Secret of the Tenei Star Chapter 5
Where Silver Suns Have Golden Moons
"What?! But you just met her!"
"I know, I know, but there's just something about her. . ."
"Crazy, man. You're crazy." Pahn shook his head in disbelief as he and Gremio returned from running an errand of Teo's. As they stepped away from an apartment and headed down the walkway, Gremio could only speak of Emily, and Pahn was a bit reluctant to believe his own two ears.
"That kind of crap only happens in fairy tales or something. You sure that girl knows what you're going on about?"
Gremio stopped in his tracks, and gave Pahn a dirty look. "Her name. . .is Emily," he sternly informed his friend. "And yes, she knows 'what I'm going on about.' I know it seems like we're rushing things, but you know what? We both like each other, and nothing is going to change that fact."
Pahn let out an exasperated sigh. "Whatever you say," he started as he began to take another step. He then stopped, and turned back around to face Gremio. "I'm sorry. No, you're right. You can't deny what you feel. But you also can't deny that what you've got is going to make some people wonder. Don't expect everyone to welcome this new relationship with open arms right away. That's all I'm saying."
"I know, Pahn," Gremio responded. "And I'm not thinking that way or anything. But I could care less about what anyone else thinks. All that matters to me is Emily."
"All right," said Pahn. Then, under his breath, he snickered, "Are you crazy in love, or just already whipped?"
Although Gremio didn't answer, he had heard Pahn loud and clear. Yet he chose to ignore the quip as the two of them continued on their way home.
"Pahn, Gremio, I'm glad you're back," Teo was saying as his two servants walked in the front door.
"What is it?" asked Gremio.
"Is it another banquet?" Pahn asked hopefully.
Teo cast Pahn a strange look, then shook his head. "There's someone I'd like you two to meet," he told them. He turned to the door behind him, motioning to someone. "Come on out. They won't bite, I promise."
A girl shyly stepped out from behind the door. She was tall, svelte, with dark brown locks cascading to her shoulders. She looked at the two servants with a friendly smile, then turned to Teo as he introduced her to them.
"Cleo, this here is Pahn and Gremio," Teo told the girl, turning to them. "Pahn, Gremio, this is Cleo." He gestured to the girl. "Cleo is going to be my newest servant. Not that you guys can't handle everything, but, just thought you could use the extra hand."
"Hello," Gremio greeted her cheerily. "You'll enjoy working for Master Teo. Pahn and I will do everything to help you if you need. Just ask us."
"Hmm. . .hey!" Pahn said to Cleo, a mischievous grin on his face. "How's it goin'? Wanna let me show you around town sometime?"
Teo raised an eyebrow at his servant. "Uh, Pahn. . .?"
Pahn's eyes remained fixed on Cleo. "Yes, Master Teo?"
"Cleo is from Gregminster."
The smile faded, and Pahn felt his cheeks grow warm. "Oh. Then, uh, um. . .nevermind."
Cleo rolled her eyes at the sheepish Pahn. Then, as their eyes met again, she gave him a smile. "Why not show me around anyway?" she finally said.
"Sure!" Pahn responded quickly, and perhaps a bit too suddenly. He nervously cleared his throat. "I mean, um, if that's all right with you, um, miss. . .agh! I mean, Cleo."
"Heh, heh, are you crazy in love, or just already whipped?" a voice behind him cracked.
Pahn spun around to Gremio, a shocked look on his face. "Gremio! You!"
"Ha ha. Hey, it wasn't me who said it, remember?"
"I'll get you!" threatened Pahn. He advanced toward his friend as Gremio quickly turned around to dash outside the door.
Teo sighed as the noise of shouting and laughter filled the air outside of the house. He turned back to Cleo with a wearied expression on his face. "Sorry Cleo," he told her. "Guess this is what you'll have to put up with."
Cleo chuckled in response. "Boys will be boys."
"Hey, who's telling the story here?" protested Gremio.
Cleo snickered. "Sorry, Gremio. But I remember that moment well." She let out a sigh. "I even remember how you two looked like. I mean, you never wore a cape, and you didn't carry an axe. Ha! Memories. . ."
"Yeah. . ." Gremio said. "And it's the opposite now, huh."
"And Pahn. . ." Cleo continued, a wicked smirk on her face. "Well, I definitely remember how good Pahn was looking that day. . ."
"Anyway. . ." Gremio cut in. He started to go on with his tale, but then stopped to look at Cleo with a new question in mind.
"Wait a minute. You really said that?"
Cleo could only smirk at him.
As the months passed, we found ourselves falling deeply in love. I'd never completely understood myself how that could be so. . .after all, Pahn was right. We really were rushing things. But as much as we realized that fact, neither of us really cared. As long as we had each other, that's all that mattered. Not even the harshest of words or the iciest of stares could turn us away from one another.
"No, I've got a while before I have to get back to the house," Gremio told Emily as they walked through the streets of the town, hand in hand.
"Oh. . ." Emily pouted, pretending to look hurt. "But I can't stand another moment away from you, you know that."
"Yeah, I know," Gremio answered with a hint of arrogance in his voice.
Emily's mouth fell open, and she stopped to give him a playful shove. "I'm sure you do," she said sarcastically, sticking her tongue out at him.
Gremio only laughed lightly in response.
