Mont Blanc under the Stars by romanboed, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  romanboed 

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We were standing outside Leland’s home, having been kicked out just moments ago. The one thing we learned from that experience was that the prince should be within a ten minute’s walk, covering what is likely hundreds of individual houses and buildings. Starting the search right now would also prove meaningless since it’s practically midnight. The street we stood on was lonely, being far from the bustling main roads from one end of Aria to the other. The chances of him being outside at this time of the night are minuscule.

“Let’s go,” said Lilia, she started walking and I followed closely behind.

“Madam Leland,” I said. “I don’t think she’ll be easily persuade from neither sword or verbal threats to have her emblem removed permanently.”

Lilia didn’t respond to what I said and simply kept walking. We turned a corner on the streets and followed it down to the end where we finally hit the bussy main road. And, as usual, there were merchants selling their wares that were carefully laid out for people who went about and perused these same wares walking from stall to stall.

We decided to try and regroup with the others. Before then, it took a while but we spotted a dark long haired woman. The type whose hair with every single strand that refused to shine under any light, and like her hair, her clothing matched the same dark shade of color. A dress reaching her ankles, beautifully pale white skin, though there was one single problem with her looks… and those were the bags under her eyes that were more than have taken their form from lack of sleep. She was looking through vegetables, pointing at them for the merchant to pick them up and bag them.

“Alice,” Lilia called to her.

“Hey,” responded Alice, softly, she touched the vegetables with her hands, determining their ripe nature. Then we noticed a certain someone was not by her, the young princess. Her eyes caught my concern as I looked below her. “She’s with her sister at the Inn we picked out.”

“And you?” asked Lilia.

“Couldn’t fall asleep,” said Alice, “so I went out and bought things to prepare for tomorrow’s breakfast.”

“Shouldn’t the Inn provide food?” I asked.

“Can’t risk someone poisoning us,” said Lilia. “Does the Inn have a bathing area?” Alice nods her head.

We followed Alice back to the Inn after we finished picking out the rest of the food to cook. We then reached an the building not too far from the city gates and headed to the second floor and to one of the rooms. It was empty, all for except some of our belongings, my lance and Lilia’s, a box that belonged to Alice, but there were no people.

“Where are they?” asked Lilia.

“They have their own separate room next to this one,” said Alice, dropping the bags of items we bought on the floor. “I’m going to take a bath before going off to sleep.”

“I’ll join you,” said Lilia. I didn’t say a word and stood there. Lilia looked at me as if expecting the same…

“As will I..” I said. We headed to the bathing area and took the towels as directed by little signs. I took my clothes off, then Lilia who was still removing hers, and finally Alice, sort of.

“Help me,” said Alice, pointing to her back. A zipper ran a long line behind her back as she moved her hair away, revealing the nape of her neck. I went to help.

I lowered the zipper to reveal from her shoulders down and finally understood something about Alice. She’s hurt.

“So that’s what you did,” said Lilia, letting her eyes take a long look.

The sound of Alice’s dress hit the floor was made and she stepped out of it. She wrapped a towel around herself and took her underwear off soon after. I kept watching her. Magic stones were digging deep in rows of her spine, glowing as a reminder of their magic in constant use. While pleasing to look at such a spectacle, a mix of natural skin and man made crystals, stones poured by magic in a row, yet I couldn’t help but cringe a little at the thought of what she might be going through.

“It doesn’t hurt,” said Alice. “So, don’t concern yourself with it. Don’t also think for a moment that I cannot overwhelm you both easily in a fight.” A threat seemingly coming form thin air. Is she mad?

* * *

I was in my room waiting for Sophie to finish her bath. We all wanted to rid ourselves of that sandy lake feeling we got from the vacation. Then I heard a knock on our house door, one light enough that it could be coming from a woman. This was followed by Aril’s voice a second after.

“I’ll go get it,” she said.

In the mean time, I began thinking of two atoms between my hands as I had both palms face each other and placed on the table. Atoms with electrons, then forcing the electrons to jump to nearby atoms in their orbit and thus create a current of electricity. If I had a suitable conductor, like a metal pole with an atomic structure that would very likely let many of the electrons jump around atom to atom with relative easy, then I could effectively create a pole to be used to zap bugs.. or people for defense. I then heard footsteps coming up the stairs and Aril came by my room.

