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Author: Kiyo Date (伊達きよ)
Gossip of that adorable man inside the castle
Since his mother didn’t speak Japanese, she always cussed out little Setsu in her mother tongue.
“Why were you born with that hair color!? That’s why he’s not coming back! Abandoning me here in this house! He won’t come to get me! …Useless, useless, useless! You’re useless!”
Setsu could only cower in the corner as she keept on talking without pause. The house his father had left his mother was pompous and big. But even though there was more than enough space, Setsu wasn’t allowed to leave this room.
“If only I hadn’t come to this country! I don’t understand the language, the food is awful, there’s only unfriendly people here! Nobody understands how I feel!”
His mother was screaming and pulling out plates and decor from the shelves to throw them at the ground. The loud shattering sounds made Setsu shrink in on himself more and more. The terror was pounding fiercely in his heart.
Trying not to see anything, Setsu just squeezed his face between his knees, and waited for the storm to pass.
A piece of ceramic flew across the room to cut Setsu’s skin, and a trickle of blood ran down his arm. To say he didn’t feel it would be a lie, but what was hurting much more than that injury was his heart.
“…I want to go back home! Back! Send me back!”
At last, his mother sat down where she stood, and burst out crying like a child, as if it was only her that was devastated. And she just kept waiting for somebody to come and pick her up.
If I learn this country’s language, will that help me to not end up like my mother? I don’t have to drown in sadness like her. These were the vague thoughts Setsu had. His blood was trickling down to the floor. When the puddle had dried, she would have calmed down a little too. Until then, Setsu stayed motionless, crouching and hugging his knees.
“Dirt Meteor Fist!”
Under a blue sky, Setsu was shouting something or other while holding his hands up into the empty space. Xiao Ya was peacefully drinking some tea while he watched him. Looking up at the magnificent sky, he called out to Setsu.
“Setsu, let’s finish the break. We’ll going inside to continue your lessons~”
Setsu stopped moving when Xiao Ya spoke to him. He nodded in agreement and opened his mouth.
“Me, go, lesson!”
Setsu spoke with broken words, and smiled widely at Xiao Ya. Xiao Ya smiled back at him just as widely.
“Yes, correct. Well then, let’s take the afternoon lessons. In the afternoon we will finally practice releasing the magic that has accumulated in your body.”
“Maybe that was a bit too difficult…uhm.. Push, magic, out of, body!”
“Ah! I, understanding.”
Setsu raised his hands, his eyes sparkling and as blue as the cloudless sky. “Oh, very good!” Xiao Ya clapped for Setsu. Without being able to blabber on excessively, Setsu was simply a hard working, studious, adorable young man. Xiao Ya couldn’t hide his surprise at how much his impression of Setsu had changed.
“He he he…”
When he laughed he didn’t seem different at all though. He must be gloating about having been praised, Xiao Ya thought, as he went ahead to leave the gardens and return to the castle. Li Huang had prepared a room with a large window for Setsu to study magic in. Facing the gardens, the room had a real sense of spaciousness, and Setsu had taken a great liking to it.
Currently Setsu was taking one-on-one magic lessons from Xiao Ya there.
After Setu’s element had been determined to be Earth, Li Huang had been worried. Should he make an official announcement right away, or should he first reveal him as his Destined Mate? Should he conceal all of it indefinitely? Originally he had planned to send Setsu back to his own world at the next double full moon. But now that he’d found out that Setsu possessed the Earth element, that wasn’t the best option anymore.
For thousands of years, there had been nobody possessing the Earth element, and the disturbance of the Five Elements’ balance had certainly affected Lan Huang. The Lu Huang River was of particular concern. Its current had become violently strong, but it hadn’t been that way originally. Its stream had been gentle and peaceful. But it had been a long, long time since then, and the Lu Huang had changed.
The reason for this was that sorcerers who wielded the Earth element, “Earth” being the only thing to reign in “Water”, had disappeared from Lan Huang. Only Masters of Sorcery who possessed the Earth element were able to stop the river’s flow, and make it return to it’s peaceful state.
The Lu Huang was the source for all life in Lan Huang. The river was the first thing the two dragons had created, and it was also whence the imperial family was born. Yes, the members of the imperial family were not born from human wombs, but from the Lu Huang.
When a married imperial couple wished to have a child, they first had to immerse their bodies in the Lu Huang together. From there, they would face upstream, towards the river’s source, and offer a prayer. After five days and five nights of repeating this prayer, the same time span it had taken to create Lan Huang, an egg would come into being upstream, and float towards the waiting pair. What hatched from the egg, was genuinely the couple’s child. This way the imperial family was continuously able to preserve their existence.
But the Lu Huang’s current state rendered it unfit for yielding children. The current was too strong to immerse oneself in, and even if it wasn’t, the violent stream would cause the egg to collide with the rocky riverside and break it.
Even after the current had sped up, there had been imperial couples with the desire to have children, who had gone to the river to pray, but there had been no reports of safe childbirths recently. Li Huang had been the latest birth, and for 150 years after that, no children had been born to the imperial family.
