A week passed and things stayed good for Adam. He and Helen didn’t really do anything special, just the same things they had always done before. Except, they sat closer to each other as they ate their meals or when they talked. It was a small thing but… it was nice.
As the end of the week arrived, so did the ceremony for Alfred’s sixteenth birthday! It was the day when he would be considered an adult and Madame’s would no longer look after him as an orphaned child.
As was the tradition at Madame’s, there was a group celebration at the end of the month for everyone that had a birthday that month. It was also the time for going away parties for those that became adults.
Despite the festivities being for everyone, Alfred stole the limelight among Adam’s group of friends.
Alfred exuberantly spoke: “Ha, I finally get to escape! No more menial work for me. I hope you have just as much fun lifting heavy things in the kitchen without me, as you did with me. And… whatever it is you do, Kadara.”
Kadara gave Alfred a rude gesture as everyone laughed. Alfred became more dramatic as he spoke to Helen: “Ah, parting with you will be such sweet sorrow.”
Derek interrupted: “Dude, you’re not going very far. You’re just going to be bunking with the Silver Saviors. We can see each other any old time. You’re not even leaving until tomorrow morning.”
Alfred gave a disgruntled look: “Stop ruining the mood, Derek.”
The party continued on full of laughter and cheer until they had finally tired themselves out in the evening. The next morning, they all gathered to see Alfred off to the Silver Saviors. He first collected a healthy stipend from Madame Janette for working at Madame’s up to that point, then he slung a pack over his shoulder full of all the possessions he had. As they walked over to the Silver Saviors’ compound, Alfred started bragging: “I already staked out a good bunk. It’s got some space around it and is even near a window!”
As they entered the compound, Alfred’s excitement at finally striking out on his own was dampened by the mood. Everyone seemed to have a concerned look and were talking in hushed voices about something. Isley saw their group and quickly made his way over.
He asked: “Have you guys heard the news yet?”
Alfred shook his head: “What news?”
“Boss just got back from showing the army the Dragon’s corpse, but there’s trouble.”
A worrying thought edged into Adam’s mind: “Was it not there?”
Isley shook his head: “No they found it, but they also found something else! They found the remains of a Spiritualist on the site. Among the personal effects that remained, there was coin from Luxom! The officials that came back with Heinrich are dead set on the idea that Luxom woke up the Dragon to cause havoc in the kingdom! This could be the spark for another war!”
Adam’s heart plummeted at the words! He instantly recalled that fateful night back at Fort Erich where he had been blinded. That war had gone on and then ended with him barely noticing while stumbling through the void he had found himself surrounded by. Now, a new war seemed imminent on the horizon. As he thought about Luxom stirring the Dragon and what they had done to him, he felt a welt of anger boil in his stomach!
Franklin was the first to speak: “A-are you serious!?”
Isley nodded. “I’m not sure such an accusation will hold, though. Boss is putting his foot down to get word out; there were multiple types of coins from various kingdoms found in the coin purse. It just held a lot of Luxom currency in it. If that Spiritualist was traveling far and wide and just happened to come across the Dragon’s lair…”
Isley then shook his head: “Enough about that. Let’s get you settled, Alfred.”
By luck or travesty, depending on who you talked to, a war did not break out between Heider and Luxom. Tensions rose but that was all. It was strange as the two kingdoms had gone to war over less. Still, something was holding them back.
Speculation was rife over the reasons. It ranged from neither side having recovered from full strength from the last war to each side covertly sending Spiritualists over the borders to make strategic strikes before launching the war in earnest.
As Adam played his flute at Madame’s, that seemed to be the topic on everyone’s lips. Adam’s heart clenched at the thought of Luxom doing what they did at Fort Erich to any other town or fort. He felt that nobody should suffer an attack by Ghuls like that.
To get his mind off those thoughts, Adam concentrated more on his playing and paying attention to the dancers on stage. Moreso on one in particular; Helen. It was odd, the feelings that rushed through him. There was a reassuring calm to have her near in addition to the butterflies that flitted through his stomach as he thought of her.
Adam played the song for her. Occasionally pushing the song on to lead her dance to the next step, other times being pulled along by the grace she had learned to carry herself with. It almost became a dance in and of itself.
As he had often caught himself doing, Adam thought of how he could apply his songs to his abilities as a Spiritualist. As he thought about this interaction between him and Helen, he came to a realization. For as much as he had accommodated for Spirit Essence and played around their strengths, he had never entered a dance with them like he was with Helen.
A while later, both Adam and Helen ended their shifts at Madame’s. Adam met up with her saying: “I just had this great idea!”
As Adam explained, Helen was both embarrassed and happy. She hadn’t realized Adam had been basically staring at her the entire time she was dancing. She was glad she could help him, though. Even if it wasn’t consciously done.
She gave Adam a wide smile: “Let’s head to the Hill Garden, then. I could use a moment of relaxation and you can work on your idea. But, let’s change out of our work clothes first.”
After getting ready, they made their way to their favorite spot at the Hill Garden. Along the way, they stopped by Julianne’s house to pick up Silber. He was happy to get out of the house. Since becoming a Geisttier, he had become restless. He didn’t like being cooped up in a house all day.
When they got to their spot, Helen began to play with Silber while Adam concentrated on his experiments with Spirit Essence. Adam began with high hopes of something changing… but nothing did. No matter what type of Essence, he just couldn’t get them to dance with him in the way he felt he had with Helen.
Helen quickly picked up on his dejected mood. She asked: “What’s the matter?”
Adam gave a defeated sigh: “Nothing’s changing! The Spirit Essence dances to my music just fine, but I don’t feel any interaction like I did when you were dancing.”
Helen thought for a moment before asking: “Adam, have you ever danced before?”
Adam was surprised by the question. As he thought back, he had only really danced way back at the Dancery when some of the girls forced him to dance with them for fun. But that was just him clumsily following their dance routines along.
“… Not really.”
Helen gave one of her bright smiles as she offered him a hand: “Then why don’t we dance? Maybe you just need some perspective on what dancing is really like.”
Adam took her hand, but she frowned.
“I just realized, we won’t have music to dance to. That will make this harder.”
“I can hum.”
Helen told Adam what song to hum and she began showing him a dance. It wasn’t one of the dances they used at Madame’s. Those were more choreographed and occasionally provocative. No, it was a rather simple dancer closer to what they had back at the Dancery.
Adam began stepping in time and following Helen’s lead while Silber pranced around them. Helen’s gaze followed Silber as she let out a chuckle. During that moment, she wasn’t leading Adam. He fumbled slightly before catching himself and pushing on.
Helen merely smiled as she took the lead again. Going back and forth, Helen started letting Adam take the lead in the dance before she took a turn. Neither followed a particular cadence beyond what fit within the song Adam was humming. Adam even adjusted the song on the fly as he crescendoed to their dance moves.
For a while, Adam forgot everything else and just enjoyed the innocent dance with Helen. He didn’t even notice as the air stirred around them and moved in time with their dance. It was just the two of them enjoying a moment together.
After a length of time, Adam ended the dance with a final flourish that left Helen leaning back in his arms. On an impulse, Adam followed it up with a deep kiss. When the two finally pulled apart, both their faces were flush with color as they smiled at one another.
It was only then that Adam noticed the Spirit Essence that was settling down around them. New ideas started popping into Adam’s head. Even as these ideas came, Adam helplessly shook his head. All these possibilities were all thanks to Helen, there was no way he could have come across them on his own.
Only one cheesy line came across his mind that he could use to tell her just how much he appreciated her: “I love you so much.”