started from the bottom, now we here: chapter 2
(translator’s notes are at the bottom)
Author: Kiyo Date (伊達きよ)
A man who looks good in frills and lace
“Lord Setsu, are you heading to the library?”
“Hmm? Are you going to borrow something?”
“No, the other way around. I want to return this book…”
“That’s an easy task. The one to return this book to the library in Master Xiao Ya’s stead, will be Moi!.”
Setsu weirdly stressed the “Moi”, as he held out one hand. Xiao Ya non-committedly agreed and handed him the book. Over the past few days, Xiao Ya had grown used to being in charge of Setsu.
Setsu was currently staying inside Xiao Ya’s assigned chambers within the castle. As the imperial family’s Master of Sorcery, his rooms in the castle had plenty of living space, so it was a reasonable arrangement.
But no matter how big the space was, it was still somebody else’s room that Setsu was staying in. Even though he was the crown prince’s Destined Mate, he had only been summoned temporarily and so it was a difficult situation to handle. Li Huang had ordered his summoning ritual without consulting anybody else, and so, for now, only the Crown Prince, Xiao Ya, and Setsu himself knew of his presence in the castle.
Because of this, it wasn’t possible to assign him his own room for the time being. Consequently Xiao Ya had decided to temporarily house Setsu in his own chambers. This was probably what Li Huang had meant when he had told Xiao Ya to “take care of him”.
Be that as it may, this Destined Mate was now freely rearranging Xiao Ya’s room. Well Xiao Ya had told him to make himself at home, but…
“Uhm… Lord Setsu? Was there always a mirror here?”
A huge, full-length mirror had been placed by the entrance. It was the one that Xiao Ya had procured, but he hadn’t imagined for it to be placed right here. Any visitors that came in would surely be startled by a life sized version of themselves staring back at them. It wasn’t just the entrance, either. Setsu had also placed mirrors in the room he was sleeping in, the washroom, the bathroom, on top of the shelves… There were mirrors, large and small, in every conceivable place around Xiao Ya’s chambers.
“I had them placed this morning.”
“But why here…”
“It’s only natural to check your appearance before stepping outside. And if you see your own face before going out, you can head out with a pleasant feeling, right?”
Xiao Ya wanted to reply that that only applied to Setsu himself, but he didn’t. He swallowed the words down and sighed.
“Oh Master Xiao Ya, you seem tired. Why don’t you have some tea and relax while I return the book?”
Not getting that the sigh had been because of him, Setsu went to the small kitchen area, and came back with a fragrant cup of tea in the blink of an eye. He was already well acquainted with Xiao Ya’s chambers.
Xiao Ya took a seat, letting Setsu behave as if the place belonged to him. As he sat down, he noticed that this chair that was usually wobbly, wasn’t wobbly anymore.
“Huh? This chair is…”
“Ah, yes. You said I should make myself at home, so I corrected the chair to be more comfortable. The legs were uneven, but now it’s fixed.”
Astonishing. This explained why he had asked for tools the other day. Xiao Ya would never have expected him to use them for this. The outrageously flashy clothing with frilly lace Setsu was wearing right now, was also tailored from clothing that Xiao Ya didn’t need anymore. Clothes that were too gaudy for ceremonies. Even if he wasn’t at a ceremony, Xiao Ya would never have worn these clothes, he thought. Now Setsu had retailored them to his liking, and it was amazing how they were so different and yet so familiar.
“Uhm, if you need chairs or clothes please just tell me. I’ll arrange them for you.”
“My grandma taught me to treat things with great care when she raised me. I will ask when I need something, so don’t worry. And besides, this lace! Don’t you think it looks great on me? How many adult men in this world who look good in frill and lace are there do you think? Well there might be many who it suits, but… If you had to pick the best one, you couldn’t help but choose me, right?! Me! He he… Ha! Ha ha ha!”
The hair that Setsu had put up in a bun looked like golden thread. If one ignored the loud laughter, he was as beautiful as a painting, and so Xiao Ya deliberately didn’t look at him when he replied “Yes, yes.” He devoted all his attention to enjoying the aroma and taste of the tea. Xiao Ya felt that he had done an impressive job of becoming good at dealing with Setsu in these past few days.
“Well then, I’m off to the library.”
Having settled this, he seemed refreshed again, and so Setsu bowed to Xiao Ya with a happy face.
“Thank you very much then. I didn’t think you read so much, Lord Setsu.”
Xiao Ya was honestly astonished. Setsu rubbed his forehead with his fingers and sheepishly nodded his head.
“I do like to read. And I don’t know anything about this country, right? The language, the politics… I have to start by reading about it first.”
He said it like it was obvious that he would consult books about the things he wanted to know, and gave a garish laugh when Xiao Ya’s expression betrayed his surprise.
So Setsu wasn’t exclusively interested in his own looks, Xiao Ya thought to himself. He went to the library day after day, reading a large number of books, and studied as hard as he could. It seems he wasn’t solely dedicated to remodelling Xiao Ya’s chambers, or, as he liked to put it, “making them easier to live in”.
In order for him to be able to read and speak without issues, a Conversion Spell had been cast, and even though Setsu had to know this, he had still started studying the language and its script. What was more, he studied Lan Huang’s origins and history, and obediently asked Xiao Ya, whenever there were things he didn’t understand. Recently he seemed to have picked up an interest in magic, and he frequently questioned Xiao Ya about it
In Xiao Ya’s opinion, Setsu’s existence was a little – no, VERY – noisy, but to have found a student that was passionate about studying, had caused a fuzzy sensation to bloom in chest, which he didn’t know how to feel about.
