Author’s note: mmmmm I guess this means no chapter tomorrow since it’s fused? XD
Alenaire opened the glass door and stepped into the balcony with bleary eyes. Last night she had skipped dinner with the family to cry in bed, and her family became extremely worried. They asked her what was wrong, but she didn’t answer them. Even if it was all Luce’s fault, she did not want to implicate him and be castigated for doing something accidental, so she kept mum, and her maids simply left food for her on the table beside her bed.
The cold morning breeze assailed her face, and she hugged herself as she shivered. She was only wearing a thin silk night gown, so she quickly scanned the balcony for the intruder.
No one was around, but something caught the corner of her eye. It was the box which she used to store her precious mermaid! Had Luce brought it here?
She bent down to pick it up, but she was too scared to open it. Inside her bedchamber, she sat on the bed as she caressed the ornately carved Bocote wood, tracing the roses and vines with her fingers.
Because she could not help herself, she opened the box with a feeling of anticipation mixed with dread.
What she saw was her mermaid, in one piece. She took it gingerly from the box, scanning the jagged pattern on the waist, that was filled with gold. Her mermaid looked like she was wearing a golden waist ornament, and it didn’t look too bad. She held it in her hands as drops of tears spilled on the mermaid’s face.
Luce was simply the best.
Alenaire did not care if she had not awakened her powers at all. Even as she turned ten years old, she did not even try, thinking that there was no use for it. She had everything she could ever need, and she thought that powers were merely a method for convenience. Besides, Luce had also became an Elemental Mage who specialized in all the four basic elements: wind, earth, water and fire, and if she wanted him to do something for her with his powers, he would willingly comply. She could become stronger in different ways, anyway.
After Luce had first awakened with the power of fire, he soon found out that it was quite easy to call forth and manipulate the rest of the elements. He didn’t even need to chant words after his awakening, as other mages had to do. For some reason, with simply his mind, he could conjure both a ball of water and flame anytime without the words.
Soon, he incorporated the elements into his sword skills, becoming an Elemental Knight which was completely unheard of. Usually, the citizens only bothered training for one class, and never thought of fusing both classes, thinking it was not possible. However, nothing was impossible for Luce. If one only saw the limits, how could one ever overcome it?
Hence, with Luce’s boundless energy and imagination, he made swords out of his elements whenever he wished, and his favorite weapon was his ice sword which he could modify easily in his hands.
Although the other Knights were proud of him, and would often say, “As excepted of the Great General’s son”, he did not like to boast and become the center of attention, and would only show his talent when his father instructed him to. During normal bouts, Luce used the common iron sword. What took up most of his time however, was his idle thoughts on how he could impress his princess with fun tricks by using his elements.
While his sword lessons started in the afternoon, the princess stayed inside her father’s study, as it overlooked the courtyard where Luce and his father sparred against each other. She was intrigued by swords, and often asked Luce to teach her the basics and techniques when the general was not around. While waiting for Luce to finish his practices, she would bury herself in the books that were in her father’s study. The books she read were of agriculture and finance.
She read these not because she was tasked to by her tutor, but because she honestly was interested in how the kingdom worked. Her occasional visits to the capital city made her realize how honest and good-natured the citizens of Alastriona were. This could only happen when people were under a good sovereign. She wanted to be a good Queen in the future and maintain their happiness as well.
And so, she would sit by the window as she read her books, occasionally looking out into the courtyard. She liked to see Luce look so serious when he sparred, because he hardly had on a serious face when he was with her, unless they were having an argument.
Now that they were both ten years old, they were given a freedom that they usually did not have when they were younger. Alasdair was now fifteen, and because he was allegedly forced into helping his father with paperwork or becoming the crown prince’s right hand man, he was too busy to look after his little sister even when he wanted to.
As the territories of Alastriona expanded again after small unclaimed villages offered their loyalty, multiple Knights, field workers, carpenters, architects, merchants and more were dispatched to those rural places in order to fortify the areas, or gather the villagers who wanted to migrate to the capital. Sometimes Alaric and Alasdair would join the expeditions, and they would not be able to return to the castle until many months passed.
Since Alenaire’s family was busy, she and Luce would oftentimes have dinner in the forest behind the castle. The glade was their favorite spot, and they found out that if Bastian was with them, they never got attacked by any magic beasts of the sort, and he inadvertently became their good luck charm.
