fun stuff happening in the next couple of chapters. be excited :}
thank you for leaving comments, I read every one of them!
Author: Kiyo Date (伊達きよ)
Bees gathering around a blossom
“He’s just a wonderful person. He’s taller than anyone you would be able to find in this country, and he’s so well built… he picked me up as if i was as light as a feather! And his almond eyes and that straight nose, and the sweet words that came out of those lips…He looked just like a movie star. When I met him…Ah, I fell in love right away!”
His mother is in a good mood today. She dressed Setsu up in all manner of different outfits, and even prepared her tea herself. It seems like she is dreaming of his father.
She sweetens her black tea with scoop after scoop of sugar and stirs it with her spoon, all the while talking about his father with a dreamy expression on her face. ‘Like a movie star or a character from a novel’, truly, with just as much sense of reality to it. It’s not as though Setsu has ever watched a movie or read a novel, though. He’s only heard stories about those. His mother’s stories is all he knows.
Setsu has to sit across from his mother, listening to her silently and attentively. In her eyes, he’s like a doll. She doesn’t allow him to speak, much less to talk back at her.
“He was handsome, and a gentleman, and just wonderful…”
Sugary sweet the words came out of her mouth. The man, his father, that made her dream and sigh like a little girl, appeared in Setsu’s dreams as well.
He wondered what kind of man his father was. Would he be kind to Setsu? Maybe take him to go see a movie? Since his mother was praising him so much, there could be no doubt that he was an all around wonderful person. Tall, well-built, kind…
He’d surely lift him up in his arms and say
That name that nobody called him by, he’d say it affectionately. And Setsu would be so filled with happiness that he’d cry form just that.
Across from his daydreaming mother, Setsu had a fleeting dream himself. He didn’t say anything, or even smile. The dream was in his head, just for him. He was free to dream of whatever he wanted.
But in the end, dreams were just that, and his father wouldn’t come here to visit them today, either.
Three and a half months ago, Setsu had been summoned to Lan Huang. In a little less than eighty days, Setsu’s magic lessons had progressed smoothly. If it went on like this, he’d be a true Master of Sorcery in the making by the next double full moon. The study of magic took several years, and one couldn’t master it in a tenth of that time, but due to Setsu’s exceptional effort, he had still come very far.
Even outside of Xiao Ya’s lessons, Setsu spent his mornings, noons, and evenings studying. The reason Setsu’s powers were never exhausted from the ceaseless training, was the great quantity of magic he possessed. But even when disregarding the temperament of Setsu’s magic, Xiao Ya couldn’t help but be impressed with the effort Setsu put in.
Earth sorcery mostly specialized on defense. Like with blocking a river’s flow, it could be used to protect oneself from other magical effects. Of course, there were limits to this, however. The effectiveness depended on one’s magical powers for example, and it didn’t work like a cure-all against any and everything, either. Since Earth magic matched well with Gold magic, Earth Protection could be further strengthened through Gold sorcery.
The first time Setsu had used his Earth magic to repel some of the light attack spells had Xiao Ya sent his way, the two of them had put their hands together in a cheer.
When Xiao Ya witnessed Setsu’s defensive spell unfold before his eyes, he was struck by deep emotion.
They used a magic stone infused with Water spells, to have Setsu be surrounded and attacked by streams of water. When Setsu raised his arms, the torrent split up into a thousands little drops and disappeared. As Setsu had lifted his arms, he had shouted something, but since he used the words of his native language, Xiao Ya didn’t understand what he was saying. When he asked Setsu what he had been shouting, he answered “A cool technique name” with a serious look on his face. Xiao Ya let it rest at that. With Setsu it was usually better not to probe too deeply.
“Amazing Setsu. You already mastered many of these spells.”
“Hehehe, I did!”
Setsu’s language skills were also improving by leaps and bounds. However, as of late he had been devoting much more of his energy to studying magic, therefore, his speech hadn’t advanced as much as his sorcery. Even so, he had no troubles holding an ordinary conversation anymore.
“I’m amazing! I worked hard!”
Unfortunately, since Setu’s vocabulary wasn’t very expansive yet, whenever he went on to praise himself he just sounded like a boastful child. Maybe this was because his studies were based on childrens’ picture books.
His verbal expression would likely improve over time, just like a child that learned the language. Probably.
“Yes, yes, amazing. Well done.”
The problem was that Setsu’s way of talking made Xiao Ya talk to him like a child, too. Since he was also in the position of teaching him sorcery, Xiao Ya unconsciously started treating Setsu like a mentee.
“Well then. Shall we take a break? Let’s have some tea in the gardens.”
“Yes! I made candy today. It’s very tasty.”
“Ah, I’m looking forward to it.”
Clear skies greeted them outside.
When Setsu and Xiao Ya sat side by side at the table that had been set out in the gardens, people started to appear suddenly, as though they had been expecting them.
Some acted as though they were searching for something, restlessly walking and looking around (but never leaving too far), some were running as though they were exercising (only they were clearly just running circles around them). Others still had come out and looked as if they were practicing sorcery, posing as though they were deeply concentrating (but their faces were turned towards Setsu, and no matter how you looked at it, their focus didn’t reach their eyes). They were the people who, in the beginning, had crowded in the castle’s hallways to watch them from the windows. Gradually, they had shrunk the distance.
