A. looked at his diary… It did not look any good at all. The Plan had been distorted some time ago, and though A. had tried to readjust the Plan back to normal… It had all fallen into shambles, it had been completely demolished and something new was being built, with no kind of roadmap or pattern whatsoever…
A. was tired, after two months trying to solve the problems. A. did not know, however, how strong the new pillars over which the Plan rested were. The Maiden and the Lion worried A. particularly, as none of them were supposed to have been part of the Plan in the first place. The Maiden had, in fact, been one of the main antagonists for the whole thing.
A. looked at the new developments. It was a mess that A. was not willing to solve at that moment. A. stood up and looked at the world map, trying to find a certain glowing point. It was nowhere near the American continent. A. waited until the spheroid turned, counter-clockwise, showing the Pacific Ocean, then Asia, then Europe and Africa… A. saw the particular dot that he had been looking for.
Naples… A door appeared in front of A., and he opened it into the city. He walked the streets of Italy, advancing towards a woman that was already waiting for him. She looked up at him and offered her arm when he reached her. He took it naturally, and they both walked, like two old friends finally reunited.
“How are you doing?” he asked her.
“It’s very pleasant to be back in the Mediterranean after such a long time” she responded.
“It definitely is pleasant. But you know that that’s not what I mean” he came back.
She smiled, and did not say anything else until they turned around. “I could say that I’m sorry, but…”
“Yes, I would know” he finished. “You know that you cannot lie to me. But I don’t mind that you finished off the Witch. That was just a minor detail”.
She sighed, then smiled again. “You haven’t changed at all, in all of this time”.
“You are more beautiful than ever” he responded.
“Even that is still the same?” she asked. “Even after Giulio, and my son?”
“I am really sorry about Giulio, and your son” he responded.
They kept walking for a while still holding each other’s arms. But he could not shut up about the fact that had been bothering him, ever since May. An unresolved issue, the underlying mystery, it was still all a big question mark for him.
“Alba… who is Anne Black? You have met her, you must know something. Where did she come from?”
“I knew you would ask that question. You are so predictable…” she smiled.
“Come on, it was right there. The only variable that the Ancient could not predict, distorting the whole Plan. How could that even be possible? That would mean that the Ancient were not as powerful as they thought they were, that all of us who trained at the Academy were there for nothing, and that this is just a farce that we should end right now! So yes, of course I am going to ask you about the only variable that has shattered all of my deeply held beliefs!”
She listened patiently. She then answered softly. “The truth is, I don’t know who she is. And she doesn’t know either”.
He was silent for a few seconds. “Well, fuck”.
She laughed. “This is the first time I’ve ever heard you swear, in all of this time”.
“I… I just…” he did not know how to follow.
“For a Southern European, you worry too much” she said.
A. sighed. “You know, it’s not easy. Our work for the last couple of thousands of years has been for nothing”.
“Was it, though?” she asked. “The Plan has not shattered. It has just mutated, and Erin made sure to choose the best possible path, I’m sure of that”.
He sat down in a bench that overlooked the Mediterranean. She sat next to him. “You know, I might be a Southern European, but I was born next to the shores of the Atlantic. So yes, I do tend to worry a bit more”.
“We’ve done our best, Aren. We’ve done our best. And that’s what we will keep doing”.
He looked at her. “I’m still determined to discover where it all went wrong, though”.
“You don’t need to. That girl will discover it herself. And then we will uncover all of the lies that we were told at the Academy”.
He was surprised to hear that. “What do you know?”
She opened her hand. A small red gem started to float a few centimetres above her hand, with a strange glow. He recognized the object, and looked at it without believing her.
“Yes, this! They said they would destroy them all! They showed us how they destroyed them all! Yet I found one of the elders holding onto it, many centuries later. I have found each and every piece of them, Aren”.
“But then… that means…”
“They did not destroy the Philosopher’s Stone, Aren. They just hid it. They hid it from us and kept living, because it did not affect the plan!”
She destroyed the piece that she had been holding onto. They looked at the sea, trying to understand what was to come. For the first time, they did not know.