If you set aside his intense personality, Setsu was polite, and diligent about learning.
“I don’t want to borrow anyone else’s skills, I want to speak with my own words, and read and write thanks to my own talent. Knowledge is what completes the essence of an attractive person! Ahh, I’m just so wonderful for being so driven!”
No, you couldn’t set it aside. His personality could not be set aside, Xiao Ya thought as he pressed his hands to his aching head. As he watched Setsu, who, before leaving, tested a number of poses that made him look good in front of the (forcibly) erected full-length mirror in the entrance way. Xiao Ya thought how exceedingly regrettable it was. “If only he had a decent personality…”
As Setsu walked down the castle’s corridors, he put his hands on the window frames and looked outside. The night he came to this world, he had thought it was a straightforward castle, but when he looked at it again in the daylight, this opinion changed. This place where Setsu was, was less of a castle and more of a tower. The ground below was so distant, you could barely see it with the naked eye. The tower’s top too, was so far away that Setu wasn’t able to see it, no matter how hard he clung to the window while looking out
From Setsu’s location, there was no way of estimating how many stories the pagoda had. He wanted to look at it from the outside, but he didn’t know how to get out anyway. He had tried to descend, floor by floor, but almost a whole day had gone by without him reaching the ground floor.
“Long Tian Castle”, the scale of which is unparalleled by any castle he had ever seen back in Japan, was built in Lan Huang’s capital. When he had first heard the castle’s name (it translated to “Dragon Sky Castle”) he thought it sounded like a place that Urashima Tarō might visit.*T/N
This country was called “Lan Huang”. The adult members of its imperial family were able to shapeshift into dragons, and these dragons became the emperors that ruled the country. To Setsu, it sounded like a world out of a fantasy novel. In Lan Huang, dragons were emperors, and were worshiped just like deities. To put it simply, although the emperor was a person, he was loved and respected throughout the country as somebody close to a god.
According to a history book about the country’s origins, “once upon a time, a mated pair of two dragons created a river in the empty skies”, and from that point onwards, the country’s creation began. “To slow down the river’s flow, they created soil, and in order to make the soil firmer, they created gold inside the earth. Using the river’s water, they created trees, and in order for the trees to burn, they created fire. Finally, after five days and five nights, the country was completed.”
“After that, the two dragons had a child, who became the founder of Lan Huang’s royal family.” So the royal family were the descendants of the dragon’s that created this country.
The current crown prince of this country, who had summoned Setsu here, who was Setsu’s Destined Mate, who was 150 years old, was Li Huang.
Incidentally, based on this course of Lan Huang’s creation a natural philosophy called “Teachings of the Five Elements” based on Water, Earth, Gold, Wood, and Fire, was born. It was also said that this natural philosophy gave rise to the magic that was being used today.
Yes, magic was thriving in Lan Huang. The people of Lan Huang all possessed magic powers to a greater or lesser extent, and for the one’s with especially strong magic, there even was a profession called “Master of Sorcery”. To Setsu’s surprise, the country even operated a school for sorcery. When Setsu had heard this it had made his heart flutter. For Setsu, who had come from a world without magic, “magic” was something that only happened in fairytales.
Naturally he couldn’t help but be drawn to the topic once he heard magic was used casually as a matter of course. And Xiao Ya, who certainly looked like a wizard, really was a “Master of Sorcery”. It had been his magic that had been used to summon Setsu here.
The magic of this country corresponded to the Five Elements. All people with magical powers possessed one of the elements, which constituted the basis of their individual magic. Based on this, there were differences in magical strengths and weaknesses. Xiao Ya, who had held the summoning ritual for Setsu for example, had the element of “Wood”. It was the element of cultivating life, and in an abstract sense, it meant that people with this element were able to cast magic that influenced human bodies. The magic that had summoned Setsu, had temporarily dissipated his body in the other world and had taken a hold of his soul. Next, it had transported him to a different world, and had put his soul back after his body had been rebuilt. That is what Setsu had been told.
They had used Li Huang’s blood to find his Destined Mate with a detection spell, and there had been a whole lot of other complicated magic. Magic that only a Master of Sorcery with the “Wood” element could wield.
Li Huang could use magic too apparently, but his elements were Fire and Water. Water with the ability to produce things, and Fire with the ability to attack. Since these abilities weren’t suited for summoning, he had asked Xiao Ya to do it for him.
Normally, a person could only possess one element, but Li Huang possessed two out of the Five Elements at the same time. Although this was extremely rare, there had been other cases before. There had been many strong sorcerers from the imperial family, and possessing two elements wasn’t that unusual for them.
What was more unusual, were people that possessed the “Earth” element. To call it “unusual” was actually an understatement. There hadn’t been anybody with the Earth element for a thousand years. This seemed to have had some kind of negative impact on Lan Huang, but Setsu was still in the midst of studying this topic.
He arrived at the library deeply absorbed in his thoughts. When he finished returning Xiao Ya’s book, he picked up a book from a bookshelf that had caught his eye and flipped through it’s pages. Setsu abruptly stopped moving his hands, when he saw a drawing. There were two big dragons, one white and one black. The dragons that had created Lan Huang. Two Destined Mates.
While he took his time to turn the pages, he recalled the stories that Xiao Ya had told him…
*T/N: Urashima Tarō. Japanese fairytale where the main character gets invited to a castle under the sea. That castle is called “Ryūgū-jō”, or “Dragon Palace Castle”.