“Who was it?” I asked.

“A man had gotten lost and knocked on our door by accident,” said Aril.

A man? I looked at Aril carefully, though I believed her, I couldn’t think of a reason she’d lie, or I could just have guessed wrong. Regardless, I don’t go any further than saying ‘okay.’ Aril sat down next to me and looked at what I was doing. She was to take a bath after my turn, though it was her suggestion that I go next. I didn’t mind. I also have a class tomorrow, so I should be getting to sleep soon after the bath.

* * *

It was the next morning. I woke up and nothing had changed beyond the weird feeling in my stomach from knowing that someone in the city was looking for me. Regardless, I have classes soon. I quickly put on my uniform and headed downstairs with notebook and writing utensils on hand. Aril greeted me in the kitchen with breakfast ready and I began eating.

“Thank you,” I said. Kahl and Sophie were eating near me, and Selsie seemed to have long ago finished her bowl. She laid on the ground, head down on her paws, closed eyes and likely napping away the rest of the day. She really must be tired from the long trip.

“I’ll be off then,” I said, having finished my meal as well as the math problems I wanted Kahl and Sophie to try.

“Bye,” said Kahl, his sister waved her hands at me and Aril followed me to the door.

“Would you like me to accompany you to class today?” asked Aril. I shook my head.

“No, I’ll be fine,” I said, and Aril bowed as I left.

There were other students walking to class, seen mostly because my house wasn’t too far from it. I began my walk there. Everything is normal. Normal.. It feels normal and perhaps I shouldn’t have expected anything else from happening. I kept walking.

Now having walked past enough houses, streets and corners to place myself not too far from the campus gates. I wasn’t followed, nor did I feel any strange stares aside from the one’s I get for being a minority at the school, and a step farther for being both a Talician and a young child.

I kept walking, now inside the campus grounds and heading for the main doors to the building which was a long distance from the gate in itself. I walked and walked. Then noticed eyes watching in my direction. The few Talician minority at this campus, when I passed them, they bowed to me. No, to be exact, they weren’t looking at me or bowing to me, they were doing so at two persons in front of me.

“…” I kept staring at them, two Talicians in front of me also walking to the school’s large doors. Neither of whom were wearing the university uniform. One also of much shorter height than the other, both girls as I could tell from their hair that was slightly darker or so to say that they were practically my shade of red and purple. I was probably trying to hide the fact that I was somehow related to them in the back of mind but I could for a fact recognize one of them—Lehvie.

I stopped in my tracks and along with it was the sound of my shoe forcing a sound from the concrete floor. It was heard, definitely. The two girls in front of me stopped as well. And in what is likely the dumbest attempt at a person hiding himself, I immediately placed my uniform’s hood over my head and kept our eyes from meeting.

It just had to be like this.. didn’t it?

I looked down to the ground and could feel stares from all directions looking at me. There was also the noticeable shaking in my hand that trembled at what was going on. I felt sick.. I felt like my stomach wanted to turn left, right, and in all directions and then spew itself from out of my mouth because of this situation. Though I am also glad to see Lehvie doing well, I couldn’t help but think that there’s a reflection of myself in that room I spent four years if I just looked at her eyes.

I want to run away.. but I know I can’t keep doing so forever.

There were small footsteps heard walking over to me. Lehvie’s small feet were now in view as I kept my glance at the ground. I could hear her shirt rustle as she likely moved her hand and arms to grab hold of my hood and gently began to have it removed from my face. I looked up at her, teary as her eyes were.. I didn’t see that reflection I thought I would see. Instead I saw myself smiling in that reflection and she quickly hugged me.

“Lee!” she yelled. Her hold on me grew tighter by the second, and I placed my arms around her as well.

“I thought I had more time,” I said. “How did you know I’d be here?” The young woman behind Lehvie walked over to us, I didn’t recognize her.

“Took a chance and asked around for a small Talician child attending magic classes,” said the young woman. Lehvie didn’t move a muscle and kept hugging me. “I was thinking we’d have to enter every single building.”

“Who are you?” I asked the young woman, though I could probably guess.

