why she said that, but once she saw Ellie snoring on the grass without a care in the world, the answer just came to her mind, "because I know a good child when I see one... And this girl is a really good child... We can trust her."
Marcus and Lilith both nodded while smiling. They knew that if even the former goddess of the east who barely ever placed her trust in humans could rely on Ellie, then so could they.
"We should try to get some sleep as well... Get as much rest as possible..." Detra suggested.
The three of them decided to then lay down while gazing at the open night sky. They had spent many nights sleeping in different corners of the garden, but this was the first night of sleep where they all felt so relaxed, almost as if a huge burden that was weighing down on then had gotten much easier to carry.
"Marcus..." Detra whispered, breaking the silence of the night in the process, "do you still remember what Marceus looked like when you last saw him?"
Marcus felt a deep pressure inside his heart at the mention of his father. Even just seeing a projection of him not too long ago was enough to make his head start burning with conflicting feelings.
"I do..." he replied, "I'll never forget that day... He was the first person I've ever met... And he seemed like a really fun cool guy..."
Detra thought hard about her next choice of words. She didn't know exactly what she wanted to say, but she knew that something needed to be said anyway.
"Did he look... angry... or sad...?"
"...I told you..." Marcus replied while turning away from the night sky and looking at his mother, "he was just a cool guy... Even though he knew what was coming, he still tried to cheer me up... He was about to vanish completely, and yet he still tried to make it about me, and not him..."
"I really wish I had more time with him..."
"... Do you... Do you know about your connection with him...? About how you came to be...?" Detra asked while shivering.
Marcus closed his eyes and aimed his face at the sky again, "I do... You erased his memories... turned him into a kid, and mixed his DNA with blessed energy... Your energy... And that kid was me... Correct?"
"You... You knew...??"
"I found out when I fused with Evlin... I saw small glimpses of her memories... Memories of her time with him... I saw her talking with a young version of Marceus, and he looked just like me, like, exactly like me..." Marcus admitted.
"Not only that... Sometimes when I combine with Daren and Lilith... I can see the moments they spent together as well, and this feeling just keeps growing more and more... Like there is something familiar buried in there... Like I've fought alongside then before..."
"So... All this time you knew the truth about how you came to be..." Detra asked.
"I guess deep inside I always knew... I mean... I knew what a school, a movie, or strawberry ice cream are... Even though I was like, five seconds old when I came to be... All this information built-in inside of me... Information from another life..."
"... You must deeply hate me then..." Detra wondered.
"I don't know... I hated you at the start... But a lot of time has passed and a lot of things changed... It's kinda hard to hate someone when you are in a happy place and when you sorta feel sorry for that person... I guess time is just stronger than hate..."
Detra raised her body in shock, "you... You're happy?"
"Yeap! Very happy! It really sucks that there are many memories that I lost and many people I forgot I ever met... But I also know that a lot of the bad memories that Marceus had are gone as well and that I have a lot of people still here who care about me... It just feels like..."
"Like I'm my own person... Even after finding out the truth, I don't feel that much different from before... I still see Marceus as my father, and I'm still glad that my existence is a symbol that he finally got the break that he wanted so much..."
Marcus then lifted his hand to grab Detra's palm.
"It also means that I still consider you my mother... My very, very, very problematic, crazy mother..."
Detra moved her face away for a moment as she began to feel her cheeks warming up and her eyes tearing up again.
"What about you? Do you consider me your son?" Marcus asked.
"Why would you want to be my son?? You know the truth!! You don't owe me anything!!! Why would you still want to have anything to do with me after all I did??" Detra shouted.
"...Because... I look at you, and you just seem so lonely..." Marcus tightened his grip over her palm, "and I know how much it sucks to be alone... Being alone will never not suck... And when I was in your place, feeling what you feel right now... All I wished was that someone would come and help me..."
"You... You want to help me??" Detra questioned.
"Do you want me to help you?"
"If you don't need me, just say the word and I will never bother you again..."
Detra wanted to say that she did in fact want him by her side, but deep down, she knew she couldn't, "I don't have the right to ask that from you... Not after what I did..."
Marcus released her hand, feeling slightly disappointed, but not surprised, "I see..."
"Don't worry..." he replied with a soft smile.
Detra then began to lay down again and faced the opposite direction where she began to tear up once again.
The woman felt even more like she couldn't recognize herself. A few days ago she would probably barely care about her current relationship with Marcus, but as of this moment, she began to feel like she was two different individuals habiting the same body. One moment she was ruthless and detached, the next she was delicate like a little kid. It would take some time for her to get used to these new emotions, or rather, these returning old emotions.
Marcus turned to the other side as well, and before going into a deep sleep, he whispered in a low voice, "I'll be here when you're ready."
Detra engraved these words into her heart and made a small promise to herself that she would do everything she could to become someone worthy of being this young man's mother.
Ellie opened her eyes to meet with the still black sky above her head. She checked her phone to confirm what the time was and realized that she had been sleeping for over twelve hours.
"Oh... That's right... Ring of time..." she mumbled. The girl was confused for a moment by the fact it was still nighttime, but then remembered that right now she was in an area where time moved much slower thanks to the magic of Hana's garden.
Luckily, every single person on her team was equipped with a small piece of silver blessed armor provided by Marcus as requested by Detra that allowed then to move at the regular time.
She then realized that she was the first one to wake up as shown by how the rest of her group was still stuck in a deep sleep.
"Guess I'll wait a bit..." she commented.
Ellie then laid down on the grass once again and started to watch the stars once again. She was glad to finally be out of the rocky area of the forest, these had not been very comfortable nights of sleep. She couldn't wait to return home and sleep on an actual bed.
The girl then closed her eyes and kept thinking about how in a couple of days everything would finally be over.
She would be back at her house, which her aunt would probably need to use some earth magic to fix, her parents wouldn't be under mind-control anymore, and they all would enjoy an actual dinner with everyone reunited.
And she did mean everyone. Her first order of business was to gather all the people affected by this small adventure, her family, Claire and her mother, Joseph, Leona and the east followers, Detra and Marcus, Lilith, Daren and Lance, and of course, her aunt Evlin.
All she wanted was to have one giant dinner with all of them with nothing major to worry about.
But before she could relax, her future sight turned itself on out of nowhere and began to show her a vision of incoming danger.
Ellie saw herself being dragged by a gigantic wooden arm and carried all the way over the top of the mountain of the core zone.
"Wait a second..." she whispered as she realized that her vision was happening during nighttime as well, and just as she noticed that, she felt her legs being pulled away out of nowhere and making her vision come true.
"What the heeeeeeeeee-" she screamed as she continued to be dragged and watching her friends getting farther and farther away.