Although the King and Queen were still worried that danger might befall them, Alenaire, to prove a point, then made an experiment where a group of random people entered the forest with and without Bastian. Her parents were finally convinced after a man got slapped on the face by a flying slime when he wandered away from the group who held Bastian.
“Are you ready, princess?” Luce opening the door to the study, and peeked inside, his Raven black hair slick with sweat. He had changed his soaked clothes, but he had forgotten to dry his hair.
“I’m always ready!” Alenaire folded a corner of a page she was currently reading, and slammed the book shut.
They made their way to the forest with Alenaire holding Bastian in her arms and Luce with a basket full of food.
“Don’t you think Basti got a little…fatter?” Luce narrowed his eyes at the cat in her arms, and the cat turned its head away haughtily in reply.
“Is that even possible?” Alenaire looked shocked as she adjusted Bastian over her shoulder.
“He looks heavy. Do you want me to hold him?” Luce asked as he held out his hand.
Bastian clawed at him as he yowled in rejection.
Alenaire laughed. “You know he never lets anyone hold him but me. He’s quite picky.”
Unbeknownst to Alenaire, Luce and Bastian were having a glaring competition throughout the whole journey. When they reached the glade, Luce laid down a blanket on the grass, and brought out the different dishes.
“Ah, smells so good,” Alenaire said as she wiped the drool from her mouth.
“Careful, it’s still hot,” Luce said as he handed Alenaire a plate full of piping hot steak pie.
“And here’s yours.” Luce gave Bastian a smaller plate with smaller servings.
Bastian looked at his small plate, then looked at the food piled high on Luce’s plate, then hissed, his back arched and his hair raising in anger.
Alenaire laughed as she stroked Bastian’s head. “He’s saying, ‘How unfair! My portion is so small! What is this discrimination, you brute!’.”
“I thought he was on a diet?” Luce shrugged nonchalantly as he spooned himself a portion of steak pie. Bastian continued to hiss at him, looking like he was about to paw Luce’s pie right off his plate.
“Here, here,” Alenaire said as she took another plate and added larger portions to placate Bastian.
Bastian licked her hand in happiness and continued to nudge his head lovingly against her arm before eating.
“Basti is on a diet, but I don’t want to see him exact revenge on you just because you did not give him enough food,” Alenaire said amusedly.
“His revenge is quite brutal,” Luce said faintly with a frown on his face. “When we were eight years old, I had told Basti that he was really cute because he was really fat, and he got so upset that he tore my shirt to shreds when I had fallen asleep in the garden.”
Alenaire stroked Bastian’s whole back, and his buttocks lifted upwards involuntarily, the tail slithering in the air. “He’s a petty cat, but he’s never been that way with me. He’s really affectionate towards me. I guess he loves me a lot.”
“It’s quite obvious.” Luce glared at the cat who was busy chewing on his fish, his tail flicking back and forth with happiness.
After they had cleaned up and placed the dishes back in the basket, Bastian promptly fell asleep in the middle of the blanket, snoring peacefully with his tail jerking in his sleep.
Luce and Alenaire decided to leave the sleeping cat, and ventured off on their own towards the inner parts of the forest. It was an adventure the children could not resist.
“Don’t worry princess, I’m going to protect you,” Luce said as he walked in front of her.
“I’m not worried about that. What I’m worried about is that I don’t have a weapon to defend myself with, in case you’re preoccupied with stuff.” Alenaire expressed her disapproval.
“But you won’t need one with me,” Luce asserted.
“I trust you Luce, but I know your mana is not that high yet. You can only conjure your ice sword for thirty minutes at most, and if you start using the rest of the elements, your mana is going to drain real quick. Who will defend me when you’re lying on the ground cause you ran out of mana?” Alenaire made a grave point that embarrassed Luce for acting so cocky.
Luce blushed. “H-How do you even know those things?”
Alenaire smiled secretively, but did not reply.
“Gimme your iron sword,” Alenaire said as she stretched out her hand.
“W-What?” Luce was flabbergasted.
“You’re not going to use this right?” Alenaire herself took it out from the scabbard at Luce’s waist.
Luce was nonplussed. He shook his head silently, at a loss.