Xiao Ya had resolved to disregard them, but Setsu couldn’t ignore them. Cheerfully he waved at them, making them all put on moonstruck and delighted smiles. They probably thought Setsu was just waving them an innocent “Hello~” in greeting, but they were mistaken. What Setsu was thinking was something more close to “My magnificence is an undeniable fact. You’re like bees attracted to me, a flower. People will just gather around me, there’s nothing anybody can do about it. Ahh, I’m just so sinfully tempting. At the very least I should greet them to give them a moment of relief.” Definitely that. Xiao Ya was convinced.
“I made candy. Would you all like some?”
Even though Setsu didn’t speak with a loud voice, everybody that had scattered around the place started to shuffle close to them immediately and simultaneously. Evesdroppers, all of you!, Xiao Ya grumbled to himself.
“Oh my, I’m so happy!”
“You made it yourself? Amazing!”
“Yes, I’m amazing!”
“He is amazing~~”
The fawning crowd around Setsu all bent their heads at the same angle and spoke as one as they smiled at him.
Their tone was one that Xiao Ya would use to praise a child who had cast a spell successfully for the first time. He wanted to remind them that Setsu was a grown man, but then he remembered that he was treating Setsu like a little kid himself. He gulped down his tea.
“Setsu made them for having tea with me. Please don’t eat my portion.”
Xiao Ya said, clinking his teacup loudly against it’s saucer, as they all reached out to grab inside the basket. But Setsu just smiled, and pulled out a smaller basket from within the bigger one.
“Yours is in here Uncle Xiao Ya. Uncle is always teaching me magic, you’re special.”
Hearing those words, Xiao Ya couldn’t help out but be touched. After shooing the intruders away, he happily stuffed his cheeks with Setsu’s specially made teacakes. Despite always complaining about his eccentric character, Xiao Ya had assumed something like a parent role towards him.
The tea break was harmonious and enjoyable.
Then, all of a sudden the sun clouded, and their surroundings turned gloomy. Curious, Setsu looked up at the cloud that had suddenly appeared.
Xiao Ya looked up as well. “Could it be..?!” he murmured quizzically. The people surrounding Setsu also began to stir in surprise.
What was happening? Setsu looked at Xiao Ya, wondering why everybody seemed startled.
“Master Xiao Ya?”
Before he could ask what the matter was, a thunder rumbled through the sky. It seemed like lightning had struck somewhere far away. Despite it having been such a pleasant day just mere seconds ago. Setsu looked up at the sky again, astonished that the weather would change so quickly. When he looked up, the window of the room where he had had his magic lesson earlier, and that was facing the gardens, opened with a bang. Somebody stood at the window sill.
It was Li Huang. It was odd to see him at this time of the day, since he was normally still busy with matters of government.
The people around them bowed to him one by one. After bowing himself, Xiao Ya briskly walked up to the window to talk to Li Huang.
“Lord Li Huang! Is it really-?!”
“Yes, it is as you suspect. He said he wanted to meet ‘this Rumored One’ and then just, without warning…”
Setsu didn’t understand what was going on, but Xiao Ya and Li Huang seemed to know. When Li Huang replied to Xiao Ya with a nod of his head, a thunder sounded like a loud roar. A lightning bolt flashed across the sky and Setsu saw something.
Something flashing so bright it dazzled the eyes peeked through the clouds.
It were scales the lightning flash reflected off of. A body was leisurely swimming across the grey sky, its writhing form blotting out the sun. This was unmistakably,
“… a dragon…!”
The symbol of Lan Huang, a godlike, absolute being. A creature possessing the divine power to summon storms and thunder, manipulating the tides of nature themselves.
At first he had thought it was just swaying around back and forth, wiggling like a snake without any regularity. But now he saw that it was descending towards Setsu and the people surrounding them in the garden. At this distance Setsu could see the fierce horns on its head, the long whiskers around its snout, and even it’s sharp and pointy teeth.
And the closer it came, the more violent the wind blew, roaring, almost like a storm.
An ear splitting roar sounded. A dragon’s cry; a voice that ordinary human ears couldn’t pick up on. Setsu and the others pressed their hands over their ears, while a wind, strong as a tornado attacked them. It was impossible to keep one’s eyes open, and so Setsu squeezed his shut tight.
Li Huang’s clothes fluttered wildly around his legs, making him stumble and trip, as he was trying to get to Setsu in order to defend him. But before he could reach him, somebody else had caught Setsu’s arm.
“So you are my son’s sweetheart?”
The wind stopped abruptly.
When Setsu timidly opened his eyes, the first thing he saw was lustrous black hair that hung at chest length.
When he looked up, a pair of golden eyes intently watched back. He was taller than Setsu, and had smooth facial features. Almond shaped eyes, that shone with a fiery gold, and were full of curiosity looked at him from under a fierce looking set eyebrows.
Setsu couldn’t blink. He only stared at the man who had just appeared before his eyes in blank astonishment.