“Well,” she said, “this is a first for both of us, a meeting between siblings. I’m Nes, your older sister.”

“Is Alice okay?”

“She’s fine,” said Nes. “She’s also in the city out looking for you. Two of your servants came with us, as well. You can ask Alice for the rest of the story yourself when you see her.” My arms let go of Lehvie, though she didn’t let hers weaken by even an inch.

“Let’s go,” said Nes, looking straight into my eyes. “We’re going home now.”

“No,” I said, then feeling Lehvie loosen her hold and look straight at me, confused at what I had just said.

“I see,” said Nes. “I was expecting something like that, and I completely understand why you would after what happened. Let us discuss these matters elsewhere.” The stares from before, students from the school, they were still watching what was happening on campus grounds.

“I’ll come to you later in the evening,” I said. Nes stood there, as if wondering about something and then nodded.

“Very well,” she said. “We will be at an Inn on the main road, so drop by when you’re ready to talk.”

“Okay,” I said.

“Lehvie,” said Nes.

“I’m staying with Lee,” said Lehvie and Nes sighed while looking down at Lehvie’s shadow. A shadow darker than my own with an odd presence of its own. I didn’t think much of it, but I felt it may be alive..

“It’s fine,” I said. “She can stay with me. I’ll take her back later.”

“Very well,” said Nes, though instead of leaving she made sure she was now inches away from me and picked me up. “It’s great to see you.” She hugged me.

She puts me back down on the ground and waves us goodbye. I then pulled Lehvie by her hands and headed for the school entrance to avoid further eyes on us. I wish the first meeting was better than that, but it’s already been done. It can’t be helped and I shouldn’t look back on it.

“Lee!” I heard a voice call me the moment we were within the building and in the hallways. It was Lo and she was wearing her military uniform in place of the one she should be wearing for normal classes. “I haven’t seen you in a few days. I heard Krum say you had given him notice that you were on vacation.” Lo then looked to Lehvie. “Who is thi–” she looked at Lehvie’s emblem. A phoenix, open winged and a shield on its talons.

Lo grew silent. She may have recognized it, but I know for a fact that Sharia and Dahramn are allies and not to mention that Dahramn is by no means friendly with Talica. Lehvie then offered her hand to Lo, and in return, my classmate took the greeting and bowed in a curtsy manner.

“It is an honor to meet you, your highness,” said Lo, very politely. I then introduced Lo to Lehvie. In this instance, Lo kept her eyes on me as if wanting an explanation. Lehvie and I were still holding hands. “Is she—is she your betrothed?” Lehvie blushed.. Lo then held her hand to her mouth that was widening.

“Lehvie, don’t blush!” I said, then looked to Lo. “And you! Don’t joke about that! This is my sister.” Lehvie then giggled at the situation. This feels like something Aril would do. Aril version 2.0. Then I could hear heavy breathing from Lo.

“But not really…” she said. “Right?”

We ignored her and continued walking to class before we would be considered late by professor Krum. Lo was left in the hallway but I could still hear her still speaking.

“Right?” she asked again, her head turned to us. We then lost sight of her as soon as we turned a corner. Then she yelled. “Right?!” I missed the quiet, silent Lo.

* * *

Classes had ended with greater than usual stares, that and Lo kept eyeing with a stare that could kill as we had practiced our magic. Lehvie was in the mean time sitting as she watched the group do their thing until we had finished.

“Lee,” said Lehvie. We were now out the streets doing things quickly, even if I had another class right after, I don’t think I can keep my composure with all the stares.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Why don’t you want to return home?”

We kept walking down the street. My house wasn’t so far, so I wanted to wait to even think about the answer while we were at my home. That’s right… my home. In just a month that I’ve been here, I could gladly call this city home. That’s not something I could even begin to imagine of that room in the castle. That wasn’t home at all.

“… You should go back to the Inn and wait with your sister,” I said, making a change in plans.

“OUR sister,” said Lehvie, correcting me. I paused for a moment and looked at Lehvie, stopping in the middle of the street and letting a few others pass by us. I smiled.