They continued to stroll through the street, eventually coming upon a few market stands.
One particular stand caught Emily's eye. "Hey. . ." she started. She moved her hand out of Gremio's, then slowly walked toward one of the counters, an enticed grin on her face.
Gremio stood there for a moment, wondering what had caught Emily's interest. "Hey," he called to her.
Emily giggled as she stepped up to the stand, which appeared to be an arts and crafts store. As Gremio headed over, Emily continued to smile as she browsed through a ceramics section.
"What is it, Emily?" Gremio asked her.
"Um. . ." Emily brought her arms back, then tucked her hair behind one ear, her smile spreading across her lips. "Well," she started, turning toward him, "it's just that. . .back home, vases and statues and such were big. Everyone made them. Well, everyone except for me, ha. I sucked at that. I couldn't make squat."
Gremio chuckled along with her. "I'm sure you're just exaggerating."
"No, I'm serious!" she insisted. "I was so bad at it, that in class, when everyone was done making Chinese dishes, I had to make up a story explaining my failure. My favorite explanation after everybody displayed their dishes was that I was a starving artist trying to place all the symbolism in the clay colander I somehow ended up making. One time, my teacher actually bought that and gave me a B+."
Gremio laughed again.
"Anyway," Emily said, "I don't know, but as soon as I saw this place, I immediately thought back to my hometown and what we used to do. . .I miss it, I guess. Even if I could hardly participate in it." She let out a sigh as she turned back to the sculptures.
Gremio's expression softened, and he put a hand on her shoulder. "It's all right, Emily," he told her. "I understand."
She glanced at him for a second and gave him a smile. "And that's why I love you," she said to him, planting a kiss on his cheek, then continuing to look at the small structures sitting on the table. After a while, she stopped as her eyes focused on something. "Hey. . ." Reaching forward, she picked up a small ruddy object, then turned it over, examining it all around. Then, she looked up at the merchant with a decisive look in her eye.
"I'll take this," she informed him.
The man nodded, and reached out his hand as Emily handed him the money. She turned around and started to walk away from the store, with Gremio following behind her.
"Hey, Emily," Gremio said to her. "What is that?"
She giggled, then stopped to face her boyfriend. Giving him a bashful look, she held up the object, a smirk twisted on her lips.
Gremio retrieved the item, which turned out to be a statue of a small animal. "A flying squirrel?" he inquired, turning it over. "I don't think I've seen one of these statues before. Um, what made you buy it anyway?"
"It's cute," she quickly replied. A strange look appeared in her eyes. "It reminds me of you."
Gremio moved his gaze from the statue to Emily, raising an eyebrow at her words. "I beg to differ," he shot back, a grin forming on his face. "I think it looks more like you."
She rolled her eyes at him.
"Ha, here ya go," he said, handing the statue back to her.
Emily started to reach out for the item, but stopped. "No," she told him. "You keep it."
"Huh? You bought it; it's yours."
"Uhhh. . .ahem." She giggled nervously. "Happy Birthday?"
Gremio smirked. "Nice try, but you're a couple months too late."
"Oh, come on, I want you to have it," she tried again.
He eyed her warily. "Yeah, right."
A pleading look placed itself on the girl's face as she stepped up to him. "Please?"
Gremio knew he was lost. He just couldn't say no to her. "A-all right."
"What the hell is that thing?"
Gremio, who was sitting on his bed, looked up to see Pahn at the doorway, studying the statue on the nightstand. "Emily gave it to me," he answered.
"Oh, okay," Pahn said, seeming to accept that answer. Silence filled the room for but a few seconds. "What the hell is that thing?"
Gremio rolled his eyes at Pahn's deliberate question and shifted his weight off of the bed. Standing up, he faced the tiny structure. "It's a statue of a flying squirrel. Emily bought it earlier, but she told me she wanted me to have it."
"Heh, well, you should've told her 'no thanks,'" Pahn scoffed, clearing his throat loudly.
"Oh, leave him alone, Pahn," a female voice scolded lightly from the hall. "Can't you see he's a man in love?"
"Yeah, and he's tripping like a darn fool," he responded as Cleo stepped up beside him. "I wouldn't be surprised if Emily had a leash on him."
Cleo playfully hit him on the shoulder. "Pahn!"
"I'm just kidding!" he insisted.
Gremio opened his mouth in response, but before he could say a word, Teo called all three servants to the front door. Pahn and Cleo hurried off and Gremio started to follow, but he stopped to take a moment to think about Emily again.
"I don't care what Pahn says," he said aloud. "Emily and I have a perfect relationship." He took one last glance at the statue, then went on his way.
"Of course, at that time, I could fool myself into believing anything," Gremio went on with his story. "Nothing is ever perfect, and anything can change in a heartbeat. It's just a shame that then, I would never have suspected what was to occur in the upcoming months. What was to be, what wasn't meant to be, and. . .what evils we would have to deal with."
"You mean, like Aaron?" Cleo cut in. "And those stupid ferrets he called his friends?"
"Yeah, them," Gremio muttered. "Yes, those four would give me much grief in the months to come, but worst of all, they would put Emily through such hell. Especially Aaron." Gremio's eyes narrowed in disgust as he thought about every situation encountered with Aaron, all leading up to that one tragic incident.
Cleo gazed at him sympathetically, and sighed once again.
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