If the dragon children disappeared from Lan Huang, land of the dragons, the country too would disappear. Thus, having no magicians possessing the Earth element posed a great threat to the survival of Lan Huang.
Now, one of those “magicians possessing the Earth element” had appeared. Not only that, but he was also the crown prince’s Destined Mate. This was undoubtedly good news for Lan Huang. However, there was still too much that was uncertain.
First, even though they had discovered that Setsu possessed the Earth element, he was from a different world and there was no telling if he could become apt at wielding magic. If he wasn’t able to use magic that could control the Lu Huang’s flow, then it was all meaningless. If he rushed to announce that an Earth sorcerer had been found, and the Lu Huang didn’t end up returning to its peaceful state, the people’s resentment towards Setsu would hold no bounds.
The same thing would happen if he announced him as his Destined Mate. If the crown prince that couldn’t turn into an adult found his Destined Mate and still wasn’t able to turn into a dragon, there would be no point in him. Only somebody that could turn into a dragon was worthy of a Destined Mate, whereas the existence of a Destined Mate for somebody that couldn’t transform was meaningless, and would therefore draw sharp criticism.
Eventually Li Huang decided to delay the official announcement of Setsu’s existence. He decided to prioritize his magical education. Once he had become able to use magic, and Li Huang had turned into his adult form, if luck was on their side, then he could announce everything. Actually he didn’t have high hopes for Setsu’s powers as a Destined Mate to help him transform. It would probably be better to omit Setsu’s role as his Destined Mate in the announcement. It wasn’t as though all preceding emperors had necessarily met their Mates, and there was no need for going through the trouble of explaining the complicated circumstances of a Destined Mate, who came from another world, who also possessed the Earth element.
Instead, Li Huang and Xiao Ya had discussed with Setsu, and had decided the following backstory for him.
“Setsu was Xiao Ya’s distant relative. His father had come from a foreign country, where Setsu had been raised. After Setsu’s parents had both passed away, there hadn’t been any close relatives on his father’s side anymore, and so Setsu had come to the castle, to stay with Xiao Ya, a relative on his mother’s side. Because he had been raised in a country where they didn’t use magic, he had only taken the magical examination once he’d arrived in Lan Huang. Since he had been discovered to have great magical abilities, he became Xiao Ya’s student. And while he was practicing magic at the castle, he had coincidentally ran into Li Huang, and they had fallen in love at first sight.”
A little lengthy, but that was more or less the story.
This had been accompanied by the removal of Setsu’s Language Conversion Spell. Since he was supposed to come from a foreign country, there was no problem with that. Setsu, who had wanted to learn Lan Huang’s language anyways, readily accepted this story.
When Li Huang and Xiao Yahad seen Setsu agreeing so easily, they had exchanged a furtive look and nodded at each other. With this, they would be able to avoid being exposed to Setsu’s blabbermouth, at least until the official announcement would have to be made. It would have been too bothersome to introduce Setsu to the Emperor, the rest of the Imperial Family and the heads of all the ministries in his normal state. Or rather, it would have lead to Li Huang’s taste being questioned.
For now, having settled on a backstory and having grasped the great cause of his magic studies, Setsu became a diligent student of Xiao Ya’s. After that, the discussions went back to their original concerns.
“How is it Setsu? Do you think you can do it?”
Since Setsu was supposed to be a younger relative of his, Xiao Ya had stopped addressing Setsu with the appropriate respectful title. At first this had gone against Xiao Ya’s sense of propriety, but he had gotten used to it.
“Uhm,… it’s terrible… terrible.”
He was racking his brain trying to squeeze out the words. He had probably meant to say “challenging”. Between his hands, a small stone was floating in the air. They were practicing to make things float through magic coming out of the palms of his hands. The aim was to focus his magic on just one thing and to commit this to memory.
With a smile, Xiao Ya watched on attentively, as Setsu kept on repeating “terrible”, sweat showing on his forehead.
His blonde hair shimmered as if it had rays of light woven into it, his eyes were of a serene blue that looked like a mix of the most beautiful colors of the sky and the ocean. His skin was as white as freshly fallen snow, only interrupted by the faint but prominent peach color of his cheeks, and his glossy lips. As long as he kept quiet, his face was lovely, no matter what part of it one chose to focus on.
Watching that pretty face struggling to speak would make anybody succumb to a desire to protect Setsu. Setsu was like an angel that had fallen from the sky, not knowing anything about life on the ground. It felt like you just had to save and guide him.
Since Xiao Ya knew Setsu’s real condition, he didn’t feel quite as smitten by him, but there were a lot of people who had started to notice Setsu, who was now frequently walking around the castle. Even more so, since it was not well known that he was Li Huang’s paramour. Preventing the word to get out, had unexpectedly had the opposite effect from what they had hoped for. People would gather in clusters at the castle windows to watch Setsu whenever he was taking a break in the gardens. Considering any plans for the future, this much attention on Setsu was a matter of concern.
Xiao Ya sighed. He hoped for Li Huang to quickly announce the two of them being in love before the situation turned any more troublesome.