“Yes,” I said, “our sister, Nes.” We continued walking until we hit the busy road. I’m escorting Lehvie to the Inn, so that she return to Nes and so that I also know where to go once I’m ready to talk. Lehvie pointed the way back and we had to move through heavy crowds of people because it was that time of day. We could barely see where we were going with multiple bodies passing to and from us in several directions. People shouting out prices and calling out potential customers.

“There,” said my sister. She pointed to an Inn and thankfully it wasn’t the one I was thinking of. We were holding hands the entire time so that we weren’t separated. I let go and she walked off to the Inn. I kept watch until she entered and wasn’t more than twenty or so feet away. Then I saw a women walk to Lehvie from inside and grab hold of Lehvie’s hand. Dark hair and no shine to it.

Alice.

She scanned the area with her eyes after exchanging a few words with Lehvie, though I couldn’t hear them. I could imagine what Lehvie had said, that I perhaps wasn’t too far away now.  It was too loud with the people around us and because I’m so short at my age, I would be hard to spot in the crowd. Then she looked in my general direction. People were moving in hordes but in between the small spaces from body to body as they passed in front of me, I could see Alice’s eyes looking directly at mines now.

She then let go of Lehvie’s hands and started trying to walk past the dense crowds, pushing them away from side to side.

“No pushing!” I could hear some yell, some seemed angry. But by then, I had already left.

* * *

I opened the door to my house, Aril greeted me and I went inside and quickly upstairs to my room. I closed the door. This is the worst time to be thinking about the past. Just imagining it makes me not want to return to that Inn, to where Alice is. Crap…

“Master Lee?” said Aril, knocking on my door. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” I said. She stayed by the door for a few minutes.. Then Aril’s foot steps began moving, sounding farther and farther away. I sat myself with back against the wall near the window and on the floor. It was strangely cold. I looked around my room, only using my eyes and noted that this space was several times smaller than the room in the castle, yet it feels more free. I noticed my hands shaking again and quickly slammed into a fist and to the ground. Why am I feeling like this?!

I closed my eyes and let them rest. Eventually, I fell asleep.

* * *

By the time I woke up, the day was now dark. It was past evening and long after the time I had agreed to come by the Inn.

“Are you him?” asked a voice from behind me. A young woman likely in her twenties stood crouched on the window and looked down to me. She held a lance and on her chest was my house emblem. I remember her the night we came back to Aria. She let herself inside my room and not a single strand of the Talician features were found on her body.

I stood up and stepped back instinctively. The other one, that time, if I remember their names correctly. This one is Pauline, the other was Lilia. I became alert.

“What are you doing here?” I asked. The only thing that came to mind was that she might have been sent to escort me, but I never told Nes where I lived exactly.

“They say that the royal house of Talica is special, that they have a great affinity to fire,” said Pauline. “I’ve seen the Queen in combat before, that power of hers circles an area around her where not a speck of dust is allowed to enter, or it, like the people she fought in the last war… they turn to ash.”

“…?” Not a single movement she made seemed welcoming. I back yet another step away from her.

“She plays the battle field the same way a child plays a game of tag,” said Pauline. “The Queen can’t be burnt and neither can her children..”

“What of it?” I asked, taking a few more steps back as she counters me by pacing closer. My back hit the bookshelf and I was practically surrounded. The atmosphere couldn’t get any worse.

“You know,” said Pauline. “I had to kill a few people to find you. Except that madam Leland got away.”

“And…?”

Pauline began laughing, nothing from it sounded genuine or even came off as a bad joke.

“I want to see it,” she said, pointing her lance at me. A small circle of red began forming at the tip, becoming brighter and brighter. “I want to see if you  burn!”

* * *

“What was that sound?” I asked. It was a sound of loud explosion, one that our fire spells with great intensity usually make. I looked outside the window and saw a trail of smoke gather on a certain spot in the city while it was dark out. People around were also interested, speaking to each other of what could have caused it.

“I heard it, too,” said Alice. “Lilia…”

“What?”

“Where is Pauline?”

From outside the window, and the room next to ours, I saw Princess Nes jump off and to the ground and quickly run in the smoke’s direction.

“Hurry!” she yelled.

End.

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Please also note that most names are just place holders for until I can come up with better ones (Which is why you see a lot of characters with names beginning with L.).