“Good.” Alenaire grinned at him.
They walked for a few minutes before Luce turned his face towards Alenaire with a rosy blush on his cheeks. “Um, princess, the ground is rocky so…can I hold your hand? I mean, so you won’t trip. I don’t want to see you trip.”
Alenaire looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “What are you turning red for? You don’t need a reason to hold my hand.” She smiled as she took his hand in hers, and Luce turned even redder.
They chanced upon magic beasts as they traversed the forest, stopping as six foot flying centipedes flew their way. It was easy for Luce, as he just had to stand beneath them and cut open their bellies. They also encountered hairless mice, scabby beasts, colorful lizards and seemingly innocent slimes. Luce dealt with them swiftly without Alenaire even having to use the sword in her hand.
However, Luce was sweating profusely, as his stamina was beginning to wear out.
“Let’s go back,” Alenaire said as she wiped his brow with a handkerchief. “The further we get, the more dangerous the beasts are. Let’s stop.”
But before they could even turn back, their feet were suddenly pinned to the ground by a sticky web.
Luce stilled his galloping heart, and used his flames to disintegrate the webs that held their feet. He turned around just in time to see a ten feet tall spider loom over them, its legs ready to strike.
Luce immediately pushed Alenaire out of its path, and the spider’s leg slashed his side without mercy.
“Uhh!” Luce doubled over in pain.
“Luce!” Alenaire paled as she held the steel sword in her hand with anxiety. She looked at the spider’s carapace, hoping that there was a soft area where she could run her sword into.
“Don’t come here, Awi! Please!” Luce shouted before he rolled on the ground, barely missed being impaled by a thin and sharp leg.
The spider suddenly turned its head towards Alenaire, and Luce was scared that it would attack her instead. Without thinking twice, he used his remaining mana to seal the spider’s fangs and pointed legs with blocks of ice. It was miserably pinioned to the ground due to the weight of the ice that encapsulated its limbs, and its head tried to shake the ice away from its fangs in a futile attempt.
“Luce!” Alenaire cried as she took his head in her lap. He had lost consciousness.
“Meow!” Alenaire heard Bastian’s cries, and she turned to see him careening towards them with a panicked expression.
Alenaire was afraid Bastian was going to crash into them, but what he did was to halt in front of the towering spider, looking like an ant before a fly.
Bastian was so angered from what had transpired, and what the spider had done, that one could feel murderous intent emanating from the white fur. The spider, however massive and brutal he once had been, could not help but shake with fear. Bastian regretted napping into oblivion, and was glad that he had been awoken by his master’s anguished soul. Still, he was angry he had not arrived on time, and he lashed out his grievances upon the spider.
While Bastian was bullying the spider into depression, Alenaire pulled up Luce’s bloody shirt to asses his wound. The ground was spilled with red, and the smell of iron permeated the air. Her hands shook as she saw that the wound was in fact a large gash on his side, and it was so deep that the blood did not stop gushing forth.
She tore the hem of her dress and used it to wrap his torso tightly, but a few seconds later, the cloth was immediately soaked with blood.
Alenaire was in a panic. If only she had sewing materials, perhaps she could sew the wound close. If she couldn’t close his wound, then he would die of blood loss! If she were to drag him to the castle, he would probably die as soon as he arrived!
If only she had the power of the high priests or priestesses. If only she knew how to heal!
Give me the power to heal! She chanted, the tears dripping down, staining the blood-soaked makeshift bandage.
She didn’t know how this healing ritual worked. If she prayed hard enough, would the heavens hear her? She didn’t care if she looked crazed. She placed a hand over his wound, closed her eyes, and prayed. She imagined the wound closing up beneath her palm, the open flesh mending together into whole.
Please, please, god or goddess, if you’re listening to me, grant me the power to save lives.
She was sobbing.
I cannot live without him. I simply cannot.
She felt a golden warmth envelop her being, and she prayed even harder.
DAMMIT gods and goddesses if you’re not gonna grant me this power I’m gonna personally kick your butts in heaven! She started spewing curses under her breath, following how her older brother would conduct himself in times of stress.
At that moment, she felt someone caress her cheek, and her eyes popped open.
Luce was smiling at her lopsidedly, his dimples more pronounced.
Her vision blurred, and she continued to sob against his hand.